Hinduism in Russia

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Early 19th century engraving depicting Hindu temple in Astrakhan, Russia.
A Russian Hindu girl.
Hare Krishna devotees distributing free vegetarian meals.

Hinduism has been spread in Russia primarily due to the work of missionaries from the religious organization International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) and by itinerant Swamis from India and small communities of Indian immigrants. While ISKCON and Brahma Kumari appear to have a relatively strong following in Russia, the other organizations in the list have a marginal presence in this country. There is an active Tantra Sangha operating in Russia. According to a 2010 religious census, there are 140,000 Hindus in Russia, which account for 0.1% population of Russia.[1]

Hindu denominations in Russia[edit]

Russian Hindus celebrating Rath Yatra.
Russian Hare Krishna devotees on Harinam.


As of December 2005, the Federal Registration Service recorded the number of registered 84 Hindu groups listing Hindu group and Hindu groups with particular orientation on Krishnaism.[2] These are the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Sri Chaitanya Gaudiya Math, International Pure Bhakti Yoga Society, and others.


The followers of Shaivism in Russia Naths, and Lingayats (Veerashaiva).[3]


Hindu reform movements which have presence in Russia are the Brahma Kumaris, Ramakrishna Mission, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Divine Life Society, Self-Realization Fellowship, Sri Ramana Ashram, Ananda Marga, Sahaja Yoga, Sri Chinmoy Centre, Sathya Sai Baba movement, the organizations associated with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Haidakhan Babaji, and others. So, Brahma Kumaris has 20 centres, Ramakrishna Mission has one centre, Ananda Marga]] has a centre in Barnaul, Tantra Sangha has one registered branch is in Moscow and another in Nizhniy Novgorod was officially recognized in 1993.[2]

Slavic Vedism[edit]

Slavic Vedism, Slavic Hinduism, or Neo-Vedism or simply Vedism[4][5] are terms used to describe the contemporary indigenous development of Vedic forms of religion in Russia, Siberia, other Slavic countries, the Commonwealth of Independent States' members and generally all the post-Soviet states.

Slavic Vedism involves the use of Vedic rituals and worship of ancient Vedic deities, distinguishing from other groups which have maintained a stronger bond with modern Indian Hinduism, although Krishnaite groups often identify themselves as "Vedic" too. Also some syncretic groups within Rodnovery (Slavic Neopaganism) use the term "Vedism"[6][7] and worship Vedic gods, but mainstream Rodnovery is characterised by its use of indigenous Slavic rituals and Slavic names for the gods.


Hinduism in Russia (Arena Atlas 2012).png

Hinduism in Russia was practised by 140,000 people, or 0.1% of the total population, in 2012. It constitutes 2% of the population in the Altai Republic, 0.5% in Samara Oblast, 0.4% in Khakassia, Kalmykia, Bryansk Oblast, Kamchatka, Kurgan Oblast, Tyumen Oblast, Chelyabinsk Oblast, 0.3% in Sverdlovsk Oblast, 0.2% to 0.3% in Yamalia, Krasnodar Krai, Stavropol Krai, Rostov Oblast, Sakhalin Oblast, and 0.1% to 0.2% in other federal subjects.[8]


Hare Krishna devotee with books.

Building of a Hindu temple in Moscow[edit]

The Russian government is consistently opposing the building of a Krishna temple in Russia. A temporary temple was made in 2003, which the authorities asked devotees to vacate their temple in exchange for a piece of land on which they could build a bigger temple.[9] Finally, in November 2005, the Mayor of Moscow canceled the land order and took away the piece of land given for the construction of the Hindu temple.[citation needed] When the Hindu temple situated near the Begovaya metro station (in the centre of Moscow) was demolished in 2004, the Moscow government allotted land for construction of a new temple at the Leningradsky Prospekt (north of Moscow). This land was subsequently taken away.[10] In 2006, the Moscow government promised to build a temple in the Molzhaninovo district (10 km from the Moscow ring road) as part of the joint declaration signed by the Moscow and New Delhi governments. A Russian Orthodox Church has since been built in Delhi.[10] On January 14, 2006, Mayor of London Ken Livingstone handed over letters expressing concern about the harassment of Russian Hindus by the Moscow government and the Russian Orthodox Church to the visiting Mayor of Moscow Yuri Luzhkov in London,[citation needed] even as British Parliamentarians led by MP Ashok Kumar Das got ready to host the launch of the Defend Russian Hindus campaign at the House of Commons on 18 January of the same year. Later Shiela Dixit, the Chief Minister of Delhi, prominently raised the issue during her visit to Moscow. Many intellectuals have expressed concerns at the discrimination being committed by Russians given the tolerance to Christians in India.[11] A joint statement was passed by Indian parliament which denounced the persecution of Russian Hindus. "Our temple is the only place to fulfil not only the religious, but also the cultural and social needs of Indians, Sri Lankans, Bangladeshis, Mauritians and Nepalese", Priya Das, an ISKCON representative said. "This also helps their children to keep in touch with their culture and religion."

