Grieving as Arjuna Did

How might a Hindu experience and share in the nation's grief in the wake of the tragedy in Newtown? For my last post of the year, I'd like to offer a guest's reflections on the Newtown tragedy. Vineet Chander is the Coordinator for Hindu Life at Princeton University, a Religious Life Leader at the Lawrenceville School, and Adjunct Professor at Farleigh Dickinson University. by Vineet Chander I first learned of the tragic shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, … [Read more...]

Asymmetry of Power: Proselytization, Poverty, and Race

As long as evangelism is complicated by contexts of imbalance, we will continue to have concern, hostility, and even conflict. In the few weeks since I went to the American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, I have been considering the topic of conversion from the "other side"—not of Hindus converting to other religions, but of other religionists, particularly Christians, converting to Hinduism. Obviously, since I am so concerned about conversion of Hindus to Christianity, I should also … [Read more...]

Mimicry, Mockery, or Mumukshutva? Jeffery Long’s Response to Deepak Sarma

I do not apologize for opting for universalism over tribalism, and an affirmation of all our experiences. Note: I was recently at the American Academy of Religion's Annual meeting in Chicago and had a chance encounter with one friend and a deliberate engagement with another. Both are what I am not: Ph.D.s, scholars in academia, experts in Hinduism studies. Yet we are all three Hindu. When I ran into Deepak Sarma, he shared with me his recent essay on White Hindu converts. I wanted to … [Read more...]

Diwali’s Invitation to Transcend Differences

Diwali celebrates the victory of good over evil, a victory of recognizing the divinity in each of us, being open to dialogue, listening, and trying to find compromise. The weekend before the election, I was at an interfaith conference in Omaha, Nebraska. As a member of the Hindu American Foundation, I was invited by Project Interfaith to be a panelist at The Stained Glass Ceiling: A Community Conference on the Successes and Challenges of Women's Religious Leadership. I was part of a group … [Read more...]

From Sacred Space to Hindu Community

Hindu temples sustain community while pushing the next generation into new appropriations of the dharma. In a recent essay on Beliefnet.com, Manhattan-based journalist Shoba Narayan says "Stop Building Hindu Temples." She does however offer an explanation for these rather strong words, suggesting, "In their zeal to erect temples, America's Hindus aren't asking who will maintain them years from now." She sums up in a single paragraph the difficult journey an American Hindu immigrant makes, … [Read more...]

Creating Goodness Out of Loss

We have a vision of a beloved community, and must strive toward it. We each have a contribution to make in achieving this vision. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois convened a Senate hearing on hate crimes and the potential threat of domestic extremism this week as a response to the most recent attacks on those from the Dharmic community who are most easily identified as "the other." The Hindu American Foundation was one of over 150 religious and civil rights organizations that called for … [Read more...]

The Boon of Political Diversity among Indian-Americans

While my political choices are reflective of my theological beliefs, I can safely say I can find common ground with Hindu Americans on both sides of the party line. My friend Rev. Bob Cornwall, pastor of the Disciples of Christ Central Woodward Christian Church and Convener of the Troy-area Interfaith Group, recently posted anessay on his blog entitled "Rules, Regulations, and the Christian Life—A Lectionary Reflection." In it, he brings up something with which I agree: ". . . some of … [Read more...]

Call Me Hindu

We are facing a new frontier as immigrants: identifying ourselves as and defining what it means to be Hindu-Americans. Dictionary.com's definition of religion is fairly simple: "a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs; or a specific fundamental set of … [Read more...]

Human Boundaries, Human Rights

Hindu refugees, like all refugees, need advocates to protect basic human rights. As a human rights organization that advocates for Hindus in America, the Hindu American Foundation is also concerned with the rights of others around the world, particularly when they are impacted by American policy and actions that our nation takes. As Hindus, we are more likely to be aware of the unfair treatment to other Hindus around the world. And it is our dharma to take care of our Hindu brethren. A film … [Read more...]

Hoping to Move Beyond Intolerance

The Hindu community stands in solidarity with their fellow Dharmic faith communities, especially the Sikhs. The latest gun tragedy, the shooting in the gurdwara, is something I am compelled to write about as an advocate of interreligious understanding and a peace activist. But it is my heart that cries at the ignorance, and perhaps insanity or stupidity, that creates room for such terrible happenings. The loss of lives of other members of my ethnic and Dharmic faith communities is especially … [Read more...]