E S H A
Educators' Society for Heritage of IndiA ईशा
A Non-Profit Organization offering authentic educational resources
on culture and heritage of India www.ESHAusa.org
Our mission is to help improve and augment educational resources about India's heritage and culture as an important constituent of ancient as well as contemporary world cultures and wisdom traditions.
1. Foster the traditional values and wisdom traditions like Yoga, Meditation, and Ayurveda (Science of Life; aka Alternative Medicine) of a culture that is the foundation of the 'oldest surviving and thriving civilization' from the 'Indus Valley Civilization' to the present.
2. Organize programs and events aimed at youth development, to appreciate and learn from other world cultures, to become world citizens, with an awareness of ethical leadership that supports environmental sustainability, inspired by the message of Mahatma Gandhi: Be the Change you want to see in the World!
3. Asia is not only the geographically largest, and most populous, but the fastest rising continent with four of the five major world powers now held in Asia. Providing up-to-date, unbiased information about the emerging world is a challenging task faced by educators. In order to help build a well-informed society, ESHA provides information and resources from 'emic' perspective on India's heritage, culture, traditions, history, society and languages to parents, teachers, students, and the public.
Note: Emic and etic, in the social and behavioral sciences, refer to the two kinds of viewpoints: 'emic' refers to the viewpoint of members of a social or ethnic group about their own group's culture or history, while 'etic' refers to the perspective of an outside observer studying the social group. Etic perspective is a view through the lens of an outside observer looking in (with prejudgement based on their own cultural norms... at times their ideas and opinions assume the superiority of their own culture).
Stephen Huyler, scholar, author of six books on Indian art, culture and society, curator of Indian exhibits at Smithsonian, American Museum of Natural History, and several other prominent museums across USA,
writes in an article: Bringing India to America, published in the Hinduism Today magazine, December 2016, page 54-55:
"Wherever I go, I am confronted by comments and attitudes that portray Western ignorance about India.
Misperceptions litter our public and social media and conversations everywhere...
"I recognized from the beginning the diametric opposition between most Western interpretations
of India and its reality...Most Westerners just cannot open their minds to fully comprehend the
multilateral realities that infuse the very way of life in India. We are dependent on our historical
mandate that there is only one true authority...and one absolute right-- and that all else is either
inferior or absolutely wrong. In consequence, most of us cannot comprehend a vast culture that
accepts each individual's right to his or her own perception of these basic truths....
"Foreign researchers and travelers would spend a few months in the country and then publish their
impressions, convinced that their brief but life-changing experiences had given them the authority
to propound and publish theories as if they were gospel. Often the results are erroneous or misleading
or have simply perpetuated generalizations that do little to correct earlier misconceptions."
Navtej Sarna, Ambassador of India in USA, speaking at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, on May 14, 2018, slams Mainstream Media for negative portrayal of India (published in India Abroad, May 25,2018)
India has always attracted world's attention. India’s history, culture, heritage, traditions, and philosophies find their place
in school and college education and the media. Much of this information was originally translated in the English
language by the British colonial missionaries who interpreted it through the lens of Christian theology and distorted it to serve their interests in perpetuating the colonial occupation of India.
Even after the British colonial rule ended, this information has been controlled
and interpreted in the English speaking world by the people who come from
outside of the Indian social and cultural traditions and do not have the first
hand knowledge, appreciation or experience of the Indian culture and society.
They continue to treat the earlier British missionaries' translations and
interpretations as the original and therefore the authentic source, and build
on it with their 'etic' perspectives (outsiders looking in).
Members of the Indian American community who understand the culture
and practice these traditions, and want to impart them to the new generation
as their heritage, find that considerable misinformation exists about Indian
history, culture, society and traditions in the American public and academia.
With this concern, a number of scholars, educators, and community
leaders realized the need for reviewing and selecting authentic resources, or
creating new resources, including a website full of authentic references,
getting actively involved in the school textbook reviews and selection process,
and providing an authentic, 'emic' perspective about our culture and traditions
to students, teachers, parents, the media and the general public.
The Educators' Society for Heritage of India (ESHA) was thus formed
by scholars, educators, and community leaders. ESHA is incorporated in
New Jersey as a tax-exempt organization under 501(c)(3).
Prof. Balgangadhar, Director of the India Platform
To Understand the Distortion of India and Hinduism, click here and the Research Centre (Comparative Science
of Cultures) at Ghent University in Belgium.
See a video explaining how Yoga and the culture and heritage of India is being distorted in USA
ESHA is not affiliated with any religious or political organization and it seeks to promote diversity and pluralism;
it seeks to serve regardless of race, color, caste, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation and/or disability.
Prof. Barbara Powell, author of "Windows into the Infinite, A Guide to the Hindu Scriptures" writes:
"When I began this book ... I searched for the best English translations I could find and repeatedly discovered them to be by this (Ramakrishna) order of monks. The texts were even-headed, scholarly and open minded. As much as I recommend these versions, I encourage the reader to explore as many translations as possible and ... stick with the ones you like best. ...
I would steer clear of very old (19th or early 20th century) translations by Westerners as those too often reflect a condescension and misunderstanding typical of colonialism." (color and bold added for emphasis)
ESHA Note: Unfortunately, there are so many academicians in the US and Europe who still propagate the colonial inspired prejudiced notions of Indian scriptures, history, and culture of India, yet they have received high recognition in their academic discipline. Following two articles illustrate a significant example of this discordant phenomenon:
A Response to Wendy Doniger’s article in the "Chronicle of Higher Education"
Prof. Arvind Sharma, Birks Professor of Comparative Religion, McGill University.
I should respond to the piece by Wendy Doniger in the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled
“The Repression of Religious Studies’, as I am the “Hindu” whose piece on Hinduism was substituted
for her own by Encarta in 2003. As it was put to me, some Hindus complained that they could not
recognize themselves in the entry in the encyclopedia and therefore it was being replaced.
The substitute entry could have conceivably been written by a non-Hindu as well, who presented
Hinduism in such a way that the followers of Hinduism could relate to it, as is sometimes the goal
of the phenomenological method in the study of religion. This is a point to which I shall
also advert later. Click here to read the entire article.
The Doniger Controversy And The Need For Hindu Theologians Professor Arvind Sharma
Prof. Anantanand Rambachan - Professor of Religion, Philosophy and Asian Studies at Saint Olaf College, Minnesota.
"The decision by Penguin (India) to withdraw Wendy Doniger’s controversial book, The Hindus:
An Alternative History, has, not unsurprisingly, elicited a huge volume and range of responses.
On one side are those who see the issue solely as one of freedom of expression and worry that
Penguin’s capitulation undermines free speech. On the other side are supporters of Shiksha
Bachao Andolan, the group that filed the lawsuit against Doniger’s book. They welcome
Penguin’s decision on the grounds that her writing offends and hurts Hindu religious feelings.
They question Doniger’s reading of Hindu texts and narratives and the assumptions of her
methodology. In the middle are many, scholars and lay-persons, who are not in favor of
book-banning and pulping, but who raise legitimate issues for discussion that include power
inequality, the history and nature of scholarship on Hinduism and the relationship between
scholar and religious community. " Click here to read the entire article.