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Saturday, July 02, 2011

Vedic Russia

Hinduism has been spread in Russia primarily due to the work of missionaries from the Vaishnava Hindu organization International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Brahma Kumaris and by itinerant swamis from India. There is an active Tantra Sangha operating in Russia.
According to the Hindu Forum of Britain, there are 60,000 Hindus in Russia, over 10,000 of whom live in Moscow.
Smaller INDIA in Russia: a historical review. More than two and a half centuries,from the 16th up till the 19th, there was a permanent settlement of the Indians in Astrakhan. Astrakhan: following the Indian church-in-town footsteps. "What a mixture of clothes and faces, And tribes, and languages, and states!" (A.S. Pushkin) There're piles of books written about Astrakhan, the most exotic southern city of Russia, being simultaneously its sturgeon, caviar, vegetable and fruit capital. They say, every step of its history is open to public. A story is also told about its legendary birth during Silk way's times. That time one of the threads of that way stretched along Volga from south to north, to the very Normans-Varangians, to Scandinavia... Beginning almost from the first millennium goods were delivered here from India and China. Alexander Duma, who once deliberately came to "look at the queen of the rivers named Volga" touched upon the history of the city and afterwards shared his impressions with the readers of his famous book about Russia. Feasts, of which even the fairy-tale teller of "Thousand and one night" never dreamt, were held on the occasion of the French writer's visit. In the 19th c., just after Astrakhan was attached to Russia, the city became Russian "voorpost" at Kaspy. The role of Astrakhan was especially remarkable as far as nature resources of the Volga's delta were concerned, the last few centuries the task was to take out oil and deliver it. It's interesting that no one but businesslike Astrakhan citizens, brothers Artemiev, were the first to begin pouring oil exactly to the hold of a ship instead of barrels. That happened at the end of the 19th c. That made them the creators of very popular nowadays "tankers"... Anyway there is one very important page in the history of Astrakhan, of which only scientists-orientalists are aware. There is neither a book about it, nor any museum exposition, as well as no thesis has been defended. Such a blank, according to A.S. Pushkin's words, probably appears as a result of our being lazy and non-inquisitive, until there appears "an urge". Presently, we especially need friendly support and cooperation from other countries, consequently, it is time we recalled a wonderful example of the past - the Indian church-in-town or "smaller India" in Astrakhan. That was a name of a permanent Indian settlement, that had been there more than two and a half centuries, from the 16th to the 19th. It was a capital of the "eastern Ganza", the later copy of a European one, but comparable with it as far as activity scales and territory were concerned. It was a peculiar trade-industrial corporation of Indian, Armenian, Greek, Persian, Bokharan and Hivan traders, patronized by Russian government. The church-in-town traders acted not only in Russia, but in India, Persia, Hiva, Bokhara. According to modern terminology, dozens of buildings of the permanent settling possessed every necessary infrastructure for trade and also provided comfortable living for the whole colony in accordance with time... The fact that Indian traders, being the best businessmen in Asia, managed to embrace such a trade territory and create a peculiar transport bridge "Southern Asia - West" seems unbelievable now. That way, which was far from being save, goods, meant for German countries, were carried through. That way they were also carried back to the east. A hard caravan trip from Dely towards Astrakhan took more than three months. The way lay across the rough Kaspian sea, where wretched boats were often turned over. That were exactly the Indians, who, being enterprising and experienced, skillfully implied their business and family relations all through the South and Middle Asia and held all Russian-Indian trade under control for centuries. Most of Persian trade along with Middle-Asian and partly Chinese were included here. A trader from Tula, Emelyan Solodovnikov, rather well wrote about the value of the church-in-town deeds in the 16-19th centuries in his review at the end of the 18th century. In that review, made to comply with the request of Russian government, regarding the creation of the similar project of Russian trade company in India he said:" It is impossible to cherish forlorn hope [A.A.1] on Russian traders to undertake something like that at least in half a century. A far away place, unawareness of foreign customs and ways business is done, the need of gross capital, will always hinder the process." And Indians overcame all those obstacles... To be honest, our Russian commercial and market experience was petty not only that time, when we attracted eastern brain to fill in the trade gaps, but even in the present day we cannot do it well, taking into account our resources, supertechnology, etc.

The beginning of the 90's was the start of the new Russia, and also the start of a new chapter. The Moscow government gave devotees a ruined building unsuitable for inhabitation and commercial usage on rent. In a short time, laboring with love for Lord Krishna, devotees turned that building into the first Hindu temple in Russia. The Moscow Temple became the centre of the spiritual life for the Krishna community of Indian and Russian devotees. Festivals, services, and educational programs were held daily at that temple. Thus the seed of Krishna bhakti planted by Srila Prabhupada sprouted in Russian soil. For fourteen years this building served as a temple, the place where thousands of Russian people received and nurtured faith in God.

