One year later, what do Kashmiri Hindus think about the repeal of Articles 370 & 35A?
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One year later, what do Kashmiri Hindus think about the repeal of Articles 370 & 35A?

By August 5, 2020 September 21st, 2020 No Comments

One year ago the Government of India (GoI) took the decisive step to repeal Articles 370 & 35A of the Indian Constitution, fundamentally changing the relationship between the then state of Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of India. The former state became two Union Territories —  Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh — with some aspects of government being run directly from Delhi.

We asked a selection of leading Kashmiri Hindus, also known as Kashmiri Pandits (KPs), about what’s happened in the past 12 months and what they hope to happen in the future for Kashmir. Here are their answers.


Describe the moment you heard that the Indian Parliament had repealed Articles 370 & 35A of the Indian Constitution? 


Nisha Quasba (Kashmiri Youth Leader; Washington, DC): I was at work and I got a text through a group chat of my KP friends saying something along the lines that Article 370 was removed.

In the current times of misinformation, I was in disbelief and denial.

Instead of replying with a celebratory message, I quickly did a Google search to verify. I was shocked to find news outlets all over India flooded with the top headlines confirming Article 370 was indeed abrogated.

My immediate thought was that the impossible happened, but also not completely grasping the breadth of what that meant for the ground reality policy changes that this would trigger.

For the better part of my morning I was reading furiously different news articles covering the monumental event. I went to the feeds of KP journalists I had been intermittently following for years to hear their take on the state of affairs and their observations. I had a few colleagues approach me asking me what all the buzz was about in India since leading US outlets like New York Times and Washington Post had picked up the news as well. It was a day full of excitement, questions, curiosity, and a ton of reading.

Dr. Vijay Sazawal (International Coordinator, Indo-American Kashmir Forum; Potomac, Maryland): I was having my breakfast and put on the Indian TV (India Today). I saw Mr. Amit Shah, the Union Home Minister, speaking in the Raj Sabha and the news banner at the bottom said that the discussion was being held regarding the removal of Article 370/35A. I could not believe it. I had expected some administrative changes because of the rumors going around in the valley before this date but this action took me by surprise.

Dr. Rajiv Pandit (Physician and Board Member, Hindu American Foundation; Dallas, Texas): I was with my family in a remote location in Africa, with virtually no internet connection, celebrating my 50th birthday.

I kept receiving fragmented messages saying things like “Congratulations”, “It’s finally happened”, “historic day”, “unbelievable”. I felt that these were a bit too dramatic to describe my birthday, so I figured something else was going on, like maybe someone a family member or a close friend had won a special award.

It wasn’t until one week later, when I finally had a stable internet connection, that I read the headline “Article 370 revoked in Kashmir”. I was stunned. My family asked me why I froze.

Yet my mind was racing. In one fell swoop 70 years of Kashmir’s stagnation and quagmire was gone, 30 years of the KP exodus could get rectified, rampant corruption would come to a halt, and the beauty of Kashmir’s land and people would see a resurgence.

Aarti Tikoo (Journalist; New Delhi/Kashmir, India): I got off the plane from Delhi to Srinagar and the first thing I heard at the airport from a colleague was the biggest news of my life—Article 370 and Article 35A had been nullified and J&K had been bifurcated into two union territories. I was hit by a whirlpool of thoughts—I began thinking what the reaction of Pakistan, Kashmiri separatists, soft-separatists and terror groups would be.  I began thinking what the news headline will be, who all I needed to visit and talk to, without a phone or internet since the government had imposed a communication blockade. It was much later I began thinking what it meant to me personally, my family, the memory of my dead grandparents who died in the grief of losing home and their whole world. We were driven out in 1990 when I was an eighth standard kid. Nobody in the family wanted to go back but I did go as an adult and a journalist after a gap of 12 years in 2002. But from 2002 till 2019, whenever I visited Kashmir, I always felt like a stranger in my homeland. There was no acknowledgment from Kashmir’s civil society and the educated class that we had been wronged. So I always felt like an outsider, an unwanted tourist in Kashmir. But on August 5, 2019, I felt I was home even as I began wondering if my sense of belonging had been granted at the cost of someone’s sense of loss. I felt reassured that I had not impinged on anyone’s rights or feelings when half a dozen Kashmiri Muslim friends told me privately the same day that they were as happy and relieved as I was. I can’t mention their names because they still face threat to their lives from Pakistani terror groups in Kashmir. For them, it was an end to the confusion and ambiguity Kashmir had lived in seven decades.

Following the repeal, what concerns did you have? Do you still have those concerns today?


