Only 22% Americans know about Hindus & Hinduism


CHICAGO: It was 125 years ago that Swami Vivekananda came to this country and talked about Sanatan Dharma ( popularly known as Hinduism) and set up Ramakrishna Mission across the country creating awareness about ancient Indian religion and basic religious thinking of universal love and brotherhood.

It was three decades later that another Hindu Monk Swami Yogananda came to this country and sought to bring ancient Indian thought on religion and wisdom here. He set up Self Realization Fellowship way back in 1920 that has huge number of followers even today.

It was in fifties that yet another spiritual master from India AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad sailed to this country and taught Bhakti Yoga, a path to self realization and Moksha. He set up International Society of Krishna Consciousness which reached out to truth seeks thru Hare Krishna temples in various parts of the country.

Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents across the world and moksha (liberation) as its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.

Despite this, a recent survey conducted in USA by a Pew Research Center showed that only 22 percent Americans know someone who is Hindu.

This number is lowest than any other religion/denomination surveyed. Catholics rank highest with 87 percent, followed by evangelical Christians, Jews, Atheists, Mormons, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus.

Americans express warmest and more positive feelings towards Jews (average rating 63); followed by Catholics, evangelical Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, etc., the survey adds.

Reacting to this survey findings, a large number of activists including Rajan Zed ( president Universal Society of Hinduism Nevada) Neela Pandya ( Marketing consultant NJ) Sohan Joshi ((NFIA President Chicago) Ashwin Patel (CEO Seema Enterprises St Louis) Dayal Meshri ( CEO Advanced Research Chemicals Tulsa OK) Ashok Jain MD ( a physician from Michigan) and many others across the country have urged American Hindus to make intensive efforts to reach out to non-Hindu communities and create awareness about the basic philosophical thought of Sanatan Dharma that in essence teaches Vasudha Eiv Kutumbakam – the whole word is my family.

Kanubhai Brahmbhatt, a Brand Ambassador for International Yoga Alliance and founder Director of Yog Setu, said it was pity many Americans know nothing or little about Hindus or Hinduism especially when a vast number of them have been practicing Yoga for good mental and physical health . “Yoga was one of the master contributions of ancient Indian Rishis and Hindus to the world, and Indian Americans need to make special efforts to educate about huge cultural contributions of Hindus to the world civilization,” he said

They urged to do charity, invite others to visit Hindu temples/ashrams, be good role models, act for the benefit of all, volunteer, try to stay pure and exhibit warmth and love towards fellow Americans.

Rajan suggested to each American Hindu to take a vow of helping at least one charitable project during this year for less fortunate members of the community.

Unlike most other religions, Hinduism has no single founder, no single scripture, and no rigidity about following a set teaching. Hindus believe that no religion teaches the only way to salvation above all others, but that all genuine paths are facets of God’s Light, deserving tolerance and understanding.

Headquartered in Washington DC, Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world”. Alan Murray is its President.

Madhu Patel

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