Indian Publisher to Pull U.S. Scholar’s Book on Hinduism After Lawsuit

Penguin Books India has agreed to withdraw and destroy all copies of an American scholar’s book about Hinduism that prompted a legal fight with a nationalist group, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The 2009 book, The Hindus: An Alternative History, was written by Wendy Doniger, a professor of the history of religions at the University of Chicago. It was published by the Indian unit of the New York-based publisher Penguin Random House.

Ms. Doniger’s book drew fire from some conservative Hindus who asserted that it mischaracterized Hindu beliefs and traditions. A nationalist group sued in 2011 in a bid to force the book’s withdrawal.

The publishing house agreed to recall the book in India, and the group that had sued over the book agreed to drop its lawsuit against Penguin in the United States. The group also agreed to drop a criminal complaint against the author in India.

In an emailed statement cited by the Journal, Ms. Doniger said she was “angry and disappointed to see this happen,” adding that she was “deeply troubled by what it foretells for free speech in India in the present, and steadily worsening, political climate.”

She noted that the book was available on Amazon’s Kindle, saying that even if legal means of publication fail, “the Internet has other ways of keeping books in circulation.”

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