First Hindu American Congresswoman takes oath on Bhagavad Gita

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Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii has created history by not only becoming the first Hindu ever to be sworn in as a member of the US House of Representatives, but also being the first ever US lawmaker to have taken oath of office on the sacred Bhagavad Gita.


Tulsi, 31, was administered the oath of office by the John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

“I chose to take the oath of office with my personal copy of the Bhagavad-Gita because its teachings have inspired me to strive to be a servant-leader, dedicating my life in the service of others and to my country,” Gabbard said after the swearing in ceremony yesterday.

“My Gita has been a tremendous source of inner peace and strength through many tough challenges in life, including being in the midst of death and turmoil while serving our country in the Middle East,” she said explaining the reasons for taking the oath of office on Gita.

“I was raised in a multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-faith family. My mother is Hindu; my father is a Catholic lector in his church who also practices mantra meditation. I began to grapple with questions of spirituality as a teenager,” Gabbard said.

“Over time, I came to believe that, at its essence, religion gives us a deeper purpose in life than just living for ourselves. Since I was a teenager, I have embraced this spiritual journey through the teachings of the Bhagavad-Gita.


continue to source article at deccanherald.com

36 COMMENTS

    • She is half-Caucasian, half Hawaiian, with no Indian (dot variety, not feather variety) blood to speak of. Untouchables are already in high office for many decades. One of the authors of the Indian constitution was an ‘untouchable’, and ‘untouchability’ was outlawed in 1950 when India became a republic. The first constituent assembly of India was presided over people of all faiths, but included an overwhelming majority of high caste Hindus such as Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, S. Radhakrishnan, Vallabhai Patel, and many others. Of course, it had Mahatma Gandhi’s backing who himself worked tirelessly against untouchability.

      [Removed by moderator to bring within Terms of Use]

      In reply to #1 by Nodhimmi:

      Just as well she’s a Brahmin, then. What would Hindus think if an untouchable rose to high office?

  1. In reply to #1 by Nodhimmi:

    Just as well she’s a Brahmin, then. What would Hindus think if an untouchable rose to high office?

    As someone who belongs to the upper caste, I wonder if she would choose to jump in the funeral pyre as demanded by her book of choice,

    Without my husband, I cannot live for a moment. If you want to eat my husband, it would be better to eat me. first, for without my husband I am as good as a dead body.
    Srimad Bhagavad Gita, 9.9.32

    http://srimad-bhagavatam.com/?g=70413b70413

    Before a Hindu apologists accuses me of reading the vedas & the gita literally. And suggests that I am a western Marxist trying to ridicule your great religion, I studied Sanskrit as a classical language when growing up in India. I regard the gods of the gita to be the most vile, repugnant, racist & misogynistic gods ever invented.

    • In reply to #3 by kbala:
      Bhagavad Gita and Bhagavatam, also known as Bhagavat Purana, are two different texts firstly. But is what is present is this narration much different from Romeo and Juliet? Is Shakespeare advocating that young lovers should kill themselves over one another? Guru Nanak said about Sati “Do not call them ‘satee’, who burn themselves along with their husbands’ corpses.
      O Nanak, they alone are known as ‘satee’, who die from the shock of separation.” So the story seeks to illiterate the strong FEELINGS of loss that a women feels when her husband dies. Sati, in the context of this work of literature, is used as a dramatic poetic technique . The fact that people put this into practice as a tradition, doesn’t mean it was directly approved of or advocated by Vedic scriptures.

  2. “Over time, I came to believe that, at its essence, religion gives us a deeper purpose in life than just living for ourselves.”

    Like one of my friends, who thinks there are only 2 options: either his set of morals or chaos! congresswoman should understand many people have a deeper purpose in life without being religious and many people lack a deeper purpose without being as harmful as the kind with “deeper purpose” !

  3. Like all the other believers, she probably cherry-picks; they all do.

    In reply to #5 by kbala:*

    For those of you who are unaware of the practice of Sati, it is a hindu tradition in which the widows were forced to jump into the funeral pyre of their husbands. Gita is the epitome of misogyny. I find it hard to believe that some in 21st century would take it as a source of morality.

    http://vedabase.net/sb/9/9/32/

  4. In reply to #1 by Nodhimmi:

    Just as well she’s a Brahmin, then. What would Hindus think if an untouchable rose to high office?

