Hindu Inclusion in Contemporary America

Hindu Inclusion in Contemporary America

Community Building through Seva[1]



The Hindu and Dharmic[2] community is coming of age in America.  It is connecting with America.  Professionally these Americans are excelling in many fields. Millions volunteer to serve and do so regularly. They have the talent to assist our country during this difficult economic period.  Many Hindu Americans enthusiastically responded to President Obama’s clarion call to serve in summer 2009. Though not bound by any one particular central authoritative governing body, Hindu Americans came together and conducted over 1,300 small and large service projects in over 120 “Seva Centers” across the country.  They are ready and poised to serve the country both domestically and globally.


This report, the first of its kind, is a compilation of our learning and analysis in light of the knowledge imparted by the Office of the Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the senior Administration officials and the Council members as well as our research based interaction with the Hindu American faith based and Indian American secular communities. The research helped us identify areas of our community’s strength to partner with the Administration in the country’s fight against poverty.  The research also highlighted areas of concern within the Hindu American community.

Sri Siva Vishnu Temple, Maryland



The “Call to Serve” report provides a road map for a new era of partnership. It is meant to educate the Administration and interested parties about a new community, relatively unknown in America. It is also meant to educate the Hindu American community about the Administration’s inclusionary social justice agenda, areas where the community can partner and areas where the community can further develop with the right knowledge. 


We hope our suggested prototype of “Seva Centers” will encourage the Hindu Americans to develop faith-inspired community space in temples or standalone, as a destination places for comprehensive services for their own community and for the community at large.  We believe more sustained social service conduits, “Seva Centers” will augment leveraging this untapped talented resource to strengthen America.

The New Americans


Throughout the history of America, waves of immigrants have come, settled and transformed the cultural and religious landscape.  They uproot from their country of origin, establish new roots and become the New Americans.  The American story is the story of the children and grandchildren of these immigrants.


Migration brings with it its own sense of loss and, of course, gains. For the newly transplanted community and their faith-based institutions, traditions and culture provide the comfort, and the sense of security needed to manage change.  Like previous immigrant waves, we are now witnessing a similar phenomenon by today’s New Americans, the post 1965 immigrants.



Memorial Day Parade, Livingston, NJ



Following the Civil Rights Movement, the Hart-Celler Act of 1965 eliminated highly restrictive "national origins" quotas. These were designed, among other things, to exclude "undesirable" immigrants, including Asians. The new system was based on skills and family connections.


America had a shortage of technical skills (scientists, engineers, doctors et al). India’s new technical schools (such as IIT) began producing new graduates. American Universities provided necessary scholarships to attract these skilled students who came from many countries representing many faiths.  They settled, had families and built their faith-based institutions. From 1,700 people in 1900, the Hindu population grew to approximately 387,000 by 1980, 1.1 million in 1997, 2.29 million (mainly of Indian and Indo-Caribbean descent) with as many as 1 million practicing American Hindus, not of Indian origin[3].


At first, these New Americans worked towards transplanting culture and religion and establishing the temples as a necessary first step in the adaptation process.  Their first temple, the Ganesh Temple in New York, was established in 1970s followed by Venkateswara Temple in Pittsburgh. Today, Harvard’s Pluralism Project records about 1,000 Dharmic (Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists) organizations, with a conservative estimate of 400 to 500 active temples.[4].  (Earlier presence was established by Swami Vivekananda, Paramahansa Yogananda and others).


So, in a remarkable spirit of preserving the Vedic Hindu traditions and Hindu inspired cultural heritage, the Indian American community made strides (in a relatively short time) in addressing various religious and cultural needs through temples and regional associations.


