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Wendy Doniger Explores Hinduism, Jewelry and Mythology

Wendy Doniger, the Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions in the Divinity School as well as in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, the Committee on Social Thought, and the College, is one of the most influential scholars in Hinduism and author of sixteen books and countless articles.  She was recently interviewed by the University of Chicago News Office following the publication of The Hindus: An Alternative History and her receipt of an honorary doctorate from Harvard University.

From the interview:

What is your latest book about?

It’s a book about the history of the Hindus, from 50 million B.C.E. to the present. It says that there is no evidence that Rama was born in the place that is now known as Ayodha and there is no evidence that there was a Hindu temple on the spot where the Babur Mosque was. And that there is no evidence that Rama and a bunch of monkeys built a bridge from India to Sri Lanka, as the Hindu Right have claimed. That’s just mythology, which is lovely, I’ve studied it all my life, but you don’t legislate on the basis of mythology.

But I felt that I wanted a book to be out there to counteract their claims and to tell the history of the Hindus the way I think it should be told, the way it is more to the credit to the Hindus. It’s a very positive book; it shows how for so much of their history the Hindus have been so tolerant, and so open to different forms of religion, and that to close it down now would be a terrible shame.

Doniger will join the Chicago Humanities Forum on February 3, 2010 to present “Faking It: Narratives of Circular Jewelry and Resourceful Women.”  This lecture is part of an ongoing series sponsored by the Franke Institute for the Humanities as part of their broader mission to make the humanities relevant to people’s everyday life.  Entering its tenth year of programming, the Chicago Humanities Forum provides an opportunity for University of Chicago faculty to engage with a public audience by presenting some aspect of their current research.

Engage yourself in the humanities at the University of Chicago by attending Doniger’s lecture (and future Humanities Forum events) at the Gleacher Center, located in downtown Chicago at 450 N. Cityfront Plaza Drive. All the lectures are free, but advance registration is recommended. To reserve your spot for the lecture, please call 773-702-8274, and for more information about the Franke Institute please visit

To read Wendy Doniger’s full interview with the University of Chicago please click here and to register for the upcoming lecture sponsored by the Franke Institute please click here.

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