It Needs a ‘Clearer Vision’ to Understand the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh Work in the United States
- Unfortunately, some activists and organizations claiming to be affiliated with the word "Hindu" prefer to spread negativity about the HSS.
A “Perspectives” article, “The Artful Dodger: Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi’s Unholy Nexus with Hindu Nationalism by Raju Rajagopal, published in American Kahani on February 26, 2022, is a blatant case of disinformation. The author’s key frustration against Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi appears to be due to the unjust expectation that the congressman’s interaction with his constituents should be centered on the author’s own political demands. I am sure the congressman’s office will choose to respond or ignore such an inaccurate perspective as they deem appropriate.
While expressing his frustration with the congressman, the author also dragged the name of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh USA (HSS). Based on the experiences and public data, these false accusations necessitated a response for the readers of American Kahani.
HSS USA is a 501(c)(3) registered independent nonprofit organization. The HSS holds weekly activity centers, called “shakhas,” practice fitness, Yoga, group activities, and bring eternal Hindu universal principles into action. HSS membership is all-inclusive, diverse, and equitable. The members comprise all ages, male and female, and all walks of life including doctors, educators, professionals, business people, community leaders.
On special occasions, the HSS works with African-American, Hispanic, and Buddhist communities. Recent examples include Celebration of the Black History Month on February 27 with Baptist Church Ministers in New Jersey and participation in local Martin Luther King (MLK) Day celebrations honoring Dr. King in California, Texas, and Indiana.
Annually, the HSS organizes “Health for Humanity Yogathon,” bringing together American society for a healthy lifestyle. This project has been appreciated by many businesses, community organizations, elected officials from both sides of the aisle, including several Governors, State resolutions, Congressional recognition, and even the White House by partnering under the former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program. The first responders and local officials look forward to our Raksha Bandhan day, popularly known as “Universal Oneness Day.” On that auspicious occasion, they are appreciated for their selfless work, keeping local communities safer.
Guru Vandana, or Teachers Appreciation Day, celebrated annually by the HSS, reflects the Hindu reverence for teachers in gratitude for their valuable contribution in shaping the students’ future. It always brings tears of joy to teachers’ eyes.
Serving the local community has always been a high priority for the HSS and its members. Each HSS Shakha does at least one local service (sewa) activity each year. During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, HSS volunteers helped over 45,000 families, 352 food pantries, and hundreds of first responders. During the 2021 Diwali festivities, the HSS coordinated the Sewa Diwali program along with 315 Dharmic organizations collecting over 590,000 pounds of food and donating to over 240 food distribution centers.
This is just a glimpse of the work that the HSS continues doing in the United States. Not surprisingly, the HSS has remarkably expanded in the past 30 years, from one “Shakha” in one state to 250+ shakhas in 171 urban areas and 34 states. The key to this success lies in the HSS’s approach to working collectively and positively impacting the society where its members live. The HSS website www.hssus.org and its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/hssus provide a wealth of information on its activities and clarify any doubt at https://www.hssus.org/faq.
The HSS remains politically agnostic, socially U.S.-centric, and focused only on the U.S. as its Karma Bhoomi. In other words, it focuses on bringing the U.S.-based diverse Hindu community together. It does not believe in activities that are geared towards maligning individuals or organizations.
Unfortunately, some activists and organizations claiming to be affiliated with the word “Hindu” prefer to spread negativity about the HSS. Needless to say, in the process, they demean a large peaceful Hindu population in the U.S. and promote hatred and Hinudphobia. Such people appear to believe that Hindus do not deserve human rights.
For such people, instead of thinking about Charles Dickens’ Artful Dodger, it will be better to ponder on the words of Oliver Twist himself: “Such is the influence which the condition of our own thoughts, exercise, even over the appearance of external objects. Men who look on nature, and their fellow-men, and cry that all is dark and gloomy, are in the right; but the somber colors are reflections from their own jaundiced eyes and hearts. The real hues are delicate and need a clearer vision.”
(Top photo, courtesy HSS USA)
Vikas Deshpande is a member of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh USA.