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And Obama Mentioned Hindus in his Inaugural Speech – the deeper meaning of this gesture

‘We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and nonbelievers.’ This sentence in the Inaugural Speech of Obama is seen as an acknowledgment of the accomplishments and contributions of Hindu Americans to United States. Vamsee Juluri, Professor of Media Studies, University of San Francisco, finds deeper meaning in this gesture, the first by a President of United States of America.

Writing in The Huffington Post, Vamsee Juluri sees it as a recognition for whatever good Hinduism has stood for and for whatever good it can continue to do.

Excerpts from the article

So when Obama included "Hindu" in his address, I saw it as a recognition for whatever good Hinduism has stood for and for whatever good it can continue to do. I saw it as a recognition that was needed, because despite the spread of interest in yoga and spirituality in America, there have also been persistent misconceptions about Hinduism, particularly in the media.

Although there have been many people who have seen the good things in Hinduism and India, the power of old stereotypes run deep and unexamined. I always thought that the core of Hinduism was its belief that God is one, regardless of what religion we practice, and that is what made it possible for Hindus to accommodate and coexist with successive religions over the centuries. That is the sort of sensibility I thought of today too, when Obama recognized Hindu America.

In some ways, India was the America of the past; it was the country to which many faiths came and made their home. Today, both India and America face many common issues, whether it is security from terrorism, or spreading prosperity within their country, or renewing the idea of a common humanity from a diverse population. We should take our strengths for these goals where we get them and not leave matters of faith to ignorance, whether it comes from the Right or Left. Obama has shown us his way; remaining devout in his own form of faith, and being respectful to those of others. He has taken a bold stance by acknowledging that the promise of America will stand to gain from the best of all religions. It is not just good PR for America in a time when it seeks renewed friends and allies around the world, but also a salute to those who still have faith in faith, in whatever form.

…One of the figurines Obama had was of Hanuman, a Hindu God, although this version was probably from Obama's days in Indonesia. …. Hanuman implies is not just whether we literally believe in "monkey gods" but really the ideal of service. That is the sort of inspiration perhaps we could draw from religion, ours and others; because, like everything else, our beliefs too are being tossed together and tossed around with globalization.