Gītā Jayanti International

A Platform For Intra-Faith Global Networking............www.gitajayanti.org

Very interestingly, this issue of the Bhagavad Gita As It Is facing the threat of a ban by a Russian court in Tomsk, has led to calls from Indian political leaders for the Gita to be declared a national book of India.


Here are some articles about the issue that stirred the Indian house of parliament a few days ago.


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---------- Forwarded Message ----------

Letter PAMHO:22710663 (23 lines) [M1]
From:      Sadhu Priya (das) GKG (Moscow - R)
Date:      21-Dec-11 19:51 (23:51 +0400)
To:        Gopal Krsna Goswami etc etc
Reference: Text PAMHO:22699494 by Radharamandas RNS
Subject:   Response to a media query today by Ambassador of India, HE Mr.
Ajai Malhotra
------------------------------------------------------------
Response to a media query today by Ambassador of India, HE Mr. Ajai
Malhotra:


> “The Bhagavad Gita is perhaps the most important and respected
> scripture in the world. First translated into Russian in 1788, it is
> not merely a religious text, but one of the defining treatises of
> Indian thought. The Bhagavad Gita has circulated freely across the
> world for centuries and there is not a single instance of it having
> encouraged extremism. So, the case before the Honourable Court in
> Tomsk is indeed absurd, bordering on the bizarre. Knowledgeable
> Russian and other experts have provided supportive statements about
> the Bhagvad Gita to the Honourable Court in Tomsk. The Ombudsman
> handling Human Rights too is due to speak for freedom of religion and
> conscience in Russia at its next hearing on December 28. It is hoped
> that all this would be fully appreciated by the Honourable Court in
> Tomsk. The Russian authorities have been approached at high levels to
> appropriately resolve this matter.”
>
> --
> Ajai Malhotra
> Ambassador of India to the Russian Federation
> Moscow
(Text PAMHO:22710663) --------------------------------------

------- End of Forwarded Message ------


========================================================================


>>>>>>>>>>>>Article from The Hindu Indian newspaper


[This article shows that the Russian authorities/public prosecutor at Tomsk,
Siberia, is targeting ISKCON]

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/article2741599.ece

NEWS » INTERNATIONAL

MOSCOW, December 23, 2011

Gita not on trial but its commentaries, says Russia

VLADIMIR RADYUHIN

MOSCOW: Russia has rejected as misplaced India's complaints about the trial
in the Siberian city of Tomsk against a translation of the Bhagavad Gita.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it was not the Bhagavad Gita as such that
was on trial but some comments contained in a 20th-century Russian
translation of the scripture.

Russian prosecutors are seeking a court ban on the book, which they claim is
extremist and insulting to non-believers.

“I would like to emphasise that this is not about ‘Bhagavad Gita,' a
religious philosophical poem, which forms part of the great Indian epic
Mahabharata and is one of the most famous pieces of the ancient Hindu
literature. In Russia, the book was first published in Russian in 1788 and
then went through many editions in different years and in various
translations,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich.

“The Tomsk court case is about classifying as extremist material the
Russian-language edition of the Bhagavad Gita. As It Is, written in 1968 by
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder of the International Society
for Krishna Consciousness,” Mr. Lukashevich said in reply to a request from
The Hindu to clarify the Russian official position on the court trial.

The statement came a day after India upped the ante in the controversy.

“The Russian authorities have been approached at high levels to
appropriately resolve this matter,” said Indian Ambassador to Russia Ajai
Malhotra.

“The Bhagavad Gita is perhaps the most important and respected scripture in
the world. First translated into Russian in 1788, it is not merely a
religious text, but one of the defining treatises of Indian thought,” Mr.
Malhotra said in a statement.

“The Bhagavad Gita has circulated freely across the world for centuries and
there is not a single instance of it having encouraged extremism. So, the
case before the Honourable Court in Tomsk is indeed absurd, bordering on the
bizarre,” he added.

However, the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed that the Tomsk court was not
trying the ‘Bhagavad Gita.”

“As evident from the testimony, the complaints of law enforcement
authorities relate, not so much to the text of the book as such, even though
its double translation contains distortions, but rather to the author's
commentaries, which are considered to fall under Article 13 of the Federal
Law ‘On Counteracting Extremist Activity',” Mr. Lukashevich said.

