Indian uproar at call in Russia to ban Hindu holy book Bhagavad Gita
Angry Indian lawmakers forced parliament to close on Monday and protesters gathered outside a Russian consulate over a Siberian trial calling for one of Hinduism’s most holy books to be put on a list of banned literature that includes Hitler’s Mein Kampf. The case filed by state prosecutors in the Siberian city of Tomsk says a translation of the Bhagavad Gita is extremist because it insults non-believers, local media in Russia say.
“We will not tolerate an insult to Lord Krishna,” members of parliament shouted, until the house speaker adjourned parliament for several hours.
The Bhagavad Gita takes the form of a conversation between Hindu god Krishna and a prince called Arjuna prior to a battle. Its philosophical insights were praised by Albert Einstein and forms a bedrock of the Hindu belief system.
India and Russia enjoy close diplomatic and defence ties and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh returned from an annual visit to Moscow at the weekend. Lawmakers demanded to know if he had raised the issue of the trial with Russian officials.
The translation up for trial is called “Bhagavad Gita as It Is,” and is central to the global Hare Krishna movement. Members of the movement link the case against the text to the Russian Orthodox Church, which they claim wants to limit their activities. Dozens of Hare Krishna adherents in orange robes shouted slogans and danced outside the Russian consulate in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata, a Reuters witness said. More than 20,000 people signed an online petition against the trial and the word Gita was one of the main Indian trends on Twitter on Monday.