The Hindu American Foundation recognizes that most major Hindu religious or spiritual leaders and organizations do not support caste-based discrimination and birth-based caste. Nevertheless, Hinduism is often blamed as a major cause of “caste problems” in India. Therefore, from 2007 to 2010, the Hindu American Foundation asked prominent Hindu spiritual and religious leaders to provide the following:
- A clear statement against caste-based discrimination and against a birth-based social hierarchy
- Material from Hindu scriptures that support this position
- Efforts they are involved with to promote the integration and upward mobility of historically disadvantaged communities within society
- Additional explanation about the origins of, present status of, and solutions to the caste problem today
HAF is pleased to present statements from 14 prominent Hindu religious and spiritual leaders and organizations who responded to HAF’s request.
Please click on the name of the leader or organization to view the statements (in alphabetical order).
- Swami Bodhananda, Founder and Spiritual Head, Sambodh Foundation
- Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, Spiritual Head of the Kauai Adheenam, Publisher of Hinduism Today magazine, and President of the Hindu Heritage Endowment
- Swami Chidanand Saraswati, President and Spiritual Head, Parmarth Niketan Ashram
- Sri Chinna Jeeya Swami, Pontiff, Vishishta Advaita Tradition of Sri Ramanujacharya
- Swami Dayananda Saraswati as Convenor, Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha
- The International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) Office of Communications
- Amma Sri Karunamayi, Spiritual Leader and Humanitarian
- Swami Paramanand Giriji Maharaj, Spiritual Head, Akhand Paramdham
- Swami Prabhananda, General Secretary, Ramakrishna Order
- Pramukh Swami Maharaj, Spiritual Head of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS)
- Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder and Spiritual Head, the Art of Living Foundation
- Swami Tejomayanand, Chairman and Spiritual Head, Chinmaya Mission
- Swami Varadananda, Monk, Vivekananda Vedanta Society – Chicago
- Pravrajika Vrajaprana, Nun, Vedanta Society of Southern California
Some of them preferred to submit a statement representing their organization or a statement from their guru or spiritual mentor. Many of them submitted statements from Hindu scriptures to support their position and their perspective on the origins of, present status of, and solutions to the caste problem today. All of them are clearly against caste-based discrimination and against a birth-based hierarchy and believe that Hinduism, when followed properly, can be a solution to the problem of caste-based discrimination, inequality and injustice anywhere in the world.
These Hindu leaders are also involved in social service projects in India, America, and other parts of the world, including projects focusing on socially and economically underprivileged members of society.
It is the hope of HAF that the following statements will, in addition to the scriptural material provided, do the following:
- Show people concerned about India’s social problems that caste-based discrimination and a birth-based hierarchy are not integral parts of Hinduism, as supported by Hindu spiritual and religious leaders and organizations and by Hindu scriptures.
- Encourage Hindus to do more work in the realm of eradicating caste-based discrimination and a birth-based hierarchy.