Gabbard, whose first name refers to a tree sacred to Hindus, follows the Vaishnava branch of Hinduism. The Bhagavad Gita, a centuries-old Dharmic holy book that is part of the ancient epic Mahabharata, is her primary scripture.
"The Bhagavad Gita is often considered a guide as to how to make decisions in difficult situations, when the decision is often not clear cut," Mihir Meghani, a co-founder of the Hindu American Foundation, told Religion News Service last week. "Hinduism's innate pluralism recognizes that there are various ways to look at things, and its focus on dharma, or duty, guides those holding positions of power or authority."
Meghani added that Gabbard, with her commitment to her faith, will likely be a "good role model for second-generation Hindus."
"I am looking forward to see her taking oath under the Bhagavad Gita in January," he said.
In a statement released after her victory, Gabbard, who was raised by a Catholic father and a Hindu mother, said that she hopes her new position in Congress will inspire other Hindu-Americans to be proud of their faith.