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Critical Podium Dewanand


Hinduism As a World Religion Down the Ages. Hindus around the World

Sacrificer           unknown
Sacrifice code       wfor0417
Sacrifice date       25 march 2009

Hinduism As a World Religion Down the Ages

Hindus around the World

  • http://www.shopumust.com/hindus.html
  • Hinduism commands the adherence of approximately 850
    million people in the world. Thus every 7th human
    being is a Hindu. This makes Hinduism the third
    largest religion in the world, after Christianity
    (approx. 2 billion) and Islam (1.3 billion). These
    figures certainly give the impression that Hinduism is
    a world religion. However, a look at the geographical
    spread of Hindus (Table 1) shows that the impression
    is deceptive:
    (Source: Encyclopedia Brittannica)

    CountryApproximate Percentage of
    Total Hindu PopulationNumber of Hindus in Millions
    India 82 800
    Nepal 89 19.69
    Sri Lanka 15 2.67
    Bangladesh 11 16
    Bhutan 20 0.17
    Pakistan 1.3 2.2
    Malaysia 7.1 1.2
    Indonesia 2.3 3.8\
    Singapore 6 0.09
    Vietnam -0.05
    Hong Kong <1.0 0.04
    Burma 2.0 0.24
    SouthAfrica 2 0.7
    Mauritius 50.6 0.58
    Kenya, Uganda <1.0 0.2
    Kuwait,Oman, UAE 15 0.17
    Fiji 41 0.3
    Trinidad and Tobago 302 40.36
    Guyana 2938 0.25
    Surinam 3030 0.1
    Jamaica 30 3
    Canada 0.5 0.22
    USA 0.41
    UK 0.5 0.4
    Netherlands 1 0.16

    It is clear that more than 95% of all Hindus reside in
    India and approx. 98% in South Asia. Besides, Hindus
    in most countries outside South Asia are emigrants
    from India and other countries of the region. Only the
    Hindus of South Asia, Vietnam and Indonesia are
    indigenous. In contrast, Christians dominate countries
    of the entire Western hemisphere, Europe, Oceania and
    southern half of the African Continent while Islam
    dominates in scores of countries in North Africa, West
    Asia besides Albania in Europe, Pakistan, Afghanistan,
    Maldives and Bangladesh in South Asia and Malaysia,
    Brunei and Indonesia in the Far East. The two
    predominant reasons for the geographical confinement
    of Hinduism are:

    1. Traditionally, Hinduism is a non-proselytizing
    religion i.e., Hindus do not normally convert people
    of other faiths to their own. Forcible conversions
    have never been carried (except in a solitary instance
    around the Independence of India) and even peaceful
    methods have not been employed on any significant
    scale. This contrasts totally with the record of
    Semitic faiths like Christianity and Islam.

    2. In the last few centuries, Hindus in many countries
    have suffered severe reverses due to absorption by or
    conversion to other religions or massacres and
    persecution leading to migrations to India or
    conversion to other faiths.

    It is pertinent to point out, however, that several
    fundamental tenets of Hinduism have been accepted
    whole heartedly by Non-Hindus all over the world. For
    instance, one in four residents of the United States
    believes in the doctrine of rebirth. The
    Hindu-Buddhist spiritual discipline of Yoga has been
    gaining popularity in the West for quite some time and
    has even been granted recognition by certain churches.

    1.2 Historical Decline of Indigenous Hindu Communities

    As stated earlier, Hinduism has suffered serious
    reverses in the last few centuries and this has lead
    to the displacement or extinction of several
    indigenous Hindu communities. Following is a brief
    account of the same in different regions of the world
    (the adversities faced by emigrant Hindu communities
    like in Surinam and Fiji are beyond the scope of this

    1. Sinkiang (China):

    This region, referred to as `Uttara-Kuru' in Hindu
    scriptures, was inhabited by an Indo- Aryan people
    called Tocharians in remote antiquity. The Tocharians
    adhered to Abhidhamma Buddhism and Saivite forms of
    Hinduism before the onslaught of Mongol tribes from
    the East and the Arabs later. As a result, the
    Tocharians simply disappeared or were absorbed by the
    invading peoples. According to Indian traditions, the
    Shakadvipee and Kamboj Brahmins residing in Bikaner,
    Ghaziabad and several other parts or North India are
    descendants of the Tocharians who fled to India1.

    2. The Middle East:

    Ancient Indian texts refer to Caspian Sea as Kashyapa
    Sagar and the Black Stone at Kaaba, Mecca (revered by
    Muslims) is referred to as a `Sivalinga' ( a Hindu
    icon representing Lord Siva) by a Hindu text
    `Bhavisyat Purana'. This could demonstrate that Indian
    merchants traveled often to these regions for carrying
    on trade. Ruins of Hindu temples are encountered in
    Coastal Iran, Baku (Azerbaijan) and Iraq. Historical
    records mention that fanatical mobs led by St. Gregory
    massacred the tiny emigrant Hindu merchant community
    in what is now Iraq, and smashed the temples and the
    idols therein2.

