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Pussy Riot

 Photo from Die Antwoord

‘Three members of the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot are facing two years in a prison colony after they were found guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, in a case seen as the first salvo in Vladimir Putin‘s crackdown on opposition to his rule… The three women were arrested in March after performing an anti-Putin “punk prayer” inside Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour… On Friday night, the Russian Orthodox church repeated its criticism of the band’s “blasphemous” protest, which it said displayed “crude hostility towards millions of people” but called on state authorities “to show mercy to the people convicted within the framework of the law, in the hope that they will refrain from repeating blasphemous actions”.’ (Guardian)

The Buddhist response to Pussy Riot is quite straightforward, isn’t it? As Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse says in ‘What Makes You Not a Buddhist’, “there is no such thing as an “infidel” or a “blasphemer” in Buddhism because there is no one to be faithful to, to insult, or to doubt.” My own teacher, Sangharakshita, is equally clear: “Since in Buddhism there is no place for the notion of God, it follows not only that for Buddhism blasphemy does not exist but that for Buddhists the very concept of blasphemy, and therewith of an offence of blasphemy, is meaningless.’

Show Pussy Riot your support – leave a message through Amnesty International here.

9 Responses to “Pussy Riot”

  1. Vishvapani says:

    Yes, but … they mixed a political protest with performing in a religious space. Their stance would be clearer if they had either (a) performed their song outside the Duma – that would make it a political protest; or (b) performed an anti-clerical song inside the Cathedral – that would make it blasphemy.
    As it is, it seems that they set out to offend religious people, not because they had a religious point to make (there was no actual blasphemy involved) but because the hurt feelings of Church people meant their political protest would gain attention. I sympathise with them because, underneath, there is an issue of freedom of speech, but they had no need to offend Christians in the process. T

  2. Manjusiha says:

    Thanks for the comment Vishvapani. The Guardian said “Pussy Riot had two points to make, both of them valid: that the Orthodox Church provides intellectual and religious cover for Mr Putin’s increasingly messianic political brand; and that this man is driving Russia straight up a cul de sac.”

    And it’s interesting to read their closing statement: http://boingboing.net/2012/08/11/pussy-riots-closing-statemen.html

    “The fact that Christ the Savior Cathedral had become a significant symbol in the political strategy of our powers that be was already clear to many thinking people when Vladimir Putin’s former [KGB] colleague Kirill Gundyaev took over as head of the Russian Orthodox Church. After this happened, Christ the Savior Cathedral began to be used openly as a flashy setting for the politics of the security services, which are the main source of power [in Russia]…”

    I think that’s the thing I find most interesting about all this – the intersection of religion and politics, during our ‘secular’ age. So I’m not sure the religious and the political are quite as separate as they sometimes appear.

    • J says:

      If one accepts the dictionary definition of politics as “social relations involving authority or power” , then arguably organised religion IS politics and the two are inherently inseperable.

  3. f says:

    re ‘no actual blasphemy involved’

    pussy riot ‘song’

    Punk-Prayer “Virgin Mary, Put Putin Away”

    (choir)

    Virgin Mary, Mother of God, put Putin away
    Рut Putin away, put Putin away

    (end chorus) …
    Black robe, golden epaulettes
    All parishioners crawl to bow
    The phantom of liberty is in heaven
    Gay-pride sent to Siberia in chains

    The head of the KGB, their chief saint,
    Leads protesters to prison under escort
    In order not to offend His Holiness
    Women must give birth and love

    Shit, shit, the Lord’s shit!
    Shit, shit, the Lord’s shit!

    (Chorus)

    Virgin Mary, Mother of God, become a feminist
    Become a feminist, become a feminist

    (end chorus)

    The Church’s praise of rotten dictators
    The cross-bearer procession of black limousines
    A teacher-preacher will meet you at school
    Go to class – bring him money!

