Opinion: "Textbooks and Hinduism -- Why Accuracy Matters"

January 10, 2006

Source: New America Media


On January 10, 2006 New America Media ran an opinion piece by Viji Sundaram, a reporter for the weekly U.S. based Indian newspaper, India-West. "Earlier this month, the arm of California's Board of Education that decides what will and won't go into the history textbooks of millions of students [California mandated in 1987 the study of world religions in its public schools] was persuaded by followers of Hinduism and Judaism to correct what the groups felt were historical inaccuracies pertaining to their religion and culture... They were asking that the books accurately and fairly portray their religions and histories. But the request to make the changes was met with antagonism by a group of prominent religious scholars. The group, led by Harvard Sanskrit scholar Michael Witzel, filed a petition against the changes, claiming they had more to do with religious fanaticism on the part of the groups than with accuracy... Everyone will agree that history must be told as truthfully as possible. Glossing over unpleasant issues, whether of the past or the present, maintains a country's status quo and can promote cultural exclusivity... Understanding the many facets of Hinduism and India's cultural mores is not easy. Hopefully, middle school teachers can be thoroughly educated on the subject. The correction of inaccuracies in history textbooks, however, is an important first step."