California Textbook Controversy over Hindu History

A controversy in the US state of California concerning the portrayal of Hinduism in history textbooks began in 2005. The Texas-based Vedic Foundation (VF) and the American Hindu Education Foundation (HEF) complained to California's Curriculum Commission, arguing that the coverage in sixth grade history textbooks of Indian history and Hinduism was biased against Hinduism; points of contention included a textbook's portrayal of the caste system, the Indo-Aryan migration theory, and the status of women in Indian society.

The California Department of Education (CDE) initially sought to resolve the controversy by appointing Shiva Bajpai, Professor Emeritus at California State University Northridge, as a one-man committee to review revisions proposed by the groups. Bajpai, who was selected by the Vedic Foundation for the task, approved nearly all the changes; while presented by the VF as an independent scholar, it later came out that he was a member of a closely affiliated organization.

Michael Witzel, Professor of Sanskrit at Harvard University organized Indologists against the objections of Hindu groups, sending a letter with some fifty signatories to the CDE to protest changes of a "religious-political nature".

Witzel, Stanley Wolpert and a third Indologist then revisited the proposed changes on behalf of the State Board of Education and suggested reverting some of the approved changes. According to the CDE, these scholars came to either an agreement or a compromise on the majority of the edits and corrections to the textbooks in 2006, with some proposed changes accepted and others rejected. In early 2006, the Hindu American Foundation sued the State Board over matters of process. The case was settled in 2009.

A followup debate on California textbook took place from 2016-2017, dealing with some of the same topics.