Hinduism’s Influence on American Culture

Better Essays
HINDUISM 'S INFLUENCE ON AMERICAN CULTURE

Hinduism is believed to have immigrated to America around the late 1800’s. Its influence on America and American culture and its peoples has been pervasive and varied. It was first introduced to mostly Christian America at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair at The Parliament of the World’s Religions by Swami Vivekananda (Guthrie 2). Since that time his descendants have grown so as to include indigenous Americans as well as many new arrivals from all over the world. Hinduism has impacted American culture in the areas of religion, literature, music, and philosophy, and most importantly, in the minds and souls of its American converts. And, in turn, America has also had a profound impact on Hinduism.
Hinduism, also known as Sanatana-Dharma is the dominant religion in India and the third largest religion in the world with a following of about a billion people. The name Hinduism is derived simply from the word India and is not found in any religious texts concerning Hinduism, not even the Bhagavad Gita, which is part of the Mahabharata and is Hinduism’s most sacred writing. It is important to note though, that the word Hinduism is sometimes translated as ‘river’ usually referring to the Indus River which is a reference to the Indus River Valley where Hinduism is believed to have begun.
Sanatana-Dharma, on the other hand, has a very specific meaning. Sanatana means that which can’t be destroyed by fire, water, nor air, and is present in all living and non-living things on earth. Literally translated to English, it means Eternal. Dharma means duty or the code of life or the law. There are four major sects within Hinduism, Saivism, Vaisnavism, Saktism and Smartism. Vaishnavism and Shaivism are primarily monotheistic sects. Each believes there is one supreme God, who is identified as Vishnu in Vaishnavism and Shiva in Shaivism. Worshippers who follow Shaktism pray to the goddess "Devi." She is worshipped most often as the consort



Cited: Goldberg, Philip. American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation: How Indian Spirituality Changed the West. New York: Harmony, 2010. Print. Gurinder, Singh, Paul D. Numrich, and Raymond B. Williams. Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs in America. 9th ed. New York: Oxford UP, 2001. Print. Religion in American Life. Guthrie, S. and C. Woehr. “Hinduism Gains a Foothold in America.” Christianity Today 8 Feb. 1993. Academic OneFile. Wed. 19 June 2014. www.christianitytoday.com Renou, Louis. Hinduism. 1st ed. Vol. 1. New York: G. Braziller, 1961. Print. Library of World Religions Rosen, Steven J. Essential Hinduism. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2006. Print. Rosen, Steven J. Hinduism. 10th ed. Vol. 6. Westport: Greenwood, 2006. Print. Introduction to the World 's Major Religions.

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia. In the middle there was the Middle colonies, but in the history everyone focused on South and North colonies, because they were the old colonies. There was a big impact of European ideas on American Culture. North colonies were mainly communities full of families. In Northern colonies, the community heavily relied on women; even though, they did not do the same jobs that men performed (Brands, 58). The South was more like a workplace for most people…

    • 194 Words
    • 1 Page
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Culture is defined as the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people. Most cultures are cultivated by many things such as religion, economy, government, education, and conflict that help to shape the culture of a country. The Russian culture has been unswerving and strong through trying times, however when most Americans think of the Russian culture, they think of a government that is ruled by a tyrant President, the Cold War, people living in poverty, and even a bully to other…

    • 1128 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    INTRODUCTION Culture can be defined as a system of values and norms that are shared among a group of people and that when together taken constitute a design for living or doing things for that matter. From this definition we can see that every group of people has a way of going about their daily life. Business is one of those activities that people are involved in on a daily basis. Starting with an individual to larger groups of people bound together by geographical boundaries will approach business…

    • 2709 Words
    • 11 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    1: How has immigration helped influence American culture and how can we see it in American Politics today? From the time when the settlers started calming land in America, to this day, the immigrants have had a huge influence on the American culture and in politics. Immigrants who suffered from poverty, war or even religious/political victimization in their home countries and only wanted to improve their living conditions, brought history and culture from the hole world with them, which have build…

    • 535 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    experience different cultures. One of the most biggest ways that France has affected American culture is through cuisine, this includes foods, cooking, and the culture that comes with food. French culture is prominent in the United states in many different ways, but one of the most important and prominent is cuisine. The cuisine of a society is one of the most important aspects of the societies culture because of that American culture would also not be what is is today without the influence of France. Some…

    • 338 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    How can American culture embrace ethnic foods while neglecting, oppressing, gentrifying, and discriminating against the members, traditions, and practices of a culture? Nowadays, food has become more and more diverse. From mixing spices to mixing cultures in “fusion cuisine”, food in America has become a melting pot in itself. Most of American food has major influences from other cultures. Spaghetti and pizza is Italian, hot dogs and hamburgers are German, and tacos and burritos are from…

    • 1053 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    and influences the society of America Religion creeps into and influences the society of America. America is the most diverse and democratic country of the world with 1st amendment of the constitution prohibiting congress from passing any law that would establish any religion in the state, but the traditional-deism of Americans has changed the meaning of law in its entirety. I am going to illustrate this point by examining the influence of religion on culture, politics, and sports. American culture…

    • 1004 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    others, and the same is true of most Americans. Even though the social scene has gotten even more diverse and globalized, many Americans have little to no exposure to foreign cultures outside of TV, movies, and the Internet. However, these depictions are often poorly written and stereotypical at best. So if that is how the U.S. views the rest of the world, how does the rest of the world view us? What would an outside opinion of Americans tell us about our own culture? What stereotypes do other nations…

    • 1826 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    evaluate the influence of Puritan values on the development of American culture. Use specific examples of Puritan ideas, traditions, and institutions, and discuss how these were affected by the end of the first century of American colonial development. (Be sure to rely heavily on Morgan’s The Puritan Family, as well as lecture, text and primary sources, for material and examples.) Cultures often rely on past beliefs to shape their values or way of life. Puritans had a great impact on American society…

    • 483 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    dependent on their own but as they were striving, new ways of communication were also being discovered. As technology improved, Americans focused…

    • 925 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays