Audrey Truschke a supposed historian who is best known for whitewashing the crimes of barbaric Mughal ruler Aurangzeb, cooked up a storm on Friday by alleging that Lord Ram was called a “misogynistic pig” by Sita while she when through her Agnipariksha (a trial by fire):
In the above tweet, Truschke claimed to have “loosely translated” Valmiki’s narration of the Ramayana. Soon objections were raised over the comment of hers, and she later brazened it out by claiming that she had “summarised parts of the Ramayana accurately and in colloquial English”.
When asked to provide references for her sensational claims she cited a couple of verses from a “Sanskrit critical edition” which she claimed were translated into English by Goldman and Pollock.
This was soon picked up by well-known Twitter historian True Indology who asserted that Sita had merely accused Ram of not trusting her, without going to the extent of calling him a “misogynistic pig”. Coming to the references provided by Truschke, True Indology claimed that the two scholars contradict each other and that Truschke herself had provided incorrect references.
To drive home his point, he later posted the complete translation of the said verse where nothing remotely close to “misogynistic pig” was visible:
Audrey @audreytruschke claims Sita called Rama a misgynist pig and refers to pollock’s translation as source. I am posting Pollock’s translation of the verse in full for all to read
No where does she call Rama a “misogynist pig”. Far from it, she says “why don’t you trust me?” pic.twitter.com/bObClruKHy
— True Indology (@TrueIndology) April 20, 2018
Twitter user and columnist Abhinav Agarwal too listed out the said Sanskrit Shloka in question, and translated Sita’s statement to Ram as, “Why are you speaking such harsh words, which are violent to hear for me, like a common man speaking to a common woman”. He also floated the possibility of the word “common” being replaced by vulgar but again there was no connection to the phrase, “misogynist pig”.
Later when she was supposedly cornered, Truschke described her controversial statement as being colloquial, and not being a literal one:
Going back to Sita at the agnipariksa – The issue here is, in part, one of translation. I offered a loose, colloquial translation, not a strict literal one. I think it’s important to make translated texts alive in their target language (to use a somewhat technical term) #Ramayana
— Audrey Truschke (@AudreyTruschke) April 20, 2018
Other Hindu scholars too took note of Audrey’s claims and author Hindol Sengupta described them as an attack on a non-white culture by racist white supremacists while pressing her to prove her claims or apologise instead:
World over a major problem of politics and academia is rampant White Supremacy, insiduous and overt racism, constant vilification of non-White culture, religion, iconography. As part of academia, I am ashamed @RutgersU has allowed open racism, White Supremacy by @AudreyTruschke
— HindolSengupta (@HindolSengupta) April 20, 2018
Even bestselling author Amish Tripathi drew a conclusion similar to Sengupta:
Salil, are u supporting White Supremacist deliberate mistranslations to insult non-white religions & Gods? There is a difference between scholarship and white-supremacist bias. It has to be called out. Have u actually read what she called Lord Ram? @saliltripathi@HindolSenguptahttps://t.co/KpRuzEjeKg
— Amish Tripathi (@authoramish) April 20, 2018
Even though not commenting directly on the matter, noted author and economist Sanjiv Sanyal listed a quote from Edward Said’s book Orientalism, about Western scholars controlling the interpretation of a culture, which might accurately describe what Truschke and her ilk might be up to:
Quote from Edward Said’s classic “Orientalism” on how Western scholars establish a monopoly on how a culture should be interpreted. This is then used subtly to colonise and control a people. Said wrote about Middle East but also true of India. pic.twitter.com/P3ckw4EDiV
— Sanjeev Sanyal (@sanjeevsanyal) April 20, 2018
Even after being thoroughly proven wrong Truschke didn’t apologise for her erroneous and defamatory claims and took refuge under a supposed victim card by compiling the alleged abuses she received, without engaging in a proper debate with the aforementioned scholars, who respectfully raised various pertinent points.