The Most Controversial Books That Are Banned in India
Literature is powerful. Literature is light. Without books, humanity cannot evolve. Probably this is the major reason why invaders, always destroy libraries, schools, and universities of the conquered region. Because literature has the power to change perceptions, evolve the human race, and even make people question the ‘un-questionable’. Thus, it’s no news that many authors and their literature remain controversial to date. From offending society to hurting religious sentiments, several authors in India had their works banned.
Here are a few pieces of literature that are banned in India and probably will remain so.
An Area of Darkness by V. S. Naipaul
An Area of Darkness written by V.S Naipaul is basically a travelogue detailing Naipaul’s journey through India in the early sixties. It was the first of Naipaul’s acclaimed Indian trilogy which includes India: A Wounded Civilization (1977) and India: A Million Mutinies Now (1990). The book was banned because it portrayed India in a negative light by highlighting the country’s most controversial flaws- the caste system and the pride of postcolonial nostalgia.
Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul was a Trinidadian-born British writer of works of fiction and nonfiction in English.
The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
This list cannot be completed without Salman Rushdie’s ‘The Satanic Verse’. The book inspired by the life of Muhammad was banned as soon as it appeared in 1988. It is considered one of the most controversial books ever written in India. The book, as the theme suggests, supposedly hurt Islamic sentiments, and hence is banned not just in India but by the majority of Islamic states. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran even issued a Fatwa against Rushdie forcing him to go into hiding for a few years. The book created a major stir with Rushdie’s Japanese translator stabbed to death while his publisher in Norway was shot three times in an attempted assassination.
Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie is an Indian-born British-American novelist.
The Hindus: An Alternative History by Wendy Doniger
Published in 2009, the book features boisterous representations of Krishna and a horse whose body is made of beautiful naked forms to name a few. Dinanath Batra, a right-wing activist openly expressed his outrage against the book as it portrays Hinduism in a bad light. The book was burned across the country by several fundamentalists for promoting religious defamation. Even the publisher of the book, Penguin Books India was in the line of fire to have allegedly violated Article 295a of the Indian law. This led to the announcement to withdraw the book from sale in India. However, the book was republished in 2015 by a different publisher.
Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty is an American Indologist whose professional career has spanned five decades.
Madhorubagan (One Part Woman) by Perumal Murugan
The Madhorubagan is the harrowing account of how a communities orthodox ritual obsessions can tear apart a loving couple. The novel is based on ancient cultural practices among Tamil Hindus, especially the temple of Ardhanareeswarar. The book was criticized by several people in the community for hurting religious sentiments and portraying women in a bad light. The author, Perumal Murugan was harassed to the extent that he literally announced his end to literature. After several hearings, the Madras High Court finally ruled in favor of Murugan, rejecting the petition to remove all copies of the novel and its English translation. The book is now available in India.
Perumal Murugan is an Indian author, scholar, and literary chronicler who writes in Tamil.
Rangila Rasul by Pandit Chamupati
As the name suggests, the book revolves around the sexual and marital life of Prophet Muhammed. Published in 1927, the book was considered highly controversial owing to satire and its publication led to reforms in India’s penal code that made blasphemy illegal and contributed to promoting the partition of India. Mahashay Rajpal, the publisher of the book, kept Pandit Chamupati’s name out in order to avoid any threats and published the book anonymously. As soon as it was published, it received massive backlash from the Muslims of Lahore and the colonial government banned it in 1924. However, despite the ban, the mob killed Mahashay Rajpal by stabbing his chest eight times.
Pandit Chamupati’s name was never released officially by Mahashay Rajpal.
Jinnah: India, Partition, Independence by Jaswant Singh
Jaswant Singh, a then BJP senior leader was faced with severe charges after he published Jinnah: India, Partition, Independence. The book criticizes Congress leaders Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and their favor of Jinnah. As soon as the book was published in 2009, it landed in controversy. Though the book majorly revolves around political journey of Jinnah and his actions that led to the partition, Singh also mentioned his dislike of some of the policies of celebrated Indian politicians and this was enough to get the book banned. However, the arguments presented in the book are free of any overt religious ideology.
Major Jaswant Singh was an officer of the Indian Army, an author, and an Indian Cabinet Minister.
Lajja by Taslima Nasreen
One of the most controversial writers, Taslima Nasreen’s had many books banned both in India and Bangladesh. Her literature ‘Lajja’ is no exception. Lajja follows the plight of the Hindu minority in Bangladesh, right after the Babri Masjid demolition in India in 1992 which triggered a series of Hindu-Muslim riots in India. The book openly talked about the realities of the riots and criticized secularism under the shadow. Despite the depiction of the brutal reality of the riots, not just ‘Lajja’ was banned but even Taslima herself was banished from Bangladesh. She was forced into exile and ripped off her citizenship. She even received repeated threats from radical Muslim groups and was attacked both physically and legally several times.
Taslima Nasrin is a Bangladeshi-Swedish writer, physician, feminist, secular humanist, and activist.