Gita case: Russian court reserves verdict

Moscow: A Russian court today reserved its verdict till tomorrow on the ban on a translated version of the Bhagvad Gita for being "extremist", a case that drew a flurry of criticism from Hindus across the world. "The case has been postponed till tomorrow. The final verdict will be given tomorrow," Sadhu Priya Das of Moscow ISKCON told PTI.

State prosecutors in the Siberian city of Tomsk, who had filed the petition, have branded the text as "extremist" literature full of hatred and insult to non-believers, which promoted social discord. Das said the ISKCON members are hopeful of a favourable verdict. "However we can`t say anything. We have a very strong legal team and our case is strong," he said.

Brajendra Nandan, director ISKCON media communication in India, said, "The hearing lasted for 15 minutes and and the court would take up the matter tomorrow." On December 28, a court in the Siberian city of Tomsk had rejected a petition seeking a ban on the translated version of Bhagvad Gita, a verdict which was welcomed by India as a "sensible resolution of a sensitive issue". Tomsk Region Prosecutor General Vasily Voikin has now demanded that "a Russian translation of a comment in this book, earlier published in English, be banned as extremist, not the canonical text of the scripture."

The original petition seeking a ban on the translated version of the holy scripture was filed in June 2011 and the trial prompted sharp reactions from across the world. External Affairs Minister S M Krishna had asked the Russian government to help resolve the issue quickly. Bhagavat Gita was first published in Russia in 1788 and since then it has been republished many times in various translations. The controversial Russian translation of "Bhagavad Gita: As It Is" was carried out by founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) A C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. The book was translated into more than 60 languages.