The Laine Controversy


the Study of Hinduism

Christian Lee Novetzke

In 2003 Oxford University Press released a book by James W. Laine, Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India, just as the monsoon's storms were arriving in the subcontinent.1 The book offered a fascinating inquiry into the historiography the Mar?th? monarch who is best known surrounding ?ivaj? (1627-80), throughout India, and in theWestern academy, as a Hindu king who heroically the archetypically Indian Muslim villainous ruler, Awrangzib challenged In historians, (1658-1707). Shivaji Laine brilliantly detailed how Marathi biographers, and hagiographers have spun SivSji's legacy into a Hindu one and set it against a constructed Muslim enemy. Furthermore, Laine showed that in own time, and largely under his control, Sivaj? himself nurtured the ?iv?jfs persona of a kingly Hindu Ksatriya (warrior) through his coronation ceremony in 1674 at Raigad, inMaharashtra2 and through the creation of a regal genealogy by the Maharashtrian Br?hma?, resident in Benares, G?g? Bhatt. A study of narratives and stories, Laine's book was not intended to intercede in the history of Sivaji but rather comment on the rich parade of pronouncements and political around the great Mar?th? king's legacy for three the author makes plain in the text that his audience ismade up Indeed, of "those who study religion and religious identity" and who seek a "thicker description of South Asian Islam" and a "richer portrait of medieval Hinduism" (Laine 2003a: 15). In addition, Laine hoped to "rescue" ?ivaj?'s biography "from the grasp of those who see India as a Hindu nation at war with itsMuslim centuries. neighbors" (2003a: 6). This rescue was to be accomplished by providing a nuanced account of how Siv?ji became a representative in of "Hinduism" a a thus to Hindu multiple ways, providing homogenized Right counterpoint that takes Sivaj? as an exemplar of militant Hinduism. In this historiography way, Laine's work joined a chorus of scholarly voices arguing multiple perspec uses that have circulated

International Journal of Hindu Studies 8,1-3 (2004): ? 2005 by theWorld Heritage Press Inc.


and by extension. Jathar 2004). S?hajI. Reports claimed the group destroyed sentiments of the Mar?th? both books and physical items. In the next week. of the Shiv Sena. Seva Sangh. of Parliament A group of five prominent Marathi historians petitioned Oxford University Press to withdraw the memory of charged that the study defamed and one Member the book. Reports also premises. Laine never questions but mentions this parentage merely probably apocryphal anecdote. was adjudged by the group of five historians to be sufficient evidence of bad historiography that was unnecessarily defamatory towards Siv?j? and Jij?b?i. Gottschalk 2000. Oxford withdrew Indian market. another storm was about to erupt. On December 22.1996. several Indians who were thanked in Laine's acknow ledgements were placed under armed police protection in Pune. a political organization formed in the 1960s to protect the in general. and battered employees recalled they shouted slogans. an architectural symbol of the Pesv?. Yet.184 / Christian Lee Novetzke tives about "Hindu" and "Muslim" as inclusive seventeenth and Lawrence terms of identification from the to the twenty-first centuries (see Eaton 1978. 1993. especially over By November. What followed made national Pune. mother. in Hindi. Within days. over a hundred men claiming to the Sambhaji Brigade carried out a systematic and well-planned affiliation vandalization of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in Pune. asserting their defense of Siv?j?'s legacy and that of his mother. and claiming that aaniv?rav?d?. Wagoner 1993. which vows to protect the the Maratha caste bloc.3 however. and hence Br?hmanical political power. Among Siv?j?'s other things.1999). Throughout early 2004. 2003. the western state of Maharashtra. 2004. but targeting Muslims "rights" and "sentiments" of Maharashtrians in the last three decades. Laine dispatched an apology specifically scholars in Pune. 2000. was attacked by cadres Sivabh?rata. doing substantial damage to the materials. 1999. Laine's the book on November 22 from the in and international news. Kumar 2002. They. while the author had court cases registered against him for offending a figure of Indian national . the scholars and politician pointed to a passage in Laine's book where he cites an oral "joke" that Siv?j?'s biological father was his tutor. Jij?b?i. coauthor and cotranslator for The Epic of Shivaji (2001) the who merely had been thanked in Shivaji. and a handful of other issues. D?daj? Konndeva the veracity of ?ivaj?'s (Laine 2003a: 93). this. Gordon 1998. Gilmartin 2000. Jij?b?i. Laine Mittal 1999. and officers of the Institute. The to several Brigade is a group named after aivaj?'s son and affiliated with a larger politico cultural organization. January 7. which was reprinted or quoted in prominent papers as such the Indian Express (Laine 2003b) and Times of India (Laine 2003c). would be their next target (see Times of India. Talbott 1995. and others. Siv?j? and his father. on the morning of January 5.

