Leaders of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) were dismayed by the alleged altercation that took place at the Silgur Devta Temple in Uttarakhand, India. Hindus from the often discriminated Dalit community accompanied Tarun Vijay, a member of India’s upper parliamentary house from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, on the temple visit and were met with violent protests by individuals seeking to prohibit their entry into the temple. Vijay is reported to have sustained head injuries in the incident.
“We stand with Tarun Vijay and the Dalit community in support of their act of bravery,” said Swami Venkataraman, who serves on HAF’s National Leadership Council and was the lead author of its report on caste. “We pray for Vijay’s speedy recovery as well as any others injured. Hindu teachings have no room for discrimination against anyone, and there should be no such impediments for devotees seeking to enter a place of worship. It’s incumbent upon Hindus around the world to counter such archaic and draconian practices.”
Discrimination and oppression against the Dalit community persists widely across all religious communities throughout the Indian subcontinent. Despite movements spanning hundreds of years by Hindu leaders to remove stigmas and prejudices that lead to caste-based discrimination, denial of entry into some temples remains in practice.
HAF has stood firmly against such discrimination, and sought to clarify that caste-based discrimination, while prevalent throughout South Asia, is not intrinsic to Hindu philosophy and teachings in its groundbreaking report published in 2011, Hinduism: Not Cast in Caste – Seeking an End to Caste-based Discrimination.