Nisha Quasba: My immediate concerns were how the separatists and their followers will react to this action taken by the GoI. I knew there would be immediate opposition, as this move goes completely against any of their efforts to attain independence. Knowing the past decades of history of Kashmir, such types of actions are faced with great mounds of violence, attacks, and gruesome killings of innocent people. My concern then was that the number of deaths will substantially increase and peace – which is the ultimate goal in the valley – will never be reached. I continue to have those same concerns today.

Dr. Vijay Sazawal: My concerns had more to do with violence that would erupt in the valley, in spite of the curfews, etc. The mainstream politicians had historically alleged a bloodbath if such a change was made and renewed that threat many times in the days preceding August 5. Fortunately, the announcement created such a shock factor among the population that there was literally no violence in the streets. Locals told me later (I visited the valley post August 2019) that the shock had more to do with a loss of statehood rather than removal of the 370/35A, which was part of the BJP election manifesto.

Dr. Rajiv Pandit: I am concerned that forces that don’t want peace in Kashmir will ramp up efforts, such as terrorists and unfriendly neighbors. I am concerned that, as sweeping as this move was, it won’t translate to on-the-ground improvement in the rights of minorities, reclaiming property, building trust between communities, security, and economic development. Yes, I still have those concerns, since covid-19 has hampered the government’s ability to move ahead as fast as was hoped. Then there is China…

Aarti Tikoo: My biggest concern was the street violence and rioting of the nature that Kashmir had witnessed in 2016. The separatists sponsored by Pakistan in Kashmir had orchestrated massive violence in 2016 when Hizb commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter by the security forces. It was painful to see young kids getting killed and injured during those clashes. This concern has been largely addressed. Street violence, stone-pelting and rioting have drastically dropped in Kashmir.

Following the repeal, what were your hopes and expectations? Have they been met? If not, why do you think?


Nisha Quasba: I thought a year post abrogation, after all the news buzz had moved onto the next topic and the initial shock had faded that some level of peace would return to the valley. That hope I still have today though it has not been met. I do not think Kashmir even a year later has progressed from the angle of reconciliation, healing, or peace building efforts. I hope moving forward there can be a civil dialogue between the Kashmiri people and the central government to pave a path forward that makes Kashmiris feel that they are Indian and part of the subcontinent culture which it has been for hundreds of years.

Dr. Vijay Sazawal: It is too early to talk about meeting any “hopes and expectations” given that it has only been a year out of which covid has taken half the time. But I am disappointed that the central government has not made any statement about Kashmiri Pandits and their return to the homeland. A road map and a time schedule is long overdue.

Dr. Rajiv Pandit: Terrorism is down, and the government is making sincere efforts to bring in jobs, development, and confidence-building measures between the government and the people. More work needs to be done for economic development, and removing extremist ideology. Many people are still afraid to speak due to threats from terrorists.

Aarti Tikoo: My hope was that there will be spectacular development in the most backward areas of Jammu and Kashmir. My expectation was that the street violence in Kashmir will go down and the government will announce a proper plan for the return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits. Except for the significant drop in the street violence, I haven’t seen ANY spectacular development on any of the fronts yet but I am willing to give the government benefit of doubt because in the last one year, six months have been wasted in the coronavirus pandemic and the related lockdown. The previous six months were spent in trying to prevent and counter the violence perpetrated by Pakistan sponsored terror groups in Kashmir.

How do you view the western media coverage of the repeal of Articles 370 & 35A since Aug 5, 2019? Does this media coverage reflect your own experience as a Kashmiri Pandit? Do you see any changes in the media coverage in the last few months?


Nisha Quasba: I believe the western media turned the Kashmir story into something that was palatable and relatable to the American viewership by drawing fallacious parallels between the two governments and making comparisons that were historically inaccurate to peddle a specific point of view.

It conveniently ignored the plight of Kashmiri Hindus because by doing so it would paint the “self-determination” movement not as a peaceful struggle, but what it truly is: a movement to create a theocratic state which no western reader would agree with. To keep the story sympathetic to the separatist, the article pieces that came out focused solely on the actions of the GoI and never spoke to the violence and atrocities the “self-determination” clan had caused to the average Kashmiri resident. By showing a lopsided count of events, the articles nudged a viewer to get a very black and white view of the geopolitics of the region and not show the full picture.

Dr. Vijay Sazawal: Western media has played its nefarious games in so far as highlighting only negative and one-sided and, in many cases, incorrect portrayal of the situation in Kashmir. As I mentioned earlier I visited the valley after August 2019. I found that in spite of my first hand reports which I shared with journalists, the media was unwilling to be objective and balanced in its reporting. I am sorry to say that US Presidential politics also poisoned the waters and Democrats are taking a generally negative point of view regarding the [Indian] central government action in Kashmir. I was personally shocked when my eye-witness reports were not deemed as credible as the US media reports by a key staff member of a Mid-Western State US Senator who in the past has been vocal in his support for Kashmiri minorities (Pandits).

