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Indian Inroads Towars Global Culture

Indian Inroads Towars Global Culture

By Ravindra Kumar

It was on Thursday, for the first time in U.S. history, the United States Senate opened with a Hindu prayer. Rajan Zed, a U.S. citizen originally from India and chaplain of the Indian Association of Northern Nevada, was invited as a guest chaplain through the introduction of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Zed ended his prayer with Shanti, Shanti, Shanti -- peace, peace, and peace--bringing the Hindu wish for peace to the heart of the U.S. capital. After the prayer Reid stressed the importance of peace, especially with the ongoing international war on terror. He urged people to "think of Gandhi, a man who gave his life for peace."

The historical decision to tender an official invitation to Rajan Zed to recite a prayer from the Rig-Veda, the Upanishads and the Shrimadbhagavad-Gita was a wonderful act of acceptance and tolerance and a step toward true and healthy globalization. This act is worth contemplating. It invites us to hold a mirror to those in India who have a more narrow view, who consider themselves patrons of Hindus yet express intolerance toward others, which is against the fundamentals of Hinduism.

Zed previously offered opening prayers at a March session of the Nevada State Assembly and one in May of the Nevada State Senate.

He recited a Vedic hymn, the meaning of which is, "I open my prayer with an invocation to the divine -- whatever it may be and however we may conceive it." He also chose a prayer from the Tattriya Upanishad, inviting the welfare and prosperity of all.

The character of these hymns and prayers is universal. They are devoted to the welfare of all, not restricted to any particular human community or the followers of any religious community. Still, the Vedas and Upanishads are the holy scriptures of the Hindu religious community. Their recitation in the halls of government of the United States is definitely a unique example of religious acceptance, forbearance and tolerance.

Another recent trend has also raised the profile of Indians in the global community. This is the adoption of thousands of Indian children, especially by overseas Indian families living in the United States and the developed countries of Europe.

According to a statement by the Indian government last month, 945 Indian children were adopted in the past three years by families living in the United States. Over the same period, from 2004-2007, 419 children were adopted by families in Italy, 301 in Spain, 194 in Denmark, 123 in Sweden, 86 in Switzerland, 49 in Germany, 72 in Belgium, 68 in Australia, 63 in the United Arab Emirates and 53 in Britain.

Whether or not these families were Indians living overseas, the law that allowed them to make such adoptions is helpful in the development of true globalization and liberalization. It is a good step toward realizing the goal of a world family and engages the Indian community in the process of global thinking and human unity.


Dr. Ravindra Kumar is a renowned Gandhian scholar, India expert and writer. He is the former vice chancellor of CCS University in Meerut, India. He holds a doctorate in political science.

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