USA : Unique, one of a kind baccalaureate service in the world, was held at University of Nevada-Reno (UNR) in USA on April 17 evening.
“Fourth Annual Hindu Baccalaureate Service of UNR (Dikshant Utsav)” blessed the graduating class in the traditional Hindu style according to ancient scriptures, complete with applying tilak (religious mark) on the foreheads of graduates, participatory reading of Gayatri Mantra in Sanskrit, keynote address by a Swami and kirtan (sacred chant). In addition, it also included blessings by Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Baha’i, etc., representatives who recited prayers in Arabic, Pali, Hebrew, Persian, besides English. Confucian and Dao prayers were also read on the occasion.Organized by Indo-American statesman Rajan Zed in collaboration with Indian Student Organization (ISO) of UNR, it started with lighting traditional lamp before the statue of goddess Saraswati, patron of learning and the arts, and included blessing of the upcoming graduates with wisdom from Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita—all ancient Hindu scriptures, by well-known Hindu monk Swami Vedananda from California (USA). Prominent musician Jim Eaglesmith chanted kirtan number “Radhe-Govinda” and the audience followed him on the chant.
Besides Vedananda, those who blessed the graduating class included Presbyterian Pastor Bruce Taylor, Nicholas Frey of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Muslim Imam Abdulrahim Barghouthi, Buddhist Priest Phil Bryan, Jewish Rabbi ElizaBeth Beyer, Baha’i Roya Galata, Reverend Robert Roy of International Community of Christ, and Dr. David Mitchell of Satya Chetna International. ISO President Dharshini Dhanalakshmi thanked the religious leaders for their blessings.
Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, said that the purpose of this baccalaureate service was to root the graduating class in divine spiritual tradition so that they had a spiritually meaningful life in addition to material success.
Education in Hindu tradition has been deep rooted; Zed says and adds that after many important universities in ancient India, like Taxila, Nalanda, Sarnath, Amaravati, Banaras, Kanchi and Ujjain; great Indian universities also flourished in medieval period, like Odantapura (745 AD), Vikramasila (810 AD), Somapura (480 AD), Jagaddala (1090 AD).
Baccalaureate service basically means service where a sermon is delivered to the graduating class. In use since at least the eighth century, origins of the baccalaureate service point to an Oxford University statute of 1432, which required each bachelor to deliver a sermon in Latin as part of the academic exercise.
The flagship institution of the state established in 1864, UNR is one of the top 120 universities in America for funded research, which spans issues relating to the environment, renewable energy resources, the life sciences and plasma physics. The University competes in 19 men’s and women’s sports.
Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.
Details of the picture attached: Various religious leaders who participated in blessing the graduating class at “Fourth Annual Hindu Baccalaureate Service of University of Nevada-Reno”, from left to right are: Phil Bryan, David Mitchell, Roya Galata, Swami Vedananda, ElizaBeth Beyer, Rajan Zed, Bruce Taylor, Abdulrahim Barghouthi, Robert Roy, and Nicholas Frey.