Hindus are critical of bestselling author Scott Westerfeld’s new novel “Afterworlds”, arguing that it trivializes the Hindu god of death Yamraj (Yama).
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that although “Afterworlds” was a work of fiction; but reimagining Hindu scriptures, deities and concepts for mercantile greed or other selfish agenda was highly inappropriate, created more confusion and hurt the devotees.
There were temples dedicated to Yama where he was worshipped; while “Afterworlds” depicted him pressing lips with the lips of a 17-year-old San Diego girl. This was highly disrespectful to the devotees and unnecessary dragging of a Hindu deity who found mention in oldest existing scripture Rig-Veda, besides Upanishads, Puranas and Mahabharata; Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, noted.
Rajan Zed pointed out that Hindus were for free speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith was something sacred and attempts at belittling it were painful for the devotees. Novelists should be more sensitive while handling faith related subjects, Zed added.
Zed further said that Hindus welcomed authors to immerse in Hinduism but taking it seriously and respectfully and not for refashioning Hinduism concepts and symbols for personal agendas. Distorting of Yama to captivate young adult readership and showing him romancing with 17-year-old was highly slighting of ancient Hindu traditions.
Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken lightly. No faith, larger or smaller, should be plundered, Rajan Zed stated.
Yama is the son of the sun-god Vivasvat and passes judgment on the dead. Moksh (liberation) is the ultimate goal of Hinduism.
“Afterworlds” by Westerfeld (Uglies); published by Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, New York; describes Yama as “smoldering Vedic psychopomp” and sometime as just a normal guy. It also mentions Yami, Yama’s twin-sister.