Court Turns Down Appeal in Bhagavad Gita ‘Extremism’ Case

A Tomsk court turned down a prosecutor’s appeal on Wednesday to classify the Russian translation of the “Bhagavad Gita As It Is” as extremist, ending a long legal battle over the text.

In summer 2011, Tomsk prosecutors initiated a case to impose a ban on the Russian translation of “Bhagavad Gita As It Is,” written by the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, claiming that the scripture promotes extremism.

According to Tomsk University experts cited by the local prosecutor’s office, the dogma described in the book incites religious hatred, humiliates the dignity of people on the basis of sex, race, nationality, language, origin and attitude toward religion.

A Tomsk district court ruled against the prosecutors’ request to recognize the book as extremist in December 2011. The Prosecutor’s Office then challenged the ruling.

The President of the Association of Indians in Russia Sanjeet Kumar Jha thanked the court for its decision after it turn down the prosecutor’s appeal.

“We are thankful to the Russian justice system that such a decision was taken and thank the Russian scientists who devoted their life to studying this topic and stood up for the book,” Kumar Jha said.

Kumar Jha said Indian society had “followed the legal process and were worried as the Bhagavad Gita is an ancient text and a heritage of mankind.”

Tomsk’s Society for Krishna Consciousness spokesperson Alexander Shakhov said his group had written an open letter to Russian President Dmity Medvedev and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, asking them to intervene in the case and seeking a change in the law to make it inadmissible to prosecute sacred texts.


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