Hinduism and America: How Hindu Dharma is Transforming the West

How Hindu thought travelled to the West and seeped into its consciousness

World Hindu Council of America (VHPA), in collaboration with the Hindu University of America (HUA), is pleased to introduce their latest milestone publication, “Hinduism and America: How Hindu Dharma is Transforming the West.

In addition to recognizing the celebration of October 2022 as Hindu Heritage Month, this book also marks the 52nd anniversary of VHPA as a leading organization serving the Hindu American community.

Hinduism and America: How Hindu Dharma is Transforming the West” is an attempt to chronicle the story of this transformative movement. Naturally, this complex story had to be told from a number of different perspectives. Undoubtedly, a big part of the narrative had to revolve around the lives and times of the early pioneers – the Swamis, Yogis, and Gurus – who led the spiritual side of this transformation. Likewise, it had to do justice to the living history of the ordinary Hindu Americans and their outsized contributions to the ongoing transformation of America. However, the telling of this story would have been utterly incomplete without a description of their core values and beliefs, their social structure – in short, their cultural heritage.

Accordingly, the book has been divided into three parts. Part 1 focuses on the cultural heritage of the Hindu Americans. Part 2 traces the history of the transmission of Hindu thought over the last 250 years, but especially during the last 125 years, to the Western world and particularly to America. The last section puts the spotlight on the multidimensional contributions of ordinary Hindu Americans who came here mostly in the last half-century.

Authored jointly by Dr. Jai Bansal, the Vice President of Education of VHPA, and Kalyan Viswanathan, the President of Hindu University of America, this 200-page beautifully illustrated coffee table book describes the sense and sequence of how Hindu ideas landed in America, how they were received, processed, adopted, adapted, and absorbed into everyday American life. It also gives voice to the recently immigrated Hindu Americans, who have imparted their own special textures and colors to the professional and social fabric of America in ways that could not have been imagined even 50 years ago.

Hinduism and America” has been a major undertaking for VHPA and HUA, representing more than two years and thousands of hours of research, curation, contextualization, and organization of wide-ranging material from disparate sources. Therefore, it gives us immense pleasure to note that it has received glowing reviews and endorsements from several prominent thought leaders.

Phil Goldberg, the award-winning author of “American Veda,” in his foreword, said this about this book:

“The Vedic influence on America has been a profound blessing, and each generation of Hindu Americans has been a vital contributor to that ongoing transmission. This thoroughly enjoyable book, from which I learned a great deal, documents important features of the Hindu American narrative. It will help ensure that the integrity of traditional dharmic wisdom will be protected and preserved at the same time it’s being adapted (as it must be) to unforeseeable cultural changes.”

Sankrant Sanu, author, entrepreneur, and the founder/CEO of the publishing house, the Garuda Prakashan, expressed his appreciation for the book with these words:

“It is nigh impossible to condense an over 5000-year-old tradition and the multi-hundred year experience and encounters of the Hindu traditions and of Hindus with the West and America. The influence of Hindus on Europe run even older with the ancient Greeks interacting with and learning from Hindu traditions as far back as Pythagoras and even earlier. Multiple volumes cannot contain this; yet the authors have done a remarkable job putting this together. The baton is now passed on to the new generation of Hindu Americans both of Indian origin, from the Indian diaspora across the world and from those in the West who have embraced Hindu traditions…Thus this book is an offering from this generation to the next.”

Two well-known stalwarts of the Hindu American, Prof Ved Nanda and Prof. Subhash Kak, also have given glowing reviews to this work.

Padma Bhushan Prof. Ved Nanda, Director, The Ved Nanda Center for International & Comparative Law

“The authors vividly capture the 250-year long progression of Hindu thought in America, all unplanned and unorchestrated. They admirably perform this Herculean task and accomplish their goal of introducing to the reader the tenets of the Hindu tradition and the main actors and salient events that have left such an indelible imprint and lasting impact on America. The story they tell is intriguing, enchanting, and indeed profound, and the tapestry they weave is rich in its splendor. This book should adorn every Hindu American’s coffee table.”

Padma Shri Prof. Subhash Kak, Regents Professor of Computer Science, Oklahoma State University, Author and Vedic Scholar

“A beautifully produced book that presents the many aspects of the Indian experience in America and contributions of Indians to American life.”