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Prejudice against Hinduism

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by Surya Deva, Oct 5, 2008.

  1. Surya Deva

    Surya Deva New Member

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    A friend once remarked to me, "Hinduism is the most misunderstood religion" It is true, I am really sick of the prejudices I have to face in life because I am Hindu. I get asked all kinds of questions which border on semi racism.

    Do you worship monkeys and elephants?
    The caste system?
    Do you burn your wives?
    Oh you idol worshippers?
    India, that third world country right?

    The comments are not positive and it is really disheartening. The questions are not asked from curiosity, but they are malicious attempts at belittling you.

    I have seen a lot of Hindus face similar kind of attempts at belittling them. A famous case was Shilpa Shetty's stay in the Big Brother House where she was treated to similar hatred because she was Hindu, she was asked questions like, "Do you live in a shack"

    This is actually a lot more pervasive than you would. I had to face problems when studying Indian Philosophy of justifying to Continental Philosophers that it was legitimate Philosophy. I read a really good book on a Oxford graduate on Indian Philosophy, and he reveals that Indian Philosophy constantly faces bigotry and dogma in the West.

    I am wondering if Hindus here have faced any similar kind of prejudice or know of any accounts?
     
  2. Surya Deva

    Surya Deva New Member

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    A really intimate but servere account was with my ex girlfriend. She was white. I had no problem with her being white and from another culture. I didn't think such issues mattered. Anyhow our relationship became very serious and we could have even got married. The only problem was the more we became serious, the less politically correct she became. I realised just how much prejudice she had against Hinduism and India. Her views on it were so negative and bigoted, again the usual caste system and oppression of women stories, she would pass very sweeping judgements on me, my parents, my heritage. We had many arguments over this and eventually I had to call it off. I really had no idea me being Hindu would have such a huge difference. I really never thought of it in those terms before. I thought if you like someone, and they like you, that's enough.
     
  3. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule Well-Known Member

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    Religion:
    Judaism
    Classic ... :banghead3
     
  4. Surya Deva

    Surya Deva New Member

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    Hinduphobia is a very real issue guys, it's not just in our heads:

    Hinduphobia was the term coined by Rajiv Malhotra, to describe the potryal of the Hindu culture as pathological, exotic, and abusive especially by the American Academy of Religion.[3]
    Anti-Hindu stereotypes

    Individuals in the Indian diaspora have begun to protest that Western scholars "distort their religion and perpetuate negative stereotypes".[4] Historically, such stereotypes were promulgated during the British Raj by several Indophobes in South Asia as a means to aggrandize sectarian divisions in Indian society, part of the divide and rule strategy employed by the British.Such allegations have seen a rise with the Hindu right using them for politics.[4]
    The Indian Caste System, a social stratification system in South Asia which has been criticized for its discriminatory problems, is uniquely blamed on Hindus and the religion of Hinduism. This is a common stereotype, as adherents of other religions such as Islam and Christianity also practice Caste segregations in India (for details, see Caste system among South Asian Muslims) and is generally regarded in India as a social issue, rather than a religious one. Several organizations in India and abroad have been criticized by Hindu advocacy groups for these types of attacks.
    The devotion to bovine animals (regarded as holy in Hinduism) is also used as a pretext to mock the Hindu people by many in the west. In addition, the Hindu tradition of cremating their dead is used to mock the people.

    Anti-Hindu attacks often accuse Hindus of being "Blasphemers" for committing "idolatry" and "polytheism" (Hinduism is more accurately described as monistic or henotheistic than polytheistic depending on the sect or school of belief involved ). Some Anti-Hindus have a mistaken interpretation of Hinduism, relating it more to Ancient polytheistic religions as opposed to one that relates to enlightenment or moksha.


    Hinduphobia is usually disguised as concern for Sati, dowry practices and caste system - dalits. However, do not be fooled, it is completely malicious and bigoted. It is an attack on your 'Hinduness'
     
  5. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule Well-Known Member

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    Religion:
    Judaism
    No, it is not, which makes your persistent Islamophobia all the more sad.
     
  6. Surya Deva

    Surya Deva New Member

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    Right, another Hinduphobic post.
     
  7. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule Well-Known Member

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    Religion:
    Judaism
    Cowardly rubbish.
     
  8. Surya Deva

    Surya Deva New Member

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    More on Hinduphobia:

    In my view this book serves a very important and necessary purpose, more particularly in today's context of totally ill-informed, lopsided, arbitrary, unscientific and even barbarous attacks on Hinduism, Hindus and Hindu culture being made in the West (specially in America). This book can be hailed as a harbinger of an important attempt to start a new kind of dialogue in India-related cultural and post-colonial studies. This book effectively challenges the Western portrayals of India, her religions and problems. Most of these Western portrayals view Indian culture as a panorama of abuses and social evils, such as caste, Sati, dowry, murders, violence, religious conflicts, immorality, grotesque deities and so on. They do not view problems of India as being historical or economic in origin, but as essences of the traditions, cultures and civilizations of India, making it a 'chaotic and even desperate country.' The problems of India are being viewed by Americans as inseparable from the problems of Hinduism. According to American academics discussed in this book, India's problems are in its DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid). These prejudiced and biased American scholars and some Indian scholars as well (who have sold their Hindu souls for a mess of 'American' pottage) seem to be in a state of bumptious delusion by imagining that for Western religions and societies DNA means (not Deoxyribonucleic Acid) but Divine Noble Authority. Sadly for India and her people, attempts by nervous secular Indians in the west to distance themselves from Hinduism have also led to an academic vacuum about Indian traditions which has been filled by external voices from the West which have their own agendas.

    Defaming of Hinduism
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 5, 2008
  9. Surya Deva

    Surya Deva New Member

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    This is a very eye opening article for us Hindus and why we need to take responsibility and speak up against misrepresentations and prejudice against our religions in our daily life, on the web, in the world. The prejudice against is nothing short of anti-semiticism. I will post it in parts:

    A Hindu View of the American Academy of Religions Convention 2000
    by Rajiv Malhotra

    Copyright - The Infinity Foundation, All Rights Reserved

    The American Academy of Religion has over 9,000 members representing the academic scholarship and teaching of religious studies at all levels of the education system. Its week long annual convention was in Nashville, in November, 2000, and attracted roughly 7,000 attendees. Literally hundreds of talks and panels covered a diverse range of religious studies topics, involving all the religions of the world. The high leverage of this organization stems from the fact that its members shape the portrayal of religions in schools and colleges, and hence indirectly the attitudes of media and public life in America. I was especially proud to learn that the president elect of AAR is Professor Vasudha Narayanan of Florida, the youngest person ever to have this honor and the first Hindu ever in such a prominent position.
    Naturally, my interest was in attending those events that concerned Hinduism. One of many special units within AAR is called RISA (Religions of South Asia) but with only about 300 members joining it out of the total 9,000 member of AAR. There is also another Hinduism unit formed recently with about 150 members. What would shock most Hindus attending this for the first time would be the nature of portrayal of Hinduism in American education. It is nothing like what you would find at a temple, ashram or Hindu gathering. Rather, it is mainly an arms-length 'objective' view typically dominated by graphic details of the social ills of Hindu society - caste, women's abuse, poverty, pollution, superstitions, animal worship, animal sacrifice and the like. This material permeates college teaching about Hinduism and India in a big way, and in many instances also secondary schools.

    In the panel titled 'Bridging Times: Politics of Memory and Myth in North India', chaired by Professor Jack Hawley, the panelists were Ann Gold, Lindsey Harlan, Peter Gottschalk, and Christopher Lee, with the concluding remarks from Tazim Kassam. That there was not one Hindu on it was not the problem, but that it was a very explicitly anthropological portrayal. For example, one speaker showed slides of abused women in Rajasthan, and described the Rajputs as evil 'cowboys'. I walked out after the first few talks of this panel, as I could not appreciate the irrelevant ethnography that many Hindus would consider as Hindu-bashing
     
  10. Surya Deva

    Surya Deva New Member

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    This was a typical portrayal of poor women's plight explained strictly in terms of being a Hindu problem, selecting data that fits the picture with no attempt to include or reconcile data that did not fit the pre-conceived theory. Women's issues are common stereotypes that are politicized. They are often out of context and are rarely compared to women's conditions in poor Christian countries or Western nations. India's problems are labeled as 'Hindu', yet Western scholars would not label the US' very high incidence of child abuse, rape, murders of spouses, massive prison population, drug and other addictions, and high incidence of clinical depression as 'Judeo-Christian' problems. Another Indian told me that he walked out of another panel showing Hindu animal sacrifices as being typical of its superstitious nature. Yet, Christian 'exorcism' increasingly practiced in the US would not be in college or school texts on introducing Christianity

    Hindu society is depicted as having been intrinsically poor throughout its history, without factoring in the massive destruction its academic institutions suffered during multiple foreign invasions and the decimation of its infrastructure by colonialists. Environmental problems in contemporary India are seen as rooted in India's traditions, rather than a phenomenon over the past 150 years only. But such portrayals fail to delve into history, and to properly explain the economic and ecological problems. Islamic and British records are emphatic and voluminous about the enormous material wealth of India, its higher literacy rate than Britain's up to the 19th century, and its massive manufacturing export base that was later input into Britain's industrial revolution. Many of India's social problems have economic roots, which in turn originated or were exacerbated during Islamic or colonial rule. But this is suppressed.

