Hinduphobia and anti-Hindu hatred can manifest in many ways both consciously and unconsciously — from a 6th-grader being called an idol worshipper and feeling marginalized in their class, to a college student being targeted and shamed by their South Asian professor as a heritage student; from an elected official being accused of dual loyalty and held to a double standard because of her stance on US-India relations, to a Hindu American being called a Nazi supporter for the same.  There are also those who deny the existence of Hinduphobia and anti-Hindu hatred, which in itself can be a manifestation of Hinduphobia and anti-Hindu hatred.

Indeed the right to free speech protects hate speech. But having a legal right to say something doesn’t make it right or true. When the spectrum of terms and tropes listed in this glossary are used regularly, over time, the perception of Hindus as grotesque, untrustworthy, bigoted, evil, or violent grows and generates greater and greater levels of danger to Hindus’ lives and wellbeing. 

It is our hope that with greater understanding of the ways that Hinduphobia and anti-Hindu hate manifests around us, Americans at large will be better able to recognize malintended inaccuracies, false allegations, and hateful attacks in order to stand up and speak out together to protect the well-being of Hindus and promote dignity and mutual respect for all people.

Have a word or phrase you think we should add? Please send it to info@hinduamerican.org.

Bhakt

Definition

A devotee; derived from the word bhakti, a Sanskrit term meaning “devotion,” or “attachment.” Bhakti is known as the yoga of devotion and a means by which one can connect to the Divine.

Why it’s Hinduphobic

This term is often used as an epithet to attribute blind support to Hindus of Prime Minister Modi. 

It presents Hindus through a simplistic, political binary of for or against. This in conjunction with portrayals of Narendra Modi and his political party as supremacist or fascist, makes its use particularly egregious. It denies Hindus any of the underlying political philosophy, ethics, guiding principles, sophistication, or nuance that might inform their opinions, leanings, or support of individual policies or politics generally.

The bhakt label is intended to demonize Hindus and delegitimize the causes they advocate for or concerns they express.

Brahmanism

Definition

Brahmanism is a term created by 19th- and early 20th-century European Indologists (people who study India) to describe and define Hinduism as a religion made up by the Brahmin priestly class. While it lost currency among many religion scholars by the mid-1980s and viewed as a form of neo-colonialism, some continue to use the term and its derivatives.

(Derivatives: Brahminism, Brahminical)

Why it’s Hinduphobic

An invented word that is not seen in Hindu texts and not used by Hindus to define, describe, or understand their traditions, Brahmanism as a term and concept has its roots in white and Christian supremacy, as well as anti-Semitism. 

Protestant bias and widespread Christian animosity towards Jews, as well as a popular racist theory about Hinduism’s origins emerging as a result of nomadic light-skinned Indo-European tribes overthrowing a dark-skinned indigenous civilization, largely colored European approaches to studying Hinduism. Brahmins, or the priests who were the torchbearers of Hindu teachings and traditions, were equated with their Jewish counterparts, and similarly demonized by European Indologists. 

The term continues to be used uncritically by some in academia, and perpetuates a racist, anti-Semitic Eurocentric construction about Hinduism and Hindus, discounting Hindu understandings of their own history, philosophies, and traditions. 

It is also widely used by neo-Buddhist and South Asian activists to derogatorily refer to Hindus and Hinduism in spite of such activists’ strong and vocal opposition to white supremacy and the sordid legacy of imperialism and colonialism. Their use seeks to demonize Hindus and delegitimize Hinduism.

For more see: Why “Brahminical” is an anti-Hindu slur

Caption: In November 2018, Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, elicited widespread condemnation in India and from across the global Hindu diaspora for posing for a picture with a poster displaying a graphic which said, “Smash Brahminical Patriarchy.” 

Source: feminismindia.com

Caption: This tweet is a good example of the inherent contradiction of using a term historically rooted in white supremacy and colonialism and claiming to have a legacy of resisting the same.

Source: www.twitter.com

Cow piss drinker

Definition
Someone who drinks cow urine.

(Alternatives: cow urine drinker)

Why it’s Hinduphobic

This term is an expression of contempt used in reference to both the reverence Hindus hold for the cow as a representation of mother earth, fertility, and Hindu values of selfless service, strength, dignity, and non-harming, as well as the practice of drinking cow urine for medicinal purposes.

Ayurveda, the ancient system of allopathic and holistic medicine, prescribes cow urine for its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties and as part of both preventative and curative therapies. Though cow urine is used medicinally throughout the world, including India, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, and Sudan, this term crudely and derogatorily refers to only Hindus.