a group unrelated to the Shiv Sena or the dominant Hindu Right national parties. several prominent figures in Bombay. Yet it was a centrist Congress state government that brought legal charges against Laine and officially banned the text. I will situate the "Laine Maharashtra. not Muslims. Supreme and in July Bombay High Court's order to investigate the Laine controversy. By May 21. a different explanation emerged for the reception of Laine's book. within controversy" In this environment the history and regional caste politics of Siv?j? has regularly been used to reinforce . book The roots of the violence and legal persecution surrounding Laine's lie in the regional caste politics of Maharashtra invested with "anti Brahmin" animosities rather than in the sentiments of Hindutva. however. and it was theMaratha Seva Sangh. This may have happened because Laine's book is so explicitly in pitched as an antidote to the discourse of religious communal difference or because of the violence in and historiography Bombay against Muslims Gujarat with which the Hindu Right has been associated in the last decade. which the state apology in Court the issued a stay for the rejected early May. we In this essay I will point out why understanding the events that surrounded the reception of Laine's book in India within the context of Hindutva or the the ideology of the Hindu Right is a misapprehension. the problem was analyzed on many levels. that carried out attacks on the Institute. following dominant reading of this event in Indian English news media and tracing the reasons given by the various attackers and persecutors themselves. appears to endure. An order to arrest Laine was issued on January 9. filed a public interest litigation challenging the state ban on Laine's book.The Laine Controversy and the Study of Hinduism I 185 pride. in both Marathi and English. the Hindu Right. Several Euro-American scholars and journalists attributed the violence and censorship to the "Hindu Right" or to the defense of Hinduism. In the United States and Europe. This makes the violence and censorship no less odious but does require scholars of religion to look more carefully at social violence in India. or the defense of Hinduism. especially when it is so intimately related to the scholarship produce. and on a recent visit to Pune in the summer of 2005 I learned of further legal action taken against several named in Laine's thus The Laine controversy people acknowledgements. Instead. including the documentar?an Anand Patwardhan. and efforts to have him extradited to India began on March 23. the R?j? of Satara filed a new legal suit against Laine and his so-called "informants" in early September of 2004. from anti-Brahminism to fascist censor to political wrangling all cast in the ship. Here we see Hindus attacking Hindus. However. In the Indian media. and Laine offered another on April 17. light of the upcoming elections in the spring of 2004 in India. A state-sponsored probe was launched on April 10.

Mar?th? caste 1983. Elsewhere. The content of the suffering experienced by Laine and his colleagues this essay. in terms of the that animate the study of South Asia in the debates especially I also hope the reader and religion meet. Lele 1981. its statements and opinions. colleague. James Laine has been my teacher. Fukazawa 1968. I will suggest 2003. and friend for many years. set invocations alongside his use by present militant Hinduism in the service of anti-Muslim sentiment. Omvedt 1976). its which forms surrounding the release and reception of the book. O'Hanlon of in Euro-American that the reception the Laine controversy scholarship and axis journalism is symptomatic of an uncritical application of a Hindu-Muslim I have detailed the contents of Laine's excellent of contestation. Gordon 1998. In addition. (Novetzke 2005) and will invoke little of the text itself here. Deshpande 2004. not to provide an in-depth analysis of its history. Lastly. politics. 1985. are mine alone. have studied with. or collaborated with several of the scholars in Pune who were victims of and who perpetrated by the Shiv Sena and Sambhaji Brigade Democratic suffered the legal persecution initiated by the Congress-Coalition Front government of Maharashtra. I was his student as an undergraduate atMacalester College fifteen years ago and have been an admirer of his work since then. exploring invested in the term of the regional caste politics of Maharashtra "Mar?|h?. Jasper identity. In many ways.186 / Christian Lee Novetzke Maharashtrian as well as to pride. My intention here is to the highly contentious reception of the book in India and abroad. that uses violence perceives here no sympathies with any political organization to achieve its ends. My goal in this section is to briefly survey the field. explore PRELUDE TO A CONFLICT:MAR?TH?S. this is not an inappropriate approach to take given that the actual substance of Laine's text did not receive significant scrutiny within the Indian or Euro were the events American public spheres. Mar?th? appeared to indicate anyone . My hope in this essay is not to rekindle the the violence sense of hurt felt by those who were offended by Laine's book nor to increase in Pune." Prior to the fourteenth century. What concerned people far more own story. which that has more ably been done by others (see Carter 1974. I know well. "anti-Brahmin" and specifically all sentiments. work that at the beginning I would like to mention In the spirit of full disclosure. BR?HMANS. which Laine engages in his book. 1991. spaces where history. AND STATUS INMAHARASHTRA Before overview to provide a brief it is necessary the Laine controversy.

