KAUAI, HAWAII, May 30, 2013: Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami today offered the opening prayer before the US House of Representatives, the first Hindu monk and only the third Hindu in history to do so as Guest Chaplain for the Congress (click source above for the video). The prayer is given each day the House is in session, immediately after it opens for business and before the Pledge of Allegiance. Rep. Ed Royce of California's 39th district, spoke next, saying how he and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii's 2nd district had invited Bodhinatha as guest chaplain and speaking about Bodhinatha's accomplishments as Hindu leader (see text below).
The invitation has come through the work of the Hindu American Foundation, a prominent advocacy group, as part of their Tenth Annual Advocacy Day in which they host a Congressional Reception for Senators and Representatives that same evening. Additionally they conduct personal meetings with individual members of Congress in which they present HAF's legislative concerns including the treatment of Hindus in Bangladesh and Pakistan and immigration reform. Nearly 50 members of HAF's delegation were in the gallery to hear the prayer given.
The first Hindu guest chaplain was Venkatachalapathi Samuldrala of the Siva-Vishnu Temple of Parma Ohio (http://www.shivavishnutemple.org), on September 14, 2000, to open the House of Representatives on the day that the Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, addressed a joint session of Congress. The second was Rajan Zed of Reno, Nevada, who opened the US Senate on July 12, 2007 at the invitation of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
The video of Bodhinatha's prayer and Rep. Royce's speech can be seen at source above. The prayer starts a few seconds into the recording, and Rep. Royce's speech follows after the Pledge.
Text of Prayer read June 4, 2013, by Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami to open US House of Representatives:
"May today's session of the House of Representatives, to which Americans rightly turn for leadership, be abundantly blessed by the Lord Supreme.
"Through personal introspection, a collaborative heart and by God's all-pervasive grace, may the members present here, despite differing views and staunchly held convictions, find the wisdom to craft mutually acceptable solutions to our nation's challenges.
"The tragic Boston marathon bombings, still vivid in all our minds, implore us to advocate the humanity of a nonviolent approach in all of life's dimensions. Hindu scripture declares, without equivocation, that the highest of high ideals is to never knowingly harm anyone.
"May we here in this chamber, and all the people of our great nation, endeavor to face even our greatest difficulties with an unwavering commitment to seek out and to find nonviolent solutions.
"Peace, peace, peace to us, and peace to all beings."
Text of remarks by Representative Ed. Royce:
"Mr. Speaker. I am proud to have the opportunity to welcome Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, the spiritual leader and head of Kauai's Hindu Monastery. He has come here today to give the Opening Prayer on the Hindu American Foundation's 10th Annual Capitol Hill Advocacy Day and is a true leader in the Hindu community. Satguru has been the head of the monastery since 2001 and works to spread the principles of love and friendliness around the community. Additionally, his achievements have international reach. Not only does he oversee the Himalayan Academy's various publications, he serves as a publisher of the international magazine Hinduism Today. Furthermore, Satguru [Sat-gu-ru] dedicates his time to cultivating the religious instruction of Hindu youth around the world through producing a series of books that teach Hinduism's ethical restraints and religious observances. Thank you Satugru for your Opening Prayer and for gracing us with the same spirit that guides the Hindu belief. I am honored to welcome you and your group here today as you delivered this meaningful prayer."