In September 2019, for example, Furkan Khan, a Delhi-based producer for NPR, posted a bigoted tweet in which she stated, “If Indians leave Hinduism, they will will be solving most of their problems what with all the piss drinking and dung worshipping.”

In February 2019, in his last video message, the Islamist suicide bomber who killed 40+ Indian security personnel in Pulwama District, Kashmir said, “Listen to me you Indians, we are going to unleash such terror on people like you who drink the urine of cows won’t be able to contain.”

Source: www.twitter.com

Cow worshipper

Definition

Someone who worships cows.

(Alternatives: cow lover; cow kisser)

Why it’s Hinduphobic

While some Hindus may describe reverence of the cow as worship in certain contexts, this term is a slur commonly used to refer to the reverence Hindus hold for the cow as a representation of mother earth and fertility, as well as Hindu values of selfless service, strength, dignity, and ahimsa (non-harming).

A reddit post from 2019 about then presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard’s policies is a good example of its Hinduphobic use. It is also used frequently in anti-Hindu South Asian activism as well as some Christian and Muslim rhetoric.

Source: www.reddit.com

Source: www.al-islam.org/

Devil worshipper

Definition

Someone who worships or has religious faith in devils.

Why It’s Hinduphobic

This term is an expression of contempt used in some Christian and Muslim rhetoric in reference to Hindus and Hinduism. It views Hindu Gods and Goddesses as satanic and is rooted in those making claims of religious supremacy and exclusivity of salvation and access to God, Truth, etc. through Christianity or Islam.

(Alternatives: demonic; diabolical; satanic)

Source: www.jesus-is-savior.com

Dothead

Definition

Someone who wears a Hindu forehead marking such as a bindi or tilak. Such markings are widely recognized as a symbol of the Hindu tradition.

(alternative: Buttonhead)

Why it’s Hinduphobic

This slur is commonly used to refer to Hindus. In the fall of 1987, threats and violent attacks against Hindus and other people of Indian origin spiked when a street gang calling itself “The Dotbusters” set out to take “any means necessary” to drive “Indians out of New Jersey.” The members of the gang were not convicted for their crimes, and the court ruled that their murder of Navroze Mody was not a hate crime. The invocation of the term is a reminder of the hate and injustice that the Hindu American community has faced.
“I’m writing about your article during July about the abuse of Indian People. Well I’m here to state the other side. I hate them, if you had to live near them you would also. We are an organization called the Dotbusters. We have been around for 2 [sic] years. We will go to any extreme to get Indians to move out of Jersey City. If I’m walking down the street and I see a Hindu and the setting is right, I will hit him or her. We plan some of our most extreme attacks such as breaking windows, breaking car windows, and crashing family parties. We use the phone books and look up the name Patel. Have you seen how many of them there are? Do you even live in Jersey City? Do you walk down Central avenue and experience what its [sic] like to be near them: we have and we just don’t want it anymore. You said that they will have to start protecting themselves because the police cannot always be there. They will never do anything. They are a week [sic] race Physically [sic] and mentally. We are going to continue our way. We will never be stopped.”

Dung worshipper

Definition

Someone who worships cow dung.

Why it’s Hinduphobic

This term is an expression of contempt commonly used in reference to the reverence Hindus hold for the cow as a representation of mother earth and fertility, as well as Hindu values of selfless service, strength, dignity, and ahimsa (non-harming). It also references the use of cow dung in some Hindu rituals as well as more broadly as bio-fertilizer, biofuel, and other uses. See examples from cow piss drinker and cow worshipper.

Dual loyalty

Definition

Someone who has two separate loyalties or allegiances that potentially entails a conflict of interest.

(Alternatives: Hindu nationalists, Nazis)

Why it’s Hinduphobic

Accusations of dual loyalty against politically engaged Hindu Americans have become increasingly commonplace. The charges are at times subtle and seek to raise suspicions about Hindu “American-ness,” attribute malintent to Hindu Americans, and falsely place them as “arms” or “weapons” of an Indian political movement and the excesses of Indian political discourse.

It paints Hindu Americans as inherently anti-Muslim and anti-Christian, and as seeking special rights and privileges as minorities in the US, and at the same time, wanting to strip minorities of rights in India. Some have even baselessly accused Hindu Americans of funding violence against minorities in India. It holds Hindu American elected officials and appointees to a different standard than non-Hindu and often falsely alleges impropriety related to campaign contributions from Hindu Americans both to politicians and parties in the US and India. Financial contributions by foreign nationals to any Indian political party are in contravention of Indian law absent registering with the Government of India. Registration records detailing foreign individuals and entities sending funds to India from abroad, recipients, and the amount of funds received is publicly available. Yet, allegations of this kind, which are essentially accusing individuals of violating the law, are rarely if ever substantiated.

