Hindu deities segs pulled from int'l dates

Following weeks of protest from Hindu groups, Studios USA and Renaissance Pictures have agreed to pull out of worldwide circulation a “Xena: Warrior Princess” seg that dealt with Hindu deities.

For now, Renaissance, headed by partners Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi, said it would not distribute the original seg, titled “The Way,” to foreign markets, although it left open the possibility of supplying a modified version.

Renaissance vowed in a statement to consult with Sunil Aghi, founder of the Orange County-based Indo-Americans Foundation, “to discuss the specific alterations that would need to be made … if we later decide to air it again.”

The storyline of the seg, which aired in the U.S. last month, involved the Hindu deities Lord Krishna and Hanuman aiding Xena in her escape from a demon king and helping her reunite with her sidekick on the series, Gabrielle.

Fictionalizing deities

“The episode treats Lord Krishna and Hanuman as fictional characters by putting words in their mouths that they never spoke and having them engage in activities that they never engaged in,” according to a joint release of the California-based World Vaishnava Assn. and the American Hindus Against Defamation org.

“Not only does this make the viewing audience think that Lord Krishna, other Hindu deities and the Vedic literature are fictional, it makes Hindus themselves look superstitious and foolish. After all, nobody but a superstitious fool would worship a ‘fictional god.’ “

Renaissance reiterated Monday that producers never intended to denigrate the Hindu gods, and even went so far as to hire an Indian expert in New Zealand, where “Xena” is produced, to advise on the development of the seg.

“It has become evident that the advice we received was not in line with Hindu beliefs,” Renaissance said in a statement. “We are genuinely sorry if we have offended members of the Hindu community and have no plans to produce any future episodes involving Hindu deities or personas.”

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