January 08 2013: Educators’ Society for the Heritage of India (ESHI) and Hindu Students Council (HSC) are releasing ‘Beware of God’: an educational documentary series concerning Indian culture. Based on the work of the acclaimed thinker Professor S.N. Balagangadhara (Ghent University, Belgium), this documentary series is available online at http://www.youtube.com/ESHIFilms. The educational film will be released on Friday January 11, 2013.

Prof Balagangadhara

The misrepresentation of Indian culture in school textbooks and the media has attracted the attention of critical minds in the West and India. The struggle to correct such misrepresentations resulted in some changes, but these are largely cosmetic and the underlying problems still remain. In this series, Prof. Balagangadhara explains how the basic problem lies in the way the Western culture has viewed other cultures like that of India. Western thinking about ‘religion’ was structured by a Christian framework.

Presupposing the truth of a series of beliefs about humanity and religion, European scholars described the Indian traditions as the ‘religions’ of the East. It is they who invented religions like ‘Hinduism’, ‘Jainism’, and ‘Buddhism’… and thus transformed the traditions of India into variants of Christianity. It is they who told us, the Indian people, that these are the religions we practice and believe in! And, under colonialism, we just accepted this as the truth about India. The result is colonial consciousness. When Indians discuss ‘Hinduism’, we talk in terms of ‘God’, ‘worship’, ‘religion’ and look for the ‘religious beliefs’, ‘sacred books’ and ‘ten commandments’ of Hinduism, without even knowing what these English terms mean.

As a consequence, we have lost access to our traditions. We know neither Western culture nor its religion, and yet attempt to mold our traditions to make them look like a proper ‘religion’. As this series shows, the time is ripe to rediscover the Indian traditions and see that they are far richer and deeper than the descriptions we have inherited from Western scholarship.

After having lived in Europe for more than 35 years and doing research into Western culture and Indian culture, Prof. Balagangadhara made these discoveries. His work inspired Mayank Shekhar to take the initiative to make this series of documentary films. He was concerned about the effect the Western story about Indian culture and Hinduism was having on Indian youth living in the USA and Europe. Therefore, he envisioned a documentary film that would explain to them where this story comes from and how it is not the truth about India. He found support from two organizations based in the U.S., the Educators’ Society for the Heritage of India (ESHI) and Hindu Students Council (HSC). The film was produced by Suyojan Multitech Services (India) Pvt. Ltd