The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) is an American Hindu advocacy organization, founded in September 2003 by Sanjay Garg, Nikhil Joshi, Mihir Meghani, Nagendra Rao, Aseem Shukla, and Suhag Shukla.

The organization describes itself as an education and advocacy group that aims to educate the public about Hinduism and the issues impacting Hindus in the US and globally.

According to its critics, HAF has repackaged Hindu nationalism in the language of “Hindu rights” in a way to suit mainstream American politics. Such critiques are not substantiated and do not address directly HAF’s policy stances on a variety of issues ranging from free speech to gun safety reform.


Persecution of Hindus and human rights reports

During 2004–2005 HAF held events to educate legislators about issues of concern to Hindu Amerians. These included the abuse of Hindus in Muslim-majority regions of South Asia, including Bangladesh, Kashmir, and Pakistan.

In 2005, the organization released its first human rights report, focusing on the status of the human rights of Hindus, mainly in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and the Kashmir valley. The 71-page report compiled media coverage and firsthand accounts of human rights violations perpetrated against Hindus because of their religious identity. The incidents are documented, often quoting from well-known international human rights organizations.

The report was presented to the co-chairs of the US Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans, Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican, and Gary Ackerman, a Democrat. Both of these members of Congress endorsed it.

From 2005–2021, the Foundation has expanded the scope of its human rights report and continues to release an annual report entitled “Hindus in South Asia and the Diaspora”. These reports have covered Hindu human rights in eight countries plus the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. 

In 2020, HAF organized nationwide candlelight vigils, done in partnership with other community organizations, to mark the 30th anniversary of the Kashmiri Pandit Exodus. 

In 2021, in partnership with Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council, and other Bangladeshi community organizations, HAF solemnly commemorated the 50th anniversary of the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War and accompanying genocide targeting Bangladeshi Hindus,, garnering statements of support from Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Judy Chu (D-CA), and Ro Khanna (D-CA), as well as former US Representative and candidate for president Tulsi Gabbard.

HAF is a wholly independent, American organization duly registered in the State of Florida as a not-for-profit corporation and a non-partisan, non-profit tax-exempt public charity pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)3. HAF has absolutely no affiliation or ties to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or any other organizations or political parties either here in the US or abroad. All corporate and tax filings are publicly available and provide ample evidence of HAF’s operational and financial independence. HAF has a 2021 Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

Civil rights issues and other activism in the United States

In 2004, the organization took part in a court case challenging the public display of the Ten Commandments in Texas, where it has appeared as amici curiae (friend of the court). It argued that the display represented an “inherent government preference” for Judeo-Christian religions over others and the state must be reminded of its obligation to maintain religious neutrality.

In 2005, it joined the American Jewish Committee to jointly sponsor a program at Stanford on “countering biases against Hindus and Jews on the College campus.” In a meeting with the American Jewish Committee, Mihir Meghani drew parallels between the asserted endangerment of Hindus in India and that of Jews in Israel, and “the shared risks they face from neighbors with long histories of terrorism.”

In 2007, the Foundation released the first systematic reporting on hatred and bigotry expressed against Hindus expressed online. 

In 2008, HAF, along with a coalition of other religious groups, filed a lawsuit and blocked the issuance of Christian themed license plates in South Carolina.

In 2010, the organization launched the Take Yoga Back campaign, as a reaction to the commercialization and secularization of yoga. They contended that yoga was far more than asana (physical postures) and integrally tied to Hinduism, a fact HAF asserted has been sidelined by the modern Western yoga practice and its presentation in the media. In backlash, this message was sometimes interpreted as meaning that yoga could not be practiced outside of Hinduism, inviting criticism from Deepak Chopra and Meera Nanda.

In 2010, HAF published a policy brief on Hinduism and homosexuality, asserting that  “ancient Hindu teachings may allow Hindus to more openly embrace LGBT rights and marriage equality.”

In 2010, the organization also published a report on caste, detailing how caste is not an intrinsic part of Hindu theology and that it was a social phenomenon found in all communities of Indian society to this day. The report characterized caste-based discrimination as a major human rights problem, concluding that only Hindus, through reform movements and education, can rid Hindu society of caste-based discrimination. It also castigates organizations like Dignity Freedom Network for arguing that Dalits are not Hindus. 

In 2013, HAF joined a coalition of Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, and Muslim organizations urging the Justice Department investigate the New York City Police Department for discriminatory surveillance of American Muslims

In 2015, as a part of the Hate Crimes Coalition, HAF participated in the drafting and submission of the edits to an FBI manual to specifically track hate crimes against Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims.

In 2016, HAF along with Indiaspora and other organizations successfully petitioned the United States Postal Service to issue a stamp commemorating the Hindu festival of Diwali.

In 2020, HAF filed a motion to intervene in the case of California Department of Fair Employment and Housing v. Cisco Systems. The organization’s motion alleged that the way in which the State of California defined caste, as a Hindu theological and social hierarchy, was unconstitutional, on the grounds that the State was defining Hindu beliefs for Hindus. As of July 2022, the case is still pending. 

In October 2022, HAF sued the California Civil Rights Department (formerly known as the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing) in federal court, reiterating the points made in its motion to intervene, that the state of California is acting in an unconstitutional manner in attempting to legally define Hindu beliefs for Hindus.

