Lara Croft

Hindus object to Tomb Raider sequences

Author: VIJI SUNDARAM

Publication: INDIAWEST 

Publication Date: Jan 17, 2002, 03.33 PM IST

A Hindu coalition in the US is once again taking up the cudgels against the us entertainment industry for what it calls “religious bigotry.” the target this time is Paramount Pictures which last November released in the us the action-packed movie, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider .

In the movie is a scene where statues of monkey soldiers at a temple at the famed Angkor Wat complex in Cambodia spring to life and take on monster features as they attack the movie’s heroine, lara croft, played by Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie. croft pulls a gun and blows them away. “they’ve depicted Hanuman soldiers as monsters,” world Vaishnava association spokesman Syama Sundar said. “these are obviously revered devotees of the lord.”

Responding to an angry letter jointly written by WVA and the American Hindus Against Defamation, Paramount’s Senior Vice President Karen Magid wrote back that the entertainment giant, prior to the filming, “discussed with Cambodian authorities the picture’s Cambodian locations and engaged a Cambodian company to act as Paramount’s liaison with the government. “these authorities were provided with a story synopsis which included the depiction of statues guarding the tomb, who come to life to defend the tomb. after reviewing the story synopsis, the authority for the protection and management of Angkor and the region of Siem Reap granted Paramount permission to film the Angkor Wat temple and sacred grounds.”

Magid went on to say that because paramount got permission from those authorities, as well as from the King of Cambodia to film in Cambodia, it did not think the contents of the movie script would offend anyone’s sensibilities. since it did, “Paramount deeply regrets that any aspect of Tomb Raider may have offended the World Vaishnava Association or any of its individual members,” Magid wrote, adding that no disrespect was meant to Hinduism or Buddhism. but Ajay Shah of American Hindus Against Defamation said that Paramount’s response “doesn’t go far enough.” he said Paramount hasn’t agreed to WVAs and AHAD’s demands to not get “any derivative work” out of the sequence, like video games and advertisement material. nor has it agreed to edit out those offending sequences before it releases the film in other countries, he said.

Additionally, “that apology is basically meaningless because they have not committed to refraining from doing such things in the future,” Sundar said. Sundar said he didn’t think Paramount did the offending sequences out of ignorance, given that the movie evolved from the video game, Tomb Raider III, where Lord Shiva is depicted as a monster. AHAD and WVA have taken up the issue with the video game maker, as well, Shah said. “Hindu deities and scriptures are suddenly very popular in Hollywood,” Sundar said. “but Hollywood is offending Hindu sensibilities. had it portrayed Jesus or Mother Mary as monsters, there would have been a huge outcry. basically, it amounts to religious bigotry.” Shah said that his group became aware of the offending scene only after someone saw the movie on a flight and contacted his group. the movie finished its run in the US and the UK several weeks ago, and has begun playing in India now. “had we known about those sequences sooner, we would have jumped on the case long ago,” Shah said.

WVA, which represents some 30 Vaishnava groups worldwide, and AHAD have gotten together in the past and taken a tough stand against companies and individuals who have used depictions of Hindu deities as a marketing tool. they forced a nightclub in chicago five years ago to stop having their waiters dress up as Hindu gods while serving liquor to their customers. they got SONY to pull an Aerosmith album that had a picture of Lord Krishna with a woman’s breasts on its cover. two years ago, they forced a Seattle firm called Sittin’ Pretty to stop manufacturing toilet seats with images of Hindu gods and goddesses on them. They successfully protested the depiction of Hanuman and Krishna in the movie, Xena: The Warrior Princess . ” Paramount has not heard the last from us,” Shah said earlier this week.

Xena_Hanuman

Urgent Clarification Sought From Producers of “Xena”

AHAD Letter to the producers of the show:

Urgent Clarification Sought From Producers of “Xena”

American Hindus Against Defamation

Representing several prominent Hindu organizations in N. America

Sue May
Pacific Renaissance Pictures Ltd.
P. O. Box 90409
Auckland, New Zealand

Dear Ms. May

It has been brought to our notice that an upcoming episode of Xena : The Warrior Princes titled, “The Way” will depict God Krishna, revered and worshiped by hundreds of millions of Hindus. We have also been made to understand that this fictionalized portrayal of Lord Krishna may not be appropriate or in good taste.

