Board of Supervisors of Madera County in California (USA), incorporated in 1893, had its reportedly first historic Hindu opening prayer on August 20, containing verses from world’s oldest existing scripture.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed delivered the invocation from ancient Sanskrit scriptures before the County Board of Supervisors. After Sanskrit delivery, he then read the English translation of the prayer. Sanskrit is considered a sacred language in Hinduism and root language of Indo-European languages.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, recited 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. 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 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 supervisors to keep the welfare of others always in mind. Supervisors, county employees and public were seen standing in prayer mode with their heads bowed down during this invocation.
Wearing saffron colored attire, a ruddraksh mala (rosary), and traditional sandalpaste tilak (religious mark) on the forehead, Zed sprinkled few drops of water from river Ganga of India, considered holy by Hindus, around the podium before the prayer. Zed presented a copy of Bhagavad-Gita to Board Chairman Max Rodriguez, who introduced Zed. “It is a historic moment of pride for the community when the prayers from ancient Sanskrit scriptures are being read in this great hall of democracy of this great county of Madera”, Zed stated before starting the invocation.
Rajan Zed is a global Hindu and interfaith leader, who besides taking up the cause of religion worldwide, has also raised huge voice against the apartheid faced by about 15-million Roma (Gypsies) in Europe. Bestowed with World Interfaith Leader Award; Zed is Senior Fellow and Religious Advisor to Foundation for Religious Diplomacy, Spiritual Advisor to National Association of Interchurch & Interfaith Families, etc.
Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.
Located in the heart of California’s Central Valley, Madera County is home to Devils Postpile National Monument and a part of Yosemite National Park falls in it. According to County website: “Madera County is more than buildings and business. It’s about people.” Eric Fleming is Chief Administrative Officer.