In a midnight statement, Russian Ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin criticised his countrymen from the Siberian city of Tomsk who have sought a ban on the Bhagwat Gita. Hours earlier, a Russian court allowed the Russian human rights panel to place its views on the Bhagwat Gita and minorities rights.
Mr. Kadakin described those who had filed the case as “madmen”, regretted that it was being heard in the university city of Tomsk famous for its secularism and religious tolerance and reiterated the secular credentials of Russia [the Interior Minister is a practicing Muslim].
The two developments ought to cap disquiet over here on the possibility of the Bhagwat Gita being included as extremist literature by the Russian Home Ministry but Indians in Moscow feel New Delhi should take up the issue of building a temple, a demand being pursued by the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), of mainly Russian believers.
The Russian envoy said he considered it “categorically inadmissible when any holy scripture is taken to the courts. For all believers these texts are sacred.” He seemed to agree with the ISKCON’s criticism that the Persecutor’s office requested testimony not from well-known experts of Hinduism from Moscow, but from some unknown experts from Kemerovo State University.
A second term Ambassador whose first diplomatic posting was to India in 1971 and who for years taught about India on the side during his stint at the Russian foreign office in Moscow, Mr. Kadakin said the Bhagavad Gita along with holy scriptures of other faiths was a great source of wisdom for the people of India and the world. “Russia, as it is known to anyone, is a secular and democratic country where all religions enjoy equal respect. Even more applicable it is to the holy scriptures of various faiths — whether it is the Bible, the Holy Quran, Torah, Avesta and, of course, Bhagavad-Gita — the great source of wisdom for the people of India and the world,’’ he assured.