Russian court rejects call to ban Hindu holy book Bhagavad Gita

December 29, 2011

(Activists from Rashtrawadi Sena, a hardline Hindu group, shout slogans during a protest in New Delhi December 23, 2011. REUTERS/Parivartan Sharma)

A Russian court has rejected prosecutors’ calls to ban the Bhagavad Gita, a case that provoked protests in India, by including it on a list of outlawed literature alongside Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Russia hopes the ruling will dispel outcry in close ally India over the charges by state prosecutors in the Siberian city of Tomsk that a translation of the Bhagavad Gita, one of Hinduism’s most holy books, is hostile to other faiths.

After angry Indian lawmakers forced parliament to adjourn last week demanding the government protect Hindu rights, Foreign Minister S. M. Krishna condemned the case as “patently absurd” and told the body he had raised concerns with senior Russian officials.

Seeking to avert a diplomatic spat, Russia’s Foreign Ministry stressed that prosecutors had not attacked the holy book itself but a controversial preface written in 1968 by a founder of the Hare Krishna movement A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada entitled “As It Is”. The book was translated into Russian in 1984.

“I repeat this is not about the book per se, but about the unsuccessful translation and the preface written by the author,” spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in comments posted on the ministry’s website on Wednesday.

Read the full story by Alissa de Carbonnel here.
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