Krishna Movement “Not Normal” — Russian Rabbi

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One of Russia’s chief rabbis, Adolf Shayevich, has suggested the Russian office of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness build its temple on the Chukotka or Yamal Peninsula instead of in Moscow, Interfax reported Friday. The rabbi called the movement “mercantile” and “not normal” and at odds with the Russian tradition. He said he was concerned the society was “making Russians forget their roots and the country’s religion”.

Shayevich spoke following a presentation of a new design of a 38.5-meter-high Krishna temple, which is equivalent to a six-storey building. “Why should a Hindu temple be higher than most Orthodox churches in an Orthodox country?” the rabbi asked.

“Russia does not have enough followers of this organization to build such a gigantic temple. But if Krishna followers need such large buildings, they can build them on the Chukotka or Yamal Peninsula or somewhere else. There are a lot of places in the country,” the rabbi told Interfax.

“A Krishna temple in Moscow does not need to resemble a sports complex in size. A good clean room is enough to pray,” he said.

The rabbi said that the project pursued by the Society for Krishna Consciousness will provoke a negative reaction not only from religious people, but also from many Muscovites.

“If there are Krishna followers, let them pray, but everything must have a limit. This is absolutely incomprehensible to me, a tolerant person,” he said.

Shayevich said he is surprised that the Society for Krishna Consciousness is trying to convince Russians to practice its religion. “When young people with an unmistakably Slavic appearance shave their heads like Krishna followers and put on the robes of Hindu ascetics, it looks artificial to other people. Why should such things appear today if nothing of this nature has ever been on Russian soil?” he said.

“Long years of atheism cut the ground from under our feet and resulted in our losing our national (in a good sense of the word) roots. This concerns all nationalities: Russians, Jews, Tatars. And many people who have a poor understanding of their native culture and roots easily switch between Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Krishna followers also have something to offer them,” Shayevich said.

“This is all not serious. This is mercantile. There is no strong faith behind it,” he said. “The Society for Krishna Consciousness has taken advantage of the tragedy Russia faced in the 20th century to bring more people into its ranks,” the rabbi said.

This is not the first time the Hare Krishna temple has met with protest. As MosNews reported last month, on March 22 about a thousand people, most of them Orthodox Christians, gathered on Pushkin Square to protest against the building.

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Apr. 2, 2004

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This post was last updated: Monday, November 30, -0001 at 12:00 AM, Central European Time (CET)