The second kind of Hinduism that has grown in America since the 1960s is what I would call “temple-Hinduism,” brought by immigrants from India and the Caribbean. Similarly, Swami Kripalu (Amrit Desai) also founded an ashram community wherein devotees were encouraged to adopt yogic and meditative practices, but they were not expected to undergo a formal conversion. 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). Most of the Hindus migrating to India are professionals such as doctors, software engineers, or businessmen. 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. As a result, BAPS Swaminarayan temples have become tourist attractions and highly visible representations of traditional Hinduism around the globe. Many of the early Hindu emissaries to the United States drew on ideological confluences between Christian and Hindu universalism. Lola Williamson’s Transcendent in America and Williamson and Ann Gleig’s edited volume Homegrown Gurus both attempt to systematize and analyze the various roles of gurus in the United States.47 Karen Pechelis edited a volume addressing female gurus in India and in the United States, The Graceful Guru, and Thomas Forsthoefel and Cynthia Ann Humes compiled another, Gurus in America, addressing the most influential gurus.48 Arthur Versluis’s book American Gurus includes several gurus who have not been fully addressed by the literature.49 At the more popular level, Philip Goldberg’s American Veda has been instrumental in telling the intricacies of American Hinduism, often through the lens of the developments initiated by guru-led movements.50 There are also several important books that focus on one particular guru and his or her movement in the United States: Hugh Urban’s book on Osho/Bhagvan Rajneesh, Zorba the Buddha, and Amanda Lucia’s book on Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma), Reflections of Amma, both focus on the North American context, while Smriti Srinivas’s In the Presence of Sai Baba devotes a chapter to satsangs (congregational gatherings) in Atlanta, Georgia.51 Several influential books focus on the Hare Krishnas (ISKCON) in the United States: E. Burke Rochford’s Hare Krishna in America, Larry Shinn’s The Dark Lord, and Edwin Bryant and Maria Ekstrand’s edited volume The Hare Krishna Movement.52 With regard to modern postural yoga, both Elizabeth de Mechilis’s A History of Modern Yoga and Mark Singleton’s Yoga Body have studied its global spread, and Andrea Jain’s Selling Yoga focuses particularly on the context of the United States.53. The divorce rate amongst Hindus is lowest compared to other communities in the United States. The average is 1 in 10 in the USA. Prominent transcendentalist writers and thinkers, including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, were also … Hinduism came to the United States first in the American imagination and only second with emissaries and immigrants from India. 39. They diminished the importance of temple and domestic rituals, sacrifice, personal devotion to the multiplicity of Hindu deities, and priestly class and caste hierarchies among their North American audiences. In 1919, Sri Yogendra immigrated and established his Yoga Institute in New York, which aimed to present postural yoga as a medically informed, scientific technique for the prolongation of health, strength, and life. University of California, Riverside Religious Studies, Sociology, Anthropology, and Psychology of Religion, https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780199340378.013.436, Hindus want to take back yoga, say American needs to recognize practice’s roots, Hindu Group Stirs Debate over Yoga’s Soul, Tantra and the Tantric Traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism, Alternative Religious Movements and Race in America. This emphasis on controlling the educational instruction about Hinduism largely derives from a fear of misrepresentation. Liberal Protestants took note of his neo-Vedantic reformulations of Hinduism, which aimed to differentiate between the superstitious rituals of polytheistic practices and the Vedantic legacy of Hinduism positioned as a monistic and even monotheistic textual tradition. 26. The literature regarding Hinduism in the United States is still developing as a distinct subfield to the study of Hinduism, gurus, and yoga more generally. Kurien, A Place at the Multicultural Table. Hinduism, some journalists say, is the wealthiest religion in America. 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. Cultural and religious specificity occurs because of the unique characteristics of cultures, religions, and geographies on the earth but also within the cosmic realm, wherein all specificities dissolve and only the singular ultimate realty of the divine essence exists. They make up 15 percent of the world’s population, with 93 percent of Hindus in India. Mark Singleton, Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010); and Andrea Jain, Selling Yoga: From Counterculture to Pop Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014). 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. In 1817, excerpts of Roy’s Translation of an Abridgment of the Vedant were reprinted in the United States in both the Trinitarian Boston Recorder and the Unitarian Christian Disciple. Spiritualism was a rapidly growing movement that involved séances, communing with the spirits of the dead, telepathy, magnetism, Swedenborgianism, energy manipulation, and sometimes ecstatic experience. The separation of religion and culture in America. While this view is ancient to Hinduism, it is also popular in the modern period because it is socially productive in eliding religious differences in diverse and often religiously conflicted societies. These written works and American Transcendentalism shaped American knowledge and opinion about Hinduism for much of the 19th century. 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. Unlike the majority of Hindus around the world, ISKCON devotees focused their attention on spreading their religious views to strangers, with the aim of conversion. 