Hindu groups insist on history books with rose-colored glasses

There are a number of quotes that I want to highlight and comment on here:

SACRAMENTO / Groups seeking textbook revisions / Lessons on life in ancient India stir education hearing

“Learning about Hinduism in my sixth-grade class left me feeling ashamed and angry,” Sameera Mokkarala, a sophomore at Gunn High School in Palo Alto, one of several dozen speakers, said during the hearing. “All that was talked about was the caste system, polytheism and sati.” (Sati is the long-banned burning of widows on a husband’s funeral pyre.)

Let’s not learn about things that happened because they’re uncomfortable, yes? They want to

remove or soften references to the untouchable caste and the subordinate status of women in India more than 2,000 years ago, among other elements that the groups view as demeaning to their religion and humiliating to Hindu schoolchildren in California.

A sixth- and seventh-grade social studies teacher in one of the affected school districts is, “appalled by the selective amnesia and fake history that is being advocated … [indian american children need to know] the truth behind their history,” and the human rights problems therein.

One of the proponents of revisions to the textbooks protests that, “Hindu scriptures are called myths and legends while other religious texts such as the Bible are accorded more weight as historical documents.” This, I agree with! They all need to be referred to as the myths and legends that they are.

Veena Dubal, an Indian American doctoral and law student at UC Berkeley, said she was “painfully embarrassed to read about the injustices committed in my parents’ homeland” but asked the subcommittee not “to erase past and contemporary histories of oppression” or “to trade knowledge for pride.”

The correct course of action is to teach people about these things so that they don’t perpetuate them. What she says about trading knowledge for pride sums it up excellently.


8 Responses to Hindu groups insist on history books with rose-colored glasses

  1. swamidigital says:

    Actually, what is in dispute is the authenticity of this supposed teaching. For example, Subhash Kak disputes the interpretation of Varna in the Rig Veda as posted in my blog here: http://www.swamidigital.com/?p=23

    Dr. Arwind Sharma also makes persuasive arguments in regards to the truth of the Jati system (as opposed to the current view of varna and caste) in ancient india in his works. One that summarizes such arguments well is:

    I’m sure you can find a myriad of resources attacking the veracity of the aryan invasion theory as well. The best is the book ‘Searching for the Cradle of Civilization’ by George Feuerstein, David Frawley, and Subash Kak.

    The problem is that the current view of history in the Indian subcontinent is still being shaped by history. The british in India used a program of education designed to enhance the subservience of the Indian people and their usefulness as bureaucrats. This is apparent to anyone who reads the personal letters of Lord Macaulay, the person in charge of creating this program. What people are seeking to do currently is eliminate the purposeful misconceptions that are currently still being perpetuated.

    For example, did you know that Freudian analysis, a technique long since refuted by Anthropology, and left in the dust by Psychology, is considered a valid academic approach to analyzing Hindu religious practices? The textbooks need to be rewritten to remove the bias of the past 200 years, not to place rose colored lenses on history. Anyone who has actually researched this issue, rather than simply condemning it based on a few newspaper clippings, should understand this.

  2. swamidigital says:

    Oops, I forgot to post the name of the book by Dr. Sharma. It is Hinduism for Our Times. His journal articles are better and more substantive than what is presented in that book, but I don’t have the references for them currently.

  3. Thanks for the additional information. However, the source of the caste system as practiced in the history books is not the issue. In fact, if there’s not any exploration of the issues you mention in the textbooks, that should probably be corrected (for instance, the british program of education).

    My contention is that this is a fantastic example of how religion in general can be used to manipulate people, because interpretation is such a subjective thing. Textbooks should perhaps include a more thorough exposition of the issue, but to simply strike information from a book and pretend that such things have not happened is not going to help anyone.

  4. admin says:

    I am all for teaching about terrible Caste system in Hinduism to 6th graders, as long as they teach about Catholics molesting little boys and the things that Mohammad did to spread Hinduism in 6th grade as well.

  5. admin: Me too! I think it’s important that all of the travesties supported by religion are taught, so that people can avoid them in the future.

  6. E. Rhoswen says:

    I think it’s fine that teaching the bad things about religion is just as important as teaching the good, but first impressions are everything. If a kid first hears bad things about a religion, that’s what is going to stick in their mind for the rest of their life. Why not start with the good and teach the bad when the kids are older and less impressionable? I think that’s all the Hindu groups were asking for. They didn’t want complete censorship, but they wanted relative treatment and perhaps a postponement of the more in-depth analysis of the religion. It seems to me that something of a smear campaign is going on in those textbooks; I’ve read them, and there isn’t one bad thing said about Islam or Christianity. They are both completely white-washed, while Hinduism is thrown to the dogs. The bad things mentioned outweighed the good completely! What kind of a way to learn is that?


  7. S.M says:

    In regards to the post from May 21st, 2006…
    MOHAMMAD DID NOT SPREAD HINDUISM! He was the creator of Islam, genius.

  8. S. M.

    I’m pretty sure that’s what he or she meant.

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