New Delhi: Hindus in Russia on Monday made a last ditch effort to save the Bhagavad Gita from a ban by a Siberian court.
The issue rocked the Indian Parliament, with MPs cutting across party lines on Monday condemning the “insult” to the holiest of Hindu scriptures for facing the prospect of being branded “extremist”.
Following last-minute plea by Hindus in Russia, represented by their advocate Mikhail Fralov, the court in Tomsk city in Siberia has told the Russian human rights panel on Monday to come with its deposition before the verdict, scheduled for December 28.
Fralov pleaded with the court to hear the Russian Human Rights Committee for its views on Bhagavad Gita and on the religious minorities’ rights, before pronouncing its verdict, he said.
Following the plea, the last of legal options that the Hindus had, the court agreed to hear out the human rights panel, according to Sadhu Priya Das, a Moscow-based Hindu and a devotee of a 40-year-old Krishna temple in the Russian capital.
The issue found strong echo in the Indian parliament, when an MP in the Lok Sabha pointed to the report on the possible banning of the Bhagavad Gita and its teachings in Russia. This led to other members across the political spectrum joining him in urging the government to ensure that the religious rights of the Hindus are protected.
They also sought an explanation from Moscow over the issue. External affairs minister SM Krishna then assured the Lok Sabha he would speak on the issue in the house on Tuesday.
Angry MPs forced two adjournments of the Lok Sabha till 2 pm, after BJD leader Bhartruhari Mahtab raised the issue during Zero Hour in the House and asked the government to intervene immediately.
Peace returned to the house after a short discussion was allowed in the Lok Sabha.
The case, which has been going on since June, seeks a ban on a Russian translation of the Bhagavad Gita As It Is written by AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon).
It also wants the Hindu religious text banned in Russia, declared it as literature spreading “social discord”, and its distribution rendered illegal in Russia.
Shouting the slogan “Bolo Krishna Bhagwan ki jai”, Lalu Prasad of the Rashtriya Janata Dal said “any insult to Gita is an insult to Lord Krishna”“.
Winding up the short discussion, Parliamentary affairs minister PK Bansal assured the house that SM Krishna will be speaking on Tuesday after he gets the full details of the case. “We are all united over the issue and I respect the sentiments of the house.”
Russia expresses sadness over row
Moscow: In the wake of an uproar over a move to ban Bhagwad Gita in Siberia, Russia expressed sadness over the development, saying it is “inadmissible” that a holy scripture is taken to court.
“It is strange that such events are unfolding in the beautiful university city in Siberia, as Tomsk which is famous for its secularism and religious tolerance,” Alexander M Kadakin, Russian Ambassador in India said.
“It seems that even the lovely city of Tomsk has its own neighborhood madmen. It is sad indeed. I consider it
categorically inadmissible when any holy scripture is taken to the courts. For all believers these texts are sacred,” the Ambassador said.