The divorce rate amongst Hindus is lowest compared to other communities in the United States. 23. Temples established forums for these devotional and ritual activities, as well as sanctuaries for the performance of life-cycle rituals—marriages, funerals, first feedings, sacred thread (upanayana) rites, and so on. 9. Williamson, Transcendent in America; and Lola Williamson and Ann Gleig, Homegrown Gurus: From Hinduism in America to American Hinduism (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2014). Philip Goldberg, American Veda: From Emerson to the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation—How Indian Spirituality Changed the West (New York: Harmony, 2013). Richard Hughes Seager, ed., The Dawn of Religious Pluralism (Peru, IL: Open Court, 1993), 337. Gurus who derive their teachings from Hinduism have drawn Americans to their feet ever since they arrived in the United States. Before that the presence of Hinduism in the USA was negligible. Historically, Hinduism has embraced both religion and culture and the disentanglement of one from the other is quite difficult. Other Hindu organizations and individual leaders have also become concerned about representations of Hinduism more broadly, in American universities and in the publications of American scholars. Yoga is a multifaceted term that is used in many different contexts and draws on Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Reincarnation is a major belief in Hinduism. In 1875, they founded the Theosophical Society, an organization that combined spiritualism and Western occultism with a romantic orientalist understanding of the mysteries of the East, particularly focused on India and Tibet. Thousands of students travel to the USA every year for higher education. While the British controlled the colonial agenda on the subcontinent, North Americans were also eager to reap the spoils of the British Empire and worked with the British to develop trade networks at the beginning of the 19th century. “2016 Yoga in America Study,” Ipsos Public Affairs, The Social Research and Corporate Reputation Specialists, sponsored by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance, 1–87: 18. 1. In addition to providing services to their local members, these organizations network on a national level through conferences, such as the Future of Hindu Dharma in North America conference for representatives from Hindu organizations held at the University of Central Florida in 2007. B. Nagarkar said, “The fundamental, spiritual ideal of the Brahmo-Somaj is belief in the existence of one true God.” He presented the theism of the Brahmo-Samaj as the religion of eclecticism, wholly inclusive and not exclusive.17 Vivekananda was also one of the few representatives at the World’s Parliament of Religions who publicly criticized Christian missionary activity in his home country, despite the liberal Protestant allegiances of the parliament’s leadership. In the early years of ISKCON, many devotees were encouraged to adopt the lives of celibate renouncers, but over time the organization has accommodated devotees who wish to pursue the life of the Hindu householder, with marriage and children. Most of the Hindus migrating to India are professionals such as doctors, software engineers, or businessmen. Thomas Layton, The Voyage of the ‘Frolic’: New England Merchants and the Opium Trade (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999), 24; Michael Altman, “Imagining Hindus: India and Religion in Nineteenth Century America” (PhD diss., Emory University, 2013), 57–58, 90–99; Amanda Huffer [Lucia], “Darshan in a Hotel Ballroom: Amritanandamayi Ma’s (Amma’s) Communities of Devotees in the United States” (PhD diss., University of Chicago, 2010), 106; and Sachindra N. Pradan, India in the United States: Contributions of India and Indians in the United States of America (Bethesda, MD: SP Press International, 1996), 57. Many of the current immigrants came following a new immigration law enacted in 1965that abolished a quota system. Several of these guru-led communities established significant ashrams (religious hermitages) that housed temples, dormitories for devotees, schools, classes, and retreats. Today, there are about 2.4 million Hindus who have made America their home. However, public opinion on this question, as well as the role of God, prayer and religion varies by country, region and economic development. This philosophy … Devotees revered their gurus not only as charismatic leaders but often as infallible divine persons, which meant that when accusations of misconduct were levied, they were rarely believed initially by fellow community members. Emerson’s compatriot in the American transcendentalist movement Henry David Thoreau was enamored of Hinduism and believed the Bhagavad Gītā to be an ancient and sublime text that made modern literatures appear “puny and trivial” in its presence.11 The American public, however, was not yet prepared for an egalitarian field of world religions; Thoreau’s A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers did not sell. The goal is to manifest this divinity within, by controlling nature, external and internal. Vijay Prashad, The Karma of Brown Folk (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001); and Vijay Prashad, Uncle Swami: South Asians in America Today (New York: New Press, 2012). Mother India’s anti–Indian nationalist and pro–British colonialist critique became a quick sensation in India, Britain, and the United States.23 Mayo’s Mother India was soon followed by Wendell Thomas’s Hinduism Invades America (1930), both of which cemented the long-standing critiques of American Christian missionaries regarding the deficiencies and failings of Hinduism and limited popular affinities toward the rich cultural heritage of India. When the edits were submitted for scholarly review, a mixed group of American scholars (including Indian and non-Indian members) were concerned that the VF and the HEF were attempting to rewrite history and the extant hierarchies and ritual practices of Hinduism as it exists in India. Hinduism is often labelled as a religion, but it is actually more than that: it is a vast and complex socio-religious body which, in a way, reflects the complexity of Indian society. Between the years 1965 and 1972, immigration from India increased 2,800 percent. But, it seems to me, such efforts are doomed to fail. Ultimately, the California State Board of Education voted to approve the initially agreed-upon edits and to reject the disputed edits. For example, the Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago hosts Shivaite, Vaishnavite, and Devi images and figurines, as does the Hindu Temple of Oklahoma and the Hindu Temple of Central Indiana. But in reality, many people have not formally converted to Hinduism but practice it religiously. That same year, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who would go on to establish the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) arrived in New York, and he would be followed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Osho/Bhagvan Rajneesh, Swami Muktananda, and Swami Satchidananda. Theosophy and the Suffering Body” and “The Ordinary Business of Occultism” (among others), Gary Lachman’s Madame Blavatsky, and several chapters in Smriti Srinivas’s book A Place for Utopia.39 Turning to the World’s Parliament of Religions, Richard Seager’s Dawn of Religious Pluralism (1999) and The World’s Parliament of Religions (2009) are the primary references. This emphasis on controlling the educational instruction about Hinduism largely derives from a fear of misrepresentation. At this time, the majority of North Americans accessed information about Hinduism through books and publications, rather than contact with Hindus. Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The Over-Soul,” referenced in Catherine Albanese, ed. Temple building became one of the primary means by which Indian Hindu communities sought to assert their presence in the American religious landscape and foster centers for the expression of cultural and religious values. The CSBE issued revisions that attempted to assuage all parties but satisfied few. The spread of Yoga and meditation further helped to spread Hinduism. The book was lauded among his followers initially, but it became a countercultural sensation only in the late 1960s when it was widely regarded as the “hippie Bible.”, Owing to restrictive U.S. immigration policy, Hinduism would not enter into mainstream America as anything other than a caricature of its Indian expressions for decades. Hinduism is a deeply pluralistic tradition, promoting respect for other religions and acknowledges the potential for truth in them. In a survey in 2010, 2 million people identified themselves as Hindus. The second, the Maha Vallabha Ganapathi Devasthanam in Flushing, New York, was established in 1977 and is owned by the Hindu Temple Society of North America. Brian Pennington argues convincingly that “the historical role of the colonizer was not to invent Hinduism either by blunder or design, but to introduce an economy of concepts and power relations that dramatically enhanced the value of such identity markers.”3 While the provenance of Hinduism is still a contested issue among scholars, there is no question that Hindus (and their practices and beliefs) have thrived on the subcontinent since the Vedic period. Karen Pechilis, ed., The Graceful Guru: Hindu Female Gurus in India and the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004); and Thomas Forsthoefel and Cynthia Ann Humes, eds., Gurus in America (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2005). In the 1980s, the VHPA was involved in two major knowledge-production projects: the establishment of a Hindu University in Florida and the Encyclopedia of Hinduism project.28 These Hindu organizations support the widespread establishment of educational resources on Hinduism, youth religious education groups (bāla vihār), and Hindu student associations at the university level, such as the Hindu Student Council, founded in 1990. See David Gordon White, The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali: A Biography (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014), 103–115. Parents objected to elementary and secondary school textbooks that contain factual errors and racist stereotypes. The majority of accounts of Hinduism in North America begin with the cataclysmic events of the World’s Parliament of Religions at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Studies focused on 20th-century and contemporary Indian Hindu communities in the United States have contributed broadly to the sociological understanding of Hinduism within the analytical frame of immigration and religion. Hinduism is in essence a pagan religion, meaning that its real subject is the self rather than a universal God (as in, what do I have to do to get to Heaven). 