Embassy Press Releases

On the situation around the book “Bhagawad Gita As It Is”
(From Briefing by Russian MFA Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich, Moscow, December 22, 2011)

“I would like to reply a question coming from “The Hindu” correspondent regarding the matter of “Bhagawad Gita As It Is” controversy.

It is well-known that a decision by a court in the Siberian city of Tomsk has evoked a stormy reaction among Indian public and politicians. I would like to clarify some aspects which seem to have been misunderstood by our Indian colleagues.

The Office of the Attorney of Tomsk initiated in June this year court proceedings on the issue of the 3rd edition of the Russian translation of the book “Bhagawad Gita As It Is” in order to get it included into the federal list of extremist materials.

It needs to be explained that it is not a matter of the “Bhagawad Gita” – the religious-cum-philosophical scripture in verse which forms a part of the great Indian Mahabharata epic and is one of the most famous texts of the ancient Hindu literature. That book first appeared in Russia in the Russian language in the year 1788 and has been published after that time and again on different occasions and in various translations.

Being considered by the court of Tomsk for the purposes of deciding on its inclusion into the list of extremist materials is, and I would like to emphasize it, the edition of the book “Bhagawad Gita As It Is” which was written back in 1968 by the founder of International Society of Krishna Consciousness A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. The work is an author’s version of the original’s translation from Sanskrit into English. The book was translated into Russian in 1984.

As it is clear from materials available, what caused the resentment of the law enforcing authorities is not much the text of the book itself, though its double translation is rich with distortions of the substance, as the author’s comments, which have been taken as covered by Article 13 of the Russian Federation’s Federal Law on “Countering extremist materials”.

This fact was specially noted by the Indian Foreign Minister S.M.Krishna who made a special statement on the subject on December 20, 2011.

The court’s judgment in Tomsk was expected on December 19, however, its seating was postponed (as it stands now – for December 28). Apparently, one should wait for the court’s verdict. May I repeat that it is not the issue of the book itself, but rather of its unfortunate clumsy translation and the author’s introduction”.