Russian court rejects ban on Hindu sacred book

28th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

A court in the Russian city of Tomsk on Wednesday rejected an attempt to ban as "extremist" a translation of a sacred Hindu book, in what was seen as a test case for religious freedoms.

The Siberian court rejected a lawsuit from the Tomsk prosecutor's office to classify a Russian translation of the Hare Krishna edition of the "Bhagavad Gita" as "extremist literature" alongside books like Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf", news agencies reported.

The case had drawn criticism from Russia's ally India, whose Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna described it as the work of "ignorant and misdirected or motivated individuals" and an attack on a religious text that defines the "very soul of our great civilisation".

The Tomsk prosecutor had alleged that the foreword to the Russian edition of the ancient scripture contained signs of "incitement to religious hatred", according to news agency Interfax.

The foreword was written by Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the international Hare Krishna movement, whose members have accused the Russian Orthodox church of trying to limit their activities in the country.

The Indian parliament had to be adjourned last week after an uproar over the issue and protestors gathered outside the Russian consulate in the eastern city of Kolkata.

The Russian ambassador to India, Alexander Kadakin, also voiced concern that the case was ever allowed to reach the court.

"It seems that even the lovely city of Tomsk has its own neighbourhood madmen," Kadakin said last week.

"I consider it categorically inadmissible when any holy scripture is taken to the courts. For all believers these texts are sacred," he added.

© 2011 AFP

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