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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Chandrika Dalal, July 22, 1999. Interview K-0814. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Impact of American secular and Christian values on Dalal's children

Dalal resisted attempts by American Christians to change her Hindu beliefs, arguing that her faith is superior. She maintains that Hinduism embodies Indian culture and reflects Indian legacy. Although Dalal instilled Hindu values in her children, she nonetheless expresses her frustrations with the transformative power and pull of American culture. This overwhelming American influence represents a recurring theme in the interview.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Chandrika Dalal, July 22, 1999. Interview K-0814. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

ANDREW JILANI:
Yeah. That's good-, er… good point. Tell me what is best about your culture, about your traditions? Give some examples, and—.
CHANDRIKA DALAL:
Morality—.
ANDREW JILANI:
Morality?
CHANDRIKA DALAL:
Yes. You know? You don't (are not) of people, but-, afraid of God. (That) if you do something wrong, you (are) punish(ed) by God. In Indian philosophy we believe, (that) if you do something wrong, next time you birth (are born)-, you born in this earth-, you have to pay for this. Whatever-, you do something wrong-, hurt somebody-, that born with you, related with you, [unclear] hurt you back. So-, you have to pay.
ANDREW JILANI:
Uh-huh. This morality is one. What other traditions—?
CHANDRIKA DALAL:
Without-, without marriage-, you know-, you don't have a sex. If you have a child-, need to be father's name. Without marriage, no sex-, and-, after marriage, you have a children, you have to take responsibility as a parent. Not like American(s) (that) oh, just a-, weekend, Christmas card, or birthday card, and-, just in the summer time stay with father or mother, or something like that, and fight for divorce or some-, fight for children-, child custody, or-, all this stuff. And hurts [unclear] feelings. Child is so important. If you give birth (to) your child, you take completely hundred percent responsibility-, as a parent—father and mother. Children need both!
ANDREW JILANI:
Hmmm…. Children need both. That's true.
CHANDRIKA DALAL:
You know? And until, parents (are) together-, child have a better life. Children don't run away from house, like here. Children need protection, children need a guidance-, children need a love, children need a trust.
ANDREW JILANI:
So, with these values and with these traditions which you hold very dearly, how did you raise your two daughters?
CHANDRIKA DALAL:
I try my best, but-, you know. When I learn psychology in India, they say, after generation—your parents or grandparents—is come up from the generation-, you're a family. But sometimes, atmosphere is so strong, it's not (doesn't) work-, like in this country. My both daughter(s)-, my older daughter, here-, when she is (was) two years old-, so this culture, and that American friends-, changed the values. They don't respect Indian culture or Indian values, because they are thinking American way, because they (are) raise(ed) here. They have friend(s) like that, and all friends' parents are divorced and separate(d), that impression on that (their) mind, is different. And changed their thinking. And-, (sigh) until she is with me. She listen(s) about our religious stories. About Rama and Mahabharat, or Geeta, or something.
ANDREW JILANI:
Mahabharat?
CHANDRIKA DALAL:
Yeah.
ANDREW JILANI:
What is-, what is Mahabharat?
CHANDRIKA DALAL:
It's a-, it's war between two family(ies), about right and wrong.
ANDREW JILANI:
Okay.
CHANDRIKA DALAL:
And-, always truth is a winner.
ANDREW JILANI:
Uh-huh.
CHANDRIKA DALAL:
And-, that('s) the story.
ANDREW JILANI:
Okay.
CHANDRIKA DALAL:
So, every time—.
ANDREW JILANI:
Do you want to tell the Story? Can you tell the story?
CHANDRIKA DALAL:
Ahm….. it is so big (a) story.
ANDREW JILANI:
It's a big—. [Laughter] Okay.
CHANDRIKA DALAL:
But it is big-, fight-, war between truth-, and wrong.
ANDREW JILANI:
Okay. Uh-huh.
CHANDRIKA DALAL:
One people believe in the truth, and honesty-, and noble, and everything. Other peoples (are) liar(s), and cheater(s), just want to take somebody's-, property, and somebody's-, you know—. It is not belongs to you, but you just want to just take it!
ANDREW JILANI:
Uh-huh. Okay.
CHANDRIKA DALAL:
It is between two families. But there is a-, values-, in the end of this-, war. Truth is (the) winner.
ANDREW JILANI:
Truth is winner. Uh-huh.
CHANDRIKA DALAL:
So—. They keep (lead) you to believe, (that) lie is not always (a) winner. Truth is a winner. And if you-, keep faith in the god, God help(s) you. That is the reason. In Ramayan, ideal king, an ideal husband, ideal father.
ANDREW JILANI:
That's the-, the philosophy for this teaching?
CHANDRIKA DALAL:
Morality.
ANDREW JILANI:
Morality.
CHANDRIKA DALAL:
You are king, you still respect your religious, your society rules, and your family's rules, and everything. You just don't say (that) it is not your business. If you stay in the family, you have a family rules, if you stay in a country, you have a country rules. If you go in religious, they have some rules for you, and you have to follow that rules. Because that is the life. You are (a) human being. You have a sense to understand right and wrong. So when you listen (to) your religious stories, the stories teach you, what is right and what is wrong. So—.