On Monday the Tomsk court adjourned the case till December 28 as it agreed
to hear testimony from the Russian Ombudsman on Human Rights and Russian
Indologists, who favour dismissal of the charges.

<End of article from The Hindu Indian newspaper

========================================================================

It has been alleged that the scholars whom the prosecutors consulted were not expert indologists, and they labelled the Gita comentary by Srila Prabhupada as 'extremist'.   Well, that may be their personal opinion, but here is what a Jagad Guru of the Madhva-Acarya Sampradaya based in Udupi (one of the four main schools of living Vaishnava tradition in India) has said about Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad Gita As It Is commentary.  

"...Sri Chaitanya Sampradaya is a branch of Madhwa philosophy. There are historic proofs to substantiate this fact. The sadhana achieved by Sri A. C. Prabhupada, Acharya of "Chaitanya Sampradaya" is to be welcomed by all Vaishnavites. It is due to him people all over the world have learned about Lord Krishna. This work should have been accomplished by Madhwa followers. But Prabhupada has served the world in propagating this cult. Even in the western world he has attracted a large number of devotees of Lord Krishna, through his discourse on"Bhagavat Geeta." The book "Bhagavat Geeta" of Sri Prabhupada is allowed to be sold in front of Krishna Mandira at Udupi. This fact is known to all eight mutts of Udupi, as well as all devoteesof Udupi Kshetra..."


Sri Laksmivara Tirtha Swami Sri Shiroor Mutt, Udupi 

Jadadguru Sri Sri Madhwacharya Peethan 

Udupi, South Candra, Karnataka, India



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To see this video: 

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/bhagvad-gita-a-sacred-text-in-russia-as-well/2136
52-3.html


[For those of you reading this, but who may not know, "Suhashini Haider" is the daughter of Dr. Subramanian Swamy, the President of the Janata Party and ex-Harvard Economist.  He was formerly Janata Party MP from Bombay and also
later on MP from Tamil Nadu & from UP. He was Commerce & Industry Minister with addition charge of Law in the short lived Government of the late Prime Minister Chandrashekhar]

New Delhi: In an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN, Ambassador of Russia to India Alexander Kadakin says that his government is doing all it can to end the Bhagvad Gita row.

Here is the transcript of the full interview:

Suhasini Haidar: I spoke to Russia's Ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin in this exclusive interview, really asking him firstly if he had watched in Parliament how much outrage there was over this ban on the Bhagvad Gita and whether he was surprised?

Alexander Kadakin: I am not surprised at all and I think it is quit correct and well done that the Government of India has reacted in this way. Because like Russia, India is also a democratic, secular and multi-confessional country and our two governments should not allow such things to happen. As I mentioned, Bhagwat Gita is the source of wisdom and inspiration not only for the people of India but for Russia as well and the world.

Suhasini Haidar: Alright, Ambassador Kadakin, given the history of the two countries even so we have seen this ban coming in to place. What is your government really planning to do to try and revoke it? Is there any thing you can do?

Alexander Kadakin:Well of course the government can do something and there is a matter of fact today became known that the Chief Director for Human Rights Mr Vladimir Lukin took this case under his special control. As well as the human control watch in the city of Tomsk where it is happening, we cannot of course influence the courts like in India. And the government cannot influence the court but I think that the call of reason should be made that’s why I, just may be it is not very diplomatic but I termed those vested interest in Tomsk or those madmen. I called them madmen because this madness should be stopped.

Suhasini Haidar: Well that's certainly strong language, you are calling those who opposed the Bhagvat Gita there, madmen. Even so Ambassador Kadakin there is considerable outrage, upset especially in the Parliament today we saw. The question is, is the Russian Government considering at all apologising to the people of India for this?

Alexander Kadakin:Well nothing has been committed by the Russian government. It is not the Russian government that started the case; these are the some petty people in far away though very beautiful city of Tomsk who did it. The government has nothing to apologise for, the government can only testify and reiterate the love and affection and highest esteem our nation has for Bhagvat Gita.

Suhasini Haidar: In fact it was some of right wing, a Christine group there in Tomsk that started the campaign and particularly targeted is the Iskcon group, the Krishna consciousness group that has quit a following in Russia. Do you think activities Iskon group themselves are under the scanner there, is there a worry?