    Untouchables already occupy high office in India. In the most populous state Uttar Pradesh, a Dalit (untouchable) woman won the majority with Dalit, Brahmin votes.

  5. In reply to #6 by HenMie:

    Like all the other believers, she probably cherry-picks; they all do.

    In reply to #5 by kbala:*

    For those of you who are unaware of the practice of Sati, it is a hindu tradition in which the widows were forced to jump into the funeral pyre of their husbands. Gita is the epitome of misogyny. I find it hard to believe that some in 21st century would take it as a source of morality.

    http://vedabase.net/sb/9/9/32/

    Hinduism has always advocated cherry picking. It’s not like Hindus claim to be a sole authority on the ONE TRUTH. In that respect Hinduism is not a religion in the traditional western sense of the term. It is just a collection of philosophies (which can sometimes be as contradictory as outright atheism and theism) among which people pick and choose according to their own interpretation. In that respect it is more akin to the various schools of western philosophy like Platonism, materialism, empiricism etc.

  6. Fair enough. If you want to be pedantic, both of those books are considered to be the central tenants of the krishna worshippers. One is a mythology on the life of krishna & the other the conversation he had with arjuna.

    Your response is that of a typical apologist. We do not care for moral values that you can cherry pick from your scriptures. And we sincerely hope people don’t look for morals in either of them. As far as having a bias, yes I do have a bias. Bias for reason & logic. We don’t want to accept or respect your scriptures out of tradition, authority & revelation.

    Borrowing from Prof Dawkins,
    The God of the Bhagavad Gita is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

    [Quote of removed post deleted by moderator]

  7. Thanks for your comment. To ‘cherry-pick’ from it – I thought Hinduism was a religion, the oldest one in the world, but I see what you mean about its complexity.

    In reply to #11 by diogenes_raj:

    In reply to #6 by HenMie:

    Like all the other believers, she probably cherry-picks; they all do.

    In reply to #5 by kbala:*

    For those of you who are unaware of the practice of Sati, it is a hindu tradition in which the widows were forced to jump into the funeral pyre of their husbands. Gita is the epitome of misogyny. I find it hard to believe that some in 21st century would take it as a source of morality.

    http://vedabase.net/sb/9/9/32/

    Hinduism has always advocated cherry picking. It’s not like Hindus claim to be a sole authority on the ONE TRUTH. In that respect Hinduism is not a religion in the traditional western sense of the term. It is just a collection of philosophies (which can sometimes be as contradictory as outright atheism and theism) among which people pick and choose according to their own interpretation. In that respect it is more akin to the various schools of western philosophy like Platonism, materialism, empiricism etc.

  8. [Edited by moderator to bring within our Terms of Use]

    Hindusim doesn’t have the concept of Blasphemy. The verses you point out were written in those ages when people still believed in racial superiority, patriarchy. I choose to discard them in the light of modern scientific evidence as do many other Hindus. We don’t get “excommunicated” from temples for choosing to discard those verses.

    If you thought you would succeed in making me lose my cool — and thereby portray me as a lunatic nut job — by heaping abuse on Krishna or Rama you are never going to succeed. Neither Krishna nor Rama are these perfect, immaculate persons to Advaita Vedantins like me. They are just human beings who happened to play significant role in our myths or epics. Better luck next time.

    In reply to #12 by kbala:

    Fair enough. If you want to be pedantic, both of those books are considered to be the central tenants of the krishna worshippers. One is a mythology on the life of krishna & the other the conversation he had with arjuna.

    Your response is that of a typical apologist. We do not care for moral values that you can cherry pick from your scriptures. And we sincerely hope people don’t look for morals in either of them. As far as having a bias, yes I do have a bias. Bias for reason & logic. We don’t want to accept or respect your scriptures out of tradition, authority & revelation.

