Hindu cleric Rajan Zed turns toward protester as he prepares to open U.S. Senate with prayer (CNN)
The California Senate has been led in a prayer for help in being brought “from unreal to Real” as a Hindu chaplain called for meditation on “the transcendental” and an illumination of members’ minds.
The prayer was delivered by Rajan Zed, who works at a Hindu Temple in Reno, Nev. It was his oration that was interrupted when he appeared in the U.S. Senate chamber several weeks ago.
YouTube shows Zed preparing to pray when a clear, loud voice came from the U.S. Senate gallery.
“Lord Jesus, forgive us, Father, for allowing the prayer of the wicked, which is an abomination in your sight,” said a male protester.
The Senate’s sergeant at arms was instructed to restore order, but Zed was interrupted again.
“You shall have no other gods before you. … ”
In Sacramento, however, Zed faced no interruptions or opposition.
“Om bhur bhuvah svah tat Savitur varenyam bhargo devasya dhimihi dhiyo you nah prachodayat,” he intoned in the opening of his three-minute prayer, which was recited in Sanskrit, then English.
“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,” he translated. “Lead me from the unreal to the Real.
Lead me from darkness to Light. Lead me from death to immortality.”
The guest appearance in the state Senate had been facilitated by the Rev. Canon James D. Richardson, the chaplain for the state Senate and an Episcopal priest who usually delivers the opening prayers.
“Because our state is so richly diverse, with virtually every religious tradition on Earth represented in California, the prayers are non-sectarian in tone and content. I write most of the prayers, but from time-to-time I offer prayers from other traditions, including from the Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Christian faiths,” his website said.
State officials said it was the first time the California Legislature has sponsored a Hindu prayer at a Senate opening. Zed previously has appeared in the Nevada Legislature, too.
“Fulfill all your duties, action is better than inaction,” Zed told the senators who recently have approved a wide range of proposals to grant same-sex duos the same rights as married couples and to provide new requirements to blend pro-homosexual teachings into the public school system’s requirements for reading and math.
Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association, told the San Francisco Chronicle that it remains a mystery to whom Zed was praying.
“I don’t know if he even knows who he’s praying to,” he said. “We’re not opposed to the ability of people to worship their own gods or god, but when it comes to our civil government … it’s always been the recognition of the God of the Bible. Every religion is not equal. That’s my belief. That’s logic.”
But those in the California Senate issued a warm welcome.
“I was very honored to have him here – as is the entire Senate,” Richardson said. And state Sen. Elaine Alquist, D-Santa Clara, told the newspaper, “I really believe in diversity and that all religions should be represented. California is a truly encompassing place, and we have our arms out to the world, and that’s how it should be.”
Zed sprinkled water from an Indian river on the podium before starting, and also finished with a mantra, “Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti,” which he then translated as, “Peace be unto all.”
“This day of August 27, 2007, is an esteemed day for all Californians and momentous day for us when opening prayers from ancient Hindu scriptures are being read in this majestic hall of democracy,” Zed said.
Hinduism’s beginnings are placed by scholars around 3,000 B.C. and it has no founder or single holy book. It arrived in North America nearly two centuries ago.
“The proliferation of websites promoting religious hatred is an unfortunate consequence of the universality of access to the internet,” said Vinay Vallabh, the lead author of the report of the foundation.
It specifically named organizations such as the Southern Baptists’ missions board, Gospel for Asia and the Minnesota-based Olive Tree Ministries, which aims its ministry at teaching Christians about their beliefs, for having Internet “hate sites.”
“We must vigorously identify, condemn and counter those who use the Internet to espouse chauvinism and bigotry over the principles of pluralism and tolerance,” he said.
Jan Markell, who has been with the Olive Tree Ministries since 1977, has written eight books and hundreds of articles about Christians and their beliefs, at first wondered why she would be listed among ministries hated by a Hindu organization.
Then she remembered a series of articles warning Christians against participating in yoga, a Hindu form of worship.
“I’m big on it [opposing yoga for Christians],” she told WND. “I talk about it on the radio, and I write about it. And the irony of it all is, like Hindus, we don’t want Christians practicing yoga either.”
Her site, along with Bible Study Lessons from Antioch, Ill., The Christian Broadcasting Network, Christian Answers of Gilbert, Ariz., Mission Frontiers of Pasadena, Calif., and many others were identified by the Hindu foundation as Internet “hate” sources.
“This is the first of what the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) hopes will be an annual report on anti-Hindu hatred found on the Internet,” said the report, which was from a group that provides “a voice for the 2 million strong Hindu American community.”
“Hate is an ugly thing, and its ugliness is well illustrated in its various manifestations on the Internet, including those detailed in this report,” wrote Jeffery Long, of Elizabethtown College, in the forward.
When Zed appeared before the U.S. Senate, David Barton, president of WallBuilders, a foundation that researches and promotes the Christian origination of American law and culture, said the Hindu belief in multiple gods contradicts the U.S. motto of “One Nation Under God.”
He said it also conflicts with the historic references in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence to the Creator. “We don’t know which creator we’re talking about within the Hindu religion,” he said.
On a news site forum, Bob Coffey called for prayer for the apostasy of the United States.
“Any ‘Christian’ who supports this blasphemy needs to read the Old Testament (For you liberal pseudo-Christians – it’s in the front of the Bible.) and find out what happened to Israel & Judah when they allowed the filthy worship of foreign gods in their nations,” he said.
“I have been reading the Old Testament lately, and what I see repeated over and over is Israel doing just what the Senate is doing with this. Reaching out to pagan [gods] to appease people is like telling God He is no longer worthy of our praise and worship. In each instance, God brought His wrath on Israel,” added Karen.
The three protesters who confronted the U.S. Senate were taken out of the chamber and then Zed, who was invited by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, finally offered his prepared prayer. The protesters are facing criminal charges for their actions.
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