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Attack on Hindu American Organizations is Dangerously Bordering on Disinformation and Hate

Attack on Hindu American Organizations is Dangerously Bordering on Disinformation and Hate

  • The accusing individuals and groups openly team up to oppose Hindu organizations and their pluralistic programs in the U.S., while injecting Indian political activism into U.S. soil.

Hindu faith-based organizations and their members in the U.S. are being attacked repeatedly by a few Indian American activists, journalists, and academicians claiming to be experts on India. Alleging that the current Indian government headed by the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its leader Narendra Modi, elected twice as the prime minister of India, is undemocratic, supremacist, and unfair to minorities, they warn that the ideology of this government is being imported into and propagated in the U.S. through Hindu American organizations in the form of “Hindu nationalism” and “Hindu supremacy.” The activism against American Hindu organizations is dangerously bordering on disinformation and hate.

While building imaginary associations of such organizations as the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh USA (HSS), Hindu American Foundation (HAF), Sewa International USA (Sewa USA), and others with Indian political parties and organizations, these activists often commit a few deliberate mistakes/omissions:

  1. They fail to acknowledge that some of these Hindu American organizations have been founded much before Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of India or his party formed the government. For example, the HSS USA was founded in the year 1989, long before Narendra Modi held any public office in India, let alone the highest executive office of the prime minister.
  2. They paint all Hindu organizations with the same brush, refusing to believe that their independent missions help Hindu Americans find a place and a voice in American society. For example, the HAF’s ground-breaking work to educate on the role of women in Hinduism supported diversity advocacy among multicolored and multi-ethnic communities in the U.S. Likewise, Sewa International’s charitable work in disaster response and family services has been deemed exemplary and devoid of any discrimination by federal agencies
  3. They treat these Hindu organizations and their members as “imports and imposters,” rather than hard-working Americans, who exercise their democratic right to practice Hinduism in its multiple and diverse forms. The anti-Hindu activists repeatedly question and conflate Hindu American programs with Nazism and Hindu Nationalism, both foreign and irrelevant to Americans, denying peaceful Hindus the opportunity to integrate into mainstream America. A recent article authored by anti-Hindu activists posing as journalists labeled the Yoga programs of HSS as a “façade” of political ideologies from India and sought to portray Yoga as a narrow, caste-driven practice from parts of South Asia, rather than what the world knows of as a universal, healthy, and peaceful activity

The accusing individuals and groups openly team up to oppose Hindu organizations and their pluralistic programs in the U.S., while injecting Indian political activism into U.S. soil. From the recent Parliament of World Religions to Independence Day parades and city celebrations, they oppose the democratic right of Hindu non-profits to participate and share their positive work here. They mischievously conflate Hindu American activities with law-and-order issues in foreign countries and spread hateful canards against peaceful and progressive organizations that represent Hindus in the U.S.. They use offensive adjectives for the Hindu faith to masquerade their political activism. The “Dismantling Global Hindutva” conference organized by some such activists a few years ago sought to paint Hindutva – which literally means Hindu-ness or the essence of being a Hindu – with a broad negative brush with their fliers showing images of Hindus from India being knocked off using a wrecking bar. 

“Suggesting that coming together as a community to celebrate festivals, learn Yoga and Hindu traditions, and engage in charitable activities is somehow ‘Hindu supremacy’ undermines our standing as peace-loving and progressive Hindu Americans.”

These political activists bring foreign politics to the U.S. by welcoming India’s opposition leaders, while protesting Indian government officials, all the while claiming to be victims of harassment and online vilification. However, they themselves run media narratives and campaigns against Hindu American organizations with lies and innuendos aimed at discrediting them, their educational programs, and their peaceful members. Several city council members, elected representatives, and Interfaith leaders at all levels have alerted Hindu organizations of the efforts of these political activists to defame Hindu organizations and rescind proclamations and commendations of their US-centric programs and philanthropic causes. “I was shocked to see the accusations against you and wanted to let you know that your activities and the atmosphere in your gatherings are absolutely warm and welcoming to all”, said an African American leader from Texas, who participated in HSS’ Black History Month celebrations earlier this year.

