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Well-known Hindu leader Rajan Zed delivered the invocation from ancient Sanskrit texts after sprinkling sacred water from the river Ganga of India. After the Sanskrit delivery, he then read the English translation of the prayers.
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, Mrityor mamrtam gamaya,” which he then read in English 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 council members and others to “act selflessly, without any thought of personal profit.”
Council members, city employees and the public stood quietly in prayer mode with heads bowed down during Zed’s prayer, who was wearing saffron-colored attire, a ruddraksh mala (rosary) and the traditional sandalpaste tilak (religious mark) on the forehead.
Zed is one of the panelists for “On Faith,” a prestigious interactive conversation on religion produced by The Washington Post. He has been awarded the “World Interfaith Leader Award” by the National Association of Interchurch and Interfaith Families.
Hinduism, the oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. Sanskrit is considered a sacred language in Hinduism and root language of Indo-European languages.
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