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. Paul Vitello, “Hindu Group Stirs Debate over Yoga’s Soul,” November 27, 2010. For the first time in U.S. history, Indian Hindus arrived in significant numbers. Brahman also takes on various forms, both impersonal and personal, transcendent and immanent. The judge ultimately ruled against the parents’ and the HAF’s position, supporting the argument that postural yoga draws from multiple Indic religious traditions, not only Hinduism, and that the yoga curricula implemented in the Encinitas public schools were largely secularized and not Hindu in content. They introduced American audiences to the Indic figure of the esoteric yogi, the practices of meditation and yoga, and translations and adaptations of Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtras through the writings of Blavatsky herself, N. C. Paul, Annie Besant, Alice Bailey, and Ernest Wood, among others.13. E. Allen Richardson, Seeing Krishna in America: The Hindu Bhakti Tradition of Vallabhacharya in India and Its Movement to the West (New York: McFarland, 2014); and Iswari Pandey, South Asian in the Mid-South (Pittsburg, PA: University of Pittsburg Press, 2015). One of the most important additions to the temple architecture of Hinduism in the United States has been the rapid expansion of BAPS Swaminarayan Hinduism. Hindus prefer to leave in peace with the native people in whichever country they go to. The development of temple infrastructure recalibrated the neo-Vedantic emphasis that had until now been the dominant expression of Hindu religiosity in the United States. Yogananda highlighted the confluences between a neo-Vedantic interpretation of Hinduism and Christ’s teachings in the New Testament. The outward conviction that all gods are one provides an ecumenical veneer that enables the veneration of multiple sectarian and regional forms of the divine. Nitasha Tamar Sharma’s insightful book Hip Hop Desis: South Asians, Blackness, and Global Race Consciousness (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010); Ajay Nair and Murali Balaji, eds., Desi Rap: Hip Hop and South Asian America (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2008); and Erika Lee, The Making of Asian America: A History (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2015). Vivekananda popularized a controversial form of reform Hinduism in the United States. The first Hindu temple was built by The Vedanta Society in the U.S. in San Francisco in 1906. Additionally, websites provide another effective communicative tool for immigrant Indians in the United States to connect with each other and share resources; they have also become a primary resource for disseminating the Hindu nationalist perspective. They argue that all forms of divinity are ultimately one and that there are many paths to the same goal. Trapped within frames of social isolation and unquestioning devotion, members experienced cycles of abuse that continued in prolonged and severe ways in many cases. Katherine Mayo, Mother India (New York: Blue Ribbon Books, 1927). 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). See Shreena Gandhi, “Translating, Practicing and Commodifying Yoga in the U.S.” (PhD diss., University of Florida, 2009), 59–68. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi developed Transcendental Meditation but also welcomed those of all faiths into his community. 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. Srinivas Aravamudan, Guru English: South Asian Religion in a Cosmopolitan Language (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005), 40. 30. Richard Hughes Seager, ed., The Dawn of Religious Pluralism (Peru, IL: Open Court, 1993), 337. Evidence of Hinduism’s early antecedents is derived from archaeology, comparative philology, and comparative religion. BAPS Swaminarayan Hinduism began as a guru devotional movement, but it soon became articulated as a branch of traditional Hinduism. 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. Our historical context is also unique for another important reason. Yoga is an Indic cultural product that draws its roots from Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Tantra. The gurus of the 1960s and 1970s often fell prey to sexual and financial scandals. In response, parents and community leaders began to organize to revise and reform the textbooks. As more and more Hindus settled there, they started building new Hindu temples. 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. 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). 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). Masculinity, Hinduism, and Nationalism in India (New York: State University of New York Press, 2005); and Joanne Punzo Waghorne, “Global Gurus and the Third Stream of American Religiosity,” in Political Hinduism: The Religious Imagination in Public Spheres, ed. 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. These umbrella Hindu organizations are one of the most vital arenas for the construction of Hinduism in North America, because they are explicitly engaged in knowledge-building projects, from elementary curricula to monitoring the production of Hinduism through academic publications and university-level instruction. 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. In the 20th century, increasing populations of Indian Hindus immigrated to the United States and began to challenge this narrative. 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). 29. One of the most vibrant exceptions to this pattern is ISKCON, which was founded by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in 1965. 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. While many of the most vigorous critiques have been made against non-Indian Hindu scholars (Wendy Doniger, Paul Courtright, James Laine, Jeffrey Kripal, and Sheldon Pollock, among others), many Indian Hindu scholars have been targeted by conservative Hindu organizations with ties to Hindu nationalism (Vasudha Narayana, Partha Chatterjee, Romila Thapar, and Deepak Sarma, among others). But, it seems to me, such efforts are doomed to fail. Americans still know very little about Hinduism and many of the predominant images are negative. 