Mythology Wars: The Indian diaspora, "Wendy's Children" and the struggle for the Hindu past

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    Abstract

    A schism has appeared between sections of the Indian diasporic community and members of the Western academy over the authority to present and interpret Hindu mythology. This paper tells the story of these "Mythology Wars". It focuses on critiques of Western scholarship by self-identified Hindu critics, primarily Rajiv Malhotra in his articles 'RISA Lila-1: Wendy's Child Syndrome' and 'RISA Lila-2: Limp Scholarship and Demonology' (Malhotra, 2002 and 2003). The primary foci of diasporic criticism are Wendy Doniger's writings, including The Hindus (2009), and three works by other scholars, Jeffrey Kripal (K?l?'s Child, 1995), Sarah Caldwell ('The Blood-thirsty Tongue and the Self-feeding Breast', 1999) and Paul Courtright (Gane?a, 1985). There is no end in sight to the Mythology Wars. It is unlikely that critics in the diaspora will become less vigilant or less vocal. While members of the Western academy may become more circumspect and more sensitive to the potential strife they face, they are unlikely to impose any form of self-censorship. The defence of "academic freedom" has a long and deep history.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)149-168
    JournalAsian Studies Review
    Volume35
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

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