May 29, 2023
Rajan Zed, president of Universal Society of Hinduism, center, following his Hindu invocation in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on June 19, with Speaker Mike Turzai, left, and Majority leader Dave Reed. (Contributed photo)

Reno, Nev. (June 20, 2018) — Both the Pennsylvania State Senate and House of Representatives in Harrisburg, started their respective sessions Tuesday with Hindu prayers, containing verses from world’s oldest existing scripture.

Rajan Zed, president of Universal Society of Hinduism based in Reno, Nev., delivered the invocations from ancient Sanskrit scriptures before the Senate and House and sprinkled few drops of water from river Ganga, considered sacred by Hindus, on the occasion. After Sanskrit delivery, he then read the English interpretation of the prayers. Sanskrit is considered a sacred language in Hinduism and root language of Indo-European languages.

Zed recited from Rig-Veda, the oldest scripture of the world still in common use, along with sections of the Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the Lord), both ancient Hindu scriptures. He started and ended the prayer with “Om”, the mystical syllable containing the universe, which in Hinduism is used to introduce and conclude religious work.

Reciting from Brahadaranyakopanishad, Rajan Zed stated “Asato ma sad gamaya, Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya, Mrtyor mamrtam gamaya”, which he then interpreted as “Lead us from the unreal to the real, Lead us from darkness to light, and Lead us from death to immortality.” Reciting fromBhagavad-Gita, he urged Senators and Representatives to keep the welfare of others always in mind.

Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack and Senator Joseph B. Scarnati III are President and President Pro Tempore respectively of the Pennsylvania State Senate, which consists of 50 Senators. Pennsylvania House of Representatives has 203 members. Official website of the “Commonwealth of Pennsylvania” states: “Here, you can pursue your happiness to the fullest”, and adds: “This nation was born in Philadelphia, saved at Gettysburg”. Tom Wolf is the Governor of “Keystone State”, which was founded in 1681.

House Speaker Mike Turzai (@RepTurzai) posted a Zed’s picture taken with him and Representative Mary Jo Daley on his Twitter account on June 19 with the remarks: Honored to have Universal Society of Hinduism President @rajanzed deliver the opening prayer today ahead of the #PaHouse session. Representative Mary Jo Daley (@RepMJDaley) wrote on her Twitter account with the same picture on June 19: Thank you to #UniversalSocietyofHinduism President @rajanzed for delivered the opening prayer before the start of #PAHouse voting session. Speaker @RepTurzai and I thank you for your inspirational words.

Zed, a global Hindu and interfaith leader, has been bestowed with World Interfaith Leader Award. He is a senior fellow and religious advisor to the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy, and a spiritual advisor to the National Association of Interchurch and Interfaith Families. He serves on the advisory board of The Interfaith Peace Project, and a panelist for “On Faith”, a prestigious interactive conversation on religion produced by The Washington Post, and leads a weekly interfaith panel “Faith Forum” in a Gannett publication for over seven years.

Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world with approximately 1.1 billion adherents with moksh (liberation) as its ultimate goal. There are about 3 million Hindus in the United States.


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