The Wyoming Senate and House opened with Hindu prayers for the first time in history on Friday. The Hindu prayers were led by Rajan Zed, dressed in saffron-colored attire. Zed alternated the prayer between Sanskrit and English before the Wyoming Senate and again before the Wyoming House.
Wyoming lawmakers always begin their working day with a prayer, but Friday was unique. Friday was the first time in history that the Wyoming Legislature began the day with prayers led by a Hindu cleric. The cleric is from Reno, Nevada and is the president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, according to an article in Casper Star Tribune. House Speaker Steve Harshman called Zed a wonderful guy, adding, “It makes you feel good to be around him.” Harshman, a Republican from Casper, Wyoming, stated that he was thrilled to have the Hindu cleric lead the daily convocation.
“We meditate on the transcendental glory of the Deity Supreme, who is inside the heart of the Earth, inside the life of the sky and inside the soul of the heaven. May he stimulate and illuminate our minds,” Zed stated before the Wyoming House and Wyoming Senate.
Zed has led prayers in other state legislatures and in Congress, according to the Casper Star Tribune, but few people residing in the Cowboy State practice Hinduism. Over a billion people in the world, most of whom live in India, practice Hinduism, but in the Wyoming, the prayer is generally led by a Christian, the Casper Star Tribune reported.
According to an AP Images brief, when Zed prayed before the Idaho Senate, three Republican lawmakers did not participate and “only came back onto the floor once the prayer was over.” After the prayer, Idaho senators from both parties shook the cleric’s hand and thanked him for coming.
Before the Wyoming legislature, after speaking the Sanskrit scriptures, Zed repeated them in English. Sanskrit is deemed a sacred language in Hinduism and is believed to be a root language of the Indo-European languages. Zed chose verses from Rig-Veda, which is reportedly “the oldest existing scripture of the mankind still in common use,” according to News Patrolling. Zed also spoke words from Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the Lord). News Patrolling detailed the account.
“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, Lead us from death to immortality.’ Reading from Bhagavad-Gita, he urged the legislators to keep the welfare of others always in mind. Legislators and employees were seen standing in prayer mode with their heads bowed down during these invocations.”
A yellow shawl was draped around his neck. Zed wore rudraksh mala (holy beads). The mark painted onto his forehead is, according to the press release, known as a sandalpaste Tilak (religious mark). The mark on his forehead reportedly symbolizes auspiciousness. Ancients kept Tilak on the forehead “for meditating better and activating the third eye that is behind the pituitary gland,” according to The Ancient India.
Zed is also considered an interfaith leader and was awarded the World Interfaith Leader Award. The Hindu cleric is reportedly also a Senior Fellow and Religious Advisor to Foundation for Religious Diplomacy, according to World Hindu News. He is reportedly on the Advisory Board of The Interfaith Peace Project. Zed is a Spiritual Advisor and was once invited by President of European Parliament in Brussels to participate in an interfaith discussion. He leads a weekly panel in a Gannett publication and has done so for almost six years.
According to a report in Chicago Tribune, the Hindu statesman who led the very first Hindu prayer before the Wyoming House and Senate has also been a voice standing up against the apartheid conditions that are faced by about 15-million Roma in Europe, as seen in the video below.