SUBMITTED BY RAJAN ZED
Weeklong “Religious Leadership in an Interfaith World” seminar ended with “Gayatri Mantra”, the most sacred mantra of Hinduism, at Hartford Seminary (Connecticut).
Reno based Hindu leader Rajan Zed, who participated in the seminar, read the benediction in Sanskrit from Rig-Veda, Upanishads, and Bhagavad-Gita; all ancient Hindu scriptures; and then translated into English. Participants repeated the Gayatri Mantra after Zed.
Reading from Brahadaranyakopanishad, Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, 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, and Lead me from death to Immortality.”
Thirty-three religious leaders from all over USA, including one from Switzerland, attended this innovative seminar, who included Christian (various denominations), Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Quaker, Unitarian, Wiccan, etc. This maiden seminar of the Seminary will reportedly become its annual feature.
Besides Rajan Zed, participants included: Seemi Ahmed, Ann Ameling, Nichelle Blanco, Joseph Colletti, Julianna Donofrio, Donna Downs, Elaine Dushoff, Per Faaland, Andree Grafstein, Marliyn Greenburg, Joan Haan, Grove Harris, Maria Hornung, Zakiya Islam, Fatima Khan, Angela Lutzenberger, Rebecca Mays, Howard McLendon, Abdus-Salaam Musa, Dat Manh Nguyen, Andreas Nufer, Johanna Osman, Aaron Payson, Thayor Quoos, Cristina Richie, Gurbet Sayilgan, Salih Sayilgan, Ruth Sharone, Linda Simmons, Kaji Spellman, Cynthia Stewart, and Jyoti Swaminathan.
Well known ethicist Dr. Lucinda Allen Mosher coordinated this seminar. Other speakers included Dr. David A. Roozen, Director of Hartford Institute for Religion Research; Dr. Timur R. Yuskaev, Director of Islamic Chaplaincy Program of Duncan Black Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations; Dr. Yehezkel Landau, Director of the Building Abrahamic Partnerships; etc. It also included field trips.
The participants now will launch an interfaith project in their home context, presenting their project at a follow-up gathering in January 2012.
“In a diverse religious culture, effective religious leadership must include awareness and engagement with faith traditions other than one’s own”; the seminar announcement said. Seminary President Dr. Heidi Hadsell points out that this seminar “underscores the importance of interfaith dialogue in today’s multi-faith world”.
Zed stresses that all religions should work together for a just and peaceful world. Dialogue would bring us mutual enrichment, he adds.
Hartford Seminary, whose tagline is “Exploring Differences, Deepening Faith” and whose traces go back to 1833, claims to be “an educational institution where a consciousness of God is cultivated and shared.” “Hartford Seminary’s influence reaches far beyond the walls of churches, mosques and synagogues. Its work strengthens the moral character of society”, it adds. Dr. Efrain Agosto is the Dean.
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