    Hinduism has acquired the image of meaningless superstitious rituals. Kali and other scary images are deployed to indicate a negative and violent religion. Simplistic logic is used - Shiva is evil because he is the destroyer and because destruction is evil. Animal symbolism is interpreted to indicate animal worship, or worse still, some form of animism. Hinduism is often portrayed as 'world negating' and socially backward, compared to the 'rational' West. It is said to exploit the underclass. Karma theory is interpreted as fatalism and as accepting one's plight rather than taking responsibility. There seems to be an obsession on the part of many Western scholars and Westernized Indians to select precisely those issues about India which enable them to develop a posture of pity and patronizing sympathy from above the glass ceiling, while filtering out rational, progressive and superior elements of India's civilization under the excuse that these would not represent the 'real' India.

    One of the liveliest and most revealing sessions was called 'Coming out as a Hindu or Buddhist'. The intent was to share experiences of those scholars who revealed their Hindu or Buddhist identity in religious studies departments. The courageous panelists detailed their career problems resulting from adopting such an identity. Rita Gross, an American Buddhist explained how she had been blackballed in her career because she had complained how the religious studies academicians were prejudiced towards non-Western religions. It is often better to remain a 'secret' Hindu/Buddhist or at least to down play it. One exception was Dr. Deepak Serma, who took the stand that he had decided to make his Hindu dharma very open and face whatever consequences came along - however, he is still looking for a job
     
  11. Surya Deva

    Surya Deva New Member

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    This part of the article really struck a chord with me. I can relate to this being humilated and embarrased in class when Hinduism was being taught. I knew a lot of my Hindu peers that actually became self-deprecieating and rejected their Hindu and Indian roots.


    It is sad to note that Indian kids in American colleges often tell of being embarrassed in class when their heritage is portrayed in a demeaning manner. Many choose to deny their identity, just as Jews did a century ago in Europe. What is ironic is that these Indian kids are often majoring in 'rational' disciplines such as science, finance, law, medicine, or business. Indian students who go through American campuses often transform their identity into 'South Asian' and some have even defined their religion to be 'South Asian'. To contain Soviet influence, the US State Department allocated money to American universities for studying the non-Western world, and the new field was called 'Area Studies'. Under this rubric, the notion of a 'South Asia' was born, along with far reaching consequences of balancing India with Pakistan, and trying to 'South Asianize' the identity of Indians. This grouping of countries is a politically correct way of referring to former British colonies. It is the American equivalent of colonial Europe's field of Indology

    AAR 2000


    It really perturbs me that we Hindus and our religion are subject to such institutionalism racism. Our religion is being constantly being misrepresented and malinged. Hindus need to become more proactive and demand accurate representation.
     
  12. want to be hindu

    want to be hindu New Member

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    I read a book called the Bloodless Revolution ( A cultural History of Vegetarianism)
    Part of this book covers the impact of Hinduism on the great European minds of 16 th-19th centuries. There was a great push back of mis-information of facts on Hinduism at this time.I believe that many of the lies that are used to hit Hinduism over the head started from this push back of European thought. The Hindu fundamentalist like the VHP also help to make us look bad.
     
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  13. want to be hindu

    want to be hindu New Member

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    I also believe that in the west there is a Islamophobia that is violent in word and dead. That does not mean that Hinduism in popular western culture and school text books is not largely misrepresented.
     
  14. want to be hindu

    want to be hindu New Member

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    I never had any problem with any type of prejudice when I lived in the San Francisco . I had many shocks when I moved 40 miles away near a military base. My son in the past has had a few problems in his school

    In kindergarten a few times other children refused to play with him because he was not a christian.

    An adult at a childs birthday party told him ( AT THE AGE OF 7) that he and his whole family will go to Hell because they are not christians.

    This year at school a kid threw a piece of beef in my Sons face. Now my son is 10 years old so he has learned how to deal with this type of thing with very little drama.He somehow got the other kid to give him a written apology. It is no longer a big deal for him i think the whole thing has made him a lot stronger.
     
  15. Don Penguinoini

    Don Penguinoini Modi.

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    Religion:
    Hindu Atheist
    Not really. People in my school cannot distinguish between Muslim and Hindu...
     
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  16. want to be hindu

    want to be hindu New Member

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    The perfect example of this is the California 6th grade text book scandal.

    California Department of Education had followed illegal procedures in the adoption of the books. The CDE held meetings in secret to avoid opposition, relying on advisers hostile to Hinduism and discriminating against Hindus during the textbook adoption process.


