Thursday, December 29, 2011


Moscow (TOI) - A Russian court yesterday rejected a petition, described by India as “patently absurd”, which had sought a ban on a translated version of Bhagvad Gita, bringing cheers to followers here as well as those across the world.  “We have won the case. The judge has rejected the petition,” Sadhu Priya Das of ISKCON, Moscow, who is also Chairman of newly formed Hindu Council of Russia, told PTI.  External Affairs Minister S M Krishna welcomed the judgement and thanked the Russian government for its support.  ISKCON members have alleged that the Russian Orthodox Church was behind the court case as it wanted to limit their activities.  Prosecutors in the Siberian city of Tomsk had argued that the Russian translation of “Bhagavad Gita As It Is” promotes “social discord” and hatred towards non-believers.

The text is a combination of the Bhagvad Gita, one of Hinduism’s holiest scriptures, and commentary by A C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, that is commonly known as the Hare Krishna movement, ISKCON.  The prosecutors had asked the court to include the book on the Russian Federal List of Extremist Materials, which bans more than 1,000 texts including Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and books distributed by the Jehovah’s Witness and Scientology movements.  Speaking in Parliament, Krishna had said the lawsuit was the work of “ignorant and misdirected or motivated individuals.” He also called the complaint “patently absurd”.  The judge, after reviewing the petition from the state prosecutors and the responses against it, dismissed the plea.

A Russian court on Wednesday rejected prosecutors’ calls to ban a translated version of Bhagavad Gita written by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada entitled “As It Is”.  This case had created a diplomatic stress point for India and Russia and provoked protests all over the world.  Instead of the Bhagavad Gita, it should ban smoking, liquor, drugs, abortion, gambling and consumption of meat that does so much damage, not only to animals but to the environment.
Contrary to what the Russian government’s spokesperson has to say, what the court is objecting to is not Prabhupada’s commentary but the Bhagavad Gita itself. I do agree that there is a difference in the Christian and ISKCON conception of God, I understand the court has a problem with terms such as ‘demons’ for asuras and ‘fools’ for mudhas but Russians are philosophical by nature, with a high level of receptivity. They seek answers to what is the meaning of life after death and why we are born. Many Christians have told me that their understanding of the Bible has become deeper after reading the Gita. The contention is that we differ at a theological level, but a normal court is not the place to debate these differences. The core teachings of both Christianity and ISKCON are the same - love thy neighbour, love God.

Śrīpad Bhakti Vigyan Mahārāja (nee Vadim Touneev) :
Head of ISKCON, Russia
“Tomorrow is a critical day. Krishna please Protect!”
“Moscow Courts had dismissed Gita cases”

No comments: