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Fighting Nonsense

Here is a sample of what is being taught about Hinduism in Bay Area schools

  • Bindis symbolize the caste system
  • Godess Parvati is the chief of all elves that roam the earth
  • During religious festivals Indians play with colors made with urine and cow dung

San Jose Mercury News has a profile of Mona Vijaykar, an Indian mom who is fighting all this

Vijaykar has tried tackling the problem in a grass-roots way: by contacting teachers and asking to speak to their classes about India and Hinduism, explaining the significance of ancient Indian languages or the origin of religious customs.

Vijaykar said many of the teachers she’s spoken with complain about the lack of resources on world religions and are hungry for information. She recalls a teacher at her son’s former school, Redwood Middle School in Saratoga, who invited Vijaykar to class several years ago to add to her lesson on India and world religions. Vijaykar remembers being outraged by a handout on various forms of the Hindu god.

The handout — produced by Teacher Created Materials, an education publishing company in Westminster — listed Parvati as a goddess who is “chief of all of the elves” that roam the Earth. Company officials didn’t return requests for interviews.

“They might as well be talking about fairies in a fairy tale,” Vijaykar said. “It makes the religion sound silly and stupid. And it’s plain wrong.”

Diana Eck, professor of comparative religion and Indian studies at Harvard University, had a similar reaction: “Elves? That’s just false. That’s ridiculous.”[COUNTERING STEREOTYPES]

The Bay Area has a large number of Hindus and if you are one of them, it is time you looked at what your child is learning about your religion in school.

3 Responses to Fighting Nonsense

  1. Rahul Reddy May 31, 2005 at 4:32 pm #

    Sir (person who runs Varnam),

    I;ve got to tell you, all teachers do IMO in the US (I’ve spent my whole life here in the US, Michigan specifically, as my grandparents were originally from India) when it comes to teaching Hinduism as part of a World History or general history class is give out handouts or show some video of people celebrating Diwali. And usually, the students learn nothing from it, or worse, learn about things such as that line you cited in your post about Parvati as “chief of all the elves.” It’s a shame really. And this isn’t just limited to my religion (“Hinduism”, though I wonder if that’s the right word for it since going by how the name “Hinduism” came about, Islam would be called “Arabism”) as most textbooks are quite shaky on Buddhist thouht as well while scarcely mentioning Jainism or Sikhism.

    However, I have to give credit to Advanced Placement World History textbooks as they usually do a good job of explaining Hindu and Buddhist concepts, instead of just boiling them down into a silly handout on “the gods” without even explaining the underlying philosophy on life, dharma, etc.

    -Rahul, graduating high school senior

  2. Charu June 2, 2005 at 8:35 am #

    But who is teaching these and why? I don’t remember learning about Hinduism in any great detail back at school in Madras – is this a fall-out of the desire of Indian-parents-in-America for their children to be cued into Indian culture? by any standards, this is ridiculous – I wonder if they also teach that Hindus go to work riding on elephants!

  3. JK June 2, 2005 at 4:38 pm #

    Charu, These are taught in regular schools in United States. Unlike India, there are no “Govt” text books here, so teachers choose whatever they can get.

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