Alexander Kadakin: I wouldn't say so. I would not discuss any thing dealing with the Iskon but the Iskcon movement, it's separate story. Well but I am telling about the attitude in Russia towards Bhagvat Gita as the sacred scripture of India.

Suhasini Haidar: Alright, Alexander Kadakin, Ambassador of Russia to India, thanks so much for joining us.

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/darul-urges-hindus-
muslims-to-unite-on-bhagwad-gita/articleshow/11204232.cms


or

http://tinyurl.com/d85q7a3
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22 DEC, 2011, 12.53PM IST, MANJARI MISHRA,TNN
Darul urges Hindus, Muslims to unite on Bhagwad Gita

RELATED ARTICLES

Political unity over Gita: A historic day in our times Government monitoring Gita case: Krishna

Siberian court to ban 'Bhagavad Gita'?

Bhagwad Gita's sales go up after Russia controversy 

Rajya Sabha condemns Russian move to ban Gita

LUCKNOW: Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband issued a statement on Wednesday defending the Hindu religious text Bhagwad Gita. Deoband vicechancellor Maulana Abul Qasim Nomani condemned the "Russian diktat against the Hindu holy scripture " and urged Hindus and Muslims to unite to drive home the point.

Nomani also pitched for a joint approach against anti-Islamic bans Muslims face in the West. But, many in the Deoband campus were surprised by his statement. They viewed it as a tactical move by the V-C to shed his ultraconservative image for wider acceptability.

The appeal to Hindu religious heads to extend similar support to Muslims pointed to hiscautious approachlesthe was misunderstood and misinterpreted, sources said . "Allegation portraying Gita as extreme literature are totally baseless and highly objectionable ," Nomani told TOI.

No religion in the world promotes violence and terrorism . "This ban amounts to violation of the freedom to practise religion of choice enshrined in the Indian Constitution . The Russian high handedness deserves to be staunchly countered ," he said. The Maulana in turn expected a similar support for Muslims from Hindu gurus on ban on hijab in several nations.

" Affront to religion from foreign shores needs to be opposed by both communities together for maximum impact ," he said . Maulana Khalid Rashid, head of Lucknow's Firangimahal , also denounced "Russian arrogance" and said Muslims must offer their unflinching supportto Hindus in what he called a direct attack on their privatespace . "We appealtothe government to take a firm stance so that such blasphemous interference is not attempted in future," he said .

Very interesting to note that both the Government and the opposition are united in this issue, and also that Muslim leaders of India have also protested this violation of the fundamental human right to worship freely.

We do hope that our vision will become a reality soon - that Gita Jayanti be declared a public holiday in India.  That would certainly go a long long way in making the Gita become A LIVING TEXT for all the millions and millions who believe in it.  Unfortunately it has been my experience that most of the people who do have complete faith in the Gita as a holy book with God's teachings in it, do not know it well enough to explain even one or two verses from it.

Singing the Gita as a part of every believer's daily worship will go a long long long way in bringing its teachings to life for those who believe and respect its teachings.   Hare Krishna!

- dina anukampana das

Gita Jayanti International Network.

The President of India praises the author of Bhagavad Gita As It Is as "A TRUE SCHOLAR"

But the Russian 'scholars' label it an extremist book that ought to be banned....??

From Shrimati Pratibha Patil, current President of India, then Education Minister of Maharashtra State, recommending Srila Prabhupada's writings: 
“Message: The ancient roots of traditional Indian life reach farther into the distant past than any other country on earth. What thousands of years ago culminated in education included the development in the student of all good qualities. In other words the pupil was ignited with a desire to learn and develop himself rather than strive for material rewards. From out of the great ages the ancients, headed by Sri Vyäsadeva, have left us the timeless treatise of Srimad-Bhägavatam, the basis of all education.Later the saint Krishnadäsa Kaviräja, in commenting upon the life of the great Mahäprabhu Sri Caitanya, brought to the highest level of understanding these principles in his immortal Indian classic, Caitanya-caritämrita. It is good fortune of the world that these two spiritual works presented as the Encyclopedia of Indian Culture have been translated and commented upon in the style of a true scholar by His Divine Grace A. C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupäda. Srila Prabhupäda, out of his obviously great desire to inject the world with his vast storehouse of learning, has translated precisely the rich Sanskrit and Bengali Slokas. He has given the transliteration, word-for-word meaning, purports, and each volume filled with full color illustrations by his disciples.
I therefore wholeheartedly recommend this encyclopedia of our culture and all other Bhaktivedanta BookTrust publications to all educational institutions, schools, libraries, and colleges concerned with the moral and cultural development of their students within the boundary of Maharastra and throughout the world.”
Shrimati Patibha Patil,
Minister of Education,
State of Maharastra,
Bombay, India


