Friday, November 4, 2011

Deploring Anti-Hindu Remarks of Kentucky’s Gubernatorial candidate with Call to Action: Let us Build Bridges of Understanding in Kentucky and around the World

Hindu American Seva Charities urges Hindus and people of all faiths to come together and turn the narrative around and make it an opportunity for generating better understanding of our culture and heritage through seva, interfaith seva. Let us show Kentucky and the world what Hindu values are and bring the divine, godly qualities to the forefront. Let us honor all the teachers and educators with tilak- GuruSeva, honor the veterans/military and invite our neighbors to come to our homes and temples and learn about our faith, yoga, traditions, food, our very way of life. Let us keep the Diwali light of knowledge and goodness burning brightly. Let us shower the world with Hindu acts of kindness, at every occasion, every festival with UtsavSeva.

We, Hindus, are the people of illustrious heritage of yoga, Meditation, of highest concepts of spirituality, of Mahatma Gandhi's non-violence, of Ayurveda (Holistic health concepts) and so much more. As documented in Phil Goldberg's American Veda, Hindu thought has contributed greatly to American spirituality. Today yoga is ubiquitous and accepted everywhere and it is as much a Hindu spiritual practice as putting a tilak for ground breaking ceremony. Its roots are undeniably in Vedic Hindu tradition. Let us take control of our own narrative and bring the positives to the forefront. We are proud to be Hindus. Let us work collaboratively with people of all faiths to serve all and solve the problems of the country.

Hindu America Seva Charities is appalled at the lack of acceptance and tolerance displayed by the Republican candidate, David Williams, when he criticized Governor Beshear for taking part in a Hindu groundbreaking ceremony of an India based company that is undertaking the construction of a $180 million manufacturing plant and promises 250 jobs in Kentucky. Williams, a state senator, criticized the Governor’s involvement in the ceremony as an act of “idol worshipping” which is against his faith.

It is deplorable that Hindus are seen by some fundamentalist leaders as "idol" worshipers, with a strong negative connotation. Therefore, it’s important to explain what is Murti puja, a core element of Hinduism. Hindus believe that God is transcendent (beyond every thing) as well as immanent (in every thing), ie: omni-present, every where, in everyone and everything, including all humans, animals, birds, trees, the oceans, and so forth. Murtis were created to help humans focus their minds on something tangible. The purpose of murti puja is to facilitate meditation and to promote harmony and brotherhood. It is impossible for humans to conceive of the transcendent God. Whatever human mind could imagine about God, would be deficient and flawed. Therefore, Hindu sages approved of images, expecting that it will help the common person to connect to God. Our scriptures say that Murti worship would be meaningless if the worshipper does not think of the transcendent God (Srimad Bhagavatam 3.29).

The xenophobia that many Hindus have faced, and still face, is coming to the surface in political forums. Hindus must deal with it publicly and strengthen the Hindu American identity on many fronts - through education, through interfaith collaboration, and through seva (volunteer community service).

Seva is our community social responsibility which enables (and ennobles) our youth and adults to put their faith in action and be better understood - people to people. Hindu American Seva Charities is trying to do just that and help our youth not only feel comfortable in their faith skins, but be proud of their heritage. As one example: In Wichita, Kansas, after 9/11 some Hindu kids were abused and called Osama's kids. The Hindu temple is afraid to put a sign outside. Lately, on HASC's initiative, Rema Venkatsubban, working as AmeriCorps VISTA, engaged many youth and adults to build interfaith bridges on many fronts, feed the homeless, and bring the issues to the political decision makers to help diffuse the "otherness".

Let our call to action be for building communities, for becoming the problem solvers of critical problems facing our country and create more jobs like those in Elizabethtown. Let us turn the narrative to show the world the true Hindu spirit of ahimsa and seva!

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