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Russian court rejects petition for banning Gita

December 28, 2011 17:41 IST

A Russian court on Wednesday rejected a petition, described by India as "patently absurd", which had sought a ban on a translated version of Bhagvad Gita, bringing cheers to followers here as well as those across the world.

"We have won the case. The judge has rejected the petition," Sadhu Priya Das of ISKCON, Moscow, who is also Chairman of newly formed Hindu Council of Russia, told PTI.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna welcomed the judgement and thanked the Russian government for its support. Prosecutors in the Siberian city of Tomsk had argued that the Russian translation of Bhagavad Gita As It Is promotes "social discord" and hatred towards non-believers.

The text is a combination of the Bhagvad Gita, one of Hinduism's holiest scriptures, and commentary by A C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, that is commonly known as the Hare Krishna movement, ISKCON.

The prosecutors had asked the court to include the book on the Russian Federal List of Extremist Materials, which bans more than 1,000 texts including Adolf Hitler's Mein  Kampf and books distributed by the Jehovah's Witness and Scientology movements.

Reacting to the judgement that came at about 4:30 pm IST, ISKCON spokesman Brajendra Nandan Das told PTI in New Delhi that, "We are very happy".

ISKCON members have alleged that the Russian Orthodox Church was behind the court case as it wanted to limit their activities.

The case had created a storm back in India and even the Parliamentary proceedings had been affected by it. Speaking in Parliament, Krishna had said the lawsuit was the work of "ignorant and misdirected or motivated individuals." He also called the complaint "patently absurd".

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