    3. Afghanistan:

    Referred to as Gandhara and Vahlika in ancient
    Hindu-Buddhist scriptures, Hinduism (Saivite) and
    Buddhism (Mahayana) were the dominant faiths of the
    ancestors of present day Pathans inhabiting the
    Eastern and Southern parts of Afghanistan, before the
    advent of Islam. Around 654 C.E., Arab forces started
    attacking the Hindu Kingdoms of Kabul and Zabul ruled
    by the Shahiya kings. The Pathans resisted for 2
    centuries before they were overwhelmed and forcibly
    converted to Islam3. So great was the massacre of
    Hindus that the local mountain range was renamed as
    `Hindu Kush' meaning `Hindu slaughter'4. With the fall
    of the communist regime in 1980's and after demolition
    of the Babri Masjid in India on December 6, 1992, the
    75000 Hindu minority, mainly resident in Kabul,
    Jalalabad and Kandhar, was targeted selectively and
    their religious sites were descecrated15. They fled
    en-masse to cities like Delhi in India, where they are
    settled now. Several modern day Indian Hindu
    communities like the Sehgals are descendent of Afghan Hindus who fled
    Islamic persecution in Afghanistan several centuries
    ago. The Afghan Hindus have set up a website13, to
    highlight their situation.

    4. Kashmir (India and Pakistan):

    This region is referred to as Kashmir and Kashyapasara
    in Hindu texts like the Nilamata Purana and was the
    seat of Mahayana Buddhism, Vedic Hinduism and
    Pratyabijna school of Hindu philosophy. Kashmir was
    regarded as a cradle of Hindu scholarship till as late
    as the 13th Century C.E. For instance, the Moorish
    traveler Al-Beruni, who sojourned in India, states in
    his memoirs5- "The Hindus have inveterate hatred for
    Muslims for the forces of Islam have utterly ruined
    the prosperity of Hindustan. The Hindus have been
    scattered like atoms of dust and their sciences have
    retreated to far off places like Kashmir, Benares and
    the South." The large scale massacres and forcible
    conversions of Hindus, burning of Hindu scriptures,
    destruction of temples by the subsequent Muslim rulers
    of the region have been documented vividly6,7 and are
    being left out. In modern times, the possession of
    Kashmir has been a major bone of contention between
    India and Pakistan ever since the two countries were
    partitioned from erstwhile British India in 1947 C.E.
    At that time, encouraged by Pakistan, the fanatically
    Muslim Pathan, Afridi and Chitrali tribesmen invaded
    the Hunza, Balistan, Gilgit, Ladakh, Poonch, Rajouri,
    Mirpur and Muzaffarabad regions of Jammu and Kashmir
    and let loose a reign of terror9. The genocide of the
    20% minority of Hindus in these regions was total. For
    instance, the 100,000 strong proud Hindu Vaish
    community of Mirpur and Poonch areas was massacred,
    and their women-folk were sold as slaves in cities of
    Pakistan. More recently, in the last 15 years,
    terrorism in the Kashmir valley, partly fueled by
    Islamic fundamentalism, has lead to massacres of the
    Hindus in the valley. Almost the entire Kashmiri Hindu
    community (300,000) has fled to Jammu, Delhi and other
    parts North India to escape the wrath of Islamic
    terrorists. Members of this erudite and cultured
    community have set up websites to highlight their
    plight 14. In this year alone, the Kashmiri militants
    have killed approximately 150 members of this minority in
    parts of Kashmir- 29 were killed in the village of
    Barankot on April 18, 1998, for their refusal to
    convert to Islam8.