    Patriarch Gundyaev believes in Putin
    Bitch, better believe in God instead
    The belt of the Virgin can’t replace mass-meetings
    Mary, Mother of God, is with us in protest!

    (Chorus)

    Virgin Mary, Mother of God, put Putin away
    Рut Putin away, put Putin away

    (end chorus)

    English translation of the lyrics from Pussy Riot’s song as taken from the website Freepussyriot.org.

  4. Vishvapani says:

    Oh, right. Yes, that would be blasphemy.

  5. f says:

    The Russian word “sran” becomes English “crap” in my version, rather than “shit”. This line, particularly offensive for some, has been translated as “shit, shit, the Lord’s shit”. Not only is this ambiguous (it could mean either “the Lord is shit” or “shit from/of the Lord”), it’s inaccurate. Derived from Gospod, meaning Lord, “gospodnaya,” is an adjective. It could be translated as “religious”, though I tried something different. “Crap” has a stronger metaphorical dimension than “shit” and comes a shade closer to “bullshit”. The song is simply saying that all this state-controlled religious stuff is bullshit. It’s interesting that these disgraceful sentiments would have represented, until recently, the official Communist party view of religion.
    so we get
    Punk Prayer, English version by Carol Rumens

    (Chorus)

    Virgin Mary, Mother of God, banish Putin, banish Putin,

    Virgin Mary, Mother of God, banish him, we pray thee!

    Congregations genuflect,

    Black robes brag gilt epaulettes,

    Freedom’s phantom’s gone to heaven,

    Gay Pride’s chained and in detention.

    KGB’s chief saint descends

    To guide the punks to prison vans.

    Don’t upset His Saintship, ladies,

    Stick to making love and babies.

    Crap, crap, this godliness crap!

    Crap, crap, this holiness crap!

    (Chorus)

    Virgin Mary, Mother of God.

    Be a feminist, we pray thee,

    Be a feminist, we pray thee.

    Bless our festering bastard-boss.

    Let black cars parade the Cross.

    The Missionary’s in class for cash.

    Meet him there, and pay his stash.

    Patriarch Gundy believes in Putin.

    Better believe in God, you vermin!

    Fight for rights, forget the rite –

    Join our protest, Holy Virgin.

    (Chorus)

    Virgin Mary, Mother of God, banish Putin, banish Putin,

    Virgin Mary, Mother of God, we pray thee, banish him!

  6. f says:

    To put this event in some context.
    The Moscow cathedral of ‘Christ the Savior’ that pussy riot performed their protest in is regarded by Russian orthodox Christians and many ordinary Russians as a holy of holies.
    It was blown up by Stalin and rebuilt by public subscription.
    A protest outside Lenin’s tomb would have been far more appropriate.

  7. sadek says:

    Pussy Riot isn’t getting out soon if Russian Laws are anything similiar to American laws.

  8. Thomas Palmieri says:

    The Buddhists above who say that there is no such thing as blasphemy in Buddhism are not being entirely truthful. Once when I was younger I went on a tour of a Buddhist monastery, and when I was about to enter the meditation center I was given a non verbal cue that I was expected to remove my bandanna before entering the sacred space. I quickly regretted my foolishness for not recognizing that Buddhists, like all of us, have an inherent sense of the sacred. If there is no ultimate sacred reality that can be offended against by wearing a bandanna, then I would not have been required to remove my anti-authoritarian symbol before entering into the sacred space. I suspect that if Pussy Riot had performed their schtick in a traditional Tibetan monastery, they would have received a sound thrashing as they were being escorted out of the sanctuary. Moreover, The Roman Catholic saint Francis Xavier when discoursing with the Shingon monks of Japan recognized that the Buddhist deity Vairocana represented something of an ontological equivalent for the Christian God. Even if Buddhists don’t formally recognize the concept of God, their understanding of ultimate reality as ‘intrinsic wisdom’ shows that they understand the ultimate nature of existence to be intelligent, though in a transpersonal sense as it were.

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