Launch of 'Invading the Sacred' - A book that matters 
- Bhasyam G Iyengar, NYC 
Photos courtesy: Kali Group 
August 7, 2007 

Scholars, thinkers and writers debate and discuss at Villa Russo 

Richmond Hill, Queens, NY: July 23, 2007: Religion, being a matter of 'faith', is one of the most controversial issues that have bothered humankind from time immemorial -needless to say it will continue to do so as long as human beings continue to inhabit the planet called Earth.  If the humans come across a religion devoid of 'faith,' it can be safely said; perhaps, religion can be rationally and logically tackled.  Till that utopia is a reasonable certainty, 'offensive observations about any religion' could only be detrimental to the cause of peace and tranquility of humankind.  Thankfully, the animal and plant worlds are saved of this human created unnecessary agony, despite the fact that a few specimens of both these forms of life have been dragged as symbols in the weird faculty of religion - again, by humans.  Could it be because, plants blissfully do not think and animals think just up to the existential point?  True, it is the 'thought' factor and the 'thinking faculty' that has made humans what they are today, constantly evolving and decoding the mysteries of 'elements of existence.'  But then, a cursory look at the history of the humans also points toward the miseries of existence - past, present and potential future - most of them apparently human made - being the outcome of the 'negative thought' leading to 'negative thinking,' by those humans past, present and the imminent future, possessed by 'negative tendencies.'  A faith based school of thought like 'religion' is highly vulnerable for exploitation by humans obsessed with 'negative tendencies' replacing 'creative tendencies.' 

Now, 'offensive observations' toward any 'religion,' especially the unfounded lot, could provoke even the 'thoughtful' and 'liberal' minded followers of the particular religion that is targeted, casting doubts and apprehensions about the motive of the 'observing' group/s and silent approvers of such 'unfounded observations.'  It is at this crucial juncture, system that comprises of such 'observers,' should take charge and do everything that is necessary to dispel the doubts and apprehensions of the followers of the targeted religion, especially when they happen to be liberal, law-abiding, democratic and progressive by natural tendencies.  When the followers of the targeted religion are also of the 'high productivity' caliber, contributing significantly to their adopted system, as is present reality, meaning the followers of a certain religion discussed in the book, in fact, it becomes obligatory that the system should pitch forth appropriately and convince them of its democratic and tolerant qualities.  It is another matter if such observations are made to any other less tolerant and more vitriolic religion/s, for then, such 'observers' need to protect themselves against possible /imminent 'hate crimes and campaigns.'  Such 'observers' are hereby advised to take a glance around the globe and watch the reactions of followers of 'militant religion/s,' even when the 'observations' are by far logical, rational and well founded.  The immensely thoughtful book 'Invading the Sacred' indeed mulls and debates the 'offensive remarks about a particular religion,' and hence deserves recognition of every kind.  Suffice to say it is just not an outburst from the dogmatic sector, but a scholarly literary work backed up by immaculate research and pragmatic insight.  It is sincere and forthright in expressing the anguish and pain of a highly educated sector of American society and wonders about the uncalled for hate campaign that is let loose, apparently without any justified reasons.  If social scientists tend to attribute the vicious campaign to sheer 'jealousy,'well, so be it. 

'Invading the Sacred' is edited by three distinguished scholars of different backgrounds -an interesting trio of scientist-writer / professor of philosophy-writer / practicing attorney. Krishnan Ramaswamy is a scientist with a background in psychometric research.  A researcher in the field of 'major mental and neurological illnesses,' Ramaswamy is an ardent student of Vedas and Sanskrit, with lifelong interests in Vedanta, Panini, and devotion poetry from various regions of India, particularly in Marathi.  Antonio T de Nicolas is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the State University of New York.  A prolific author with 27 books to his credit; he is currently Director, Biocultural Research Institute.  Aditi Banerjee is a B A in International Relations, magna cum laude, Tufts University and J D from Yale Law School.  A practicing attorney in New York, she has authored many Hinduism-related books and preservation of knowledge as enunciated in Sanatana Dharma (alternate name for Hinduism) is her eternal interest.  The integrity and intellect of the editors is beyond question and being spirited admirers of Hinduism, they present the book with rationality and reasoning of high quality, true to the core tone and spirit of Hinduism.  It is a collection of probing essays and research papers of 13 authors from different backgrounds with a common goal of spreading the true message of Hinduism, as enunciated in its rich array of Vedantic philosophy.  The emphasis is basically on exploring and explaining the 'the core Hindu thought' and silencing its critics and detractors of unfounded remarks and observations that are derogatory and insulting, ignorance apart.  It is a refined intellectual rebuttal to those who are, perhaps, just able to scratch the mighty Hindu concepts of 'God and Godliness.'  The treatment is truly intellectual, mesmerizing and challenging to those who dare to challenge. 