    5. Pakistan:

    Pakistan was a Hindu country till the invasion of
    Sindh by Arabs in 712 C.E. and of Punjab later on by
    Turks and Afghan Muslims. Thereafter, barring brief
    periods, Hindus of the region suffered violent bouts
    of persecution and discrimination at the hands of
    their Muslim rulers. Hoards of Muslims Sufis also
    descended from Iran and Central Asia to preach and
    propagate Islam while the practice of Hindu customs
    and study of Hindu texts was abolished. Consequently,
    millions of Hindus were either killed for refusal to
    convert to Islam, or converted (either under duress,
    or due to their own will to escape the disabilities of
    the Hindu caste system, or to escape crippling Jaziyah
    tax imposed by Muslim rulers on Hindus or to acquire
    material advantages in the Muslim state), or fled to
    other parts of India (for instance, the Arora
    community of N. India is from Aror- the ancient
    capital of Upper Sindh)26. It is well known that the
    Muslim majority areas of India were carved out from
    British India to form Pakistan. The country was comprised of
    two wings- West Pakistan (modern Pakistan) and East
    Pakistan (Bangladesh). The word Pakistan means "Land
    of the Pure"- implying that the founders of Pakistan
    established an Islamic state for pure Muslims from
    India dominated by `impure' non-Muslims. Hindus
    constituted 11% of the population of Pakistan (28% in
    Sindh, 11% in West Punjab, 7% in N.W.F.P. and 8% in
    Baluchistan) in 1946 C.E. when large scale massacres
    of Hindus started10,11. The Hindu community fled
    en-masse from Punjab and N.W.F.P. and later from Sindh
    as a result of which, they are now a tiny minority of
    1.3% there. Most Pakistani Hindus now live in the
    remote and barren parts of the province of Sindh,
    where they form a 6% minority. They are not even the
    largest minority in Pakistan- the Christians form the
    largest minority (1.5%). daily persecution of the
    hapless Hindu minority continues 12,13 as a result of
    which migration to India and conversion to Islam in
    Pakistan under duress is still in progress. The
    Pakistani Hindus have set up a web-site15 that is
    worth visiting.

    6. Bangladesh:

    Islam spread mainly through peaceful conversion of the
    natives by active Muslim Sufis and Pirs like
    Suhrawardy of Sylhet but persecution of Hindus leading
    to their massacres, destruction of temples etc. were
    not uncommon. To start with, Hinduism was not firmly
    established in most parts of Bangladesh when Islam
    arrived. Most inhabitants followed a mixture of
    animist, tantric Buddhism and primeval Hindu beliefs.
    In 1947 C.E., when East Pakistan was formed, Hindus
    constituted 34% of the population there but relentless
    persecution and Govt. triggered communal rioting and
    massacres of Hindus started soon and millions of
    Hindus migrated to India or converted to Islam under
    duress16,17. In 1971 C.E., the Bengalis started a war
    of Independence from West Pakistan. The West Pakistani
    dominated army of Pakistan retaliated brutally. Hindus
    were targeted in particular18. About 3.0 million
    Bengalis (including 2.4 million Hindus) were
    massacred. About 10 million Bengalis (of which 8
    million were Hindus) fled to India. After the establishment of
    Bangladesh, the Hindus there (already down from 34% to
    16%) heaved a sigh of relief but their hopes were
    dashed soon after when Bangladesh was declared as an
    Islamic nation. A series of discriminatory acts have
    been passed19 by the Bangladeshi Govt. to the
    disadvantage of Hindus and daily suppression of Hindus
    by their Muslim neighbors continues. The plight of
    Bengali Hindus is poignantly narrated in a
    semi-fictitious book "Shame20" by Taslima Nasreen- a
    Bangladeshi Muslim. As a result, she drew a fatwah
    ordering her death from the Muslim clergy of
    Bangladesh. The author now lives in Sweden under
    asylum. After the demolition of the Babri Mosque in
    India in Dec. 1992, fanatical Muslim mobs went on a
    rampage in Bangladesh, destroying 200 temples, killing
    2000 Hindus and raping several 1000 Hindu women 21. In
    September-October 1997, the Durga Puja celebrations of
    Hindus were attacked by Muslim youth all over the
    country in about 100 places. Hindus were demanded to pay the Jaziyah tax
    for `practicing pagan customs in a Muslim country.'22
    Due to continued persecution, the % of Hindus has
    dwindled to 11% and some estimate it to be as low as
    8% now.

