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Hindus to seek Bhagavad-Gita monuments if Ten Commandments bill becomes law

Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report
The Red Dirt Report office copy of The Bhagavad-Gita.
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OKLAHOMA CITY -- In response to Oklahoma House Bill 2177, which would allow for the return of the Ten Commandments monument to the state capitol, Hindus announced today they would seek to erect monuments with verses from ancient Sanskrit scripture Bhagavad-Gita  (Song of the Lord) in public buildings and on public grounds in Oklahoma if the bill becomes the law.

A spokesman for Hindus in the United States, Rajan Zed, in a statement from Nevada today, said that the Bhagavad-Gita was a “historically significant document,” “recognized throughout the world” and was a “treasure that should be displayed in public buildings and on public grounds” in the form of monuments/tablets carrying its verses.

House Bill 2177, authored by Rep. John Bennett (R-Sallisaw) would allow monuments to “historically significant documents” to be displayed on public property.

The bill is in response to an Oklahoma Supreme Court decree that forced the removal of a Ten Commandments monument from the Oklahoma State Capitol grounds in 2015. The 6-foot- tall granite monument, which was paid for by private funds, is inscribed with the Ten Commandments, which had drawn strong support from the Republican leadership.

The Oklahoma House of Representatives advanced the bill in March, and on March 27, the Senate referred the bill to the Judiciary Committee then to Appropriations Committee.

The bill allows every county, municipality, city, town, school or any other political subdivision to display, in its public buildings and on its grounds, replicas of historical documents “including, but not limited to, the Ten Commandments, Magna Carta, Mayflower Compact, Declaration of Independence, United States Constitution, Bill of Rights, Oklahoma Constitution and other historically significant documents in the form of statues, monuments, memorials, tablets or any other display that respects the dignity and solemnity of such documents.”

According to a release from Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, Hindus would seek to place the Bhagavad-Gita monuments/tablets in various Oklahoma public universities and colleges; city halls of Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Norman and Broken Arrow; Myriad Botanical Gardens in Oklahoma City, Woodward Park in Tulsa, etc., if the bill passed.

“Various well-known Americans, including essayist-philosopher Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), theoretical physicist credited with being the ‘father of the atomic bomb’ J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967), novelist-philosopher Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), essayist-poet Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), theoretical physicist Albert Einstein (1879-1955), etc.; were reportedly influenced by Bhagavad-Gita,” Zed said in a statement.

“It has inspired, fascinated, touched and impacted millions of readers worldwide over the centuries.”

Rajan Zed further said that awareness about other religions thus created by such displays of verses from Bhagavad-Gita in Oklahoma schools, colleges and universities would make students of the state “well-nurtured, well-balanced and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.”

Hinduism is oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1 billion adherents. Nearly 3 million Hindus live in the United States.

Oklahoma’s Ten Commandments monument was removed in 2016 after months of lawsuits launched by groups claiming that its location at the Capitol violated local laws and U.S. Constitutional provisions against government support of a religion.

In November, Oklahoma voters failed to support a state question 790 that would have removed a section of the Oklahoma Constitution that forbade monuments like the Ten Commandments monument to be placed on the Oklahoma Capitol grounds.

The state question was placed on the ballot to remove the constitutional section that the Oklahoma Supreme Court used to require the removal of the Ten Commandments monument.

Despite the voters’ decision, the current House bill would effectively allow such monuments to be displayed.

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Heide Brandes

Heide Brandes is an award-winning journalist and editor with more than 18 years of experience....

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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