You can submit your article, report, announcement, ad etc. by mailing to

Gita not on trial but its commentaries, says Russia – The documents of the court

Saturday, 24 December 2011 / Published in Appeals / 3,853 views

By Bhakti Vijnana Goswami

We wrote an official statement which rejects this claim, and work to counteract it.

In the meantime, since many members of this conference asked us to provide the concrete information about the nature of the accusations, I am attaching the file below to this letter with quotes from the “expert testimony”. You will have a lot of fun reading this file. :) It is so absurd! And also it clearly shows that it is Gita, not Prabhupada’s commentaries which is under attack. SO the claim of the Foregn Ministry is not correct.

Once more my humble request, please ask the devotees to sign the petition on-line. You may read to them the exerpts from the “expert testimony” for the Sunday feast class!

We did not even reach 50 thousand yet. Please, help us!

Your servant Bhakti Vijnana Goswami

Here is the latest article from

MOSCOW: Russia has rejected as misplaced India’s complaints about the trial in the Siberian city of Tomsk against a translation of the Bhagavad Gita.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it was not the Bhagavad Gita as such that was on trial but some comments contained in a 20th-century Russian translation of the scripture.

Russian prosecutors are seeking a court ban on the book, which they claim is extremist and insulting to non-believers.

“I would like to emphasise that this is not about ‘Bhagavad Gita,’ a religious philosophical poem, which forms part of the great Indian epic Mahabharata and is one of the most famous pieces of the ancient Hindu literature. In Russia, the book was first published in Russian in 1788 and then went through many editions in different years and in various translations,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich.

“The Tomsk court case is about classifying as extremist material the Russian-language edition of the Bhagavad Gita. As It Is, written in 1968 by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness,” Mr. Lukashevich said in reply to a request from The Hindu to clarify the Russian official position on the court trial.

The statement came a day after India upped the ante in the controversy.

“The Russian authorities have been approached at high levels to appropriately resolve this matter,” said Indian Ambassador to Russia Ajai Malhotra.

“The Bhagavad Gita is perhaps the most important and respected scripture in the world. First translated into Russian in 1788, it is not merely a religious text, but one of the defining treatises of Indian thought,” Mr. Malhotra said in a statement.

“The Bhagavad Gita has circulated freely across the world for centuries and there is not a single instance of it having encouraged extremism. So, the case before the Honourable Court in Tomsk is indeed absurd, bordering on the bizarre,” he added.

However, the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed that the Tomsk court was not trying the ‘Bhagavad Gita.”

“As evident from the testimony, the complaints of law enforcement authorities relate, not so much to the text of the book as such, even though its double translation contains distortions, but rather to the author’s commentaries, which are considered to fall under Article 13 of the Federal Law ‘On Counteracting Extremist Activity’,” Mr. Lukashevich said.

On Monday the Tomsk court adjourned the case till December 28 as it agreed to hear testimony from the Russian Ombudsman on Human Rights and Russian Indologists, who favour dismissal of the charges.


Some comments:

It would be very easy to show hundreds of extreme statements in the Bible…

This statement of the Russian foriegn minister makes a futile attempt at covering up the fault of banning the Bhagavadgita As It IS. The commentary they are referring to and claiming to be on trial is the commentary by Srila Prabhuapda. THis commentary has transformed lives of thousands of devotees world over, it made hippies happies. It has given new life to thousands, just as Krishna’s talk removed the dilemma of Arjuna and gave him new direction.
The commentary of Srila Prabhupada in particular has been appreciated by many scholars.
“…Translation of such a work demands not only knowledge of Sanskrit, but an inward sympathy with the theme and a verbal artistry. …. The Swami does a real service for students by investing the beloved Indian epic with fresh meaning. Whatever our outlook may be we should all be grateful for the labor that has lead to this illuminating work.”
Dr. Geddes MacGregor, Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Philosophy
University of Southern California

