|World Hindus furious as Russian Archbishop calls Lord Krishna an ‘evil demon ‘
Hindus all over the world have expressed outrage and anger after a leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Archbishop Nikon called the Hindu God, Lord Krishna an ‘evil demon’ around the time of Indian Prime Minister’s state visit to Moscow to meet Russian President Putin.
In a letter to the Mayor of Moscow Yuri Luzhkov, wired by Interfax news agency on November 30, Archbishop of the Russian Orthodox Church Nikon called Lord Krishna “an evil demon, the personified power of hell opposing God”, and “a livid lascivious youth”.
The Archbishop further requested the Mayor to ban construction of a proposed Hindu temple in Moscow saying it would otherwise become “an idolatrous disgrace erected for the glory of wicked and malicious ‘god’ Krishna”.
“Construction of the temple to Krishna offends our religious feelings and insults the thousand-year religious culture of Russia,” Interfax quoted Archbishop Nikon as saying.
“We cannot believe that in this age of respect and multi-cultural co-existence, a leader of the Russian Church chooses to make statements that are intolerant and disrespectful to one billion Hindus in the world,” said Kishore Ruparelia, speaking on behalf of the Defend Russian Hindus Campaign launched in London last week.
“The motives for spreading such hatred are clear – it is an attempt to discriminate and harass the Hindu community in Russia and stop them from building a temple,” explained Ramesh Kallidai, secretary general of the Hindu Forum of Britain. “It is unbelievable that a leader of such a powerful Church can make such disgraceful and dogmatic attempts to instigate tension between different religions. This is completely against all principles of multi-faith co-existence and cooperation that ancient and inclusive religious traditions like Hinduism stand for.”
“The statement by Archbishop Nikon of the Russian Orthodox Church has hurt the sentiments of millions of Hindus worldwide,” commented O P Sharma, President of the National Council of Hindu Temples UK. “It is an insult to the tradition of tolerance, peace and inclusivity that Hinduism stands for, and highlights the resentment that dogmatic and exclusive views on religion can generate.”
President of the Association of Indians in Russia Sanjeet K. Jha said, “For centuries faith in Lord Krishna has been the very foundation of the Indian tradition of tolerance and respect for all religions and for all life. Therefore the shower of offences that Archbishop Nikon decided to publicly pour on Lord Krishna caused us intolerable pain and evoked bitterness and indignation in our hearts.”
According to several Moscow-based Indians, the discriminatory move by the Moscow government, the harassment of Indians by Russian ultra-nationalistic groups, inspired by open hostility of some Church leaders towards Hinduism, is making Russia a less than appealing place for Indians to live.
“Hindus are one of the world’s most peaceful communities,” commented Dr Girdhari Bhan, President of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad UK. “In most countries of the world, the Hindu diaspora is law-abiding, integrated and productive. Archbishop Nikon should have considered the peaceful history of Hinduism before making such atrocious statements that will surely be rejected by people of common sense and dignity.”
“It is difficult to understand why a Hindu temple poses a threat to the Russian Orthodox Church in this day of respect and tolerance,” added Ramesh Kallidai. “The only Hindu temple in Moscow had been demolished last year, leaving some 15,000 Indians and 10,000 Russian followers of Hinduism without a place of worship. Now the Mayor of Moscow and the Russian Orthodox Church are together trying to stop Hindus from having a place of their own.”
According to Mr. Jha, In January 2004, the Mayor of Moscow Mr.Luzhkov signed a decree allocating land in northwest Moscow for construction of a new temple in place of the demolished one. This was followed by mass protests orchestrated by the Russian Orthodox Church against the building of the temple. In October 2005 the Mayor repealed the decree and gave the order to remove a temporary Hindu shrine that devotees had erected from the allocated land.
“Now, the Russian Hindu community in Moscow have no place to house the consecrated Deities they had worshipped for the last decade,” claimed Dr Mihir Meghani, President of the Hindu American Foundation. “This is a pity because this was the only Hindu temple in Moscow serving the spiritual and cultural needs of thousands of Hindus in Russia, and now they are left without any place to worship.”
According to Mr. Jha, the statement by Archbishop Nikon just adds to the exasperation felt by Indian community in Moscow in regard to the razed temple. “With the old temple demolished and the new temple project thwarted at the very root, thousands of Indians living in Moscow feel utterly disappointed,” he added.
The Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had discussed this matter with President Putin during his recent visit to Moscow. Putin has agreed to meet the Mayor of Moscow next week to find out more about the issue.
On behalf of all the Hindu community in Australia, the Chair of the Hindu Council of Australia, Dr Balasubramaniam said, “I strongly condemn the outrageous and shameful behaviour of the Archbishop of the Russian Orthodox Church in denigrating the oldest religion in the world and depriving the peace-loving Hindus of Russia their right to practice their religion. Hindus have always respected all religions. India, which has a majority Hindu population, has always been a friendly country to Russia. It is only proper that the sentiments of a trusted friend and ally are respected. We appeal to the Russian President Putin to intervene and stop this kind of outrageous behaviour against the peace-loving Hindus of Russia. The international communities are monitoring the situation closely.”
Posted by Kurma on 13/12/05; 8:54:51 AM