However, in 2004 the Moscow government took the building back and destroyed it according to the plan of reconstruction of the city district. Surrounded by growling bulldozers of the "Donstroi" construction giant, it may soon become the very first Hindu temple in the West ever destroyed by authorities. Now again the thousands of the followers of Hinduism in Russia were deprived of a place of worship. Hundreds of churches, cathedrals, mosques, synagogues are there, but not a single temple in the city of ten million people. Seeking the help and support devotees requested different prominent Indian politicians for help. Mr. Atal Bihar Vajpayee, former prime minister of India met with devotees on numerous occasions both in India and Moscow and assured devotees that he will try to convince his Russian colleagues to help ISKCON in Russia.

Ancient Vishnu idol found in Russia  in Staraya (old) Maina village dates back to VII-X century AD by Dr Kozhevin

This News is of January,2007

An ancient Vishnu idol has been found during excavation in an old village in Russia`s Volga region, raising questions about the prevalent view on the origin of ancient Russia.

The idol found in Staraya (old) Maina village dates back to VII-X century AD.

Staraya Maina village in Ulyanovsk region was a highly populated city 1,700 years ago, much older than Kiev, so far believed to be the mother of all Russian cities.

?We may consider it incredible, but we have ground to assert that Middle-Volga region was the original land of Ancient Rus. This is a hypothesis, but a hypothesis, which requires thorough research,? Reader of Ulyanovsk State University?s archaeology department Dr Alexander Kozhevin told state-run television Vesti.

Dr Kozhevin, who has been working in Staraya Maina for last seven years, said that every single square metre of the surroundings of the ancient town situated on the banks of Samara, a tributary of Volga, is studded with antiques.

Prior to unearthing of the Vishnu idol, Dr Kozhevin has already found ancient coins, pendants, rings and fragments of weapons. He believes that today?s Staraya Maina, a town of eight thousand, was ten times more populated in the ancient times. It is from here that people started migrating to the Don and Dneiper rivers around the time ancient Russy built the city of Kiev, now the capital of Ukraine. An international conference is being organised later this year to study the legacy of the ancient village, which can radically change the history of ancient Russia. (FOC)

Russian Swami Finds Forefather's Faith in Sanatana Dharma:

Russian Swami finds His Vedic Root
"We are Russian Saivites," began the unexpected letter to Hinduism Today. "Our purpose is to unite all Russian worshippers of Lord Siva and of the Divine Mother; to translate the sacred text of Saiva Agama into Russian and to spread the nondual message of Siva around Russia." Behind this intriguing organization is Swami Sadasivachariya, who came to Berlin in June to meet our publisher Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami during his recent European tour. The 25-year-old his recent European tour. The 25-year-old swami is from Siberia, "The most beautiful place on earth," he affirms. He was initiated into Saivism by a teacher in Karnataka who was of Virasaiva origin, but did not teach that tradition. From swami's description, his tradition may be related to the Kalamukha or Pashupata sect of Karnataka, the likely predecessors to the Virasaivas. These swamis wear red robes with a black belt, carry a skull bowl, a trident and wear a Siva Linga around their neck (which they worship personally, as do the Virasaivas). His path is called the Rahasya Sampradaya "secret tradition." It teaches three ways to God: Pasu, the easy path, the path of sattva, Lingam and trident, the middle way; Vira, the hero path, tantric, represented by the counterclockwise swastika; and Divya, the divine path of freedom and liberation, represented by the clockwise swastika. Swami follows the first path, Pasu. Our art director and staff reporter, Natarajaswami, conducted this interview in Berlin:

Hinduism Today: Swamiji, how many centers do you have in Russia?

Swami Sadasivachariya: There are fifteen spiritual communities and satsang groups with 250 members in Moscow and other towns, but they are not yet registered officially. Only Moscow center has official recognition. We are followers of Hindu Tantric religion. We are devotees of Lord Siva and Divine Mother, of Saiva and Shakta traditions.

HT: What can you tell us about Hinduism in Russia?

