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Monday, July 21st, 2003

Ankara, Turkey

First Initiations

Seven new initiates accept harinama

Paramahamsa Maharaj and I have been here in Turkey for four days. Our visit has been marked by a series of firsts: our arrival on Friday was the first time that a delegation of Srila Gurudeva's sannyasi disciples has ever visited Turkey; yesterday was the first time that nama-sankirtan was ever performed publicly in any city here. And today is another first: the first time that ritvik initiation is ever given to anybody in this country.

At midday today, Sripad Paramahamsa Maharaj performs seven harinama ritvik initiations on behalf of Srila Govinda Maharaj, initiating Anath Bandhu Prabhu, Anuradha Devi Dasi, Archana Devi Dasi, Janavi Devi Dasi, Krishna Priya Devi Dasi, Parama Bhakti Devi Dasi, and Satya Priya Devi Dasi into the chanting of the holy name.

Anuradha Devi Dasi and Archana Devi Dasi (Rukmini Devi Dasi's daughter) both live north by east of Ankara, in the Black Sea port of Istanbul, and Janavi Devi Dasi lives down on the south coast, in the city of Mersin, a major port on the Mediterranean Sea. They came to Ankara last week to welcome Paramahamsa Maharaj and me, and to get initiated into the family of Krishna.

It cannot be easy in this predominantly Muslim country, but thanks to the pioneering missionary work of Ramaray Prabhu, these sincere souls have understood the ultimate message of Bhagavad Gita, and today they have begun to dedicate their lives exclusively to Krishna (mam ekam), ignoring the taboos and inhibitions proscribed by their families and society (saranam vraja).

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