Krishna followers in Moscow

Moscow government decided to allow constructing Temple of Krishna in Hodynskoe Field of Russian capital.
Russian Orthodox believers organized actions of protest at Pushkin Square. They are indignant with the grandiose plans of Krishna followers to construct the highest temple in Russia for 8,000 parishioners in Hodynka Field. “They should be more modest”, says director for the Center of Rehabilitation of Victims of Non-Traditional Religions, preacher Oleg Stenyaev.

NewsInfo. What is your attitude to the decision of Moscow government to grant the lot in Hodynka Field to “Society of Krishna Perception”?

Oleg Stenyaev. As far as I know, the building on Begovaya Street where Krishna followers were previously located (they had their office, temple and school there) is to be closed down. It is fair that the authorities should allow Krishna followers in some other building in exchange. However, Moscow followers of this religion were offered to construct the highest temple in Russia. I think this project is too ambitious and it will irritate everybody. Giant temple is challenging Russian Orthodox community. Many people are indignant.

NewsInfo. How many Krishna followers are there in Moscow? Do they need such a big temple?

Oleg Stenyaev. There are about 300 activists-followers of Krishna who are planning to construct the temple. Moscow Krishna followers community is small because it experienced several splits. The source of funding the temple construction is unknown, the construction can last long and irritate the residents of the neighborhood.

I believe that Moscow government did a bad move. Moscow Krishna followers should also have thought more before signing in for this project. Constructing such a temple is impossible, and this challenges the community. Imagine that in Delhi a giant Russian Orthodox Temple is constructed, higher than any Hinduism temple – it would cause heated debates as well. This is not modest. However, we all should be tolerant in this issue. I would not like the calls against constructing this temple to result in some radical actions. Any person is valuable in the eyes of God. When speaking on different religions, sects and organizations I am always careful not to create the grounds for aggression by my polemics with representatives of other religions. Aggression is a reflection of low instincts, and for this reason I do not agree with the calls to vandalize the future temple. The conflict can be stopped if Moscow government grants Krishna followers some building equivalent to that they had before.

 NewsInfo. In your work for the Center of Rehabilitation of Victims of Non-Traditional Religions, do you deal with Krishna followers?

Oleg Stenyaev. Yes, very often.

NewsInfo. Could you tell more about their traits of character?

Oleg Stenyaev. I am concerned that the after becoming a Krishna follower the person stops bringing use to the society. This person is preoccupied exclusively with his/her own spiritual development, and is indifferent to the interests of family, society, country. The doctrine of “saving oneself” raises questions: the most important thing there is to save oneself, but it ignores one’s family and community. Russian spiritual tradition is different.

Irritated parents of the children who became Krishna followers, frequently visit me, and this makes me think. The parents whose children are pursuing other religion, such as Baptists, Adventists, do not visit me. These sects do not isolate themselves from their community and their relatives. 

NewsInfo. Can the Society for Krishna Perception be called totalitarian sect? Does Krishna followers’ mind undergo influence from outside?

Oleg Stenyaev. I think all depends on one’s personality. I saw children who quickly degraded after becoming Krishna followers. However, I know positive examples as well, when drug addicts stopped taking drugs under influence of Krishna religion. There are different sides in Krishna followers sect.

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Author`s name Evgeniya Petrova