Hindu influence in the United States likely started with trading ships that traveled between ports in India and New England in the early 19th century. Prominent transcendentalist writers and thinkers, including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, were also influenced by Hindu teachings and sacred texts.... Read more about Trade and Transcendentalism
Swami Vivekananda, a Hindu religious reformer who spoke in Chicago at the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions, made an impression in America as one of the first Hindus to speak for his own religious tradition before a large audience. Vivekananda traveled across the country on a tour that included appearances at various religious buildings and two speaking engagements at Harvard.... Read more about Vivekananda at the Parliament
Swami Vivekananda opened the first American Vedanta Society in New York in 1894, and the second Vedanta Society in San Francisco in 1899. Vivekananda’s teachings through these societies focused on Vedanta and on yoga practice. The Vedanta society contributed to yoga’s later rise in popularity.... Read more about The Vedanta Society
Paramahansa Yogananda was a Hindu teacher who came to America to attend the International Congress of Religious Liberals in Boston in 1920, and stayed to found a religious movement. Yogananda promoted yoga as an intersection of science and religion that emphasized the mind-body relationship. Yogananda wrote The Autobiography of a Yogi, which was published in 1946; at the time of his passing in 1952, his organization the Self-Realizaiton Fellowship was the most prominent Hindu organization in the United States.... Read more about Yogananda and American Yoga
The 1960s and 1970s mark the popularity of the guru or swami movement in the United States. In the late 1960s and 1970s, new streams of Hindu religious life came to the United States through the arrival of new gurus. The term guru, or spiritual teacher, became a household word. Becoming a swami or a guru is not a matter of academic degrees or book learning, but deep spiritual insight that must be confirmed by the authority of one’s own teacher.... Read more about The Rush of Gurus
Increasing numbers of students and professionals immigrated from diverse regions in India during the 1960s and 70s. Once in the United States, they often formed associations based on their regional origins—associations that later became the basis for collaborations between different immigrant groups.... Read more about The New Hindu Immigrants
Hindu “temple societies” were non-profit associations dedicated to building the first generation of temples in the United States. The first Hindu temples were built in the 1970s. The organizations behind the temples blended Hindu traditions with American values like volunteerism.... Read more about The Temple Builders
The number of Hindu temples in the United States has grown rapidly in the last decades, creating a landscape of varied expressions and structures within American Hinduism that parallels both the sites and histories of...