As the US debates gun control policies in the aftermath of several tragedies, a Hindu organisation has provided to the White House its perspective on gun violence, advocating a balance between individual rights and the larger good of the society.
The recommendations were submitted by the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) to US Vice President Joe Biden, who invited the body along with representatives of other faiths to seek diverse views on the problem of gun violence and how to address it.
This is apparently one of the rare occasions that a Hindu body has been invited by the White House to present its perspective on such an important national issue.
"Hindus affirm the inherent divinity of all beings and recognise that for the welfare of society, a balance is required between one's individual rights, such as the desire to own a gun, and one's responsibility to society, which may suffer as a result of gun violence," HAF said.
"Hindu teachings also proffer the dual concept of ahimsa (non-harming) and himsa (harm or violence). While Hindus have the highest duty to practice ahimsa in their every thought, word, and action, Hindu scripture has also very clearly detailed realities which may necessitate himsa," it said.
It said Hindu scriptures and history is replete with examples of the individual sacrificing for the greater good and living up to the ideals of ahimsa.
"...But they also describe the variety of life situations, faced moment to moment in human existence, in which the difficult choice must be made between a path that incurs harm, but supports an end of truth, righteousness, and justice, or a path that is not harmful, but allows falsehood, injustice, and evil to continue unabated," HRA said.
In the wake of America's latest gun massacre and in the context of the wisdom offered by Hindu teachings for maintaining a just and peaceful society, HAF put forth recommendations including maintaining a computerised database of gun sales and lifting limits on state and local law enforcement ability to use traced data in civil proceedings to suspend or revoke licenses of gun dealers violating laws.
"Vice President Biden's meeting with the broad spectrum of vested interest groups demonstrates the eye-opening Newtown has sparked.
"We hope the perspectives brought to the table by last night's diverse group of faith representatives are helpful," said Jay Kansara, HAF associate director of Government Affairs.