Accusations of dual loyalty are intended to demonize Hindu Americans and delegitimize the causes they advocate for or concerns they express, and ultimately, silence them in the public square.

Source: www.theintercept.com

Exotic

Definition
Originating in or characteristic of a distant foreign country.

(Alternatives: “caste, cows, curry” or “caste, cows, karma”)

Why it’s Hinduphobic

The “exotification” of people and cultures from Africa, Asia, Australia, and Latin America, and by Europeans has a long history. Such narratives in the Indian context, dating back to Mughal and European colonial rule, paint Hindus and Hinduism as primitive, animal-like, sensational, and absurd and continue to be perpetuated through both academia and pop culture. Combined with an “erotic” lens at times, these frames serve to dehumanize, demonize, and delegitimize the Hindu tradition and its adherents. They also simultaneously mystify and put Hindus and people of Indian descent or origin, especially women, on an unrealistic pedestal. All together, narratives that exoticize and eroticize Hindus and Hinduism are especially harmful as they get internalized and make the abuse and disenfranchisement of Hindu communities easier and largely undetectable in the West.

Read: Reza Aslan’s ‘Believer’ sensationalizes and stereotypes Hindus

Hindu fatalism

Definition

Fatalism is the idea that no matter what one does, the outcome will be the same because it is predetermined.

Why it’s Hinduphobic

Hindus are portrayed as cruel, selfish, less charitable, and a host of other negative traits because Hinduism supposedly teaches that people who are suffering “deserve it” because of their negative past karma. This portrayal is a gross misrepresentation of Hindu teachings about karma. The insinuation is that Hindus believe they are absolved from the obligation of alleviating others’ suffering because any suffering is the result of past karma.

The law of karma holds that every action has a reaction or outcome. When a person’s actions are selfless and righteous, they yield positive outcomes. If actions are negative, they yield suffering. The karma of an individual’s actions may be experienced immediately, later in life, or possibly in a future life or lives. Hindu teachings also insist that a person’s response to suffering should be informed by wisdom, meaning a key component to incurring selfless and righteous karma is acting in ways to alleviate the suffering of all living beings.

Heathen

Definition

According to the Oxford Dictionary of Difficult Words, a heathen is someone “who does not belong to a widely held religion (esp. one who is not a Christian, Jew, or Muslim) as regarded by those who do: bringing Christianity to the heathens; a follower of a polytheistic religion , heathen people collectively , esp (in biblical use) those who did not worship the God of Israel; an unenlightened person; a person regarded as locking culture or moral principles; unenlightened or uncivilized.

Why it’s Hinduphobic

This term is an expression of contempt used in some Christian and Muslim rhetoric in reference to Hindus and Hinduism. It views Hindus and Hinduism as uncivilized, barbaric, bloody, and idolatrous and is rooted in those making claims of religious supremacy and exclusivity of salvation and access to God, Truth, etc. through Christianity or Islam.

Heritage Learner

Definition

Generally a “heritage learner” is a technical term for a language student who already has certain linguistic skills when they enter a classroom to learn other aspects of the language, such as script or grammar. Some South Asian professors refer derogatorily to Hindu students of Indian origin as “heritage students,” a derivative of “heritage learner.”

When it’s Hinduphobic

“Heritage student” in the context of South Asian studies, is a derogatory term used to refer to students of Indian origin or Hindu students. Such students, when enrolled in courses on or related to Hinduism, Indian history, Sanskrit, etc. are viewed as having been conditioned with generally positive views on their religion and culture. Some South Asian professors, especially those engaged in scholar-activism, view the presence of such students as imposing an additional burden of “re-educating” or “deprogramming” them, and replacing their understanding with colonial or orientalist narratives or narratives which rely on selective translations or conjecture for to fit a particular political ideology.

Hindutvavadi

Definition

Someone who espouses or promotes Hindutva.

