A spiritual India in Istanbul

British Asia News Network

Smita Sarkar

London: Nrsimha Krishna Das Prabhu, the Governor Body Commission (GBC) Zonal Supervisor of Turkey was only 23 when he first read a book by Srila Prabhupad called “Science of self-realisation.” He was looking for some good reads to improve his English and the teachings of Srila Prabhupad did a lot more than improving his vernacular skills. Nrsimha Prabhu says that the purity of Prabhupad’s teachings transformed his young cmind and turned him into a devotee and guru.

Nrsimha Krishna Das Prabhu’s birthname is Serhat Sen, a Turkish-born Muslim who is the Commercial Director of a giant multinational, world’s fourth largest freight and logistics company, DSV. The 42 year-old successful professional rose to great heights while following the principles of duty and service – teachings that are ingrained deeply in Prabhupad’s devotees.

Nrsimha now devotes all his time beyond office hours to spread the teachings of Krishna and Prabhupad through the Goranga Yoga Centre, that he heads and the Govinda Café, that serves vegetarian prasadam to devotees and all.

Turkey is a secular country, but 99% of the population are Muslims. This poses a challenge for Iskcon and limits many of its activities compared to other countries in the West. But that does not act as a deterrant to the devotees here.

“We do all activities under the Yoga Centre in Istanbul, since Iskcon is not an official entity in Turkey,” said Nrsimha Prabhu. “We do yoga classes, Ayurveda programmes, consultations, teachings, prasadam distribution via the Govinda Café and Bhakti Yoga programmes which includes kirtans, Bhagwad Gita and Srimat Bhagvatam and philosophic classes from other Vedia literatures through the Goranga Yoga Centre.”

Despite the constraints, the centre has over 100 devotees and over 150 Krishna Consciousness friends, that complete their circle.

“I go to Gouranga Yoga centre after office and do my responsibilities, meet devotees and there is a sence of fulfilment and relief. I am lucky I have a beautiful wife who is also practicing Krishna Consciousness and we are able to serve the mission together,” he said.

  

At the inauguration of Govinda Café in Istanbul. Nrsimha Krsna Das Prabhu with his wife Krsna Mala Devi Dasi.

Nrsimha Prabhu’s responsibilities do not end with his work in Istanbul. His senior position as a Commercial Director makes him travel to other cities in Turkey like Ankara, Antalia, Izmir, Busa where he connects his business trips with Bhakti programmes, yoga and kirtan sessions.

   

 

Bhakti Programmes being organised in important cities across Istanbul – Bursa, Izmir, Antalia and Ankara

Nrsimha Das was working when he started following Srila Prabhupad. He accepted Prabhupad’s ideas that one can work outside and offer the results to Krishna. That way you are not affected from what you are doing during the day.

“I always try to connect with Krishna at every step of my life. Its difficult though to do this in the office because you are surrounded by people following materialistic concepts of life. You have to do many things that somethimes disturbs your inner consciousness.”

“I bring prasadam to office. I bring my vegetarian, sacred food to my workplace. I speak to people and preach them according to time, place and circumstances and I am known in the office as a Guru. I share books and philosophy with anyone who is open and asks for information to be shared. It’s an automatic balance,” he said.

Embracing this way of life has been far from easy for the devotee, whose cultural and spiritual roots are entirely different from those set out by Srila Prabhupad.

“Although I was a Muslim, I used to smoke and drink and eating meat was a daily part of my life. So, it was a difficult transition for me when I first read the book. After a few years, I read the book again and I realised that I was able to started thinking about life.”

“I was enquiring about absolute truth. And at one point of time I got the book in my hand again and I saw many pages underlined and came across Prabhupad’s saying : Krishna Consciousness is about loving God. You don’t have to change anything, If you are a Christian, you can be a better Christian, if you are a Muslim you can be a better Muslim – you just need to know how to love God in proper ways.”

“If you practice Krishna Consciousness, you can do that. That was the turning point in my life. I said if I don’t need to change anything, I can start practicing Krishna Consciousness. I started practicing, but didn’t tell anybody.”

He started following a vegetarian diet, quit smoking and was able to give up drinking. He tested himself for about six months, holding back the reasons behind the lifestyle changes from his close friends and family. He told them he was following Yoga and these were the lifestyle changes needed and his parents were very happy when he quit smoking and drinking.

He continues to use his Turkish name Serhat Sen, for all official purposes. His team has translated Srila Prabhipad books in Turkish like Srimat Bhagavatam and Bhagavad Gita, Krishna Consciousness. They broadcast all the kirtans and classes from the Istanbul centre on social media and have conducted more than 15 programmes in Antalia since summer.

So despite the challenges and lack of support, the Iskcon fraternity in Turkey is determined “to grow and have centres in all the big cities in Turkey, because people want to reach us despite the challenges since Krishna is so pure,” concluded Nrsimha Prabhu.

Bhagvad Gita class taken by devotees

 

The Goranga Yoga Centre in Istambul

 

 

The devotees, Bhakti programmes and distribution of vegetarian prasadam

 

 

   

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

Comments

  • Tatiana
    Mon, Jan 7 2019

    Nrisimha Krishna Prabhu is very good leader! We are lucky to have such example of modern person who become successful in all spheres as material and spiritual. His kindness, purity, consciousness, engagement in Krishna service attract more and more people, because it is so rare nowadays to meet person with such qualities... Best wishes to Nrisimha Prabhu, Govinda Cafe, Goranga Yoga Center and all Turkish Yatra! YOu make this world better! This is a big mission. Please accept my humble obeisance.

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