Hindu American Seva Charities
Building COmmunities through Seva
Nika Shah firstname.lastname@example.org,
Dr. Siva Subramanian email@example.com
Launching “State of Dharmic Seva” research initiative with
- Security Concerns of Dharmic Places of Worship in America -
February 6, 2011, Washington, D.C., Hindu American Seva
Charities (HASC) is expanding research to support seva (community
service) in Dharmic (eastern tradition) institutions. HASC is proud to announce the launch of its
new research initiative “State of Dharmic
Seva” to understand key issues and find a common
ground to resolve them. Seva has been a
major component – the proverbial glue – that solidifies the community bonds in
temples, ashrams, campuses, yoga and spiritual centers.
In 2010, HASC presented to President Obama a “Call
to Serve”” briefing report, Hindu American Community Building
through Seva (Community Service) The report was also presented to many global Hindu/Dharmic
spiritual leaders and community leaders. While researching,
HASC found specific areas of concerns for the Hindu and Dharmic people,
highlighted them and shared the findings with many Federal Agencies to begin a
path of dialogue and resolution.
Our research found many Hindu places of worship had security concerns as their experiences include vandalism and bias in some manner or form. We discovered these incidents were significantly under-reported by the community and not well understood by officials. We brought these findings to the attention of Department of Homeland Security, Education and other agencies. Based on the community and authorities’ response and impact of the earlier research, HASC will now study “Security Concerns of Dharmic Places of Worship in America” as part of its “State of Dharmic Seva” program. We will conduct an in-depth study to identify causal factors and ways of preventing and handling them. A team of researchers, students and community leaders will lead it. Experts from Fairleigh Dickinson, Georgetown, University of North Texas, University of Southern California, Council of Temples and others have agreed to provide guidance, as needed. (HASC already collaborates with Harvard’s Pluralism Project).
From its inception, HASC’s goal has been to
highlight and enlighten the nation about Hindu Americans’ seva activities and
their numerous accomplishments in community building while ensuring they and their
places of worship are also secure to do seva. HASC’s 2010 “Call to Serve” report is a
testament of a segment of society that had survived primarily on the dharmic
principle of seva. Now is the time for everyone, from the
federal government to Hindu Americans, to see the possibilities, the
perspectives and the ever growing needs of this community that is a significant
part of the American landscape.
Though the Hindu Americans have been serving
their local communities and the nation, in the 2010 “Call to Serve”
report, HASC identified gaps in capacity building and areas of civic engagement
between Dharmic institutions and the various stakeholders in our country. To bridge some of the gaps, today, three
AmeriCorps Vista members are assisting in finding ways to expand the seva effort
within Dharmic faith and Interfaith communities through the development of
socially innovative solutions. Some
examples include establishing a string of Hindu-dharma inspired “Seva Centers”
- associated with temples, ashrams, colleges/universities or stand alone
centers - and the community supported faith based service
(FestivalSeva) augmenting the spirit of the festivals with service for all. Additionally, HASC has recently partnered with
(1) Oxford University’s
Bhumi Project to promote seva
through greener Hindu places of worship, (2) Students on selected campuses to
assess the state of Bhutanese in America, (3)
USAID to expand outreach to Indian and Hindu Americans, (4) Department of
Defense to recruit Hindu Chaplains.
HASC is keen on assisting the Dharmic community strengthen America, both domestically and internationally, with its talents and resources, while ensuring a safe, eco-friendly environment in which to serve. Collaborating with the community, academics and students, HASC aims to address the “Security Concerns of Dharmic Places of Worship in America” and strengthen the “State of Dharmic Seva”. The dialogue must continue to bridge the community infrastructure gaps to serve all.
Hindu American Seva Charities (HASC) is a progressive organization whose mission is to advance seva or community service and promote pluralism, interfaith dialogue, tolerance, social justice, civic engagement and sustainable activism to ignite grassroots social change and build healthy communities. Seva is an integral part of Hindu and Dharmic traditions and sadhana (practice) and is transforming. To achieve its mission, HASC seeks to mobilize community resources in the United States, bridge the gap between the U.S. agencies and Hindu and Dharmic institutions to connect with America. HASC is a non-religious NGO formed in 2009 under the guidance of the White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and is a service partner with the Corporation for National and Community Service.