The following article delivering absurd news that the government wants to ban the Bhagavad Gita! An obivously misdirected attempt to suppress people natural attraction to Krishna Consciousness. Just another obstacle in kali yuga but Krishna is all attractive and this will certainly by just another bump on the road of Mahaprabhu's ever expanding sankirtan movement.
29 November 2011By Alexander Bratersky
The “Bhagavad Gita as It Is” is the central text for modern-day Krishnas.
The book may be accused of expressing religious hatred, suppressing human dignity and declaring one religion superior to all others. But “Bhagavad Gita as It Is” can hardly be called Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.”
Still — if prosecutors in Tomsk have their way — the two may soon end up together on the Justice Ministry’s list of banned extremist literature.
Why the Hindu text central to the Hare Krishna faith has suddenly been targeted is unclear, but some suspect it is really an attack on the religious freedom of a group not well-regarded by the Russian Orthodox Church.
The case against the widely distributed book began in September when Tomsk prosecutors filed charges in the city’s Leninsky District Court saying the text attacks practitioners of other religions as “fools,” “demons” and “pigs.”
“‘Bhagavad Gita as It Is’ contains … calls for hostile activities against different social and religious groups, among them women and people who don’t follow Krishna,” the complaint reads.
Authorities in the Siberian city cited specific passages as evidence of extremist thinking.
“Those who, out of envy, disregard these teachings and do not practice them regularly are to be considered bereft of all knowledge, befooled and doomed to ignorance and bondage,” reads an excerpt of the book quoted in the complaint.
The prosecutor’s office even included a note from the local Federal Security Service office, listing the address of the Tomsk bookstore where the book could be purchased.
Yury Pleshakov, spokesman for the Russian branch of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, said the whole case is absurd.
“It would be dangerous that along with [the book], a billion citizens of the world would be considered extremists,” he said, referring to the population of India where the book is considered a national treasure.
A spokeswoman for the Tomsk regional prosecutor’s office declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.
The case is currently on hold after Judge Galina Butenko ordered experts at Kemerovo State University in Tomsk to present further analysis, but it is expected to resume Thursday.
The actual “Bhagavad Gita” is vaguely dated between the fifth century BC and fifth century AD. The commentary included in the “as it is” edition, first published in 1968, was provided by guru Swami Prabhupada, founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
Curiously, the excerpt quoted by Tomsk prosecutors as extremist is from the original text and not Prabhupada’s commentary, which could pave the way for banning the ancient Hindu scripture.
Since its first publication, “Bhagavad Gita as It Is” has been translated into 60 languages — including Russian — and is widely considered the best-selling Indian text in the world. It is also at the core of the modern Krishna movement.
Versions of the text have been given as gifts to world leaders for decades — including British Prime Minister David Cameron, who said earlier this month that he keeps a copy of the book in his office.
Prosecutors built their case largely around expert testimony from Tomsk State University professors who said the book expresses religious hatred and discriminates on the basis of gender, race, nationality and language.
But even the university’s experts who prepared statements for the prosecutor’s office have presented mixed and contradictory opinions in court.
Sergei Avanesov, dean of the university’s philosophy department, told the court that all interpretations of the book “depend on perception.”
His statement was backed by assistant philosophy professor Valery Svistunov, who said the book is not “extremist” but could be viewed simply as “polemical.”
At the same time, Avanesov said he agreed with the testimony of another expert, philology professor Valery Naumov, who said the book contained “hostile, humiliating and insulting” information.
Noted Hindu studies expert, Boris Falikov, told The Moscow Times that the testimony was absurd.
“The translation and comments made by Swami Prabhupada was called extremist because the quotes were taken out of context,” Falikov said.
“Using such a nonscientific approach, you can even call the Quran or the Bible extremist literature,” he said.
Indeed, the holy books of both Islam and Christianity contain norms no longer embraced by Western society, such as slavery and polygamy.
Falikov pointed out that the original “Bhagavad Gita” is widely considered one of the most respected Hindu books and was admired by the likes of Leo Tolstoy and Albert Einstein.
“I don’t think that they would admire the book if it really spread religious hatred and humiliated human dignity,” he said.
Russian anti-extremism legislation is notoriously vague, and the political opposition, especially nationalists, often accuse the authorities of manipulating the legal definition for crackdowns on unwanted groups.
If declared extremist by the court, “Bhagavad Gita as It Is” will end up on the Justice Ministry ban list alongside Nazi propaganda and anti-government leaflets.
Such a decision would automatically allow police to detain Krishna practitioners, who often sell the book on the street, Krishna society spokesman Pleshakov said.
Tomsk ombudsman Nelli Krechetova has criticized prosecutors, saying a possible book ban will destroy citizens’ constitutional rights, religion freedom and freedom of speech.
