HAF Writes to New York Times Correcting Hindu Caste Reference

San Francisco, CA (August 31, 2010) - HAF submitted the following Letter to the Editor to the New York Times.  The letter was not published.
Dear Editor:
Re: "A Sikh Temple Where All May Eat, and Pitch In"
While Lydia Polgreen offers a vivid account of India’s pluralism in describing the Golden Temple of Amritsar, India, she draws an erroneous contrast between Sikhism and Hinduism in stating that caste is “at the core” of the latter.  It is true that historically, many Hindus adhered to a birth-based caste system, but caste discrimination is most certainly not sanctioned in Hindu scripture and has been outlawed in India for decades.  Hindu teachings speak of the equality of all beings, as each soul is a spark of the Divine -- rendering caste discrimination as an affront to this core concept.
Caste divisions are seen among Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and Sikhs in South Asia, and reformers in each tradition are working to eradicate discrimination.  Conflating Hinduism with caste as Polgreen does is unfortunate and misleading.
Pooja Deopura
Member, Executive Council
Hindu American Foundation