'INDIA ABROAD' on new textbooks

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Mon Feb 28 17:19:35 UTC 2000

In spite of Madhav's cooling breeze from a himavad-iriNeza-pradeza, I am
afraid I have to add, even after some weeks' reflection, some hot breeze
from a slightly warmer haridvaara in kaamasetu, matsyacuuSasetu.

For, an Indian scientist friend of mine has drawn my attention to a
troubling report in INDIA ABROAD,  January 21, 2000, hidden away on the


Since this concerns *many* of the subjects we work on, it might be
interesting to list members, -- especially since it comes in the wake of
the recent news stories that Dominik has drawn attention to (Council of
Social Science and Historical Research, University Grants Commission,
Indira Gandhi Center).

I merely quote a few 'gems' and leave out all acronyms.  The story begins:


  Concern expressed about plans to alter history books  (By PRAFUL BIDWAI)

If Murli Manohar Joshi, the Union Human Resources Development Minister, has
his way, Indian children will grow up believing that "Bharatiya culture,"
...   is the sole influence that has always shaped India. This basically
"Hindu" culture ... has remained unchanged since time immemorial. All other
influences and traditions are "impure," alien, not part of India's

* There was no contradiction between Hinduism and Buddhism ....

((cf. , incidentally: (Reuters) - A key figure in India's ... government
provoked outrage among Buddhist scholars Friday by asserting that Buddhism
merely represented India's ancient Aryan traditions with a "new emphasis."
"Buddha did not announce any new religion. He was only restating with a new
emphasis the ancient ideals of the Indo-Aryan civilizations," Home Minister
L.K. Advani said in a speech at Sarnath in northern India.  ----  See
http://www.infobeat.com/stories/cgi/story.cgi?id=2556965151-bd6   ))

* Indians are "a race." Furthermore, they have "a mission" and "destiny" as
a race.

        (ever heard that before???)

* It is "a fundamental postulate of Hindu thought that every way of life
has its own contribution to make..." But "the ultimate reality" is defined
by Krishna alone.

* The "spirit of Bharat" is dharma, "the ultimate source of all values."
The best description of dharma is found in the "Manusmriti."

* In ancient times, "Bharat excelled in every branch of Science... Our
sages realized reality lying in every sphere of life." All of them were

These ideas form the core of the "Discussion Papers" now being prepared by
the principal institutions that draw up school curriculum  ....

All future textbook writers must conform to these standards.


(The writer is a political commentator)

Michael Witzel
Department of Sanskrit & Indian Studies, Harvard University
2 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge MA 02138

ph. 617-496 2990 (also messages)
home page:     www.fas.harvard.edu/~witzel/mwpage.htm

Elect. Journ. of Vedic Studies:         www1.shore.net/~india/ejvs
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