Climate change

In 2015, the Foundation partnered with The Bhumi Project (a Hindu environmental project of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies) and multifaith environmental organization GreenFaith, to create the Hindu Declaration on Climate Change 2015. The Declaration “asks the world’s 900 million Hindus to transition to using clean energy, adopt a plant-based diet, and lead lives in harmony with the natural world.” The Declaration was signed by more than 60 Hindu spiritual and social leaders and organizations from around the world, prior to the COP21 Paris climate talks.

In 2019, HAF partnered with Yale University and other Hindu environmental and community organizations for the “Hindu Earth Ethics and Climate Action” conference.

Educational advocacy

In 2006, HAF was involved in the California Hindu textbook controversy. On March 16, 2006, it filed a lawsuit contesting procedural violations by the California’s Curriculum Commission’s and its unequal treatment of Hindu groups in the textbook adoption process. Members of the Commission held a series of ex parte and closed door meetings which were required to be public by California law to reject many of the Vedic Foundation and Hindu Education Foundation‘s suggested edits to California’s textbook curriculum on Hinduism and India. The proposed changes had been publicly opposed by Indologists organized by Michael Witzel, who renounced them as “politically and religiously motivated”.  In September 2006, a judge ruled that the CA State Board of Education had violated its textbook approval process, but the court also ruled to retain the textbooks, noting the significant expense associated with reissuing the textbooks.

In 2014, the Texas State Board of Education voted to adopt new textbooks that incorporated over 100 corrections submitted by HAF working in conjunction with scholars and historians. Some of the changes in the textbooks include coverage of Hinduism and Hindus in contemporary world history and geography, greater context in the explanation of caste, and the first-ever K-12 textbook mention of Hindu saint Adi Shankara.

In 2016, HAF released its first report on bullying on Hindu students in US schools. Based on preliminary data collected the previous year, Classroom Subjected: Bullying and Bias Against Hindu Students in American Schools found that half of the students surveyed felt awkward and socially isolated due to their religious identity, with one-third of students having experienced bullying due to religious identity. 

From 2014–2017, HAF participated in the California state process for creating new content standards for state-approved textbooks. Working with other community groups, including the Hindu Education Foundation, HAF submitted extensive line edits and suggested language on how Hinduism and the history of India would be presented to some 2 million middle and high school students in the state. These efforts were protested by some South Asian academics and Neo-Buddhist activists who posited that HAF and its allies were attempting to whitewash California’s history textbooks, in particular the history of caste in South Asia. On November 16, 2017 the California Board of Education voted to adopt textbooks from 10 publishers incorporating many of the edits supported by HAF and its allies, and rejected textbooks from 2 publishers which failed to incorporate them.




September 2003; 19 years ago


Sanjay Garg, Nikhil Joshi, Mihir Meghani, Nagendra Rao, Aseem Shukla



Legal Status

501(c)3 nonprofit


Hindu American advocacy


Washington, DC


United States, 910 17th St NW #315

Region served

United States

Official language

American English

Executive Director

Suhag Shukla


Allegations of connections with Hindu nationalist organizations

Allegations of operational connections between HAF and the various Hindu nationalist groups known collectively as the Sangh Parivar have been leveled at the organization since its founding to this day.

In 1991, while at the University of MichiganHAF co-founder Mihir Meghani was a cofounder of the Hindu Students Council (HSC), a nationwide network of student societies affiliated to the Vishva Hindu Parishad America (VHPA). He also is credited as the author of an essay titled “Hindutva: The Great Nationalist Ideology,” on the website of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which asserted that Hindus and Hinduism were denigrated by the Indian National Congress and that Hindus rose up to demand a “true secularism.” The essay drew a parallel between the Hindu experience and that of Jews, African Americans and colonized groups, as well as characterizing the demolition of the Babri Masjid as the release of “thousands of years of anger and shame.”

Meghani wrote in a Letter to the Editor published in the print edition of India Abroad on April 27, 2006 that he may have written a similar essay in college decades ago, but long disavowed it and does not stand by its content. The essay was written long before HAF was founded and has no connection to the foundation that has a nearly 20 year track record of education and advocacy that do not mirror the essay.

In addition, it is regularly reported that Mihir Meghani has been a member of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh USA. Not only does Dr. Meghani have no formal ties to this organization, HSS USA does not offer membership.

In 2021, Georgetown University’s Bridge Institute noted that “HAF board member Rishi Bhutada served as the official spokesperson of ‘Howdy Modi’, a rally for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held in Houston, Texas on September 22, 2020 that brought together several hundred Indian American community groups, representing the Christian, Hindu, Jain, and Muslim communities, industry associations, as well as corporate sponsors such as Walmart.

Following two April 2021 articles published in Al Jazeera, which alleged that HAF had financial connections with Hindu nationalist groups in India and had used US Covid relief funds to promote “slow genocide”, HAF sued several sources quoted in the article for defamation and conspiracy to defame. 

Named in the lawsuit were: Hindus for Human Rights co-founders Sunita Vishwanath and Raju Rajagopal, Indian American Muslim Council executive director Rasheed Ahmed, Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America chairman John Prabhudoss, and Rutgers University professor Audrey Truschke.

In December 2022, the case was dismissed on procedural grounds, with the judging noting that though some of the defendants did make arguably and verifiably false statements against HAF, and that some of these statements did cause legal harm to HAF, the defendants did not have sufficient ties to the court’s jurisdiction for the case to proceed.