Dr. Rajiv Pandit:  The Western media and reality are as opposite as night and day. What I hear from people in J&K is entirely opposite of what the media is reporting. In the west, US and UN designated terrorists are referred to as “rebels”. In fact, the role of terrorism, as well as the corruption and ineptitude of previous federal and state governments, are almost entirely missing from Western reports.

Aarti Tikoo: The Western media has no historical understanding and knowledge of the Kashmir conflict, let alone the intricacies of the Indian constitution related to Kashmir. The Western media coverage has largely remained sympathetic to the Pakistani point of view on Kashmir. It remained true to its tradition by publishing and broadcasting lopsided view on the nullification of Articles 370 and 35A and on Kashmir in the last one year. If you see their gloom and doom predictions they made last year about Kashmir, none of it came true. I haven’t come across any substantial change in the media coverage in the last few months.


What recommendations do you have for the people and government of J&K and what would you like to see happen next?


Nisha Quasba: The people and the government need to start talking productively together. There needs to be an end to external nations and entities funding the movement that has left thousands dead and a valley plagued with unemployment and a plummeting economy. Development needs to come to Kashmir that is strategically mapped out with all stakeholders accounted for.

Dr. Vijay Sazawal: The biggest reason why our organization, and our sister organizations, the Indo-European Kashmir Forum (IEKF) based in London and Geneva, and the Indo-Canadian Kashmir Forum (ICKF) based in Ottawa, support the decision by the Government of India is because finally Kashmiri minorities, particularly the Kashmiri Pandits, will receive justice and be able to reclaim their ancestral lands from where they were driven out in 1989-1990. The ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Hindus from Kashmir valley is a disgraceful chapter in the history of free India, and it happened because all successive democratically elected Kashmiri Muslim politicians in Jammu and Kashmir took an umbrage under the Article 370 to resist any Central Government efforts to address the plight and suffering of Kashmiri Pandits and other minorities in the State and reverse their ethnic cleansing. Pandits have been living as refugees in their own country for the last 30 years.

The move by the Indian Government will also improve the security situation with respect to cross border terrorism and bring peace, harmony and stability in Jammu-Kashmir, now a new Union Territory of India.

I may add that the security situation is already improving in the State.

Dr. Rajiv Pandit: My recommendations are:

  1. Find a way to get 4G and limit separatist activity. The government has had 12 months to do it. The long term impact on development by this is greater than any other economic investment the government can make. It also builds resentment, even by people in Jammu.
  2. Rebuild trust. More positive engagement between police forces and the people. The Public Safety Act minimizes accountability. It needs to be modified. Not everyone in Kashmir is a terrorist. Most are actually fine with India.
  3. Report who is missing and/or detained.
  4. There continues to be corruption, seriously hampering the economic outlook for the rural, agricultural population, whose livelihoods were decimated by the lack of business (like purchase of their apples) due to the abrogation and the threats by terrorists.
  5. Find better representatives of the Kashmiri people than the current lot, some of whom have baggage and are known opportunists.

Aarti Tikoo: For people in Kashmir, I would like to urge them as their well wisher that they should not fall for any of the promises  of reversal of the August 5, 2019 decision. Any local politician or separatist who is trying to sell them this idea is essentially hoodwinking them as they were for the last seven decades. They have a bright future ahead as  citizens of democratic republic of India. They have the same rights as other citizens and they can accomplish and enjoy whatever any other citizen of India is entitled to. Its time for Kashmiri society to reject violence and terror unequivocally and move on. For people in Jammu, I would like to urge them to get prepared to compete with the businesses of Punjab and the rest of India. I would like to see rapid development in Udhampur, Doda, Baderwah, Kishtwar, Ramban, Rajouri, Poonch, Kupwara and Handwara areas of Jammu and Kashmir. I would also like the government to bring in a legislation on the prevention of ethnic cleansing and genocide of Kashmiri Pandits before a blueprint of their return and rehabilitation is prepared. In addition, I would like to see the government making efforts to secularise education in Kashmir where religious radicalization remains a major challenge.

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10/30/22Sanatana Dharma in the Movies

Hinduism is often referred to as Sanatana Dharma (the ‘eternal way’), indicating the religion’s emphasis on eternal truths that are applicable to all of humanity. Thus, it makes sense that a medley of mainstream movies could convey Hindu ideals that resonate strongly with audiences, while not actually talking directly about anything understood by the public as Hindu.

In Groundhog Day, for example, when cynical TV weatherman Phil Collins discovers he is trapped in a time loop, living the same day over and over, only to be released after transforming his character from an egocentric narcissist to a thoughtful and kindhearted philanthropist, it’s hard not to be reminded of the Hindu notion of samsara, a cycle of reincarnation from which a soul attains liberation by realizing its divine nature after lifetimes of spiritual practice. 