From:      Marici (das) JPS (Mayapur - IN)
Date:      24-Dec-11 03:25 (08:55 +0530)
To:        
Reference: Text PAMHO:22722140 by Basu Ghosh (das) ACBSP (Baroda - IN)
Subject:   Gita not on trial but its commentaries, says Russia - "The Hindu"
------------------------------------------------------------
> [This article shows that the Russian authorities/public prosecutor at Tomsk, Siberia, is targeting ISKCON]

you are right and the following article is even more specific. You may send it also to the conference if you find appropiate.


Yr humble servant,

Marici


http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=8941


23 December 2011, 11:19
Tomsk trial held over "Bhagavad Gita" translation, not book proper - ministry

Moscow, December 23, Interfax - A court in Tomsk has found that the translation of an ancient Hindu poem "Bhagavad Gita As It Is", and comments thereto, and not the book proper, fall under the Russian law "On countering extremist activities."

"As regards the classification by the Tomsk court as an extremist material, I will stress that the Russian-language edition of the "Bhagavad Gita As It Is" with the commentary written in 1968 by the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. The work represents an authorized translation of the original from Sanskrit into English. The book was translated into Russian in 1984," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said at a briefing in Moscow on Thursday.

"As evident from the materials available, the admonitions of the law enforcement authorities are not so much about the text of the book proper, whose double translation is not without the sin of semantic distortion, as about the author's comments which were classified as falling under Article 13 of the Russian Federation Federal Law 'On countering extremist activities'," he said.

"This fact was emphasized by Indian Foreign Minister Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna who made a special statement on December 20 this year. The court ruling in Tomsk was expected on December 19 this year, however the hearing
was adjourned (tentatively until December 28 this year). Obviously, one should wait for the court's verdict. I repeat: this is not about the book proper but about a poor translation and the preface written by the author," Lukashevich said.

The Tomsk court ruling prompted strong reaction among the Indian public and political forces, he said.

"I would like to clarify a number of points which were probably misinterpreted by our Indian colleagues. In June this year Tomsk prosecutors instigated legal proceedings against the third edition of the Russian translation of "Bhagavad Gita As It Is" with a view to have it added to the federal list of extremist materials. I would like to stress that this is not about "Bhagavad Gita," a religious philosophical poem, which forms part of the great Indian epic Mahabharata and is one of the most famous pieces of the ancient Hindu literature. In Russia, the book was first published in Russian in 1788 and then went through many editions in various years and in various translations," he said.

It was reported earlier this week that Indian Foreign Minister Krishna made a speech in the lower house of the Indian parliament in support of Russian Hare Krishna followers and their main book, "Bhagavad-Gita As It Is." with Prabhupada commentaries.

Director of the Human Rights Center of the World Russian People's Council and religious expert Roman Silantyev earlier pointed out that Russian scientists had accurately examined Prabhupada's interpretations of Bhagavad-Gita and "all who wish can get acquainted with their conclusions saying that it has nothing to do with traditional Hinduism."

Besides, Silantyev said that Krishnaites in Russia have "extremely nasty reputation" and authoritative scientists characterize them as sectarians. He reminded that leaders of Russia's Interreligious Council concluded in 2004
that Krishnaites were marginal pseudo-Hinduist sect and spoke against realizing programs of distributing their sacrificial food in places where Orthodox, Muslim, Jews and Buddhist believers live.

Iskcon Head:  "Foreign Ministry's claim is NOT correct"


Subject:   Re: Gita not on trial but its commentaries, says Russia - "The Hindu"
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We wrote an official statement which rejects this claim, and work to counteract it.

In the meantime, since many members of this conference asked us to provide the concrete information about the nature of the accusations, I am attaching the file to this letter with quotes from the "expert testimony".

http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/76438931?access_key=key-1hk5wc85hw...

