Praying to the Hindu God(s)

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  May 8, 2007 — 2 Comments

On Monday, the notions of public religion in America got a bit broader. The Nevada State Senate opened its session with a prayer to the divine led by a Hindu.

“History was made when the Senate of the US state of Nevada opened its session with chanting of Hindu prayers for the first time since it was established in 1864. Director of Interfaith Relations of the Hindu Temple of Northern Nevada Rajan Zed chanted the prayers to open the session on Monday. Wearing saffron robes, ‘rudraksh’ necklace and traditional sandal paste ’tilak’ on the forehead, Zed began with a hymn from the Rig Veda. “I open my prayer with an invocation to the divine, whatever it may be and however we may conceive it”…President of the Senate, Lieutenant Governor Brian K. Krolicki, introduced Rajan Zed and all Senators stood up as he started chanting the prayer.”

Nevada now joins the U.S. House of Representatives who had a Hindu chaplain open their session in 2000, and the Minnesota Senate who has had a Hindu perform opening prayers on more than one occasion. During the prayer, Rajan Zed remarked on the groundbreaking nature of the event.

“Today is a glorious day for all Nevadans and historical day for us when opening prayers from ancient Hindu scriptures are being read in this great hall of democracy,”

What makes this event (and others like it) so groundbreaking is that these Hindu prayers to a divine power implicitly include polytheistic conceptions of god.

“Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has no datable beginning but some scholars put it around 3,000 BCE. It has no founder, no one authoritative figure, no one deity worshipped by all, and no single prophet or holy book.”

So while it may seem innocuous to some, there is something inherently radical about a public prayer that welcomes such a broad variety of belief and worship. One hopes that we can only hear more prayers of this sort in the future.

Jason Pitzl-Waters