Or in The Matrix when Neo chooses the red pill of knowledge over the blue pill of ignorance, and is subsequently unplugged from an illusory world and cast into the truth of reality, the film seems to be conveying a foundational Vedic teaching: that we must transcend our own ignorance — a product of maya, literally meaning “illusion” in Sanskrit — to uncover our true nature. Hindu concepts appear to be further exhibited in Neo’s relationship with Morpheus, which starkly reflects that of a disciple and guru, as the latter reveals to the former the knowledge he needs in order to understand this “true nature.” As Neo’s faith in Morpheus’ words develops, so does his capacity to see past the illusion of the matrix, garnering him the ability to manipulate the laws of this false reality, similar to the Jedi and yogis described earlier.

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10/29/22Hinduism and American Thought

Hindu Americans and the Vedanta philosophy have significantly influenced notable intellectuals such as Henry  David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, J.D. Salinger, Christopher Isherwood, Aldous Huxley, Huston Smith, and Joseph Campbell just to name a few. Some feel that it started back In 1812, when Thomas Jefferson recommended to John Adams the writings of Joseph Priestley, a Unitarian minister who had published works that compared Christianity to other religions — Hinduism in particular — Adam’s interest was piqued.

Going through Priestley’s writings, Adams became riveted by Hindu thought, as he launched into a five-year exploration of Eastern philosophy. As his knowledge of Hinduism and ancient Indian civilization grew, so did his respect for it. This legacy took shape in the 1830s as Transcendentalism, a philosophical, social, and literary movement that emphasized the spiritual goodness inherent in all people despite the corruption imposed on an individual by society and its institutions. Espousing that divinity pervades all of nature and humanity, Transcendentalists believed divine experience existed in the everyday, and held progressive views on women’s rights, abolition, and education. At the heart of this movement were three of America’s most influential authors: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, and Henry David Thoreau.

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10/27/22The Hindu Diaspora in Afghanistan

Before becoming an Islamic state, Afghanistan was once home to a medley of religious practices, the oldest being Hinduism. A long time ago, much of Afghanistan was part of an ancient kingdom known as Gandhara, which also covered parts of northern Pakistan.Today, many of Afghanistan’s province names, though slightly altered, are clearly Sanskrit in origin, hinting at the region’s ancient past. To cite a few examples, Balkh comes from the Sanskrit Bhalika, Nangarhar from Nagarahara, and Kabul from Kubha. Though Gandhara’s earliest mention can be found in the Vedas, it is better known for its connections to the Hindu epics the Mahabharata and Ramayana. There is also the historic Asamai temple in Kabul located on a hill named after the Hindu Goddess of hope, Asha. The temple has survived numerous conflicts and attacks but it still stands. The temple is a remnant from Hindu Shahi Kings, who ruled from the Kabul Valley as far back as 850 CE. However, Hindus are indigenous but endangered minorities in Afghanistan, numbering approximately 700 out of a community that recently included over 8,000 members. Many have left for new homes, include in New York which is home to a large Afghani Hindu population.

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10/26/22Dogs and Diwali

According to the 2021-2022 National Pet Owners Survey, 70% of U.S. households (90.5 million homes) owned a pet as of 2022, with 69 million U.S. households having a pet dog. Recognized for their loyalty, service, companionship, and the special relationship they have with humans, Hinduism’s reverence for dogs is expansive, as they are worshiped in festivals and appreciated in connection to a number of Hindu gods and stories. Observed in Nepal, Bhutan, and the Indian states of Sikkim and West Bengal, Kukar Tihar (the 2nd day of Tihar) honors dogs as messengers that help guide spirits of the deceased across the River of Death. In the Mahabharata, Yudhisthira, his brothers, and the queen Draupadi renounced their kingdom to ascend to the heavens. However, Yudhisthira was the only one that survived along with a dog that had joined them. Yudhisthira refused to go to heaven without the dog, who turned out to be Yamaraj, the God of Death. Sarama, the “female dog of the gods,” was famously asked by Indra to retrieve a herd of cows that were stolen. When the thieves were caught, they tried to bribe Sarama but she refused and now represents those who do not wish to possess but instead find what has been lost. The symbolic import of dogs is further driven in connection with Dattatreya, as he is commonly depicted with four of them to represent the Vedas, the Yugas, the stages of sound, and the inner forces of a human being (will, faculty, hope, and desire).

