Sanskrit shlokas opened both Alaska Senate & House on April nine
Both Alaska State Senate and House of Representatives in Juneau started day's work with Hindu prayers on April nine. Rajan Zed, Hindu leader, read the opening prayers from ancient Sanskrit scriptures before Senators and Representatives on this day after sprinkling Gangajal (sacred water from river Ganga of India). After Sanskrit delivery, he then read the English translation of the prayers. 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, dated from around 1,500 BCE, 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, Lead me from death to Immortality." Reciting from Bhagavad-Gita, he urged State Senators and Representatives to keep the welfare of others always in mind. Zed is one of the panelists for "On Faith", a prestigious interactive conversation on religion produced jointly by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com. He has been awarded "World Interfaith Leader Award" by National Association of Interchurch and Interfaith Families.
Rajan Zed also met Alaska Governor Sean Parnell, Lieutenant Governor Craig Campbell, Senate President Gary Stevens, House of Representatives Speaker Mike Chenault, Social Services Commissioner Bill Hogan, Education Commissioner Larry LeDoux, Catholic Bishop Edward Burns, Juneau City Manager Rod Swope, on the occasion and presented them with a copy of Bhagavad-Gita each. Priya Keane, who attended the prayer and whose mother is from India, described it as "wonderful".
Just before the actual prayer, Zed said in both Senate and House: "It is an honorable day for us when prayers from ancient Sanskrit scriptures are being read in this great hall of democracy of great state of Alaska." House Minority Leader Beth Kerttula and Representatives Max Gruenberg and John Harris personally thanked Zed for the prayers. Meanwhile Bhavna Shinde of Forum for Hindu Awakening has thanked Alaska Legislature for opening Senate and House with wisdom from ancient Hindu scriptures.
Alaska Senate is composed of 20 members while House of Representatives has 40 members. Lonely Planet describes Alaska as "Big, beautiful and wildly bountiful" and its Mount McKinley is the highest mountain peak in North America. Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.