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What is Hindu advocacy and activism

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The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees us the right to life, citizenship, property, freedom of movement, constitutional freedoms of thought, expression, religion and peaceful assembly. The foundations of the global human rights movement involve resistance to colonialism, imperialism, slavery, racism, segregation, patriarchy, and oppression of indigenous peoples.

Hindus are up against much these days. Radical Islam, missionaries, a fraudulent academia, secularism, misappropriation and Hinduphobic politicians all seem to want to see an end to Hinduism. They seek to destroy the last remaining, ancient non-Abrahamic tradition left on the planet. Isn’t it time we start to organize and start to advocate and promote Hinduism in a positive way? Isn’t it time we start to become active in defending ourselves and dharma itself? What are some things we can do? How would we define Hindu advocacy and activism, and what would that look like?

It is time we stand up and defend pro-Hindu causes and policies. It’s time we stand up and speak for those Hindus who won’t or can’t speak for themselves due to fear of public ridicule and backlash, discrimination, job loss, the destruction of temples, assault and death. It’s time we stand up and state our clarity of purpose which involves empowerment, respect, free speech, equality and diversity. It’s time we stand up and speak for our universal Hindu community and for Hindus worldwide. Our views, needs and opinions must be heard in the public square.

We must begin and continue to promote and support our interests and causes. We must find our own voices and help other Hindus, silenced by injustices and bigotry, to find theirs. We must advocate for ourselves and against marginalization and systematic Hinduphobia, racism and xenophobia. We must promote social justice, social inclusion and human rights for ourselves and others who are diminished by Christian and Muslim majorities, as well as by Indian secularism.

This should all be done in the most pragmatic, intelligent, direct and empowering ways possible. This especially relates to indegenous and/or Indian Hindus, but all Hindus of the world must come together with plans of advocacy which identify our needs for political support. We must raise awareness in our communities and around the world. It’s time we all do our part in speaking truth to power and opposing injustice, discrimination and disempowerment.

We must also always be willing to listen and learn. We have to be ready for open discussion with both different and like-minded people. We must seek out alliances with other individuals and groups who share our values. We must maintain deliberate focus on short-term and long-term goals. We must be open to various ways to share our message. We must become aware of opposing positions and be able to counter and refute them. We must be able to counter misconceptions and fallacies regarding our Dharma, it’s culture, practices and ideologies.

We can begin by establishing our objectives in a clear and concise manner, basing them on our own diligent research. We can start forming relationships with each other, with various Hindu groups and other groups who are striving for civil rights and social justice.

Our long and short-term strategies must include a great measure of communications including but not limited to the use of music, art, digital tools, blogs, Email marketing and social media platforms. We must also have regular contact with politicians, legislators and media outlets. Along with this comes the ability to use data and statistics to our advantage.

We must become intellectual warriors and educate the ignorant. Hinduism is a religion, culture, philosophy and way of life most people in the world do not understand. This has resulted in false, negative and detrimental stereotypes and false narratives. People fear what they don’t understand. They come to hate what they fear and destroy what they hate. Trying to explain Hinduism to non-Hindus can be like a professor of mathematics trying to explain differential calculus to a first grader, so we have to learn to explain it with some measure of simplicity, clarity and eloquence.

We must become active with our causes. This includes organizing and participating in boycotts, demonstrations, protests, letter-writing campaigns, petitions and social media campaigns. We must become willing to participate in rallies, marches, sit-ins and strikes.

We can do so individually and collectively with purposeful, organized and sustained action. We can practice civil engagement using literature and pamphlets to disseminate information regarding our causes. We can use the same to educate others who hold negative values and mistaken ideas regarding Hinduism, Hindus and Indian politics. Their possession of false stereotypes can be altered towards an educated and accurate view and attitude.

“Many people, especially ignorant people, want to punish you for speaking the truth, for being correct, for being you. Never apologize for being correct, or for being years ahead of your time. If you’re right and you know it, speak your mind. ~Gandhi   

It’s time Hindus start to advocate and promote the beauty of the Hindu Sanatana Dharma. Despite the myriad of knowledge and wisdom within the Dharma, and despite the great diversity therein, Hinduism has basic tenets, principles and standards. Hindus need to come to a consensus on what these are, accompanied by a collective understanding of how they should be properly interpreted, as per shastra (scripture). A lack of knowledge, equals a lack of advocacy. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

There are hundreds of millions of non-Hindus, who are unconsciously starving for the spirituality, knowledge and wisdom of the Vedas and the Hindu Dharma. Every temple in countries where Hindus are in the minority, must start Vedantic centers, open to all. They should all devote at least one evening per month, to welcome and educate newcomers or anyone who might have questions or interests in Hinduism. This could also be good for many Hindus, especially the Hindu youth living in countries where they are in the ethnic and religious minority. Temples in India also need to take the endeavors of breaking free from governmental restraints.

“Hindu temples were traditionally wonderful places of learning and education, not just devoted to worship. They were also centers of art and culture. Government control of Hindu temples has not only expropriated their wealth, but reduced their role in uplifting society.” ~Vamada Shastriji

In order to unapologetically share our Dharma, we’d need to organize. We do not have a Pope, and we do not need a Pope. We need multiple “Popes”, or rather multiple Mahamandaleshwar(s), gurus, pandits, acharyas and pujaris. As lay people, we’d need to be able to give easy to understand explanations regarding topics like: yoga, sadhana, karma, reincarnation, moksha, Brahman, atman, meditation, puja, Ishvara, gurus, varna, etc.

We’d need to counter false narratives and stereotypes regarding things like: caste, polytheism, idol worship, the sacredness of cows, Hindutva, etc. We’d need to promote our Dharma and let nature take its course. We’d need to appeal to open-minded and intelligent people, and not waste our time with others. We’d need to use attraction and education, rather than propaganda or promotion focused on conversion with a competitive mindset. We can leave that nonsense to the Christians. Dharma is not about world domination. It’s about harmony and a seeking for higher awareness. It’s time more Hindus wake up to see their dharma is to protect the greater universal dharma. In the Kali yuga, Hinduism, the current form of Sanatana Dharma, is not immune to becoming diminished to the point of great endangerment. 

Sean Bradrick is an Ayurvedic counselor and writer living in Omaha, Nebraska USA. Author of  ‘A Hindu’s Guide to Advocacy and Activism’. 

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