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10/25/22Black Panther

In 2018, the long-running Marvel comic series Black Panther, was brought to the big screen. A more prominent scene is when M’baku, a character vying for the throne of the fictional country of Wakanda, challenges T’Challa/Black Panther, and yells, “Glory to Hanuman.” However, despite dharma as an unsaid aspect of the characters’ interactions, Black Panther relies slightly more on Hindu symbolism than philosophy. But the significance of Hanuman as a transcendent deity cannot be overlooked, especially at a time when dialogues about global migration, the right to worship, and access to natural resources are becoming more overtly racialized. The film provides more than just an entertainment escape: it reimagines a world in which the current racial and theological paradigms are challenged forcefully. With the film expected to have at least several sequels, there will be more opportunities to reference Hinduism and Hindu iconography.

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One of the most celebrated Hindu festivals, Diwali (dee-VAH-lee) or Deepavali (dee-PAH-va-lee) commemorates the victory of good over evil during the course of five days. The word refers to rows of diyas — or clay lamps — which are put all around homes and places of worship. The light from these lamps symbolizes the illumination within all of us, which can overcome ignorance, represented by darkness. Devotees gather in local temples, homes, or community centers, to spend time with loved ones, make positive goals, and appreciate life.

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On this day, because Diwali is a time for dana (charitable giving) and seva (selfless service), Hindus traditionally perform a deep cleaning of their homes and surroundings, as cleanliness is believed to invoke the presence and blessings of Goddess Lakshmi who, as mentioned earlier, is the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. Many will also make rangoli or kolum (colored patterns of flowers, powder, rice, or sand made on the floor), which are also said to invite auspiciousness. Observers thus begin Diwali by cultivating a spirit of generosity, doing things like giving money to charities, feeding the hungry, and endeavoring to help those in need.

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10/22/22The Hindu Diaspora in Bali

The spread of Hinduism to Southeast Asia established powerful Hindu kingdoms in the region, most notably the Khmer Empire that encompassed modern Cambodia and Thailand, and influential kingdoms in the Indonesia archipelago. Though Buddhism and Hinduism co-existed in the region for several centuries, Buddhism (and Islam in Indonesia) eventually replaced Hinduism as a primary religion. Today, there are approximately five million Hindus in Indonesia, primarily in Bali. As Bali is roughly 90 percent Hindu, this makes it a religious enclave in a country that contains the world’s largest Muslim population. There are also roughly 60,000 Cham Hindus in Vietnam, and smaller numbers in Thailand. Hinduism in Fiji, Malaysia, and Singapore is a much more recent phenomenon, with Hindus arriving in the 19th and early 20th centuries as indentured laborers. Today, Hindus are prominent in politics and business in all three countries, though they continue to experience discrimination as religious minorities.

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10/21/22Smithsonian/American History Exhibit - American Indian experience

In 2014, the first Smithsonian exhibition chronicling the experiences of Indian Americans, many of whom are Hindus,  in the US was unveiled at their National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. This exhibit was one of the largest ever produced by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, occupying 5,000 square feet and reaching millions of visitors. The message behind “Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation,” aimed to dispel stereotypes and myths that have followed Indian immigrants since they first arrived in the U.S. in 1790. The exhibit explored the heritage, daily experiences, and the many diverse contributions that immigrants and Indian Americans have made to the United States. The exhibition at the Museum of Natural History includes historical and contemporary images and artifacts, including those that document histories of discrimination and resistance, convey daily experiences, and symbolize achievements across the professions. Music and visual artworks provide commentary on the Indian American experience and form an important component of the exhibition. In 2017, this exhibit went on the road, traveling from city to city so that all could see the impact of Indians on American culture.

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10/20/22Swami Yogananda

Paramahansa Yogananda was a Hindu monk and yogi who came to the United States in 1920 and lived here for the last 32 years of his life. He is considered to be the first major Hindu Guru to settle in the United States. When Swami Yogananda arrived in the US, he made his first speech, made to the International Congress of Religious Liberals, on “The Science of Religion,” and was enthusiastically received. It was soon after that he founded the Self-Realization Fellowship (also known as Yogoda Satsanga Society (YSS) of India) and introduced millions of Americans to the ancient science and philosophy of meditation and Kriya yoga (path of attainment). In 1927, he was invited to the White House by President Calvin Coolidge, making Swami Yogananda the first prominent Indian and Hindu to be hosted in the White House.

