Prison Program Update January 2013

Posted on January 17, 2013 by admin-vasanti

Hare Krsna,
Please accept our humble obeisances. All glories to Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga.

There is so much to share about the IPBYS Prison Program. Fortunately, soon, by the grace of Bhagavati-kanta prabhu from North Carolina, we will have our own website that will be dedicated solely to the program, and constantly updated with news about the program.

It is incredible to witness the program gradually expanding organically by the mercy of Srila Gurudeva and our guru-varga.

Bhagavati-kanta prabhu and his North Carolina sanga are very organized and diligent in keeping track of all incoming letters and replying to all who write in.

They fulfill their requests for books and pictures, answer questions and provide emotional and spiritual support. The GVP Sponsorship program has sent them a large stock of books for their distribution.

Mahabuddhi prabhu is communicating with chaplains in different states in America and informing them of the great opportunity to receive Srila Gurudeva’s books for their libraries. We recently sent the following books to 31 prison libraries in the state of Virginia:

Powhatan Correctional Facility in Virginia

Bhagavad-gita
Essence of Bhagavad-gita
Going Beyond Vaikuntha
Jaiva Dharma
Journey to the Soul
Nectar of Govinda Lila
Raya Ramananda Samvad
Secret Truths of the Bhagavatam
Walking with a Saint
The Way of Love

Previous to that, we sent books to the states of Florida, Arkansas and Missouri.

Now, Mahabuddhi prabhu is communicating with the chaplains in the prisons in California and receiving such positive replies:

From the Kern Valley State Prison
I am proud that people and Organizations like yours may help the less fortunate. I would like to receive the religious material you may offer to the inmates.

In Advance Thank you so much for your lovely and generous deed. MAY GOD BLESS YOU

From San Quentin Chaplain:

I am the Catholic Chaplain at San Quentin State Prison in CA –
I have an interfaith library in our chapel – and encourage openness
and seeking and diversity among the prisoners here.
We also have begun an interfaith Sunday evening Kirtan in the
Chapel.
There are a few Hindu inmates here and many others who are interested
in learning about other faith traditions.
Would be grateful for any resources you can send my way.

Our integral team member, Bhakta Carl, is avidly meditating on ways to expand the program and cultivate inmates’ Krsna consciousness. He has given so much good advice, having experienced life inside prison, and he also preaches to everyone he meets. He is currently writing lesson plans for a course titled “Journey to Prema,” which will teach inmates the process of bhakti. He is a real driving force now behind the IPBYS Prison Program.

I recently watched a clip from Dharma Network (the Buddhist Prison Program) in which inmates were expressing their gratitude to the Program for taking an interest in their lives and helping them become better people. One interview in particular struck me, in which one inmate said that prison is meant to make prisoners better individuals, not just keep them downtrodden, but they only felt this happening after coming in contact with the Dharma program. As I listened, recalled Srila Gurudeva’s words , that we are all in prison. By his grace, I glimpsed the importance of our bhakti program with the prisoners, and my sense of urgency to reach interested inmates heightened. Becoming a better individual is a mere byproduct of the process of bhakti, which nourishes the soul and transforms a person at the root, by developing our real dharma, jaiva-dharma, bhagavat-dharma, sanantana-dharma, prema-dharma – to love God, Krsna.

Bhakta Carl also gave us the good advice to make a flyer explaining the program and sending it to the chaplains in all of the prisons to post on their bulletin boards. In this way, the IPBYS program will gain publicity and inform inmates of the opportunity to join.
Radhika dasi from Washington D.C has made a beautiful flyer which we will be sending soon. She also sends a monthly newsletter to the inmates with a personal letter and a lecture of Srila Gurudeva’s. She is also a penpal as is Kesava dasa. More penpals for the program are always needed.

Another interesting thing that happened was my receiving a notification from the Federal Bureau of Corrections that I had an email from an inmate. So I am now registered with their system in their own email program, and two more inmates have contacted me requesting books and course material. I have put them in touch with Bhagavati-kanta prabhu for follow-up.

We are hoping to launch the Prison Program website by Srila Gurudeva’s appearance day on February 10th.

