Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who delivered the first Hindu prayer to open the United States Senate, is slated to deliver the invocation at the Fergus Falls City Council meeting March 15. Zed has traveled across the country, opening meetings with Hindu mantras and prayers at a city, state and national level.
According to a release, Zed, who is the president of Universal Society of Hinduism, will recite from the 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 plans to start and end 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 plans to say “Asato ma sad gamaya, Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya, Mrtyor mamrtam gamaya”; which he will then interpret 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 proposes to urge council members and others present to keep the welfare of others always in mind.
Zed’s delivery of Hindu prayer at the opening of the Senate on July 12, 2007, garnered national media attention when he was interrupted by three protesters, who were arrested and charged with disrupting Congress, reported the Associated Press the following day.
A prayer of invocation invites god’s presence and seeks god’s guidance, wisdom, and blessing over the proceedings of a gathering. In Fergus Falls, the invocation that opens City Council meetings has historically been given by local pastors or congregation members.
“I value this blessing of the community and its leaders,” expressed Fergus Falls Mayor Ben Schierer, who encourages local congregations to continue to reach out to present the invocation in future meetings.
In March, Zed will offer the invocation remotely.
“This is the first time I can recall the invocation being delivered by a person outside of the Christian faith. We recognize that Fergus Falls is a largely homogenous community of white, European, Christians, but our population is changing, and we are committed to being open and welcoming to all persons and faith traditions,” explained Shierer of the importance of Zed’s delivery of the invocation. “I welcome anyone who offers prayers of encouragement for our community. The invocation is very important to me personally, and I have always advocated for its inclusion as part of the City Council proceedings. It is also important to me that our community serves all of our people. I have never had exposure to Hinduism, but I feel strong enough in my convictions to welcome the positive message of other traditions.”
The Daily Journal reached out to Zed for further comment regarding his presentation of the invocation locally. Zed declined to comment outside of a press release.