    California school textbook biases against Hinduism:

    The recent California Department of Education hearings on sixth-grade textbook portrayals of religions and cultures have put the spotlight on the politics of identity negotiation in America. There is a clash between the Hindu Diaspora and a group of academic scholars claiming to be "the experts" on Hinduism. The latter are neither specialists in Religious Studies nor do they understand the politics of identity formation of immigrants in American history.
    The table below compares how California textbooks treat Hinduism and other major religions. Every religion has both positive and negative aspects, and someone has to choose which information to present to children. For instance, every religion needs to improve its treatment of women, minorities and those of other religions. Yet every religion also has great exemplars and textual references to inspire good citizenship. Every religion has beliefs that cannot be proven in a scientific manner using empirical evidence, thereby making it imperative that such beliefs should be explained consistently across all faiths. Every religion's own leaders project a positive self-image, while there are differing views of those who are on the outside, especially those who hold a grudge against a given religion for whatever reason. Each religion has its "enemies" and its "victims."

    Topic How religions are treated in textbooks
    Islam Judaism Christianity Hinduism Women are shown equal to men? Yes Yes Yes No Oppression of certain groups is discussed? No No No Yes Beliefs are considered as historical fact? Yes Yes Yes No Own leaders' interpretations are emphasized? Yes Yes Yes No Treated as a world religion independently of the social/political issues of any foreign country? Yes Yes Yes No
    The question then becomes: What is appropriate to be taught to the 11-year old school children in California, who often have very short attention spans, and whose tightly packed curriculum has precious little time allotted to the study of other cultures? California's official educational standards contain policies on this important question and require that, "No religious belief or practice may be held up to ridicule and no religious group may be portrayed as inferior," and that, "Textbooks should instill a sense of pride in every child in his or her heritage." These standards must be applied equally and consistently to all religions.
    Debating the California Text Book Controversy
     
  17. Surya Deva

    Surya Deva New Member

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    It makes one wonder why there are such obvious biasses and prejudices against Hinduism. I think I know why.

    It is blatantly obvious today to any Historian that India is the cradle of civilisation. The first urban, technical civilisation that is known in human history is the Indian civilisation. Most of science and math had been developed by India. It also has the worlds oldest religion. It dominated world history as a centre of learning, trade, commerice right up until the 18th century. Then when the West discovered Hinduism and Sanskrit, it shook the very foundations of Western belief systems, who considered themselves to be the 'chosen ones' and had the burdern of civilising the pagans/idolators(white mans burden) Instead they discovered a civilisation many times more advanced and enlightened than them, and to add to the perceived humilation, it was discovered that not only were these Hindus so advanced, that they are ancestors of all Indo-European cultures, moreover, there was very clear evidence that Christianity had Hindu blood.

    In the beginning that is what European scholars believed that India was their motherland and the origin of the Aryans. However, the political powers that believed that the white race was the superior race and the Abrahmic religions were superior religions, could not abide that. So they made up all kinds of things that we know is nonsense today:

    1) Aryan Invasion Theory
    2) Proto-Indo European as thes source of all IE languages
    3) Gross mistranslations of Hindu scriptures
    4) Demonization of Hinduism, by defaming it because of caste system, Sati etc

    Aryan Invasion theory has long been debunked. There are more and more scholars today that clearly show that Sanskrit is the mother of IE languages. The Vedas and other Hindu scriptures have been accurately translated by Hindu scholars. The records have been put straight on the caste system and treatment of women in Hinduism.

    However, Hindus will need to start representing the truth about their religion. There is still institutional academic racism going on against Hindus, even in prestigious centres like Harvard and Stanford. There is resistance now, in the past they published whatever they wanted, but this should go beyond resistance, they should not even be allowed to publish racism. Racism should not be tolerated in Modern society. Hindus needs to put in a lot of effort to ensure they are represented accurately and fairly.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 7, 2008
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  18. Father Heathen

    Father Heathen Well-Known Member

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    I really, really don't like the caste system. It's unjustly oppressive, abusive and discriminative.
     
  19. Surya Deva

    Surya Deva New Member

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    Yeah nor do Hindus like the caste system. The caste system is not a Hindu problem, as much as crime, child molestation by clergy and pornography are not Christian problems. They are social problems and have no sanction in Hinduism.

    The problem is academia teaches that they rooted in Hindu culture which is discriminatory, unjust and abusive itself.
     
  20. Hema

    Hema Sweet n Spicy

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    In the last two years, about two Hindu Mandirs have been vandalized. This is not a norm however and even people from other religious backgrounds spoke out against the attacks. There are many Hindus in my country so the general population has grown to accept us. However, I think there is still a misconception among many that we pray to more than one God and we worship idols.
     
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