The Hindu altar in the Dharmic Prayer Space in Brandeis University (BU) in Waltham (Massachusetts) has images of deities Ganesh, Krishna, Shiva, Lakshmi, Ram parivar and Saraswati. Welcoming the existence of Hindu altar in a shared space on the third floor of Shapiro Campus Center, Hindus are still insisting on a permanent designated Hindu Prayer Room in BU.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that Dharmic Prayer Space shared by four religions, including Hinduism, maybe okay as an interim-arrangement for a short period; but BU should respond to the requirements of its Hindu students by providing designated permanent prayer-meditation hall for rituals, quiet reflection, festivals and spiritual exercise; which would help in their personal growth.
BU, which claims itself “a model of ethnic and religious pluralism”, already had three chapels — the Harlan Chapel (Protestant), the Bethlehem Chapel (Catholic) and the Berlin Chapel (Jewish) — which can hold wedding and other ceremonies; besides a Muslim prayer room and resource center. Adding a Hindu Prayer Room would be another feather in BU’s cap; Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, noted.
Rajan Zed indicated that establishment of a permanent Hindu Prayer Room would be a step in the positive direction in view of presence of a substantial number of Hindu students at BU, as it was important to meet the spiritual needs of these students. Some other universities/colleges in USA now offered Hindu prayer rooms. Zed urged all USA and Canadian universities, both public and private, to respond to the needs of their considerable Hindu student bodies and offer prayer facility. BU needed to recognize the intersection of spirituality and education, which was important in Hinduism, Zed added.
Founded in 1948 and spread over 235 acres, Brandeis is one of the most selective private research universities and is ranked in the top tier in the nation. It counts among its alumni a Nobel laureate, former Iceland Prime Minister, three Pulitzer Prize winners, and several Emmy Award-winning actors-broadcasters-producers. Lawrence S. Kanarek and Ronald D. Liebowitz are Trustees Chair and President respectively.
Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about 1.1 billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.