(Derivatives: Sanghi, Hindu nationalist, Hindu supremacist, Nazi, Hindutva, Hindu nationalism, Hindu supremacy)

Why it’s Hinduphobic

There is no universally accepted definition nor is there a uniformly held understanding of the word “Hindutva.” Nonetheless, the impact of the word on Hindu Americans is serious. “Hindutva” and its derivative terms are used as epithets to attribute malintent to Hindu Americans and falsely accuse them of promoting some kind of sinister Hindu supremacist agenda. It insinuates that Hindu Americans are inherently anti-Muslim and anti-Christian, and that they seek special rights and privileges as minorities in the US while promoting simultaneously Hindu hegemony in India and strip minorities of rights in India. Some have even baselessly accused Hindu Americans of funding violence against minorities in India. It holds Hindu American elected officials and appointees to a different standard than non-Hindus and falsely alleges impropriety related to campaign contributions from Hindu Americans both to politicians and parties in the US and India. Financial contributions by foreign nationals to any Indian political party are in contravention of Indian law absent registering with the Government of India. Registration records detailing foreign individuals and entities sending funds to India from abroad, recipients, and the amount of funds received is publicly available. Yet, allegations of this kind, which are essentially accusing individuals of violating the law, are rarely if ever substantiated.

The Hindutva label is intended to demonize Hindu Americans and delegitimize the causes they advocate for or concerns they express, and ultimately, silence them in the public square.

Idol Worshipper

Definition

Someone who worships tangible images of God, such as statues or icons.

(Derivatives: idolater, idolatry)

Why It’s Hinduphobic

This term is an expression of contempt used in some Jewish, Christian, and Muslim rhetoric in reference to Hindus and Hindu devotional practices involving statues, images, and symbols (murti puja). In Abrahamic religions, idolatry denotes the worship of something other than God — a false god, to be exact. Murti puja is central to Hindu worship and involves sacred statues, symbols, and images as physical representations and embodiments of God. This slur is rooted in those making claims of religious exclusivity of salvation and access to God, Truth, etc. as well as injunctions against idolatry.

Source: www.jewishpress.com

Infidel

Definition

Someone who does not believe in religion or who adheres to a religion other than one’s own (primarily Christian and Muslim contexts)

Why It’s Hinduphobic

This term is an expression of contempt used in reference to Hindus. It views Hinduism as a false religion and is rooted in those making claims of religious supremacy and exclusivity of salvation and access to God, Truth, etc. through Christianity or Islam.

Kaffir

Definition
Someone who is a non-Muslim, unbeliever, or disbeliever

(Alternatives: kafir, kufr, kuffar)

Why it’s Hinduphobic

This Arabic term is an expression of contempt used in reference to non-Muslims. While it often includes Christians and Jews, it more often refers to Hindus, Buddhists, and people adhering to other non-Abrahamic religions. It views Hindus as unbelievers or adherents of a false religion. It is rooted in those making claims of religious supremacy and exclusivity of salvation and access to God, Truth, etc. through Islam.

Malaun

Definition

Someone who is accursed or deprived of God’s mercy.

Why it’s Hinduphobic

This Arabic term is an expression of contempt used in reference to Hindus in Bangladesh. It has been in usage since the mid 1940s and was often the last word Hindus heard prior to their execution during the 1971 Bengali Genocide. It is still in use today.

Model Minority

Definition

Refers to a minority community that has ostensibly achieved a high level of success in the United States. Coined in 1966 by the sociologist William Petersen in an article titled “Success Story: Japanese-American Style.” It is commonly used in reference to Asians.

Why it’s Hinduphobic

The term model minority can be Hinduphobic and divisive in many ways and can emphasize assimilation into the dominant culture and homogenize the important differences within the community.

While some may use the term as a positive attribute, it is often used to dismiss challenges faced by the Hindu minority community by pointing back to its overall successes. Hindu communities are sometimes called “white-adjacent”, in an effort to say that any advantages they may enjoy in other contexts should dismiss or deny any harm they face from prejudice, racism, and Hinduphobia.

The model minority stereotype also negatively impacts many Hindus who feel the pressure to meet high, often unrealistic, expectations around the stereotypes resulting from the term. In this same vein, it also posits a causal explanation for their success, rather than other factors like merit, skill, or effort. It can also divide different minority groups, and pit them against one another in harmful ways that stoke further anger, racism, and division.

Savarna

Definition

Of the same group, class, type; someone from the four varna or personality types described in Hindu teachings.

Why it’s Hinduphobic

This Sanskrit term is an expression of contempt used in reference to Hindus generally, and so-called upper caste Hindus specifically. It blames any and all prejudice, social discrimination, and educational, economic, and political disadvantages faced by members of marginalized communities on a deliberate misinterpretation of Hinduism, one which insists that Hindu teachings have inspired and religiously mandating discrimination on the basis of an oppressive, rigid pan-Indian social hierarchy. This particular usage of the term is rooted in racist, anti-Semitic, and Eurocentric constructions about Hinduism and Hindus.