[pls note - the above doc was uploaded 4 days ago but pg 1 cd not be read - it has been rectified now]

You will have a lot of fun reading this file. :) It is so absurd! And also it clearly shows that it is Gita, not Prabhupada's commentaries which is under attack.


SO the claim of the Foregn Ministry is not correct.

Once more my humble request, please ask the devotees to sign the petition on-line. You may read to them the exerpts from the "expert testimony" for the Sunday feast class!

We did not even reach 50 thousand yet. Please, help us!

www.petition24.com/gita

Your servant,

Bhakti Vijnana Goswami

[Head of ISKCON in Russia]

> > Subject: Gita not on trial but its commentaries, says Russia -  
> > "The Hindu"
> >
> > [This article shows that the Russian authorities/public
> > prosecutor at Tomsk, Siberia, is targeting ISKCON]
> >
> > http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/article2741599.ece
> >
> > NEWS » INTERNATIONAL
> >
> > MOSCOW, December 23, 2011
> >
> > Gita not on trial but its commentaries, says Russia
> >
> > VLADIMIR RADYUHIN
> >
> > MOSCOW: Russia has rejected as misplaced India's complaints
> > about the trial in the Siberian city of Tomsk against a

> > translation of the Bhagavad Gita.
> >
> > The Russian Foreign Ministry said it was not the Bhagavad Gita
> > as such that was on trial but some comments contained in a
> > 20th-century Russian translation of the scripture.
> >
> > Russian prosecutors are seeking a court ban on the book,
> > which they claim is extremist and insulting to non-believers.
> >
> > Д I would like to emphasise that this is not about ЊBhagavad
> > Gita,' a religious philosophical poem, which forms part of the
> > great Indian epic Mahabharata and is one of the most famous
> > pieces of the ancient Hindu literature. In Russia, the book was
> > first published in Russian in 1788 and then went through many
> > editions in different years and in various translations,А said

> > Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich.
> >
> > Д The Tomsk court case is about classifying as extremist
> > material the Russian-language edition of the Bhagavad Gita. As
> > It Is, written in 1968 by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada,
> > founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness,

> > А Mr. Lukashevich said in reply to a
> > request from The Hindu to clarify the Russian official position
> > on the court trial.
> >
> > The statement came a day after India upped the ante in the
> > controversy.
> > Д The Russian authorities have been approached at high levels
> > to appropriately resolve this matter,А said Indian Ambassador
> > to Russia Ajai Malhotra.
> >
> > Д The Bhagavad Gita is perhaps the most important and
> > respected scripture in the world. First translated into Russian in
> > 1788, it is not merely a religious text, but one of the defining
> > treatises of Indian thought, Mr. Malhotra said in a statement.
> >
> > Д The Bhagavad Gita has circulated freely across the world for
> > centuries and there is not a single instance of it having
> > encouraged extremism.

> > So, the case before the Honourable Court in Tomsk is indeed
> > absurd,bordering on the bizarre,А he added.
> >
> > However, the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed that the Tomsk
> > court was not trying the ЊBhagavad Gita.А
> >
> > Д As evident from the testimony, the complaints of law
> > enforcement authorities relate, not so much to the text of the
> > book as such, even though its double translation contains
> > distortions, but rather to the author's commentaries, which are
> > considered to fall under Article 13 of the Federal Law ЊOn
> > Counteracting Extremist Activity',А Mr. Lukashevich said.
> >
> > On Monday the Tomsk court adjourned the case till December
> > 28 as it agreed to hear testimony from the Russian
> > Ombudsman on Human Rights and Russian Indologists, who
> > favour dismissal of the charges.

> >
> > Keywords: Bhagwad Gita ban, ISKCON
> > (Text 4370) ------------------------------------------------
> >
> > ------- End of Forwarded Message ------
> >
(Text PAMHO:22722464) --------------------------------------

------- End of Forwarded Message ------

http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/russian-court-refuses-to-ban-translation-o
f-bhagavad-gita-161516


Updated: December 29, 2011 14:25 IST

Russian court refuses to ban translation of Bhagavad Gita
NDTV Correspondent, Updated: December 28, 2011 18:33 IST

Moscow:  A court in Russia has turned down a petition that asked for a ban
on a translated version of Bhagavad Gita. India had described the
application as "patently absurd."

