Rakesh Bahadur’s Analysis of HAF Report

6. Three Cs and HAF Report (5th February 2011)

HAF report on caste has two central themes/concepts: birth-based hierarchy and caste-based discrimination. Both concepts are found throughout the narration of the report (a few examples are listed below):

“The caste system, as it has developed in the Indian subcontinent, is a birth-based hierarchy.

Hindus must acknowledge that caste arose in Hindu society, that some Hindu texts and

traditions  justify a birth-based hierarchy and caste-bias,…..

HAF supports the reanalysis and subsequent rejection of any and all teachings that promote

caste-based discrimination and birth-based hierarchy”.

These two concepts are also part of texts in every major world history textbook used in K-12 in USA. I have compiled a table, as shown on the next page, from world history textbooks used in last 25 years.

  • The table shows that there is no difference in the text and the main theme in the HAF report (examples shown above) and the text in the world history books (shown in the table).
  • The issue with these textbooks is that they conflate Varna with caste, as done in the HAF report (e.g. Chapter 9 of the report).

The issue is not an “either/or” approach. The issue is not what is in the FAQs at the HAF website. The real issue is negative portrayal of Hinduism, for which the HAF report may become a reference material.

This argument (negative portrayal of Hinduism) was the most successful argument for correction of textbooks in Fairfax County and changes in the Virginia Standards of Learning and Curriculum Framework.

Has HAF taken in to account that its report may act as reference of choice by the publishers of the world History textbooks.

The table shows that in the last 25 years there was little change in the way caste is covered in the world history textbooks. It seems now that the three C’s of Hinduism (Caste, Cow, and Curry) in textbooks will have a long half life.

Table 3.

Name of Book

Page # / Para #


Book Name: World History (Harcourt Horizons)
Publisher: Harcourt Brace
Author: Michael J. Berson
Year: 2005
208 – para 3

Para 4

The Brahmans (BRAH.muhnz) or priests and scholars were the highest class.

In time, the Aryan social classes developed into a caste system. A caste is a group of people within a social class. A person born into one caste could not become a member of another caste.

Book Name: The World
Publisher: Scott Foresman
Author: James B. Kracht
Year: 2005
139 – para 1 In India, every Hindu is traditionally a member of a caste, a lifelong social group into which he or she is born. From the time of the Vedas, the castes were strictly ranked according to birth…… The ranked order of the castes was an important part of dharma.
Book    Glencoe World History, the Survey
Author:    Spielvogel, National Geographic Society
Year        2005
75 – para 2

75 – para 4

The caste system of ancient India was a seat of rigid social categories that determined not only a person’s occupation and economic potential, but also his or her position in society.

There  were five major divisions of Indian classes (known as Castes in English) in ancient times. At the top were two castes that were clearly the ruling elites…..

Book Name: Journey Across Time: Early Ages
Publisher: Glencoe/ McGraw-Hill
Author: Spielvogel, National Geographic Society
Year        2005
199 – para 6

200 – para 4

One of the results of the Aryan invasion of India was the development of a caste system. A caste (KAST) is a social group that someone is born into and can not change.
Social Levels of the Caste System: Long before the caste system came about, the Aryans believed the society was divided into four classes called varnas. The top two varnas were Brahmans (BRAH.MUHNS) and Kshatriyas (KSHA.tree.uhs).
Book Name: Ancient World History: Patterns of Interaction
Grade        9th
63 – para 6 When they first arrived in India, Aryans were divided into three social classes: Brahmins (priests), warriors, and peasants or  traders. The class that an Aryan belonged to determine his or her role in society.
Publisher: McDougal Littell
Author:  Beck, Black, Krieger, Naylor, Shabaka, Year        2005
64 – para 2 As time went on, the four basic castes gradually grew more complex – with hundreds of subdivisions. People were born into their castes for life.
Book Name: World History Modern Times
Publisher: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill
Author: Spielvogel
Year: 2005
37 – para 5

The caste system of ancient India was a seat of rigid social categories that determined not only a person’s occupation and economic potential, but also his or her position in society.
Ancient World History – Patterns of Interaction – McDougal Littell, Published (04) Page 64 Page 64, “People are born into their caste for life”.
World Culture   A Global Mosaic
By Iftikhar Ahmad, Herbert Brodsky, Marylee Susan Crofts, Elisabeth Gainor Ellis
Published by Prentice Hall—— 1999
Page 189 Caste is based on the idea that there are separate kinds of humans
The Key to Understanding Global Studies by James Killoran, Stuart Zimmer, Mark Jarrett published Jarrett Publishing com. 1991 Page 178- para 5 Hindus believed that each person was born into a particular class…’ ‘One’s children also remain in the same caste’ ‘Since the caste system was based on heredity, it severely restricted social mobility’

Page 376- heading Terms, para 6 Society was organized into hereditary social classes known as castes. Hindus believe each person is born into a particular caste based on one’s behavior in a previous life
Exploring World History by Sol Holt, John R. O’Conner Globe Book Company Inc. 1987 Page 36- para 7 In the caste system, people are born into a certain social class… It is almost impossible to move up to a higher caste
The Afro Asian World- A Cultural Understanding by Edward R. Kolevzon published by Allyn and Bacon Inc.1978 Page 319- para 3

Page 320- para 1

Hindus believe that they are born and reborn into one of the four main castes.

Each person belongs to the caste of his or her father. The desire to improve was blocked by the caste system.

Exploring World Cultures by Esko E. Newhill and Umberto La Paglia published by Ginn and company, 1986 Page 29 para 1

Page 215- para 1

Page 216 para 7

In a caste system, a change in status is extremely rare. Whether in a high or low caste, people must remain members of the same caste into which they were born.

The caste system is based on social inequality. A person’s caste is determined at birth.

To try those who fail to carry out caste practices, each caste has a Panchayat- a council of elders.

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