What do you say for the Russian Archbishop who called Lord Krishna “An Evil Demon”. That silly comment followed by complaints by certain groups in Tomsk calling for ban on Gita is a part of larger conspiracy using ISKCON as a punching bag. The Indian Ambassador Mr. Malhotra is absolutely right in calling this shameful episode as “indeed absurd, bordering on the bizarre”. There are more verses in Bible and Quran that are much more offensive, hateful to non-believers. Imagine if some high ranking Hindu leader had called gods of Christianity and Islam names. People like you will the first people to call for the head of that Hindu leader. Request you to read more on this controversy that blindly supporting the viewpoint of some non-descript groups petition in Tomsk, Russia.

6 Responses to “Gita not on trial but its commentaries, says Russia – The documents of the court”

  1. Sita Rama 108 says :

    Presumptuous I may be yet I am going to speak. Rational objection to these accusations will be ineffective. To argue that the negative claims about the Gita could also be said about Christianity would be particularly dangerous, it will simple polarize the issue. There is a reason lawyers almost always tell their clients not to speak. Based on the rhetoric used against us it should be clear that whatever we say in our defense will be twisted into something negative and simple give the prosecution greater material to obscure the real points.
    I believe the most effective strategy is to focus on appealing to governmental officials of India to increase their opposition to the action of the Russian courts.

  2. jaganmohini D Dasi says :

    While I agree with Sita Rama Prabhuji, that the most effective strategy is Indian Govt. intervention as countering the accusations can lead to religious and social discord.

    Nonetheless the situation reminds me of two types of preaching which Srila Prabhupada spoke about and which I heard from my guru H.H. Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami.

    Srila Prabhupada had categorically spoken about two types of preaching: General and Specialized. His books are accordingly available for both categories.
    Those who are tuned to a particular mindset for several decades with regard to any knowledge or practice in culture or science or religion are not appropriate recipients of general preaching. A preacher must judge the situation and accordingly introduce the sublime message.

    Today the preachers of our society have mixed up both the domains which can have adverse repercussion in the long run. Russia appears to be an example.
    A preacher trained for general preaching cannot jump to the second domain. The audiences for both are different and hence the eligibility of preachers is also different.
    As an example, Srila Prabhupada has said, “When the scientist, philosopher, medical man will get the opportunity to study systematically what is God, what are His energies, what is my relationship, how to approach Him, then only there will be paradise.”. We have noticed interpretation of this by general preachers quite different than what Srila Prabhupada meant.

    Specialized preaching can be cultivated only through appropriate guidance and association who are in this preaching. A mere academic qualification doesn’t make one eligible for specialized preaching. It has more to do with reflection and internalization of scriptures based on guidance and simultaneously working hard to sustain internal connection with guru param para. The goal of this preaching is much broader and wider and not dependent on numbers or conversion. It is more of effort oriented than result oriented. This type of preaching has to be sanctioned by appropriate authority.

  3. Anyone can see the case is absurd. If the court is in any way fair and honest, the charges will be dismissed. If the order has been given in high places to use these charges to clamp down on ISKCON, perhaps the diplomatic efforts of the Indian government ans so on has persuaded them to change their mind.

    But, it looks like the Russian government is trying to drive a wedge between ISKCON and the greater Hindu community by saying their problem is with Srila Prabhupada’s “Bhagavad-gita As It Is” and not the Bhagavad-gita per se (although the falsity of this claim is demonstrated by the so-called “expert opinions” cited by the Prosecutor).

    This may be an opportunity to demonstrate more broadly the excellence of Srila Prabhupada’s commentary and its faithfulness to that of other great Vaisnava acaryas and to the true spirit of Lord Krishna’s instructions.

    The general people of the world should come to know the greatness of Bhagavad-gita as one of the world’s greatest works of Philosophy and Religion, and those who claim to know Bhagavad-gita should come to know the greatness of Srila Prabhupada’s presentation as faithful to the true spirit of the text (which itself proclaims that it is not meant for those who envy Krishna or are not His devotees).