51. The large majority of gurus who have proselytized and become popular in the United States have espoused a form of neo-Vedantic theology, which arose in popularity in the Hindu reform movements of the 19th century. In the United States, the umbrella Hindu nationalist organizations of the VHPA and HSS are buttressed by sister organizations like the Vedic Foundation, the Hindu Education Foundation, and the Federation of Hindu Associations. Each of them attracted both Indian Hindus and non-Indian Hindus to their followings. While its roots could be sourced to the Indic religious traditions, including Hinduism, it quickly took flight and became wildly popular globally in multiple forms and with endless variations. The hybrid or hyphenated identity that emerges (Indian American/Hindu American) from the adoption and valorization of native culture and religiosity confirms the appropriate ethnic status on immigrants now positioned in culturally recognizable intellectual spaces. 43. Because of the secular culture and tolerant people, Hinduism would surely flourish more in the United States. Brian Pennington, Was Hinduism Invented? The new immigrants wanted to practice of their fait… Clipper ships constructed in Baltimore sailed to China and India for opium, cotton, silks, tea, porcelain, sugar, coffee, and other luxury items. In 1965, the Immigration and Naturalization Act was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. Fueled with neo-Vedantic ideals, this version represented Hinduism (and the VHP) as “a great tradition clustered around an essential religious core, consisting of peaceful contemplation, tolerance, and spiritual development of the self.”29 Currently there is no diasporic counter-voice as strong as these heavily funded religio-political umbrella organizations. There are roughly 24 thousand Hindus in present day Brooklyn and about 2.23 million in … According to Hinduism Today, this number can be up to 2.4 million. After Vivekananda, Paramahansa Yogananda used neo-Vedantic reasoning to create a unique Christian-Hindu hybridized theology and drew followers by locating the similarities between the teachings of Jesus and his lineage of gurus. Founded in 2003, HAF's work impacts a range of issues — from the portrayal of Hinduism in K-12 textbooks to civil and human rights to addressing contemporary problems, such as environmental protection and inter-religious conflict, by applying Hindu philosophy. When these immigrants arrived, they found limited resources for the expression of traditional forms of Hinduism available in the United States. According to the 2001 census, about 1.1 million Hindus are residing in America. Alan D. Hodder, “‘Ex Oriente Lux’,” 430–438; Russell Goodman, “East-West Philosophy in Nineteenth-Century America: Emerson and Hinduism,” Journal of the History of Ideas 51.4 (1990): 625; and Arthur Versluis, American Transcendentalism and Asian Religions (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993). The New Age movement of the 1990s also brought rekindled interest in Hinduism, often recoded as Indian spirituality, and this has sponsored a new wave of gurus and their teachings and the rampant expansion of postural yoga practice in the United States. E. Burke Rochford, Hare Krishna in America (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1985); Larry Shinn, The Dark Lord: Cult Images and the Hare Krishna’s in America (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1987); Edwin E. Bryant and Maria L. Ekstrand, eds. In 1940, he published his most famous writing, Autobiography of a Yogi, which combined the personal account of his own yogic path blended with an account of the most extraordinary and miraculous yogis of India. The most influential of this genre has been Prema Kurien’s sociological study A Place at the Multicultural Table.40 For an approach more grounded in religious studies, Corinne Dempsey’s The Goddess Lives in Upstate New York engages deeply with the nuances of temple devotion in the context of diaspora and transnational religion.41 E. Allen Richardson’s Seeing Krishna in America engages the Pushtimarg (Vallabhacharya’s Vaishnava bhakti) traditions, while Iswari Pandey’s South Asian in the Mid-South presents ethnographic research among several different Hindu groups.42 Much of the work on Hinduism in the United States can be found in select chapters of larger edited volumes, for example, Raymond Brady Williams’s A Sacred Thread, Diana Eck’s A New Religious America, Stephen Prothero’s A Nation of Religions, Rachel Fell McDermott and Jeffrey Kripal’s Encountering Kali, John Zavos and colleagues’ Public Hinduisms, Brian Hatcher’s Hinduism in the Modern World, and Raymond Brady Williams and Yogi Trivedi’s Swaminarayan Hinduism.43, In the United States, religion functions as a location for building and solidifying ethnic identities among immigrant populations. Prema Kurien argues convincingly that militant Hinducentrism and Hindu nationalism, which are steadily gaining influence among diaspora populations, are also products of American multiculturalism. In response, ISKCON, in particular, has issued active, corrective institutional measures to address abuses. In 1981, the Hindu Temple Society of Southern California established the Malibu Hindu Temple. 