Wednesday, September 28, 2016

'Hindu Children of Tomorrow in U.S.'
          -  P.Natarajan.

It would be of interest to assess the trends in the past and the present scenario before predicting the likely picture of Hindu Americans of next generation.

Themes in Hinduism :-


Hierarchy plays an important role within the Hindu families where men outrank the women of similar age. Siblings too recognize the differences in age. Younger ones learn to address elders respectfully like anna, akka, appa, amma, patti and so on rather than by name.

Hierarchy is reflected in the interdependence in the family. When a child eats, his mother puts the food into his mouth. Someone lends a hand to help the girl to unload the pot of water from her waist. The illustrations exhibit the intense emotional interdependence within a Hindu family. Economic activities also are deeply embedded in the social nexus. The joint family is highly valued. The woman after the marriage come to stay with the members of husband’s family and strongly supports the loyalty prevailing in her new environment. The husband avoids showing his affection to his better half openly at home.  A child learns from the early hood that his fate has been ‘written’.by divine forces. A belief spreads in his mind that his life would be shaped by powerful deities that the family worships. The child also learns to maintain an ongoing relationship with the family deity.

Immigration to U.S.:-

Let us now look at the subject from another angle. India supports a population more than 3.5 times the size of American population in a space of one third the size. Further the statistics estimate the number would go up to some 1.50 billion by 2050.  As a sequel to survive or to establish a better career many Indians choose U.S. as their first choice to immigrate. The vast majority of American Hindus are immigrants from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bhutan. Additionally the U.S. has a number converted Hindus in its fold. Passage of immigration Act 1965 had helped to increase the number. The present scenario tells that Hindu Americans hold the highest education levels among all religious communities in U.S. Educated Hindus are most welcome by the Immigration Policy. The first woman to set foot in American.soil was Anandibai Joshi in 1883 and she became a doctor after qualifying for M.D. from Pennsylvania University. American Hindus account for 0.70 percent of total U.S. population. An increase of 1 million Hindu population was witnessed in 2015. The population of Hindus in California, New York amounts to more than 5 lakhs while Colorado’s and Michigan’s, being the places of visit by us this time, are 70000 and 22000 respectively. American Hindus have a household income of U.S.$100000 or little more.

Bhakti Movement in U.S.:-


We have seen  some salient themes governing Hinduism and other statistical data. It would be now appropriate to look at the spiritual or bhakti movements that enliven in U.S. Swami Vivekananda brought Hinduism to West at 1893 Parliament of World Religions. His Chicago address is world famous. Swami Rama Tirtha visited 1902 for 2 years lecturing Vedanta. In 1920 Paramahansa Yogananda was India’s delegate at the International Congress of Religious Liberals held in Boston.  Noe Hindu movements like International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), Swaminarayan Sanstha, Chinmaya Mission, Swadhyay Pariwar are well established.
Rama Dasa ( Dasa means a servant of Sri Rama ) was a teacher and spread the value of Hinduism by eloquent lectures in U.S. Hindu American have formed the Hindu American Foundation which represents American Hindus and their aim to educate people about Hinduism.

The Vedanta Society has been important in subsequent Parliaments. More than 18 million Americans are now practicing some form of Yoga. Kriya Yoga was promoted by Paramahansa Yogananda. A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada initiated the Krishna Conscious or Hare Krishna or Bhakti Yoga movement.

Communities of Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Jain, Buddhists, Parsis and Jews have established their religions in US. PEW Research Center accounts 51% consider as Hindus, 18% as Christians, 10% as Muslims, 5% as Sikhs and 2% as Jains. Sikh Gurdwara was the first religious center established in Stockton in Cal. in 1912.

Hindu Temples in U.S.A.:-

(Malibu Temple in Cal.)

As early as 1957 Shiva Murugan Temple was established in California. Maha Vallabha Ganapathi Devasthana which was established in 1972 in New York saw a significant renovation and expansion in recent times. In Texas Radha Madhava Swami stands as largest and oldest Temple in Austin. Malibu Venkataramana Temple - picture above - (1981) in Calabasas, Pittsburgh Venkateswara Temple are visited frequently by the tourists. Swaminarayan Temples exist in several cities across U.S. Someswara Temple opened in May 2011 in Clyde in North Carolina - built to help people to live true to their innate spirituality and uphold the purity of Vedas. This temple is run by a vedic Pandit who performs Vedic ceremonies daily. I have cited the names of only a few temples in U.S. just to exhort the theme under  purview. Parashakti Temple in Pontiac, Michigan is worshiped as Shaktipeetam (Theertha Peetam) in U.S.

                          ( Parashakti Amman ( Shakti Peetam in Pontia, MI )

Hindu Children of Tomorrow n U.S.-

The past and present trends in U.S. focused in this article up to now upholds the traditions and practices of Hinduism and no doubt will be  carried out in future also. The rites and rituals which are ongoing in temples in U.S.A. today will be continued  in line with agamam and vedic practice.  Religious ceremonies like Upanayanam, marriages, Seemantham and so on will also take place in the traditional ways.  It is left to the individuals to perform prayers, संध्यावन्दन  on  day to day basis. The faith what the parents hold would be inculcated by the  children of tomorrow and promoted by the priests or gurus available. The trend will be similar to what the children of tomorrow in India will practice.

Many concepts of Hinduism like Karma Theory, reincarnation, yoga have centered in the main stream and are viewed with esteem and belief by American Hindus. Reincarnation, the core concept of Hinduism receives acceptance.

Cardinal Virtues:-

Prudence, temperance, fortitude and justice are the cardinal virtues which apply to both religious and nonreligious people alike. These virtues are taught and will continue to be taught in the times to come to motivate the children of diverse background with specific content in the curriculum subjects to mold the children of tomorrow. Character in the long run is the decisive factor in the life of an individual and of nations alike. The kind of men that the country turnout will determine the civilization. Respect, perseverance, compassion, integrity are values that the children of tomorrow will cherish and make others wonder what they are up to !!



Post a Comment

<< Home