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For those of us who are Hindu, we have noticed that some of the biggest Hollywood films produced in the last several decades have mirrored many of Hinduism's most fundamental philosophical ideas. One example is Avatar, a film named for the Sanskrit word avatāra (‘descent’), in which the protagonist, Jake Sully, enters and explores an alien world called Pandora by inhabiting the body of an indigenous 10-foot, blue-skinned being, an idea taken from Hinduism’s depictions of the various avatars of the blue god Vishnu, who are said to descend into our world for upholding dharma. Instead of aligning with the interests of the humans, who merely want to mine Pandora for the valuable mineral unobtanium, Sully fights alongside the alien humanoids native to the world, called Na’vi, who live in harmony with nature, believe all life is sacred, and that all life is connected by a divine force — teachings synonymous with Hinduism. Thus, similar to the avatars of Vishnu, Sully defends and preserves a spiritual culture by defeating those who would destroy it for materialistic pursuit. While this film doesn’t indicate in any direct way that they have anything to do with Hinduism, it’s clear they are communicating Hindu ideas that everyone relates to and understands on a profound level.

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10/18/22Swami Prabhupada

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), also known as the Hare Krishna movement, was founded in 1966 by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, a highly respected Vaishnava  (devotion to the god Vishnu and his incarnations avatars) scholar and monk. At the age of 70, Swami Prabhupada traveled from India to New York City to bring the Bhakti tradition, or Krishna Consciousness, to the west. In the 11 years before his passing in 1977, Srila Prabhupada translated, with elaborate commentaries, 60 volumes of Vaishnava literature; established more than 100 temples on six continents; and initiated 5,000 disciples. Today, his writings are studied in universities around the globe and are translated into nearly 100 languages. To date, ISKCON has over 400 temples,  dozens of rural communities and eco-sustainable projects, and nearly 100 vegetarian restaurants world-wide with 56 of them in the US. 

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10/17/22The Hindu Diaspora in Africa

Hinduism came in waves to Africa, with Southern Africa getting Hindu workers during the early years of British colonization, while East and West Africa experienced Hindu migration during the 20th century. Hinduism’s roughly 0.2% presence in Africa is seen as so inconsequential, most data organizations don’t even bother explicitly mentioning it in their census reports. But Hinduism is Ghana's fastest growing religion and one in which there are steady populations in both Northern and Southern African states. Durban is now home to most of South Africa’s 1.3 million Indians, making it, according to some sources, the largest Indian city outside of India, and thus a most powerful hub of Hindu practice. In the US, there are both communities of African Hindus who have migrated, as well as Black Hindus, who according to the 2019 Pew Survey, make up 2% of the Hindu population in the US.

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10/16/22Star Wars

George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, drew much of the inspiration for this major cultural phenomenon from the teachings of his mentor who was a lifelong student of Vedanta. In these films, many aspects of Hinduism are interwoven with the story. Some include Hanuman (Chewbaca and Ewoks), Shakti (force,energy), Yodha (Yoda), Brahman (infinite being). Besides the many philosophical parallels that can be highlighted between Star Wars and Hinduism, Star Wars also exhibits similarities in story structure and character roles to one of India’s famous epics, the Ramayana. Never seen the movie? Now might be the time to see how universally relatable Hindu thought can truly be.

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While it’s synonymous to meditation, and seen simply as a doorway to tranquility for yogic practitioners, the true meaning of Om is deeply embedded in Hindu philosophy.

The word Om is defined by Hindu scripture as being the original vibration of the universe, which all other vibrations are able to manifest. Within Hinduism, the meaning and connotations of Om is perceived in a variety of ways. Though heard and often written as “om,” due to the way it sounds when it is repeatedly chanted, the sacred syllable is originally and more accurately spelled as “aum.” Broken down, the three letters of A – U – M represent a number of sacred trinities such as different conditions of consciousness (waking state, dreaming state, and deep sleep state), the deities in charge of the creation, preservation, and destruction of the universe ( Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva), aspects of time (past, present, and future), among many others. 

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10/28/22Dr. Anandibai Joshi

Dr. Anandi Gopal Joshi is credited with being the first woman from India to study medicine in the United States. Born in Bombay in 1865, she was married at the age of ten to an older man who had been her teacher. Dr. Joshi had a child at the age of 13, but the child died when only 10 days old. She believed that with better medical care, the child would have lived, and she frequently cited this as motivation for her desire to attend medical school. Her husband encouraged her in her academic pursuits and in 1883, Joshee joined the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, now known as the Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. She graduated in 1886 with her degree in medicine; her M.D. thesis focused on Hindu obstetrics. Unfortunately,  Dr. Joshi was only able to practice medicine for a few months before passing away from tuberculosis.

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10/13/22The Hindu Diaspora in Guyana

Hinduism is the religion of almost 25% of Guyana’s population, making it the country with the highest percentage of Hindus in the Western Hemisphere. But from British professional recruiting agents targeting rural and uneducated Indians, to the aggressiveness of Christian proselytization of Hindus with a promise of a better life, Hinduism has been in a steady decline for many decades with many escaping to the United States for better opportunities and to practice their religion freely. Today, over 80% of Guyanese Americans live in the Northeastern United States with heavy concentrations in New Jersey and in New York, where a “Little Guyana”  helps these immigrants stay connected to their Guyanese roots.