It is also widely used by neo-Buddhist and South Asian activists to derogatorily refer to Hindus and Hinduism in spite of such activists’ strong and vocal opposition to white supremacy and the sordid legacy of imperialism and colonialism. Their use seeks to demonize Hindus and delegitimize Hinduism.

See: The Racist History of the Caste System

Unreached

Definition

Someone who is part of a community where there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize without outside assistance.
Source: The Joshua Project

(Alternative: least reached)

Why it’s Hinduphobic

This term is commonly used by many evangelical Christian missionary circles in reference to non-Christians, including Hindus. It views Hindus as adherents of a false religion and being lost souls in need of “saving” or harvesting. It is rooted in claims of religious supremacy and exclusivity of salvation and access to God, Truth, etc. through Evangelical Christianity.

Do you have a suggestion for a term or phrase that is anti-Hindu or Hinduphobic that should be added to HAF’s glossary? Send it with a description of how you’ve seen or heard it being used to info@hinduamerican.org.

Bhakt

Definition

A devotee; derived from the word bhakti, a Sanskrit term meaning “devotion,” or “attachment.” Bhakti is known as the yoga of devotion and a means by which one can connect to the Divine.

Why it’s Hinduphobic

This term is often used as an epithet to attribute blind support to Hindus of Prime Minister Modi. 

It presents Hindus through a simplistic, political binary of for or against. This in conjunction with portrayals of Narendra Modi and his political party as supremacist or fascist, makes its use particularly egregious. It denies Hindus any of the underlying political philosophy, ethics, guiding principles, sophistication, or nuance that might inform their opinions, leanings, or support of individual policies or politics generally.

The bhakt label is intended to demonize Hindus and delegitimize the causes they advocate for or concerns they express.

Brahmanism

Definition

Brahmanism is a term created by 19th- and early 20th-century European Indologists (people who study India) to describe and define Hinduism as a religion made up by the Brahmin priestly class. While it lost currency among many religion scholars by the mid-1980s and viewed as a form of neo-colonialism, some continue to use the term and its derivatives.

(Derivatives: Brahminism, Brahminical)

Why it’s Hinduphobic

An invented word that is not seen in Hindu texts and not used by Hindus to define, describe, or understand their traditions, Brahmanism as a term and concept has its roots in white and Christian supremacy, as well as anti-Semitism. 

Protestant bias and widespread Christian animosity towards Jews, as well as a popular racist theory about Hinduism’s origins emerging as a result of nomadic light-skinned Indo-European tribes overthrowing a dark-skinned indigenous civilization, largely colored European approaches to studying Hinduism. Brahmins, or the priests who were the torchbearers of Hindu teachings and traditions, were equated with their Jewish counterparts, and similarly demonized by European Indologists. 

The term continues to be used uncritically by some in academia, and perpetuates a racist, anti-Semitic Eurocentric construction about Hinduism and Hindus, discounting Hindu understandings of their own history, philosophies, and traditions. 

It is also widely used by neo-Buddhist and South Asian activists to derogatorily refer to Hindus and Hinduism in spite of such activists’ strong and vocal opposition to white supremacy and the sordid legacy of imperialism and colonialism. Their use seeks to demonize Hindus and delegitimize Hinduism.

For more see: Why “Brahminical” is an anti-Hindu slur

Caption: In November 2018, Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, elicited widespread condemnation in India and from across the global Hindu diaspora for posing for a picture with a poster displaying a graphic which said, “Smash Brahminical Patriarchy.” 

Source: feminismindia.com

Caption: This tweet is a good example of the inherent contradiction of using a term historically rooted in white supremacy and colonialism and claiming to have a legacy of resisting the same.

Source: www.twitter.com

Cow piss drinker

Definition
Someone who drinks cow urine.

(Alternatives: cow urine drinker)

Why it’s Hinduphobic

This term is an expression of contempt used in reference to both the reverence Hindus hold for the cow as a representation of mother earth, fertility, and Hindu values of selfless service, strength, dignity, and non-harming, as well as the practice of drinking cow urine for medicinal purposes.

Ayurveda, the ancient system of allopathic and holistic medicine, prescribes cow urine for its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties and as part of both preventative and curative therapies. Though cow urine is used medicinally throughout the world, including India, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, and Sudan, this term crudely and derogatorily refers to only Hindus.

In September 2019, for example, Furkan Khan, a Delhi-based producer for NPR, posted a bigoted tweet in which she stated, “If Indians leave Hinduism, they will will be solving most of their problems what with all the piss drinking and dung worshipping.”