I would like to express strong concerns about this episode on behalf of American Hindus Against Defamation (AHAD). AHAD is a forum representing several prominent Hindu organizations in North America. These constituents of AHAD represent a vast majority of a million strong Hindu community in North America. AHAD was at the forefront of protest against SONY Music for denigrating display of Lord Krishna on the cover of album “Nine Lives” by Aerosmith. Over 20,000 people from around the world signed the protest against SONY Music in less than a week and thousands of others wrote and faxed their protest to SONY which eventually led to the withdrawal of this album cover.

We would like to find out more about the episode, “The Way”. If possible we would like to request that you send us a transcript or a preview copy of this show so that we can find out how this revered God has been portrayed in your show. We can assure you of the confidentiality of any material that is sent to us.

We certainly hope that the Universal Studios does not intend to hurt the sentiments of a billion strong Hindu community around the world. However, there is a distinct possibility that the airing of a story offensive to Hindus will indeed permanently alienate the Hindu community not just towards this particular show but all the entertainment products that Universal Studios produces. After all, Hindus around the world can hardly be silent spectators while the God they worship so passionately is being denigrated.

It is our clear intention to avoid any confrontations or controversies. We have always sought to amicably resolve the issues that hurt the Hindu sentiments in the very early stage, and we are indeed hopeful that this issue will also be similarly resolved.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Ajay Shah,
American Hindus Against Defamation

Xena_Kali

Portrayal of Shree Krishna on Xena : The Warrior Princess Raises Concerns of Hindus Worldwide

Producers of the popular TV show, “Xena: Warrior Princess” have cast Krishna as a fictional supporting player in an upcoming action episode – “The Way”.

The program, produced by Universal Studios, has Xena “seeking the help of the god Krishna to rescue Gabrielle and Eli from the clutches of the King of the Demons.”

Hindus have voiced concern at this fictionalized portrayal of the revered Lord Shree Krisha. Our simple request to preview either the script of the episode or the episode itself, and evaluate it from the Hindu perspective has gone unanswered.

We would like to express strong concerns about this episode on behalf of American Hindus Against Defamation (AHAD).

We urge the Hindus around the world to write to the producers of the show, Universal Studios and the Pacific Renaissance Picture requesting that the Hindu concerns be fully addressed before this upcoming episode of Xena : The Warrior Princess is released.

We would like to make the following points very clear :

1. Irregardless of whether or not Bollywood also creates fictional scenarios about Lord Krishna, the point is that the way that it is apparently done here is in a way that equates Krishna with the gods of Greek and other mythology. It thus cheapens and trivializes what is inactuality something held sacred to almost one billion Hindus.

2. Creating fictional role for Lord Krishna is akin to the creation of fictional role for Jesus Christ or Prophet Mohammed.

3. Krishna is real! Krishna is the Supreme Lord, not a fictional,literary character who can be played with for mundane entertainment.

4. Hindus will be deeply offended if the producers run this show.

5. Many devotees will boycott products produced by the advertisers if the show is offensive to 1 billion strong Hindu community.

5. Universal Studios will be perceived as anti-Hindu, if they proceed with the show.

We certainly hope that the Universal Studios does not intend to hurt the sentiments of a billion strong Hindu community around the world. However, there is a distinct possibility that the airing of a story offensive to Hindus will indeed permanently alienate the Hindu community not just towards this particular show but all the entertainment products that Universal Studios produces. After all, Hindus around the world can hardly be silent spectators while the God they worship so passionately is being denigrated.

It is our clear intention to avoid any confrontations or controversies. We have always sought to amicably resolve the issues that hurt the Hindu sentiments in the very early stage, and we are indeed hopeful that this issue will also be similarly resolved.

