Hindu cleric Rajan Zed turns toward protester as he prepares to open U.S. Senate with prayer (CNN)
A Nevada Hindu who has opened the U.S. Senate with a faith-specific chant now has provided the invocation to open the state senate in Colorado, and a senator is suggesting since “om” has been cited, perhaps prayers “in Jesus name” again should be allowed.
The comments came after Rajan Zed, a Hindu from Reno who is making a series of appearances at state legislatures to promote Hinduism, was allowed to open the Colorado Senate, under the leadership of Senate President Peter Groff, with a Hindu chant of the “om” syllable that, according to his belief system, contains the universe.
Zed also recited the Gayatri Mantra from Rig-Veda, a prayer asking for help to “lead me from the unreal to the real.”
Zed was the Hindu who last year was invited by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to offer the first Hindu prayer in the U.S. Senate.
At that time, 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.
When Zed appeared in Washington his performance was interrupted by three Christians who prayed aloud in the name of Jesus during his chant.
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 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. … ”
Three people were arrested for disrupting the Senate. But WND columnist Judge Roy Moore noted that wasn’t the end of the story.
He reported that Ante and Katherine Pavkovic and their daughter Christan were ordered to appear in District of Columbia Superior Court, where a team from his organization, the Foundation for Moral Law represented them.
“When their case was called on Sept. 11, the prosecutor agreed to dismiss all the charges against them. Their simple trust in God’s grace had touched the hearts of not only the arresting officers – who commented on what a nice family they were – but also the tough government attorneys in the Washington, D.C., justice system,” he wrote.
Judge Moore and the Pavkovics.
“The bold actions of the Pavkovic family may serve to remind our esteemed representatives of something they have evidently forgotten: that there is only one true God and, unless our national motto is in vain, it is ‘in God’ that we and our forefathers have always trusted,” Moore wrote. “When a nation embraces apostasy by rejecting God or embracing a false religion like Hinduism or Islam, it is God who renders judgment.”
Zed also has led Hindu prayers in the California and New Mexico senates, and already is preparing for visits in Utah, Washington and Arizona, officials said.
“We talk about pluralism in this country and tolerating differences,” Ved P. Nanda, an official at the University of Denver’s law college, told the Denver Post. “Hindus don’t ‘tolerate’ differences, we celebrate them.”
The Associated Press reported Zed read both in Sanskrit and 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 heaven,” he read. “May he stimulate and illuminate our minds.”
He also sprinkled “holy water” from India’s Ganges River around the podium, and finished with, “Om shanti shanti shanti,” which he translated as, “Peace, peace, peace be unto all,” the AP said.
There were no interruptions during his Colorado appearance, and Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon, D-Denver, offered a special invitation to half a dozen members of the Hindu religion to be on the Senate floor.
The AP reported Zed confirmed he hopes to “spread awareness” about his religion.
Sen. David Schultheis, however, told WND he was shocked by the appearance of the Hindu, since rules ban faith-specific references, such as the words “in Jesus name,” that many Christian leaders have used in prayers.
“Actually, I was shocked when I walked in there,” he said. “I don’t know of any Hindus or individuals from India actually in the legislature.”
The appearance by Zed was disturbing, he added.
“I think the most troubling thing [is] we have this appearance, and yet the bulk of our population is Christian or say they are Christian, and we are not allowed to mention ‘Jesus’ in any prayer,” he said.
That, he said, puts restrictions on leaders from Colorado’s religious community who might otherwise like to lead the Senate in an invocation.
He said perhaps an explanation would be appropriate as to why mentioning “Jesus” in a Christian prayer is “so abhorrent” to legislative leaders in his state.
A website promoting Zed’s visits notes that his chants were the first Hindu prayers in both the New Mexico and Colorado senates.
WND previously reported when Zed, who works at a Hindu temple in Reno, led California’s senate.
“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.”
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.”
When the protest was raised to Zed’s appearance in Washington, the
Hindu American Foundation called for support for Zed from elected officials, and condemned Christian organizations who were critical of the chant.
WND earlier had reported the HAF had published a reporting condemning Christian organizations that promote Christian beliefs on the Internet.
“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 a report by the foundation.
It specifically named organizations for having Internet “hate sites,” such as the Southern Baptist Mission Board, Gospel for Asia and the Minnesota-based Olive Tree Ministries, which aims its ministry at teaching Christians about their beliefs.
“We must vigorously identify, condemn and counter those who use the Internet to espouse chauvinism and bigotry over the principles of pluralism and tolerance,” Vallabh said.
Jan Markell, who has been with the Olive Tree Ministries since 1977 and 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.”
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