Syracuse City Council in Utah opened its March 12 meeting with Hindu prayers in Sanskrit for the first time since its establishment in 1935, containing verses from world’s oldest existing scripture.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed delivered the invocation from ancient Sanskrit scriptures. After Sanskrit delivery, he then read the English interpretation of the prayer. Sanskrit is considered a sacred language in Hinduism and root language of Indo-European languages.
Zed, who is the 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.” Reading from Bhagavad-Gita, he urged councilmembers and others present to keep the welfare of others always in mind.
Mayor Mike Gailey introduced and thanked Zed, who was wearing saffron colored attire, a ruddraksh mala (rosary), and traditional sandalpaste tilak (religious mark) on the forehead.
Rajan Zed is a global Hindu and interfaith leader. Bestowed with World Interfaith Leader Award; Zed is Senior Fellow and Religious Advisor to Foundation for Religious Diplomacy, on the Advisory Board of The Interfaith Peace Project, etc. He has been panelist for “On Faith”, a prestigious interactive conversation on religion produced by The Washington Post; and produces a weekly interfaith panel “Faith Forum” in a Gannett publication for about eight years.
Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about 1.1 billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.
Syracuse is a “vibrant” community nestled between Wasatch Mountains and Great Salt Lake, where residents “enjoy a high quality of life in a safe, family oriented community”.