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.
---------- 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.
Response to a media query today by Ambassador of India, HE Mr. Ajai
> “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
(Text PAMHO:22710663) --------------------------------------
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>>>>>>>>>>>>Article from The Hindu Indian newspaper
[This article shows that the Russian authorities/public prosecutor at Tomsk,
Siberia, is targeting ISKCON]
NEWS » INTERNATIONAL
MOSCOW, December 23, 2011
Gita not on trial but its commentaries, says Russia
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
“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