Xena_God_Krishna

Letter from World Vaishnava Association: “Xena” World Vaishnava Association

Letter to the producers of Xena from World Vaishnava Association

India: 146 Gopesvara Road, Dist. Mathura UP Pin 281121
United States: 3585 Red Dog Drive, Camino, CA 95709
February 21, 1999

Sue May
Pacific Renaissance Pictures Ltd.
P.O. Box 90409
Auckland, New Zealand

Re: Xena: Warrior Princess

Dear Ms May

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me this afternoon, in spite of the fact you were on the road.

The World Vaishnava Association (WVA) is an umbrella organization comprised of more than 30 different independently functioning missions who are actively preaching the message of Lord Krishna as authorized in the Vedic scriptures. Member organzations are active not only in India, but in nearly 100 other countries around the world. The combined strength of WVA missions numbers in the millions and our teachings are respected and supported by a few hundred million Hindus of the non-Vaishnava tradition as well. Our rich spiritual heritage dates back some 5,000 years.

During our conversation I expressed that Vaishnavas and Hindus are disturbed and alarmed by reports that Lord Krishna has been worked into the plot of next week’s episode of Xena: Warrior Princess, entitled “The Way.” Indeed I have already coordinated with Mr. Ajay Shah of the American Hindus Against Defamation, as well as three other Hindu and Vaishnava organizations.

Lord Krishna is worshipped by several hundred million people around the world. He is the Supreme Lord and should never be manipulated by script writers and portrayed as a fictional character. Lord Krishna is not a fictional or mythical character any more than Lord Jesus Christ, The Prophet Muhammed or Allah are mythical. The overwhelming majority of Hindus and Vaishnavas will be extremely offended if they learn that Universal Studios has invented a story line for the Supreme Lord and then plugged Him into it.

Even if Lord Krishna is portrayed in a “good” or favorable role, supporting the story’s heroine, it will still be offensive to his worshippers and devotees to see him speaking fictional words and engaging in fictional actions. Krishna is real. Krishna’s pastimes are real. It is insensitive and offensive to portray Lord Krishna either as a fictional character, or as engaged in fictional activities.

I understand you are hesitant to reveal the plot of the upcoming episode. This is understandable. However, as a gesture of good faith, you should be more than willing to answer a few simple questions which will let us know whether Lord Krishna is being dealt with in a manner that is insensitive and offensive to his devotees:

1. Are fictional words spoken by Krishna as part of the plot—words to do with the fantasy story, but which Krishna in truth never spoke?

2. Does Krishna engage in fictional activities as part of the story line? If the answer to these questions is “yes”, then frankly speaking we have a problem.

We understand you may not have understood the specific concerns outlined above when you undertook the production. However, the fact that Universal Studios and the producers of Xena and Hercules were specifically advised by a number of Hindu groups (inside and outside New Zealand) in September of 1997, about our concerns that Hindu deities be treated respectfully and sensitively on your productions is not lost on us. In light of this fact, we feel more than justified in asking you to not air this particular episode unless we are able to confirm that it treats Lord Krishna in a dignified and non-fictional manner. If you comply with our wishes we will not only be grateful, but there will certainly be no hard feelings for the fact that the feelings of pious Hindus and Vaishnavas were not considered prior to production, as requested in September, 1997. Indeed if the producers of Xena or Hercules ever wish to deal with Hindu deities in future episodes, we will be more than happy to provide complimentary consultation to ensure that you do so tastefully and in a manner not offensive to followers of Indian or Vedic religions.

On the contrary if you choose to proceed with airing an episode that is offensive to Hindus and Vaishnavas, you can be assured there will be an organized international response. We don’t want this to happen. Indeed we would prefer to work with you and not against you. But this is not an issue that we take lightly.

I look forward to your prompt response.

Wishing you well,

Shanti (Peace),
Tusta Krishnadas
Press Secretary

brahma

Owner of Karma Club Responds to the Protest

Shree Srinivas Reddy posted the following response on our guestbook regarding the protest. We leave it to the readers of this site to judge his words.
I am one of the owners of Club Karma in Chicago and I would like a fair chance to respond. First, I would like to respond to the accusation that numerous attempts to reach me for my comments went unheralded. That, plainly put, is completely false. I have returned every phone call received on the subject promptly. First, all of you are passing judgement on something you have not viewed for yourself firsthand. You are all passing judgement on one person’s view of the place. Specifically, a student at Loyola University, Chicago–so much for anonymity–we know exactly who this was. I respect his opinion, however, I completely disagree with his posting of my home telephone number and address. I have no problems with receiving phone calls or mail at the club itself. So, first I ask anyone with comments to please try to reach me at the club.

