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Only 22% Americans know a Hindu

English: Bhagavad Gita, a 19th century manuscr...

Bhagavad Gita, a 19th century manuscript. North India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Only 22 percent Americans know someone who is Hindu, according to a Pew Research Center survey published on July 17.

This number is lowest than any other religion/denomination surveyed.  Catholics rank highest with 87 percent, followed by evangelical Christians, Jews, Atheists, Mormonscial , Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus.

Americans express warmest and more positive feelings towards Jews (average rating 63); followed by Catholics, evangelical Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, etc., the survey adds.

Reacting to this survey findings, Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, urged American Hindus to make outreach efforts towards non-Hindu communities, do charity, invite others to visit Hindu temples/ashrams, offer help to neighbors, be good role models, act for the benefit of all, volunteer, try to stay pure and exhibit warmth and love towards fellow Americans.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out that ancient Hindu scripture Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the Lord) urged us to act selflessly without any thought of personal profit.

Rajan Zed suggested to each American Hindu to take a vow of undertaking at least one charitable project during this year for less fortunate members of the community. Quoting scriptures, Zed stressed that charity was a duty, which should be undertaken with sympathy and modesty.

Headquartered in Washington DC, “Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world”. Alan Murray is President.

Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.


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Hindus say minority rights ignored in Kenya’s new polygamy law

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Hindus have stressed that feelings and rights of minorities were not kept in mind when Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta signed Kenya’s marriage bill into law on April 29, which legalized polygamy.

Rajan Zed, who is based in Nevada, said that polygamy was not practiced in contemporary Hindu society. Marriage was taken very seriously as it was considered a sacred rite and highest duty in Hinduism.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, points out: In Hinduism, vivah (marriage) is the most important samskar (sacrament). Married couple is looked as a complete module for worship and participation in cultural/social acts. With the marriage samskar, one thoroughly enters into grihasth-ashram (householder phase), where one can attend to the goals of dharm (duty).

Zed believes that Kenyatta should have met the leaders of Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Baha’i and other minority religions/denominations in Kenya and taken into account their viewpoint before signing the marriage bill into law.

Zed reminded Kenyatta of his “core value” to “treat everyone fairly”. Moreover, Kenya’s constitution and other laws/policies protected religious freedom and Kenya needed to protect its minorities in order to attract foreign investments.

Ethnic diversity of Kenya, described as “the cradle of humanity” which showed earliest evidence of human’s ancestors, had produced a vibrant culture. With its abundant wildlife and scenic beauty, if Kenya wants to continue attracting tourists and increase its numbers, it has to take care of its minorities and project a picture of harmonious coexistence to the world, Rajan Zed noted.


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Where did meditation originate?

Saint Padre Pio stated: "Through the stud...

Saint Padre Pio stated: “Through the study of books one seeks God; by meditation one finds him”. The Rosary: A Path Into Prayer by Liz Kelly 2004 ISBN 082942024X pages 79 and 86 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Christopher Lloyd Clarke

Like many researchers, I believe that meditation has been a part of human life since the very beginning of human existence. Since man first became self aware, that is to say, when he first became conscious of himself as a being that can think, that can act out of conscience, that can remember the past and visualize the future, since he became aware of his own mental faculties, he has been driven by a innate urge to better understand his place in the universe and the essential nature of his own mind.

When we try to imagine the origins of meditation, most of us tend to picture it being practiced by followers of the earliest religions, such as Buddhism or Hinduism. As human civilization gradually developed, mans search for meaning blossomed into a variety of spiritual practices throughout the East, many of which included meditation. The earliest recorded evidence of meditation in written form is found in Hindu scriptures that date back approximately 5,000 years, and plenty of evidence is found in other religious texts, including those of Christianity, Judaism, and Taoism. These are the first texts to describe meditation as a formal practice with defined methodologies and objectives.

However, it is extremely likely that meditation played a part in the life of many human beings from a much earlier stage in the spiritual and sociological development of our species. The history of meditation probably goes back to a time well before we were capable of producing documentation to describe it as a systemized form of practice, and as a result, archaeological evidence of meditation is unlikely to provide us with the complete story. For example, scriptural records of meditation in countries such as India, Japan and China is plentiful, but very little recorded evidence of meditation in Australian Aboriginal culture exists, even though it is generally accepted that the Aboriginal inhabitants of Australia were practicing a form of meditation many tens of thousands of years ago, and they were certainly no exception at the time. Tribal rituals and ceremonies that involved trance-like states were common to a variety of ancient indigenous tribes around the world, and still are in some places.