and its attendant rules of social and political engagement Following see also 1968). Another of castes. Mar?th?s some for However. the Mar?th? in power within Siv?j?'s death. For many Mar?th?s. In the seventeenth century. These military units were drawn from otherwise agricultural sectors of society. relegated to the status of nominal leadership." throughout the eighteenth century. Thus an elite or "pure" Mar?th? two sorts of Mar?|h?s emerged in this period?one. But the reign of Siv?j? signaled a reinvention. category that could allow for movement under the Pesv? . Beginning in the sixteenth century. under the leadership of Siv?j? Bhosale. remained low caste or S?dra. and thus elite status as their caste designation referenced a "twice-born. as now. centered in Bijapur. public sphere. Yet this typology did not meet with universal agreement. Berar. Then. and Bidar. Not all Mar?th?s their positions within retained served under Siv?j??indeed Mar?th?s many armies led by Siv?j?'s enemies. Mar?th? a the within to have division general begun exploit pedigree may Kumb? bloc of castes. Here we see the word "Mar?th?" first invested with a sense of martial valor. its modern and purposeful application. proper emphasis lineage. but up the social hierarchy. and pan-Indian. Mar?th?s in general are sometimes qualified as Mar?th? Kumb?s or "Mar?th? cultivators. During the Cittap?van Br?hmans exclusively caste Peev? period. The nineteenth a saw of Mar?th? as a high-caste group within the varna reinforcement century a echelon. became genealogy Mar?th?s. many primarily under Islamic rule. and another. despite Siv?j?'s coronation and its attendant s?straic caste interventions. Real military a position held by force rested with the PeSv? or "prime ministership.The Laine Controversy and the Study of Hinduism / 187 regions of India and anyone whose mother tongue was Marathi (Gordon 1998: 14-15)." Here too we have the sense of Mar?th?s as both the tillers of the soil and the defenders of it." and scholars. bifurcating the elite Mar?th?s (enumerated as ninety-six specific families) from the ordinary peasantry who claimed Mar?th? status. of the term "Mar?th?" that marked into the Marathi. Golconda. Mar?th? became a regional and occupa tional designation associated with politico-military power. his heirs declined and political Empire. hegemonic practice (Fukazawa of caste caste documentation on the and status. the term to connote began Marathi-speaking regiments within various ad hoc military from the Marathi-speaking brigades. often designated simply as Kumb? or peasant shift in the use of the caste term Mar?th? occurred when theMar?th? Empire rulership fell in 1818 to the British. An 1998: 91-113. Br?hmafl panditas Ksatriyas. such as the five Deccani kingdoms of the sixteenth century. ascendancy castes (j?ti) became intertwined within Mar?th?s as a group of occupation-based the pan-Indian cosmic-social division of caste (varna) as "warriors" or K?atriya. In this period. Ahmednagar.

not religious. factory workers. Vidarbha. such as a Kolhapur. Yet an anti endured. not Muslims. As Prachi Desphande (2004: consolidated Mar?th? the Mar?th? Maharashtra. For the Shiv Sena and other groups. Sena. within both the Congress Party (the Congress Party and the National Congress Party) and in alliance with the dominant Hindu Right party. who cordial alliances with the largely Brahman nationalist organization guage for a Maharashtra . Baroda. Yet the swelling of the politically Mar?th? ranks led to internal divisions presaged protest emerged with figures that galvanized Mar?th?s and others around anti-Brahmin sentiment.188 / Christian Lee Novetzke A period of relative peace. by the 1930s. were central to reifying Gwalior. but more especially in opposition to a perceived Br?hmanical domination. a legacy of the Pesv? era. their first enemies. the latter view of appeared victorious. though less noticeably within the Shiv Sena. A significant "saffronization" of the Shiv Sena did not occur until the mid Brahmin maintained sentiment 1980s (Lele 1995: 201). the Bharatiya Janata Party. Siv?j? became an emblem for the fight for a Maharashtrian (and sometimes Mar?th?) autonomy. and this struggle took lan and ethnicity as well as class as central issues of debate. The decade and a half after Independence saw tumultuous struggles over the formation Maharashtra State out of the larger Bombay State. In postcolonial voting bloc and Mar?th? public figures are found throughout the political spectrum. Mar?th? exhibited as both a widely non-Brahman in the Pesv? period. which was first expressed in class and linguistic. terms in the postcolonial period. This was Mar?th? as representative of a disenfranchised populous that nonethe less embodied the very essence of "being Maharashtrian. and "disenfranchised" youth (Lele 1995: 199). both against colonial power. an increase in agricultural production. but in an elitist way. Congress Party. also inheritors of Maharashtra's true 30) notes. One view saw within the Mar?th? a ambit revolutionary potential.5 The constituency of the Shiv Sena were white-collar Marathi speakers. the Samyukta or "United Maharashtra" movement. Mar?th? princely states. and the socio obsessions of the colonial state all interacted to make the sphere ethnological of the Mar?th? both porous and powerful. as well as communists." Another view desig nated Mar?th? as an elite Ksatriya caste. and perhaps Indore. as a "nativist" organization. The movement of Maharashtra State with Bombay (now Mumbai) as its capital inspired and created largely groups like the Shiv Sena or "Siv?j?'s Army" (see Gupta 1982: Shiv The 39-40). Thus two visions of Mar?th? were by the early twentieth century. A powerful like Mahatma Jyotirao Phule construed political category and a social sphere that a clear elite stratum within itself.4 (1827-90) By the early twentieth century. while those Mar?th?s who were politically active in the anti-Brahmin movement to the Gandhi-Nehru shifted their allegiances legacy. made Tamils and other non-Marathi speakers.