Aspiring for the service of Sri Guru and the Vaisnavas,
Vasanti dasi
on behalf of the IPBYS Prison Program team

Poem of Bhakta Carl’s:

BACK INSIDE

By Bhakta Carl

I spent so many lifetimes there, trapped in illusions walls,

I felt alone, then recently, I started placing calls,

I called out to RADHA KRSNA, each day I took the time

I worshipped and remembered Them, Their names are so sublime

Then one day as I chanted rounds, I was called into court

I knew by who presided there, my life had been cut short

I stood before the judge who said, “I’d best make something clear

My bailiffs brought you by mistake, you have no business here

You passed while chanting KRSNAS names; I’m not in charge of you

My jurisdiction’s limited, there’s nothing I can do

He said “That’s all. You may depart. It’s time for you to go”

I said “there must be some mistake, just let me take this slow”

He said, “The record it quite clear, your karmic debts are paid”

He said, “You’d best just move along.” Dumbstruck, I just obeyed

I really needed to sit back, to ponder my next move,

Sure I could leave maya behind, but just what did that prove?

I thought about the deepest loves, that I held in my heart,

RADHA-KRSNA, and Gauranga, that seemed like a good start

I thought, “I’ll go to Vrndavan, and serve RADHA-KRSNA”

I thought, “I’ll go to Mayapur, and dance with Gauranga”

I remembered the sakhis next, and the manjari’s too

I knew if I could talk with them, they’d know just what to do

RupaManjari, she’s so grand, she’d take me by her side

I wanted to get her advice, she’d help me decide

While I was meditating on, the places I would go

I remembered the fallen ones, those poor imprisoned souls,

They’re still inside; I asked myself, “What got me out the gate?”

The answer struck, a lightening flash, I bolted, screaming, “Wait!”

I crashed back into the courtroom; they held me in contempt,

I said, “Please, just let me explain, perhaps I’ll be exempt.”

I really didn’t understand, the law and all its tricks

But I knew justice could prevail, my problems could be fixed

So I proceeded to the bar and said, “Your honor, Sir,

I’m sorry I disrupted things, but I’m deeply disturbed.”

He said the docket wasn’t full, so I could have my say

But cautioned, “This had best be good, I closed you’re case today.”

I said, “I know I’ve been released. You told me I can go.

But I don’t want a ticket out. That’s something you should know.

The record shows I was inside, a long, long time you see

And I’d still be there chasing dreams, but someone preached to me.

I’ve received causeless mercy from, Gauranga’s devotee

He taught the science of bhakti, the path that set me free

He taught me how to chant with faith, then KRSNA’s holy names

Washed all my sinful thoughts away, and my desires changed

The things that my senses had craved, no longer tasted sweet

The only thing I wanted was, dust from Sri RADHA’s feet

By preached he had changed my heart, and settled down my mind,

And now I want to walk his path, until the end of time.”

“Now wait a minute,” said the judge. “Just let me get this straight.

You’re telling my you don’t want out, when freedom is your fate?”

“Oh freedom schrmeedom,” I just laughed “I guess it’s hard to see

Why preaching’s the best way to serve, Caitanya’s recipe

So I need to go back inside, that’s where preaching is done

Perhaps someday I’ll want back out, perhaps that say won’t come

In Mayapure I could have danced, with Nitai and Srivas

They we could all shout, ‘Haribol!’ and chant with Haridas

Perhaps I’d even qualify, to help Sudevi bring

Some water to RADHA-KRSNA, or hear Lalita sing

But please sir, withdraw my release, and put me back inside

I could preach there, that would be best, that’s where I should reside

The judge said, “There’s no precedent, I can’t rule on this case”

He said, “I think I’d best request, a high court magistrate.”

Low and behold! Was I surprised, and you would have been too

Lord Nityananda took the bench, wearing a robe of blue

He said, “Lord Yamaraj, asked me, to hear your special plea.

State your case. Give your evidence. Then we’ll see what will be.”

I said, “I’ll start by telling You, that while I was inside

I preached to everyone I could. If they’d listen Ide try.

I felt great, but that’s not my goal, it’s just a side effect

I think that there’s duty involved, You’ll judge if I’m correct

Lord Caitanya has ordered us, to preach to everyone

And I’ve just barely had a taste, I’ve barely just begun

RupaGosvami also played, a part in teaching me

His “Nectar of Devotion” makes, the truth quite plain to see

I have a simple goal, I only want to serve

If that means going back inside, I know I’ve got the nerve

No doubt I’ve often thought about, living in Vraja-dham

To serve with lots of gopi friends, a life of peace and calm

But perhaps by not being there, amidst all the gopi’s

The separation I will feel, will help to strengthen me

I guess that’s it, I rest my case. I know that You’ll be fair.

