As practicing followers of Sanatana-dharma/Hinduism in America and other parts of the world, it has been far too many times that we have heard of dalits, vanavasis, or other lower classes of people in India who have not been allowed to enter Hindu temples, even though they consider themselves to be Hindus. This is most often perpetuated by those who consider themselves to be of the higher castes.
Such actions, we believe, are contrary to the real spirit of Hinduism which honors all forms of worship of God and embraces into its fold anyone who sincerely wants to become a Hindu. Many of us as western Hindus have experienced the same problem ourselves, being refused entrance to temples in India merely because of the color of our skin, not the Dharma that we follow.
Now we are hearing of another example of this. A person who wanted to worship Hanuman at the local temple was not allowed to do so. So he built his own temple in his house. Then he was persecuted by the local high caste Hindus for doing so. After seeking protection from the police, the chief minister, and home secretary, he was given no justice and was forced to flee his own town. He was given assistance only by the Center for Dalit Human Rights in Jaipur. Now he is considering becoming a Muslim for having been given no place within the Hindu fold.
Why must such disgraceful behavior happen within Hinduism? Anyone who agrees with or participates in this sort of prejudice is only contributing to negative stereotypes of Hinduism and its declining respect in the modern world. Real Sanatana-dharma recognizes that everyone is a spiritual being within a material body. Thus, everyone has a right to inquire and participate in a process, as elaborated in the Vedic scripture, wherein they can realize their true spiritual identity. This is real Hinduism, not that it is confined to a chosen few.
One who denies the rights of someone to participate in Santana-dharma is to act contrary and in direct opposition to the Vedic cause. They become enemies to humanity by such disservice, and contribute to the injustice that is blamed on Hinduism and Hindus in general. This takes away from the credibility of Hinduism and adds to the demerits and reasons why people should follow or convert to some other spiritual path. This is tearing down the future of Hinduism.
Anti-Hindu groups love to get a hold of this sort of information and spread it around as one of the factors that are wrong with Hinduism. In fact, it is embarrassing to hear about such incidents or witness how others perceive it, especially for those of us who are working to defend Hinduism and provide a correct understanding of Vedic culture. Therefore, as followers of Sanatana-dharma, we ask all Hindus and temples to break down any walls of exclusivity and allow all interested people the freedom to be welcome and to participate in Sanatana-dharma.
We ask that all spiritual authorities, Sankaracharyas, gurus, and representatives of Vedic culture to make a stand and declare the rights of all people to participate in Vedic culture, and be welcomed into its fold. There is strength in numbers and it is time that we stop seeing a decrease in the number of Hindus because of the walls of exclusiveness in who is allowed to be a Hindu or participate in Vedic culture. We are watching what happens and are gathering a growing force of Indian and non-Indian Hindus to protest any time such injustice takes place.
All Hindus must understand that if they do not broaden their care and concern for others, then those in need will seek solace elsewhere and convert to other forms of religion, such as Buddhism, Islam or Christianity, some of which look at Hinduism with disdain and disgust. This is already happening on an increasing scale. Those Hindus who display such prejudice against others only contribute to this exodus. Other religions are actively making converts and this merely makes it easier for them to do so.
It is time for all Hindus to think globally and open their doors and be willing to share their culture and all its benefits with others, especially the growing number of westerners who are showing interest in Eastern philosophy. Nothing but good can come from such an outlook and we encourage others to adopt it. This will certainly broaden a correct understanding of what is genuine Vedic culture and will contribute to preserve and protect it.
With best wishes to all,
The Vedic Friends Association
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