Hindu statesman visits BYU

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A Hindu statesman and interfaith leader, who visited Utah to conduct business, was welcomed to BYU on Sept. 18.

Statesman Rajan Zed serves on an interfaith council in Reno, Nev., and was visiting Utah to give the invocation at the Utah County Commissions Meeting and the invocation at the Provo City Council meeting later that evening.

[Rajan Zed] Rajan Zed with BYU Provo faculty of Religious Studies
It was the first time a Hindu had ever offered an invocation in either of those government meetings, according to Brent L. Top, chair of the church history and doctrine department.

Top explained that an LDS friend from college served on the same interfaith council with Rajan Zed, and due to this friendship, he was able to interact with Zed.

“(He) is a defender of us in many ways and in many settings…his mission is to build understanding and tolerance among religions,” Top said.

While Zed was here, he got a tour of campus and the MTC and visited the grounds of the Provo Temple. He also got to meet President Samuelson and visit Professor Mauro Properzi’s world religions class.

Zed was able to answer students’ questions about Hinduism as well as visit and interact with students.

“It was more than reading something in a book about a group of people,” Properzi said.

Even though Hinduism had not been discussed in the class yet, Properzi explained that it was fascinating for the students to have someone with such fascinating traditions talk to them.

Jared Ludlow, a religion professor at BYU, also said Zed’s visit offered unique experiences for students.

“It was a great opportunity to be able to ask him some questions,” Ludlow said.

He said that even though Zed knew a fair amount about the church, he didn’t know much about BYU.

Top described the experience as a great interfaith outreach. He also said that due to the number of students that serve missions, speak foreign languages and travel the world, it’s nice to have experiences like this, to be able to better understand all of the Lord’s children.

Zed’s stay was short, but in the small amount of time he was here, he was able to see and learn many different things.

“I think he was positively impressed,” Ludlow said.

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