Statements against Caste-based Discrimination by Today's Leading Hindu Religious and Spiritual Leaders and Organizations
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The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) believes that most major Hindu religious or spiritual leaders and organizations do not support caste-based discrimination and birth-based caste. Nevertheless, Hinduism is often blamed as a major cause of the caste problem in India. Therefore, from 2007 to 2010, the Hindu American Foundation asked prominent Hindu spiritual and religious leaders to provide the following (click here to see the request letter sent to the leaders):
- A clear statement against caste-based discrimination and against a birth-based social hierarchy
- Material from Hindu scriptures that support this position
- Efforts they are involved with to promote the integration and upward mobility of Harijans within society
- Additional explanation about the origins of, present status of, and solutions to the caste problem today
HAF is pleased to present statements from 14 prominent Hindu religious and spiritual leaders and organizations who responded to HAF’s request. The inclusion of these statements should not be construed as an endorsement or approval of the contents of HAF's report. While some of these statements were submitted independent of a review of HAF's draft report, several leaders and organizations did review the draft report and provided detailed comments in addition to submitting their statements. Please click on the name of the leader or organization to view the statements (in alphabetical order).
- Swami Bodhananda, Founder and Spiritual Head, Sambodh Foundation
- Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, Spiritual Head of the Kauai Adheenam, Publisher of Hinduism Today magazine, and President of the Hindu Heritage Endowment
- Swami Chidanand Saraswati, President and Spiritual Head, Parmarth Niketan Ashram
- Sri Chinna Jeeya Swami, Pontiff, Vishishta Advaita Tradition of Sri Ramanujacharya
- Swami Dayananda Saraswati as Convenor, Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha
- The International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) Office of Communications
- Amma Sri Karunamayi, Spiritual Leader and Humanitarian
- Swami Paramanand Giriji Maharaj, Spiritual Head, Akhand Paramdham
- Swami Prabhananda, General Secretary, Ramakrishna Order
- Pramukh Swami Maharaj, Spiritual Head of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS)
- Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder and Spiritual Head, the Art of Living Foundation
- Swami Tejomayanand, Chairman and Spiritual Head, Chinmaya Mission
- Swami Varadananda, Monk, Vivekananda Vendata Society - Chicago
- Pravrajika Vrajaprana, Nun, Vendanta Society of Southern California
Some of them preferred to submit a statement representing their organization or a statement from their guru or spiritual mentor. Many of them submitted statements from Hindu scriptures to support their position and their perspective on the origins of, present status of, and solutions to the caste problem today. All of them are clearly against caste-based discrimination and against a birth-based hierarchy and believe that Hinduism, when followed properly, can be a solution to the problem of caste-based discrimination, inequality and injustice anywhere in the world.
These Hindu leaders are also involved in social service projects in India, America, and other parts of the world, including projects focusing on socially and economically underprivileged members of society; we have included that material elsewhere in this report.
HAF is tremendously appreciative of the following prominent Hindu religious and spiritual leaders and organizations for contributing to this part of the report and taking time out of their very busy schedules to support HAF’s initiative.
It is the hope of HAF that the following statements will, in addition to the scriptural material provided, do the following:
- Show people concerned about India’s social problems that caste-based discrimination and a birth-based hierarchy are not integral parts of Hinduism, as supported by Hindu spiritual and religious leaders and organizations and by Hindu scriptures.
- Encourage Hindus to do more work in the realm of eradicating caste-based discrimination and a birth-based hierarchy.