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Controversial Modifications to California's History Textbooks: Details of Proposed Textbook Edits


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Here are some details on some of the problematic edits that have been recommended for California's history textbooks, by the Hindu Education Foundation (HEF) and the Vedic Foundation (VF).

Table 1: Edits Recommended by the Hindu Education Foundation
Table 2: Edits Recommended by the Vedic Foundation

Table 1: Edits Recommended by the Hindu Education Foundation

Publisher Original Text by Publisher Recommendations by Hindu Education Foundation FOSA/CAC Comment
Harcourt School Publishers

Page 245,
“Men had many more rights than women. Unless there were no sons in a family, only a man could inherit property. Only men could go to school or become priests." Replace with: "Men had different rights and duties than women" and add after last sentence, "Women's education was mostly done at home".  This edit attempts the sleight of hand of "Separate but Equal" by suggesting that women's lack of access to education, property, and to positions of authority made them "different"; thus it belies the actual position of women that was and is socially inferior to that of men. 
Glencoe/McGraw -Hill

Page 245, second paragraph
“Men had many more rights than women.  Replace with:  “Men had different duties (dharma) as well as rights than women. Many women were among the sages to whom the Vedas were revealed." See Note above.
In addition, the phrase "the vedas were revealed" completely contradicts the evolutionary nature of texts such as the Vedas. 
Macmillan/ McGraw-Hill

Page 252, last paragraph
“There was one group that did not belong to any varna. Its members were called untouchables. They performed work other Indians thought was too dirty, such as collecting trash, skinning animals, or handling dead bodies.” Delete and replace text with “There was one group that did not belong to any varna. Its members were called untouchables because they performed dirty work such as skinning animals or handling dead bodies.” The HEF’s ideological work- of denying the role of the caste system within Hinduism & within Indian Society- continues through this edit. By adding the word “because” to invoke a spurious causality, the HEF implicitly suggests that untouchability is the result of contact with taboo substances rather than the reverse: that they were assigned such work on account of their degraded social status.
Teachers’ Curriculum Institute

Page 145, last paragraph
“The caste system is just one example of how Hinduism was woven into the fabric of daily life in India.” “Delete this part.” Another example of the HEF’s campaign to whitewash Hinduism: their “Hindu pride” dictates essentially that they hide all information about uncomfortable realities, including the one of caste discrimination.
Prentice Hall

Page 181,
second paragraph
“Once their society had merged with the local population, a late hymn of the Rig Veda described the four castes.” Replace with, “A late hymn of the Rig Veda describes the interrelationship and interdependence of the four social classes.” This replacement seeks to depict the caste system as a benign arrangement of mutual benefit & mutual convenience instead of one that creates a distinct hierarchy that is used to justify rank exploitation of the so-called “lower castes”.
Prentice Hall

Page 181, table, last row (“Sudras”)
“Native peoples; performed services for members of the three higher castes.” Replace with, “Performed services for all classes and did more labor-intensive work.” This edit is similar to the one above insofar as it implicitly depicts the caste system as beneficial to all castes as opposed to being a system that maintained the privileges of the higher castes.
Prentice Hall

Page 182, fourth paragraph
“In modern India, these people are now called Dalits, and treating someone as an untouchable is a crime against the law.” Replace with, “In modern India, treating someone as an untouchable is a crime against the law.” Note the attempt at a systematic erasure of the very word “Dalit” from the lexicon of Hinduism. The utter marginalization of being labeled an “untouchable” is also left unaddressed.
Oxford University Press

Page 76, second paragraph
“The language and traditions of the Indo-Aryan speakers replaced the old ways of the Harappans…” Replace with “People from elsewhere in India replaced…” This edit does not modify, but actually  rewrites history, completely contradicting the intent of the original passage. In this case, the HEF edit rejects the role of Indo-Aryans in ancient India, contrary to prevailing scholarly views on this topic.
Glencoe/ McGraw-Hill
Page 238, Second bullet under “Focusing on the Main Ideas”
“The Aryans introduced…” Replace with, “New ideas and technology were developed in India. (page 242)” According to all extant evidence, this is not correct, as Chariots, for instance, came from outside of India.
Harcourt School Publishers

Page 386, paragraph 5
"The Vedas came to form the major beliefs of the religion called Brahmanism." Replace with, "The Vedas constitute the source of Hinduism". This change seeks to conflate "Brahmanism", a small sub-set of Hindu practice, with the much larger and more diverse practices of "Hinduism" as a whole. Further it also seeks to elevate Vedic Brahmanism over other forms and sources of Hinduism.

