New Delhi, Dec.20 (ANI): Describing the Bhagwad Gita as simply not being a religious text; but one of the defining treatises of Indian thought and the very soul of India's great civilization, External Affairs Minister S.M.Krishna told Parliament on Tuesday that he was confident that the Russian Government would take appropriate steps to neutralise and end the controversy arising out of a Russian language commentary that described the Bhagavad Gita as "Extremist Literature".
Addressing members of the Lok Sabha a day after several in the opposition had raised strong objection to a court hearing in the Russian city of Tomsk on the Bhagwad Gita, Krishna, in a written statement, said that he fully shared the sentiments expressed by the House on this issue.
He said that the Bhagavad Gita was "far above any cheap propaganda or attacks by the ignorant or the misdirected. In Russia itself, we have many great Indologists, scholars and experts who understand the essence of the Gita and have written on it with reverence and passion."
He added: "We do not want to dignify with too much attention some misdirected individuals who have filed an absurd complaint. We are confident that our Russian friends, who understand our civilizational values and cultural sensitivities, will resolve this matter appropriately."
Recalling the facts of the case, Krishna said that the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) has been functioning in Russia for decades. ISKCON has faced periodic problems with respect to its properties and functioning in Moscow and elsewhere.
On occasion, our Embassy has intervened on behalf of ISKCON with the local city authorities as well as with the Russian Government.
He said that ISKCON had conveyed to the Indian Embassy that its branch in Tomsk, Eastern Siberia, had received a notice in June 2011, of a complaint filed by the Public Prosecutor's Office in the local court.
"This complaint, apparently driven by some local individuals, was to the effect that the third Russian edition of the publication "Bhagwad Gita As It is" - a translation of a commentary by Swami Prabhupada, founder of ISKCON - had certain portions that were 'objectionable' and 'extremist' in nature," Krishna said.
Following the initial proceedings in August 2011, the District Court appointed its own three member expert group from the University of Kemerovo (in Siberia), which was to submit a report within three months.
The final hearing in the Tomsk District Court was due on December 19, 2011, but has been rescheduled for December 28, 2011, as the court agreed to seek the opinion of the Russian Ombudsman on Human Rights in Tomsk District, and of Indologists from Moscow and St. Petersburg, who have greater knowledge and expertise on India.rishna said officials of the embassy of India in Moscow have been in regular touch with the local representatives of ISKCON, since this matter came to light in June 2011.
He said that ISKCON representatives have been advised to take legal recourse to counter this misdirected complaint.
"We have also taken up this matter at the senior levels of the Russian Government. The Ministry of External Affairs has been in regular touch with our embassy in Moscow on this issue. The matter was also taken up with the Russian ambassador based in India, H.E. Mr. Alexander Kadakin who is himself a well-known Indologist. In fact, the Ambassador has been publicly critical of this episode. He has stated that Bhagavad-Gita is a great source of wisdom for the people of India and the world. He also said that Russia is a secular and democratic country where all religions enjoy equal respect," Krishna said. (ANI)