    7. Indonesia:

    This country was once the seat of powerful Hindu
    empires like the Majhapit in the island of Java and
    Sri Vijaya in the island of Sumatra. Indonesians
    believe that Hindu culture was brought to Indonesia by
    Sage Agastya- who is a legendary Sage in the Hindu
    tradition and is credited with spreading Vedic Hindu
    culture south of the Vindhya mountain range in Central
    India. The belief of Indonesians might be apocryphal,
    but evidence of practice of Hinduism as early as 4th
    Century C.E. in parts of Indonesia is known from
    inscriptions. In the early 15th Century C.E., Muslim
    traders from India and elsewhere and Muslim Holy men
    called Sufis carried the message of Islam to Sumatra
    and thence to other islands of the archipelago. Large
    numbers of Indonesians peacefully converted to Islam
    and several petty rulers of islands in the region too
    accepted Islam for commercial reasons. However, the
    rulers and the population of the Majhapit kingdom on
    Java resisted, leading to protracted warfare between
    Muslim Indonesians and the Majhapit kingdom.
    Occasionally, Hindus in the Muslim ruled areas
    suffered persecution but such instances were rare23.
    The boundaries of the kingdom shrunk towards east and
    eventually the royal family fled to the adjoining
    island of Bali, where Hinduism is still the religion
    of masses. Hindus are also found in large numbers in
    the adjacent island of Lombok and also in the eastern
    shores of Java and I have personally witnessed their
    festivities and customs during my visit to Indonesia
    in March-April 1996. Soon after the advent of Islam in
    Indonesia, European powers like the Dutch and the
    Portuguese became rulers of Indonesia and checked the
    cultural Islamization of Indonesia as a result of
    which, despite being overwhelmingly Muslim (86%),
    Indonesians still adhere to their pre-Islamic Hindu
    culture. The Javanese, especially are called the
    `Abangan' (easy going) Muslims. Thus, the Javanese
    still have Hindu names, enact Hindu epics like the
    Ramayana. A lot of their greetings and customs are distinctly Hindu, as
    known from my personal experience with my Javanese
    friends. The emblem of the National Airlines of
    Indonesia is the bird Garuda- the mount of the Hindu
    deity Lord Vishnu. Hinduism is one of the five
    officially recognized religions in Indonesia (the
    other being Confucianism, Christianity, Islam and
    Buddhism). The Hindu New Year is a national holiday in
    Indonesia. In recent decades, Indonesian Muslims have
    targeted members of the predominantly Christian
    Chinese minority and Christian24 Indonesians with
    violent attacks but the Hindus have not been molested.
    Approximately 500000 members of the animist Tengger
    community in Eastern Java have embraced Hinduism25 in
    the last three decades while 2 million have opted for

    8. South East Asia:

    Hinduism and Buddhism reached Thailand, Laos, Vietnam,
    Kampuchea and Burma simultaneously and there was a
    fusion of these two sister religions there, with the
    Buddhist element generally dominating. The largest
    Hindu temple in the world (Angkor Wat) is found in
    Kampuchea. By and large, Hindu practices have been
    absorbed peacefully into Buddhism in the region and
    distinctly Hindu customs are employed only when there
    is no Buddhist parallel (like the coronation
    ceremonies of Thai kings). These ceremonies are
    performed by descendants of Brahmin priests who were
    invited to the region by local kings several centuries
    back. This was learnt by during personal visits to
    these countries in the year 1986.

    9. India:

    Indians were referred to as `Hindus' in ancient times
    and the two terms were fairly synonymous. However,
    large parts of the country passed under Islamic rule
    and under subsequently under Portuguese, French, Dutch
    and British rule. Millions of Hindus were converted to
    Islam and Christianity till, by 1947 C.E.
    approximately 25% and 1.5% of the population of the
    Indian Subcontinent had converted to Islam and
    Christianity respectively. While Hindus converted to
    other religions, they themselves refused to accept any
    converts. Thus, most indigenous Muslims26 and
    Christians are descended from Hindu and Buddhist
    Indian ancestors. We may summarize the following
    causes for the conversion of Hindus to Islam and

    a. Hindu Caste System:

    The social structure of the Hindu society put some
    communities/castes at a severe disadvantage in all
    temporal matters. Islam and Christianity offered these
    communities social equality and so several Low Caste
    Hindus and tribals left their ancestral beliefs. For
    instance, the socially inferior Lohana Rajputs of
    Bahawalpur (now in Pakistan) converted to Islam when
    the Muslim Sufi Farid offered them sops for converting
    to Islam. About 80% Christians in India have Low Caste
    or Tribal origins.

    b. Forcible conversions:

    This was an important factor in the spread of Islam in
    South Asia. Often, the invading Muslims offered a
    choice between Islam and death to the inhabitants of
    subjugated Hindu areas31. The stories of cruelty and
    barbarianism of Islamic rulers are folklore among the
    Hindu masses of India. Similarly, in the Portuguese
    ruled part of Goa32, Catholicism was often forced upon
    the Hindus and Muslims there. It is estimated that the
    8 century long Islamic rule witnessed the massacre of
    80 million Hindus26. This is the root cause of the
    on-going Hindu-Muslim fued in South Asia.

    c. Anhilation of symbols of Hinduism:

    Islamic rule in India saw a widespread destruction of
    Hindu places of worship27, burning of libraries (Eg.
    Vikramshila in 1200 C.E.), burning of Hindu scriptures
    (Eg. Emperor Aurangzeb ordered destruction of Hindu
    scriptures in Thatta in Sindh and in Multan in West
    Punjab), selective massacres of Hindu priestly class;
    prohibition of Hindu customs and rituals; desecration
    of rivers, ponds etc. held sacred by Hindus (for
    instance, Timur threw slaughtered cows into River
    Ganga at Hardwar and massacred the entire Hindu
    population of Delhi, while sparing the Muslim-Sayyad
    quater of the city). All these acts demoralized the
    leaderless Hindus further and drove them to accept the
    faith of the victorious - Islam.