The petition was originally filed in June in a court in Tomsk in Siberia and
had created a diplomatic stress point for India and Russia.

India's External Affairs Minister SM Krishna met the Russian Ambassador
Alexander Kadakin earlier this week to discuss the matter. Today, Mr
Krishna  welcomed the judgement and thanked the Russian government for its
support.

Prosecutors in the Siberian city of Tomsk had  argued that the Russian
translation of "Bhagavad Gita As It Is" promotes "social discord" and hatred
toward non-believers. The text is a combination of the Bhagavad Gita, one of
Hinduism's holiest scriptures, and commentary by A C Bhaktivedanta Swami
Prabhupada, founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
(ISKCON) that is often called the Hare Krishna movement.

The prosecutors had asked  the court to include the book on the Federal List
of Extremist  Materials, which bans more than 1,000 texts including Adolf
Hitler's "Mein Kampf."

Yuri Pleshkov, a spokesman for ISKCON in Russia, said the book in question
has existed in Russia for 25 years and has never inspired violence or
extremist activity.

"On the contrary, this book teaches humane attitude towards all living
beings," Pleshkov said.
The trial follows this year's ban on the construction of a Hare Krishna
village in Tomsk and is based on an assessment by professors at Tomsk
University, who concluded that "Bhagavad Gita As It Is" includes strong
language against non-believers and promotes religious hatred and
discrimination on the basis of gender, race, nationality and language.

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. That
day protesters gathered outside the Russian consulate in Kolkata, and the
speaker of the Lok Sabha adjourned the House for several hours after members
began shouting in anger over the proposed ban.  Speaking in parliament, Mr
Krishna had said the lawsuit was the work of "ignorant and misdirected or
motivated individuals."

Indian officials last week appealed to high-level Russian authorities to
intervene. The Bhagavad Gita "is not merely a religious text, but one of the
defining treatises of Indian thought," said Indian Ambassador to Russia Ajai
Malhotra in a statement. "The Bhagavad Gita has circulated freely across the
world for centuries and there is not a single instance of it having
encouraged extremism."

The Foreign Ministry insisted that the Tomsk court was concerned not with
the Gita but with the author's commentary and poor translation in "Bhagavad
Gita As It Is."

Siberian court throws out case against Gita commentary 

VLADIMIR RADYUHIN                          MOSCOW, December 28, 2011

[http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/article2754870.ece]


A Siberian court has thrown out a petition that sought to ban a translation of the Bhagavad Gita as “extremist” literature.

Judge Galina Butenko of the Leninsky District Court in Tomsk ruled on Wednesday that there were no grounds for recognising Bhagavad Gita As It Is as extremist because the book was “one of the interpretations of the sacred Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita.”

The defence side said it was fully satisfied with the court verdict.

“This court decision shows that Russia is indeed becoming a democratic society,” said lawyer Alexander Shakhov, who represented at the trial the local branch of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).

India's Ambassador to Russia Ajai Malhotra, who had fiercely opposed the trial, welcomed the court ruling.

“The verdict of the Honourable Judge in Tomsk in dismissing the case pertaining to the Bhagavad Gita deserves to be applauded,” said the envoy. “It is very nice to see that this issue has been conclusively resolved and is now behind us.”

State prosecutors had filed the petition against Bhagavad Gita As It Is, claiming it sowed “social hatred” and called for “violence against non-believers.” The case was built on expert testimony from local professors of philosophy and philology, who said the book expresses religious hatred and discriminates on the basis of gender, race, nationality and language. Prosecutors offered no comment as they left the court after the verdict.

“We are happy that the court showed reason and competence in passing the correct verdict,” said Sergei Zuyev, vice-president of ISKCON in Russia. “It is not right for secular courts to try religions.” On the eve of Wednesday's hearing, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna had summoned the Russian Ambassador in New Delhi, Alexander Kadakin, asking the Russian government to provide all possible help to resolve the issue.

Russia's Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin welcomed the court decision. “I think the Russian government must draw the right conclusions from this incident. It should fight terrorism by exposing terrorist plots and outfits, not by passing judgment on ancient sacred scriptures,” he said.

The case against the book had been filed on the basis of the 2002 Russian anti-extremism law, criticised in Russia for its very loose definition of extremist activity. Human rights activists said the law had been used to suppress legitimate criticism of authorities. The Russian Christian Orthodox Church has also been accused of using the law as a tool to fight “non-traditional religions”, such as Scientology, Jehovah's Witnesses and the Hare Krishna movement in Russia.

