Hindu Foundations Challenge History Texts In California

Treatment of Hinduism in California textbooks has led to months of debate.

In early March, the California Board of Education rejected demands by Hindu foundations that sought to make close to 500 changes to nine textbooks the state school board had approved for sixth-grade classes.

After a lengthy public debate, the state Board of Education voted 8-0 with two abstentions to reject suggested changes.

Board members insisted that their main concern is historical accuracy. During the debate, school board member Ruth Green said, “What one person considers historically accurate, another person views as a racist text.”

Not all Hindus in California back the proposed changes. A representative for the Friends of South Asia, a group that includes many Hindus, lauded the board’s action as “a big victory for secular history.”

Anu Mandavilli told the San Francisco Chronicle that the school officials had made a strong stand for “historical accuracy instead of strong tactics by community groups.”

The newspaper said many experts agree with that conclusion.

“The proposed revisions are not of a scholarly but a religious-political na­ture,” Harvard Sanskrit Professor Michael Witzel said in a Nov. 8 letter to the school board.