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Hinduism Around the World

10/12/22Karwa Chauth

Karwa Chauth or Karva Chauth (kuhr-vah-CHOATH) is a North Indian holiday in which wives fast for the longevity and health of their husbands, however, many unmarried women celebrate in hopes of meeting their ideal life partner. Typically, wives spend the day preparing gifts to exchange, and fasting until the moon is visible. It is believed that its light symbolizes love and blessings of a happy life. While there are varying legends behind this holiday’s traditions and meaning, the message of honoring the relationships women form with their family and community prevails.

Karwa Chauth

Hindu Holidays & Dharmic Days Calendar

10/11/22Hinduism and Music

As sound vibration can affect the most subtle element of creation, it is interpreted in Hindu scriptures that spiritual sound vibrations can affect the atman (soul) in a particularly potent way. Such spiritual sound vibrations are said to have the ability to awaken our original spiritual consciousness and help us remember that we are beyond the ambivalence of life, and actually originate from the Divine. As such, the main goal of many types of Hindu musical expression is to help stir us out of our spiritual slumber by evoking feelings of love and connection that help us to better perceive the presence of the Divine within all. Some of the more popular examples of musical expressions within Hinduism include shlokas (verse, or poem), mantras (sacred syllables repeated in prayer), kirtans (congregational singing of mantras), and bhajans (devotional songs). You can find musical spiritual expressions through the US in temples,  Mandirs, and community centers.

The Power of Music According to Hinduism

What is Kirtan?


Yoga is considered Hinduism’s gift to humanity. At its broadest, yoga, from the root word “yuj” in Sanskrit, means to unite. Most Hindu texts discuss yoga as a practice to control the senses and ultimately, the mind. The most famous is the Bhagavad Gita (dating back to 6th-3rd Century BCE), in which Krishna speaks of four types of yoga – bhakti, or devotion; jnana, or knowledge; karma, or action; and dhyana, or concentration (often referred to as raja yoga, though not all sources agree on the term) – as paths to achieve moksha (enlightenment), the ultimate goal according to Hindu understanding. According to a 2016 study,  in the United States there are an estimated 36.7 million people currently practicing yoga in the United States.


The Hindu Roots of Yoga

10/9/22Swami Vivekananda

According to Vedic cosmology, 108 is the basis of creation, representing the universe and all our existence. As the soul is encased in two types of bodies: the physical body (made of earth, water, fire, air, and ether) and the subtle body (composed of intelligence, mind and ego), Swami Viveknanda is often attributed with bringing Hindu teachings and practices — such as yoga and transcendental meditation — to Western audiences. In 1893, he was officially introduced to the United States at the World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago, where in his speech he called for religious tolerance and described Hinduism as “a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance.” The day that Swami Vivekananda delivered his speech at the Parliament of Religions is now known as ‘World Brotherhood Day.’ And his birthday, known as Swami Vivekananda Jayanti, is honored on January 12th each year. On this day he is commemorated and recognized for his contributions as a modern Hindu monk and respected guru of the Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism. In 1900, Swami Viveknanda founded the Vedanta Society in California and to date there are 36 Vedanta Society Centers in the United States.

Swami Vivekananda Influenced Countless Americans

Hindu Holidays & Dharmic Days Calendar


According to Vedic cosmology, 108 is the basis of creation, representing the universe and all our existence. As the soul is encased in two types of bodies: the physical body (made of earth, water, fire, air, and ether) and the subtle body (composed of intelligence, mind and ego), 108 plays a significant role in keeping these two bodies healthily connected. Hindus believe the body holds seven chakras, or pools of energy, which begin at the bottom of the spine and go all the way down to the top of the head and it is believed there are 108 energy lines that converge to form the heart chakra. Ayurveda says there are 108 hidden spots in the body called marma points, where various tissues like muscles, veins, and ligaments meet. These are vital points of life force, and when they are out of balance, energy cannot properly flow throughout the body. Sun salutations, yogic asanas that honor the sun god Surya, are generally completed in nine rounds of 12 postures, totaling 108. Mantra meditation is usually chanted on a set of 108 beads.   In Hinduism there are 108 Upanishads, the sacred texts of wisdom from ancient sages. Additionally, in the Sanskrit alphabet, there are 54 letters. Each letter has a feminine, or Shakti, and masculine, or Shiva, quality. 54 multiplied by 2 equals 108. Ultimately, breathwork, chanting, studying scripture, and asana’s help harmonize one’s energy with the energy of the supreme spiritual source. These processes become especially effective when they are performed in connection with the number 108. Hindu scriptures strive to remind people of this divine commonality by continuously highlighting the innumerable threads connecting everything in existence. One of these threads is the number 108.

