Martinsburg City Council in West Virginia (USA), incorporated in 1868, had its first historic Hindu invocation on April nine evening, containing verses from world’s oldest existing scripture.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed delivered the opening prayer from ancient Sanskrit scriptures before the City Council. 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 interpreted as “Lead us from the unreal to the Real, Lead us from darkness to Light, and Lead us from death to immortality.” Reciting from Bhagavad-Gita, he urged councilmembers to keep the welfare of others always in mind. Councilmembers, city 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. Mayor George Karos 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 city of Martinsburg”, Zed stated before starting the invocation.
Bestowed with World Interfaith Leader Award, 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.
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.
Martinsburg, stated to be the fastest growing city in West Virginia, founded in 1778, is the largest city in its Eastern Panhandle region. Prominent people associated with it include baseball player Hack Wilson, impressionist painter Mary Elizabeth Price, Olympic gold medalist Vicky Bullett, Lutheran theologian Charles Porterfield Krauth and author Walter Dean Myers.