City leaders witnessed history Monday evening when Hindu Statesman Rajan Zed delivered the first Hindu invocation in the city’s 109-year history.
Just one month after the council approved a resolution updating city guidelines for invocations to ensure that it can continue the long-held tradition without endorsing any one religion, Zed delivered a Hindu invocation from ancient Sanskrit scriptures at the start of the City Council meeting. As he read the Sanskrit invocation, Zed paused occasionally to translate the prayer.
Sanskrit is considered a sacred language in Hinduism and a root language of Indo-European languages.
Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, recited from Rig-Veda, what he called “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.”
“I am thankful to the City of Bishop for this historical opportunity of prayer, and I am grateful to the community for the support and love they have shown,” Zed said before starting the invocation.
He sprinkled a few drops of water from the river Ganga of India, considered holy by Hindus, around the podium before the prayer.
Mayor David Stottlemyre introduced Zed.
The prayer began and ended “Om,” which according to Zed is the mystical syllable containing the universe and in Hinduism is used to introduce and conclude religious work.
Reciting from Brahadaranyakopanishad, Zed said, “Asato ma sad gamaya, Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya, Mrtyor mamrtam gamaya,” which he then translated as, “Lead me from the unreal to the Real, Lead me from darkness to Light, and Lead me from death to Immortality.”
Reciting from Bhagavad-Gita, he urged council members to keep the welfare of others always in mind.
As an interfaith gesture, Zed also had a meeting with Rick Klug, secretary of Bishop Ministerial Association and lead pastor of local Calvary Baptist Church, while in the area.
Zed is a global Hindu and interfaith leader, who has been bestowed with the World Interfaith Leader Award. He is a senior fellow and religious advisor to the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy and National Association of Interchurch & Interfaith Families.
Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world, and has about one billion adherents. There are about three million Hindus in the U.S.