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Hindu mantras open Douglas County Commissioners meeting for first time



douglas-county-nv-invocation-2012-600x294-4431735-6615095The Douglas County Board of Commissioners began its meeting at Lake Tahoe (Stateline, Nevada) with a Hindu invocation on yesterday for the first time since its 1861 formation, containing verses from world’s oldest existing scripture.

Reno-based Hindu statesman Rajan Zed delivered the opening prayer from ancient Sanskrit scriptures before the County Board of Supervisors. After Sanskrit delivery, he then read the English translation of the prayer. 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, recited 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 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, 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, and Lead me from death to Immortality.” Reciting from Bhagavad-Gita, Zed urged supervisors to keep the welfare of others always in mind. Supervisors, county employees and public were seen standing in prayer mode with their heads bowed down during this invocation.

Wearing saffron colored attire, a ruddraksh mala (rosary) and the traditional sandalpaste tilak (religious mark) on the forehead, Zed sprinkled a few drops of water from river Ganga of India, considered holy by Hindus, around the podium before the prayer. Board Chair Lee Bonner welcomed and thanked Zed. “It is a historic moment of pride for the community when the prayers from ancient Sanskrit scriptures are being read in this great hall of democracy of this great county of Douglas,” Zed stated before starting the invocation.

Zed is a global Hindu and interfaith leader, who besides taking up the cause of religion worldwide, has also raised a huge voice against the apartheid faced by about 15-million Roma (Gypsies) in Europe. Bestowed with the World Interfaith Leader Award, Zed is a senior fellow and religious advisor to the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy, spiritual advisor to the National Association of Interchurch and Interfaith Families, director of the Interfaith Relations of Nevada Clergy Association, and more.

Hinduism, the oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents, and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.

Douglas County, headquartered in Minden, is home to about 13.2 percent of Lake Tahoe, part of Toiyabe National Forest, Starbucks roasting plant and 23 landmarks listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Nancy McDermid and Steve Mokrohisky are board vice chair and county manager respectively.

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