Bhagavad Gita faces ban in Russia – Times of India

The Kurukshetra WarMoscow: Bhagavad Gita, one of the holiest Hindu scriptures, is facing a legal ban and the prospect of being branded as “an extremist” literature across Russia. A court in Siberia’s Tomsk city is set to deliver its final verdict Monday in a case filed by state prosecutors.

The final pronouncement in the case will come two days after Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his Dec 15-17 official visit for a bilateral summit with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev consolidated bilateral trade and strategic ties and personal friendship.

The case, which has been going on in Tomsk court since June, seeks ban on a Russian translation of “Bhagavad Gita As It Is” written by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).

It also wants the Hindu religious text banned in Russia and declared as a literature spreading “social discord”, its distribution on Russian soil rendered illegal.

In view of the case, Indians settled in Moscow, numbering about 15,000, and followers of the ISKCON religious movement here have appealed to Manmohan Singh and his government to intervene diplomatically to resolve the issue in favour of the scripture, an important part of Indian epic Mahabharata written by sage Veda Vyas.

ISKCON LOGOThe ISKCON followers in Russia have also written a letter to the Prime Minister’s Office in New Delhi, calling for immediate intervention, lest the religious freedom of Hindus living here be compromised.

“The case is coming up for a final verdict on Monday in Tomsk court. We want all efforts from the Indian government to protect the religious rights of Hindus in Russia,” Sadhu Priya Das of ISKCON and a devotee of a 40-year-old Krishna temple in central Moscow, told IANS.

The court, which took up the case filed by the state prosecutors, had referred the book to the Tomsk State University for “an expert” examination Oct 25.

But Hindu groups in Russia, particularly followers of ISKCON, say the university was not qualified as it lacked Indologists who study the history and cultures, languages, and literature of the Indian subcontinent.

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami PrabhupadaThe Hindus pleaded with the court that the case was inspired by religious bias and intolerance from a “majority religious group in Russia”, and have sought that their rights to practice their religious beliefs be upheld.

The prosecutor’s case also seeks to ban the preachings of Prabhupada and ISKCON’s religious beliefs, claiming these were “extremist” in nature and preached “hatred” of other religious beliefs.

“They have not just tried to get the Bhagavad Gita banned, but also brand our religious beliefs and preachings as extremist,” Das said.

The ISKCON devotees have taken up the matter with the Indian embassy in Moscow too for an early diplomatic intervention before things get worse and the court passes an adverse verdict banning the Bhagavad Gita and Krishna consciousness teachings.

In the Nov 1 letter addressed to Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Pulok Chatterji, ISKCON’s New Delhi branch Governing Body Commissioner Gopal Krishna Goswami, said the prosecutor’s affidavit claims Lord Krishna “is evil and not conforming to Christian religious view”.

Goswami also urged Manmohan Singh to accord priority to the matter during his Moscow stay and take it up with the Russian authorities.

Indian diplomatic corps officials at the embassy here, who were unwilling to be named, told IANS that they have been following up the case since the time it was brought to their notice earlier this year.

They had also taken up the matter at the appropriate levels in the Russian government to get the case either withdrawn or get the defence to fight the Trinity Church, Tomsk, Siberiacase to obtain a favourable verdict.

Officials at the Indian Prime Minister’s Office, who were part of the Indian delegation accompanying Manmohan Singh, confirmed to IANS the case and the letter they received from ISKCON in this regard.

“This matter is receiving the highest attention and the Indian embassy officials in Moscow have been instructed to follow-up the case with the Russian authorities,” they said. – Times of India, Mumbai, 17 Dec. 2011

18 Responses

  1. […] Bhagavad Gita faces ban in Russia – Times of India GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_bg", "ffffff"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_border", "666666"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_text", "333333"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_link", "105CB6"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_url", "8DAB3B"); GA_googleAddAttr("LangId", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Autotag", "religion"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "bhagavad-gita-2"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "book-ban"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "christianity"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "hinduism"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "religion"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "russia"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "bhagavad-gita"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "book-banning"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "christianity"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "hindu-scriptures"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "hinduism"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "iskcon"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "religious-intolerance"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "russian-orthodox-church"); GA_googleFillSlot("wpcom_sharethrough"); Rate this: Share:Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

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  2. Good idea Nick. Now go and tell it to the Russian Orthodox Church.

