USA’s 5th most populated city opens meet with Hindu prayers

phoenix hindu prayers sanskrit
Rajan Zed delivering the invocation.

City Council of Phoenix, fifth most populated city of USA, reverberated with Sanskrit mantras from ancient Hindu scriptures on July seven, reportedly for the first time since it was incorporated in 1881.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed delivered invocation from Sanskrit scriptures before Phoenix City Council on this day. After Sanskrit delivery, he read the English translation of the prayer. Sanskrit is considered a sacred language in Hinduism and root language of Indo-European languages.

phoenix hindu prayers
Mayor Phil Gordon (right) with Rajan Zed just before the reportedly historic first Hindu invocation.

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.

City Councilors, city employees and public stood quietly in prayer mode with heads bowed down during the prayer. Wearing saffron colored attire, a ruddraksh mala (rosary), and traditional sandalpaste tilak (religious mark) on the forehead, Rajan Zed said before the actual prayer: “This is a day of honor for us when wisdom from ancient Sanskrit scriptures is being read in this great hall of democracy of great City of Phoenix.” Zed sprinkled few drops of sacred water from river Ganga in India around the podium before the prayer.

Reciting from Brahadaranyakopanishad, Rajan 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, he urged Councilors to keep the welfare of others always in mind.

Zed met with Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett and Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon just before the historic prayer and presented both of them with copy of Bhagavad-Gita.

Rajan Zed is one of the panelists for “On Faith”, a prestigious interactive conversation on religion produced jointly by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com. He has been awarded “World Interfaith Leader Award” by National Association of Interchurch and Interfaith Families.

Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. Spread out about 2,000 square miles and having hottest climate of any major city in the nation with over 300 sunshine days, Phoenix offers top-notch professional sports, major museums and world-class golf. One of the vision/value of City of Phoenix is: “We Learn, Change and Improve”.