Bhagavad-Gita Victory

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A Russian court decided Wednesday not to ban a religious text central to the global Hare Krishna movement, rejecting claims that the text is "extremist" and ending a case that has angered Hindus around the world.

The Indian Foreign Ministry said it appreciated "this sensible resolution of a sensitive issue."
Prosecutors in the Siberian city of Tomsk had argued that the Russian translation of "Bhagavad Gita As It Is" promotes "social discord" and hatred toward nonbelievers, causing an outcry in India, where many considered the proposed ban a violation of the rights of Hindus in Russia.
The text is a combination of the Bhagavad Gita, one of Hinduism's holiest scriptures, and commentary by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, which is often called the Hare Krishna movement.
The prosecutors had asked the court to include the book on the Federal List of Extremist Materials, which bans more than 1,000 texts, including Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" and books distributed by the Jehovah's Witness and Scientology movements.
Alexander Shakhov, a lawyer for Hare Krishna devotees in Tomsk, said the group is satisfied with the court's decision.
"This judge's decision shows that Russia is becoming a truly democratic society," Shakhov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. "We are very excited about this victory."
Yury Pleshakov, a spokesman for the group in Moscow, said the book in question has existed in Russia for 25 years and has never inspired violence or extremist activity.
"On the contrary, this book teaches humane attitude towards all living beings," Pleshakov said.
The trial, which began in June, followed this year's ban on the construction of a Hare Krishna village in Tomsk and was based on an assessment by professors at Tomsk University, who concluded that "Bhagavad Gita As It Is" includes strong language against nonbelievers and promotes religious hatred and discrimination on the basis of gender, race, nationality and language.

From Associated Press by Sofia Javed