FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TOP HINDUISM EXPERT PRODUCES VIDEO SERIES AS A REJOINDER TO CNN AND REZA ASLAN, DEMANDS ACTION BY GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
May 3rd, 2017 (New York, NY) – The International Association of Indic Academicians (IAIA), a global organization of academicians working towards correcting the imbalance against the Indic civilization that exists in the academia, took a critical view of CNN’s show on Hinduism by Reza Aslan. Following a philosophy of constructive criticism, the organization commissioned a comprehensive rejoinder to Aslan and CNN by one of the foremost experts on Hinduism today, viz. Prof. Arvind Sharma (McGill University, Canada). The six part rejoinder has been released on youtube. Full length of the videos are available at < https://youtu.be/6EnIv6A089Y >.
Continued Prof. Sharma: “First of all, its creator, Reza Aslan, possesses academic credentials. This means that the depiction acquires an air of authenticity which such a series may not otherwise enjoy. The problem is compounded by the fact that normally the role of an academic is to help correct any popular misrepresentation of a religious tradition, while in this case the academic seems to end up perpetrating and perpetuating it.”Quipped Prof. Sharma, upon the release of the rejoinder video series: “The misrepresentation of Hinduism should be a cause for concern for Hindus at any time because the distortion of its image has consequences ranging from public policy to how secure Hindu children feel in a particular environment.” Providing a comprehensive rationale for the critique of CNN and Aslan, Prof. Sharma said that the misrepresentation of Hinduism in the CNN series is particularly egregious for the reasons as listed hereunder, and therefore demands serious attention and action.
Added Prof. Sharma: “Moreover, the title of the series is “Believers”. This generates the expectation that it will present the tradition from the point of view of the believers, or that, at the very least; the perspective from the point of view of the believers will be properly presented before it is examined or criticized. It is clear from the rejoinder that this is not the case. This is a matter of more serious concern than any misrepresentation of Hinduism might otherwise be, for it now lays itself open to the charge of misleading the viewers by generating the expectation that it would present the material from the point of the believers and then proceeds to do the opposite at least in the case of Hinduism.”
And then he concluded: “A third and final point is the most serious of them all. The Hindu community in the U.S.A. and India has been campaigning, even agitating, against such misrepresentation of Hinduism for well over two decades now. The CNN series demonstrates that this has had virtually no effect on the media and the academia, and further, that in the case of the CNN, the forces of the media and the academia have consciously or unconsciously joined hands in furthering such misrepresentation. This suggests that efforts by the non-governmental agencies to remedy the situation have proved ineffective, despite two decades of agitation, and that action at the level of the Government of India may be required to deal with the situation.”
The video rejoinder to CNN/Reza received support and endorsement from top academicians all over the globe. Dr. Madan L. Goel, Professor Emeritus, University of West Florida issued a statement of endorsement: “I endorse Dr. Sharma’s response to Reza Aslan’s inflammatory views on Hinduism and India. Hinduism embraces multiplicity and pluralism. Hinduism has tolerated through history even atheists and others who deny the key precepts of the tradition. Aghoris violate key belief system of the tradition, like for example eating meat, and even rotting human flesh. Yet they were given a space, no matter how abominable their beliefs and practices. Such acceptance of the outsider and a critic of the tradition is not a feature of Islam or Christianity through history.”
The organization expressed its profound gratitude to Dr. Sharma for authoring the quality rejoinder. Its India Convener, Dr. Priyoneel Basu, Ph.D. (Ex-Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary, Canada), thanked him for authoring the rejoinder, and added: “Prof. Sharma’s views represent closely the understanding inherent in Indian philosophy and way of life. Reza Aslan’s story was hackneyed, full of inaccuracies, and a vivid example of the misconceptions that arise without proper research and understanding. I hope CNN’s grossly inaccurate portrayal of Varanasi wasn’t intentional. I live in the city, and it is certainly not a giant crematorium. Pyres are not equivalent to ghats.”
The organization’s Global Convener and Chief Patron, Dr. Thammavaram R. Narasimha Rao, expressed his appreciation for Dr. Sharma’s work, and exhorted the worldwide community of academicians to come out of their shells and work towards correcting the imbalance against India and Hinduism that pervades the length and breadth of the academia today.
International Association of Indic Academicians
New York, NY
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