    d. Worldy allures offered to converts:

    Often Hindus found it easier to rise in the Muslim run
    administration system by converting to Islam since the
    Muslim rulers of India by and large favored their
    co-relgionists for the top positions. Hindu traders
    were often charged higher taxes than their muslim
    counterparts. Most Muslim rulers exacted the crippling
    Jaziya tax from hapless Hindu masses to keep them in
    poverty. Hindus often had to pay taxes to practice
    various aspects of their religion (Eg. Temple entry
    tax, pilgrimage tax). Some Muslim rulers pardoned the
    crimes of Hindu criminals if they converted to Islam.
    All these measures forced several Hindus to convert to

    e. Unfair Laws against Hindus:

    While Hindus could convert to Islam and still retain
    their inheritance, the reverse was not allowed. Hindus
    were not allowed to marry Muslim women unless they
    converted to Islam while Muslims could easily marry
    Hindu women. Emperor Jehangir26 (1605-1628 C.E.)
    ordered approx. 400 Hindu families of Northwest Punjab
    to convert to Islam since their men had married Muslim
    women. Some Muslim rulers insulted/decapacitated
    Hindus by preventing them from carrying arms or riding
    elephants etc.

    f. Higher growth rate of Muslim Population:

    This was due to the greater fertility rate of muslim
    women, prevelance of widow remarraige amongst Muslims,
    polygamy and continuous influx of Muslims from Persia,
    Central Asia etc. into India.

    g. Superstitious beliefs of Hindus:

    As a result of nightmarish experiences that Hindus had
    with Muslims and the Portuguese, Hindu masses reduced
    social intercourse with Muslims and Christians. Those
    Hindus, who interacted with Muslims or Christians,
    were osctracised by the Hindu society and often
    excommunicated. For instance, the court musicians of
    Moghul Emperor Muhammad Shah `Rangila', who were
    Brahmins, faced great ostracism from Hindus and so
    were forced to convert to Islam. (Their descendants
    are the famous Dhrupad singers- Dagar brothers).
    Similary, an entire community of Hindus were declared
    outcastes by neighbouring Hindus in Vasai (Thane
    district of Maharasthra) after they accidently drank
    water from wells that had been `polluted' by pieces of
    bread that had been thrown into them intentionally by
    the Portuguese! Hindus also stopped admitting
    non-Hindus into Hinduism and even to this day, many
    Hindus oppose the idea of converting non-Hindus to
    Hinduism. Thus, conversion was a one way traffic from
    Hinduism to other faiths.

    1.3 Emigrant Hindus - The Hindu Diaspora:

    a. Oceania:

    Till recently, Australia and New Zealand followed a
    `white only' policy which excluded most Asians from
    the continent. Only recently have the two countries
    relaxed immigration rules to allow more Asians
    including Indians to emigrate. In case of Indians, it
    is widely known that Indian Christians are favored
    over non-Christians for immigration. An estimated
    100000 Indians are now settled in Australia and
    presumably most of them are Hindus. Most Indians here
    are recent arrivals and hail from affluent sections of
    the Indian society. They still adhere to the same
    forms of Hinduism as are practiced in India, without
    of course the facilities of Hindu temples and
    priesthood. It is too early for then to
    `Australianize' their Hindu beliefs. The only island
    with any significant Hindu population is Fiji. Indians
    are approximately 46% of the total population and
    accordingly, Hindus could account for a little less
    than 40% of all inhabitants. Indians/Hindus here are
    essentially descendants of the
    rebellious `Purubiya' (of Eastern Uttar Pradesh and
    Bihar regions of India) settlers who were taken from
    India in large numbers more than a century ago to work
    in sugar plantations there. Due to their cultural
    origin, Fijian Hindus study the `Ramacharitamanas' and
    devotional texts on Lord Hanuman with great faith, put
    saffron flags atop their houses very often and
    celebrate Hindu festivals like Holi, Vijayadashmi,
    Diwali in the North Indian manner. A few years back,
    the pro-Christian forces lead by General Rabuka, who
    is a native Fijian, captured control of the island and
    put several humiliating restrictions on the practice
    of religious beliefs of Hindus. However, he has since
    been succeeded by a Prime Minister of Indian origin,
    who has removed these restrictions. Nevertheless, this
    episode has shaken the confidence of Hindus there and
    has made them realize the need to organize in a better
    manner to thwart any such future incidents.

    b. Europe:

    Barring Britain and Netherlands, no other European
    country has a sizeable Hindu community. Hindus in
    Great Britain number about 400 000 or approximately
    0.7% of the population. They are mainly Gujaratis and
    Punjabis who emigrated either directly from India or
    from erstwhile British colonies like Kenya, Nigeria,
    Guyana. About two decades back, the Ugandan dictator
    Idi Amin singled out the Indian ccommunity (mainly
    Gujarati) for harassment as a result of which 65000 of
    them fled Uganda, mainly for England. The Hindus of
    Britain practice their faith very actively and have
    established a chain of beautiful temples all over the
    country. The Swaminarayan temple at Neisden (in
    Greater London) is a beautiful marble edifice
    constructed recently and has already been christianed
    as the `Taj Mahal of England.' British Hindus are also
    well organized as is evident from their collective
    protest against actions perceived by the community as
    insulting to or discriminating against Hindu
    sentiments. For instance, approximately a decade back, about 10000
    Hindus marched in protest in London when permission
    was refused for construction of a Hindu temple at the
    outskirts of London on the grounds that the temple
    architecture violated local architectural traditions.
    In 1989, the `Shila Pujan' ceremony advocated by the
    Vishwa Hindu Parishad- a Hindu organization that has
    been clamouring for the construction of a Temple at
    Ramajnmabhoomi at Ayodhya, drew widespread support- so
    much so that the English mayor of Kent- a town with a
    large Indian population, presided over the ceremony34.
    Netherlands too has a large Hindu population, mainly
    people who fled from Surinam in the 1960's to escape
    the Creole perpetrated atrocities. It is of interest
    to note that 14% of population of East Europe is Gypsy
    who were originally Hindus of Afghanistan and Punjab
    (in India and Pakistan) enslaved by invading Islamic
    hordes and carried off to Central Asia and beyond. In
    course of time, the Gypsies have become
    Christians to survive but still retain several
    vestiges of their Hindu/Indian past. The Lithuanians
    are another interesting community of Europe. They were
    the last European nation to adopt Christianity and so
    still retain several features of their Pagan cultural
    past. Lithuanian mythology has a lot in similarity
    with Vedic mythology and in addition to the now
    extinct Vedic Sanskrit (language of Hindu revelation),
    Lithuanian is the only `accented' language. Indian
    participants Surinder Attri and Arvind Ghosh recently
    participated in the International Pagan Conference at
    Lithuania and in personal communications to me,
    expressed amazement at the similarity between folk
    Lithuanian culture and Vedic beliefs. It appears that
    Lithuanians are also aware of their link with ancient
    Indian culture and are proud of it35. Europe also has
    distinguished centers of oriental/Hindu studies like
    Utrect (Netherlands), Helsinki (Finland), Berlin
    (Germany), Vienna (Austria) where oriental scholars
    continue to produce excellent works on Hindu culture
    and philosophy. As for indeginous Hindus, there are
    hardly any in Europe and most of them are Hare
    Krishnas. Native Italian Hindus recently petitioned
    the Italian Govt. for state recognition of Hinduism- a
    process that is expected to take approximately 15
    years. Portugal too has a tiny Hindu minority
    emigrated from Goa. Portuguese Hindus have constructed
    a beautiful Hindu temple in the heart of Lisbon on
    land that has been donated by the Govt. of Portugal.

    c. North America:

    Details of Hindu Diaspora in Canada and the United
    States will be covered in the next chapter. This
    subsection will deal mainly with the Hindu communities
    in the Caribbean Islands. Indians, predominantly
    Hindus, were introduced as indentured laborers in 1838
    in British Guiana and later to Trinidad, Jamiaca,
    Grenada, St. Lucia, Martinique, Guadeloupe and
    Surinam. Right from the beginning, they had to face
    sustained attacks on their religions by aggressive
    Christian missionaries on one hand and state sponsored
    discrimination against Hindu religious practices on
    the other. Thus, Hindu marraige and cremation customs
    were not recognized and upon the death of a Hindu man,
    the state treated his widow as concubines and his
    children as bastards, especially in Jamaica and
    Grenanda. Lack of awareness of their own relgious
    beliefs, apathy of Hindu priests, lack of effective
    leadership in the Indian community and intermarraige
    with Christian creole majority caused enmasse
    conversion of Indians to Christianity and their absorption into mainstream
    communities in Jamaica and Grenada. In Guadeloupe
    though, the tiny Hindu minority has constructed
    several Hindu temples to keep its faith alive.

    d. South America:

