By Paul Goble
The explosive growth of Protestant congregations in post-Soviet Russia has worried many Russian Orthodox and Russian nationalist observers, but now some of them say that the rise of Protestantism there has slowed eclipsed by the growth of the activities of Eastern religions.
In a commentary today on the Kavkazoved.info portal, Vladislav Gulyevich who writes frequently on religious issues says that the Krishna movement has become especially active not only in the European part of Russia but also in the Caucasus and Siberia” (kavkazoved.info/news/2016/04/11/krishnaizm-protiv-pravoslavija-i-ego-tradiciy.html).
Because the leaders of this movement say that they “are not against Christ” and offer not an alternative religion but “a science about God,” they have attracted many Russian followers. But they have explicitly attacked Russian Orthodoxy and the other traditional Russian religions (Islam and Buddhism) as being out of date.
In fact, Gulyevich says, the Krishna movement’s ideas are unacceptable for those who are part of the Russian cultural tradition. According to him, “a Krishna tradition does not exist in Russia,” although there are cases where parents have passed on Krishna ideas to their children and thus separated them from the Russian nation.
The Krishna tradition in no way connected present-day Russians with their ancestors and the history of their country,” Gulyevich says. And thus, it is objectively working against the spiritual unity of Russia and must be opposed to the extent that it is an organized movement and not simply the choice of particular individuals.
Participants in the Krishna movement have attracted some support, he continues, because they insist that they are peace-loving and have “never attacked anyone … ‘in contrast to your Orthodox Russia.’” But in fact, “Indian battalions participated in the intervention in Soviet Russia in 1919 as part of the British expeditionary corps and in the Anglo-Afghan wars.”