Swami: The Russian soul and character is very specific. Russians as a people are not like westerners, and they are also not like Asians. Rather they are in the middle. After the communist rule in Russia was destroyed, many, many people wanted to return to religion, but not just to the traditional Orthodox Russian Christian church, or another Christian sect. Many people are deeply interested in oriental religions, Hinduism and Buddhism, but mostly Hinduism. The reason is that long ages ago, before Christianity, the ancient Russian religion was also Vedic. For example, the native Russian name of the Supreme Lord is Rod. That in Russian means the same as the Vedic Rudra or Siva. Siva is not only a Hindu Lord but also the ancient Russian Lord, God of our fathers, God of our great land of Russia.

HT: How will Hinduism evolve in Russia?

Swami: In Russia Hinduism will develop with some differences from the orthodox Hinduism in India. As I see it nowadays in Russia, the traditional sects of orthodox Hinduism cannot exist in Russia the same way they do in India, for the tradition of Russia is very specific. You may see in Russia a new branches of Hinduism--Russian Saivism, perhaps. In many ways we are followers of traditional orthodox Hindu Saivism, the tantric form.

HT: What form does your worship take?

Swami: We perform Vedic fire ceremonies under the open sky near rivers and forests according to orthodox Vedic Hindu rites adjusted for the Russian situation. We have in Moscow a small temple devoted to Shakti and Siva Linga worship. We have kirtan and a meditation hall. People come to daily and weekly worship in the temple. There is one person who knows the Vedic system very well. He teaches classes in meditation and yogic exercises. The Indian embassy in Moscow has an Indian cultural center. Sometimes someone comes from the center to teach yoga. In general, our worship is ritualistic. We are performing pujas and doing certain mantras. Many people are learning the Sanskrit language. Sanskrit in Russia is much more popular than other Indian languages like Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, because Sanskrit is mother of all Indo-European languages, of all Aryan people. When I was teaching Russians to sing in Kannada, they protested. Sanskrit is the Vedic language and is also the mother of our Russian language. We would like to know the language of our fathers and the great Vedic rishis.We are using the three principles of tantric worship--yantra, mantra and mudra.

HT: How do people get involved in Hinduism, and how does it influence their life?

Swami: Many people are starting to perform Hindu worship in Russia because they are deep believers in the Lord and true bhaktars. Their way of life becomes more pure, more spiritual. In a short time they become strong vegetarians. They start to do Vedic exercises, practice Ayurvedic medicine and use astrology. Hinduism for Russians is devotional, much more devotional than Christianity can be. Hinduism is a revival and renaissance of the ancient Russian religions that were in Russia before Christianity. I imagine that in a few years Hinduism in Russia will have many more followers than Hinduism in the West.

HT: How has Hinduism changed your life?

Swami: My life? As for my life, I am a simple monk. I don't like to speak about my own person. But as you have asked, I will give you an answer. Since childhood I was deeply religious. But neither Christian religion, nor Judaism, nor Buddhism could give me that spiritual truth that I sincerely searched for. Only in Hindu tantric worship to Lord Siva did I find the religion of my heart and soul. My wishes were fulfilled. I become a devotee of Lord Siva. Then I took sannyas because my devotion to Lord Siva was deep. Hinduism is my religion, but it is not only my religion. Siva is all for me.


The Deccan Herald, dtd 15 December,1972, at its front page gave a news which state that in Elista, capital of Kalmyk in Russia, story relating to Ramayana had been published. The news furthur state that various legends of Ramayana are popular among people of Kalmyk.  Various version of Ramayana are already stored at libraries in Kalmyk. The news clearly state that legends of Ramayana are very popular since time immemorial. Domodin Suren, a Russian writer, has compiled various legends popular among Mongolian and Kalmyk peoples.  Prof C F Glostunky‘s manuscript ‘Academy of sciences’ is stored at Siberian Branch of erstwhile U S S R. That book deals with various legends popular along the coast of Volga river. This manuscript is in Kalmyk language. In Leningrad also various books dealing with stories of Ramayana in Russian and Mangolian languages are preserved.


  1. Really nice post thanks for sharing this great information.
    both india & russia are best friends in world history & we hope that this relation must continue so that we together can develop a great future for our nations.

    India And Russia will always be friends. These two countries are inseparable.

    keep updating us with such information.

  2. well done and this is a nice effort from our side to restablish Hinduism. good job keep it up.

    Here is my article on hinduism as well, feel free to read it or share it on your blog

    drake brake

  3. why people wants to destroy hindu culture,hindu temples,hindu traditions and hindus itself?

    Hindus never tried to destroy any culture. In fact hindu protects other civilization and religions.

    what kind of message other religions are trying to spread by doing such activities and why?

    A Hindu

  4. Hindu religion says:
    You shoudl respect all religions...

    This world, small village, made by God...

    Plz dont divide by coutries and religions...