Reportedly for the first time since their formation; Franklin Board of Mayor & Aldermen, Columbia City Council and Johnson City Commission in Tennessee start their meetings with Hindu prayers, containing hymns from world’s oldest extant scripture.
While Franklin opened with its first Hindu prayer on March nine, Columbia is scheduled for it on March 11 and Johnson City on March 18.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed is delivering the invocations from ancient Sanskrit scriptures remotely before these city legislatures. After Sanskrit delivery, he then reads the English interpretation of the prayers. 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, recites 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 starts and ends 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 says “Asato ma sad gamaya, Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya, Mrtyor mamrtam gamaya”; which he then interprets 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 urges the city’s elected officials and others present to keep the welfare of others always in mind.
Zed, a global Hindu and interfaith leader, has been 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 multi-faith panel “Faith Forum” in a Gannett publication for over ten years.
Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about 1.2 billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.
Franklin, on both sides of the Harpeth River, has been ranked “4th Best Places to Live” and designated as a “Distinctive Destination”. Columbia, nestled along the banks of the Duck River and whose tagline is “Something good around every corner”, has been listed Top Ten 'Best Small Town' destination. Johnson City, spread in three counties, just west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, houses East Tennessee State University; and popular citrus soda Mountain Dew traces its origins here.