Finding 1 Quote



Service which is given without consideration of anything in return, at the right place and time to one that is qualified, with the feeling that it is one’s duty, is regarded as the nature of goodness.                             - Bhagavad Gita 17.20


Hindu/Dharmic Americans recognize “Seva” as a means to address social needs and as an inherent and integral part of their traditions, culture and faith.  As these New Americans mature and root themselves further in the sacred and secular landscape of America, they find they need national and local organizations to mobilize talent and resources to address contemporary needs to serve all – both their own ethnic community and the community at large.[5]


MLK Day of Service

The Indian School, Livingston, NJ



Seva projects are supported by both immigrant Hindu Americans, and many non-Asians in America who have taken initiation from Hindu teachers or are influenced by Hindu teachings.  The philosophical influence of Hinduism and other Dharmic traditions in America started with American thinkers such as Emerson, Thoreau, William James, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, will Durant and more recently people like former Harvard professor Ram Das, Columbia professor Robert Thurman, Dr. David Frawley, Dr. Steven Rosen, Professor Graham Schweig, Hawai’s Ramdas Lamb and many learned scholars and acharyas at Ramakrishna Mission, Self Realization Fellowship and Hinduism Today.


Yesterday’s immigrants addressed the social needs of their community through the churches and synagogues by developing faith inspired social service organizations. Catholic Charities was established nearly 100 years ago to help poor Catholic orphans resettle in America.  Today, it is the largest private network of social service organizations in the United States. At its core are the Catholic principles, despite the variety of people – of many faiths and none at all – who make Catholic Charities a reality. In a similar manner, the National Council for Jewish Women, inspired by Jewish values, is striving to improve lives of women, children and families. 


The people of Dharmic traditions provide ethical, cultural and theological teaching through their temples/ashrams, but generally lack the ability to address social issues. As a community in-flux, internal generation gaps are exacerbated by large acculturation differences as well as the issues typical to recent immigrant.  While many have begun to engage with their neighbors and are learning how to describe their identities and experiences, they are not yet fully engaged and actively participating within local community governance structures to address social service issues.


Summer 2009 Call to Serve



On June 22, 2009, President Obama called on Americans to participate in the nation’s recovery and renewal by serving communities. This clarion call to serve resonated culturally and spiritually with the community.  Many Hindu Americans united and expanded their ongoing diverse seva projects.


For the first time, the diverse Hindu community was nationally mobilized, largely through word-of-mouth and mass emailings, to serve collectively.  There is no Hindu American central leadership.  (Gurus and Swamis lead some Hindu sansthas (congregations) and temples are managed independently). However, service is the common aspect for all which brings many Hindu Americans together.  Hence, Hindu community leaders immediately came forth to augment the call to serve by leveraging their networks. 


Temples, ashrams, spiritual and professional organizations from coast to coast increased the ongoing seva projects they normally undertake.  Over 120 "Seva Centers" supported the United We Serve campaign.  Thousands of volunteers undertook considerably more than 1,300* humanitarian seva projects and performed without outside assistance.  (*Undercount as some were significantly large projects).


Finding 2 Quote




O people! Those of you who have attained higher, middle or lower status in your respective fields of work, enjoy the wealth thus gained together as one. With the resources for the production of material goods at your disposal, dedicate your life to eradicate the evils of society and strive at all times for the well-being of the people.      Rig Veda 5.60.6


Hindu American Seva Charities[6] coordinated the groundbreaking national seva initiative, majority of which were interfaith collaboration. This mobilization is a start to bring the community together for service.  We hope to continue the coordinated seva efforts.


HASC was developed with the guidance of the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. OFBNP provided a context, a voice and learning opportunities to bridge the gap between the U.S. government and Hindu/Dharmic institutions[7].



Primary objectives of Hindu American Seva Charities are to:


1.      Support and encourage millions of Hindu Americans to volunteer, build and strengthen all American Communities through seva nationally and at grass roots levels


2.      Provide broader exposure and promote development of coalitions/ partnerships of "Seva Centers" (Community Service Centers - stand alone or part of temples) to accomplish common goals and address community needs.


The ultimate goal is to strengthen the infrastructure capacity of the seva component of the Hindu and Dharmic community. 

Poverty reduction was the primary focus of the Hindu and Dharmic American organizations who participated in the summer of 2009; through: soup kitchens in local churches, fundraising walk-a-thons, holiday meals, building homes, clothing and shoe drives, care packages and free hotel/motel rooms for U.S. soldiers and homeless, prison yoga, educational forums on home foreclosures/preservation and stimulus package strategies for survival, etc.[8]

The representative analysis is based on the data provided by the participating organizations.


