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About Amit Varma

Amit Varma is a writer based in Mumbai. He worked in journalism for over a decade, and won the Bastiat Prize for Journalism in 2007. His bestselling novel, My Friend Sancho, was published in 2009. He is best known for his blog, India Uncut. His current project is a non-fiction book about the lack of personal and economic freedoms in post-Independence India.




Bastiat Prize 2007 Winner

Recent entries

Mahi and the Indian Man

This is the 24th installment of Rhyme and Reason, my weekly set of limericks for the Sunday Times of India…

Narendra Modi Makes Some New Year Resolutions

This is a guest column published today in the Sunday Times of India edit page. Every December, I like to…

Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the most macho of them all?

This is the 34th installment of Lighthouse, my monthly column for BLink, a supplement of the Hindu Business Line. This…

Three Reasons Why A Cashless Society Would Be A Disaster

This is a guest column published today in the Sunday Times of India edit page. I am a great admirer…

Lost in the Shallows

So I finally saw ‘Dear Zindagi’ (after invoking it for the sake of my column last Sunday), and I was…

27 October, 2009

‘The Epics are For Everyone’

So says Amitava Kumar in his Rave Out of Nina Paley’s Sita Sings the Blues.

The wonderful thing about our epics is how open-source they are. Over the centuries, people have been free to remix them and interpret them as they like. Indeed, Hinduism itself has been open-source, to the extent that you can be an atheist and still be a Hindu. Pwnage, no?

Sadly, in recent times, pseudo-fundamentalist forces have tried to reshape Hinduism as a static, puritanical religion—the same kind of people who protest at Paley’s film, and who object to all kinds of things in the name of Hinduism. They have been strident and militant, and their claims to standing for Hinduism are taken more and more seriously because the counter-claims are too muted. Indeed, the finest counter to the likes of the BJP and the RSS is perhaps not from a standpoint of liberalism or secularism or anything like that, but from a standpoint of Hinduism itself. The intolerance of Hindutva is anti-Hindu—that is a potent case to make, because it strikes at their very raison d’etre.

Having said that, if recent election results are anything to go by, most people get that intuitively anyway.

In related reading, check out this superb interview of Wendy Doniger, on similar lines to the subject of this post. And also my friend Prem Panicker‘s Bhimsen (pdf link), a retelling of the Mahabharata from Bhim’s point of view.

Posted by Amit Varma in Arts and entertainment | Freedom | India | Small thoughts

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