    Borrowing from Prof Dawkins,
    The God of the Bhagavad Gita is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

  9. Of course your gods aren’t gods. They are all characters of fiction. And yes, we don’t care about the yahweh, or allah or krishna or rama or the celestial tea pot or the flying spaghetti monster.

    Yours, like every other religion is another disease we would like to to get rid off. And yes, we like to mock religion & ridicule your fairies. If you feel that we are being offensive Stephen Fry has few words of comfort you,

    In reply to #15 by diogenes_raj:
    [Edited by moderator]

    Hindusim doesn’t have the concept of Blasphemy. The verses you point out were written in those ages when people still believed in racial superiority, patriarchy. I choose to discard them in the light of modern scientific evidence as do many other Hindus. We don’t get “excommunicated” from temples for choosing to discard those verses.

    If you thought you would succeed in making me lose my cool — and thereby portray me as a lunatic nut job — by heaping abuse on Krishna or Rama you are never going to succeed. Neither Krishna nor Rama are these perfect, immaculate persons to Advaita Vedantins like me. They are just human beings who happened to play significant role in our myths or epics. Better luck next time.

    In reply to #12 by kbala:

    Fair enough. If you want to be pedantic, both of those books are considered to be the central tenants of the krishna worshippers. One is a mythology on the life of krishna & the other the conversation he had with arjuna.

    Your response is that of a typical apologist. We do not care for moral values that you can cherry pick from your scriptures. And we sincerely hope people don’t look for morals in either of them. As far as having a bias, yes I do have a bias. Bias for reason & logic. We don’t want to accept or respect your scriptures out of tradition, authority & revelation.

    Borrowing from Prof Dawkins,
    The God of the Bhagavad Gita is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

  10. Untouchables already occupy high office in India. In the most populous state Uttar Pradesh, a Dalit (untouchable) woman won the majority with Dalit, Brahmin votes.

    Wow, that’s encouraging! However the very concept of caste is a denial of human rights; do you agree?

  11. In reply to #4 by Pourang:

    “Over time, I came to believe that, at its essence, religion gives us a deeper purpose in life than just living for ourselves.”

    Like one of my friends, who thinks there are only 2 options: either his set of morals or chaos! congresswoman should understand many people have a deeper purpose in life without being religious and many people lack a deeper purpose without being as harmful as the kind with “deeper purpose” !

    A deeper purpose arising from the shallow lie of religion- there’s a concept!

  12. I wish you all the best in your endeavor. The philosophical theories discussed in those books are timeless and they don’t need the support of puny human beings like you and me. As long as there are people who are capable of feeling a sense of wonder about existence, life and everything around us, these books keep being read, and of that I have no fear.

    In reply to #17 by kbala:

    Yours, like every other religion is another disease we would like to to get rid off. And yes, we like to mock religion & ridicule your fairies. If you feel that we are being offensive Stephen Fry has few words of comfort you,
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnSByCb8lqY

  13. Try telling that to Sam Harris (an agnostic atheist himself) who is convinced there is some merit in studying Eastern holy books. He might be able to give a better reply.

    In reply to #18 by Nodhimmi:

    And perhaps you are so blind not to notice that blathering about which particular ‘holy book’ generates these vile beliefs is completely irrelevant. They’re ALL nonsense and dangerous piffle and if you believe any of it you are seriously in need of help.

  14. Caste has virtually no relevance in modern urban India. Our constitution has long abolished that system and we perhaps have the most progressive Affirmative action scheme in the world by virtue of which 50% of our all education institutes are reserved for these classes, even at premier institutions like IITs (India’s equivalent of Harvard and MIT).

    Though caste based discrimination still exists in villages, largely due to illiteracy and ignorance, which is exploited and abetted by politicians for their narrow political gains.

    In reply to #19 by Nodhimmi:

    Wow, that’s encouraging! However the very concept of caste is a denial of human rights; do you agree?

  15. Yeah, I can see that it hasn’t had any emotional impact on you :)

    Sam Harris has argued that there is real value in meditation & yoga. And that they can be decoupled from their religious context. I am yet to see a work of his where he advocates or even suggests reading hindu scriptures for moral code of conduct. Please do read his works before you comment!