M.A. Center Sevites planting a garden this summer (2009)


The Hindu Organization of Long Island conducted food drives for the community and provided to the Interfaith Nutrition Network.  Vedic Cultural Center of Sammamish, WA runs a free restaurant where people pay or do not pay according to their means.  Chinmaya Vrindavan made meal baskets for individuals and families. Hindu Temple of Minnesota gave food to 300 people in Sharing and Caring Hands, in downtown Minneapolis.  Arsha Vidya Gurukulam starting collecting food cans mid-July and within 4 weeks was the larger provider to its local food bank. MA Math held hundreds of seva projects from cleaning highways in Alabama to soup kitchens.


Many such projects to alleviate the economic impact (described in more detail in the interview section) were initiated by Jain Mission, Bala Vikas in Virginia, Allentown Hindu Temple, Anoopam Mission, Arya Samaj, ISKCON, Barsana Dham, Badarikashram Center, Dada Vaswani Center, DRSA in NJ, Laksmi-Narayan Spiritual Organization in California, Asian American Hotel Owners Association, and others[9].

Health camps are traditionally organized on a regular basis in temples. For the first time on a national basis, synchronized health events for the uninsured Americans were held primarily on August 1-2. Thousands of physicians, nurses, and individuals provided comprehensive Health Fairs with medical screening presentations[10].  American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin and National Association of Indian Nurses of America participated across the country.


South Asian Total Health Initiative (SATHI)[11] prepared health presentations for the United we Serve campaign with UMDNJ students. These were shown at most temples. Comprehensive health fairs were held by the Sai Center in Atlanta, Hindu Society of North East Florida, Durga Temple, Indian Association of Western Washington, Ganesh temple NY, and others.


The Durga Temple of Virginia holds a monthly health clinic. The monthly preventative health clinic is for insured and the uninsured and serves to raise awareness among the community of heart attack problems; blood pressure; cholesterol.


Hindu Society of North East Florida….



Along with the Indo American Medical Association of North-East Florida, the Hindu Society of Florida provided a health day this summer which included health screening, education, blood testing and ECG for high-risk participants and evaluation in different medical specialties with 30 to 40 doctors and health care providers.


Every effort has been made to make the report a comprehensive representation; it does not include all the work and efforts being done by the Hindu American community

During the summer of 2009, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha conducted over 450 health-care related projects at over 30 different locations around the U.S. Comprehensive Health Fairs for screening and diagnosis of needy populations were instituted at 27 locations, with a total of 1,718 doctors and healthcare providers offering voluntary service to screen a total of 9,422 patients. Medical professionals provided individual counseling in Internal Medicine, Dentistry, Cardiology, Ophthalmology, Gastroenterology, Endocrinology, Orthopedics, Dermatology, Pediatrics, Podiatry, Neurology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Physical Therapy, Urology and many more.  BAPS also organized Blood Drives at 13 centers collecting 637 units of blood which will help save up to 1911 lives. A total of 7 Health Awareness Lectures organized at 50 locations, helped educate hundreds of people on health problems which Hindu-Americans are at high risk, such as diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, etc. 


See section on interviews for more examples of seva…

Youth volunteers took a lead role and worked on improving the environment to clean and clear

Amma - M.A. Center Sevites planting a gardens
 summer (2009)

roadsides, beaches, parks, and plant trees in the community.  Education projects included filling backpacks with school supplies for low-income children. Volunteers visited ailing elderly.

Senior Lunch

Vedic Culture Center

Sammamish, WA









Many assisted Bhutanese refugees in adapting to America.  Sewa International with Hindu Temple of Minnesota, AIM for Seva,  and others are helping them meet the most pressing needs financial assistance, employment, and basic material needs and providing support to help them make the transition to the new land.