No matter where You send me sir, let me serve KRSNA there.”

Lord Nityananda weighed my case; I felt I stood a chance

Then when He cracked a smile at me, my heart began to dance

He said, “I’ll tell you what I liked, and this impresses Me.

You made your case relying on, the best authorities.

If you’ll recall Lord Caitanya, told Haridas and I

To begin His preaching mission, so I understand why

Why His instructions touched your heart, why you want to obey

Why you want to go back inside, why you came back today.

But before I make up My mind, there’s more I’d like to know.

Where is it that you want to preach? Where do you want to go?”

“Wherever I am needed most. I want to serve, not play.

Wherever there’s a soul who’s lost, who needs to find the way.”

He said, “What if I needed you, to go straight into hell?”

I said, “Then I’m prepared to go, and I’ll try to do well.”

He said, “I like that attitude, I think you’ll do just fine.”

I said, “I’m here to volunteer. Send me to the front lines.”

He said, “Now hold on just a sec. Hold your horses champ.

I’ll need you to be wise and strong. You’re going to boot camp

We’ve drill instructors there for you. They’ll whip you into shape.

They’ll dress you down, and size you up, without a measuring tape.

He said, “As I rushed here today, I did a quick review

Of your desires and your prayers, to see if your heart’s true.

Those records made it clear to me, that you deserve the chance

To serve in more than just one way, to learn more than just one dance.”

I wasn’t quite sure what He meant, by all the things He said,

That bit about drills and boot camp, was still stuck in my head

It seemed I’d opened up my mouth, and put my foot in it

The best that I could hope for now, was that the shoe would fit

He said, “Relax, no need to fret. You have nothing to fear

Well, My decision has been made, I’ll make the record clear.

I sentence you to always serve, Sri Sri RADHA-KRSNA

Gauranga too, you’ll have the mood, of a rupanuga.

First you’ll take birth in Gokula, that’s where bootcamp begins.

RupaManjari will instruct, I’m sure that you’ll fit in.

Then once she feels you’ve earned your stripes, you’re off to Mayapur.

RupaGosvami will instruct. He’s strict, but you’ll endure.

You’ll be trained by the very best, then once you’re well equipped

To face the trials of Dhurga-dhama, I’ll see that you get shipped.

You’ll be assigned to missions that, acquire a willing soul.

Someone who takes things as they come, service their only goal

I’ve special things in mind for you, be sure to learn a lot

The only way you will succeed, is give it all you’ve got

But I’ll make sure, if things allow, to bring you home on leave

Then you’ll spend time at RADHA-kund, for a little reprieve

You’ll dance with all your gopi friends; you’ll share in all the mirth

Until it’s time to preach again, then you’ll go take a birth

Do you have any questions now, about what I have said?

“I have just one, can I lie down? I’ve clearly made my bed!”

He said, “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.  I think you’ll do quite well.

Your heart’s sincere, you’ve made it clear.” And then the gavel fell.

So I’ll get ready. I’ll train hard. I’ll be all I can be.

I preach, I’ll teach. I’ll try to be, a sincere devotee.

I’ll find souls, within maya’s walls, where many wonder lost

And I will help them to escape, I’ll pay, tell me the cost.

I’ll keep on going back inside, with Gauranga’s mercy

Perhaps someday you’ll understand, and you’ll want to join me.

 

 

 

 

 

www.prisonseva.org

6 Comments

  1. Vaijayanti mala dasi
    5 years ago

    What an inspirational report!
    Srila Prabhupada’s mission, which spread all over the world, started with him giving the process of bhakti to the most fallen. Now, even India’s cultured elite are finding inspiration in his teachings and are following them. To preach on this level (the prison program) is so powerful.It will really turn people’s heads when the results begin to show. As the programs’ inspiration, Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva must already know the results.

    • jayagopal das
      5 years ago

      awesome point

  2. Vaijayanti mala dasi
    5 years ago

    By the way, I think Carl’s letter is a masterpiece. 🙂

  3. Chaitanya Charan Das (Chandan)
    5 years ago

    Ananta Madhav prvu ur commentmen very nice. U r my shiksa guru.

  4. Chaitanya Charan Das (Chandan)
    5 years ago

    Ananta Madhav prvu ur commentmen very nice. U r my shiksa guru. Thanks

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    4 years ago

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