Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Rajan Zed: Some Negative Reviews

Here is a list of Zed-skeptic material that I have been able to track down on teh interwebs (if you know of any others, please send them my way, or post your own list, but please let me know!):

*Please note that I almost didn't post the item from Sepia Mutiny (thus the asterisk) because the author, "amardeep", inexplicably insinuates some comparison between Rajan Zed and Aseem Shukla of the Hindu American Foundation. But see Shukla's very polite and substantive response in the comments section here.

And now here are excerpts from two of the above listed sources:

(1) The first excerpt is from "Senate opens with its first Hindu prayer", an article from the February 22, 2008 Seattle Post Intelligencer, reporting on a Zed performance before the the Washington State Senate. This article is linked to and quoted in "Rajan Zed on a promotional spree", linked to in the above list.

Rajan Zed, who calls himself "a prominent Hindu chaplain and Indo-American leader" from Reno, Nev., sought and received permission to deliver the traditional opening prayer.

Wearing saffron-colored clothes and displaying the tilak, a traditional religious mark, on his forehead, Zed spoke in Sanskrit and English and uttered "om," regarded by Hindus as "the mystical syllable containing the universe."

Washington was the latest of six Western state senates that Zed has opened in Hindu prayer, each reportedly for the first time, in the past eight months. He also was the first Hindu to open the U.S. Senate in prayer, which drew protests from the gallery and has been viewed nearly 300,000 times on YouTube.

His appearance in Olympia did not result from an invitation from Washington's Hindu population, a community of at least 25,000 by some estimates. Leaders of three Seattle-area temples said they knew of Zed from news accounts or not at all.

"I don't know how he advertises himself or how he gets access to these things," said Shyam Oberoi, secretary of the board of trustees of the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center in Bothell.

Swami Bhaskarananda of the Vedanta Society of Western Washington in Seattle said Zed sounds like "someone ambitious" whose appearance might be "politically motivated -- he wants to be known."

(2) This next one is from "Is Rajan Zed Promoting Hinduism Or Damaging Hinduism?", linked to in the above list:

According to Rajan Zed’s website “Rajan is an acclaimed Indo-American and Hindu statesman who has taken up Hindu, interfaith, religion, environment, Roma and other causes all over the world”. I have lived in the United States for a very long time and I have never met any Indian who would consider Rajan Zed as an “acclaimed Indo-American and Hindu statesman”. The Universal Society of Hinduism that he leads is virtually unknown and till date very little information is available on what this society has achieved since its inception.

His website has a lot of photographs of him with some politicians and minor celebrities. It reminded me of the photographs you will see behind the cashier of many Indian restaurants and grocery stores in the United States. In the last few years he has made a lot of statements on behalf of Hindus and Hinduism that are way off base and portrays the religion as one that cannot be criticized, made fun of or subject to any sort of interpretation.

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