Letters to the Editor: Hindus against hate

As Hindus, we are called to recognise that the Divine resides equally in all living beings. This recognition requires that we affirm the dignity of all bodies and practice the virtues of non-injury (ahimsa) and compassion (karuna).

Sadly, as we write this letter, we are seeing increasing violence against our Muslim siblings in India, carried out in the name of our faith.

As representatives of diverse Hindu traditions with deep histories, we are dismayed to see Hindu leaders in India and abroad openly embracing Hindutva — a century-old political ideology that sees citizens of other faiths as inherently foreign and not qualified to enjoy the full benefits of Indian citizenship. The images and videos of saffron-clad sadhus, sadhvis, and swamis calling for genocidal violence against millions of Indian Muslims in December 2021 are a chilling sight that we cannot ignore. And since the so-called “Dharma Sansad” in Haridwar, we have seen Muslim women put up for “auction” on an app created by college students, and hijab-wearing Muslim girls being denied their right to equal education in Karnataka.

The time is long overdue for Hindus around the world to break our collective silence and speak out against this hate that violates the deepest teachings of our tradition.

Some may wonder: why are we speaking about Indian Muslims when we know Hindus are under attack in other countries? Our answer is clear: the only way we can break the cycles of religious violence across South Asia is if we stand up for each other’s right to thrive and live with dignity. Violence against Hindus and other minorities in countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh does not, in any way, justify violence against Muslims and other minorities in India.

By signing this letter, we pledge:

  • To speak out against anti-Muslim words and actions whenever they show up in our communities;
  • To build and strengthen relationships with Muslim neighbors, leaders and institutions in our communities;
  • To keep our temples and homes open to all, irrespective of religious background;
  • To commit to the teachings of religious freedom and social justice at the heart of our traditions that challenge notions of religious nationalism, casteism, and hatred for our brothers and sisters of other traditions.

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.

Om Peace, Peace, Peace.

Organizations:

  1. Aryasamaj Mandir (Amritpuri, New Delhi)
  2. Bhaktiversity (Delhi)
  3. Global Naitik Shiksha Kendra (Delhi/Mathura)
  4. Hindu Temple Society of New Mexico (Albuquerque)
  5. Institute of Living Universal Values, Ramakrishna Vedanta (Fort Collins, CO)
  6. Matri Sadan Ashram (Haridwar, India)
  7. Mindful Meditation Yoga (Naperville, IL)
  8. Purple Pundit Project (New York, NY)
  9. Ramakrishna Institute of Spirituality & Hinduism (RISHI) (Pretoria, South Africa)
  10. Sarva Dharma Sadbhav Trust (Ayodhya)
  11. Shaanti Bhavan Mandir (Queens, NY)
  12. Shridevi Arts (New York)
  13. Sifting to the Truth (Brooklyn, NY)
  14. Spirit of Love (Azusa, California)
  15. United Madrassi Association, Inc. (Jamaica, NY)

Individuals:

(Institutional affiliation is provided for identification purposes only and does not constitute institutional endorsement)

  1. Abhi Janamanchi, Senior Minister – Unitarian and Hindu, Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church (Bethesda, Maryland)
  2. Akilesh Ayyar, Hindu Spiritual Teacher, Sifting to the Truth (Brooklyn, NY)
  3. Anantanand Rambachan, Emeritus Professor of Religion, Vedantic Scholar, Saint Olaf College (Minnesota USA)
  4. Anu Malhotra, Hindu priestess and President, Mindful Meditation Yoga (Naperville, IL)
  5. Babu Baijoo, Raisethorpe Arya Samaj (Pietermaritzburg, South Africa)
  6. Brahmachari Sudhanand, Matri Sadan Ashram (Haridwar, India)
  7. Brahmacharini Shweta Chaitanya (Atlanta)
  8. Chandrasegara, Pandit (Sydney, Australia)
  9. Brahmachari Sharan, Director for Dharmic Life, Dharmic Life (Washington DC)
  10. Karuna Mohan, Arya Samaj South Africa (Johannesburg)
  11. Khyati Joshi, Professor, Hindu scholar and community member (New Jersey)
  12. Medha, Bhaktiversity (Delhi)
  13. Nicholas Indar, Assistant Pujari, New Jersey Mariamman Kovil (New Jersey)
  14. Pandit Manoj Jadubans, Spiritual Leader, Shaanti Bhavan Mandir (Queens, NY)
  15. Pandit Naresh Poeran, Shree Maheshwar Dhaam/Stichting Aastha (Rotterdam, Netherlands)
  16. Pandit NK Sharma, Founder President, Universal Association for Spiritual Awareness (Delhi)
  17. Pandit Sameer R., Hindu Temple Society of New Mexico (Albuquerque)
  18. Pandit Sanjai Doobay, Shri Trimurti Bhavan (Brooklyn, NY)
  19. Pandita Kushmani Doobay, Hindu officiant, Shridevi Arts (New York)
  20. Pandita Sapna Pandya, Hindu officiant (Washington DC)
  21. Pradeep Reddy, Board of Trustees, Hindu Temple and Cultural Society (Carbondale, IL)
  22. Pratima Dharm, Reverend, Pandita, Spirit of Love (Azusa, California)
  23. Pravrajika Vrajaprana, Senior Sannyasini, Vedanta Society (Santa Barbara)
  24. Pankaj Joshi, Ramakrishna Institute of Spirituality & Hinduism (RISHI) (Pretoria, South Africa)
  25. Raja Gopal Bhattar, Consultant, Educator, Pandit – Bhattar Consulting Group, Sadhana Spiritual Council (Los Angeles)
  26. Ram Saran Bhasin, President, Asamai Mandir (Kabul, Afghanistan)
  27. Reshma Persaud, Senior Officer, Philanthropy, Shiv Shakti Peeth (Queens, NY)
  28. Manish Mishra-Marzetti, Unitarian Universalist & Hindu, First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, Michigan)
  29. Reverend Mahesh Upadhyaya, Unitarian Universalist and Hindu (Gujarat, India)
  30. Sena Lund, President, Afghan-Hindu Association (New York)
  31. Shashi Tandon, Hindu priestess (Chicago)
  32. Shivam Bhatt, Hindu priest (California)
  33. Sivea Key, Organizing Member, Institute of Living Universal Values, Ramakrishna Vedanta (Fort Collins, CO)
  34. Sushma Dwivedi, Progressive, inclusive Pundit, Purple Pundit Project (New York, NY)
  35. Swami Narayan Das, Global Naitik Shiksha Kendra (Delhi/Mathura)
  36. Swami Shivanand Saraswati, Founder, Matri Sadan Ashram (Haridwar, India)
  37. Vijah Ramjattan, Acharya, United Madrassi Association, Inc. (Jamaica, NY)
  38. Yugal Kishore Sharan Shastri, Sarva Dharma Sadbhav Trust (Ayodhya)

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