Some political activists conflate the community’s welcome to Indian leaders with support for “Hindu Nationalism.” However, many Hindu Americans believe that India’s current government is bringing positive change in the country known for years for corruption and nepotism, lack of cleanliness and hygiene, and unequal distribution of benefits and welfare schemes. “There’s so much transformational change in India since I used to visit as a child”, says Aarna, a high schooler born in the US to Indian parents, after recently attending Prime Minister Modi’s address to the Joint session of the U.S. Congress. Her father, a scientist based out of Michigan, adds, “We, Hindu Americans, seek to celebrate India’s noble values and its cultural and civilizational stewardship of people of all races and religions, i.e., unity in diversity. My organization does not endorse a temporary geographical aspiration that promotes divisiveness over gaining common ground, contrary to what some protesters here are seeking to portray”.

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Many Hindus living outside India treat the country with respect and reverence, due to India’s ancient civilization and its teachings in spirituality, family values, and scientific temper across generations. Prakash, a civil engineer based in New York City says, “By following rituals, traditions, and practices, we try to remain connected with our ancestors and families from India.” Sadhna, a volunteer of Sewa International from the Atlanta area complains, “Suggesting that coming together as a community to celebrate festivals, learn Yoga and Hindu traditions, and engage in charitable activities is somehow ‘Hindu supremacy’ undermines our standing as peace-loving and progressive Hindu Americans and results in the institutionalization of hate against us”. Ruchi, a nurse practitioner born in Florida to Trinidadian immigrant parents says, “Hinduism propagates the concept of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” – the whole world, including the environment and all its inhabitants, is one family. Hinduism is not supremacist, rather it believes the entire universe to be the creation of one Brumhan – the Supreme creator and being”. “Serving the Supreme starts with selflessly serving the communities and societies we live in. Hindu American organizations seek to promote this within its members and educate the community along these beliefs”, says Rahul, a Botswana Hindu student from a university in California.

Reflecting these beliefs, most Hindu organizations in the U.S. are in favor of harmony and peace, which come with understanding and dialogue. They are already reaching out to Interfaith and race groups, such as African and non-African Black Americans, Hispanics and Latinos, and the Native Tribes to promote understanding, dialogue, and the feeling of “universal oneness” amidst diversity. Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the U.S., used to say, “It is understanding that gives us an ability to have peace.” Negativity and hate can only be overcome by sitting down with each other, engaging in a healthy dialogue, and understanding each other’s programs in their original intent. The question is of willingness and leadership… will the aggrieved anti-Hinduism activists open their hearts and minds to seek a better understanding of Hindu American organizations or continue their hateful propaganda based on incidents on foreign soil?

Anil Kothari is an Oklahoma City-based mechanical engineer, yoga practitioner, and yoga teacher.

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  • This is a very well-written assessment of the anti-Hindu attacks taking place in the USA at physical as well as intellectual level. Let’s be very clear that though these attacks may seem to target selected people or organizations, in fact they are targeting Hinduism at its root. I am sure the democratic society of the United States will understand this evil agenda and not fall for it. As pointed out in the article, a mutual dialogue can help create awareness and remove misinformation. Good work always prevails, though it may face difficulties en route.

  • Very silly arguments. Not worth countering but just a sample counterargument below.
    Yes of course, these Hindu organizations are older than Modi regime. they also do some good work; they are have hard working people but that does not give them immunity from any criticism of their bigotry & hate mongering. The author has problem with Indian opposition leaders being invited to US! These hardliner Hindus are spoiling the name of Hinduism & India. The Columbia defamation case filed & lost by them is a clear example of their inability to understand the rules of the game.

    • Thank you for taking the time to read and share feedback! Important leaders from around the world – opposition or government – should feel welcomed in the US. Bigotry and hate-mongering are not a game; they should make way for dialogue and understanding.

  • this sympathetic rss article has no chance if put under the spotlight. all that a reader in search of truth has to do is read some of the books written by the rss founder and a history of violence propagated by the rss. very silly article to fool the American public.

  • Please dont stop writing. In a time when hatred is rife and people want to put down anything which supports hinduism and indian heritage, it’s refreshing to see an article like this which speaks the truth. Ignore the haters, because they are like few grains of sand in a field of flowers. The truth will be told,

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