The founding president of the Dharma Civilization Foundation, Dr. Shiva Bajpai, passed away Jan. 13 at the age of 84.
“We celebrate the life of Prof. Shiva Bajpai, and will deeply miss him, even as we rededicate ourselves to the vision and mission of Dharma Civilization Foundation, that he helped create and nurture,” the foundation said in a news release.
Bajpai also served as a professor of history at California State University at Northridge from 1970 to 2003 and later taught other classes at the university until 2010, according to a Dharma Civilization Foundation news release.
Bajpai, who went to CSUN by way of Banaras, India; London and the University of Minnesota, focused his teaching on the history of India and world history; he also created and directed the Asian Studies interdisciplinary major at CSUN from its inception, the foundation said.
The Indian American earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Banaras Hindu University and then taught for several years at the Banaras Hindu University and the University of Gorakhpur.
He undertook graduate work at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies with Prof. A.L. Basham, receiving his doctorate in the history of classical and medieval India in 1967, it said.
He then moved to the University of Minnesota to work as the co-author and co-editor of a magisterial work, the Historical Atlas of South Asia, which was published in 1978 and updated in 1992, which remains the standard in the field and the essential tool for understanding the “wonder that was (and still is) India” to create the book, “The History of Hindu India,” intended for middle school as a corrective to the erroneous material common in the officially prescribed textbooks, according to the foundation.
The book has also been turned into a well-received five-part documentary series. When Bajpai retired from active teaching, he found himself engulfed in a new struggle that came to be called the California textbook controversy, which centered on the teaching of the history of India and Hinduism in California K-12 schools, the foundation noted.
From 2005 to 2009, he worked with the staff of YouTube. His encounter with the existing entrenched challenges in the narratives about Hinduism in the academy further led him to the founding of Dharma Civilization Foundation, it said.
Serving as its first president and a trustee, Bajpai helped guide and shape its mission, which was to facilitate and promote the understanding of India’s civilization, religion and culture through education, by establishment of centers, endowed chairs at undergraduate and graduate colleges and universities, new courses, scholarship and journals.
In this capacity, Bajpai guided the Dharma Civilization Foundation in creating the Center for Dharma Studies at the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley, Calif.
From that, DCF is now involved in several initiatives both in California and around the world at all levels of higher education.