Upset Hindus and Buddhists are urging Cooperstown (New York) based Brewery Ommegang to apologize and withdraw its “Nirvana” (India Pale Ale) beer; calling it highly inappropriate.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed and renowned Buddhist minister Reverend Matthew T. Fisher, in a joint statement in Nevada today, said that “Nirvana” was an immensely sacred term in Hinduism and Buddhism representing the final goal. Equating it with alcohol was very painful to the devotees.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, emphasized that 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.
Breweries should not be in the business of religious appropriation, sacrilege, and ridiculing entire communities. It was deeply trivializing of the extremely venerated, foundational, powerful and serious expression of “Nirvana” to be displayed on an alcohol container; Buddhist and Hindu leaders noted.
Reverend Fisher pointed out that the Buddha specifically recommended against intoxication and many of the followers of the Buddha did not take any alcohol. Naming a beer after the sacred goal of all Buddhists, showed callousness on the part of the brewery. All Buddhists aspired to one day reach the state of clear and uninhibited freedom that is “Nirvana”. Alcohol was literally the opposite of that—it was a pathway to delusion and degradation, and was debilitating.
Rajan Zed indicated that “Nirvana” found mention in ancient Hindu scripture Bhagavad-Gita, where the state of immortality was brahma-nirvana. Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.2 billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken frivolously. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled; he added.
Zed and Fisher were of the view that using “Nirvana” to sell beer was highly insensitive, as a brewery should not be trading on the sacred traditions of ‘others’.
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.
Description of IPA “Nirvana” (6.5 ABV, 60 IBU, 13.9 OG; brewed with magnum, Simcoe, topaz & centennial hops) includes: “May each sip offer a window to a better state of mind”. Four-pack of “Nirvana” 16oz cans was priced at $10.99 on the Ommegang website.
Brewery Ommegang (established 1997) describes itself as “Where heaven met earth…and stayed awhile” and “Classic Belgian-style ales brewed in beautiful Cooperstown, NY”.