“Whatever has happened has happened for good. Whatever is happening is happening for good and whatever is going to happen, it will be for good.”
- From the Bhagavad Gita
Against this backdrop, the attempt in the Siberian city of Tomsk to get the Bhagavad Gita banned is vague and, I feel, a needless controversy.
I would end up making a fool of myself if I were to say that since I am a Hindu and follow Hinduism, I will file a case seeking a ban on books on other religions or streams of thought. There you go…sounds absurd doesn’t it. Gita preaches tolerance, rationale and helps build a sense of moral sensitivity. If it is a symbol of the triumph of the Good over Evil, then how does it heave up a feeling of extremism or hatred!
The Holy Scripture is not just a compilation of religious instructions, but the basic essence of Hindu philosophy which envelopes the gist of all the mysteries of mankind. It teaches us the way
of life. It gives us strength in times of need, to stand up firm and raise our voice against any injustice. It is harmonious and preaches that God is there in every form and accepts every ‘Sathkarma’ (good deed) for the sake of ‘Dharma’ (upholding righteousness).
The stirring for a ban on Gita in the Siberian city of Tomsk may as well be an outcome of uneasy ties between the ISKCON and Russian Orthodox establishment.
Reports indicate that Victor Fyodotov, the public prosecutor of Tomsk, on the instigation of local church figures, filed a case in a local court to get the book “Bhagavad-Gita, As It Is”, with commentaries by Swami Prabhupada, banned. So, the plea is not to ban Bhagavad Gita, but the one authored by Swami Prabhupada published by “Bhaktivedanta Book Trust”.
Yes, all of us have the sovereignty to reject what doesn’t interest us, but we don’t have the right to ban something just because we are not very happy with an idea. As one’s ‘bad idea’ might be someone else’s ‘good idea’.
What is most disappointing is the bizarrely arcane reaction of the Indian government, which betrays a sense of general dearth of pride when comes to fighting against such instances of disrespect.
What is even more saddening is that while our focus should be to make people understand and clear the air surrounding the issue, some intellectuals are trying to give the whole controversy a different colour altogether. A politics of different hue, I would probably say.
Earlier too, the West’s practice of painting Hindu Gods on objects displeased and offended Hindus across the world. Remember, when the American fast food chain Burger King ran a print ad in Spain, which depicted goddess Lakshmi seated atop a meat sandwich with the catch phrase, “A snack that’s sacred”. Controversies do not end here. Supermodel Heidi Klum dressed up as Goddess Kali for a Halloween party; NBC’s Saturday Night Live showed Lord Ganesha in a sex act and many more such examples.
These instances continue to happen because our government shows little interest in safeguarding our religious sentiments. It’s high time they began to show some sensitivity.
Gita is important and sacred piece of literature that has taught harmony since ages, and it remain as pristine as ever. The Gita teaches tolerance to all humanity and that is the one interpretation which cannot be ruled as ‘extremist’ by any definition. And one that will not change whatever court judgements may say.
(The views expressed by the author are personal)