was formed in 1990 in Maharashtra themselves (see Jathar 2004). For public homogenous they do inMaharashtra. under the leadership of figures like S. what was witnessed in Pune that extolling was violence other Hindus Hindus or. form group. Mar?th?s by birth. was not . and the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv the platform of a Mar?th? voting bloc. BR?HMANS." As Adheesh Sena coalition. We should note that there were no slogans raised deriding Muslims the power of "Hindus. on the one hand. Anti-Brahmin sentiment does THE CONTOURS OF A CONFLICT:MAR?TH?S." Indeed. a defense from a perceived insult generated by a by Br?hmans. suggest that when it is invoked in theMarathi public sphere. identify people who as and of the voting almost 40 Mar?th?s constitute politically socially percent a in not Maharashtra. and in part through fielding Mar?th? candidates for elections and in 1999. B. by a by morning against group identifying themselves as "Mar?th?s" against a group they identified as scholar influenced Sathaye has pointed out in reference to the "joke" Laine that enflamed quoted by passion in Pune. specifically. That year saw an placing a Mar?th? in the position of chief minister almost even split of the Mar?th? vote for the Congress coalition (Congress and National Congress Party). and a "Br?hmanical" institu or tion. Today. "We should realize that jokes about Shivaji's parentage are Brahman jokes" (2004: 6. Sangh (Gupta 1982: the Shiv Sena carried out attacks on Brahman 173). the parent organization of the Sambhaji Brigade. a majority of Mar?th?s supported the Congress Party in general. However. on the other. the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance inMaharashtra has appealed toMar?th?s in part through symbols. his informants. such as Siv?j? decades and his family. not define During the attack by the Sambhaji Brigade on the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in January. AND POLITICS Where the trouble began is hard to trace. Chavan and Sharad Pawar. Even then. scholars who wrote in ways they found derogatory of Siv?j?. Claiming a more direct political of Ph?le. the Maratha Seva lineage to the non-Br?hmaidsm Sangh. however. the vandals chanted slogans identifying their mission as the defense of Jij?b?l's honor. "Br?hmans." and especially its usage in the last century and a half. The initial opposition to Laine's book. But the history of the term. emphasis added). "Mar?th?. we should consider whether or not anti-Brahminism lurks within its discourse.The Laine Controversy and the Study of Hinduism I 189 the Rashtriya Swayamsevak quartered in Maharashtra. encapsulated in the letter issued by five prominent Marathi historians. In recent years.

attack. Bal Thackeray. which itself appeared to have some relationship with a student group organized on college campuses. One laudatory reviews of Laine's book in theMarathi press came in the 7 issue of S?mn?. and Raj Thackeray. is a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party. from their point of view. not the scholars?Gajanan Mehendele. while the Pune police issued an arrest warrant for Laine. and Ninad of Parliament who joined them in condemning the book. Rawat condemned the (see Sathaye 2004: 5). and the of as a challenge to Hinduism. though sometimes from available sources. the official news media outlet for the Shiv Sena September the attack on Bahulkar. Seventy-two up shortly thereafter. expressing both his shock at the events at the Institute and his sense that freedom of speech had been trampled in India. so I offer here a reading that is unfortunately bereft of good Marathi and Hindi journalistic materials.7 My own access to these sources has been curtailed in the United States or by their limited availability over electronic media. journalists in the late 1990s to "protect" the interests of Mar?th?s and appeared to from emerge Mar?th? communities throughout Maharashtra. A full assessment of the response in Indian media to the Laine issue. It is apparent that in the wake of the attack at the scientists speculated about the intentions of the the Sambhaji Brigade. inferred. the attack on the eminent Sanskritist Shrikant Bahulkar. supposedly "youth wing" of the Maratha Seva Sangh. promising no more violence on the part of the Shiv Sena unless specifically authorized by Raj Thackeray himself (Vijapurkar 2004). Mar?th?s. called the Both groups Vidyarthi Maratha Mahasangh.190 / Christian Lee Novetzke an anti-Brahmin Shivshahir Member call to arms. The political alliances of groups that claim to represent Mar?th?s have formed and political the contours of the first . waits to be analyzed. particu larly within Marathi journalism. by extension. did appear to have an anti-Brahmin impetus. The Sambhaji Brigade's attack on the Institute one week later appeared to be a direct challenge to the Shiv Sena and Thackeray's control of the "defense" of of the vandals were rounded Siv?ji and. The first violent incident by the Shiv Sena. one finds confusion. a Brahman by caste. and began legal action against though he was far away in snowy Minnesota. Three Purandare. Institute. offered a bizarre public apology to the scholar. These prosecutions were initiated and Maharashtra State government. a party whose core constitu ency is often described as Brahman and upper caste. Yet the incidents recorded and of debate are still clearly accessible. Pradeep Rawat. Oxford University Press in India.6 They opposed the work as bad historiography and inflammatory rhetoric. Bedekar?are Brahman by caste. Laine (2004) supported by the Congress-led published a response one week later in the Los Angeles Times. but here too. Following the nephew of Shiv Sena leader.

