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Published: 2008/2/22 6:32:25
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(The Story of Hinduism Today Continued)

Observes editor Palaniswami, "Bodhinatha and the editors get e-mail every day from Europe, India, America, Australia and Malaysia. Young Hindu kids who find us on the Internet write to us and say, 'You know I've been thinking about karma. My grandmother always talked about it but I never really understood it.' The modern kid is much smarter than most people think, asking all sorts of profound and personal questions. We answer them all." Yes, Western technology can be used to advance the course of the Eternal Truth. In My Opinion is a forum where young Indian Americans can vent their feelings. Wrote Smita Patil, an intern for the Oregonian newspaper, "If Indian women were truly treated in accordance with Hindu belief and teachings, India would be a heaven on Earth. Instead, many Hindus have formed a convenient duality where they worship women in temples but enslave them at home." The Letters page encourages lively debate, often by e-mail. One reader felt it was OK to eat meat as long as she lived the principles of the Vedas. Another expressed that being vegetarian is not just a random decision but a well-thought-out tradition, thousands of years old. "To give that up is like regressing thousands of years."

A Resource for Mainstream America: Hinduism Today has landed on several lists around America as a place where people can find authentic and reliable information on Sanatana Dharma, and its editorial team is often called upon for hard-to-find answers that few other institutions seem inclined to take the time to address. Houghton Mifflin, one of America's largest publishers for children's textbooks in middle and high schools, asked Hinduism Today to vet its chapters on Hinduism for a civilization series for American sixth graders destined for school rooms where half a million 13-year-olds will study it in the United States. Houghton Mifflin had called Harvard to vet the chapters, and Harvard defered to the editors of HT. Recalls Paramacharya Palaniswami, "The two chapters were awful, devastatingly bad, even wrong in places. We ended up rewriting the whole thing, and also provided graphics. All the chapters on other religions had really nice graphics, but for Hinduism they had found a horrible, monster-looking Siva for these young children to study. We sent them elegant, graceful images that Hindus would be proud to see." To the amazement of the HT team, the publishers adopted in its entirety the rewritten chapters, and as a result American kids will have a really authentic and compelling introduction to the world's oldest religion, not some rehashed, demeaning stereotype.

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