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Hinduism in the United States

Hinduism in the United States

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Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 is a minority religion in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, American Hindus accounting for an estimated 0.4% of total US population.The vast majority of American Hindus are Indian Americans, immigrants from India and Nepal and their descendants, besides a much smaller number of converts.

While there were isolated sojourns by Hindus in the United States during the 19th century, Hindu presence in the United States was virtually non-existent before the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Services (INS) Act of 1965.


The ARIS study of 2001 found some 1.1 million adherents of Hinduism in the United States ("American Hindus"), corresponding to 0.4% of US population. The United States Department of State
United States Department of State
The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

's International Religious Freedom Report 2004 cites a slightly larger number of 1,478,670, or 0.5 % of the total population.


Swami Vivekananda
Swami Vivekananda
Swami Vivekananda , born Narendranath Dutta , was the chief disciple of the 19th century mystic Ramakrishna Paramahansa and the founder of the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission...

 addressed the World's Parliament of Religions in 1893 in Chicago. He spent two years in the United States lecturing in several cities including Chicago, Detroit, Boston and New York. In 1902 Swami Rama Tirtha
Swami Rama Tirtha
Swami Ram Tirth , also known as Swami Ram, was an Indian teacher of the Hindu philosophy of Vedanta. He was among the first notable teachers of Hinduism to lecture in the United States, traveling there in 1902. He was preceded by Swami Vivekananda in 1893, and followed by Paramahansa Yogananda in...

 visited the US for about two years lecturing on the philosophy of Vedanta
Vedānta was originally a word used in Hindu philosophy as a synonym for that part of the Veda texts known also as the Upanishads. The name is a morphophonological form of Veda-anta = "Veda-end" = "the appendix to the Vedic hymns." It is also speculated that "Vedānta" means "the purpose or goal...

. In 1920 Paramahansa Yogananda
Paramahansa Yogananda
Paramahansa Yogananda , born Mukunda Lal Ghosh , was an Indian yogi and guru who introduced many westerners to the teachings of meditation and Kriya Yoga through his book, Autobiography of a...

 was India's delegate at the International Congress of Religious Liberals held in Boston.

Prior to 1965, Hindu immigration to the U.S. was minuscule and isolated. In those earlier days, visitors, students and some traders were primarily the only ones who bothered to set foot in the USA. The Bellingham Riots
Bellingham riots
The Bellingham riots occurred on September 4, 1907, in Bellingham, Washington, USA. A mob of 400-500 white men, predominantly members of the Asiatic Exclusion League, with intentions to exclude East Indian immigrants from the work force of the local lumber mills, attacked the homes of the Indians....

 in Bellingham, Washington
Bellingham, Washington
Bellingham is the largest city in, and the county seat of, Whatcom County in the U.S. state of Washington. It is the twelfth-largest city in the state. Situated on Bellingham Bay, Bellingham is protected by Lummi Island, Portage Island, and the Lummi Peninsula, and opens onto the Strait of Georgia...

 on September 5, 1907 epitomized the low tolerance in the USA for Indians and Hindus. Despite such events, some people including professionals stayed and worked until the Immigration and Nationality Services (INS) Act of 1965 was passed. This opened the doors to Hindu immigrants who wished to work and start families in the United States. It included Hindu preachers as well, who spread awareness of the religion among a people that had little contact with it.

Also during the 1960s, Hindu teachers found resonance in the UScounter-culture, leading to the formation of a number of Neo-Hindu
"Neo-Hindu" refers to Hinduism-inspired new religious movements,* in India, see Hindu revivalism* in the West, see Hinduism in the West-See also:*Hindu denominations#Newer movements*List of new religious movements...

movements such as the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
International Society for Krishna Consciousness
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness , known colloquially as the Hare Krishna movement, is a Gaudiya Vaishnava religious organization. It was founded in 1966 in New York City by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada...

 founded by Swami Prabhupada. Other influential Indians of a Hindu faith are Chinmoy and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi , born Mahesh Prasad Varma , developed the Transcendental Meditation technique and was the leader and guru of the TM movement, characterised as a new religious movement and also as non-religious...