    Three countries in this continent have a sizeable
    Hindu population- Surinam, Guyana and Trinidad and
    Tobago. In Trinidad and Guyana, the Hindus suffered
    considerable erosion in their ranks but their greater
    numbers and the Hindu response lead by Arya Samaj has
    stopped the conversions and Hinduism is still the
    relgion of majority of immigrant Indians. In all
    countries barring Surinam, Hindus face some disability
    or the other in practicing their religion and are
    under constant Christian missionary propaganda and
    enticements. For instance, several Hindus have had
    their children converted to Christianity so that they
    could have the opportunity of a better school
    education. Surinamese Indians form 37% of the
    population of their country and 82% of them adhere to
    Hinduism. In Guyana, Indians are 53% of the population
    with Hinduism being the faith of 60% of them. All over
    the Carribean, immigrant Indians are descedent from
    Purubiya Hindus and so follow the Hindu customs of
    Gangetic Plains in
    varying degrees.

    e. Africa:

    Before the United States took over a decade back,
    South Africa had the largest immigrant Indian
    community in the world. Immigrant Indians form about
    3% of the total population of South Africa and so
    number approx. 1 million. They are concentrated in the
    eastern regions of Natal and Transvaal of the country.
    About 65% are Hindus, 15% Muslims and the rest
    Christians. Indian Christians are mainly Hindu
    converts who adopted their new faith in the first half
    of the century. These large scale conversions jolted
    the Hindu community of South Africa and Arya Samaj -
    an aggressive and reformist Hindu sect stepped in to
    stem the tide of defection from Hinduism. Since then,
    Hindus have consolidated themselves and conversions to
    Christinaity have ceased. Indian Hindus are mainly
    Gujaratis and Tamils and continue to follow their
    regional variations of Hinduism. Mauritius- an island
    in the Indian ocean has a 63% Indian majority of which
    80% follow Hinduism. Hindus in Mauritius have been
    well organized from the start and wield considerable clout
    in political matters, with several successive Prime
    Ministers being of Indian Hindu origin. Mauritian
    Hindus still frequent the pilgrim centers of India,
    but have now established the 13th Saivite Jyotirling
    on the island, after the 12 in India. The
    conscecration ceremony was attended by the Mauritian
    Prime Minister Mr. Anirood Jaganaut (Aniruddha
    Jagannatha) and was preced by the emptying of pitchers
    of water from Holy rivers of India into a lake at the
    banks of which the temple was to be constructed. Arya
    Samaj is an important sect of Hindus on the island,
    but most Hindus follow the customs observed by Hindus
    of Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in India since
    their anscestors came from these areas. Several 1000
    Indians also reside in the former British colonies of
    Kenya and Tanzania. Although they form less than 1% of
    the population of these countries, they have
    considerable economic clout and are a well respected

    Again, Hindus there have a very restricted interaction
    with the locals and do not seek converts. Diwali is a
    national holiday in Kenya. During recent bomb blasts
    at the US Embassy at Daar-es-Salaam in Tanzania and
    Nairobi in Kenya, Hindu Students Councils of these
    countries were at the forefront in providing medical
    aid to the victims36.

    f. Asia:

    Burma, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and
    the Middle East have sizebale immigrant Hindu
    communities. The Indian/Hindu community of Burma is a
    legacy of the British rule when almost a million
    Indians (mostly Bengali) emigrated to Burma. However,
    when Burma obtained its freedom in 1948 C.E., most of
    them returned to India. Those still there often
    intermarry with local Burmese and there have been
    several cases of conversion to Buddhism37. Indians
    number approximately 10% of the population of Malaysia
    and 70% of them are Hindus. They mainly reside in the
    rubber plantations of the Penang province and are
    predominatly from the Coromandal coast of Tamil Nadu
    in India, from where the British took them a few
    decades back to work in the rubber plantations. There
    have been cases of friction between the Hindu minority
    and the indigenious Muslim community. In 1979 C.E.,
    mobs of Malay muslims ran amuck plundering Hindu
    temples and smashing idols of Hindu deities38. In the
    beginning of this year also, there was a fear of a riot when 1500
    Muslims attacked a newly built Hindu temple next to a
    mosque, complaining that the loud speakers of the
    Hindu temple were provocative. The Prime Minister of
    Malaysia (Mahathir Mohammad) had to step in to defuse
    the tension and ordered the relocation of the temple.
    Muslims are barely over 50% of the population in
    Malaysia and have yet declared it an Islamic state,
    putting mainly Buddhist Chinese and Hindu Indians at a
    disadvantage vis-a-vis `Bhumiputra' Muslim Malays.
    Singaporean Hindus too number 7% of the population of
    the Island and maintain close cultural and religious
    links with the parent Tamil Hindu community of India.
    There are several beautiful Hindu temples in Singapore
    and Hindus of the Island have also set up a beautiful
    website. Hindus emigrant from India form a double
    digit % of the population of several Arab countries
    like Kuwait, U.A.E., Oman, Yemen and so on. However,
    these countries are strictly Islamic nations
    and brook no competition from rival faiths. Cremation
    is disallowed in these countries and only the
    comparatively liberal states of Sharjah (one of the 7
    Emirates of U.A.E) and Oman have allowed construction
    of one Hindu temple each. Saudi Arabia does not allow
    Hindus to worship icons even in the privacy of their
    homes in the country and has barred the entry of all
    Sikhs and all Hindus bearing the surname `Singh.'


    Considerable help has been taken from information
    available on the web in addition to books. Both are
    referenced below:

    Pt. Udayavira Sastri; Samkhya Darsana ka Itihasa;
    Virjanand Vaidika Shodha Samsthana; Ghaziabad, India

    Sita Ram Goel; History of Hindu-Christian Encounters;
    Voice of India; Delhi, India; 1986

    Sita Ram Goel; Heroic Hindu Resistance to Islamic
    Invaders (654 A.D. to 1206 A.D.); Voice of India;
    Delhi, India



    Narendra Sehgal; Converted Kashmir: A Bitter Saga of
    Religious Conversion; Utpal Publications; Delhi; 1991
    (Available on-line at Reference # 8.b)

    K. N. Pandit; Baharistan-I-Shahi: A Chronicle of
    Medieval Kashmir (An English Translation); Firma KLM
    Pvt. Ltd.; Calcutta; 1989 (Available on-line at Ref. #

    Web http://www.hindunet.org/kashmir/killingsApr98

    Web http://www.kashmir-information.com/

    Bal Raj Madhok; Kashmir- The Storm Centre of the
    World; A. Ghosh - Publisher; Houston; 1992

    Massacres of Sikhs and Hindus in West Pakistan; Sri
    Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee; Amritsar, India

    Details personally heard from members of numerous
    migrants from West and East Pakistan now residing in
    Delhi (including my maternal grand-parents and my


    Web www.geocities.com/Athens/Olympus/6706/index.html

    Web http://www.hindunet.org/kashmir

    Web `Pakistani Hindu Patrika'

    Baljit Rai; Muslim Fundamentalism in the Indian
    Subcontinent; B.S. Publishers; Chandigarh, India; 1991

    S.K. Bhattacharya; Genocide in East Pakistan; A. Ghosh
    - Publisher; Houston; 1987



    Taslima Nasrin; Shame; Prometheus Books; New York;

    Arvind Ghosh; Koran and Kafir; A. Ghosh - Publisher;
    Houston; 1994

    Web http://www.hvk.org/hvk/articles/1197/0051.html

    Ira Marvin Lapidus; A History of the Islamic
    Societies; Cambridge University Press; New York; 1988

    Web http://www.domini.org/openbook/

    Robert W. Hefner; Hindu Javanese: Tengger Tradition
    and Islam; Princeton University Press; Princeton, New
    Jersey; 1985

    Kishori S. Lal; Indian Muslims - Who Are They?; Voice
    of India; Delhi; 1992

    Ram Swarup, Arun Shourie, Jay Dubashi, Ssita Ram Goel,
    Harsh Narain; Hindu Temples - What Happened to Them?
    (Two Volumes); Voice of India; Delhi; 1997

    Kishori Saran Lal; Early Muslims in India; Aditya
    Prakashan; Delhi; 1984

    Dwarka Nath; A History of Indians in Guyana; Published
    by the author- 30 Crowther Road, South Norwood,
    London; 1970

    I. J. Bahadur Singh (Ed.); Indians in the Carribbean;
    Sterling Publishers Private Ltd., New Delhi; 1986

    Margaret A. Gibson; Accomodation Without Assimilation;
    Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York; 1988

    Titus; Islam in India and Pakistan

    A. Prilokar; Goa Inquisition; Voice of India, Delhi

    Hindu Vishwa; A VHP publication (annual); 1989 issue

    Emails from Sri Surinder Paul Attri- an Indian
    participant from the United States at the World Pagan
    Conference 98' at Vilnius, Lithuania

    Email received from the Hindu Students Council of

    Personal conversations with Mr. Sibal, an Indian
    importer of rice from Burma

    Collin Maine; The Dead Hand of Islam; The Australian
    Humanist Asscociation; Sydney; 1982

    Karen Isaksen Leornard; The South Asian Americans;
    Greenwood Press; Westport, CT; 1997

    Madhok, Balraj; What is a Hindu Rashtra?

    Chatterjee, Abhas Kumar; Concept of a Hindu Nation;
    Voice of India; Delhi

    Mazumdar, Shampa; " Sacred Spaces: Socio spatial
    adaptations of Hindu Migrants"; PhD dissertation;
    Northeastern University, Boston; 1995


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