Published: 17th December 2018
Teach history not hate speech: Ashoka University criticised for teaching 'anti-Hindu' book
The screenshots in Gautier's post were put up to show panels referring to 8th-century Indian theologian Adi Sankara as a "devious brahman scholar"
Ashoka University located in Sonipat, Haryana, just outside Delhi, has come into the spotlight recently as it found itself in the crossfires of Hindu outrage.
Aparna Vaidik, an associate professor of history at the university is being targeted by right-wing activists on social media platforms for teaching the graphic novel Gardener in the Wasteland by author Srividya Natarajan, which is a part of her ‘Great Books’ foundation course.
On Monday, French political writer and author François Gautier used his Facebook profile to call the book a "falsehood and pure anti-Hindu anti-Brahmin poison that kids are being taught at an impressionable age by teachers."
"Is it any surprise that they grow up deracinated and clueless about own history and with self-hatred. Ashoka University recognised by UGC and patronised by wealthy parents' kids, so it has lots of influence and credibility in minds of people. It is funded by 70 odd entrepreneurs and industry leaders and Pratap Bhanu Mehta is the Vice- Chancellor of the university currently. Remaining silent is the same as being complicit in this hate speech being promoted by Aparna Vaidik. Unless you counter such hateful material your kids will suffer a very bad fate as history has taught us, [sic]" Gautier wrote in his post.
Screenshots of the text in question are said to be from the graphic novel Gardener in the Wasteland, which is based on Indian reformer Jyotirao Govindrao Phule’s 1973 seminal book Gulamgiri. Srividya Natarajan and Aparajita Ninan breathe fresh life into Phule’s rather graphic imagination, telling the story of Savitribai, Jyotirao’s partner in his struggles. The 1873 book was a witty attack on the vedas being idle fantasies of a brahman's mind which enslaved the shudras and atishudras.
The screenshots in Gautier's post were put up to show panels referring to 8th-century Indian theologian Adi Sankara as a "devious brahman scholar" who used "his twisted intellect to re-establish brahman domination in the 12th century."
Numerous users commented on Gautier’s post, one of them called for the author Natarajan, professor Vaidik and the university administration to "immediately be charged with sedition for spreading hatred against a particular community." While another user asked for Natarajan to be arrested.
Social media users claimed that the book hurts and insults the Hindu sentiment, while also pointing out the historical inaccuracies in the text, least of which is the incorrect century of Adi Sankara’s lifetime.
Gautier's post also shared the professor and the Ashoka University chancellor’s email ID urging people to write to them as an act of non-violent protest. An official from the university who wanted to remain anonymous said that the email IDs being public resulted in Vaidik and the university administration getting loads of hate mail and that the professor had to temporally deactivate her email ID.