Secondly, contrary to many comments, I am a devout Hindu who actively practices the religion, speaks our mother tongue, acted for many years in religious dramas reinacting our Bhagvad Gita. How many of you have read the Gita as I have from beginning to end? There five deities in the main level of the club consisting of Krishna, Bramha, Hanuman, Ganesha, and Nataraja. None, I repeat, none of the deities are in any remote type of compromising position. The Nataraja is on a 7 foot pedestal to the side of the dance floor (being the god of dance). The other deities are out of reach of any patron and are displayed up and away from people. These statues in no way add to our income at the club and actually cost a great deal of money to make. In other words, we’re not using these statues to profiteer. As for the name or concept of Karma, the concept transcends many religions. What shocks me is that this same person that posted my home address and telephone number brought his concerns to me and I had listened to his concerns. Instead of protesting the club himself, he showed up the following two weekends in a row. When asked, he said he only came because his friends were there. Some brilliant wholehearted protest, huh? We created club with a view of being educational. I can’t tell you the number of times that a non-Hindu asked why nataraja was dancing on a baby? It was this question that even prompted us to explain the significance of the nataraja on our opening weekend invite. For those of you who don’t know–nataraja is dancing on a demon baby symbolizing ignorance.

The other issue one of the e-mails brought up was would Christians allow Christ or the Virgin Mary in such an establishment. For one, the small section of the mixed media collage that is posted on this site only shows pictures of Indian deities, however, (conveniently omitted) right next to this section of the bar are sections of collage depicting Christ, the Virgin Mary, Buddha and other religions. I have not heard any outcry from those denominations? Is that Hinduism places too much emphasis on idol worship? Maybe, we as a religion should place much more emphasis on the ideals and beliefs of Hinduism instead of the idols we have chosen to represent them. I invite anyone to please, when in Chicago, give us a call and visit Karma, not to spend a dime at our establishment but to be fair and pass your own firsthand judgement. I thank you for your time

Srinivas Reddy
Chicago, IL USA – Friday, October 03, 1997 at 19:19:03 (EDT)

krsnetoh

Club Karma Defames Hindu Dharma

Background Information / Press Release

DRINKING, DANCING DEITIES: AN ATTACK ON HINDU DHARMA

The latest trend in the Indian-American subculture is the rise of the Indian-theme bar and nightclub a place that combines Hindu deities and Indian art with the drinking of liquor, smoking, and dancing to the latest Western music. The American Hindu Anti-Defamation Coalition (AHADC) is shocked at this misuse of sacred Hindu symbols to promote nightclubs and alcohol-serving establishments.

The latest club to follow this trend was opened in Chicago in early August by a partnership of two Indians and one American. This club features an extravagant display of religious icons in compromising environments: for example, pictures of Lord Shiva and Krishna intermixed with pictures of men and women in “sexy” outfits occupy the wall of a bar, behind a number of bottles of liquor. A giant Shiva Nataraja stands in the midst of a smoke-filled dance floor, the same symbol that is sacredly worshipped in temples and homes of Hindus everywhere. A man wearing a mask with three heads that appears to represent Lord Brahma is scantily clad and dancing erotically on a pedestal, seducing the patrons to this “exotic environment”. And a statue of Lord Ganesha beckons people into the club the same God that bestows an auspicious entrance to temples everywhere. The underlying theme here that is upsetting to many is the presence of symbols of holiness and purity within environments that are far less than holy and pure.

                                       AN EROTIC DANCER WITH 3 HEADS–IS THIS SUPPOSED TO BE OUR WISE LORD BRAHMA?