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  3. Good idea Nick. Now go and tell it to the Christians and especially the Russian Orthodox Church.

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  4. Follow the link for the video that contains Prabhupada’s discourse that has provoked Maxim Stepanenko, head of the Missionary Department of the Tomsk Eparchy of Russian Orthodox Church to bring his case against the Harekrishnawallas and the Bhagavad Gita.

    http://www.k-istine.ru/head/daily_reflection/daily_reflection-085.htm

    Prabhupada’s discourse is really quite strange. I have never heard this line of reasoning before. But there is no context for what he says in the video except that he is describing “intelligence”.

    The website is a Russian Orthodox Church site and is in Russian. If you use a Chrome browser it can be translated. The article is titled “Swami Prabhupada – a great evil serpent! (Adzhagar Guru)” and is by the above-named Maxim Stepanenko.

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  5. Orthodox Church as mischief-maker is confirmed. If they had their way, they would slit the tongues of the Hare Krishna chanters just like in Constantine’s time.

    The possibility of the ban still exists. The Church has much more influence with the Kremlin than India does. And if the court orders a ban, the ambassador will then say he is very sorry but the law must take precedence over Hindu feelings.

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  6. Bhagwad Gita: Russian ambassador expresses sadness over the controversy – Times of India, New Delhi, Dec. 20, 2011

    In the wake of an uproar over a move to ban Bhagwad Gita in Siberia, Russia has expressed sadness over the development, saying it is “inadmissible” that a holy scripture is taken to court.

    “It is strange that such events are unfolding in the beautiful university city in Siberia, as Tomsk which is famous for its secularism and religious tolerance,” Alexander M Kadakin, Russian ambassador in India said in a statement here.

    “Well, it seems that even the lovely city of Tomsk has its own neighbourhood madmen. It is sad indeed.

    “I consider it categorically inadmissible when any holy scripture is taken to the courts. For all believers these texts are sacred,” the ambassador said.

    Kadakin said, “It is not normal either when religious books are sent for examination to ignorant people. Their academic scrutiny should be done at scientists’ fora, congresses, seminars, etc. but not in courts.”

    A Russian court had yesterday suspended its verdict till December 28 on the demand for banning Bhagvad Gita, which a group linked to the Christian Orthodox Church has described as ‘extremist’.

    The move had triggered strong protests by members of Parliament who wanted India to take up the matter strongly with Russia.

    “Russia, as it is known to anyone, is a secular and democratic country where all religions enjoy equal respect. Even more applicable it is to the holy scriptures of various faiths – whether it is the Bible, the Holy Quran, Torah, Avesta and, of course, Bhagavad-Gita — the great source of wisdom for the people of India and the world,” the ambassador said.

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  7. None of these email IDs work. Either over limit or none existent. The Russians may be blocking the incoming mails too.

    Sign the petition instead. It will be delivered to them for sure.

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  8. Namo Narayanaya, Swamiji! Your comment is right on target. Thank you.

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  9. If a sectarian interpretation and hatred is found to be propagated in the commentary of the Gita by certain Sampradayas like ISKCON which is similar to Dogmatic Abrahamic religions, then their interpretations can be criticized and people should be warned against them. But the Gita itself is beyond ISKCON and It should not be banned. The situation is delicate. The Christians are taking advantage of this fanatic Sampradaya and trying to ban the Gita itself and thereby the whole Hinduism. Hindus should fight as much against the sectarians in Hinduism as against the Abrahamic fanatics.The court can be requested to proscribe those words of hatred from the commentary and allow the the Gita as well the commentary.

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  10. It is extremely unfortunate that some politicians in Russia, a country which has since 1990-91 always prided itself on being a secular democracy, are trying to insult the Bhagvad Gita, which has provided inspiration to millions of people all over the world. Bhagvad Gita was composed by Lord Krishna, who is considered God by millions of Hindus across the world. Krishna’s contribution to humanity was tremendous and he always fought against injustice and the oppressors, even if the culprits happened to be his near and dear ones. The Gita, as it is popularly called, is also believed to have been a source of inspiration to the Freemasons, Jews, Parsees and Buddhists, besides Hindus. Even in the Middle East, quite a few Palestinian terrorists have, after imbibing the message of the Gita, renounced their wicked ways. Moderate Muslims also appear to opine the Prophet Mohammed was inspired by the Gita and he had called for eternal ‘Jihad’ only against unbelievers in Dharma (who were referred to as ‘Unbelievers’). Unfortunately, the Prophet’s message was supposed to have been distorted by some of his latter day followers, to horrendous effects. So, all in all, the proposed ban on the Gita is absolutely deplorable and condemnable. It is hoped that institutions in Russia prevent this. It is they who will be the losers. Incidentally, the same people who clamour for banning the Gita, have not spoken a single word about that Lord Jesus Christ, referred to as ‘Son of God’ in the Holy Bible and who was the only child conceived and given birth to by his mother known as ‘Virgin Mary’. The track record of Christianity is most horrendous after the coming of Emperor Constantine the Great and after the christian churches were forced to devalue other religions and even within Christianity, icons with the exception of the aforesaid Jesus Christ.

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  11. VISITORS MAY PROTEST THE PROPOSED BAN ON THE BHAGAVAD GITA BY CONTACTING THE RUSSIAN EMBASSY IN NEW DELHI OR THE RUSSIAN CONSULATE IN MUMBAI OR SIGNING THE PETITION AT THE LINK BELOW.

    Sign the petition against the proposed ban here:
    http://www.petitions24.com/gita

    Russian Embassy in New Delhi, India
    Shantipath, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi – 110021
    Phone : +91 11 26873799; 26889160; 26873802; 26110640/41/42
    Fax : +91 11 26876823
    E-mail : emb@rusembassy.in, indrusem@del2.vsnl.net.in, indconru@del2.vsnl.net.in, rusintro@nob.vsnl.net.in

    Russian Consulate in Mumbai, India
    42, L. Jagmohandas Marg (Old Nepean Sea Road),
    “Palm Beach”, Mumbai – 400 036
    Phone : +91 22 23633627, 23633628
    Fax : +91 22 2363-04-03
    E-mail : consul@mtnl.net.in

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  12. Parliament ruckus over Bhagvad Gita facing ban in Russia – TOI – Dec. 19, 2011

    Parliamentarians across the political spectrum on Monday asked the government to ensure that the religious rights of Hindus in Russia are protected after a member pointed out an IANS report about the Bhagvad Gita facing a ban and the prospect of it being branded as “extremist” literature there.

    Angry MPs forced the adjournment of the Lok Sabha till 2pm after Biju Janata Dal leader Bhartruhari Mahtab raised the issue in the house and asked the government to intervene immediately to ensure the religious freedom of Hindus in Russia.

    He said a court in Siberia’s Tomsk city was set to deliver its final verdict on Monday in a case filed by state prosecutors, as was reported by IANS on Saturday when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was on an official visit to Moscow.

    “I want to know from the government what it is doing. The religious rights of Hindus in Russia should be protected. The government should impress upon the Russian authorities through diplomatic channels,” he said.

    The case, which has been going on in the Tomsk court since June, seeks a ban on a Russian translation of the “Bhagavad Gita As It Is” written by A C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).

    It also wants the Hindu religious text banned in Russia, declared as literature spreading “social discord”, and its distribution on Russian soil rendered illegal.

    Indians in Moscow, numbering about 15,000, and followers of the ISKCON religious movement in Russia have appealed to the Indian government to intervene diplomatically to resolve the issue in favour of the scripture, an important part of Indian epic Mahabharata written by sage Ved Vyas.

    When Mahtab raised the issue, the lower house plunged into chaos, with MPs urging Speaker Meira Kumar to let them speak on the matter. She, however, refused and instead asked them to send notes and associate with Mahtab.

    Lalu Prasad of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RLD) was heard shouting that the Hindu scripture does not preach extremism.

    Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members were also seen rising from their seats to protest the issue before Meira Kumar adjourned the house till 2pm.

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  13. HK also use the term Mayavadis at Saivaites , without knowing the meaning of Maya, a very lofty concept unique and wholly owned by the Hindu civilization. Erwin Schrodinger the founder of quantum mechanics uses ” Maya” very well in his book ” What is life?” . ES has written it as “Maja” instead of “Maya”

    There is a web site of John Dobson “The Equations of Maya”

    http://quanta-gaia.org/dobson/EquationsOfMaya.html

    JD was with RK mission for a long time and then after his invention of amateur telescope ( commercial interests, even though the telescope he sold at a low price) he left RK mission. The telescope is great handy invention. He wrote another book ” Advaita Vedanta and modern science” which was in google , but it has been removed.

