Artwork by Bhakta Brian B.
By Bhakti-lata Dasi
Very often, the only link an inmate has with the outside world is his correspondence with the IPM devotees. Some are fortunate enough to have supportive family or friends, but most are not. I am realizing more and more how important the relationship the inmates develop with their devotee pen pal(s) is for them.
A few weeks ago I received a letter from inmate Bhakta Terry H. from Bessemer, Alabama. He is new to Krsna consciousness. Terry is in solitary confinement, which means that he stays in a small, one-man cell 23 hours a day, without any contact with anyone, and is taken out for only 1 hour every day, for a shower and a walk outside. Moreover, untypically, he is not allowed any books at all. Terry first wrote to ask if someone could print the entire Bhagavad-gita, as he is allowed to receive printed material. I am sending him a few chapters at a time and he is diligently and systematically reading them.
Here is part of Terryâ€™s letter:
â€śI was very happy to receive a letter from you. I thought no one would care to answer me back. I thank you so very much for printing and sending me the Bhagavad-gita. Please never think or feel as though you are doing this for nothing, because Lord Krishna knows you are not. Words cannot even express my gratitude for how you answered one of my prayers.
I have to let you know that your kindness touched my heart and really made me more strongly interested in the Krishna consciousness movement. I want this to be my life and religion until I leave this body. Iâ€™m not all that advanced in the Bhagavad-gita or anything else containing Krishna consciousness the way I used to think I was.
I need to learn the Bhagavad-gita because it is the words of my God Krishna. I realize that my consciousness is contaminated and for this purpose the Bhagavad-gita was spoken for all beings like me who want to know their real constitutional position in life.â€ť
â€śAfter reading and meditating on â€śSetting the Sceneâ€ť and also Chapter One, what I got was true knowledge that shed some light into this deep, dark ignorance Iâ€™ve been raised up and living in. I am suffering and full of anxieties because of my being conditioned.
For so long Iâ€™ve been struggling to trust and believe in a God that understands and exists. My family raised me up in Christianity but I cannot believe that our material forms will resurrect from the graves on the Last Day. But I have no problem believing in my soul taking on other forms. And a planet where Krishna lives I can believe. My understanding is not that advanced but I am a fast learner.
I am in a contaminated state. So Iâ€™m going to have to take the Battlefield of Kuruksetra to be the Battle between my contaminated soul and pure consciousness. Listening to Krishnaâ€™s teaching will give me the correct weapons and armor to fight this spiritual warfare within. I have a long way to go with this battle. I am now ready to study chapter 2.
I am not allowed japa beads but I still chant. I use all the spaces between the lines on my fingers and thumbs. I plan to increase my chanting. For now I have been doing 8 rounds a day. â€ś
In another letter Terry writes,
â€śThank you so very much for sending me chapter 2. I received it on Friday and so I read the whole thing the whole week-end and meditated on it as well.
Lord Krishna has shown me in chapter 2 that the symptom of the soulâ€™s presence is consciousness. I understand now also that I cannot be desireless or senseless but I do have to change the quality of my desires.
I love the pictures of Krsna you send me. I hang them on the walls in my cell. Iâ€™m able to wake up and see my Lord the first thing in the morning and all through the day. This is good for my consciousness. Krsna consciousness. I am now ready to read chapter 3.Thank you.â€ť
This is just a drop of the nectar shared bi-monthly by IPM in an electronic newsletter, IPM NEWS. If you desire to read all the nectar, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with “Subscribe” in the subject line.
You can also go to our website: www.iskconprisonministry.org
WE CANâ€™T DO IT WITHOUT YOU!
This prison ministry is a tight cooperation between volunteers and donors to share Prabhupadaâ€™s matchless gift with the inmates. This amazing teamwork makes is possible for hundreds of inmates to receive Lord Caitanyaâ€™s mercy!
Bead bags, counter beads, and neck beads
We also need the following book titles:
Chant and Be Happy
Nectar of Instruction
Science of Self-Realization (softbound)
Life Comes from Life
Lastly, we have a $161.00 expense coming up for office supplies (envelopes, paper, toner)
Here are a few other ways you can serve the prison ministry:
become a transcendental pen-pal for one or more inmates.
(We always need more devotees to correspond with inmates. To be successful in this endeavor, you need to be motivated, to feel truly inspired by this service, and you need to like/love writing. Of course, you also need to practice Krsna consciousness yourself, so your words have potency.)
give a one-time or monthly donation (we provide tax-deductible receipts).
donate Prabhupadaâ€™s books and a few other select titles by other devotees (please inquire from us).
donate new DVDs and music CDs (bhajans, kirtans only) from devotees (at the moment we have all the Prabhupada CDs we need, thanks to a very generous donation from the Bhaktivedanta Archives).
3 Donation Options:
Send check or postal money order to:
ISKCON Prison Ministry
PO Box 2676
Alachua, FL 32616-2676
Donate with PayPal through our website: www.iskconprisonministry.org
For automatic, monthly donations, you can use your bankâ€™s â€śAutomatic Bill Payâ€ť option, which is free and easy.
We can send you a tax deductible receipt at the moment of the donation or at the end of the year, as you wish.
Questions? Inquiries? Please contact Mukunda Dasa or Bhakti-lata Dasi at:
ISKCON Prison Ministry
PO Box 2676, Alachua, FL 32616-2676