'Bhagavad Gita' faces ban in Russia

'Bhagavad Gita' faces ban in Russia

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A court in Siberia’s Tomsk city is set to deliver its final verdict on Monday in a case filed by state prosecutors.

The final pronouncement in the case will come two days after Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, during his December 15-17 official visit for a bilateral summit with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, consolidated bilateral trade and strategic ties and personal friendship.

The case, which has been going on in Tomsk court since June, seeks a ban on a Russian translation of the “Bhagavad Gita As It Is” written by A C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon).

It also wants the Hindu religious text banned in Russia and declared a literature spreading “social discord”, its distribution on Russian soil rendered illegal.

In view of the case, Indians settled in Moscow, numbering about 15,000, and followers of the Iskcon religious movement have appealed to Manmohan Singh and his government to intervene diplomatically to resolve the issue in favour of the scripture, an important part of Indian epic “Mahabharata” written by sage Ved Vyas.

Iskcon followers in Russia have also written to the Prime Minister’s Office in New Delhi, calling for immediate intervention, lest the religious freedom of Hindus living here be compromised.

“The case is coming up for a final verdict on Monday in Tomsk court. We want all efforts from the Indian government to protect the religious rights of Hindus in Russia,” Sadhu Priya Das of Iskcon and a devotee of a 40-year-old Krishna temple in central Moscow, told reporters.

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