THE STATUS OF HINDU DHARMA in white countries hasn’t changed much since the religion was blamed for driving Mrs. Sara Chapman Bull, the “American Mother” of Swami Vivekananda, insane. Mrs. Bull inspired by Swami Vivekananda’s teachings, Hindu philosophy and personal spiritual explorations, had chosen to bequeath her entire estate to the Vedanta Society. She had developed great affection and maternal love for Swami Vivekananda and in return he called her Dhira Mata or Serene mother.
But in 1911, when Mrs. Bull died, her daughter Olea Bull Vaughan challenged her will. The foundation of the trial was that Hindus had driven her insane. In essence, challenging her will was secondary, it was the devastating display of hatred towards Hindu practices that took centerstage. In the words of Prof. Stephen Prothero in 1911 “Hinduism went on trial in the United States of America”.
Not Much has changed over a century later. Hindus and Hindu Dharma still face the Hinduphobia that formed the basis of the 1911 trial.
In 2016, a study by Equality Labs, an American “civil rights” organisation with a focus on “caste“ discrimination surveyed a mere 1,500 people. The survey was aimed at ”proving” the practice of caste discrimination in the United States. However, it was flawed by design possibly to achieve a predetermined conclusion. The survey was entirely based on anonymous stories of discrimination from across the world by unverified self-respondents. How then could this survey be considered an accurate representation of caste based discrimination within the Hindu society living in the United States of America?
One only needs to read Richa Gotham’s Anatomy of a Dishonest Survey to realise that the real discrimination lies behind the smokescreen of the word “survey”. Gotham’s article meticulously dissects the survey exposing glaring biases and flawed methodology.
Incredibly, instead of this document being removed from the public domain for its misrepresentation, defamation and insult to the Hindu community, it has now become the foundational report for many left wing, agenda-driven journalists, academics and activists.
Equality Labs is itself endorsed by a long list of left wing organisations and academics that have used this evidently flawed survey to push their Hinduphobic propaganda. Ambedkar International Centre is one such US-based organisation that endorses Equality Labs. It is also the same organisation that filed an amicus curiae brief with the court as a party which has an interest in the outcome of the now infamous Cisco case.
California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) brought a suit against Cisco alleging that the company’s managers who belong to a higher caste had discriminated against the complainant who belongs to a lower caste. The lawsuit notes that the Dalit Indian employee (an alumni of the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology) is darker-complexioned than his higher caste managers. I wonder then how do they fit the dark Brahmin found across India in their proposed narrative? Unless of course the science they rely on is based on Howard Hope Risley’s outdated racist observations that have long been debunked. On the other hand, Cisco’s investigation did not find any such caste based discrimination.
HARVARD WAS THE FIRST Ivy League University, in December 2021, to recognise caste-based discrimination on the basis of a presentation personally given to the University by the Equality Labs team. Subsequently, Harvard Law Review published an essay authored by Charanya Krishnaswami and Guha Krishnamurthy called “Title VII and Caste Discrimination.”
That essay aims to establish that Caste discrimination is prevalent and cognizable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because it is a “type of racial discrimination, religious discrimination and national origin discrimination.” The hypothesis is based on the Cisco case as well as findings by the left ecosystem’s favourite mouthpiece The Washington Post which claimed that thirty women Dalit engineers — here the operative word is ”women,“ because intersectionality of the marginalised makes any case far too complex to navigate — “anonymously” shared their personal statements of caste bias with the Hinduphobic newspaper. The authors also thank Equality Labs for their “pathbreaking” work. And give them credit for being the inspiration behind the essay.
Though it raises questions over Harvard’s commitment to research, analysis and methodology, the fact is that other American Universities such as Brandeis University (the first University to make caste as a part of its non-discrimination policy), University of California (Davis), California State University, Colby College, Colorado College, amongst many others, have already recognized caste-based discrimination.
Needless, many of these Hinduphobic agendas are led by politician-academics like Jaspreet Mahal. She is an anti-Modi-government crusader and vocal Aam Aadmi Party supporter and failed Green Party candidate (Green Party promotes “ecological socialism”). This aspirational politician who garnered less than 2000 votes from Ealing Southall has deep-seated resentment for Hindus but was a central part of the Brandeis Committee that was tasked with making byelaws to prohibit caste discrimination as a part of University policy.
Additionally, Alphabet Workers Union has supported through a resolution, the need for caste to be made a protected category in the United States as the existing national framework does not specifically address caste discrimination. The California State Student Association (CSSA) has done the same. International Centre For Dalit Rights (ICDR) including scholars and various civil rights groups gave representation to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in the hope of bringing in a separate legislation for the same.
