Ban on Gita: Little case for interference by India
You can’t know what Gita is about until you read it yourself. Going by the number of times I have gone through it in search of peace, there is nothing, which can explain this world, our actions, difference between right and wrong and how to be happy eternally as precisely as Gita does. For people of our generation who have no clue about the real purpose of life, Gita is the best way to attain stability and awareness of oneself. Thus a case in distant Russia’s Siberian city of Tomsk seeking a ban on Gita citing it as ‘extremist’ comes as a shock. One of the most revered out of many scriptures of Hinduism-Gita is facing a ban in Russia but to correctly put it, its not Shrimad Bhagvad Gita in its purest form as we know it but a translation and commentary by ISKCON’s founder AC Bhaktived Swami Prabhupada of the holy book which is under court’s scrutiny due to a case filed by public prosecutor’s office in Tomsk.The case in question and looming threat of ban has got the whole India talking with Sushma Swaraj, leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha going to the extent of seeking to declare Gita as India’s national book and an unusually responsive external affairs minister SM Krishna assuring that India would take up the matter at the highest level. It is one thing to be offended by a ban on one’s religious scripture and totally another to be so cacophonic about it! In the spirit of impressing the religious community in ‘majority’ in India, they have really thrown norms of international relations out of the window. First thing firsts, it is not advisable for India to interfere in a sovereign nation’s internal judicial process. India itself as a secular country should not try to be seen as a country taking up case of a religious community. And miss Swaraj, declare Gita national book? Whatever happened to other religions, which deserve equal footing going by the holiest book-constitution? Government does not have any stake here. It would be so much advisable to explain Hindus back home that India cannot interfere in a nation’s judicial proceedings. All that it can do is let protests happen, which anyway are a guarantee by our constitution. Another reason due to which interference does not make sense is that the case is against a particular translation and commentary and not against the holy book per se and case is motivated by The Russian Orthodox Church’s objection to the growing ISKCON activities in Eastern Europe. On many issues earlier they have come at loggerheads. Why the government should interfere in such a heavily messed up religious issue especially when ISKCON’s activities are increasingly getting suspicious. While one thing is amply clear that this controversy has for sure led people to refer Gita which is a good thing in these trying times and ban or no ban, books which make life meaningful, religious or not religious are always sought after and popularly read.