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Hindus shocked at video game developer adding more deities

Upset Hindus, who recently urged Georgia (USA) online game developer to remove Kali and other Hindu gods from action game SMITE saying it trivialized revered deities, are further shocked now on the developer’s announcement of adding even more deities.

Alpharetta (Georgia) headquartered developer of online interactive entertainment, Hi-Rez Studios, which is creating SMITE, in a statement to the media, reportedly said: “…going forward SMITE will include even more deities, not fewer.”

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that a renowned company like Hi-Rez should be more understanding of the hurt feelings of Hindus worldwide over the mishandling of their revered deities like Kali. Purpose of online games was to entertain and not to offend a large chunk of world population.

Moreover, portrayal of goddess Kali, who was highly revered by Hindus, appeared like a porno star in the SMITE version shown on the company website, which was quite distressing for the devotees, Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out.

When asked about plans to include figures from other major world religions, Hi-Rez spokesman was quoted in the media as saying that they “are not that interesting in character design or gameplay”.

Rajan Zed stressed that Hindu deities were sacred to the devotees and were meant to be worshipped in temples and home shrines and not to be refashioned to entertain aimed at mercantile greed of corporations. Moreover, Hi-Rez was trying to redefine Hinduism and its concepts in its statements to media to further its cause which was not acceptable as it created confusion among the masses, Zed added.

Zed repeated his request for immediate removal of Hindu gods from the game and added that such a maltreatment of Hindu deities attempted at belittling the entire community. In this video game SMITE, players assume the direct control of some Hindu gods (currently listed as Kali, Vamana and Agni).

Rajan Zed, in an earlier statement, argued that in a video game set-up, the player would control the movements of goddess Kali and other Hindu deities, while in reality the devotees put the destinies of themselves in the hands of their deities. Controlling and manipulating goddess Kali and other Hindu deities with a joystick/ button/keyboard/mouse was denigration. Reimagining Hindu scriptures and deities for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees, Zed noted.

Zed stated that video game makers should be more sensitive while handling faith related subjects and no faith, larger or smaller, should be plundered. As these games left lasting impact on the minds of highly impressionable children, teens and other young people; it would create more misunderstandings about Hinduism, which was already a highly misunderstood religion in the West.

Rajan Zed urged entertainment industry to take Hinduism seriously and respectfully and not to reimagine its concepts, symbols and traditions focusing just on mercantile greed. He and other Hindu scholars would gladly assist the genuine entertainment industry seekers in their Hinduism related needs.

Website of online video game developer Hi-Rez Studios, established in 2005 to provide online interactive entertainment, describes SMITE as an “online battleground between mythical gods” in which players choose from a selection of gods. Currently a Closed Beta, its full release is claimed within about eight months. Besides Hindu gods, other gods listed are: Greek, Norse, Chinese and Egyptian. Erez Goren and Todd Harris are Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer respectively.

Goddess Kali, who personifies Shakti or divine energy and considered the goddess of time and change, is widely worshipped in Hinduism. Vamana is the fifth avatar of Vishnu (the “preserver” in the Hindu triad with Brahma and Shiva as the aspect of the Supreme, who had ten incarnations to establish dharma). Agni is one of the most significant Vedic deities, second most frequently invoked in Rig-Veda.

Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.

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