Religious Leaders Call for Apology

Religious Leaders Call for Apology



Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, and Reverend Matthew T. Fisher, a Buddhist minister, condemned local Brewery Ommegang for their sale of “Nirvana IPA,” as they find the use of the term “Nirvana” to be highly inappropriate. Calling for an apology, the pair stated that “breweries should not be in the business of religious appropriation, sacrilege and ridiculing entire communities.”

“The inappropriate usage of sacred scriptures or deities or concepts or symbols or icons for commercial or other agenda was not okay, as it hurt the adherents [of Hinduism and Buddhism],” read the joint statement made in Nevada on January 18.

Zed referred to Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita, in explaining that “brahma-nirvana” is a state of immortality.

Noting that Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world, Zed said that such “symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled.”

In the statement, Reverend Fisher declared that “naming a beer after the sacred goal of all Buddhists showed callousness on the part of the brewery.” Considering that “all Buddhists desire the state of clear and uninhibited freedom that is ‘Nirvana,’ alcohol is literally the opposite of that… a pathway to delusion and degradation.”

In response to the comments of Zed and Fisher, Brewery Ommegang released the following statement:
“The name ‘Nirvana IPA’ is intended to celebrate the atmosphere in which we hope beer lovers will enjoy the beer, which is that of tranquility when the noise and cares of the world fall away. Brewery Ommegang began distribution of Nirvana IPA in 2015; however, until today, we were unaware of the apparent concern with the name within the Hindu and Buddhist communities. We never intended to disrespect any community or religious beliefs by including ‘Nirvana’ in naming the IPA. We welcome the opportunity to educate ourselves and determine what potential changes we could consider for this beer.”

Peter Woods, new executive director at Samye Hermitage New York, a Tibetan Buddhist meditation and retreat center at 412 Glimmerglen Road in Cooperstown, shared his view on the topic.

“My personal feeling is really that I’m not offended,” said the long-time adherent to Buddhism. “My role here is to help provide opportunities for people interested in terms like ‘Nirvana’ to learn more about them.”

Wood reasoned that people use religious terms in all different contexts, and he’s not in the business of policing language.

Matthew Fisher and Rajan Zed further said that Buddhists and Hindus were for free speech and expression as much as anybody else if not more. But faith was something sacred and attempts at trivializing it were painful for the followers.

2 thoughts on “Religious Leaders Call for Apology

  1. Chip Northrup

    As a Zen Buddhist, I don’t give a darn what they call it, just so long as they keep making it. Shalom !

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