Indian Parliament irate as Russia poised to ban Bhagavad Gita

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Members of the Indian Parliament across party lines urged the Indian government to protect the Bhagavad Gita, one of the most sacred Hindu texts, from a legal ban in Russia.

Hindu followers rallied in front of the Kolkata Russian consulate protesting the ban. Thousands signed an on-line petition to stop the trial, and the hashtag #Gita surged to a leading trend in Indian cyberspace. Accused of fostering extremism and "social discord" by the Tomsk, Siberia state prosecutors office, Bhagavad Gita As It Is, a translation of the ancient poem admired by Leo Tolstoy and Albert Einstein, now faces the prospect of ending up on Russia's Federal List of Extremist Materials – along with Hitler's Mein Kampf – and being banned from distribution.

Reporting to the Parliament on the issue, External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna Tuesday denounced the trial as a "patently absurd" action of "some ignorant and misdirected or motivated individuals" and assured the House that his Ministry has taken up the issue with senior Russian authorities, hoping for an appropriate resolution. S. M. Krishna also referred to the Gita as "one of the defining treatises of Indian thought" saying that it "describes the very soul of our great civilization".

On a similar note, Russian Ambassador to India Alexandr Kadakin condemned the court case as "categorically inadmissible" and called its instigators "madmen".

The court's ruling on the matter is expected on December 28.


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