Unless a person of Hindu faith in the U.S. or in India is living under a rock or in the cocoons of regressive leftist echo-chambers, it would be very hard to believe that the Hindu has not come across the name of Ms. Audrey Truschke who is an Assistant professor at their South Asian studies department.
Her claim to (in)fame among the “South Asian” crowd has not been her research or her insights into troubled and turbulent history of the region, but her statements- which are provocative, contemptuous and dismissive of Hindus and their religion.
The past 3 years, Hindus have been pleading with the Rutgers administration and repeatedly informing them about her misrepresentations, blatant agenda of loaded history and her malicious interpretations of sacred books of Hinduism. These repeated requests seem to have fallen on deaf ears.
This inaction has confirmed the long-held suspicion by many Hindus that Western Universities, where the South Asian departments (especially Indology and those teaching about Indian History and Hinduism) are manned by out of touch, colonial trope mongering, severely compromised scholars running an agenda.
The inaction has also confirmed the deeper suspicions that not only these so called “institutions of higher learning” have an absolute double standard in dealing with Hindus and their sensitivities, as we shall see in a bit. They see any form of grievance from Hindus as an opinion from unwashed masses, incapable of understanding the academic rigor or scholarship (which may be totally in contrast the lived experience of Hindus).
In order to demonstrate that double standards are employed against Hindus, one has to carefully analyze the actions of the university. A study of how the university’s reaction when a grievance of a similar nature was made by students belonging to other faith would amply help us in understanding it. That is when the comparison can be between apples to apples.
Under similar circumstances, with similar grievances, the other faith group was taken more seriously and its complaints acted upon. But in case of complaints from Hindus, the reaction was not meted out with equal severity or if there was any reaction at all even though the situation demanded, it would definitely demonstrate a bias against Hindus.
Let us look at a few complaints against Audrey Truschke made by Hindus from around the world and Hindu students at Rutgers University. This list is not by any stretch of imagination an exhaustive list of complaints and many may disagree that these are not even the most damaging. These words below are just a couple of excerpts from enormous ocean of bitter most bile that Truschke has spewed against Hindus.
- Calling Lord Shri Rama a Pig.
Below is the screenshot from Truschke’ s verified Twitter account, where she claims Goddess Sita is said to have (“loosely translated”), called Lord Ram a “Misogynist Pig”.
To make things clear, absolutely no published edition in the world, neither the original Valmiki Ramayana nor the translated editions in hundreds of languages have the derogatory words “misogynist pig”.
It is extremely hard to state how enormously offensive this tweet is. The words “misogynist pig” addressed to Lord Shri Ram are simply absent from the original or any translation (in 100’s of languages) of the Ramayana.
The wording is so offensive that, the scholar Professor Goldman who Truschke said she had quoted came out openly and disowned such words and said that he finds the episode “extremely disturbing”, called Truschke’ s language “highly inappropriate”. Subsequently he came out completely disowning that what Truschke is saying has “nothing to do with our translation”. The link to this whole episode can be found here. (Courtesy: Swarajya Magazine)
Truschke who claims to be a scholar of South Asian history, and must surely be aware of the extreme cultural sensitivity with such wording. Still, she proceeded to publicly use such obscene language while addressing the God Hindus hold most sacred.
Makes one conclude that this was not simply out of ignorance or unawareness, but rank arrogance which is pretty obvious from her tweets subsequent to this controversial tweet, where she is dismissive of the questions posed by Hindus. This was deliberate cultural disrespect and contempt with an objective to humiliate, while being completely aware that there won’t be any consequences.
- Made an assertion “In the Mahabharata’s plot, however, the Bhagavad-Gita rationalizes mass slaughter.” (Ref: here )
The Bhagvad or the Bhagvada Gita is one of the holiest books in Hinduism and one of the most read holy books on the planet. For centuries together, this book has provided followers of the Hindu faith a sense of purpose and shown them a correct way of life. The core message of the Bhagavad is to lead a righteous life.
How does this message transmogrify into rationalizing mass slaughter is a troubling question to many Hindus. Other than the fact that it is Truschke’ s interpretation and a very deeply and troublingly flawed one at that there is no reason to believe that the Bhagavad Gita instructs its readers to pursue such tendencies. It is utterly malicious and a foul lie. Whereas I completely believe that she will not have the minimum gumption required to call out the books which might actually call for “mass slaughter” or “genocide”.
What Truschke is doing is indulging in absolutely damaging tropes of the Colonial missionaries and other interventionists of Anti-Hindu hate. Though Truschke claims that she directs her ire towards “Hindutva” and has nothing against Hindus, her assertions which carry a constant undertone of maligning Hindu texts, publishing abusive words addressing Hindu Gods betray any such message.
What is more baffling is Truschke’s attempt at dichotomizing adherents of Hindu religion by claiming Hindutva to be separate from Hinduism. Wonder who gave her such position of authority or what exactly her locus standii to make such a pronouncement is. Is it the professors claim to know more about Hindu culture and faith than the lived experience of those Hindus who follow Hindutva ? If it is so, which very well seems to be the case, it is an extremely arrogant stance.
Suffice it to say that no explanation or analysis has been provided by Truschke for making such a statement. She may not be the first one to make such a non-sensical statement though. One of the now totally discredited Indologists, Wendy Doniger also had a penchant of making such fancy but stupid statements which had a lot of shock value. Again, sans any explanations, just like Truschke.
From the two instances above, it is amply clear that Audrey Truschke has least interest in actually exploring the vast riches of Hindu faith and its literature. It seems that she is more interested in bringing down Hinduism and Hindus brick by brick.