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  14. My experience is similar. When I lived in Juhu, Mumbai I would walk on the beach every morning wearing vibhuti on my forehead. The Harikrishnawallas who had just been given their piece of land down the beach by the Scindias, would come behind me chanting, “Shiva is a demi god! Shiva is a demi god!” I was astonished because I was still not aware of the extreme sectarianism cultivated in some Hindu groups. I was also a great admirer of the Srivaishnava acharya Ramanuja though that didn’t count with the HKs. They stopped their harassment when I brought the neighbour’s big Doberman dog with me. I sent him after them when they started their Shiva chant and they never bothered me again.

    I agree about book banning. It is only a negative advertisement which attracts more attention and gives the local boys an opportunity to sell their bootlegged copies of the banned book. We should stop banning books here in India too. It is a very bad habit, a kind of intellectual cowardice. Books should be rebutted if offending, not banned.

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  15. One can hardly find a Harekrishnawalla who does not take a great pleasure in spurning Sri Adi Shankaracharya, his followers and and his teachings – The Advait Drshan. I have seen Sri Kripaluji Maharaj a harekrishnawalla, though not of ISKCON, ridiculing Shankaracharya and his teachings on end. It is not at all unnatural that one man differs from another in his approach to Self-realization. But why this mud-slinging? It does not behove Hindu gurus to belittle one another.

    An example of such sectarian animosity. “A conflict took place when the Vaisnavas removed the images of Sankar and Padmapada from the throne of Jagannath. Thefollowers of Sankar strongly protested the antisocial and inhumane activities of Vaisnavas.As a result of this conflict the worship of Jagannath was stopped. Interfering immediately in this matter the Maratha Govt. of Orissa warned Laksmana Nath Krisna Goswami,the chief of Vaisnavas not to introduce any thing new in the Jagannath temple. Then the Maratha Govt. took step to reinstall the images of Sankara and Padmapada on the throne of Lord Jagannath.”(www.orissa.gov.in/e-magazine/Orissareview/june2006/…/76-79.pdf)

    Coming to the ban on Srimad Bhagvad Gita, it is always counterproductive to ban books or anything for that matter especially in this age of internet. I have no doubt that this ban will earn the Gita more popularity than it now has in Russia.

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  16. The video was a TV ad in Russia. It must have got wide publicity.

    It is easy to see how Russian authorities — whether government or Church — were provoked. It depicts Russians as barbarians!

    And the Russians suffered grievously in the European wars.

    As I said, Harekrishnawallas are very patronising.

    Nevertheless we will chant Hare Krishna!

    Hare Krishna!

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  17. http://buckdogpolitics.blogspot.com/2009/02/russian-hare-krishna-tv-ad.html

    This is a short film about HK in Russia

    The Hare Krishna movement though very sectarian, saw a massive growth in Russia after the Soviet bloc fell. There are innumerable videos about HK in Russia.

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  18. This proposed ban is definitely the work of the Russian Orthodox Church.

    If the western Latin Church is corrupt and depraved, the eastern Orthodox Church is verily beyond the pale of human civilization.

    It is because the Russian Church is so wicked that Russia became a Communist state in the first place. Now that Communism is dead and the Church is reinstated as the State Church, everybody else will get the boot out of Russia.

    There is also the fact that Russians are deeply interested in Hindu religion and spirituality and are ignoring the Church. If thousands of them arrive in Goa every winter for the sex, booze and drugs, many hundreds also come for spiritual guidance and yoga.

    A book on Ramana Maharshi’s teachings in Russian sold lakhs of copies in Russia as soon as it was published. Too late to ban it now!

    And ISKCON in Russia should also do some introspection. They are too sectarian and patronising in their attitude to everybody else including other Hindu sampradayas, and this makes them enemies instead of friends.

    And lastly, ISKCON is not / not a Hindu sampradaya or religious sect by their own declaration. So why should Hindus help them at all?

    Saving the Bhagvad Gita from a ban is a different matter. It doesn’t belong to ISKCON and Prabhupada’s commentary of Sri Krishna’s words may not be acceptable to everybody.

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