No ban on Bhagavad Gita in Russia

via published on December 28, 2011

Moscow: A Russian court on Wednesday rejected a petition seeking a ban on translation of Bhagavad Gita, bringing cheers to crores of Hindus across the world.

The petition in the Siberian city of Tomsk called Bhagvad Gita, one of Hinduism’s holiest scriptures as “extremist literature” and said it promotes “social discord” and “hatred towards non-believers”.

Russian lawyers Mikahil Fralov and Alexander Sakhav argued vociferously against the petition.

The case filed by state prosecutors in Tomsk claimed that the renowned translation of the text, titled “Bhagavad Gita As It Is” is “extremist literature” and should join Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf in the list of banned books.

“Bhagavad Gita As It Is” — first published in 1968 — is a translation of and commentary on the original text by Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the international Hare Krishna movement, ISKCON.

The judge, after reviewing the petition from the state prosecutors and the responses against it, dismissed the plea.

“We have won the case. The judge has rejected the petition,” Sadhu Priya Das of ISKCON, who is also the Chairman of newly formed Hindu Council of Russia said.

Reacting to the judgement, ISKCON spokesman Brajendra Nandan Das said in New Delhi that, “We are very happy”.

Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna welcomed the judgement and thanked the Russian government for its support.

ISKCON members have linked the court case to the Russian Orthodox church, which they claim wants to limit their activities in Russia.

The case had created a storm back in India. Speaking in Parliament, Krishna called the lawsuit “patently absurd”. He had summoned the Russian Ambassador in New Delhi, Alexander Kadakin, on the eve of the court hearing and told him that Moscow should provide all possible help to resolve the issue.

He also conveyed to the Russian diplomat the sensitivities involved with the issue. Kadakin had assured Krishna that the Russian Government will do all it can within its power.

The trial began in June and was scheduled to conclude on December 19, just after Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s two-day visit to Russia.

However, officials in Tomsk agreed to hear further testimony from experts and the Russian ombudsman for human rights and postponed the court decision till today.

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