Many Hindus and non-Hindus alike have frowned at what is seen as a sacrilegious attempt to profit from exoticism. A university student who wishes to remain anonymous, had this to say: “Placing icons in a club implies that it is okay to associate worldly pleasure with divine bliss. The Nataraj, Ganesh, etc. are aids to help one destroy, not strengthen, one s worldly attachments. This act tells me that these people are ignorant and blind of a true understanding of Hinduism.” A friend added, “This clearly shows that a Hindu s worst enemy is a Hindu. If we have no respect for ourselves, how do we expect others to respect our rich tradition?” One young non-Hindu businessman who attended the club on its opening night declared, “You would never go into a Western club and find people dancing around a statue of Christ. A Muslim would not think twice about placing any art in a club reflecting any ideal of Islam.”

SHIVA NATARAJA STANDS TALL AMIDST A SMOKE-FILLED ROOM OF DANCING, DRINKING PEOPLE IGNORANT OF ITS HOLINESS.

An overwhelming majority of those interviewed feel that the owners of this nightclub, named Karma, have gone too far by misrepresenting and exploiting Hindu culture and religion. Their sentiment is for all to take action against this act because “if we do not, we are passively accepting this denigration of our culture.” One of the owners, Srinivas “Sarin” Reddy, who spear-headed the formation of this club, could not be contacted by phone despite repeated attempts. There is also another Karma club in Boston which is raising similar conflict. Certainly, then, this issue is of concern to Indians and non-Indians everywhere. The American Hindu Anti-Defamation Coalition (AHADC) promises to take action against this club and urges all Hindu temples, organizations, and individuals to join its efforts in countering the trend of denigrating Hindu dharma for profits.

shivbeer

Call for Action; Drinking, Dancing Deities: An Attack on Hindu Dharma

Thank you for exploring this site and not being satisfied with the corruption of Hindu ideals.

The following press release explains the controversy behind the nightclub Karma and its denigration of Hindu dharma through the exploitation of symbols of divinity. Included are pictures of the Karma club in Chicago, IL taken during its opening week in August, 1997. As you can see, in an attempt to earn money from what is considered to be exotic in the Western eye, the owners of the nightclub–Srinivas “Sarin” Reddy, Rakesh, and Carson–have used holy symbols of Hindu religion and placed them in a sacrilegious surrounding.

  • We at the American Hindu Anti-Defamation Coalition urge you to take action in the following ways:
  • Make a firm decision not to passively accept the denigration of Hindus.
    Click here and sign the Protest Book
  • Inform others of this issue so that they too can protest.
  • Take a few minutes to send email, post mail, fax, or phone call to the owners of the club as well as the club itself indicating your stance in this controversy.
  • By having many people respond, we can better persuade them into considering our view. Please send messages to each of the three co-owners by mail, email, telephone, and/or fax:
    Srinivas Reddy, Rakesh, Carson

Email: bacchusproductions@nwu.edu

Karma Club: 318 W. Grand Ave.; Chicago, IL 60610

Phone: (312) 321-1331; Fax (312) 321-1115

  • Write letters to the editors of your local and national Indian newspapers about this issue, showing support for Hindu ideals and the global Hindu community. Let the world know that we will not accept the words and deeds of those who, claiming to expound Hindu dharma, are actually exploiting it.

if you have any other ideas or would like to send your comments directly to us, please do so at the following email:
rpandit@acr.acfac.rpslmc.edu

If you have any questions about American Hindu Anti-Defamation Coalition, and its overall goals and achievements, please contact :

Ajay Shah

nine2

AHADC Efforts Leads to Sony Apology to Hindus : Offending CD Cover to Be Withdrawn Immediately

The American Hindu Anti-Defamation Coalition (AHADC), is pleased to announce that on April 16, 1997, the senior lawyer for Sony Music & Entertainment, Inc., New York, (Sony), Mr. Joseph Salvo, contacted the attorney for AHADC, Mr. Chetan P. Tanna, and issued an apology on behalf of Sony/Columbia to the entire Hindu community for the offensive cover of the CD “Nine Lives” by a rock group, Aerosmith.

