A Harvard-educated religion scholar and author is under fire for eating human brain while filming a new CNN show about spiritual sects around the globe.
Reza Aslan, who came to the U.S. in 1979 while fleeing Iran's 1979 revolution, was working on a TV segment about a fringe element of Hinduism when he participated in some of the Aghori peoples' rituals, including tasting cooked brain tissue, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported.
Last Sunday, Aslan hyped that night's inaugural episode of Believer with a Facebook post that read: "Want to know what a dead guy's brain tastes like? Charcoal. It was burnt to a crisp! #Believer"
That did not sit well with U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu member of Congress, or the larger Hindu community. Some charged Aslan with showcasing a radical form of the religion for sensationalism's sake, unfairly tainting Hinduism in general.
"With multiple reports of hate-fueled attacks against people of Indian origin from across the U.S., the show characterizes Hinduism as cannibalistic, which is a bizarre way of looking at the third largest religion in the world," read a statement from the US India Political Action Committee, which called on Indian Americans to lobby the network to pull the episode.
"The majority of Indian Americans are Hindus," it continued. "This show will create confusion about Indian Americans' faith and make them further targets of hate crimes."
People describes Aslan's show as a six-episode "spiritual adventure series" examining "fascinating faith-based groups" around the world. The opening episode highlighted India's secretive Aghori people, a small sect condemned by the vast majority of Hindus that worships Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction.
According to CNN, "so all-consuming is the Aghoris' devotion to death and decay that they have been known to consume feces, drink out of human skulls and eat the flesh and smear themselves with the ashes of corpses they retrieve in the graveyards and ghats they call home," practices they believe "will hasten enlightenment."
Responding to the controversy, Aslan pointed out on Facebook that he did note in the show that the group is an "extreme Hindu sect" and "not representative of Hinduism," also pointing out that higher castes are now adopting some Aghori ideals regarding social equality.
Source- Dallas News