H-ASIA: Hindu Ascetics Film Reviewed (fwd)

LESTER ROBERT C lester at spot.Colorado.EDU
Tue Oct 17 23:25:14 UTC 1995

I also have reviewed this film and, if anything, had an even stronger 
negative reaction.

On Tue, 17 Oct 1995, Frank Conlon wrote:

> Colleagues:
> I believe that the attached item would be of interest to indology list 
> readers.
> Frank Conlon
> Co-editor of H-ASIA
> To: Multiple recipients of list H-ASIA <H-ASIA at msu.edu>
> Subject: H-ASIA: Hindu Ascetics Film Reviewed
>                                 H-ASIA
>                            October 17, 1995
> A review of "Hindu Ascetics" film.  Four thumbs down!
> ***********************************************************************
> From: "B. Hatcher" <bhatcher at titan.iwu.edu>
> I recently previewed a copy of a film entitled, 'Hindu Ascetics,'
> distributed by Films for the Humanities.  Because I have had good luck
> with some of their films in the past, I looked forward to viewing this
> title.  How shocked I was, then, to find it not only poorly researched
> and written, but also glaringly off the mark regarding its subject and
> guilty of perpetuating some of the worst stereotypes of Indian
> religions.  Contrary to what one might expect, the film offers very
> little entree into the brahmanical ideology and practice of sannyasa.
> Instead, it chooses to focus on the most shocking forms of
> self-mortification (such as piercing the tongue and other parts of the
> body) as well as on some of the old side-show images of 'Hindoo holy men'
> lying on beds of nails.  With no sophistication the film shifted from
> forms of religious charlatanism (swallowing nails) to complex rituals of
> possession.  Shiva's trident was more than once identified as a tripod,
> and the goal of Hindu asceticism was again and again and again said to be
> 'redemption.'  I wouldn't accept this from one of my undergraduates and
> was shocked to find it in a film I contemplated buying to show to just
> such an audience.  I should have known when the film's opening shot was
> of the Taj Mahal.
> I guess I was wondering if anyone else had seen this film and had a
> similar reaction.  Am I out of line here?  If not, I would warn others
> against purchasing or using this film for teaching about Hinduism or
> Indian religion.
> Brian A. Hatcher
> Department of Religion
> Illinois Wesleyan University
> Bloomington, IL  61701
> e-mail:  bhatcher at titan.iwu.edu
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