Less than one month ago (12 July), a Hindu chaplain, Rajan Zed, offered a beautiful prayer in the US Senate. (One might wonder what any kind of prayer is doing opening an official proceeding of a government supposedly separate from religion, but we’ll forego that debate for now.) Full text below.

Earlier today Chaplain Zed was honoured by his Nevada home community.

I saw part of the prayer on Jon Stewart’s coverage that night. A C-Span clip shows Christian protesters, requiring the Sargeant at Arms to be called upon three times to “restore order in the Chamber.” Chaplain Zed’s prayer includes the Gayatri Mantra from the Rig-Veda. An extended explanation (and alternative “literal” translation) conveys the respect shown by Chaplain Zed to all Americans in choosing this verse instead of any other. The Rig Veda is (roughly) the Hindu equivalent to the Old Testament (written in Sanskrit), except that it predates the Old Testament’s Hebrew text by at least 800 years.

Yesterday’s editorial by Chaplain Zed explains that “‘instructions from the Senate Chaplain’s clearly stated that the prayer ‘must be given exclusively and entirely in the English language.’” I do wonder what rule or statute establishes this? On the one hand it makes sense (how many in US Federal Government or the general citizenry know Sanskrit?), yet on the other hand, how many grew up in Roman Catholic churches where the liturgy was given in Latin?

Chaplain Zed:

[from DallasNewsReligion]

Let us pray.

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.

Lead us from the unreal to the real, from darkness to light, and from death to immortality. May we be protected together. May we be nourished together. May we work together with great vigor. May our study be enlightening. May no obstacle arise between us.

May the Senators strive constantly to serve the welfare of the world, performing
their duties with the welfare of others always in mind, because by devotion to selfless work one attains the supreme goal of life. May they work carefully and wisely, guided by compassion and without thought for themselves.

United your resolve, united your hearts, may your spirits be as one, that you may long dwell in unity and concord. Peace, peace, peace be unto all.

Lord, we ask You to comfort the family of former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson.

Amen.

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