which overtly expressed anti-Muslim sentiment. and the larger network of Hindutva is highly unlikely given that the Maratha Seva Sangh seeks to establish a new "religion" in India for the "bahujan community. Rekha Khedekar. pride with anti-Muslim rhetoric. The later addition of Muslims to their helped align this regionally powerful party with the rising fortunes of the Bharatiya Janata Party. the Shiv Sena chose not Muslims but South Indians as their primary target. Furthermore. it is a way of life. We just want to form the upper-caste leaders of the Janata Party or the upper-caste members of its constituency. Purushottam Khedekar.. Vis?u's incarnation Though a rupture may be apparent in the Mar?th? bloc. The Maratha Mahasangh. Hinduism has become a slave to Brahmanism. from the perspective of Maharashtrian blacklist from Maharashtrians . its affiliates.9 has successfully and himself the Shiv Sena as leaders of the Mar?th? community by portrayed and particularly Mar?th?. in the mid 1990s. though not a Mar?th? by birth. Khedekar. Congress For years. the Shiv Sena asserted no alliance with these Mar?th? organizations. put it this way: "Brahmins will not be allowed to embrace Shiv Dharma. So it will be wrong to say that we will be converting. B. the leader of the Maratha Seva Sangh. At its inception. combining Maharashtrian. perhaps reflecting at least two centuries of dispute over who is an "authentic" Mar?th?. recently to vote for the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party implored its constituents alliance. using their powerful ties to theMar?th? our religion" (cited in Jadiar 2004). a Bharatiya Janata Party member of the legislative assembly. Yet the leader of the Maratha Seva to is married Sangh. went on to assert that Shiv Dharma adherents would not celebrate the "demon king" Bali and burn an effigy of D?val?. They came to pose the most visible challenge to Congress rule in Maharashtra in the 1990s. At times during the recent elections in India inMarch and April news media.Hinduism is not a religion.. the forces behind the attack on the Institute seem unrelated to the defense of "Hinduism" in a political or cultural sense. In any case. a connection between the Maratha Seva Sangh." P. but rather memorialize as the Brahman "dwarf' Vamana (see Jathar 2004). Pawar still leads his Nationalist Congress Party in Maharashtra. purporting to speak for Mar?th?s (and unrelated to the Maratha Seva Sangh). Chavan and Sharad Pawar remained the "strongmen" inMaharashtra. S. an about-face from its endorsements for Congress in previous elections. it seemed that Siv?j? 2005. Bharatiya Khedekar community for political gain. P.. Such a sentiment must not have sat well with called Shiv Dharma. At least one major news source asserted a connection between theMaratha Seva Sangh and Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party (see Chaware 2004). The Mar?th? castes inmany ways condition politics in Maharashtra.The Laine Controversy and the Study of Hinduism / 191 another organization recently shifted.8 Bal Thackeray. claiming these "immigrants" were stealing work in Bombay.

the ruling coalition S. . While district of Maharashtra with a high concentration in his statement. Shiv Sena over who not to see the strategies of politics rather than tolerance larly as he reversed his position on March 20. appeared tomake his popular appeals exclusively in reference to anti-Muslim positions. composed primarily of the Congress Party. A. nor is it a stronger is safer it haven for people. who is not a Mar?th? (he is a Vanaj?ri. view in general about Laine's in importance on the national along a "Hindu" versus "Muslim" magazine. guarantor of the democratic rights of the citizenry. B. both at the regional and national level. led by then-Chief Minister and Mar?th? Congress Party. and the Nationalist text itself. sentiment regarding the Laine controversy a better response to Laine's was that discussion and further study suggesting it is difficult work than violence (Times of India. fully example. made this point plain: axis. a war of words ensued between the Democratic Front and the and Siv?j?'s legacy. Vajpayee. while retaining a rather negative Shinde. Vajpeyi 2004a). In Maharashtra. 2004). a low caste from theMar?thav?d? region). expressed what some may have considered and the attacks on the Institute. By contrast. than a state ruled by the Hindu Right." cialise" Siv?j?'s legacy for political gain (cited in Koppikar 2004). a campaigning Prime Minister of Mar?th?s. Gopinath Munde. particu in Beed. state to protect the sentiments of citizens came and role the of the censorship. K. Ananya Vajpeyi. Yet both clearly hoped to benefit from the actions of the Maratha Seva Sangh in the the leader of the Bharatiya upcoming elections. Chitre 2004a. details of Laine's book receded stage as issues of academic and personal freedom. Yet public much national Indian media in English remained aware that the primary focal was not situated point of this conflict. On January 17. January 18. in Maharashtra On January 15. English and Marathi news media univoca! in their condemnation of the attacks. headed by Sharad Pawar. though it had already been withdrawn seemed circulation throughout the nation. the Democratic Front. Janata Party inMaharashtra. equality and justice that were promised Constitution (2004a).192 / Christian Lee Novetzke legitimacy were the sole issues at stake (see Koppikar 2004). the prime minister at the a measured time. Bal could "speak for" the Mar?th?s Thackeray asserted that Sharad Pawar had been "bom into [Siv?j?'s] community and Pawar declared that the Shiv Sena intended only to "comer by mistake.b. Indeed. banned from even Laine's book in the state. However. view for into (see. We should not harbor any illusions about the ubiquity of the to all in the threat to the liberty. writing for Outlook state in this country is not automatically pro A Congress or Communist-ruled no a artists and intellectuals.