Interfaith dialogues were held throughout the country to improve understanding. To illustrate, the Siva Vishnu Temple in Washington DC hosted a discussion where each faith Christian (Presbyterian, Orthodox, Baptist, Methodist, Quaker;) Jewish, Sikh, Jain, Muslim, Buddhist, Baha’i, Hindu addressed their role on "Fasting and Feasting" during Ramadan.  World Council of Religious Leaders[12] convened a Hindu-Jewish Summit in New York and Washington D.C. with American Jewish Committee and Hindu Acharya Sabha in 2009.


Interfaith discussion on “Feasting and Fasting” during Ramadan



As demonstrated, the New Americans strive to become integrated in all aspects of American life.  They see that temples in America play a major role in communal life and are becoming a focal point for religious and cultural activities and now for growing social services, a destination place for children and adults. 

Civic Transformation


Text Box: Mylapore Hindu Temple, Chennai, IndiaPeople of Hindu and Dharmic traditions and their faith-based institutions have begun to realize they need to transform and institutionalize the seva/service.  During the summer seva campaign, we interviewed the major faith based organizations to assess their capacity to encourage them to continue the expanded seva. 


Our discussions revealed that though many individuals and some temples and organizations regularly conduct seva projects, they need technical assistance to institutionalize the capacity to effectively leverage Hindu American talent.  Additionally their seva work is unrecognized and not well known in America or around the world.


This transformation is not out of line with the culture. Through the ages, starting from the Vedic era, the temples in India served as major centers for communal living though worship, cultural exchange through dance, drama, songs, bazaars, et al. 


Today, for myriad socio-political reasons, including a colonial legacy, many temples in contemporary India are primarily places for worship with limited community interaction and engagement.  In America, the community has an opportunity to start fresh when transplanting traditions with the new; blending current best practices for a harmonious communal existence. 



Hindu/Dharmic Americans have professional skills and resources that can be leveraged to alleviate poverty reduction.  Professionals (such as doctors and nurses, hotel owners, business people, IT and other professionals) and people from all walks of life could donate more of their time and resources on a regular basis.  The summer call to serve highlighted the willingness and commitment of many Hindu Americans and the valuable professional skills that many hold. However, they are not yet capacitated with civic and social services infrastructures to leverage it.


Few faith-based Dharmic institutions have the capacity to provide sustained social services and do seva as is prevalent in America. Community development in America is largely through non-profits and churches/synagogues.


A transformation within the community, in temples and at government policy levels is needed to bring them on par with the other established traditions, as the New Americans integrate in the communities in which they reside and provide needed services to all.


Transformation at the grass-roots level requires a mental paradigm shift to bring access to the services the community needs in contemporary America and to articulate concerns at all levels.  To really bring about a change, the community needs more public recognition of the existing seva.  It also needs to acknowledge the existence of its own issues to address them effectively.




As part of the Council meetings OFBNP communicated that the Administration is leading a new federal approach to America's high-poverty areas, an approach that facilitates the economic integration of families and communities with efforts to support the current low-income residents of those areas. Hindu American Seva evaluated the current strength and opportunities of selected Hindu American services to find the areas where the community can leverage its existing skills to help strengthen America’s domestic and global development agenda.


The White House Office of the Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, which serves an important role in helping connect the government to social services providers (faith-based or secular), is fostering development of inclusionary thoughts such as Hindu American Seva Charities. Starting with the inauguration speech, President Obama has ignited the light of acceptance of Hindus in America.  It needs to be nurtured so that the community’s talents can be leveraged and the inner light can shine brightly for all.


Many are beginning to recognize what is needed today is an integrated effort from multiple sources[13]. It is a mutual acculturation process, recognition of America’s pluralism which enables the New Americans integrate and contribute through enhanced civic life both domestically in the U.S. and through global development with USAID[14]. 


Finding 7 Quote



O, citizens of the world! Live in harmony and concord.

Be organized and co-operative.

Speak with one voice and make your resolutions with one mind.

As our ancient saints and seers, leaders and preceptors have performed their duties righteously.

Similarly, may you not falter to execute your duties. 

Rig Veda 10.191.2



The President’s Advisory Council has included recommendations to integrate and value America’s Religious Diversity and to engage the rich diversity of American religious and cultural communities in partnerships to provide aid, development, and other services to advance peace and justice domestically and abroad. 