In February 2019, in his last video message, the Islamist suicide bomber who killed 40+ Indian security personnel in Pulwama District, Kashmir said, “Listen to me you Indians, we are going to unleash such terror on people like you who drink the urine of cows won’t be able to contain.”

Source: www.twitter.com

Devil worshipper

Definition

Someone who worships or has religious faith in devils.

Why It’s Hinduphobic

This term is an expression of contempt used in some Christian and Muslim rhetoric in reference to Hindus and Hinduism. It views Hindu Gods and Goddesses as satanic and is rooted in those making claims of religious supremacy and exclusivity of salvation and access to God, Truth, etc. through Christianity or Islam.

(Alternatives: demonic; diabolical; satanic)

Source: www.jesus-is-savior.com

Dothead

Definition

Someone who wears a Hindu forehead marking such as a bindi or tilak. Such markings are widely recognized as a symbol of the Hindu tradition.

(alternative: Buttonhead)

Why it’s Hinduphobic

This slur is commonly used to refer to Hindus. In the fall of 1987, threats and violent attacks against Hindus and other people of Indian origin spiked when a street gang calling itself “The Dotbusters” set out to take “any means necessary” to drive “Indians out of New Jersey.” The members of the gang were not convicted for their crimes, and the court ruled that their murder of Navroze Mody was not a hate crime. The invocation of the term is a reminder of the hate and injustice that the Hindu American community has faced.
“I’m writing about your article during July about the abuse of Indian People. Well I’m here to state the other side. I hate them, if you had to live near them you would also. We are an organization called the Dotbusters. We have been around for 2 [sic] years. We will go to any extreme to get Indians to move out of Jersey City. If I’m walking down the street and I see a Hindu and the setting is right, I will hit him or her. We plan some of our most extreme attacks such as breaking windows, breaking car windows, and crashing family parties. We use the phone books and look up the name Patel. Have you seen how many of them there are? Do you even live in Jersey City? Do you walk down Central avenue and experience what its [sic] like to be near them: we have and we just don’t want it anymore. You said that they will have to start protecting themselves because the police cannot always be there. They will never do anything. They are a week [sic] race Physically [sic] and mentally. We are going to continue our way. We will never be stopped.”

Source: The Jersey Journal, July 1987

Dung worshipper

Definition

Someone who worships cow dung.

Why it’s Hinduphobic

This term is an expression of contempt commonly used in reference to the reverence Hindus hold for the cow as a representation of mother earth and fertility, as well as Hindu values of selfless service, strength, dignity, and ahimsa (non-harming). It also references the use of cow dung in some Hindu rituals as well as more broadly as bio-fertilizer, biofuel, and other uses. See examples from cow piss drinker and cow worshipper.

Dual loyalty

Definition

Someone who has two separate loyalties or allegiances that potentially entails a conflict of interest.

(Alternatives: Hindu nationalists, Nazis)

Why it’s Hinduphobic

Accusations of dual loyalty against politically engaged Hindu Americans have become increasingly commonplace. The charges are at times subtle and seek to raise suspicions about Hindu “American-ness,” attribute malintent to Hindu Americans, and falsely place them as “arms” or “weapons” of an Indian political movement and the excesses of Indian political discourse.

It paints Hindu Americans as inherently anti-Muslim and anti-Christian, and as seeking special rights and privileges as minorities in the US, and at the same time, wanting to strip minorities of rights in India. Some have even baselessly accused Hindu Americans of funding violence against minorities in India. It holds Hindu American elected officials and appointees to a different standard than non-Hindu and often falsely alleges impropriety related to campaign contributions from Hindu Americans both to politicians and parties in the US and India. Financial contributions by foreign nationals to any Indian political party are in contravention of Indian law absent registering with the Government of India. Registration records detailing foreign individuals and entities sending funds to India from abroad, recipients, and the amount of funds received is publicly available. Yet, allegations of this kind, which are essentially accusing individuals of violating the law, are rarely if ever substantiated.

Accusations of dual loyalty are intended to demonize Hindu Americans and delegitimize the causes they advocate for or concerns they express, and ultimately, silence them in the public square.

Source: www.theintercept.com

Exotic

Definition
Originating in or characteristic of a distant foreign country.

(Alternatives: “caste, cows, curry” or “caste, cows, karma”)

Why it’s Hinduphobic

The “exotification” of people and cultures from Africa, Asia, Australia, and Latin America, and by Europeans has a long history. Such narratives in the Indian context, dating back to Mughal and European colonial rule, paint Hindus and Hinduism as primitive, animal-like, sensational, and absurd and continue to be perpetuated through both academia and pop culture. Combined with an “erotic” lens at times, these frames serve to dehumanize, demonize, and delegitimize the Hindu tradition and its adherents. They also simultaneously mystify and put Hindus and people of Indian descent or origin, especially women, on an unrealistic pedestal. All together, narratives that exoticize and eroticize Hindus and Hinduism are especially harmful as they get internalized and make the abuse and disenfranchisement of Hindu communities easier and largely undetectable in the West.