(L-R) Prof Roop Persaud, Ramesh Kalicharran, Pandita Indrani, Krishnan Ramaswamy, Aditi Banerjee, Bhasyam Iyengar at the launch
The gathering at the launch
The serene launch event at the elegant hall of Villa Russo, 101-12 Ave and Lefferts Blvd, Queens, NY, was brisk and professional.  It was jointly sponsored by The Indo-Caribbean Council (ICC) and Association of Artists and Writers, Inc, Queens, NY.  The occasion was further invigorating with the presence of Dr. Prem Misir, Pro-Chancellor, University of Guyana, Ramesh D Kalicharran, International Coordinator, Indo-Caribbean Council, Rajiv Malhotra, Infinity Foundation, Rev. Seopaul Singh, Advisor, Guyana Journal and Advisory Trust, ICC, from Association of Artists and Writers, Hon. Dr Taj Rajkumar, District Leader, New York State Assembly District 31, Haji Zakir, Advisory Trust, ICC and many more knowledgeable participants.  Dr Prem Misir spoke about the book and the occasion. His observations were received with much cheer and aplomb. 
Dr Prem Misir launches as editors, Aditi Banerjee (L) and 
Krishnan Ramaswamy (R) share the moment
Rajiv Malhotra (left extreme) and Dr Prem Misir (right extreme) 
at the Panel discussion
Dr Taj Rajkumar promised all the support and assistance to the Hindu community that is sincerely trying to project its image in the right perspective. The editors gave a comprehensive account of the contents and the inherent urge that prompted them to produce it.  Their presentations were crisp and captivating.  Panel Discussion from the panelists Dr Prem Misir, Rajiv Malhotra and Padita Indrani was consumed eagerly by the sizable audience.  Almost the entire audience participated in the Q&A session and the spirit was sparkling and educative.  

Professor Roop Persaud, General Secretary, ICC, was remarkably immaculate in his role as emcee of the event.  Sizing up the spirit and mood of the audience deftly, he conducted the whole proceedings very professionally, sprinkling his witty and apt remarks wherever necessary.  He kept the going in good pace, never losing his sight on the clock.  At the end of the nearly three hours everyone was looking introspective yet relaxed.  It was an occasion of revelation and time passed on its own. 

'Invading the Sacred' is published Rupa & Co, New Delhi and interested persons can visit for further information about the enlightening literary work. 

Bhasyam G Iyengar can be contacted on (646) - 241 - 4963 

What the eminent say about 'Invading the Sacred' 

The essays in the volume reignite a debate which has politico historical antecedents. 
-Kapila Vatsyayan, Academician and Member of Rajya Sabha 

This book is a true eye-opener… 
-Pt. Rajan Sajan Misra  

This book is in the spirit of promoting an appreciation of cultures in the pursuit of a fundamental unity of all peoples…Invading the Sacred stands tall and honorable against the ethnocentric writings of Indic thought. 
-Prem Misir, Pro-Chancellor, University of Guyana   

The perspectives and sensitivities of Hindus (should) be considered in the presentation of Hinduism in scholarship, textbooks and the media. What is remarkable is that many western academics are so resistant to it. 
-Nathan Kartz, Prof. of Religious Studies, Florida International University 

Hate speech against minorities has resulted in attacks upon them…Leaders and thinkers in the UK should invite debates and discussions…in the greater endeavor to create a truly diverse and pluralistic society. 
-Lord Rana, Member of the British House of Lords 

American scholars who do not have enough knowledge about a culture and religion should not write about it. 
-Pt. Jasraj 

Modernism is not culture-free, neither is Social Science: so, a work like this might well advance our trove of knowledge of the real world of ideas and practices, and also of the biases inherited via the long legacy of EuroModernism. 
-Rajani Kannepalli Kanth, Visiting Fellow, Harvard