In a particularly bizarre case, a court in Rostov Region two years ago accused Leo Tolstoy of extremism for his denunciation of the Russian Orthodox Church teaching as “a crafty and evil lie” and “a concoction of gross superstition and witchcraft.” Tolstoy was expelled from the Church nine years before his death for his repudiation of Jesus Christ and the Russian Church.

‘INDIA HAPPY'

New Delhi Special Correspondent writes:

“We are happy to learn that the case has been dismissed by the Hon'ble Court in Tomsk in the Russian Federation. We appreciate this sensible resolution of a sensitive issue and are glad to put this episode behind us. We also appreciate the efforts of all friends in Russia who made this outcome possible,” said the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs.

‘Sensible resolution of a sensitive issue’

PTI                                       NEW DELHI, December 28, 2011

[http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article2755014.ece]


India on Wednesday termed as “sensible resolution” of a sensitive issue the rejection of a petition seeking a ban on Bhagvad Gita by a Russian court and said it was glad to “put this episode behind us.”

External Affairs Ministry said the court order demonstrates that Indians and Russians have a “deep understanding” of each other’s cultures and will reject any attempt to “belittle” our common civilisation values.

“We are happy to learn that the legal case in connection with the publication, ‘Bhagvad Gita as it is’, has been dismissed by the Hon’ble Court in Tomsk in Russian Federation.

We appreciate this sensible resolution of a sensitive issue and are glad to put this episode behind us,” MEA spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said in a statement here.

He also said India appreciates the efforts of all friends in Russia who made this outcome possible.

“This demonstrates yet again that the people of India and Russia have a deep understanding of each other’s cultures and will always reject any attempt to belittle our common civilisation values,” Mr. Akbaruddin said.

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna also welcomed the judgement and thanked the Russian government for its support.

Mr. Krishna had on Tuesday called Russian Ambassador Alexander Kadakin to discuss the issue.


Siberian court throws out case against Gita

VLADIMIR RADYUHIN                           MOSCOW, December 29, 2011


"It is not right for secular courts to try religions": Russian ISKCON head

A Siberian court has thrown out a petition that sought to ban a translation of the Bhagavad Gita as “extremist” literature.

Judge Galina Butenko of the Leninsky District Court in Tomsk ruled on Wednesday that there were no grounds for recognising Bhagavad Gita As It Is as extremist because the book was “one of the interpretations of the sacred Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita.”

The defence side said it was fully satisfied with the court verdict.

“This court decision shows that Russia is indeed becoming a democratic society,” said lawyer Alexander Shakhov, who represented at the trial the local branch of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).

India's Ambassador to Russia Ajai Malhotra, who had fiercely opposed the trial, welcomed the court ruling.

“The verdict of the Honourable Judge in Tomsk in dismissing the case pertaining to the Bhagavad Gita deserves to be applauded,” said the envoy. “It is very nice to see that this issue has been conclusively resolved and is now behind us.”

State prosecutors had filed the petition against Bhagavad Gita As It Is , claiming it sowed “social hatred” and called for “violence against non-believers.” The case was built on expert testimony from local professors of philosophy and philology, who said the book expresses religious hatred and discriminates on the basis of gender, race, nationality and language. Prosecutors offered no comment as they left the court after the verdict.

“We are happy that the court showed reason and competence in passing the correct verdict,” said Sergei Zuyev, vice-president of ISKCON in Russia.

“It is not right for secular courts to try religions.” On the eve of Wednesday's hearing, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna had summoned the Russian Ambassador in New Delhi, Alexander Kadakin, asking the Russian government to provide all possible help to resolve the issue. Russia's Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin welcomed the court decision. “I think the Russian government must draw the right conclusions from this incident. It should fight terrorism by exposing terrorist plots and outfits, not by passing judgment on ancient sacred scriptures,” he said.

The case against the book had been filed on the basis of the 2002 Russian anti-extremism law, criticised in Russia for its very loose definition of extremist activity.

Human rights activists said the law had been used to suppress legitimate criticism of authorities.

