Gujarat board assures rectification of ‘factual errors’ on Buddhism in textbook

by Parimal A Dabhi, Indian Express, June 21, 2024

Gandhinagar, India -- Buddhists in the state, along with a former member of the Gujarat Public Service Commission (GPSC), have approached the Gujarat State Board of School Textbooks (GSBST) to remove “false” depiction of the religion in a Class 12 Sociology textbook. GSBST Director V R Gosai, who met the Buddhist representatives Thursday, assured them that the mistake will be rectified.

The Buddhists objected to the textbook’s claims that the religion has two levels — upper and lower — of people, its religious teacher is known as Lama, and that it believes in reincarnation, among others.

The office of the GSBST director Thursday received representations from Gujarat Buddhist Academy (GBA), GPSC former member Mulchand Rana and many followers of the religion seeking to remove the “lies” from the textbook and replace it with correct information. Copies of the representations were also marked to the Chief Minister, Governor and Education Minister. GBA is a leading Buddhist organisation in the state. It claimed that the false information has been published with an “ill-intention”.

However, GSBST director Gosai, said it is “more of a matter of factual error”. “The Sociology textbook of Class XII has been printed since 2017 and there is a paragraph on Buddhism in it. In its previous edition of 2005, too, this content was there. We have got representations related to it for the first time. We have taken it (the representations) seriously,” he said.

The controversial paragraph appears in a subsection of the chapter ‘Indian Culture and Community’ that deals with eight religious communities residing in India, one being Buddhism. The paragraph reads: “Like Sikhs, the portion of the followers of Buddhism is also meager in India. Most of them live in Maharashtra. They also reside in north-west India and in Arunachal Pradesh.

Buddhism had a considerable spread in India at the time of the emperor Ashoka. Buddhism has three branches, namely, Hinyana, Mahayana and Vajrayan. It has two levels. The upper level of Buddhism includes Brahmins, Kshatriyas, and certain elites, while the lower level consists of the tribals and marginal groups converted to Buddhism. Sarnath, Saanchi and Bodhigaya are important centers of Buddhism. Their religious teacher is known as Lama. Their religious places, known as Buddhist temples, have ‘wish wheels’. Tripitaka is their scripture and they believe in karma and reincarnation.”

The Class 12 textbook is available in Gujarati, Hindi, English, Marathi, Urdu and Sanskrit.

Taking note of the ‘controversial’ paragraph, GBA has pointed out five “lies” about Buddhism and its followers in it. In reference to textbook mention of “two levels” of Buddhism, the GBA memorandum stated that the religion is like “an ocean” that includes and accepts people from all groups of the society, and “unlike Hinduism, does not follow a caste system”.

It has also called it a lie that Buddhists believe in reincarnation. On the reference to Lama as the religious teacher of Buddhists, the memorandum says, “Lamas are religious gurus of Tibetan Buddhist sect and not of entire Buddhism. The religious gurus in Buddhism are known as Bhikshu.”

The memorandum said the wish wheel is a Tibetan tradition and not a symbol of Buddhism accepted by all. The Buddhist symbol is a “dhamma chakra (Ashok Chakra) that is there in the emblem of India”.

Mulchand Rana’s representation stated that Buddhist religious places are not Buddhist temples but Bauddha Vihar.

The state board has asked the representatives to share the correct facts. “We will circulate the corrected paragraph in schools and the question on it will also be asked accordingly in exams. When the book gets printed next, the correction will be made in it… We are open. They (the Buddhists) have told us that they will provide the correct details in two days. Once they provide it, we will discuss it with the authors and decide on the new details to be kept (in the textbook),” Gosai added.

GBA secretary Ramesh Banker said, “The board has accepted the mistake and asked us to provide a correct version to replace the current text with. We will provide it in a day or two.”

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Operator for Responsible Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: