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Proposed Ban Of Bhagavad Gita In Russia Ignites Protests Among Indian Community As Trial Verdict Nears

First Posted: 12/20/2011 3:02 pm Updated: 12/20/2011 5:53 pm

Bhagavad Gita Ban
International Society for Krishna Consciousness, ISKCON, followers protest outside the Russian consulate in Kolkata, India, Monday, Dec. 19, 2011, against 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. A 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, according to news reports. (AP Photo)

State prosecutors in the Siberian city of Tomsk are trying to ban the Russian translation of the Bhagavad Gita, an important Hindu scripture, because they believe the text too "extremist."

The trial, which started in June, has attracted a lot of negative attention, and sparked protests, which even closed down the Indian parliament Monday, according to the Guardian.

The court's decision concerning the proposed ban was expected on Dec. 19, but officials pushed back the date until Dec. 28.

Prosecutors reportedly took issue with the Russian translation of the sacred text called "Bhagavad Gita As It Is", with commentary by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), because it promoted "social discord" and hatred toward non believers, according to The Hindu .

However, ISKCON followers and about 15,000 Indians living in Moscow say the proposed ban was brought about by a "majority religious group's" intolerance toward the Hindu religion, the Asia Times reports.

Protesters have even called on diplomats to intervene in the case.

But in an exclusive interview with CNN-IBN, Ambassador of Russia to India Alexander Kadakin explained the government cannot influence the courts. He did, however, acknowledge the "madness" must come to an end. He said:

"...It is not the Russian government that started the case; these are the some petty people in far away though very beautiful city of Tomsk who did it. The government has nothing to [apologize] for, the government can only testify and reiterate the love and affection and highest esteem our nation has for Bhagavad Gita."

Last year, courts banned Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf," but a spokesperson for ISKCON India said comparing the Bhagavad Gita to the dictator's autobiography was outrageous.

"To compare Hitler to Lord Krishna is an insult to Indians across the globe," Vrajendra Nandandas told the Wall Street Journal. "Our cultural identity and ancient beliefs have been mocked at today."

If the book is banned, ISKCON says the government should expect "intensified" protests, the Hindustan Times reports.

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Filed by Ileana Llorens  |