    Caste still plays a huge role in Indian society and it is a national shame. Arundhati Roy in her book, Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers details our systemic failure and the high levels of social inequality. But you wouldn’t consider her works would you? She isn’t an apologist. Sorry but it is not our fault that we value enlightenment & empiricism, than tradition, authority & revelation.

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  17. Some pretty depressing comments on this thread. I’ll try to post a nice one:

    Congratulations on breaking through the glass ceiling, Congresswoman. Good luck in your efforts to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, and kudos on rejecting your father’s entrenched and illiberal views on LGBT rights and abortion, even if it took you a while. I hope that you’re successful in providing tax incentives for renewable energy startups, and in your stated goal of giving hope to young American Hindus who “can be open about their faith, and even run for office, without fear of being discriminated against or attacked because of their religion”. I’d stay away from Boehner, though: that guy is all kinds of wrong.

  18. In reply to #26 by Sara25:

    I”d be curious to know who used it. Too bad there’s not a list somewhere, since they don’t keep track.

    “On Friday, March 4, 1853, Franklin Pierce became the fourteenth President of the United States, and was the first and only President to date, who affirmed, rather than swore to, the oath of office.”

    (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirmation_in_law )

    From the Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin_Pierce) on Franklin Pierce:

    “The first president to have been born in the 19th century, Pierce chose to ‘affirm’ his oath of office rather than swear it, becoming the first president to do so; he placed his hand on a law book rather than on a Bible.”

    Steve

  19. In reply to #24 by diogenes_raj:

    Caste has virtually no relevance in modern urban India. Our constitution has long abolished that system and we perhaps have the most progressive Affirmative action scheme in the world by virtue of which 50% of our all education institutes are reserved for these classes, even at premier institutions like IITs (India’s equivalent of Harvard and MIT).

    Though caste based discrimination still exists in villages, largely due to illiteracy and ignorance, which is exploited and abetted by politicians for their narrow political gains.

    i beg to differ from your view.. indian society, urban or rural, is rooted with caste system though urban civilization choose not to make it look apparent, except when it comes to weddings.. get your facts straight before showcasing urban india as caste-free society

  20. And your point is?? Sam Harris is right- there is merit in reading most books (Mein Kampf, possibly not!) but are you suggesting he BELIEVES what he reads? I very much doubt that, you could ask him…

    Belief, or worse, Faith is the issue

    In reply to #23 by diogenes_raj:

    Try telling that to Sam Harris (an agnostic atheist himself) who is convinced there is some merit in studying Eastern holy books. He might be able to give a better reply.

    In reply to #18 by Nodhimmi:

    And perhaps you are so blind not to notice that blathering about which particular ‘holy book’ generates these vile beliefs is completely irrelevant. They’re ALL nonsense and dangerous piffle and if you believe any of it you are seriously in need of help.

  21. I meant of the current Congress. Bu that is interesting about Pierce too, didn’t know that. Good for him.

    In reply to #29 by Agrajag:

    In reply to #26 by Sara25:

    I”d be curious to know who used it. Too bad there’s not a list somewhere, since they don’t keep track.

    “On Friday, March 4, 1853, Franklin Pierce became the fourteenth President of the United States, and was the first and only President to date, who affirmed, rather than swore to, the oath of office.”

    (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirmationinlaw )

    From the Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin_Pierce) on Franklin Pierce:

    “The first president to have been born in the 19th century, Pierce chose to ‘affirm’ his oath of office rather than swear it, becoming the first president to do so; he placed his hand on a law book rather than on a Bible.”

    Steve

  22. Oh, goody. If, by some unforseen circumstance, I get elected to public office, I want to put my hand on Tolkien’s “Silmarillion” and say “…so help me, Manwe.” I think everybody should swear on whatever strikes their fancy. It would highlight the essentially meaningless nature of oaths in general, especially those taken on myths.

  23. In reply to #1 by Nodhimmi:

    Just as well she’s a Brahmin, then. What would Hindus think if an untouchable rose to high office?

    Actually, in ’97, K.R. Narayanan was elected to the office of President. He was an “untouchable”.

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