Krechetova also worried that the legal proceedings would paint the city of Tomsk — generally regarded as a Siberian center of education and culture — in a negative light, the Rapsi legal news agency reported last month.
She also brought up an earlier conflict with the regional government over a proposed Krishna settlement that was halted under court order this spring.
Local Krishna followers had intended to build 59 houses at the settlement, but the local administration said the construction violated the law because the land was intended for agricultural use.
In that case, the regional government efforts were backed by local Orthodox Church archbishop Rostislav, who called the Krishnas a “sect” that wanted to “set its roots” in the region.
The relationship between the church and the Krishnas has long been tense, with local Orthodox officials complaining that the society seeks to lure Russians away from traditional beliefs.
In 2006, officials in the Tula Orthodox diocese filed a complaint after local Krishnas tried to involve residents in the celebration of a Krishna holiday.
That has led to much speculation in Tomsk media that the Orthodox Church was behind the attempt to ban the book.
But a spokesman for the Tomsk diocese, who only identified himself as Father Viktor, said church officials had nothing to do with the legal efforts.
He was also quick to point out that the case involved the newer “Bhagavad Gita as It Is,” and not the ancient “Bhagavad Gita,” but did not comment on the prosecution citing the original Hindu text, and not the 20th-century commentary, in their complaint.
He also said the earlier conflict over the settlement was an example of negative behavior by Krishna followers.
“We don’t have any relationship with them. But there are traditional religions, and there are sects,” he said by telephone.
Pleshakov, the Krishna spokesman, refrained from making any negative comments about the Orthodox Church, saying Krishna followers treat it “with respect.”
Instead, he blamed the judicial system.
“If we live a country based on the rule of law, the laws should work ideally, but often even an educated judge can end up in dead-end situation,” he said.
Read the article online [here]
Thank you Sriman George Harrison (or Hari's son). Srila Prabhupada touched George Harrison and George Harrison touched so many souls and introduced them to the maha mantra. So many devotees were introduced to Krishna Consciousness with a book on the street, harinam or a plate of prasadam but many were also brought by Sriman George Harrison.
George did many things at the request of Srila Prabhupada and his devotees. First and foremost he spread the holy names as requested through his music. When Srila Prabhupada asked him to write the forward to the Krishna book he gladly did so and is used as a preaching tool even today. In fact he donated for the first printing of the Krishna book. "Chant and be Happy", a book featuring conversations and insights from George Harrison remains a best seller for ISKCON. He donated Bhaktivedanta Manor which has become one of the most visited pilgramage sites in the world. And of course he helped record, produce and distribute the Apple records release of Hare Krishna Temple which shot up the pop charts and exposed millions to the Hare Krishna movement. So for this Prabhupada was always appreciative and grateful and thus Srila Prabhupada's devotees and movement remain grateful.
George Harrsion got it...just see an excerpt from the Krishna book below.
"Everybody is looking for KRISHNA. Some don't realize that they are, but they are. KRISHNA is GOD, the Source of all that exists, the Cause of all that is, was, or ever will be. As GOD is unlimited HE has many Names. Allah-Buddha-Jehova-Rama: All are KRISHNA, all are ONE."
George did not shave up, live in the ashram or maintain strict sadhana of a advanced Vaishnava, however by the grace of Guru and Gauranga in this age of Kali-yuga you can still achieve liberation.
“By the grace of the Lord, if a devotee, at the time of death, can simply chant His Holy Names -- Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare -- simply by chanting this maha mantra, he immediately surpasses the great ocean of the material sky and enters the spiritual sky. He never has to come back for repetition of birth and death. Simply by chanting the Holy Name of the Lord one can surpass the ocean of death “ (S.B. 4.10.30, Purport)
Unfortunately we have know many that shockingly did not avail themselves of this at the last moments, however Sriman George was with devotees and the holy name.
Srila Prabhupada blessed George Harrison by giving him so much service and by calling him son of Hari (a play on words of Harrison). So Sriman George Harrison was indeed blessed and 10 years after his departure his contributions to Srila Prabhupada's movement continue... We should always be grateful for the devotee association we continue to receive from souls that came through George Harrison and his music.
Subhavilasa's son, Indresh here...
