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Sen. Bice's office helped Hindu leader schedule April 30th opening prayer

Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report
Hindu leader Rajan Zed will read lines from the Bhagavad-Gita when he gives an opening prayer to the Oklahoma Senate on April 30, 2018.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Rajan Zed, president of the Nevada-based Universal Society of Hinduism, told Red Dirt Report this past week that it was the office of State Sen. Stephanie Bice (R-Oklahoma City) that arranged for him to give the opening prayer to the Oklahoma Senate on April 30th.

Bice’s executive assistant Anissa Scott confirmed that she worked with Zed, scheduling him to give the Hindu prayer on that date.

Scott said that she understood that Zed had reached out to several different legislators in both the House and Senate before getting a positive response from Bice’s office.

Zed was in Oklahoma media reports back in late 2013, when he asked the Oklahoma State Capitol Preservation Commission to allow a statue of Lord Hanuman on the statehouse grounds – to go alongside the Judeo-Christian Ten Commandments and a proposed Satanic Temple statue, that would have featured a “benevolent, horned, cloven-hoofed grandpa” version of Satan, as suggested by the Satanic Temple.

That did not go forward at the time because of an imposed moratorium on new monuments of a religious nature, including the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

As we have previously reported, in the Oklahoma House, the press-averse head of the House’s chaplain program, State Rep. Chuck Strohm (R-Jenks), has done all he can to make sure no non-Christian faith leaders are given an opportunity to give a prayer in the House chambers.

A number of diverse voices in religious and political circles, as well as in the media – including this publication – have called Strohm out for his religious bigotry and unwillingness to meet with non-Christian faith leaders to simply explain his reasoning for barring them from offering up a simple prayer.

But the more broad-minded folks in the Senate see things differently, as evidenced by Bice's kind gesture.

As noted in Zed’s press release of March 16th, “Zed will deliver the invocation from ancient Sanskrit scriptures before the Senate. After Sanskrit delivery, he then will read the English interpretation of the prayer. 

Continuing, the press release said Zed “will recite 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 plans to start and end the prayer with “Om”, the mystical syllable containing the universe, which in Hinduism is used to introduce and conclude religious work.

Reciting from Brahadaranyakopanishad, Rajan Zed plans to say “Asato ma sad gamaya, Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya, Mrtyor mamrtam gamaya”, which he will then interpret as “Lead us from the unreal to the real, Lead us from darkness to light, and Lead us from death to immortality.”

Reading from Bhagavad-Gita, he proposes to urge Senators to keep the welfare of others always in mind.”

Zed, who was born in India, told Red Dirt Report that Hinduism is the world’s oldest and the third largest religion, with six major schools of orthodox Hindu philosophy.

There are approximately 1.1 billion adherents, with 3 million of them located in the United States.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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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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