The Hindus: An Alternative History

American Wendy Doniger holds two doctorates in Sanskrit and Indian studies from Harvard and Oxford. She’s the author of numerous books on Hinduism and has translated several Sanskrit texts. She’s widely considered one of the most important scholars on Indian religion in the world. So it might surprise you that there is one country in the world she can’t visit: India. Doniger’s books have been targeted by Hindu Nationalists and by India’s ruling right-wing BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party). Her latest, “The Hindus: An Alternative History,” was the subject of a major lawsuit in India, and its publisher, Penguin Books India, not only pulled the book from circulation but destroyed all remaining copies. Since then, Doniger has received many death threats inside of India and no longer feels safe visiting there. But as she told Steve Paulson, her writing about Hinduism hasn’t changed in over 40 years. What has changed is India.