Read: Reza Aslan’s ‘Believer’ sensationalizes and stereotypes Hindus

Heathen

Definition

According to the Oxford Dictionary of Difficult Words, a heathen is someone “who does not belong to a widely held religion (esp. one who is not a Christian, Jew, or Muslim) as regarded by those who do: bringing Christianity to the heathens; a follower of a polytheistic religion , heathen people collectively , esp (in biblical use) those who did not worship the God of Israel; an unenlightened person; a person regarded as locking culture or moral principles; unenlightened or uncivilized.

Why it’s Hinduphobic

This term is an expression of contempt used in some Christian and Muslim rhetoric in reference to Hindus and Hinduism. It views Hindus and Hinduism as uncivilized, barbaric, bloody, and idolatrous and is rooted in those making claims of religious supremacy and exclusivity of salvation and access to God, Truth, etc. through Christianity or Islam.

Heritage Learner

Definition

Generally a “heritage learner” is a technical term for a language student who already has certain linguistic skills when they enter a classroom to learn other aspects of the language, such as script or grammar. Some South Asian professors refer derogatorily to Hindu students of Indian origin as “heritage students,” a derivative of “heritage learner.”

When it’s Hinduphobic

“Heritage student” in the context of South Asian studies, is a derogatory term used to refer to students of Indian origin or Hindu students. Such students, when enrolled in courses on or related to Hinduism, Indian history, Sanskrit, etc. are viewed as having been conditioned with generally positive views on their religion and culture. Some South Asian professors, especially those engaged in scholar-activism, view the presence of such students as imposing an additional burden of “re-educating” or “deprogramming” them, and replacing their understanding with colonial or orientalist narratives or narratives which rely on selective translations or conjecture for to fit a particular political ideology.

Hindu fatalism

Definition

Fatalism is the idea that no matter what one does, the outcome will be the same because it is predetermined.

Why it’s Hinduphobic

Hindus are portrayed as cruel, selfish, less charitable, and a host of other negative traits because Hinduism supposedly teaches that people who are suffering “deserve it” because of their negative past karma. This portrayal is a gross misrepresentation of Hindu teachings about karma. The insinuation is that Hindus believe they are absolved from the obligation of alleviating others’ suffering because any suffering is the result of past karma.

The law of karma holds that every action has a reaction or outcome. When a person’s actions are selfless and righteous, they yield positive outcomes. If actions are negative, they yield suffering. The karma of an individual’s actions may be experienced immediately, later in life, or possibly in a future life or lives. Hindu teachings also insist that a person’s response to suffering should be informed by wisdom, meaning a key component to incurring selfless and righteous karma is acting in ways to alleviate the suffering of all living beings.

Hindutvavadi

Definition

Someone who espouses or promotes Hindutva.

(Derivatives: Hindu nationalist, Hindu supremacist, Nazi, Hindutva, Hindu nationalism, Hindu supremacy)

Why it’s Hinduphobic

There is no universally accepted definition nor is there a uniformly held understanding of the word “Hindutva.” Nonetheless, the impact of the word on Hindu Americans is serious. “Hindutva” is used as an epithet to attribute malintent to Hindu Americans and falsely accuse them of promoting some kind of sinister Hindu nationalist or Hindu supremacist agenda. It paints Hindu Americans as inherently anti-Muslim and anti-Christian, and as seeking special rights and privileges as minorities in the US, and at the same time, wanting to promote Hindu hegemony in India and strip minorities of rights in India. Some have even baselessly accused Hindu Americans of funding violence against minorities in India. It holds Hindu American elected officials and appointees to a different standard than non-Hindus and falsely alleges impropriety related to campaign contributions from Hindu Americans both to politicians and parties in the US and India. Financial contributions by foreign nationals to any Indian political party are in contravention of Indian law absent registering with the Government of India. Registration records detailing foreign individuals and entities sending funds to India from abroad, recipients, and the amount of funds received is publicly available. Yet, allegations of this kind, which are essentially accusing individuals of violating the law, are rarely if ever substantiated.

The Hindutva label is intended to demonize Hindu Americans and delegitimize the causes they advocate for or concerns they express, and ultimately, silence them in the public square.

