If Reza Aslan only had a brain, he probably wouldn’t have eaten one to exploit a barbaric sect of Hinduism during the most heated political climate in decades.
The religious scholar is facing biting criticism after he ate part of a cooked human brain with the Aghoris of India as part of his new CNN show.
The backlash came after the 44-year-old teased a clip of his new show Believer, a six-episode “spiritual adventure series” exploring the world’s most mysterious and fascinating religious groups.
Aslan previewed his meeting with the Aghoris — a sect of Hinduism that worships Shiva, the Hindu God of Destruction — who have been known to eat human flesh, drink urine out of human skulls, and smear themselves with ashes of corpses.
The TV host partook in some of these cannibalistic rituals, including eating human brain tissue, and teased his unconventional snack in a Facebook post on Sunday:
After teasing the episode, Aslan got devoured by critics who accused him of using the small, secretive sect to represent the entire Hindu faith — which, for the record, generally oppose the Aghoris’ practices.
Among those who have condemned the journalist include Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu member of U.S. Congress, and even Donald Trump‘s Hindu advisor Shalabh Kumar.
They shared on Twitter:
2/ I am very disturbed that CNN is using its power and influence to increase people├óΓé¼Γäós misunderstanding and fear of Hinduism.
├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥ Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) March 7, 2017
Sanjay Puri, chairman of the U.S. India Political Action Committee, said in a statement:
“Most Hindus are vegetarians and uphold non-violence. We are very disappointed. This is an issue that is of deep concern to the Indian American community evidenced by the large number of calls/emails we have received. In a charged environment, a show like this can create a perception about Indian Americans which could make them more vulnerable to further attacks.”
Given the current political climate, we don’t disagree.
But Aslan does — he defended the segment on Facebook, saying he made it clear to the “sensitives” that the Aghoris are an “extreme Hindu sect” and “are not representative of Hinduism.”
Unfortunately, the TV host seems to be overestimating the ability of some to separate sub-religions from their umbrella faith.
Do YOU think this segment poorly represents Hinduism? Watch the unsettling preview clips (below) to get a taste!
[Image via CNN.]