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Saturday, August 2nd, 2003

Ankara, Turkey

Yoga and Meditation

Segue into Krishna consciousness

Turkey is an almost exclusively Muslim country, so our Krishna consciousness mission here, under the guidance of Sripad Ramaray Prabhu, is low key: instead of a temple, we have a yoga center.

Ramaray Prabhu, who came to Turkey from Iran in 1985, first began by giving hatha-yoga classes in schoolrooms and sports centers. Later he introduced meditation classes, and for the few select students who wanted to know more, he introduced Bhagavad Gita lessons.

After taking initiation from Srila Gurudeva in 1996, Ramaray Prabhu established the Sri Govinda Math Yoga Merkezi (Center) here in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, where he teaches regular hatha-yoga, meditation, and Bhagavad Gita classes.

Hatha yoga — the practice of postures and breathing exercises for achieving purification and sense control — and meditation are viewed as being fairly innocuous. Regular people attend the yoga classes for their health, and the meditation classes to cope with stress.

These edifying yoga classes segue into meditation, and meditation is the nexus between hatha-yoga and Bhagavad Gita. Meditation on whom? Why, Krishna, of course. And who is Krishna? Here — read Bhagavad Gita.

Most of the devotees here, like Anat Bandhu Prabhu and Vinodanandini Devi Dasi, began by coming to the hatha-yoga classes. Some, like Vishaka Devi Dasi who took initiation last week, have been coming for ten years.

From hatha-yoga to bhakti yoga — from yoga to yogesvara. This is a proven strategy that worked in the old U.S.S.R., and it works here.

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