however. Times International (Rajan and Chaim 2004). dispatches from colleagues were Contributors primarily interested in the safety and well being of Indian in Pune. "Hindu Protesters Attack Prestigious Research Institute in India" (Overland 2004) made this point plainly. 2004. March 20. the body. The Christian more Science Monitor. which was primarily concerned with nuanced issues of Hindu and Muslim identity. The characterization of the politics surrounding Laine's book in India as an issue instigated by the Hindu Right was apparent also in reportage from The Times in London (Philp 2004).11 Articles Post (Vedantam 2004a) and Toronto Star (2004b) conflated Laine's case with . presented a much nuanced view. and the violence persecutions surrounding the book were attributed to the Hindu Right. the vagaries and legal glossed over. these responses no doubt echoed issues raised by freelance critics like Rajiv Malhotra as well as the fresh memory of vociferous reactions to scholars such as Paul and in the Washington Courtright."10 This point seemed to rest on the thesis of Laine's book. The Chronicle's headline." In contrast. In addition. and the attacks on Muslims in Gujarat in (2004) attributed the reception of Laine's February of 2002. but a current of concern ran through many postings that colleagues academic freedom was being suffocated by the weight of "Hindutva. picked up the story of the Laine controversy. was not issued in the context of Hindu-Muslim but to those who divisiveness would insult India's national heroes. and the South China Morning Post (Abdi such as the British magazine 2004). Vajpayee A CONFLICT OF INTEREST?:THE PAN-INDIAN HINDU-MUSLIM AXIS AND SOUTH ASIAN STUDIES in Asia. In the context of an article on gender. as well as other media organizations. including the Early on periodicals Chronicle of Higher Education and Times Higher Education Supplement. Jeffrey Kripal. Wendy Doniger. Martha Nussbaum book in India to the reactions of "extremists of the Hindu Right. not necessarily their Hindu nationalist ones. Europe. 2004). noting that various players within the broad Indian political spectrum sought to use Siv?j? for their own purposes (see Baldauf 2004). Scholars of South Asia exchanged views on the matter over the Internet. and events of regional in India were in Pune at the time provided updates on events. writing on March 29. 2004). Today*s History (Menon 2004) and the BBC (March 23. This warning. The Washington Post (Vedantam 2004a). and the United States.The Laine Controversy and the Study of Hinduism I 193 declared the incidents surrounding Laine's book to be a "warning" to foreigners (The Press Trust of India. The Guardian (Marqusse 2004). In this international context.

