My name is Sunita Viswanath and today I speak as a Hindu and as board member of Sadhana, a Coalition for Progressive Hindus. Sadhana advocates for the principles of social justice which are at the heart of Hinduism - ekatva (oneness of all), ahimsa (peace and nonviolence), seva (a commitment to speaking, acting, doing, serving to advance the struggles for justice for all, everywhere).
Although Sadhana does not affiliate or associate itself with any political party, we speak out to denounce condemnable words or actions of any individual or group regardless of political alignments.
Today the Republican Hindu Coalition has invited Donald Trump to be a chief guest at their "Humanity United Against Terror" event. But we see no connection whatsoever between the teachings of Hinduism and Donald Trump -- the man, the values he stands for, and his continuously degrading remarks against nearly everyone: African Americans, immigrants, religious minorities, women. What do the Hindus who are celebrating Trump have to say about the terror that has been unleashed in this country as a result of Donald Trump’s hate speech and incitement to violence? Hate crimes against and even killings of Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and other minorities are taking place in unprecedented numbers. This is indeed a time of terror — and Muslims are the the vast majority of its victims, not its perpetrators.
Donald Trump and his supporters are "small men" according to the Maha Upanishad which states, "Only small men discriminate saying: One is a relative; the other is a stranger. For those who live magnanimously the entire world constitutes but a family." Hinduism teaches us that the whole world is one family, "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam." Why is this most basic of Hindu teachings lost on these so-called Hindus who support Donald Trump?
To the “Republican Hindu Coalition” we say, “not in our name!”
These are extremely holy and festive days for Hindus - the nine days and nights of Navratri leading to Dussehra and soon Diwali -- these are days when we worship the Mother Goddesses Lakshmi, Saraswathi and Durga. Hindus spend these days praying and reflecting on our inner failings and the evil around us in the world, and striving to conquer these demons and devote ourself to dharma -- the path of right action; the path of truth and justice.
How can we as worshippers of Maa Durga, the epitome of victory of justice over evil tolerate, let alone celebrate, a man who assaults women and girls, and brags about it using the basest language?
Were we not taught, "Ekam sat vipra bahudha vadanti?”
(Truth is one; though it is called by various names.)
This mantra from the 4000 year old Rig Veda teaches pluralism, which is the heart of Hinduism. One who believes “ekam sat" does not -- cannot -- accept the hatred and bigotry, not to mention violence, that Donald Trump and his supporters have shown to African Americans, Mexicans and other immigrants, and Muslims.
Those Hindus who support Donald Trump are actually a tiny percentage of all Hindus, but they have a loud and despicable message.
We implore Hindus who stand for pluralism and justice for all -- progressive, peace-loving, tolerant and inclusive Hindus -- to rise up in one voice for peace and justice for all and say:
Ekam Sat. #WeAreOne