    The law against “extremism” is supposed to protect the public from hate groups and those who would call for terrorism and insurrection. It is obviously being manipulated and misused against groups like Jehova’s Witnesses and Scientology, and now they are trying to use it against ISKCON. However, ISKCON is authentic, and ISKCON’s BBT books are very authentic and clear presentations of the bona-fide Vaisnava tradition, written by a great saintly practitioner. The world should come to know this.

    Hopefully the whole case will blow over and be dismissed at the hearing on December 28th. That is the only reasonable, sensible course.

    But if not, then it appears Krishna is giving us an opportunity to demonstrate the amazing, wonderful qualities of Srila Prabhupada’s books.

    We should not shy away from that fight and try to appeal to a broader base of support by ignoring the specific validity and authenticity of Srila Prabhupada’s commentary. We should take the opportunity to demonstrate that this Bhakti-Vedanta commentary illuminates the actual bhakti-laden teachings of Lord Krishna in Bhagavad-gita, which are directly in line with Vedanta Sutra and Lord Caitanya’s acintya bhedaabheda conclusion.

  4. Russia is a democrazy in name only and run by Putin and company under the disguise of socalled democrazy.The recent voting fraud in Russia… speaks plenty to these facts.Banning Bhagavad Gita as it is is crazy, and proves there is no religious freedom in Russia….

  5. jaganmohini D Dasi says :

    The life members and other well-wishers has to be contacted at the earliest over sms and email and request them to sign the petition.

    50,000 is very less compared to the claims made by society that appeared last week in leading national news, “ISKCON claims it has more than 100,000 devotees in Russia and 100 communities”. At least the petition signed must match this figure to prove its favorable popularity in Russia. Else it will sound as if most of the followers are just guests for prasadam(read it food) or festivals (read it fun) and not practicing or supporting ISKCON ideology.

  6. The argument of the expert that Bhagavad-gita is incompatible with Christianity because evil is depicted in Bhagavad-gita as having the Deity as its source raises interesting questions.

    The fact that philosophers can raise and discuss these questions has nothing to do with whether Bhagavad-gita is “extremist”. The expert seems to think Srila Prabhupada is wrong in saying that Bhagavad-gita is compatible with Christianity, but how can expression of such an opinion be “extremism”?

    Srila Prabhupada and the Vaisnava acaryas recognize the source of evil as misuse of marginal independence (free will) by the individual soul, who has the same divine qualities of God but in minute quantity. Therefore, individual souls have independence, as God does, but their independence is *small* independence: they may exercise their volition to turn their back on God, but by doing so they do not become independent of God. God gives them the illusion of independence via His deluding potency. Only in such a deluded condition can they do evil, because when, freed from illusion, they are in their natural, divine state of loving service to God in full realization of His glories, they also see everyone and every particle of creation as owned and controlled by God, not to be misused.

    I am surprised to learn that Chjristianity teaches any differently. Aristotle taught that there must be a “prime mover” or an ultimate, original cause of all causes. I thought his identification of such an ultimate source of all things with God was incorporated by Christianity. If evil has an another source, independent of God, what is the source of that other source? Is there more than one ultimate source?

    The idea that there is a good God of light and spirit, and an evil God of darkness and materialism, was from time to time incorporated into Christian sects (probably via Zoroastrians), but was always rejected as heretical by the mainline Bishops of Christianity. One such sect was the Manichaeans. Another was the Bogomils. I would like to hear the expert’s distinction of his idea that evil has another source completely separate from God, and how this idea is compatible with the Christian idea that there is only one God who is omnipotent and omniscient. It seems to me more like a dualist heresy.

    I am not saying the “expert” from Tomsk cannot explain it. I think it would be an interesting theological discussion. I just cannot see how such discussion can be “extremist”.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.