Wendy Doniger (1940 – ) is a leading American scholar of Hinduism. Her study of the seemingly endless variations of Hindu myth illustrates some of the intricacies of the Hindu imagination.
O’Flaherty’s translation of the Rig Veda compares well in clarity and readability to the once unrivaled S. Radhakrishnan version. However, not everyone agrees with her structuralist-influenced interpretations of Hinduism.
At times it seems that Doniger makes the same old mistake that many “smart” scholars make. They read and read and read just about everything they can in order to understand. But they get caught up in a web of the intellect. That may be alright for computer programmers and coders. But when the topic is religion, one can get the feeling that, ironically, they don’t really know what they’re talking about. Too much locked up in the conceptual and not able to transcend that arid desert.
Beginning in the early 2000s, a disagreement arose within the Hindu community over whether Doniger accurately described Hindu traditions. Together with many of her colleagues, she was the subject of a critique by Rajiv Malhotra for using psychoanalytic concepts to interpret non-Western subjects.¹
As we see in the photo (top right), she’s a great fit with academia as it currently stands. Western academia, at any rate. Things were set up quite differently where I did my M.A. (Visva Bharati, India).