She has constantly blocked any criticism of her work and holds a strong belief that her scholarship is the only genuine thing in Indology and any questioning of her scholarship is a conspiracy by Hindutva forces trying to undermine her. That reminds me of another self-assured lady called Hillary Clinton, for whom any and all criticism was a “vast right-wing conspiracy”.
If her scholarship was so immaculate, the constant blockading and name-calling of her critics is very puzzling. Her engagement with practicing Hindus, closer to the ways of life, spirituality and the actual inheritors of the lived experience of Hinduism is pretty much close to zero. The Hindu supporters she brandishes, are equally virulent if not more rabid disparagers of Hinduism.
The fact that she can still teach about Hinduism after calling Bhagwan Shri Ram “Misogynist Pig” and “Bhagavad-Gita rationalizing mass slaughter” is deeply disturbing.
The major factor it highlights is that for the Rutgers administration, especially the department heads where Truschke works and the overall administration, Truschke’ s openly hateful statements are “academic scholarship and free speech”.
Goes on to show how much in contempt the administration holds Hinduism, Hindus and their legitimate concerns. It also shows the utter double standards that the Rutgers administration has, when it is a matter of cultural disrespect. Let us delve into the double standards now.
In the fall of 2017, Michael Chikindas a professor of food science at Rutgers University had allegedly posted in what can be termed mildly as extremely disgusting anti-Semitic, racist pictures and rants on Facebook. The whole story where Rutgers University started investigating after this matter came to light can be found here.
In what could be termed as one of the strongly offensive pictures as seen in the link mentioned above, it is shown that a Jewish man (complete with the stereotypical hat, beard and the Star of David with Jude written on it) steals food money from a poor child.
Apart from the pictures, there is a number of offensive comments made by Chikindas, which included the utterly foulest lie “We must not forget that the Armenian genocide was orchestrated by the Turkish Jews who pretended to be the Turks,”.
These comments of Chikindas were reported widely, but most of the anti-Semitic content was shared by The Times of Israel and The Algemeiner (a Jewish publication based in the U.S.)
As soon as reports against Michael Chikindas surfaced in late October 2017, Rutgers University began investigating the professor’s anti-Semitic rant. The University immediately sprung into damage control mode and released a statement that Chikindas’s statements are “antithetical to our university’s principles and values of respect for people of all backgrounds, including, among other groups, our large and vibrant Jewish community. Such comments do not represent the position of the university.”
In December 2017, Rutgers announced that Chikindas would lose his role as a director and will no longer be allowed to teach required classes. Rutgers was also looking to seeking further punishments under its faculty agreement. Chikindas was made to undergo cultural sensitivity training and was subject to monitoring when he returned to the classroom.
The then President of Rutgers, Robert Barchi in his statement said “This has been a sad and deeply troubling situation for our students and our staff, and for our faculty, who stand for much nobler values than those expressed by this particular professor. "While the university is and should always be a place that challenges students to grapple with complex and even controversial ideas, this situation has threatened the trust between professors and students that is a prerequisite to learning."
Leaders of the American Association of University Professors-and American Federation of Teachers'-affiliated faculty union at Rutgers said Thursday that they are aware of the Chikindas case but did not comment on it.
Then, there is the case of Mazen Adi, a Syrian diplomat for 16 years at the UN who taught International Law at the Rutgers University since September 2015. In a 2012 video, Adi had accused the State of Israel of trafficking children’s organs.
Adi’s words were defended by the then President of Rutgers as freedom of speech. But only for a while.
Actions against these transgressions in Anti-Semitism didn’t go down well with the Jewish leaders in the New Jersey area.
Adi on the other hand, had his course listed in the Spring 2018 course catalog when it came out in the fall semester, but in mid-January the course/lecture which he featured was dropped. Adi’s case was discussed by the then President of Rutgers and Jewish leader from New Jersey.
Though no particular reason has been put officially as to why Adi was not employed any further and his courses were delisted, it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to connect the dots.
Now, compare these actions of the Rutgers Administration against people accused of anti-Semitism and spreading false propaganda against the Jewish community with the actions against Truschke. It is as clear as day that if the University roared against Anti-Semitic offenders, it let out a damp squeak or even so a meek sigh of rejection against the culturally insulting Truschke.
The University has put out two statements since the whole episode where Hindu kids on the University campus brought to attention Truschke’ s bigotry but all in vain.
The first message which was almost a high-handed contemptuous dismissal of the complaints from the Hindu students, brushed aside the any concerns. While emphatically supporting Truschke and her academic freedom of free speech, the statement made it sound like the Hindu students were making a fuss out of nothing.
While making a denial about even the existence of Hinduphobia in her tweets and comments, the university didn’t seem to be much worried about the safety of the students. For all purposes, the University administration was of an opinion that this complaint against “Hinduphobia” was a baseless invention by Hindu students and some irritated Hindus.
The second statement though not as contemptuous as the first, was equally disappointing. Completely short on details about any action to be initiated against Truschke (which it carefully avoided mentioning in the note), the University tried to give the appearance of magnanimity by “acknowledging” the hurt of the members of Hindu community.
As per some, the second statement was a huge step forward in the fight against Hinduphobia, since there was at least an acknowledgement and there is no working definition of Hinduphobia. But ponder this, those Hindu students weren’t asking for favors of acknowledgement from the university, nor should take a rocket scientist that posting a tweet calling Shri Ram a “misogynist pig” without any reason is Hinduphobia.
Contrast the actions against professors who were accused of Anti-Semitic racism and were promptly investigated and acted against, Rutgers Administration is dragging its feet in acting against Truschke for similar offenses against Hindus. Doesn’t this convey a bias against Hindus?
Image Source: Sunday Guardian