The Russian Christian Orthodox Church has also been accused of using the law as a tool to fight “non-traditional religions”, such as Scientology, Jehovah's Witnesses and the Hare Krishna movement in Russia.

In a particularly bizarre case, a court in Rostov Region two years ago accused Leo Tolstoy of extremism for his denunciation of the Russian Orthodox Church teaching as “a crafty and evil lie” and “a concoction of gross superstition and witchcraft.”

Tolstoy was expelled from the Church nine years before his death for his repudiation of Jesus Christ and the Russian Church. New Delhi Special Correspondent writes:

India has appreciated the efforts of all those in Russia who ensured the dismissal of the case.

“We are happy to learn that the case has been dismissed by the Hon'ble Court in Tomsk in the Russian Federation. We appreciate this sensible resolution of a sensitive issue and are glad to put this episode behind us. We also appreciate the efforts of all friends in Russia who made this outcome possible,” said the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs.


  • Petition had claimed the book sowed social hatred and incited violence against non-believers

  • ‘Terrorism must be fought by exposing plots, outfits, not prosecuting ancient scriptures'



Rajan Zed hails Russian court’s ruling on Gita

PTI                         CHICAGO, December 30, 2011


Hailing the Russian court’s decision to reject imposing a ban on translated version of Baghavad Gita, a United States-based Hindu leader today termed the verdict as “right” and “sensible“.

Hindu leader Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada, thanked the Tomsk court in Siberia welcoming its ruling and pointed out that “it did the right and sensible thing befitting a democratic, open-minded and pluralistic society.”

Mr. Zed, who is the President of Universal Society of Hinduism, said that Bhagavad Gita was one of the holiest scriptures of Hinduism and banning it would have hurt the devotees.

“Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken lightly,” he said.

Mr. Zed argued that attempt at banning the sacred book was apparently an attack on religious freedom and belittling of the entire community.

He stressed that this “philosophical and intensely spiritual poem, often considered the epitome of Hinduism, was highly revered by Hindus.”

“Besides being the cornerstone of Hindu faith, Bhagavad Gita was also one of the masterpieces of Sanskrit poetry and a world treasure and had been commented by hundreds of authors and translated into all major languages of the world,” the Hindu leader added.

A group linked to the Christian Orthodox Church in Siberia has described the Hindu scripture Bhagavad Gita as ‘extremist’ .


Russian court rejects call to ban Hindu holy book  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

By Thomas Grove

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/3/22/worldupdates/2...

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian court rejected a call from prosecutors on Wednesday to ban one of Hinduism's holiest books, avoiding a diplomatic tussle days before President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to India.

Indian lawmakers had criticised the case strongly. Russia and India have vibrant trade ties dating back to the Soviet era and New Delhi is Moscow's top arms customer, buying several billion dollars in weapons every year.

Prosecutors argue that the book - a translation of the Bhagavad Gita - included a commentary that was 'hostile to other faiths'. Initial reports of the court case against the book caused Indian parliamentarians to adjourn in protest last year.

Medvedev will go to India next week for a summit of the BRICS group of emerging market powerhouses Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The decision made by a top court in the Siberian province of Tomsk on Wednesday upheld a ruling made late last year by a lower district court.

"I believe this is an absolutely fair, logical and most important of all - a law-abiding decision," Interfax quoted Alexander Shakhov, lawyer for a Hare Krishna society in Tomsk, as saying.

India's foreign minister condemned the case last year as "patently absurd" and said he had raised it with senior Russian officials.

Russia's foreign ministry later said the complaint was not against the Bhagavad Gita itself but a translation with a preface written in 1968 by a founder of the movement A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

The book was translated into Russian in 1984.

Rights activists say local officials have exploited Russia's vaguely worded law on extremism in recent years to persecute religious groups frowned upon by the dominant Russian Orthodox Church.

Following trials brought by prosecutors across the country, Russia's list of banned literature has grown to more than 1,000 texts including Jehovah's Witness texts, works by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and Turkish Islamic theologian Said Nursi.

The Bhagavad Gita takes the form of a conversation between Hindu god Krishna and a prince called Arjuna prior to a battle. The book, praised by Albert Einstein, forms the bedrock of the Hindu belief system.

Post-Soviet Russia recognises freedom of religion but Russian Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism have favoured status and some activists worry religious rights are threatened by the Orthodox Church's growing ties to the state.

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

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