Protests in Parliament over Bhagwad Gita controversy

via PTI-New Delhi published on December 20, 2011

With Parliament witnessing fresh protests over a case in a Russian court seeking ban on the Bhagwad Gita, Government today termed the complaint as “patently absurd” and said it seemed to be the handiwork of “some ignorant and misdirected or motivated individuals”.

Announcing that the government had taken up the matter at “senior levels” of the Russian government, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna told Lok Sabha that the government was confident that Moscow will resolve the matter “appropriately”.

“While this complaint is patently absurd, we have treated this matter seriously and the Embassy of India (in Moscow) is closely monitoring this legal case,” he said, adding that the government fully shared the sentiments expressed by the members on the issue.

The issue was raised in both Houses of Parliament, with members of several parties in Rajya Sabha condemning the move with some wanting to know whether Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had raised the issue during his recent Russia visit.

“This complaint, apparently driven by some local individuals, was to the effect that the third Russian edition of the publication ‘Bhagwad Gita As It Is’ – a translation of a commentary by Swami Prabhupada, founder of Iskcon, had certain portions that were ‘objectionable’ and ‘extremist’ in nature,” he said.

During Zero Hour in the Upper House, Tarun Vijay (BJP) equated Gita to the Sun and the Himalayas and asked “can you ban Sun and the Himalayas?”

To this, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla said, “We are apprising the Russian Government. Their minister has expressed regrets.”

Members had created uproar in the Lok Sabha yesterday on the issue, prompting the Government to assure the House that it will make its stand clear on it today.

Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj today demanded that Gita be declared a ‘national book’ so that “no country would dare to insult it”.

Krishna said, “We are confident that our Russian friends, who understand our civilisational values and cultural sensitivities, will resolve this matter appropriately….We do not want to dignify with too much attention some misdirected individuals who have filed an absurd complaint.”

Emphasising that Gita was not simply a religious text, he said, “It is one of the defining treatises of Indian thought and described the very soul of our great civilisation. The Gita is far above any cheap propaganda or attacks by the ignorant or the misdirected.”

The ISKCON had received a notice this June from a court in Tomsk in Eastern Siberia of a complaint filed by the Public Prosecutor’s Office which sought a ban on Prabhupada’s book on Gita that certain portions were ‘objectionable’ and ‘extremist’ in nature.

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