It is almost certain that meditation has been practiced “informally” by man since the earliest of times. If one broadens one’s definition of meditation to take into account any form of silent awareness, any gaze of wonder, any form of focused introspection, then it is not hard to imagine early man slipping into states that we would happily define as “meditation” by our current standards. Since man first became self aware, he has had cause to look within, to become conscious of his own mind, and to rest peacefully in the space between his thoughts.

About the Author:

Dr. Christopher Lloyd Clarke – Meditation really is one of the most powerful ways to experience inner peace and to improve your quality of life. For more information about guided meditation and to learn how to meditate for free, please visit www.The-Guided-Meditation-Site.com.

Article Source: Where did meditation originate?


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Hindus feel abandoned over no Diwali holiday in New York City schools

Diwali - The Festival of Lights Often referred...

Diwali – The Festival of Lights Often referred to as the Festival of Lights, Diwali is celebrated by Indian communities throughout the world to celebrate the new year. Hindus, Jains and Sikhs all get involved in this festive time of year which signifies the triumph of good over evil. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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The Hindu community is heartbroken over New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio not declaring Diwali as a school holiday despite all out efforts by them.

Rajan Zed, based in Nevada (USA), said it was unfair to Hindu pupils and their families as they would have to attend school on their most popular festival while schools in the district would be closed on festivals of some other communities.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, argued that this unfairness did not send a good signal to the impressionable minds of schoolchildren who would be the leaders of tomorrow. Zed urged Mayor de Blasio to reconsider his decision and include Diwali, which fell on October 23 this year, on the holiday calendar of public schools.

Believing it is important for Hindu families to celebrate Diwali day together at home with their children, Zed says Hindus do not want their children to be deprived of any privileges at the school because of absences on this day. Closing schools on Diwali would ensure that and it would be “a step in the right direction.”

Zed also noted that awareness about other religions created by holidays like Diwali would make the New York City pupils well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow. It would make the District look good also besides bringing cohesion and unity in the community. Zed urged all school districts across USA to declare Diwali as school holiday.

According to Zed, Diwali, the festival of lights, aims at dispelling the darkness and lighting up the lives and symbolizes the victory of good over evil. Hindus worship goddess of good fortune and beauty Lakshmi, god of wisdom and auspiciousness Ganesh, and mountain Goverdhan on this day. Also on this day, coronation of Lord Ram was held, Lord Hanuman was born, Lord Vishnu returned kingdom to monkey king Bali of Kiskindha, Lord Vishnu and goddess Lakshmi married, Lord Krishan killed demon Narakasur, and ancient king Vikramaditya was crowned. On this day of forgiveness, festivities, and friendliness; families and friends get together for worship followed by a sumptuous and elaborate feast. It is also considered a harvest festival. Besides Hindus, Sikhs and Jains and some Buddhists also celebrate Diwali.

Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.

The New York City Department of Education is the largest system of public schools in USA, serving about 1.1 million students in over 1,700 schools with $24 billion annual budget. Carmen Farina is Chancellor of the Department of Education.


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Hindus perturbed over damage to ancient Malaysia Hindu temple

Built in 6th century A.D, Candi Bukit Batu Pah...

Built in 6th century A.D, Candi Bukit Batu Pahat is the most well-known ancient Hindu temple found in Bujang Valley, Kedah, Malaysia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that it was shocking, saddening and tragic to learn about the damage caused to rich archaeological remains of Lembah Bujang in Kedah state. These Hindu temple ruins, besides being dear to Hindus, were highly important heritage for Malaysians and the world, Zed added.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohammad Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak to launch a thorough investigation into this damage and allocate additional funding to conserve the area.

Rajan Zed asked United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to declare Lembah Bujang a World Heritage Site and help fund its preservation efforts. It needed to be urgently protected and some serious efforts and strong political will were needed in this direction by Malaysia Government.

Commercial developer reportedly tore down these ancient Hindu temple remains in Bujang Valley. Efforts should be made to reconstruct the damaged prehistoric structure and developer should provide most of the funding, Zed stressed.

Rajan Zed argued that such callous treatment to ancient monuments should not be acceptable in Malaysia and the world. This should serve as a wake-up call for Malaysia and the world to take care of heritage sites and Malaysia should declare all Lembah Bujang archaeological sites as national heritage sites.

Zed wondered why it took so long for this damage to come to light. Chalking out some proactive policies for preservation of these valuable monuments might help in the future. According to reports, there were many temple ruins in Bujang Valley which were still undocumented and damage caused to some during the recent development might had thus gone unnoticed.

Malaysians should be proud of their legacy in Lembah Bujang and should preserve for future generations what their ancestors left for them. There were reportedly over 90 such archaeological sites in Lembah Bujang. Any further irresponsible and needless damage to the sites must be prevented with a swift action, Rajan Zed stated.