JUMPING INTO THIS BURNING DEBATE is Vidya Krishnan, a contributor to the ultra-far left magazine, The Caravan. She is a self-admitted detester of the Indian diaspora. A Neiman Fellow at Harvard University, Vidya Krishnan in her article titled The Casteism I See in America also quotes the pathbreaking, all-revealing, “inspirational“ 1,500 self-respondent based report by Equality Labs.
It’s hard to imagine that Harvard, the pinnacle of all second-world aspirations, the grandiose dream that the young and ambitious rarely dare to dream, mostly because of the huge price tag, produces such mediocrity that has no understanding of survey methodology or research design. No academic worth their salt in India would consider the Equality Labs survey as being a survey let alone a sacrosanct piece of work to establish a narrative as serious as caste discrimination.
In reality, most responsible institutions won’t do such a thing in America either. Vidya, in the same article, quotes the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Survey to “prove“ her case. However, if she had gone through the report, she would have not missed footnote 29 which explicitly states that the Equality Labs survey which is being used to propel the debate and bring in legislation against caste discrimination, cannot be relied upon. The Carnegie survey states in the footnote that “it is likely that the sample does not fully represent the South Asian American population and could skew in favour of those who have strong views about caste, while the existence of caste discrimination in India is incontrovertible, its precise extent and intensity in the United States can be contested”.
The average reader may then be compelled to ask what the reason for such apparent oversight of facts is. The answer is in the details. The author quotes Equality Labs executive director Thenmozhi Soundararajan, saying, “in fact it is all castes against all castes.”
It is not the truth but it is the self-loathing Hindu’s deep-seated desire to keep this pot on the boil. Though it’s not important to the Hindu community that left wing writers take cognisance of the flimsy nature of the Equality Labs survey, it is however important to the Hindu community that government organisations like DFEH do before they push for legislation on caste.
THE HINDU COMMUNITY has been the most successful diaspora around the world, bringing their culture, religious practices and work ethic to the countries they have adopted as their home. They tend to assimilate well in their host countries, are successful entrepreneurs as well as professionals, and wield substantial political influence. They are generous and give back to the societies that they are welcomed by.
For instance, the Hindu Faith-based non-profit organisation Sewa International’s response to Covid-19 translated to $15 million in food, PPE kits, medical supplies and groceries being served. Over 5000 volunteers were engaged, and this was just in the United States. Their Covid relief extended to Pakistan, Iraq, Bangladesh, Trinidad amongst a host of other countries in need, irrespective of race, gender, religion or nationality. But the chances of this being spoken of or used by the Hindu diaspora to defend themselves and their egalitarian approach to life will be a rarity. The issue lies with the Hindu communities complacency to protect themselves, prevent their identity from being attacked and leverage their strengths. It’s been a long standing psychological deficit. Individual safeguarding of interest comes naturally to them but to defend the community as a whole does not.
The caste debate in the United States is one such example of the complacency that the Hindu community faces. On one hand, left-leaning academics, journalists and career rabble-rousers have come together to create fault lines where none exist. The intent is solely to demonise a community that has been the favourite punching bag for all those desperate to be the messiahs of the woke world. To destroy the homogeneity that the Hindu community enjoys.
The current non-discrimination policy can satisfactorily address the issue of caste discrimination if at all a case comes up. But to single out Hindus, to make them targets makes the demand itself discriminatory. Of course, some argue that this will not just single out Hindus but all South Asians. However, one does not need to look beyond those involved in pushing this propaganda to know that the agenda is to pathologize the Hindu community.
The trial of Hinduism in 1911, was hinged on the misrepresentation of the Hindu religion itself. Olea Bulls’ petition stated that the “testator’s brain had been inoculated with the bacteria of faith taught by Indian Swamis.” Apparently, the evidence was that she burnt incense and meditated.
The New York Times, through its myopic lens (which clearly has not been fixed) called Hinduism a “strange cult.”
The Boston Herald mocked the “weird doctrines of their creed,” and Olea Bull won the case. As fate would have it, Olea didn’t enjoy the fruits of denigrating a religion, dying on the day the settlement was announced.
To be clear, the moral of this story does not lie in Olea dying, but in the ease with which she maligned the Hindus and won.
Hindu Dharma has been put on trial once again in our own times.
Hinduphobia and Hinduphilia in US culture is a paper by Stephen Prothero. Anecdotes of the Olea trial have been taken from the same.
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