of this and other likewise attributed incidences the violence in an article in The New York Review of Books. and Kripal. Davis viewed book as pivoting on the single statement about Siv?j?'s mother. and Kripal faced. on the Internet. Yet the anger expressed over Laine's book was of a different at other scholars. as we see in his statement on the "rescue" of Siv?j?'s historiography. unleashed upon Laine's friends and associates in Pune and upon the Bhandarkar order than that directed Oriental Research Unlike Institute. we find strident responses from Indians (and non-Indians) academic work by Euro-American scholars.12 William Dalrymple. and Kripal. Laine's book has fully a in entered volatile stream of political and cultural life in India. Similarly an otherwise excellent review of Laine's book (and the only one I have come across in American academic journals to date) by Richard Davis concludes that the Laine contro "Hindu nationalist in India" and the call for versy highlights ascendancy scholars to be aware that their work may pose "dangers to Hindutva definitions of nationality" in a very recent treatment (2004: 1050). It appears that studies invested with psychoanalytical theory applied to an Indian religious figure or deity raises the greatest levels of ire. on Siv?j?'s relationship with speculations Jij?b?i. for the most part. and on the subconscious expressions of a nineteenth-century hagiography of Siv?j? (Laine 2003a: 87. scholars Recent controversy and protest over monographs by non-Indian on Indian subjects has become a minor genre in the field of Hindu Studies. Doniger. specifically in this case. the reaction to Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India took many of the book to task. But what is the most striking difference is the violence supposedly engendered by Laine's book. From R?makrsna on the analyst's couch (Kripal 1995) to a denuded Ganesa to (Courtright 1985).194 / Christian Lee Novetzke responses to Courtright. not religion. Where Courtright. While other features Like many other reviewers and journalists. the work of Courtright." The affront to Jij?b?i was one of fidelity and propriety. and in academic venues. However. Laine has faced legal action. Laine (2003a: 6) does not shy away from this venture. any reaction based upon this single "joke" cited by Laine has little to do with Hindu or Muslim identity and would certainly not entail a response from defenders of "Hinduism. Doniger. at the Institute to "Hindu militants" (2005: l). What is unique about Shivaji is the way it became a Maharashtra that is its very subject and how it proved part of the contentious historiography that history invests political actors with motivation and rhetoric.13 the reaction to Laine's Jij?b?i. Laine engaged only one of the threats to Siv?j?'s legacy?the vision of militant Hinduism prompted by the into the contention over Hindu Right?while forgoing a thorough investigation . Laine's work does indeed invoke Sigmund Freud briefly to his mother.14 intellectual and personal attacks in the press. 92). Doniger.

limits of freedom of speech. another story. and public environments book. or Hindutva at large. nor has it stopped from characterizing Laine's some pro-Hindu Right writers in India and abroad book as an affront to "Hindus" (see. high caste and codification low caste. Yet.2004). which charts a negotiation not of Hindu and Muslim woridviews. Indeed. Mehta. and the disorganized from national Bharatiya Janata Party leadership served to further alienate their Shiv Sena partners inMaharashtra (see Times of India. and the "monster of fascism" are not the sole purviews of the Hindu Right but have been demonstrated to exist with "Centrist" parties. it does not appear that a call to defend "Hinduism. The Shiv Sena did claim responsibility for attacking Bahulkar. for whom Siv?j? is a regional hero (see Katzenstein. translucent in Laine's text. subaltern and elite?the particulars of political and social life in of which Siv?j? is such an intimate part." This monster. for example. Inasmuch as Laine's book longer growls at the gate?it that Gandhi built. cultural. the censorship of Laine's book. "The monster of fascism one might argue. one based on caste not "religion. the Bharatiya Janata Party. Maharashtra. during Indira Gandhi's Emergency Rule and during the organized violence committed against Sikhs after her assassination in 1984. and is subordinate to. as Vajpeyi (2004a) puts it. in the mid 1970s." Though people associated with the Hindu Right were active in the response to Laine's book. his colleagues. the Laine controversy seemed to work against Hindu response to it Right political groups at a national level. threshold. Yet there is another political." that pits Br?hmans and a perceived Br?hmanical elite against Mar?th?s and the "common man. this does not soften the politics of communal antagonism and However. violence practiced by the Shiv Sena. but Brahmin and anti-Brahmin. Indeed. no has crossed the . Jain 2004. and his publisher." so often the battle cry of the Hindu Right. the Shiv Sena's mandate to represent the sentiments of Maha and rashtrians. into the house crossed long ago. The adoption of a fully virulent form of anti rhetoric akin to that of the Bharatiya Janata Party sits next to. but there is no reason to believe the attack was motivated by the need to defend "Hinduism" Muslim or Hindu sentiment.The Laine Controversy and the Study of Hinduism I 195 Siv?j? that is most germane to Maharashtra. such as those thatmake up the Democratic Front alliance inMaharashtra. Thakkar 1997). but we must now reckon with the fact that censorship. the characterization reactions to Laine's book in India as the result of "Hindutva" only adds more power to the Hindu Right's r?sum? of violence. Patvardhan of and Bhagwe 2004). the of identity around key terms like "Hindu" and "Muslim" and the that develop. or the legal persecution of him. can account for the attacks on the Institute. January 18.15 Laine's book is an exemplar of genealogical historiography and an important work in one of the most vital areas of the study of Indian religious history.

