How Hinduism is Portrayed in America’s Education System

The caste system is portrayed as Hinduism’s defining feature in American classrooms

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In this 2001 essay, Yvette C. Rosser, a former secondary school teacher, writes about how Hinduism is portrayed in America’s education system. Here are a few excerpts from her eye-opening essay to show how deeply Hindudvesha is embedded in the America’s education system.

“At educational workshops about India and when making presentations to high school students, I am inevitably asked about the worship of rats in India. When I assert that it is absurd to teach this to students, teachers often argue that they “read it in an AP newswire.” I found it difficult to believe that in American classrooms rat worship is actually taught as a bonafide Hindu practice until my own son came home from high school and told me his World History teacher had made that very statement.”

“When topics about India are discussed in American classrooms, one of the most common themes is to focus on the caste system as the defining feature of Indic civilization, the lens, as it were, through which a foreigner can understand Hinduism… At the high school level students sometimes play games in which they draw lots to determine into what caste they have by chance been born. The students must abide by prescribed hierarchical rules that proscribe certain behaviors and allow specific privileges to a select group, namely the “power-hungry dogmatic Brahmans.” The untouchables are banished to one corner of the classroom or forced to stand outside in the hallway.”

“In textbooks, few other aspects of Hinduism are considered as relevant or dealt with in comparable depth as is the caste system. What is downplayed or rarely mentioned are India’s post independence efforts toward national integration of its minorities and low caste citizens.”

“…one textbook that I surveyed, World History: People and Nations, by Anatole G. Mazour and John M. Peoples, published by Harcourt, Brace, Javonovich in 1990, stressed that moral conduct was unimportant to the Aryans—which, for those familiar with the relevant literature, is easily refuted by the many Sanskrit eulogies to noble and virtuous character. In fact, in the Hindu law books, Brahmans are given harsher penalties than those given to other castes for the same crime.”

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