Established in 2003, the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) is the largest and oldest education and advocacy organization and the pre-eminent voice for Hindu Americans.
Our story begins with a phone call and a kitchen table. A young Mihir Meghani called an also young Aseem and Suhag Shukla about an idea to build an organization for Hindus who had made America their home.
After a few cross-country calls, they finally gathered around a kitchen table in an apartment over a Starbucks in Philadelphia with Suhag’s law school classmate, Nikhil Joshi, and a few others to hash out a vision for this organization.
Each had their own motivations for wanting to make this idea a reality. Mihir wanted an institution which addressed the concerns of Hindu Americans in the public square — the groups he had grown up with were focused on India. Aseem wanted the media to cover Hinduism and Hindus accurately — the last straw for him was when a local Florida paper described some Hindus as cannibals. Nikhil wanted to make sure Hindu American kids were accepted for who they were — he had been incessantly proselytized to by his 11th grade teacher. Suhag wanted to ensure Hinduism was taught accurately in public schools — she had faced ridiculously inaccurate depictions in high school, including being asked by her 9th grade teacher if her parents were saving for her dowry.
Weaving together their aspirations, they established the Hindu American Foundation. They then set out to share their collective vision with the community with the hope that it would resonate. The first stop was Tampa, then San Francisco, followed by Long Island, where Hindu Americans in these communities took a chance on this young crew and lent their generous support. And the rest is Hindu American history.
From a small band of idealistic volunteers in 2003, today HAF is a professionally staffed institution with close to 20 full-time staff, a visionary Board of Directors, dedicated National Leadership Council, and passionate Advisory Council thanks to the generosity of Hindu Americans from all across the country.
HAF advances the understanding of Hinduism to secure the rights and dignity of Hindu Americans now and for generations to come.
We do this by providing:
- accurate and engaging educational resources about Hinduism and Hindu Americans
- impactful trainings, advocacy and services that protect and promote religious liberty, free expression, equality and justice
- critical and creative programs empowering Hindu Americans to sustain their culture and identity
We work with state boards of education and publishers to ensure Hinduism is portrayed accurately and fairly in public school textbooks. We supply teachers and students with training and supplementary resources to enhance their ability to teach and understand the Hindu tradition.
We provide DEI trainings to law enforcement agencies, workplaces and college campuses. We educate policymakers and channel the concerns of the community on issues such as non-discrimination in the workplace and the right to display religious symbols. We pursue impact litigation and offer seminars and consultation services when the civil rights of Hindu Americans are at risk.
We train Hindu Americans with the knowledge and skills to confidently talk about our teachings with their neighbors, colleagues, and friends. We support families with guides, toolkits and seminars to help them discuss Hinduism and Hindu issues with their children.
Our Guiding Principles
HAF is politically agnostic and non-partisan, meaning we’re informed, but do not favor and cannot endorse any one political party or any candidates. We will work with all individuals and institutions who embrace integrity and reason and are constructively engaged in promoting dignity, freedom, equality and justice.
HAF is not affiliated with any religious or political organizations or entities. HAF seeks to serve Hindu Americans across all sampradaya (Hindu religious traditions) regardless of race, color, national origin, ethnicity, ancestry, citizenship, gender, sexual orientation, age and/or disability.
Our positions are based on a relentless pursuit of facts; deep consideration of Hindu principles and American values, such as pluralism, freedom, equality, and justice; and the input of subject matter experts. If we like a policy, we’ll say so, and rigorously substantiate our position.
HAF positions will always be based on our guiding principles and we will always work in a manner that is rooted in Hindu values.
Satya. Be truthful. We pride ourselves in offering programming and information with accuracy and integrity.
Ahimsā. Be kind. We aspire to work and communicate fairly, constructively, and respectfully.
Viveka. Be wise. We approach our work with intelligence, discernment, and reflection.
Srijantā. Be innovative. We aspire to keep our work and approach creative, innovative and agile.
Sahakāritva. Be collaborative. We seek out partnerships with individuals and individuals on a foundation of mutual respect to forward our shared values and goals.
Nirmamatva. Be selfless. We value and respect each other and keep our focus on serving a greater good.
Utsāh. Be passionate. We are passionate about Hindu Dharma and our work.
Frequently Asked Questions About HAF
Is HAF a non-partisan, non-profit organization?
Yes. HAF is a non-partisan, non-profit tax-exempt public charity pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)3.
HAF is a wholly independent, American organization. It has absolutely no affiliation or ties to any organizations or political parties in the US or abroad. HAF was founded by second-generation Hindu Americans born and raised in the United States.
We engage and partner with a broad and diverse spectrum of stakeholders on a range of issues. Partnership in no way indicates an endorsement of the views of such stakeholders, or that we agree on all issues and all possible solutions. It does mean, however, that we’re willing to set aside differences in order to constructively work towards solutions on shared areas of concern.
What is HAF’s political ideology?
We advocate on a range of issues, which provides opportunity to work with lawmakers and stakeholders on different sides of the aisle. Our position on every issue is based on a relentless pursuit of facts, and deep consideration of Hindu principles and American values, such as freedom, equality, and justice.
Issues we work on that commonly garner the support of lawmakers and stakeholders which might be considered center-left, progressive, liberal, or moderate include: equal protection and due process, voting rights, right to privacy, separation of church and state, gun safety reform, women’s access to healthcare, hate crime prevention, marriage equality, immigration reform, and environmental and animal protection.
Issues we work on that commonly garner support of lawmakers and stakeholders which might be considered center-right, conservative, classical liberal, libertarian, or moderate include: free speech, international religious freedom, human rights, national security, counter-terrorism, and immigration reform.
HAF works to promote dignity, mutual respect, and pluralism, and regardless of the issue, believes a secular, democratic form of government is most conducive to ensuring and upholding these principles.
Does HAF advocate for people of all faiths?
While our focus is on the wellbeing of Hindus, we also work to ensure that all people and the planet thrive. We believe that this is possible only when and where dignity, mutual respect, and pluralism are nurtured and sustained. That’s why we promote these three principles.
Standing up for the rights of Hindus and other minorities around the world does require us to highlight current and historical discrimination, subjugation, and violation of human rights committed by members of other religious communities. This does not mean we are against other religions, but stems from the belief that factual integrity is necessary to raise awareness, seek justice, and end suffering.