77 percent of Hindus in the U.S. are college graduates. 11. Read the story of two worlds that converge: one of Hindu immigrants to America who want to preserve their traditions and pass them on to their children in a new and foreign land, and one of American spiritual seekers who find that the … Madhulika Khandelwal, Becoming American, Being Indian: An Immigrant Community in New York City (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2002), 122. The grandfather of proselytizing gurus who espoused neo-Vedantic theology was Swami Vivekananda, who first introduced it to North American audiences at the World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893. The Spirituality of the American Transcendentalists (Macon: Mercer University Press, 1988), 93. Another Hindu organization, the California Parents for Equalization of Educational Materials (CAPEEM), also filed a lawsuit and reached a settlement with the Attorney General of California wherein CAPEEM received a $175K settlement from the State Board of Education in 2009. In response, the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) filed a lawsuit, but the judge upheld the State Board of Education’s decision. 52. Still, it was often positioned in early-20th-century American circulation as a Hindu practice, but often iterated with the language of spirituality because of the negative connotations that white Americans associated with the term Hinduism. 4. The average is 1 in 10 in the USA. Instead, their movements and messages were relegated to the fringes of society, furthered by the countercultural critiques of American Christian nativism. Trapped within frames of social isolation and unquestioning devotion, members experienced cycles of abuse that continued in prolonged and severe ways in many cases. 26. Swami Satchidananda Saraswati, the guru who gave the invocation at the Woodstock music festival in 1969, proposed his own form of yogic teachings and practices but invited Americans of all faiths to participate in the spiritual activities of his organization and ashram. In fact, Rammohan Roy, who would become the founder of the Brahmo Samaj in 1828, became the first Hindu whose monistic interpretations of Hinduism became popularized in the United States. Do this either by work, or worship or psychic control, or philosophy—by one, or more, or all of these—and be free. This is a point that many ‘secular’ Indians seem to ignore, hoping that they can construct an image of an India apart from religion. Adrienne Moore, Rammohun Roy and America (Calcutta: Brahmo Mission Press, 1942), 155. I have to admit it, I have a soft spot for Hinduism, at least as it is practiced in the U.S. and as it appears in books in English that extoll its values, wonders and mysticism. They submitted edits with the support of the Vedic Foundation (VF) and the American Hindu Education Foundation (HEF), which aimed to correct factual errors but also to eliminate any reference to caste, polytheism, or the Aryan Invasion theory. Shree Ma, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Shirdi Sai Baba, Sathya Sai Baba, Muktananda, Nithyananda, and many other gurus have established centers across the North American landscape, which have contributed to the increasing institutionalization of Hindu-inspired, guru-led religions in the United States. Are Hindu’s allowed to divorce? Commentdocument.getElementById("comment").setAttribute( "id", "abf3e7c64b9b1f95ccf34f465a65762d" );document.getElementById("h13867c571").setAttribute( "id", "comment" ); If You Like This Article, Then Please Share It, Hinduism in the United States of America (USA). Hare Krishnas (ISKCON devotees) soon became known for their public presence in the United States, as they gathered in airports, parks, and on street corners in their traditional Hindu dress, chanting the māhāmantra and passing out scriptures (most of which are productions of ISKCON itself) to passersby in exchange for small donations. The software boom further added to it and the number of Hindus getting green cards increased significantly. Still, he was lauded in the United States for his reformist theology and championed at home for his ability to confront the West with an anticolonial message that bolstered the Indian nationalist cause. In the latter decades of the century, this same geographic location gave birth to the Spiritualism movement, which was fueled by the mysterious rappings of the Fox sisters who claimed to be receiving messages from spirits and mediums who conjured spiritual manifestations at the Eddy farm. This enables Hindu organizations to operate in service of Hindu nationalist causes, without the controversial name recognition of the VHPA/VHP or HSS/RSS. The structure in San Francisco that is frequently identified as the first Hindu temple in the United States, established in 1906, was in fact the first permanent home of the Vedanta Society. In 1900, seven years after Vivekananda set foot in America, there were only about 1,700 Hindus. Today, there are about 2.4 million Hindus who have made America their home today. About Hinduism in America. 