The cover of the CD “Nine Lives” portrayed a distorted and offensive picture of Hindu God, Shree Krishna, which infuriated thousands of Hindus around the world. Over 10 Hindu organizations, representing thousands of Hindus had joined the AHADC in its protest against the Sony/Columbia/Aerosmith trio.

The AHADC had set up a protest site,

which was visited by about 10,000 people in two weeks, and over 1,400 persons signed individual on-line protest letters to SONY, Columbia and Aerosmith, and several stores selling this CD.

Sony’s senior counsel said, “Sony could not ignore thousands of messages from the Hindus around the world, and had decided to immediately stop the production of said CD.

AHADC and SONY Corporation, have verbally agreed that :

1. As of today, SONY will stop manufacturing the CD, until the cover is changed.

2. SONY will try to recall the CDs from the market as much as possible.

3. SONY will provide the AHADC with the new cover for AHADC’s approval before publication. SONY will not use any Hindu religious symbols in any form.

4. SONY will issue a public apology to the Hindus in the Hindu/India related publications, in the U.S., as well as in India, and also on the SONY website called SonyOnLine. (www.music.sony.com.)

The AHADC appreciates SONY’s decision in response to the protest by the Hindu community around the world. The AHADC would especially like to thank Blockbuster Music for assuring us earlier that they will not sell the CD, unless the offensive cover was changed.

The AHADC believes that SONY’s actions are the due to the unity, determination and hard work by the Hindu community. We thank the Hindu organizations, who joined the AHADC, and all individuals who signed the online protest and/or sent e-mail and letters to SONY/Columbia/Aerosmith and to the stores selling this CD. A notable aspect of this protest movement was that we received support also from our non-Hindu friends
and well-wishers!

The AHADC was convened by VHP of America (World Hindu Council of America), represented by Ajay Shah, Chetan P. Tanna, Vaani Chawla, and Rajiv Dutta

nine2

AHADC Calls for Continuation of Protest since SONY has not yet apologized in writing and Major Stores Continue to Sell the “Nine Lives” CD

We note with great regret and dismay that the Hindu community has still not received any written apology from SONY Music for offending Hindus. Although SONY has changed most parts of its website, the promotional picture at this link still remains.

We also note with great concern that the CD, which has offended so many Hindus has still not been pulled from the major stores that are selling it.

We present here, a link to the apology by Aerosmith, which was sent to several news organizations. We were sent a copy of this press release by Mr. Joseph Salvo, Senior Counsel for SONY Music and Entertainment.

We urge the community to continue writing strong letters to SONY music and the stores to recall “Nine Lives” CD.

If SONY Music and the departmental stores do not withdraw this CD and if the written apology from SONY Music is not forthcoming, the Hindu community will be forced to consider stronger action, including boycott of the products made by SONY and legal action against SONY in India and other countries.

In order to facilitate writing protest letters to the stores, we have now created a single link, by clicking here you can send letters to all the major stores still selling “Nine Lives” (this feature works for Netsacpe, if it does not work for your browser, please select individual addresses from the menu below)

nine2

Draft Letter To Sony/Columbia

This is to advise you that your new Columbia release, Nine Lives has the CD cover which is a DISTORTED AND VERY INSULTING depiction of Lord Krishna, the Hindu God, whom millions of Hindus worship all over the world.

It is clear that you and your artist distorted and defaced the original and UNIVERSALLY REVERED picture which shows Lord Krishna conquering the great serpent Kalinag. Your act of putting a face of a cat in place of Krishna’s is not only outrageous beyond any measure but also very insulting to the entire Hindu community worldwide. Also showing Krishna wearing a blouse is extremely offensive. This CD cover chosen by you is analogous to showing Lord Jesus on the cross with a cat’s face wearing a bikini.

On behalf of the entire Hindu community I demand that you IMMEDIATELY STOP SALE OF THIS CD, AND CHANGE COMPLETELY ITS COVER. Keep in mind that commercial free speech is not well protected.

If you decide not to do so, the Hindu community will picket your concerts, the record company headquarters, boycott your products (SONY & COLUMBIA), and take both of you to the Federal Court to seek permanent injunction and damages. It is also very clear to me that you will not be able to give any concerts in India forever, and will quickly loose popularity there.