Reports suggest that Lembah Bujang, spread in about 224 square kilometers, is the richest archaeological site in Malaysia, consisting ruins over 2,000 years old. Excavation here has revealed a clay brick monument dating to 110 CE, making it the oldest piece in Southeast Asia.


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Worldwide Hindus concerned at Diwali labeled as “blasphemy” in Cook Islands

Diwali, Trafalgar Square

Diwali, Trafalgar Square (Photo credit: Paul Carvill)

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Hindus worldwide are concerned at celebration of their annual festival Diwali being reportedly condemned as “blasphemy” in Cook Islands by a religious leader.

This religious leader reportedly labeled Diwali, most popular of Hindu festivals, a “paganistic or heathenistic practice” and talked about “its hidden spirit of sorcery and witchcraft” and urged to “put a stop to this paganistic nonsense”.

Diwali, which fell on November three, was reportedly celebrated on Rarotonga, most populous island of the Cook Islands, on November nine where organizers extended an open public invitation and where hundreds of people turned up to celebrate; which included music, dancing, food, cultural display and speeches.

Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken lightly. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged Frederick Goodwin, Henry Puna and Teina Bishop; Queen’s Representative, Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister respectively of Cook Islands; to thoroughly investigate the issue and ensure the Hindu community that its religious rights were protected. Article 64(1) (d) of the Cook Islands’ constitution granted: “Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion”.

Rajan Zed further said that existence of different faiths showed God’s generosity and bountifulness. Different religions were simply different human responses to the one ultimate Reality. Despite our seriously different traditions, we all should learn from each other and live harmoniously together in mutual trust, loyalty and peace as we were headed in the same direction, Zed stated.

Image by mjcolman via Tumblr

An inclusive and broader understanding of religion was needed as true relationship with God could exist in each of the great faith traditions. Religion was much more than one’s own particular tradition/experience, Zed noted.

New Zealand’s High Commissioner to the Cook Islands Joanna Kempkers and Principal of Tereora College (the National College of the Cook Islands) Bali Haque also addressed this Diwali gathering and various Hindu community leaders, including Avinesh Naiker and Anand Raj Naidu, participated; reports suggest.

According to Rajan Zed, Diwali, the festival of lights, aims at dispelling the darkness and lighting up the lives and symbolizes the victory of good over evil. Hindus worship goddess of good fortune and beauty Lakshmi, god of wisdom and auspiciousness Ganesh, and mountain Goverdhan on this day. Also on this day, coronation of Lord Ram was held, Lord Hanuman was born, Lord Vishnu returned kingdom to monkey king Bali of Kiskindha, Lord Vishnu and goddess Lakshmi married, Lord Krishan killed demon Narakasur, and ancient king Vikramaditya was crowned. On this day of forgiveness, festivities, and friendliness; families and friends get together for worship followed by a sumptuous and elaborate feast. It is also considered a harvest festival. Besides Hindus, Sikhs and Jains and some Buddhists also celebrate Diwali.

Cook Islands in South Pacific Ocean, first settled in the 6th century and formed of 15 widely-dispersed volcanic islands and coral atolls, is a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand whose economy centers on tourism.


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Hindus object labeling of their deities as “false idols” in Church of Scotland assembly

Evelix, Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland.

Evelix, Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Hindus have strongly objected to Hindu deities being reportedly referred to as “false idols” on the opening day of the General Assembly of Church of Scotland on May 19 in Edinburgh (United Kingdom).

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that about one billion Hindus worldwide worshipped their deities almost on a daily basis and labeling them as “false” was highly hurting their feelings.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, asked apology from Church of Scotland for this inappropriate language as these deities were highly revered in Hinduism. Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken lightly. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled, Zed stated.

Rajan Zed stressed that all religions should work together for a just and peaceful world. Dialogue would bring us mutual enrichment, Zed added.

English: Struan Free Presbyterian Church of Sc...

English: Struan Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What happened to the Church of Scotland’s friendly hand for interfaith dialogue towards various religious traditions, Zed asked. Last year Church reportedly affirmed its “Inter-Faith Agenda”, when to a questionnaire sent on inter-faith issues, resounding 85% answered that they felt inter-faith was an important area for the Church to be involved into today. Church website says: “The landscape of our country is no longer solely dominated with the steeples and crosses of Christians Churches, but is peppered by the arches and domes of temples, synagogues, gurdwaras and mosques…we are having to adopt practical ways of encountering people from other faith backgrounds, whether neighbours, shop keepers, co-workers, relatives or friends.”

