A Journey to the Capital

In the final stage of their journey, Acharya Arumuganathaswami and Sadhaka Jayanatha made their way through California's recent rainstorms to the state's capital. Sacramento is actually rather nice. Its downtown area is one of low-rise buildings. Interspersed around its large government offices, one finds an array small businesses, parks and unique restaurants. The goal while here is to attend the Instructional Quality Commission meeting. The IQC is reviewing the California textbook narrative, a standard narrative by which textbook publisher's model their books. The section of this narrative on India and Hinduism is woefully inadequate, outdated and rather offensive, and Hinduism is presented in a way which is nearly unrecognizable to an adult practicing Hindu. The good news is that California tends to set the educational standards for the country, and if change happens here, it is likely to ripple out to the rest of the United States.

The Monks had a day to prepare before the following day's meeting. Dr. Bajpai and Dr. Nalini Rao flew in to add their academic clout as well as their own comments at the meeting. In the evening the two monks visited the Ramalingam home in northern Sacramento. Gurudeva had personally set up their shrine room many years ago. The Hindu History Movie was presented to the attending group, and Acharya gave a short summery of the textbook issue, adding more Hindu thought behind a building energy which would culminate the next day.

The ICQ includes a discussion by the board, followed by public comments and ideally, the board then goes through all the proposed edits by various groups, such as the Koreans, Hindus, Polish, LGBT, environmentalists and more. As this is a very rare opportunity to make an impact in the educational system, some 700 edits were proposed by various groups. This large submission caused the board to make the meeting primarily for public comments, after which a group of writers and academics would go through each edit and create a new draft by May.

For what it was, the meeting went extremely well for our proposed edits to the narrative. The monks headed to the department early on the first day, as everyone had been anticipating huge crowds. Thankfully that wasn't the case. Hindus made up half of the public comments, and it was Hindu children that made up nearly a quarter of all public testimony. One of the greatest aids to our position was the group of Hindu youth and parents of the Chinmaya Mission, who we had spoken to days earlier about the issue. Again, Tushar was instrumental in making this happen with his wonderful organizational skills.

There is a section of California State Law which states that in the presentation of religion in public schools, students should always be able to remain secure in their religious beliefs. With the current presentation of Hinduism, we were hearing testimony of children feeling ashamed of their religion, some not wanting to be Hindus anymore. It is on this point that we saw the greatest potential for change. The Hindu children, who had their own personal impressions of what they'd seen in school about their religion, spoke with clarity, power and one pointed dedication to change the way Hinduism is taught. The board was extremely impressed by their words. In fact, everybody was.

The commission adjourned early, and all that seemed readily memorable of it was that the Hindu's wanted change. Their children were asking for it and nearly everyone endorsed the proposed edits of Dr. Shiva Bajpai, Acharya Arumuganathaswami and the Uberoi foundation. The next narrative draft is out of our hands now, but we think we made and strong statement.

Following the commission meeting, our monks visited the Sacramento Ganesha temple with Easan Katir, and the next day, drove to San Fransisco for their last night in the Golden State. There they walked the Golden Gate Bridge and enjoyed the foggy weather of the Bay. The next day the two travelers returned to Kauai.

Celebrating Day Three of Pancha Ganapati

December 23, red: The sadhana for the third day is to create a vibration of love and harmony among business associates, the casual merchant and the public at large. This is the day for presenting gifts to fellow workers and customers and to honor employers and employees with gifts and appreciation. The sadhana today is the settling of all debts and disputes. Gifts received are placed unopened before the Deity.

Archives are now available through 2001. Light colored days have no posts. 1998-2001 coming later.

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