Idol Worshipper

Definition

Someone who worships tangible images of God, such as statues or icons.

(Derivatives: idolater, idolatry)

Why It’s Hinduphobic

This term is an expression of contempt used in some Jewish, Christian, and Muslim rhetoric in reference to Hindus and Hindu devotional practices involving statues, images, and symbols (murti puja). In Abrahamic religions, idolatry denotes the worship of something other than God — a false god, to be exact. Murti puja is central to Hindu worship and involves sacred statues, symbols, and images as physical representations and embodiments of God. This slur is rooted in those making claims of religious exclusivity of salvation and access to God, Truth, etc. as well as injunctions against idolatry.

Source: www.jewishpress.com

Infidel

Definition

Someone who does not believe in religion or who adheres to a religion other than one’s own (primarily Christian and Muslim contexts)

Why It’s Hinduphobic

This term is an expression of contempt used in reference to Hindus. It views Hinduism as a false religion and is rooted in those making claims of religious supremacy and exclusivity of salvation and access to God, Truth, etc. through Christianity or Islam.

Kaffir

Definition
Someone who is a non-Muslim, unbeliever, or disbeliever

(Alternatives: kafir, kufr, kuffar)

Why it’s Hinduphobic

This Arabic term is an expression of contempt used in reference to non-Muslims. While it often includes Christians and Jews, it more often refers to Hindus, Buddhists, and people adhering to other non-Abrahamic religions. It views Hindus as unbelievers or adherents of a false religion. It is rooted in those making claims of religious supremacy and exclusivity of salvation and access to God, Truth, etc. through Islam.

Malaun

Definition

Someone who is accursed or deprived of God’s mercy.

Why it’s Hinduphobic

This Arabic term is an expression of contempt used in reference to Hindus in Bangladesh. It has been in usage since the mid 1940s and was often the last word Hindus heard prior to their execution during the 1971 Bengali Genocide. It is still in use today.

Model Minority

Definition

Refers to a minority community that has ostensibly achieved a high level of success in the United States. Coined in 1966 by the sociologist William Petersen in an article titled “Success Story: Japanese-American Style.” It is commonly used in reference to Asians.

Why it’s Hinduphobic

The term model minority can be Hinduphobic and divisive in many ways and can emphasize assimilation into the dominant culture and homogenize the important differences within the community.

While some may use the term as a positive attribute, it is often used to dismiss challenges faced by the Hindu minority community by pointing back to its overall successes. Hindu communities are sometimes called “white-adjacent”, in an effort to say that any advantages they may enjoy in other contexts should dismiss or deny any harm they face from prejudice, racism, and Hinduphobia.

The model minority stereotype also negatively impacts many Hindus who feel the pressure to meet high, often unrealistic, expectations around the stereotypes resulting from the term. In this same vein, it also posits a causal explanation for their success, rather than other factors like merit, skill, or effort. It can also divide different minority groups, and pit them against one another in harmful ways that stoke further anger, racism, and division.

Savarna

Definition

Of the same group, class, type; someone from the four varna or personality types described in Hindu teachings.

Why it’s Hinduphobic

This Sanskrit term is an expression of contempt used in reference to Hindus generally, and so-called upper caste Hindus specifically. It blames any and all prejudice, social discrimination, and educational, economic, and political disadvantages faced by members of marginalized communities on a deliberate misinterpretation of Hinduism, one which insists that Hindu teachings have inspired and religiously mandating discrimination on the basis of an oppressive, rigid pan-Indian social hierarchy. This particular usage of the term is rooted in racist, anti-Semitic, and Eurocentric constructions about Hinduism and Hindus.

It is also widely used by neo-Buddhist and South Asian activists to derogatorily refer to Hindus and Hinduism in spite of such activists’ strong and vocal opposition to white supremacy and the sordid legacy of imperialism and colonialism. Their use seeks to demonize Hindus and delegitimize Hinduism.

See: The Racist History of the Caste System

Unreached

Definition

Someone who is part of a community where there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize without outside assistance.
Source: The Joshua Project

(Alternative: least reached)

Why it’s Hinduphobic

This term is commonly used by many evangelical Christian missionary circles in reference to non-Christians, including Hindus. It views Hindus as adherents of a false religion and being lost souls in need of “saving” or harvesting. It is rooted in claims of religious supremacy and exclusivity of salvation and access to God, Truth, etc. through Evangelical Christianity.

Do you have a suggestion for a term or phrase that is anti-Hindu or Hinduphobic that should be added to HAF’s glossary? Send it with a description of how you’ve seen or heard it being used to info@hinduamerican.org.