18. 20. Madame Blavatsky and Henry Steel Olcott had both traveled to the district to witness spiritualist phenomena and, after meeting there, formed a lasting and influential partnership. Vivekananda was instrumental in popularizing the neo-Vedantic view that all religions are “the same light coming through different colors … But in the heart of everything the same truth reigns.”16 The Brahmo-Samajists at the World’s Parliament of Religions also told their American audiences of a theistic monism at the core of Hinduism. Most of the Hindus cremate the dead bodies. The gurus of the 1960s and 1970s often fell prey to sexual and financial scandals. Evidence of Hinduism’s early antecedents is derived from archaeology, comparative philology, and comparative religion. In 1987, there were about 387,000 Hindus in the USA. It also equates the Indian nation-state and population with Hinduism, which has had egregious effects on minority religious populations in India since its rise to power. 25. BAPS Swaminarayan Hinduism began as a guru devotional movement, but it soon became articulated as a branch of traditional Hinduism. Outside traditional forms of home altars, temple worship, and festivals, there are many ways in which Hinduism has influenced American culture. As a result, the story of Hinduism in North American begins with white Americans and their imaginings of Hinduism, which was often interpreted as one among many forms of “heathenism” to be combated through Christianity. Often their membership networks overlap significantly. He systematized his thought and built a religious organization, the Self-Realization Fellowship, which has since become one of the most institutionalized forms of guru-led Hinduism in the United States. Brahman, they claim, can be reached by multiple paths and known by multiple names. The guru movements that flourished in the countercultural spiritual experimentation of the long decade of the 1960s continue to draw followers today. Our historical context is also unique for another important reason. Hindus in the United States often think of their religious practice as the daily performance of one or all of these forms of yoga. The gurus of the 1960s and 1970s were forced to define their methods and practices as distinct, in order to succeed in the growing religious field, but still many drew in their followers with ecumenical language, freedom of belief, and evidence for the efficacy of their particular forms of spiritual practice. One of the most vibrant exceptions to this pattern is ISKCON, which was founded by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in 1965. After the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act, Indian Hindus worked diligently to create community networks by establishing temples and religious organizations. The 1910s and 1920 saw broad abuses against Indian Sikh workers (who were classified as “Hindoos”) as they were pushed from Canada to the United States and then subsequently forced to flee from violent mobs of anti-immigrant protestors southward from Washington to Oregon and into California’s Central Valley. Pierre Bernard, a white man who coined himself the “Omnipotent Oom,” taught students a version of tantra yogic practice that became wildly successful and controversial. The new immigrants wanted to practice their faith cente… Raymond Brady Williams, ed., A Sacred Thread: Modern Transmissions of Hindu Traditions in India and Abroad (New York: Columbia University Press, 1992); Diana Eck, A New Religious America: How a “Christian Country” Has Become the World’s Most Religiously Diverse Nation (San Francisco: Harper, 2002); Stephen Prothero, A Nation of Religions: The Politics of Pluralism in Multireligious America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006); Rachel Fell McDermott and Jeffrey Kripal, Encountering Kali: In the Margins, at the Center, in the West (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003); John Zavos et al., eds., Public Hinduisms (New Delhi: SAGE, 2012); Brian Hatcher, Hinduism in the Modern World (London: Routledge, 2015); and Raymond Brady Williams and Yogi Trivedi, eds., Swaminarayan Hinduism: Tradition, Adaptation, and Identity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016). Under this sustained pressure, it is likely that battles will continue over the nature of those representations and an increasing adamancy among Hindus to represent themselves and their own communal interests in scholarship about Hinduism, in both elementary schools and academia. Influenced by liberal Protestant theological ideas and American social conventions, it differed considerably from Hindu practices of major strata of Indic society, including localized village ritual offerings of devotional worship (pūjā), brahmanical fire sacrifices (homas), and temple worship. 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