American Congresswoman takes oath on the Bhagavad Gita

Tulsi GabbardAn American Congresswoman made history on Thursday when she took the oath of office as a member of the House of Representatives on the Bhagavad Gita. Speaker John Boehner administered the oath of office to Tulsi Gabbard, 31-year-old Democratic representative from Hawaii.

Raised by a Hindu mother and a Catholic father, she is also the first American Samoan and one of the first women combat veterans in the US Congress.

''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,'' said Gabbard after the swearing in ceremony. ''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.''

 Gabbard said that she was raised in a multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-faith family. ''I began to grapple with questions of spirituality as a teenager,'' she 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.''

About 10 years ago, Gabbard – who is not of Indian origin – became the youngest person to be elected to the Hawaii legislature. Two years later she resigned voluntarily – the first state elected official to do so – to join the army.

A commander with the Hawaii Army National Guard, she served in the Middle East on two occasions. US President Barack Obama endorsed her during the campaign and she also spoke along Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Party chief in the House of Representatives during the Democratic National Convention.

Though she has never visited India, Gabbard says she looks forward – ''as a Vaishnava'' – to visit the holy site of Vrindavan. She embraced Hinduism as a teenager and has been following the Gita since then.

Also sworn in along with Gabbard was Amerish Bera, an Indian-American physician from California. A Democrat, he is the third Indian-American member of the US house. Dalip Singh Saund represented California district more than half a century earlier, while Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisana, was a member from 2005 to 2008.