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Hindu Americans Seek Self-Definition

on 2011/9/24 3:32:06 ( 2994 reads )


USA, August 24, 2011 (; by Padma Kuppa): Hindus in America face a challenge in identifying as Hindu-Americans, and even in defining that term.

In India, many Hindus do not put a label on their religion, or even regard it as one of many religions. It's the Sanatana Dharma--it's simply the way things are. In a majority-Hindu country, there is also no need to explain the religion to others. But in countries where other religions predominate, a distinguishing label and clear explanations become necessary.

Many diasporic Hindus prefer the term Sanatana Dharma or Hindu Dharma. Some are even uncomfortable with the terms Hindu and Hinduism due to widespread misconceptions surrounding those terms. As a result, they not only shrink from advocacy but some even deny that what they practice is a religion.

[HPI note: An opposite trend, explained by Lisa Miller in an article called "We are All Hindus Now", is happening simultaneously from the other side of the ethnic spectrum. Americans are increasingly embracing Hindu beliefs and practices, such as reincarnation, yoga, chakras, reincarnation and pranayama. Many do not realize that these beliefs and practices align them much more closely with Hinduism than with any Western religion and these "semi-Hindus" often become increasingly uncomfortable with the religion of their birth. ]

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