This paper summarizes the Hindu American perspective that helped frame some recommendations approved by the Council members. This report also provides the background and rationale for the additional steps needed to integrate the community and leverage the talent to serve.



President Obama opening the doors of inclusion

The United States has long-held traditions of fostering, without prejudice, a rich religious diversity and respecting the distinct identities and roles of religions and government.  The US Government seeks to treat all persons in an equitable fashion, regardless of faith; it values the contributions of religious communities as vital partners in society. 

Religious communities are society’s largest social networks, providing critical services and benefits for the common good that governments cannot provide.  Religious communities are effective partners with government. Without compromising the integrity of either religions or governments, both parties seek to work cooperatively in areas of mutual interest and benefit.

President Obama in his inauguration speech on January 21, 2009, recognized the growing diversity For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness.  We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers. [15]


On April 4th, 2009 the first Hindu American was appointed as a member to the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (OFBNP). 


For the first time a U.S. President explicitly included a Hindu American in the public arena not only though speech but through action.  The Hindu American community is an under-represented minority and its voice is just beginning to be heard. 


U.S. Government agencies are encouraged to increase efforts to enhance access to government fora, as well as increase civic participation among traditionally under-represented religious and immigrant communities. These efforts continue to foster inclusion of America’s religious diversity - which enables religious communities to be effective partners with the government and builds social cohesion.  


During the first year, OFBNP formed six taskforces to develop recommendations to the President and senior members of government on issues relating to social service provisions, community development, social change and relevant public policy issues: Reform of the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Economic Recovery and Fighting Poverty, Fatherhood and Healthy Families, Inter-Religious Cooperation, Environment and Climate Change, Global Poverty, Health and Development.






President Obama has provided substantial encouragement by recognizing the contribution of the Indian Americans -- Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs and other diverse faiths -- to the American society. Specifically, he stated at the November 24, 2009 state dinner to honor India’s Prime Minister, “It's a bond that includes more than two million Indian Americans who enrich every corner of our great nation -- leaders in government, science, industry and the arts….”[16]

President Obama is the first U.S. President to celebrate Diwali inside the White House and light the lamp.



“…the holiday of Diwali -- the festival of lights -- when members of some of the world's greatest faiths celebrate the triumph of good over evil.  This coming Saturday, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists, here in America and around the world, will celebrate this holiday by lighting Diyas, or lamps, which symbolize the victory of light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance. And while this is a time of rejoicing, it's also a time for reflection, when we remember those who are less fortunate and renew our commitment to reach out to those in need. While the significance of the holiday for each faith varies, all of them mark it by gathering with family members to pray and decorate the house and enjoy delicious food and sweet treats. And in that spirit of celebration and contemplation, I am happy to light the White House Diya, and wish you all a Happy Diwali, and a Saal Mubarak” [17]. 

Challenges we face

President Obama’s message created an interest in Diwali[18] among mainstream Americans, who have normally seen Hinduism as an exotic religion. An inclusionary approach by President Obama has helped many Hindu Americans[19] feel accepted in their own country.

Paradoxically, while Hindu philosophy, yoga, and meditation have influenced many in America, the depiction of the Hindus in classroom texts and academia is often framed in ways that most Hindus and Indians would not agree with.  These interpretations have the potential of creating hostility towards Hindu people[20] and negatively impact the identity development and self confidence of the youth[21].  They can also impede global diplomacy and business when erroneous cultural lenses become the prism of communication.


