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The Cow and the Cross: South Asians in Russia and the Russian Christian Orthodox Church

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Abstract

Russia remains the most important successor state of the Soviet Union, while the Soviet Union had as its predecessors: the Russian Empire, the Moscow Rus and the Kyev Rus. Indians constitute a small proportion in the population of present day Russia, but they can claim a history of at least four centuries. In this context the opposition to the construction of a Hare Krishna temple in Moscow rose not due to the Indian origin of the religion, but because of its western interpretation, the missionary activity of the Hare Krishna movement, and those of Russian Orthodox Christian culture. The position of the Russian Orthodox Church towards Hinduism was to allow the Hindus to live their way, but not to allow any religious propaganda in Russia. While cases of conversion of Hindus to Christianity can be explained by economic or matrimonial reasons, the conversion of Russians to Hinduism or a Hinduism-named new religion leads to a conflict between the Indians and the Russian Orthodox Christian Church. Recently the Vedic Center lobbyists obtained approval for its construction near the village of Vereskino, north of Moscow, thus reaching the decision acceptable to the Moscow Patriarchate and for the most vigilant Russian Orthodox activists. For those Indians who came from India and from families with Christian heritage, their numbers in Russia are miniscule. They belong either to the Roman Catholic or Anglican or Methodist Churches. These few Christian Indians remain the most invisible even among the rather invisible Indian community of Russia.

Keywords

  • Russia
  • Russian Orthodox Church
  • Indians
  • Hindus
  • Dispute over temple construction

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Acknowledgements

This research was funded by the Special Projects Office, Special and Extension Programs of the Central European University Foundation (CEUBPF). The thesis explained represents the ideas of the author, and not necessarily the opinion of CEUBPF.

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Correspondence to Igor Kotin .

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Kotin, I. (2015). The Cow and the Cross: South Asians in Russia and the Russian Christian Orthodox Church. In: Brunn, S. (eds) The Changing World Religion Map. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-9376-6_79

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