29 Jan : Four state legislatures of USA are opening their sessions with Hindu prayers containing ancient Sanskrit shlokas, including three reportedly for the first time, and thus creating a milestone in American religious history.
Rajan Zed, acclaimed Hindu and Indo-American statesman, is reciting these history making prayers in Oregon House of Representatives, Colorado General Assembly, Indiana State Senate, and Oregon State Senate.
Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, is delivering these prayers from ancient Hindu scriptures at State Capitols in Salem (January 28 and 29), Denver (February 17), and Indianapolis (February 19). After first reciting in Sanskrit, he will then read the English translation of the prayer. Sanskrit is considered a sacred language in Hinduism and root language of Indo-European languages.
Rajan Zed plans to recite from Rig-Veda, the oldest scripture of the world still in common use, dated from around 1,500 BCE, besides lines from Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the Lord), both ancient Hindu scriptures. He will start and end the prayer with "OM", the mystical syllable containing the universe, which in Hinduism is used to introduce and conclude religious work.
Reciting from Brahadaranyakopanishad, Zed plans to say, "Asato ma sad gamaya, Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya, Mrtyor mamrtam gamaya", which roughly translates as "Lead us from the unreal to the Real, from darkness to Light, and from death to Immortality." Reciting from Chapter three of Bhagavad-Gita, he will urge the legislators to act selflessly.
Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksha (liberation) is its ultimate goal. Hinduism in North America was introduced in 1830s with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau studying Hindu scriptures. Vivekananda made a strong impression at World’s Parliament of Religion in Chicago in 1893 and he then founded Vedanta Society. Protap Chunder Mozoomdar of Brahmo Samaj delivered his first American address on September 02, 1883 in Concord, Massachusetts.