Text Box: Bhutanese Refugees, Dallas


The President identified some of the challenges facing the community, “Some Asian American and Pacific Islanders, particularly New Americans and refugees, still face language barriers. Others have been victims of unthinkable hate crimes, particularly in the months after September 11th; crimes driven by ignorance and prejudice that are an affront to everything this nation stands for. And then there are the disparities that we don't even know about because our data collection methods still aren't up to par. Too often, Asian American and Pacific Islanders are lumped into one category, giving us inaccurate data on the challenges of each individual community. Smaller communities in particular get lost, their needs and concerns buried in a spreadsheet.[22] 


Often many Hindu Americans, like other Asian Americans, are seen as the “model minority.”[23].  However, while flattering, these assumptions limit redressing real needs.  Research and recent interviews with Hindu American leaders and service providers shows substantial unmet community needs around such issues[24]  as:


·         Economic crisis impact and poverty

·         Social Services (health care in all aspects)

·         Senior citizens issues

·         Women’s empowerment

·         Fatherhood and healthy families

·         Children and youth

·         Post 9/11 harassment

·         Refugee resettlement and homelessness

·         Immigration and civil rights

·         Discrimination, religious bias or hate crimes

·         Civic and political participation


Though the Hindu American (Asian Americans) households (with mostly dual incomes) have high median income (due to skill based migration) individually both men and women earned less than their white counterparts with equal education[25].  It is estimated 8% of Indian Americans are below poverty line and the poverty rate among senior citizens is higher. Often issues of senior citizens and youth-at-risk are not addressed.

Additionally, the Hindu American identity is often subsumed by the “South Asian” identity and their distinctly faith based issued are unfortunately overlooked, such as “dot-buster” killing in New Jersey, vandalizing of temples, post 9/11 bias. 

As a relatively small minority, they need to mobilize at the grass-roots level, collect data to better understand their needs and ensure their concerns are appropriately highlighted through advocacy.

For the New Americans the point of reference for civic engagement is based on their traditions.  In India, temples generally are not part of community governance.  The faith-based infrastructures of the Hindu and Dharmic people are different from the established (Judeo-Christian) faith-based institutions in the U.S.   



Text Box: Puja ceremony in Hindu Temple, Minnesota


Hindu and Dharmic communities do not participate in many local, state and national discussions because culturally, there has been a separation between sacred and secular, and like many other immigrant communities, they do not know how to engage in the civic process nor does the population at large have a good understanding of the Hindu American communities’ governance needs.


Seva, the call to self-less service, is an integral part of Hindu culture and traditions. Gandhi Day/Week of Service is regularly observed in colleges and communities; often promoted by groups like Hindu Students Council, Hindu American Foundation, South Asian Students Association.  The Hindu American Foundation also has the ONE Seva Campaign.[26]


While the above mentioned efforts have promoted volunteering and service at the individual level, what is needed is development of sustainable not-for-profit “Seva Centers” to address contemporary needs in America and to bring systemic changes to the way both our community and the community at large is served.


Based on our research we have developed “Seva Center” prototypes (highlighted later in the report) for development by the community in partnership with intermediaries and local governing bodies. 


As the Seva Centers leverage the collective talent and resources of the Hindu/Dharmic community and provide services to people in all walks of life, we expect integrated change will come.

 International Diaspora Impact


Citizens of both India and the U.S. are diverse, multicultural, believers and non-believers, pluralistic, representing the world’s faiths.  This shared understanding and strength in the interfaith arena can be leveraged for mutual benefit.


On April 28, 2009, India’s former President Dr. Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam[27]. received the Hoover Award at Columbia University. His speech included a message for the diaspora

          "Serve the country where you are settled.
You are settled in America do the best to strengthen America. "


President Kalam encouraged and supported the creation of Hindu American Seva Charities and the idea of forming a string of “Seva Centers”.  He communicated his perspective to HASC:


"Suffering has come to America in a bigger way.  Many people are hurting. Indian Americans will be ready to receive help to give help to the larger community.  They are ready to build communities.  Focus on character building also in your initiatives...


In Tirupati temple (in India) money and gold is donated in huge amounts.  I (President Abdul Kalam) spoke with one the most learned acharyas there and suggested they put a large poster for the people which reads, if you have a court case against your brother or sister drop it in the Hundi; if you have time, go and educate a child... YOU MUST SERVE..."


Text Box: Meeting with President Abdul Kalam


During the summer, 2009, the Hindu American on the Advisory Council visited Chennai, India. The U.S. Consulate in Chennai organized interfaith discussions, with students and with religious leaders for the visiting Council member.  It was the first time a Hindu American was representing the Hindu faith in India.  It became clear that pluralism and interfaith collaborations could be strategic initiatives between the two countries as they have shared values relating to diversity and pluralism.  These could further enhance global diplomacy.


Social service gaps can be bridged with greater understanding of the needs of many Hindu Americans and with their increased representation, specifically in the State Department, Education, DHS, DOJ, HUD, HHS. To date no Hindu American has been hired in any Faith Based office in the federal agencies and embassies.


The visit to India revealed that Hindus (the faith of the majority population in India), like many people in developing countries, welcome humanitarian international aid, when done in the spirit of seva  which is part of their culture.  They want to partner with aid providers who respect all faiths equally and provide humanitarian assistance in the pure interfaith spirit. 


Many Hindus, worldwide, are greatly concerned about the impact of proselytizing on the global and local religious ecosystems[28].  Hindus do not proselytize and their Swamis, teachers, and lay people have openly shared the self-realization philosophy, yoga, meditation techniques, intrinsic to the Hindu faith and culture, with all. 


However, many Hindus have found a number of faith based international social service/global development organizations proselytize while providing services, generally seen as quid pro quo by the vulnerable recipients.


It is our understanding that overseas, the PVOs/NGOs are not governed by the same laws that protect the citizens’ rights in the U.S.  Additionally, though the faith based service organizations receive government funding they are not required to hire people of other faiths.  Such use of economic incentive is a powerful tool and is seen by many Hindus globally as detrimental to peaceful co-existence and interfaith collaboration by all faiths.



Text Box: Interfaith discussion with Hindu, Muslim, Christian students, India



Finding 5 Quote


See unity in diversity. Behold One divine form appearing in multiforms;

Immense is His vastness, unparalleled is His glory.

ll the countless earths, suns and planets which are seen and which are beyond our perceptions exist under His command ll

Kindled in various forms, the perennial flame is One;

Sprinkling the world with golden beams at dawn;

Painting the evening clouds with changing colors, the sun is One.                                                                 Rig Veda 8.58.2


The only Hindu American Council member participated in the development of the Cairo[29] speech and found relevancy for the Hindu American community in the universal facts stated by President Obama.


…… “Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together.  We must always examine the ways in which we protect it…
…… Indeed, faith should bring us together…
……All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort - a sustained effort - to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.……
…… It is easier to blame others than to look inward; to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There is also one rule that lies at the heart of every religion - that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. ………
……We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written……..”

[1] Seva is generally defined as Service with love, dedication and devotion

[2] Dharmic in this document refers to people of Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh traditions

[3] Hindu American Foundation ( and Hinduism Today (

[4] Harvard University’s Pluralism Project

[5] WSJ Article US Community Building in Dharmic Institutions by Anju Bhargava

[6] Hindu American Seva Charities

[7] White House Initiative-APA Outreach by Anju Bhargava, Community Builder Fellow

[8] India Abroad -

[9] Survey of Summer 2009 Activities -

[10] Hindu Americans Respond to President Obama's Call to Service

[11] South Asian Total Health Initiative – 

[12] World Council of Religious Leaders

[13] Livingston’s Martin Luther King Jr. 2010,-January-18,-2010

[14]Diaspora Engagement:

[15] President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address, January 21, 2009.


[17] President’s remarks

[18] Diwali Lights Symbolize Search for Knowledge and Goodness

[19] I am Macaca, Sidharth

[20] Invading the Sacred: An analysis of Hinduism Studies in America, by Krishnan Ramaswamy, Antonio de Nicolas, Aditi Banerjee

[21] Racialization of Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism by Khyati Joshi

[22] President Barack Obama’s remarks at the AAPI event

[23] and other publications in

[24] See – Report section - Summary of Community Survey/Interviews with Select Faith Based Representatives

[25] People of Color -

[26] ONE Seva campaign is an effort to encourage volunteering at the grass roots level

[27] President Abdul Kalam’s Vision

[28] Conversion is Violence by Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Arsha Vidya Research and Publication Trust

[29] The President's Speech in Cairo: A New Beginning - June 04, 2009 -