Demolition of Divya Loka monastery in Nizhny Novgorod[edit]

In August 2016 the Divya Loka monastery, a Vedic Hindu monastery founded in 2001 in Nizhny Novgorod, was destroyed for unclear reasons and many other religious institutions face the same threat.[12]

Anti-cult activists against Hinduism[edit]

It has been reported that the well-known anti-cult activist Alexander Dvorkin has been driving a campaign against Hinduism in Russia.[13]

Banning of Yoga[edit]

Many places in Russia bans yoga claiming it as an evil religious cult that may cultivate the notion of terrorism.[14]

Officials in Central Russia Have Banned Yoga claiming that it's too much like a religious cult.In 2015, two studios in the central city of Nizhnevartovsk named The Aura and Ingara studios have reportedly been sent letters by local authorities asking them to stop hosting yoga classes being taught in municipal buildings.Both studios conduct classes of Hatha yoga.Hindu tradition believes that Hatha yoga was founded by Shiva, one of the main deities of Hinduism[15][16].In 2017, a yoga teacher in St Petersburg, Russia has been charged with illegal missionary activity under a controversial new law designed to fight terrorism.[17]

Prominent Russian Hindus[edit]

  • Yekaterina Lisina, Russian Basket Ball player who competed for the Russian National Team at the 2008 Summer Olympics

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Arena - Atlas of Religions and Nationalities in Russia. Sreda.org
  2. ^ a b "Russia, International Religious Freedom Report 2006". US Gov. Retrieved 2008-11-01.
  3. ^ Online "The Reference Book on All Religious Branches and Communities in Russia" by Dr. Igor Popov. Hinduism.
  4. ^ Michael F. Strmiska. Modern Paganism in World Cultures. ABC-CLIO, 2005. p. 222: «In addition to Ukrainian Paganism, Russian and Pan-Slavic varieties of Paganism and "Slavic Vedism" can also be found in Ukraine».
  5. ^ Portal "Religion and Law". Монастырь «Собрание тайн» или «Дивья лока»: второе пришествие индуизма в России? Archived 2013-06-02 at the Wayback Machine.. 2013-04-30
  6. ^ Robert A. Saunders, Vlad Strukov. Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, 2010. p. 412
  7. ^ Kaarina Aitamurto. Russian Rodnoverie: Negotiating Individual Traditionalism. Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, 2007.
  8. ^ "Арена: Атлас религий и национальностей" [Arena: Atlas of Religions and Nationalities] (PDF). Среда (Sreda). 2012. See also the results' main interactive mapping and the static mappings: "Religions in Russia by federal subject" (Map). Ogonek. 34 (5243). 27 August 2012. Archived from the original on 21 April 2017. The Sreda Arena Atlas was realised in cooperation with the All-Russia Population Census 2010 (Всероссийской переписи населения 2010) and the Russian Ministry of Justice (Минюста РФ).
  9. ^ "RDN Article: Hindu Organizations Launch "Defend Russian Hindus" Website (Russia, International)". www.pluralism.org. Retrieved 2008-11-01.
  10. ^ a b http://in.rbth.com/news/2013/07/30/moscow_may_lose_its_sole_hare_krishna_temple_27771.html[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/krishna-yet-to-win-russian-hearts/article5151000.ece
  12. ^ Sibireva, Olga; Verkhovsky, Alexander (10 May 2017). "Freedom of Conscience in Russia: Restrictions and Challenges in 2016". SOVA - Center for Information and Analysis. Archived from the original on 15 January 2018.
  13. ^ Shri Prakash Dham (6 March 2017). "Russian MP Supports Hindus in Russia against Alexander Dworkin". Business Wire India. Archived from the original on 9 March 2017.
  14. ^ https://www.bookyogaretreats.com/news/yoga-ban
  15. ^ https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/russia-bans-yoga-as-part-of-crackdown-on-religious-cults-10355676.html
  16. ^ http://time.com/3942725/russian-yoga-ban-religious-cults-nizhnevartovsk/
  17. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/12/russian-yoga-fans-alarmed-at-arrest-of-teacher-under-new-law

External links[edit]