Table 2: Edits Recommended by Vedic Foundation

Publisher Original Text by Publisher Recommendations by Vedic Foundation FOSA/CAC Comment
Houghton Mifflin /McDougal Littell

Grade 6, p. 229
Indian society divides itself into a complex structure of social classes based particularly on jobs. This class structure is called the caste system. This sentence, written in the present tense in a textbook describing ancient history, is out of place. It presumes that the caste system is present in India today. According to the Indian Constitution, under the section, Fundamental Rights, the Right to Equality is guaranteed to all citizens, just as the U.S. has enacted Equal Employment Opportunity Laws to prevent discrimination. This edit seeks to deny that the social hierarchy of the caste system is intact and that it is very much a reality in Indian society today. Over 160 million Dalits routinely face physical and sexual violence that is used to maintain and police the social boundaries of caste.

It is also ridiculous to claim that the existence of laws against discrimination means that caste automatically vanishes from Indian society. Such denials constitute, at best, ignorant and wishful thinking, and at worst are another form of violence against the Dalit community. 
Teachers’ Curriculum Institute
p. 144
“Modern day Hinduism is very complex. Many beliefs, many forms of worship, and many gods exist side by side.” Remove. This is a transparent attempt to deny the pluralistic nature of the Hindu Pantheon and to minimize the complex and diverse nature of everyday Hindu spiritual practice.
Teachers’ Curriculum Institute

p. 143
“Hinduism…has affected how people worship, what jobs they do,… And it has helped to determine the status of people in Indian society.” Remove. This edit is a continuation of the VF’s denials, made elsewhere, that the Hindu caste system determines one’s social status, in addition to shaping one’s access to resources in a fundamental way.
Teachers’ Curriculum Institute

p. 146
“Modern Hindus continue to visit temples to express their love of the gods.” Replace with “...visit temples to worship and express their love for God.” Note again the VF’s promotion of Monotheism and the reduction of the common Hindu practice of Pantheism (i.e. the acceptance of many gods) into one single “God” with a capitalized ‘G’.
Teachers’ Curriculum Institute

p. 146
“…show gods and goddesses from popular Hindu stories.” Replace with “…show various forms of God from Hindu scriptures.” This edit is an attempt to mask the pantheistic nature of Hinduism and present it as Monotheistic instead. Monotheism is in fact contrary to the way many Hindus understand and practice their religion.  
Teachers’ Curriculum Institute
The heading “Hindu Beliefs About Multiple Gods”. Replace with “Hindu Beliefs About Various Forms of God.” The sole purpose of this edit is to replace ‘god’ with ‘God’, i.e. with a capitalized ‘G’.
Teachers’ Curriculum Institute

p. 146
Brahman is the Hindu name for a supreme power or a divine force, that is greater than all the other gods.” Replace with “Bhagwan is a word for God in Hinduism.” The VF is here attempting to replace abstract terms such as “divine force”, “supreme power” with terms from more devotional, theistic paths. This is a major content innovation. 
Teachers’ Curriculum Institute

p. 146
“According to Hindu belief, everything in the world is a part of Brahman…It is a part of Brahman…” Replace ‘a part’ with ‘the power’ and ‘Brahman’ with ‘God’. See Note Above
Teachers’ Curriculum Institute
p. 151
“…devote their entire lives to uniting with Brahman.” Replace “…devote their entire lives to attaining God realization.” See Note Above
Teachers’ Curriculum Institute

p. 151
“They use ….to focus on Brahman.” Replace “Brahman” with “God.” This is yet another example of the VF’s attempts to move from a spiritual vocabulary to a religious vocabulary in describing Hindu practices and to hijack the space occupied by spiritual practice so as to bring it under the purview of religion.
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