Coalition of Hindus of North America

Hinduphobia - Resources for Understanding Anti-Hindu Hatred and Prejudice

This page provides important resources, research, and perspectives on Hinduphobia, a growing phenomenon that poses real and serious threat to the minority Hindu community in North America.

By using the research and resources below, we hope that the Hindu community as well as its allies, policy makers, law enforcement, and educators become more familiar with this phenomenon and create the necessary tools to combat this hatred and create a safe space for the community.

What is Hinduphobia?

According to the Working Definition of Hinduphobia by the Understanding Hinduphobia Initiative: “Hinduphobia is a set of antagonistic, destructive, and derogatory attitudes and behaviors towards Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) and Hindus that may manifest as prejudice, fear, or hatred. Hinduphobic rhetoric reduces the entirety of Sanatana Dharma to a rigid, oppressive, and regressive tradition.” (see detailed definition here).

Hinduphobia can manifest in many forms – historic colonial depictions of Hindus as bizarre and savage; acts of violence and bigotry towards Hindus or those who are perceived as Hindus;  academic publications and commentaries that portray Hinduism, Hindu texts and Hindu society as inherently oppressive and regressive in the name of “academic freedom”; policies and laws that single out Hinduism and Hindus in the name of equality and social justice; characterization of popular Hindu festivals such as Diwali, Holi, and Navratri as oppressive and violent; characterization of Hindus as job stealers and a threat to the fabric of United States and Canada.

Ultimately, this leads to an increase in bigotry, prejudice and violence against the community. 

How Old is the Word “Hinduphobia”?

Various scholars including Jeffrey LongStephen Prothero, and Vamsee Juluri have written extensively on the topic of Hinduphobia and shown the long history of the phenomenon in the United States and beyond. Others such as Vishwa Adluri and Arvind Sharma have critiqued academia’s silencing of scholars who provide differing viewpoints than those in power.

York Newspaper, 1883. Source: Sarah Louise Gates

Additionally, cultural studies researcher Sarah Louise Gates has traced the usage of the term “Hinduphobia” going back to the late 19th century and into early 20th century.  According to Gates, “Hinduphobia” first appears to be used by Sir Edward Sullivan in 1866 to critique James Mill for his disdain of Hindus and the denial of India’s wealth prior to Mughal king Akbar’s reign. It then appears as common parlance (without quotations) in the York Newspaper in 1883 (see a snapshot from York Newspaper March 20, 1883 on the right.) to discuss European attitudes towards native Indians (majority of whom were Hindus). The paper uses the metaphor of the wolf “wickedly accusing” the lamb to describe the dynamics between the colonizers and the natives.

According to the Gates’ research, modern cases of Hinduphobia coincided with Indian migration into the United States and the UK.

In Hinduphobia (The Cosmopolitan Student, May 1914) Dr. Sudhindra Bose, representing the Hindu and Indian side of the argument, recalls a House Committee hearing of the 1914 Hindu exclusion bill which would impact 4,974 Hindus in the United States “…over fears they might compete for both education and [labor] with the American colonial class.” Dr. Bose feared that the the bill will not only impact the laborers but also Hindu students studying in the United States.

Gates also shows instances of the word being used in Indian Constituent Assembly Proceedings in the 40s and 50s, along with numerous newspapers, academic writings, etc. using the word to describe the attitudes of various political leaders and media outlets towards Hindus and the people of India.

Numerous instances of Hinduphobia are prevalent today – in academia, media, politics, and popular culture. To illustrate how even young, unassuming Hindus, can be subjected to Hinduphobia, a young Hindu girl interning for NASA in the United States was recently subjected to Hinduphobia and hatred when she posed in a picture for NASA with images of Hindu deities on her desk. She was attacked for merely expressing her heritage, with comments such as: “Wtf! Is that really her room?!” or “I see a right wing Hindu kid with right wing Hindu gods in a pic” or “Wherever Hindus (Brahmins) will go they will divide the nation into caste.” or “NASA and gods don’t mix. The Indian kid seems to have some kind of an obsession with gods.” 

Rutgers Hinduphobia Study - 5 Takeaways

Academic Research

Hinduphobia in

Hinduphobia in Media and
Pop Culture