2016 was a significant year for Indian Americans in politics. Five Indian Americans, a record number, were elected to U.S. Congress. To celebrate the milestone, fellow members of Congress, dignitaries and supporters, including ISKCON, gathered at the Indiaspora Gala on January 3rd in Washington, D.C.
The bipartisan event highlighted the increasing significance of the Indian-American community in the country’s political landscape. It also welcomed members of the new administration and allowed new and current members to build relationships and strengthen ties.
Congressman Joseph Crowley, a former Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, said in his address to the 500 attendees that this kind of success is
“phenomenal.” Congressman Ami Bera, a third-time elected Indian American, added later, “What is remarkable is that in one generation our community has done so much."
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu ever elected to Congress, had the honor of lighting the first candle at the gala. Congresswoman Gabbard was the first person to take the oath of office on a Bhagavad-gita back in January 2009. Following in her footsteps, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal took her oath on the Gita on January 3rd as she became the first Indian American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi from Illinois also took his oath on the Gita on January 3rd.
Congresswoman Gabbard’s appreciation for the Bhagavad-gita is well-known. At the International Gita Conference in 2015, she glorified Srila Prabhupada as the author of the most widely-distributed edition of the Gita, the Bhagavad-gita As It Is, and appreciated Srila Prabhupada’s significant contributions to the understanding of the Gita’s universal message.
ISKCON’s presence at the Indiaspora Gala served as a reminder of the values and guiding principles found in the Bhagavad-gita that are at the root of Indian American culture and that have helped shape many of the leaders now in top positions in the U.S. government. Several political leaders and dignitaries received the Bhagavad-gita as a gift that evening, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, and His Excellency Navtej Sarna, the Indian Ambassador to the U.S.
“The hope is that these leaders can use some of the pearls of wisdom found in the Gita to help guide them through the tough decisions they will most certainly face in office,” said Anuttama Dasa, GBC for Washington, D.C.
The Bhagavad-gita confirms this hope (18.78): “Wherever there is Krsna, the master of all mystics, and wherever there is Arjuna, the supreme archer, there will also certainly be opulence, victory, extraordinary power, and morality.”[ dc ] [ tulsi-gabbard ] [ washington-dc ]