Why a Hindu temple is NOT like a Soho phone booth

phonebooth2(originally written September 2006)

(17/03/2013 – image removed, as this page was being blocked from some search engines browsers for being “adult content”)

Recently, an article in The Times (a supposedly quality newspaper), carried a story provocatively titled ‘Why is a Hindu temple like a Soho phone box? Must I draw you a picture?’ The article was written by one Terence Kealy, and was perhaps the single most vulgar Hindu-bashing article that has been carried by a mainstream British newspaper since colonial times.

What is worse is that the piece had been written as part of the newspaper’s ‘Science Notebook’ column, and was therefore paraded as a rational and objective analysis, despite the fact that the article was written in a rather disorientated manner, and drew far-fetched conclusions based on thoroughly unscientific methodology.

Kealey began his article by drawing the reader’s attention to the fact that there are some Hindu temples that have erotic sculptures. “How can a religion be so pornographic?” Kealey asks in the closing sentence of the paragraph.

The counter-question arises as to how can the example of a few medieval sculptures characterise the Hinduism as a whole? The author fails to point out is that these erotic temples account for a very tiny proportion of Hindu temples as a whole. But in writing his article, he creates the impression that the vast majority of temples are like these. It is very poor ‘science’ to take a minority and use it to draw conclusions of the whole.

The way the article is written, a lay British reader would think that the average Hindu temple is like a brothel, including the hundreds of mandirs present in the UK. In fact, none of the numerous Hindu temples in Britain are particularly erotic, but as a result of Kealey’s misinformation, many Britons will see these Hindu temples as possible centres of erotic cults, thus contributing to prejudice and misinformation.

mandir2Kealey then goes on to state that upper caste males in India are descendants of Aryan invaders 5000 years ago, and are genetically different from Indian males of lower castes. The theory of the Aryan invasion of India is a highly debated topic, and volumes have been written both for and against it. Many researchers believe that no such invasion ever happened. To parade the Aryan Invasion theory as undisputed fact in a ‘science column’ shows severe incompetence.

In the closing paragraphs, Kealey briefly mentions temple prostitution and ‘suttee’, the self-immolation of widows on their husband’s funeral pyre. These practices, shameful as they were, were not common even a thousand years ago, yet Kealey writes as if they were a universal phenomenon, and as if they are part and parcel of Hinduism. (Please see previous Hindu Voice articles for clarification on these issues).

When I come across misinformation about Hinduism, there are times when I just shrug it off. After all, in our modern, supposedly secular society, people have the right to criticise and even mock religions.

However, there are times when the line of decency is crossed so deliberately and grossly, that to stand back and not make oneself heard is the not just unwise, but cowardly.

I strongly suggest that all Hindus read the article by Terence Kealey, and write to The Times as a mark of protest against such a poorly written, haphazard and insulting article passing their Editorial policies.


  1. Maybe she should read the song of Solomon and publish “why the bible is like a porno magazine. She could end with the same sentence

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