A joint session of the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 was opened with a prayer in Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 (with some Hindi and English added), read by Venkatachalapathi Samudrala, in September 2000, to honour the visit of Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Atal Bihari Vajpayee is an Indian statesman who served as the tenth Prime Minister of India three times – first for a brief term of 13 days in 1996, and then for two terms from 1998 to 2004. After his first brief period as Prime Minister in 1996, Vajpayee headed a coalition government from...

. The historic gesture was an initiative by Ohio Congressman Sherrod Brown
Sherrod Brown
Sherrod Campbell Brown is the senior United States Senator from Ohio and a member of the Democratic Party. Before his election to the U.S. Senate, he was a member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Ohio's 13th congressional district from 1993 to 2007...

 who requested the US Congress House Chaplain to invite the Hindu priest from the Shiva Vishnu Hindu Temple in Parma, Ohio
Parma, Ohio
Parma is a city in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, United States. It is the largest suburb of Cleveland and the seventh largest city in the state of Ohio...

. Another Hindu prayer was read in the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

  on July 12, 2007, by Rajan Zed, a Hindu chaplain from Nevada. His prayer was interrupted by a couple and their daughter who claimed to be "Christian patriots", which prompted a criticism of candidates in the upcoming presidential election for not criticizing the remarks.
In October 2009, President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 lit a ceremonial Diwali
Diwali or DeepavaliThe name of the festival in various regional languages include:, , , , , , , , , , , , , popularly known as the "festival of lights," is a festival celebrated between mid-October and mid-December for different reasons...

 lamp at the White House to symbolise victory of light over darkness.

Hindu temples in the U.S.

The first Hindu temple is located in Northern California
Northern California
Northern California is the northern portion of the U.S. state of California. The San Francisco Bay Area , and Sacramento as well as its metropolitan area are the main population centers...

. Another earliest Hindu temple in the United States is the Maha Vallabha Ganapathi Devastanam owned by the Hindu Temple Society of North America in Flushing, New York City. It was consecrated on July 4, 1977. This temple recently underwent significant expansion and renovation.

Other prominent temples include the Malibu Hindu Temple
Malibu Hindu Temple
Malibu Hindu Temple , a temple of the Hindu god Venkateswara, built in 1981, is located in the city of Calabasas near Malibu, California in the Santa Monica Mountains. It is owned and operated by the Hindu Temple Society of Southern California...

, built in 1981 and located in Calabasas, is owned and operated by the Hindu Temple Society of Southern California. The temple is near Malibu, California. Apart from these, Swaminarayan temples
Swaminarayan temples
Swaminarayan, the founder of the Swaminarayan Sampraday, established temples, known as mandirs , as part of his philosophy of theism and deity worship. These mandirs are known as Swaminarayan Hindu temples....

 exist in several cities across the country with a sizable following.

See also

  • Californian Hindu textbook controversy
    Californian Hindu textbook controversy
    A controversy in the US state of California concerning the portrayal of Hinduism in history textbooks began in 2005. Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu groups complained that their religions were in part incorrectly or negatively portrayed....

  • List of Hindu temples in the United States
  • Hindu American Foundation
    Hindu American Foundation
    The Hindu American Foundation is an American Hindu human rights group advocating on behalf of the Hindu community in the United States. Dr...

  • Hindu University of America
    Hindu University of America
    The Hindu University of America, also known as the International Vedic Hindu University, is a U.S. non-profit educational institution based in Orlando, Florida...

  • Hindu denominations
    Hindu denominations
    Hinduism comprises numerous sects or denominations. The denominations are roughly comparable to different religions. The main divisions in current Hinduism are Shaivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism, and Smartism...

  • :Category:Converts to Hinduism

Further reading

External links