Phoenix (USA):Both Senate and House of Representatives of leading US State of Arizona opened with “Om”, the mystical syllable of Hinduism containing the universe, on Monday in Phoenix, thus creating another milestone in American religious history.
Zed read from Rig-Veda, the oldest scripture of the world still in common use, besides lines from Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the Lord), both ancient Hindu scriptures. After first delivering mantras in Sanskrit, he then read the English translation of the prayer. Sanskrit is considered a sacred language in Hinduism and root language of all Indo-European languages.
Reciting from Brahadaranyakopanishad, Rajan Zed said, “Asato ma sad gamaya, Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya, Mrtyor mamrtam gamaya”, and then translated it as “Lead us from the unreal to the Real, from darkness to Light, and from death to Immortality.” Reading from Bhagavad-Gita, he urged legislators to “strive constantly to serve the welfare of the world”.
While Robert N. Blendu, President Pro Tempore, introduced Zed in the Senate, Speaker James P. Weiers welcomed him to the House. Representative Krysten Sinema, who invited Zed to the House, introduced him. Zed presented one copy of Bhagavad-Gita each to Blendu, Weirs, and Sinema. Senator Albert A. Hale and Representatives Mark Anderson and Nancy Young Wright personally welcomed Zed. He also met Arizona State Treasurer Dean Martin and Linell E. Cady, Director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, in their respective offices and discussed faith and other issues. Thammaji Vasudev, a local Hindu activist, who attended the Senate prayer, said that he was honored to hear the Hindu shlokas in Arizona legislature.
Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has no datable beginning but some scholars put it around 3,000 BCE. Hinduism in North America was introduced in 1830s and there are currently about one billion Hindus in the world. Moksha (liberation) is the ultimate goal of Hinduism.
Arizona State Senate, composed of 30 members, each representing about 171,000 average population, can confirm or reject gubernatorial appointments. Arizona House of Representatives is composed of 60 members, each member representing about 86,000 people. Known as Grand Canyon State, Arizona tops the nation in copper production. John McCain, the Republication nominee for US President, is Senator from Arizona.