5 Things to know about 108

Here's How the Number 108 Binds Us to the Universe

10/7/22The Hindu Diaspora in Trinidad/Tobago

A decade after slavery was abolished in 1834, the British government began importing indentured labor from India to work on their estates in other countries such as Trinidad and Tobago.  From 1845 to 1917, the ships would continue to arrive, carrying over 140,000 Indians to the island, facilitating Trinidad's population growth from Indian laborers. Today, there are roughly 240,000 declared Hindus in Trinidad and Tobago, comprising about 18% of the island’s population. There are a total of about 300 temples on the island, welcoming all who wish to enter and where many beloved Hindu festivals take place. But for some, the migration journey doesn’t end as New York and Florida have seen the development of large Indo-Caribbean communities.

Hinduism beyond India: Trinidad and Tobago


From ancient tribes to present-day devotees, tattoos have held a special place in Hinduism for centuries. In the Indian states of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, the Ramnaami community invoked Rama’s protection with tattoos of the name “Rama” in Sanskrit on every inch of their skin, including the tongue and inside the lips.The Mahabharata tells the story of the Pandavas that were exiled to the Kutch district of Gujarat. Today, their descendants - members of the Ribari tribe - live as their ancestors did, with women covered in tattoos that symbolize their people’s strong spirit for survival. Some Hindus consider tattoos as protective emblems,such as tattoos of Hanuman are often used to relieve physical or mental pain. People will often get tattoos of other deities to invoke their blessings. Mehndi, a plant-based temporary tattoo, is commonly done at weddings and religious ceremonies as a form of celebration of love and spirituality. While tattoos have been in Hindu communities for centuries, tattoos as symbols of honor, devotion, and even fashion are incredibly popular today. Hindus and non Hindus alike adorn themselves with Hindu emblems and tattoos that reflect Hindu teachings.

Guidelines for Commercial Use of Hindu Images


Navaratri (nuhv-uh-RA-three) is a nine night celebration of the feminine divine that occurs four times a year — the spring and fall celebrations being amongst the more widely celebrated. Some traditions honor the nine manifestations of Goddess Durga, while others celebrate the three goddesses (Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati) with three days dedicated to each. This is a time to recognize the role in which the loving, compassionate, and gentle — yet sometimes powerful and fierce — feminine energy plays in our lives.

Nine Things to Know About Navaratri

Hindu Holidays & Dharmic Days Calendar


Dussehra (duh-sheh-RAH) or Vijayadashmi (vi-juhyuh-dushuh-mee) celebrates the victory of Lord Rama over the ten-headed demon King Ravana. This also marks the end of Ramalila — a brief retelling of the Ramayana and the story of Rama, Sita, and Lakshman in the form of dramatic reading or dance. It also signifies the end of negativity and evil within us (vices, biases, prejudices) for a fresh new beginning. Dussehra often coincides with the end of Navratri and Duga Puja, and celebrations can last ten days, with huge figures of Ravana set ablaze as a reminder that good always prevails over evil.

Hindu Holidays & Dharmic Days Calendar

Hinduism 101 & Women

10/3/22Ahimsa + Cow sanctuaries

Many Hindus hold reverence for the cow as a representation of mother earth, fertility, and Hindu values of selfless service, strength, dignity, and non-harming. Though not all Hindus are vegetarian, for this reason many traditionally abstain from eating beef. This is often linked with the concept of ahimsa (non-violence), which can be applied to diet choices and our interactions with the environment, and potentially determine our next birth, according to the doctrine of karma. This is part of the reason that some Hindus may choose a vegetarian lifestyle as an expression of ahimsa as well as explains the growing number of cow protection projects that are led by individuals who have felt compelled to put their Hindu values into practice. The US is home to several cow protection projects and sanctuaries

Dairy Is Traditionally Sattvic Food, but the Way We Treat Cows Today Can Be Tamasic

Cultured Meat and Animal-Free Dairy Upends the Plant-Based Food Discussion

10/1/2022First Hindu temple in US

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 facilitated the journey of many Indian immigrants to the United States. In this new land, many created home shrines and community temples to practice and hold pujas (services). As Hindu American populations grew in metropolitan and rural areas, so did the need to find a permanent temple site for worship. In 1906, the Vedanta Society built the Old Temple in San Francisco, California but as this was not considered a formal temple, many don’t credit this with being the first. Others believe it is the Shiva Murugan Temple built in 1957 in Concord, California, whereas others believe it is the Maha Vallabha Ganapati Devanstanam in New York that should be considered the first. Today, there are nearly 1,000 temples in the United States . Regardless of where you live, you have the right to practice your faith.

A Guide To Temple Safety and Security

5 Things to Know About Visiting a Hindu Temple