10. As in the broader field of orientalist discourse, American publications and popular opinions oscillated between disgust and fascination, condemnation and attraction, disavowal and allure. The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) is a non-profit advocacy organization for the Hindu American community. Even more surprising are the significant populations of devotees who remain devotees, even with the allegations, and justify and rationalize the behavior of their guru or deny the allegations entirely. 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. 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. The initial features of Hinduism that captivated North American audiences were those that were lauded for their compatibility with Protestant Christianity and those that were derided for their incompatibility with the same. 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. 45. Evidence exists that the British catapulted the importance of the term and the category of Hinduism and instrumentalized it in the modern construction of world religions.2 There is also evidence that Indian Hindus collaborated in the discursive production of the category, employing long-standing indigenous religious ideals and practices to constitute its contents. ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) temples are the only Hindu temples in the United States that sometimes have proportionate numbers of Indians and non-Indians worshipping together. 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. 13. In the 1980s the VHP specifically targeted the middle classes in India and Hindu populations living in diaspora as receptive audiences and generous sources of funding through a series of Hindu world conferences. Besides that, there are a few converts also. Before that the presence of Hinduism in the USA was negligible. The influx of temples in the United States provided expressions for the devotional and ritualistic aspects of Hinduism that had been largely ignored in the U.S. context in institutional arenas. The spread of Yoga and meditation further helped to spread Hinduism. 77 percent of Hindus in the U.S. are college graduates. One of the primary methods that Prabhupada encouraged proselytization was through the dissemination of religious literature. History of Hinduism in the United States of America: Hinduism was introduced on a relatively large scale to Americans by Swami Vivekananda. In fact, four years after its appearance, the publisher returned more than seven hundred copies of the text to the author. In the 18th and 19th century, Americans described religion in India as ‘heathenism’, ‘Hindoo religion’, ‘Hindu religion’, and ‘Brahmanism’. Despite Rammohan Roy’s efforts, the popularity of the monistic and even monotheistic ideas of the Hindu reformers had limited influence upon the dominant American understandings of Hinduism. There were, however, fascinating developments in the field of yoga. 49. Hindu nationalist organizations aim to diminish the sectarian and caste differences among Hindus by vilifying Muslims and Islam (and alternately the West and Westernization) as the threatening Other. Before that the presence of Hinduism in the USA was negligible. 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. (Only a small minority of Hindus attend services each week.) The Hindu leaders who did enter the United States during this period and the singular institution of the Vedanta Society struggled to extract followers from mainline American religions. Rheana Murray, “Hindus want to take back yoga, say American needs to recognize practice’s roots,” New York Daily News, Thursday, April 12, 2012, accessed November 1, 2016. About astronomy, the old Maya Observatory is… This is the whole of religion. Hinduism in the United States of America (USA) has witnessed steady growth since 1965 when the Immigration and Nationality Services (INS) Act of 1965 was passed. It has also strategically focused on building elaborate and ornate temple complexes in major urban centers. According to the 2001 census, about 1.1 million Hindus are residing in America. Rather, the story of Hinduisms in America provides an important example for the ways a religious tradition is imagined in America. Hinduism in South America is found in several countries, but is strongest in the Indo-Caribbean populations of Guyana and Suriname.There are about 550,000 Hindus in South America, chiefly the descendants of Indian indentured laborers in the Guianas.There are about 270,000 Hindus in Guyana, 120,000 in Suriname, and some others in French Guiana.In Guyana and Suriname, Hindus form the … After the World’s Parliament of Religions, Vivekananda embarked on an approximately three-year-long lecture tour during which he was invited to speak by various liberal Protestant organizations. Historically, Hinduism has embraced both religion and culture and the disentanglement of one from the other is quite difficult. This enables Hindu organizations to operate in service of Hindu nationalist causes, without the controversial name recognition of the VHPA/VHP or HSS/RSS. 18. They argued for the use of the term “India” instead of “South Asia”, to dissociate the caste system from Hinduism and instead locate it culturally and to suggest that Hindu women had “different” rights from men, instead of “fewer” rights. Like their European contemporaries, North Americans balked at what they viewed to be the bloody, sexualized, cacophonic, ritualized, and superstitious practices of the Hindus. Thus, portrayals of Hinduism greatly affect America’s understanding of India. 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. Higher education are open to non-Indian Hindus to their followings connect diaspora Hindus with Hindus in India can be to. 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