As regular blog readers can see, the daily blog posts have fallen off the rail over the last month. A lot of that is my fault as there are many notes even from a couple of months back that I have yet to transcribe. My biggest regret is not blogging an offering on Srila Prabhupada's disappearance day. Attending Guru Puja at Srila Prabhupada's home at ISKCON Toronto is always emotional and HH Bhaktimarga Swami leading chanting and hearing 10 offerings from sanyasis and Srila Prabhupada disciples still serving Srila Prabhupada's lotus feet is uplifting on such a day. I am fortunate that I can count my parents among those devotees at Srila Prabhupada's lotus feet and during the month of Damodar my father recited a prayer to Srila Prabhupada to keep him bound to Lord Damodar's lotus feet and I will be happy as long as my parents keep me bound to the lotus feet of Srila Prahupada. The association, blessings and inspiration of that day/weekend come from two ends of a spectrum, Srila Prabhupada's disciples on one end and at the other end young devotees, most that were not even born when Srila Prabhupada perfomed his lila in Toronto and around the world. The inspiration and even potency comes from both ends since they encourage an offering to Srila Prabhupada. Last year the offering as in the form of words. [click here] This year the offering was not in the form of written words but in the form of what Srila Prabhupada desired most, transcendental book distribution. It has been a while since I posted about sankirtan, so this was our humble offering to Srila Prabhupada. Like Srila Prabhupada disciples and the new generation of devotees has inspired me personally to make an humble attempt to serve Srila Prabhupada, I hope that the following pictures and short comments may encourage others to join in Srila Prabhupada's marathon starting this coming weekend!
This was a long conversation but it ended up with this family taking over 40 books for Halloween distribution when kids come "trick or treating". He loved the concept of book distribution and gave us his contact details in hopes of participating more in future transcedental book distribution endeavors.
Two pronged attack but giving Srila Prabhupada's books to the youth is of the highest urgency.
My mom, Ashalata devi dasi preaching out of the Bhagavad-Gita. Book distribution is bliss.
We moved locations. This is Kishori convincing a mom to buy a book for her child. The potency of Srila Prabhupada's books being delivered to the youth.
Great association. Multi generational book distribution with Viky and Raj Prabhu.
Once again, there has been a bit of a break in blogging. Last year the blog began during the month of kartik and over the 1 year period there were articles almost daily and some days multiple articles with very few breaks. However this kartik the blog fell behind with only a handful of posts.
Regular sadana takes priority before any blog posts. However in kartik we preach about the value of increased devotional service, reading, chanting and sankirtan and thus this past month we put into practice what we preach with increased chanting, reading, service to Sri Sri Radha Shyamasundar and taking Srila Prabhupada's personal instructions to preach to heart. This was very poignant on the weekend of Srila Prabhupada's disappearance where I had opportunities to preach and speak about Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's message to folks not very familiar with Srila Prabhupada's mission while the kids distributed Srila Prabhupada's books.
I feel that Krishna indeed showers His mercy one thousand fold as His mercy manifests itself in unexpected but magnificent ways. So in this mood I share the pastimes of yesterday's arrival of Krishna Rasayatra.
Yesterday, the glorious full moon night that ends Damodara month marked the last transcedental pastime of the month of Karttik, called Sri Krishna Rasayatra. This is similar to the Krishna's Rasa dance which takes place during Vasant.
To mark this pastime on the 2nd full moon of Karttik and the culmination of this special period, a yellow tinge is offered in dressing as well as extra flowers including jasmine. Also pots of khir are prepared and left for Krishna's pleasure and enjoyment under the clear moonlight.
We turn to Srila Prabhupada as he describes this pastime in an excerpt of his purport...
Thus hearing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, speaking to pacify them, the gopis became very much pleased. And not only by hearing His words, but also by touhing the hands and legs of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they became completely releaved from the great suffering of separation. After this, the Supreme Personality of Godhead began His rasa dance. When one dances in the midst of many girls, it is called a rasa dance. So Krsna began to dance among the most beautiful and fortunate girls within the three worlds. The gopis of Vrndavana, who were so attracted to Him, danced with Krsna, hand in hand.
Krsna's rasa dance should never be compared with any kind of material dance, such as a ball dance or a society dance. The rasa dance is a completely spiritual performance. In order to establish this fact, Krsna, the supreme mystic, expanded Himself in many forms and stood beside each gopi.Placing His hands on the shoulders of the gopis on both sides of Him, He began to dance in their midst. The mystic expansions of Krsna were not perceived by the gopis because Krsna appeared alone to each of them. Each gopi thought that Krsna was dancing with her alone. Above that wonderful dance flew many airplanes carrying the denizens of the heavenly planets, who were very anxious to see the wonderful dance of Krsna with the gopis. The Gandharvas and the Kinnaras began to sing, and, accompanied by their respective wives, all the Gandharvas began to shower flowers on the dancers.The rest of this lila can be found in chapter 33 of the Krsna book.
I hope all of you had a devotional month of Kartik and what better way to conclude then the meditations of Sri Krishna Rasayatra!
I am forever grateful to Srila Prabhupada who by his mercy and love has bound us to Damodar. I am grateful that in this auspicious month Srila Prabhupada used menial servants like myself and my family to render some service at the lotus feet of Lord Damodar.