This “false idols” reference was reportedly made while discussing allowing of use of hall of Queen’s Cross Parish (QCP) Church in Aberdeen, a Church of Scotland parish, by Hindu community. General Assembly continues till May 25.

A registered charity, Aberdeen Hindu Association (AHA), whose objectives include “promotion of religious harmony”, conducts three-hour pooja first and third Sunday of the month besides discourses and satsangs at QCP Church where Reverend Scott M. Rennie is the Minister and whose website says that its facilities are available for hire. Dr. Balasubramaniam Vijayan, Dr. Pradeep Kumar and Dr. Senthil Ragupathy are President, Secretary and Treasurer respectively of AHA; which was launched in 2010 and whose “ultimate goal” is “to have a place of worship (temple) for ourselves in the Northeast of Scotland”.

English: Fettercairn Church of Scotland Church.

English: Fettercairn Church of Scotland Church. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As is apparent from pictures posted on AHA website, during fortnightly pooja, statues and pictures of Hindu deities are placed inside the hall; with fruits, flowers, leaves, incense sticks and other pooja material placed before the images of deities, giving it the appearance of a sanctuary. Many of the devotees attend the pooja in traditional Indian dresses and scriptures are also brought in. Central to the Church of Scotland, majority church in Scotland, is “worship of God through following the teachings and examples of Jesus Christ”.

Hindu temples in Scotland include Edinburgh Hindu Mandir & Cultural Centre (EHMCC) in Leith, Hindu Temple of Scotland (HTOS) in Rutherglen, ISKCON Karuna Bhavan in Lesmahagow, Tayside Hindu Cultural and Community Centre in Dundee and Hindu Mandir Glasgow. EHMCC was reportedly a Presbyterian Church before it was acquired in 1986. Former Wardlawhill Church in Rutherglen, affiliated to Church of Scotland, was reportedly renovated and refurbished and converted into what is HTOS now.

Around 400 CE, St Ninian began the first large-scale Christian mission to Scotland, and now Church of Scotland, which calls itself “Reformed and Presbyterian”, has over 500,000 members and around 1,200 ministers. Headquartered in Edinburgh, Right Reverend Albert Bogle is the new Moderator, while Reverend John Chalmers is the Principal Clerk. Moksh (liberation) is the ultimate goal of Hinduism.


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A Brief Description of Popular Hinduism

Krishna and Arjun on the chariot, Mahabharata,...

Krishna and Arjun on the chariot, Mahabharata, 18th-19th century, India via Wikipedia

By: Prithviraj Rathod

The essence of popular Hinduism is encapsulated in one of the verses of Gita, one of the most sacred scriptures of Hinduism. The scripture is about Krishna, the divine personality, telling humanity through his disciple Arjun on what needs to be done to win the final salvation for the human soul. In the verse 12.0.9 of the scripture, Krishna tells Arjun the following words:

“If you are unable to focus your mind steadily on Me, then long to attain Me by practice of any other spiritual discipline, such as a ritual, or deity worship that suits you.”(gita-society.com)

The above words succinctly summarize what popular Hinduism is all about. Worship rituals are the most popular way of life in Hinduism. Hinduism does not prohibit other ways for attaining self-realization and salvation. If the person is intellectual enough, he or she can follow other modes of enlightenment such as meditating and fixing the mind on the absolute; or follow such other forms as Karma Yoga, Gnana Yoga, for attaining God. However, most common people find such methodologies of attaining God to be beyond them. So they follow the simpler ritualistic methodology for attaining the Supreme Being.

Ritualistic worship sits at the heart of the popular Hinduism. Instead of sitting motionless in front of God’s idol for about an hour and try to fix the mind on God, a devotee engages himself into various worship rituals. Place a glass of water in front of the idol, sanctify it with hymns or chantings of the names of God for a few minutes, and then sip some of that holy water. Place a few flowers in front of God’s idols or make an elaborate decoration of the idols with garlanded flowers. Sanctify the idols with kunkum powder and smear some of that powder on one’s forehead. Pour some oil into a couple of lamps, light them, and keep them in front of the idols. On important occasions, replace the usage of oil with compounds like Ghee, which are costlier than oil. Light a couple of incense sticks and place them in front of the idols. The smoke that comes out from these incense sticks fills up the room with pleasant smell. Place a couple of fruits in front of idols, sanctify the fruits with hymns, and then eat some of that fruit as a blessing from God. These are some of the common tasks done by an average Hindu almost everyday. The devout perform these tasks twice a day; they need to perform these tasks only after taking bath.

