Tomsk trial held over "Bhagavad Gita" translation, not over original

Moscow, December 23, 2011

Hare Krishnas in Moscow.
Hare Krishnas in Moscow.
A court in Tomsk has found that the translation of an ancient Hindu poem "Bhagavad Gita As It Is", and comments thereto, and not the book proper, fall under the Russian law "On countering extremist activities."

"As regards the classification by the Tomsk court as an extremist material, I will stress that the Russian-language edition of the "Bhagavad Gita As It Is" with the commentary written in 1968 by the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. The work represents an authorized translation of the original from Sanskrit into English. The book was translated into Russian in 1984," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said at a briefing in Moscow on Thursday.

"As evident from the materials available, the admonitions of the law enforcement authorities are not so much about the text of the book proper, whose double translation is not without the sin of semantic distortion, as about the author's comments which were classified as falling under Article 13 of the Russian Federation Federal Law 'On countering extremist activities'," he said.

"This fact was emphasized by Indian Foreign Minister Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna who made a special statement on December 20 this year. The court ruling in Tomsk was expected on December 19 this year, however the hearing was adjourned (tentatively until December 28 this year). Obviously, one should wait for the court's verdict. I repeat: this is not about the book proper but about a poor translation and the preface written by the author," Lukashevich said.

The Tomsk court ruling prompted strong reaction among the Indian public and political forces, he said.

"I would like to clarify a number of points which were probably misinterpreted by our Indian colleagues. In June this year Tomsk prosecutors instigated legal proceedings against the third edition of the Russian translation of "Bhagavad Gita As It Is" with a view to have it added to the federal list of extremist materials. I would like to stress 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 various years and in various translations," he said.

It was reported earlier this week that Indian Foreign Minister Krishna made a speech in the lower house of the Indian parliament in support of Russian Hare Krishna followers and their main book, "Bhagavad-Gita As It Is." with Prabhupada commentaries.

Director of the Human Rights Center of the World Russian People's Council and religious expert Roman Silantyev earlier pointed out that Russian scientists had accurately examined Prabhupada's interpretations of Bhagavad-Gita and "all who wish can get acquainted with their conclusions saying that it has nothing to do with traditional Hinduism."

Besides, Silantyev said that Krishnaites in Russia have "extremely nasty reputation" and authoritative scientists characterize them as sectarians. He reminded that leaders of Russia's Interreligious Council concluded in 2004 that Krishnaites were marginal pseudo-Hinduist sect and spoke against realizing programs of distributing their sacrificial food in places where Orthodox, Muslim, Jews and Buddhist believers live.

Interfax - Religion


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