IPBYS – Bhakti Yoga in Prison

Posted on November 11, 2012 by admin-vasanti

Gokul Bhajan & Vedic Studies, North Carolina  – USA Sanga

Many in the congregation are penpals, including the children

 

Report for:     Sept & Oct 2012 (2 months)

 

From:             Bhagavati Kanta Dasa

(Gokul Bhajan & Vedic Studies, NC – USA)

 

To:                   Smt Syamarani Didiji

Vasanti Didi

Radhika Didi

 

Introduction:

Under the governance of Smt Syamarani Didi and guidance of Radhika Didi and Vasanti Didi, this report covers the status of this project for the period of September and October 2012. Going forward, we are planning to provide the report every month. We thank all of you for giving this wonderful opportunity to serve our Gurudeva through you!

 

Activity Statistics :

Number of inmates so far:                             23 (Effective 21)

Inmates lost contact:                                      2

Number of responses during this period:       9

Number of books distributed to inmates:       24

 

Outstanding Issues:

Lack of books – we need to restock the supply asap

How can we increase the number of inmates. This has been a new area for us and is very challenging.

 

Initial engement into the Seva:

Initially we started this seva just with one person handling (Bhagavati kanta Dasa). We opened up a P.O Box account in the local post office and all our communications are happening through this address (Attn: B K Dasa, P.O.Box 52724, Durham, NC 27717). Radhika Didi and Vasanti Didi immensely helped in providing the list of inmates and their addresses, directions  and backgrounds of some inmates. It took almost a month to get the momentum and now we feel that we have established a  framework for the seva.

 

How we established the Framework:

All the correspondence is through the PO Box only. Every inmate has been assigned an individual folder that contains all the communications, addresses, books sent and background information. The activity log in every folder provides a chronological order of activity and communications happened. By using this one can trace the entire history for the inmate.

 

Initially we sent a letter to every inmate providing the information about us and inviting them to write to us. Whenever we get any letter from an inmate, we read, analyze and reply with any books needed. We also learned a lot about dealing with sending books, etc as some of the prisons have special rules.

 

Continuing the Seva:

Then slowly we engaged the parents and senior children into this project. We formed a team comprising with the interested persons in our group. Every Friday when we meet for the satsang, we also read the letters from inmates so that we can decide how to respond and what books if needed are to be sent.

 

From last week we have opened it for our younger children as well.  Few days back all our children from the Raleigh area of NC wrote a letter by hand and sent to all the inmates so that they could become the pen pals. A copy of it is attached in the Appendix of this document.

 

Here are some highlights of the communications:

 

1)      Recently we came to know about an inmate by name Bhakta Carl who has even started a preaching program!  He has developed a correspondence course of Bhakti Yoga mainly for the prisoners. We have extended our help to him so that this program can grow. As the facility in prison is extremely limited, we can provide the necessary facility and help.

 

2)      The letters from Bhakta Stanley are always very interesting as he is pretty much under our Gurudeva in many ways. Now he wants a picture of Gurudeva and also requested several books from our Gurudeva.  We will be sending them as soon as we get a supply of the books we need. One of his crucial question is how he can get initiated from a guru.  For this we need help. Please see the attached letter from him.

 

3)      Several of the inmates who responded are in the basic level. Most of them are attracted by hatha yoga, Buddhism and even tantra. For those inmates we send some basic books that can point to the direction of Bhakti Yoga.

 

4)      Another inmate by the name Satya has almost all the books from our Gurudeva and he is inspired to meet and talk to some devotees. His interest in devotion is really amazing. We want to keep frequent communication due to his thirst in devotional scriptures.

 

5)      We also encountered one inmate who is in prison where he says he did not commit any crime. (Please see the attached letter “A7-Letter from James”). He has been in prison for quite some time now for a crime which according to him did not even happen. He is undergoing so much of sorrow as his endeavors for proving his innocence are not getting honored for some reason. This is a very sad case and it has been tough for us to console him.

 

On the overall, these two months have been very challenging and also provided so much of opportunities to do this seva.

 

At your service always,

Bhagavati Kanta Dasa

(Gokul Bhajan & Vedic Studies – NC, USA)

 

Following pages contain the scanned images of some of the interesting letters. They have been included as JPEG images so that they can be edited easily when transporting to a web page. Please let us know otherwise as we have the option of making it as PDF files as well.

 

A1. Recent letter from our children to all inmates

 

 

A2.  First letter from Bhakta Stanley

A3.   Another from Bhakta Stanley

 

A4. Letter from Manuel (Page 1):

 

A5. Letter from Eric (Page 1):

 

 

A6. Letter from David (Page-1)

 

 

A7.  Letter from James (Page-1)

A8.  Letter from Satya

 

 

 

One Comment

  1. Vaijayanti mala dasi
    5 years ago

    Pranam to all.

    It is remarkable to see the seriousness with which the prison program is taken by Bhagavati Kanta Prabu and the devotees in North Carolina. It seems that it is being excellently organized in a very caring way. What a wonderful example for us all.

    Aspiring to serve Sri Guru and the Vaisnavas

    Vaijayanti mala dasi