It is not that rituals are not present in other religions, but in Hinduism, these rituals take on much more elaborate proportions. Especially, when done in temples, these rituals are done for hours together. Ritualism sits at the heart of common Hinduism, which is why Hinduism is sometimes termed as a way of life. Many common Hindus are not much aware of Vedas, Puranas, Tantras, and such other Hindu scriptures. What they do have is a knowledge of large number of rituals performed at every junction of one’s life, which is what day-to-day Hinduism is all about.

About The Author

Prithviraj is a researcher into the origins of and comparative studies of religions and cultures. Visit his site to know more about Hinduism Introduction and beliefs, Hinduism Timeline and Chronology, and other concepts of Hindu Religion – http://19000years.blogspot.com

The author invites you to visit: http://19000years.blogspot.com

Article Source: http://www.articlecity.com/articles/religion/article_1309.shtml


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Hindus critical of Sofia international interfaith conference for ignoring them

The St. George Rotunda; some remains of Serdic...

St. George Rotunda in Sofia, Bulgaria; in the foreground remains of Serdica via Wikipedia

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Hindus have commended International Conference “Religion for the Benefit of People” held at Sofia (Bulgaria) on August 3-4 for attempts at building bridges, but were critical of it for ignoring Hindus.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that it was wonderful to bring various religions/denominations together at one platform for dialogue and arriving at a common ground, but Sofia Conference organizers should have included Hindus in the summit because Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about a billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought.

Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, stressed that serious and honest interfaith dialogue was the need of the hour. More religions/denominations/organizations should come forward for interreligious summits about common religious concerns like human improvement, peace, ecological responsibility, social & economic development, etc., Zed added.

Participating religions/denominations/organizations in this international religion conference reportedly included Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Catholic Exarchate, Armenian Apostolic Church, Islam, Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria “Shalom”, Russian Orthodox Church, etc. Besides Bulgaria; Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders from about 20 countries, including Turkey, Israel, Russia, Georgia, Romania, Cyprus, Greece, Macedonia; attended. Some of the religious leaders reportedly present were: Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, Head Rabbi of Tel Aviv (Israel) Meir Lau, Metropolitan Cyril of Varna, Bulgaria Head Mufti Mustafa Hadgi, Xanthi Bishop Panteleimon of Greece, etc.

Conference topics of discussion reportedly included religious and ethnic peace, upbringing of young people, challenges for religions in the current world crisis, poverty, rising nationalism, tolerance in society, etc. “Can different religions solve their problems together?” was also discussed. Second such conference is proposed for October 2012 in Varna (Bulgaria).

Some other world religions; like Buddhism, Sikhism, Baha’ism, Jainism, Shinto, Confucianism, Daoism, and Zoroastrianism; also reportedly went unrepresented in this Conference.


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Hindus have highest educational level & lowest divorce rate in America

South façade of the White House, the executive...

Image: CC-BY-SA-3.0/Matt H. Wade via Wikipedia http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

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Hindus top in education in America as compared to any other religious group, according to “U.S. Religious Landscape Survey” of American adults by the prestigious Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life posted on its website.

While national total is 11%, 48% Hindus have post-graduate degrees, followed by Jews at the second place at 35%.

This Survey also points out that Hindus have second highest income levels in the country, second only to Jews. While national total is only 18%, 43% of Hindus come in $100,000+ income category as compared to 46% of Jews and 28% of Orthodox (number three in the list).

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, congratulated the Hindu community in America for continuing with the traditional values of hard work, higher morals, stress on education, sanctity of marriage, etc., amidst so many distractions.

Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, advised Hindus to focus on inner search, stay pure, explore the vast wisdom of scriptures, make spirituality more attractive to youth and children, stay away from the greed, and always keep God in your life.

The Survey further indicates that Hindus top in marriage also with 79% married, followed by Mormons at 71%, while the national total is 54%. Only 5% (lowest than any other group) Hindus are divorced or separated, followed by Mormons, Orthodox, Jews and Muslims at 9%, while the national total is 12%. Only 0% Hindus (lowest than any other group) are living with a partner, followed by Jehovah’s Witnesses at 1%, while the national total is 6%. Among the widowed also, Hindus are lowest at 2% followed by Muslims at 3%.

According to this Survey, 62% of Hindus say daily prayers, with 32% (highest percentage) living in South, followed by Northeast. Hindus form 0.4% of US adult population out of which 88% are of Asian background while 5% are White (non-Hispanic).

Headquartered in Washington DC, The Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life “seeks to promote a deeper understanding of issues at the intersection of religion and public affairs”. Luis E. Lugo is the Director. The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan “fact tank” headquartered in Washington DC with Andrew Kohut as President.

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