Our reaction to appalling events like those which surrounded Laine's book must dig deeper and trace other genealogies of social division. Also see a review of Laine's book by Vajpeyi (2004b) in which she argues for a shift away from investigating "Hindu" and "Muslim" as categories of and identity and towards the "poetics" (invoking Jacques Ranci?re Hayden White) of these histories. collectively for their invaluable assistance.196 / Christian Lee Novetzke in conflict always throughout the centuries during and after Siv?j?'s period. Europe. If we are not capable of more subtle observations inflected public politics we run the risk of reifying all appeals to religiously in the face of its own successes "Hindu" identity as belonging to the "Hindu Right" and all moments of violence from Hindus as examples of militant Hinduism. 6. an investigation into the variety of ways "Hindu" and "Muslim" were plied by agents in history around the figure of Siv?j?. Scholars of South Asia. Notes 1. more recently. we must endeavor to find those many places in Indian public culture. 3. state of use I the word 2. This essay has benefited from close readings and stimulating conversations from colleagues in America. whether Indian or non-Indian. as well as its place within an increasingly open economy that influences of public culture in India. O'Hanlon (1985: 141-42) points out that Phule was reluctant to use the term "Mar?th?" and preferred S?dra and Ksatriya. and politics where are likewise categories subordinate to other ones. to countermand the very triumph of Laine's work. these issues are inextricable from the work and lives of all scholars of South Asia. and class. deployment changed in the last decade of "Hindutva" the very concept and inquiry as it has scholarly and. and India. gender. 4. history. ironically. such as Hindu and Muslim shows that Hindu and Muslim life-worlds were not caste. that a monolithic must resist constructing entity called the "Hindu Right" operates under the saffron banner of Hindutva. Though all have asked for I thank them here anonymity. See Chhibber and Misra (1993) for statistics on caste and class in the . deriving the latter from the differentiated term "ksetra" or land. 5. "Maharashtra" here to refer to both the modem Maharashtra and the Marathi-speaking regions that existed for centuries before formal statehood in 1960. failures. is in need of careful Indeed. Bal Thackeray and the Shiv Sena instantiated clearly anti-Muslim activities in 1970 (see Gupta 1982:168). This would be. for now. more than ever.

Morning Post. Another review in the Asia Times reaction to Laine's book to Hindutva. Spencer Leonard of the University of Chicago is also at work on a political analysis of electorate the coverage of the Laine controversy inMarathi print media. Dalrymple unfortunately makes recollection of the events. 7. The first mistake is the date of the attack on Bahulkar. is not "elderly". on the one hand." South China 9: 9. mistakes In this excellent in his historical (Mathur 2004) does not attribute the two review essay." Doniger managed in November confined to India. N. See Sathaye (2004) for an excellent beginning to this project. 2004. Bal Thackeray is from the Candraseniya K?yastha Prabhu community. 85: 1. Scott. Elite Politics in Rural India: Political Carter. 14. S. Chavan passed away on February 26. 12. Doniger. 9. Also see Vedantam's (2004c) reply to Malhotra. January Baldauf." The Christian Science Monitor 96. and Kripal. Malhotra (2004). of from the University (see <http://jitnasa. Sharma (2004). . for example.. on the other. S.india-forum. 13. at least inmy estimation. thus preceding the withdrawal of the book. Rawat lost his seat following the 2004 elections. 8. where are described as "Hindu nationalists.2004 in Bombay. which he claims took place in October. B. 2004. "How a US Historian Sparked Calls for His Arrest?in India. and Laine. Second. Described 2003 had an egg flung at her while lecturing by one bilious website as "the Gita-hating porno writer to avoid the avian assault of Chicago. It actually took place on December 22." 11. "Institute Ransacked Cited over 'Slur' By Author. Stratification and Political Alliances in Western Maharashtra. asserts no link between reactions to the work of Courtright. 1974. Nefarious politics is by no means the recent national elections in the United States by Miller References Abdi. Cambridge Cambridge: University Press. The core constituency of the Shiv Sena aligns so-called "Other Backward Castes and Classes" the higher-caste the Shiv Sena has presented sentiment with Candraseniya K?yastha Prabhu community. Yet that defends Mar?th? itself as an organization the Sambhaji Brigade members 10.>).Wendy Doniger in London. in a online response to an article by Vedantam (2004a). 15. See. See a discussion (2005). Bahulkar.. M.The Laine Controversy and the Study of Hinduism I 197 in the early 1990s..

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"In Response to Rajiv Malhotra's on Shivaji. on April 10:A1(A6). January 15. 3: 241-64. "Fortuitous Convergences Transcultural Political Elites in the Medieval> . April 23. 2004c. " Culture 'Sultan Among Hindu Kings': Dress. Phillip B. "Wrath Over a Hindu God. Shankar." The Hindu. 55.4: 851-80. CHRISTIAN LEE NOVETZKE is Assistant Professor of South Asia Studies and Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Shankar. of Hawaii Honolulu: University Press. [Online] and Ethno Wagoner. 2004a. "US Academics Hinduism. 1993. Phillip B. <cln@sas. Shankar." Vedantam.upenn. 2004. Tidings of the King: A Translation historical Analysis of the R?yav?cakamu. and the at Vijayanagara. Islamicization of Hindu Studies." Column. April 17: L07. 1999. Vijapurkar. Phillip B. "Maharashtra Bans Book Wagoner. 1996. Toronto Star.The Laine Controversy and the Study of Hinduism I 201 Vedantam. Mahesh." The Washington Attacked for Writings Post." The Journal of Asian and Essential Ambiguities: Wagoner. Vedantam." International Journal of Hindu Studies 3. Suleka. 2004b.

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