International Pure Bhakti Yoga Society Prison Program
Tick tock, tick tock……
Time passes by
What is it meant for but self-realization?
This is our sole desire for the Prison Book Sponsorship Program.
Prison is meant for Reformation
Yet, without spiritual knowledge, reformation will be temporary or illusory
Reforming the soul through reading enlightening words from ancient scriptures causes a pure transformation of the body, mind and soul.
Therefore, we appeal to you to help this cause.
Letters are coming in from inmates requesting literature on spirituality, yoga, devotion and Krsna consciousness.
Please donate graciously so we can send innumerable books to thousands of inmates worldwide.
Here are a few letters from inmates in America:
REPORT WRITTEN BY AKHILESH DASA IN INDIA:
For some time there had been talk of preaching in prisons. In Delhi there is a world famous prison called 'Tihar Jail,' a stones throw away from our temple! Syamarani didi was very supportive and encouraging of me (Akhilesh das) beginning this project.
But you are not allowed to visit a prison without an appointment. I tried to find some inroads with some contacts I had in Delhi. I waited some days, but either my contacts were too busy to make the arrangement or the D.I.G. (Deputy Inspector General of Police) himself was out of town. It went on like this for a couple of months. It seemed very difficult to get this much desired appointment.
One day, Sulata dasi and Caru Candrika dasi, both from England, and I decided to go to Delhi to see if we could get this appointment ourselves. We went by car to our Delhi temple and tried to find some contact through whom we could approach the prison authorities. After two days we were nowhere closer to our goal and were becoming restless.
While in the car on the second day, Caru Candrika said, "Why don't we just go ourselves to see the person concerned?" "And who is going to let us inside such a high security area with out some recommendation"? I replied.
But we were so restless that we decided to try anyway. I turned my car towards what I thought was the entrance gate to the prison, but I was wrong. After taking a tour around the periphery of the prison and making several inquiries, we turned into the main entrance gate. As driver of the car, I was approached by one of the guards.
He asked us what our business was and who we were. When the guard noticed that we were wearing devotee clothes I sensed he softened a bit. I told him that we wanted to see the person in charge of the prisons. "You mean the I.G. (Inspector General of Police)," he suggested. He opened the gates wide for the car to enter, and pointed to where I could park my car.
Sensing a minor victory of sorts, we then entered a lone building surrounded by parks and approach roads. We were again stopped at the entrance of the building, and a reception consisting of several uniformed policemen inquired about the purpose of our visit and who we wanted to meet.
Since I was the only Hindi speaking person in our group, I replied we were from the Gaudiya Math and that we would like to give some books as gifts to the prisoners. A policeman ushered us into the plush office of the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Mr Garg, who pointed toward some chairs and we sat down. After finishing a telephone conversation he addressed us. "Where are you from, and how can I help you?" he inquired.
We introduced ourselves as Krsna's devotees from the Gaudiya Math and said that we wanted to donate some books as gifts to the prisons' library. He informed us that there were ten prisons inside the complex and that each prison had around one thousand inmates and a library. "Yes, I can put your books in our libraries, but I will need eleven sets, as we have ten prisons in this complex plus one prison outside in another complex."
I inquired further if it was possible to preach in the prisons of the ladies. "Oh! Why do you want to preach only in the ladies prison? There are only about 450-500 lady inmates, but there are around 10,000 male inmates and there you can have regular programs!"
Sulata, Caru Candrika and I looked at each other in amazement at this opportunity sent by Krsna, and we promised to bring eleven sets of books and return to the prison after Gaura Purnima to organize some programs.
Having made this wonderful contact, we came out of the office with obvious glee and a promise to bring eleven sets of books to the prison the next day. [Since then we have made several inroads into the prison programs which hold immense potential.] The next day we also took some books and posters for Mr. Garg as personal gifts in appreciation of his help.
We have had two programs now, in which we were given a chance to sing kirtans to the prisoners and speak hari-katha. We all felt that seeing a majority of inmates singing and swinging to kirtan and responding to hari-katha is indeed a very satisfactory sight. A few times, when the inmates surrounded us and asked some questions, we wondered, "Why didn't we do this earlier?"
In our next program we are planning to give some books to the prisoners themselves. We also plan to go to other cities where I am sure so many such programs are waiting to happen!
Oh yes, last but not the least, on both of our visits we also sponsored halawa prasadam distribution inside the prison for all inmates. Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj (popularly known as Srila Prabhupada) described this as our secret weapon!
Video and photography equipment are not allowed inside the premises, so we have not been able to produce photographs for the perusal of all the devotees.
All glories to Srila Gurudeva
TV INTERVIEW WITH DHARMA MOMENTS:
Last January, Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, the founder/acarya of the International Pure Bhakti-yoga Society, was in South Africa and he was interviewed by Charles Pillay for a television show called Dharma Moments. Charles' questions and Srila Maharaja's answers were so pertinent to the situation of the world today and relevant to this new Prison Program. Below is an excerpt of that interview:
[Charles:] In South Africa, we focus on the problems that we have – HIV/AIDS and crime being the topmost on our minds. What would be your message for South Africans in order that they may lead a happier life; so they can release themselves from thinking about these problems?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Devotees who are with me have given up all criminal activity, all bad habits, and all kinds of wicked acts – naturally and automatically. One who is engaged in bhakti, devotion to the Lord, has no time for any other activity, so they automatically give up bad habits. They are happy, and by their association and instructions they are making others happy.
[Charles:] What can we do to change to mindsets of those who are causing pain to others, so that they become people who bring happiness to others?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] The problems of this world, such as crime, can only be stopped by the preaching of the glories of the Supreme Lord. We have to understand why people are performing such activities like beating others, killing others, and stealing others' money. They are doing this with one intention – to become happy. We tell them, "No one can be happy by material activities." The individual spirit souls will become happy only if they keep the Supreme Lord in the center of their lives and perform all of their endeavors to please Him.
We request everyone to advertise this in the newspapers, television, house-to house, and person-to-person. Everywhere we go we invite thousands of people to attend our programs. Those who come and hear are fortunate, and those who do not come are unfortunate. Even though we offer delicious food to the people who come, still most people are so unfortunate that they do not come. Five-hundred to one thousand people come to hear us, but when a politician gives a speech, hundreds of thousands of people go to listen. For the politicians there is so much reporting, loud speakers, and coverage in the press – that is the situation in the world today.
TO DONATE: PLEASE LOGON TO: www.gvpbookdistribution.com/sponsor.html
* We also need devotees who would be interested in becoming a penpal to an inmate, or more than one if you like. That service would entail writing letters, sharing the philosophy, sending books, printed-out lectures, prasadam if possible, and just being a Krsna conscious friend.
Please also feel free to write to Vasanti dasi, IPBYS Prison Program's coordinator, with any questions or comments, at:
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