Thursday, December 22, 2011


New Delhi (hinduexistence) - 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.  Smt. Sushma Swaraj, the BJP MP and the leader of the opposition demanded that Gita should be declared as the National Book of Indian Nation so that nobody can ban it anyway.

Gita ban in Russia generates Global Hindu Protest and causes Parliamentary chaos.  Indians in Moscow and followers of ISKCON 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 Veda Vyasa.  This is not new, many times Hare Krishna devotees around the world have started campaigns of protest against religious persecution in Russia.

But by 1980, under Brezhnev’s rule, several devotees were thrown into prison, initiating a tense and often traumatic relationship between ISKCON and the Soviet Union. By the mid-1980s Yuri Andropov was in power, and he intensified the campaign already underway against the Hare Krishna movement. He saw devotees as representing all things religious and was determined to wipe them out. Because of Ananta-shanti’s contagious enthusiasm and the staggering results of the book fairs, Semyon Tsvigun, the deputy chief of the KGB under Andropov, said that three main threats to the Soviet Union were “pop music, Western culture, and Hare Krishna.”  Such pronouncements, and the sentiments that fueled them, led to intense persecution of Hare Krishna devotees.

ŚBack to Godhead Magazine - March/April 2008 :
“Checkmate: ISKCON's Victory in Russia”
By Satyaraja Dasa

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