Ban on Bhagavad Gita An Anti-Hindu Propaganda
It is a matter of great concern and condemnation that a patently absurd court case in Siberian city of Tomsk, Russia, is seeking to ban a version of one of Hinduism’s most important and sacred texts, the Bhagavad Gita. The case filed by state prosecutors claims that a renowned translation of the text, titled Bhagavad Gita As It Is, is “extremist literature” and should join on a list of banned books. Against this backdrop, the lawsuit is the work of ignorant and misdirected or motivated individuals and an attack on a religious text that defines the very soul of our great civilisation. A little city Tomsk would have been wiped off the global map, but for its university and famous polytechnic, besides its Word War-II era industrial production. Now, this city has come into the limelight, though for bad reasons, and we should treat this matter very seriously. It is noteworthy that Bhagavad Gita As It Is—first published in 1968—is a translation of and commentary on the original text by Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the international Hare Krishna movement, ISKCON, and before this case no one has raised a voice of dissent against it. In fact, ISKCON members have linked the court case with Russian Orthodox Church, which they claim wants to limit their activities in Russia. However, it is noteworthy that Sri Krishna’s message in the Bhagavad Gita is the perfect answer to the modern age, and any age. The entire knowledge of the cosmos is packed into the Gita. Supremely profound, yet couched in revelatory language of solacing beauty and simplicity, the Gita has been understood and applied to all levels of human endeavour and spiritual striving—sheltering a vast spectrum of human beings with their disparate natures and needs. Wherever one is on the way back to God, the Gita will shed its light on that segment of the journey. The Gita is generally conceded to predate the Christian era. The testimony to the Mahabharata itself is that the Kurukshetra war took place toward the end of Dwapara Yuga, when the world was on the verge of descending into the Dark Age or Kali Yuga. The Gita’s wisdom is not for dry intellectualists to perform mental gymnastics with its sayings for the entertainment of dogmatists; but rather to show a man or woman living in the world, householder or renunciant, how to live a balanced life that includes the actual contact of God, by following the step-by-step methods of yoga. In fact, the principles taught in the Bhagvad Gita are universal and touch humanity so very deeply that Albert Einstein, Swami Vivekananda, Swami Chinmayananda, Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda, Lokmanya Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi, KM Munshi and many respected erudite people have revered and preached the Bhagavad Gita globally and nationally, which is followed by millions of devotees. So much so that Gandhiji wrote, “When disappointment stares me in the face, and all alone I see not one ray of light, I go back to the Bhagavad Gita. I find a verse here and a verse there, and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming tragedies…and my life has been full of tragedies. If they left no visible scar on me, I owe it all to the Gita.”
What is quite perturbing is Government of India’s studied silence on this issue for such a long time as even during the visit of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to Russia last week, there was a mute silence on his part on this issue hurting majority Hindus and global devotees of Lord Krishna immensely. What an irony that last week I mentioned in this column that the UPA government warned those social networking sites to remove all such content or face action, which could hurt the sentiments of a particular religious community. But recently a page was created by some miscreants on Facebook on which Hindu Gods and Goddesses are denigrated in the most malicious manner. But in this regard, the government kept mum. It is worth mentioning that Russia itself is fighting jehadi terror day in day out from Chechnya and yet can it term jehadis’ religious scripture, and not the Bhagavad Gita, a terror book? The problem with this government is that when religious sentiments of majority people are hurt, it never accepts it as a legitimate demand to take action against those who hurt the sentiments. It is highly unfortunate to note that so far Hindus have reacted softly on core issues which affect the sentiments of majority community. The authorities have always been under pressure and guided by the principle of minority appeasement and influenced by a myriad of writ petitions by few anti-Hindu NGOs which only serves the purpose of anti-national elements. Unless Hindu society comes forward to formulate a strong response on the issues affecting it, the authorities will continue to treat Hindus casually without attempting to consider their core issues with the required seriousness and sincerity. Finally, I would like to say that in true sense, secularism means being neutral to all religions. We have plenty of Christian convent schools and madrasas in India, teaching their religions’ philosophy, but we don’t have a single school teaching Hindu philosophy. One solution to resolve the problem is to allow teaching of Hindu philosophy, i.e. Bhagavad Gita in regular schools, so that children will benefit from the universal-accepted preachings of the Bhagavad Gita and in future bring great honour to this country.