UK Hindus Work to Correct Poor Portrayal of Hinduism

October 27, 2006

Source: Hindu Press International

LONDON, ENGLAND, October 27, 2006: The follwoing report was sent by Jay Lakhani of the Hindu Council UK:

"We participated at the Foreign Press Association meeting where faith members from Sikhism, Islam and Hinduism debated the issue of so-called "honor killing" (usually, the murder of a female for supposed sexual or marital offenses -- see here) with Dr. Gill a lecturer from Roehampton University. At the start of the meeting we clearly stated that on enquiry with an individual at the Metropolitan Police Authority they could not recall a single case of honor killing in the Hindu faith in the UK over the past many years. So a question can be asked, 'If Hinduism is not implicated then what is a Hindu doing at this meeting?' The first reason for participating at this meeting was to respond to a very faulty poll carried out by the BBC that indirectly implicated Hindus as possible sympathizers to honor killings. Dr. Gill agreed that the poll was seriously flawed.

"The second reason for participating at this debate was to pro-actively invoke Hindu teachings that offer equality and dignity to women. The pluralistic Hinduism allows God to be addressed as a male or as a female. This is the highest dignity any religion can offer to its women. Dr. Gill quickly objected saying Hinduism advocates violence against women as can be seen with the Sati tradition. We had to rebuke her sharply asking us where in the Hindu teachings do we find the idea that women have to be burnt on the funeral pyre of their dead husbands? Such practices have nothing to do with Hinduism. The Sati phenomenon arose when India was suffering barbaric invasions. The invaders attempted to possess the queens of the defeated Hindu kings. These brave queens preferred to jump on the funeral pyres of their dead husbands rather than fall into the hands of these barbarians. That is the origin of the Sati tradition. It is not some kind of cruel injunction imposed by Hinduism on its widows. This is not the first time we come across such poor portrayal of Hinduism. There is a publication by Professor Kim Knott called 'A short introduction to Hinduism' where an image of a woman being burnt as a sati adorns its pages. This indirectly implies that burning widows is some kind of Hindu injunction. Dr. Gill, a senior lecturer, must have picked up her knowledge of Hinduism from such poor literature.