There is a lot of bluster and noise about funding Hinduism chairs, Hindu TV channels and the like, but in the end there is neither professionalism nor vision in making things like this happen. In the end, we are once again where we started, good with individual success at best, and nowhere in terms of a serious community presence in the cultural and intellectual space.
This is a problem that has often been noticed. I have heard people wonder why students from India come all the way to America at great expense to be taught most likely at least in part by Indian-origin professors. I have heard people wonder why every major hospital in America has Indian doctors, and yet there is no major Indian owned, run or inspired health care institution on such a scale here. There is so much air traffic between the US and India each year, and yet most of us travel on non-Indian airlines because there are very few options from India. There’s something similar to this happening with Hinduism in America too.
Either directly or indirectly, it seems to produce individuals who can function in an existing economic system productively, but not quite the vision to stop and say, maybe this whole thing in which we are caught up needs to change. Our sense of “dharma”, it seems, is humbly subservient to the logic of “artha” as defined by others. For the two to be equal again will need more than individual success stories. It will need a widespread recognition that regardless of whether one believes in one’s civilisational value or not, there is an obligation one has to the social investment made in the past that has produced our talents and opportunities in the present.
How many generations of austere and simple living, mental application, concentration, study and the like have come before us to make us a culture that is so much at ease in today’s knowledge economy? And yet, we forget that it’s not just our individual effort and individual success that the world is all about.
I will consider Hindu America truly wealthy when it puts everything it has into something more than ephemeral self-congratulatory branding. It will be wealthy when it can offer, with all the weight of its intellect, dreams, and history, a civilizational vision not just for itself but for the world again.