Some of us are in a state or federal prison, some of us are in the prison of our minds, or a physically disabled body, but just to have a material body is a type of prison.
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ISKCON Prison Ministry — Letters from Inmates

Shyama Priya devi dasi
November 18, 2005
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Date: Fri, 18 Nov 2005 10:17:10 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Article

Dear Prabhu,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Sorry I am slow on my homework, I wanted to get back to you sooner. I am sending three letters from inmates for you to choose from to post and some pictures drawn by inmates. These reflect their Krishna Consciousness. I hope these are appropiate for your website. You can put my contact information at the end if you could.

Your Humble Servant,
Shyama Priya

This ISKCON devotee has never met a Vaishnava face to face. He simply reads Srila Prabhupada’s books. Please read his letter.

Sri Nrsimha by Bhakta Mick My dear God brother Candrasekhara:
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. I am doing wonderful.

I brought the Bhagavad-Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam to the yard to give the men Krishna. I got kind of nervous and afraid, while doing this. As I was preaching, a group of men crowded around. I never did that before, made me feel uneasy. Must be stage fright, in spite of it, my words flowed smoothly. Before coming to population, I had the opportunity of memorizing the key Gita verses. Now I have nearly met my goal of 100 verses, but I have a trick. When reading the Bhagavatam, when I see that it corresponds to a Gita verse I write it in the Gita. So while preaching the Gita I can also use the Bhagavatam simultaneously. I very much appreciate your kindness in helping me receive the Bhagavatam. In turn I’ve been giving it to others. I have been writing verses for my friend and we talk everyday at work. This feels nice you know, spreading Krishna’s name and fame. I’m thinking like this, the people I influence, if they seek refuge in Krishna, the Supreme Refuge, they too will influence other people. This will create something like a domino effect. Krishna should be known in this place. I will help Krishna gain recognition here.

I spoke to another fellow who is Christian; he quotes the Bible like a parrot. He knows not what he quotes. He is full of “opinions”. A teacher does not have all those opinions. The real teacher has one opinion that is Krishna’s opinion. He calls himself a teacher, but edits and adds to God’s message. That is rascaldom! I asked him to explain how God was Omnipresent. After years of Bible study he could not properly answer. He concluded God must be impersonal, his opinion, but could not scientifically from his scriptures. That’s how we started talking, I explained Krishna and his manifestation as Paramatma, and I used the sun example. The sun, the energetic, is one, but the sunshine, the energy is present everywhere. These other scriptures are lacking scientific knowledge about the Absolute, but the devotees know. Reminds me of this verse; ”Thus established in the mode of unalloyed goodness, the man whose mind has been enlivened by contact with devotional service to the Lord, gains positive scientific knowledge of the Personality of Godhead in the stage of liberation from all material association.” Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.20 That is very nice scientific knowledge that is what is in want. What good is scripture that cannot even explain God’s omnipresence? While conversing with the Christian fellow he asked, “What is the goal of Bhakti Yoga? I said, “The goal is to achieve love of God, which transcends even salvation.” He was taken aback...transcends salvation??? I asked him to examine those who are saved, are they not absorbed in love of God? So love of God must be Krishna and Deer by Randall Curtishigher, this is common sense. He asked, “What is love of God? I quoted Bhagavad-Gita 9.27, “Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, and whatever austerities you perform—do that, O son of Kunti, as an offering to Me.” When a person does that, he is a lover of God. Then I explained what Suta Goswami says in the Bhagavatam 1.2.6-7. “The supreme occupation [dharma] for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to completely satisfy the self. By rendering devotional service unto the Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna, one immediately acquires causeless knowledge and detachment from the world.” I do not see much detachment in these so-called preachers, so I cannot accept their nonsense. Srila Prabhupada says it is like the lips of a serpent touching milk, the milk is not any good after being touched by the serpent; Srila Prabhupada in the purport of Srimad Bhagavatam 1.4.13 explains the learned preachers or parivajakacharyas. There is no good in accepting God’s message from the atheists, the envious and professional reciters, who make business on God’s message and not following it. Srila Prabhupada says one should hear the message of the Bhagavatam from a representative of Sukadeva Goswami. Sukadeva did not ask Maharaja Pariksit for worldly opulence to recite the Bhagavatam.

Enclosed is a letter from my neighbor in the next cell. I gave him some Krishna today too. He wrote a letter introducing himself and explaining his dilemma. We talked from 7am to 6pm. I let him borrow my Gita to read. Could you send him a Gita? He could use one. All glories to Sri Krishna Chaitanya!

Hari Bol,
Bhakta David, Angola, LA

In 1962, after preaching at Tihar Prison, Srila Prabhupada wrote to Sri Puri: “If you give me chance to speak to all the members of the Jail, it is quite possible for me to turn them into ideal characters.”

Prisoners Helping Prisoners

Many times people ask us why we are helping people in prison. They committed the crime; why not let them do the time. But we see that WE ARE ALL PRISONERS in this material world. Some of us are in a state or federal prison, some of us are in the prison of our minds, or a physically disabled body, but just to have a material body is a type of prison. We have no freedom to enjoy all our insatiable desires. So we, at the Prison Ministry, try to help others and ourselves by practicing Krishna consciousness. The following letter is a nice example of how Krishna consciousness is working in the prisons.

Nrsimha by unknown inmateDear Mother Shyama Priya Prabhu,
All glories to Srila Prabhupada. All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

I have been having a wonderful time. For a devotee can go to hell and still be happy. For the devotee being situated in the heavenly planets and being in the hellish planets are equal, for a devotee lives neither in heaven nor in hell, but with Krishna in the spiritual world. So in prison or out, it’s all the same. There are many people to preach to. The devotee is not interested in so called meditation in the Himalayas or the forest. Rather, his interest is in the busiest part of the world, where he teaches people Krsna consciousness. The Krishna consciousness movement was started for this purpose. A Vaishnava is interested in enlightening people in Krsna consciousness because that is the only way for them to be happy. A Vaishnava would say “let others be saved, let me rot in hell on their behalf.” The willingness to feel that and to carry it out if necessary is the cost of true compassion!

I didn’t come to prison to preach…or did I? I believe Lord Krishna put me here for that purpose! A do or die proposition. So as long as we preach we’ll be happy, no matter where we end up!

Just today I went to chow, all these men where sitting there. How can I give them Krishna? I felt a deep compassion for them. I sat down. A man came over to me and asked for a Bhagavad-gita that just made my day!! I happened to get back one I had loaned out! So I went over and gave it to him. “Oh that was fast.” He got all excited looking at the pictures!

Another man who is not interested in God or religion took The Hidden Glory of India. I took him the book, later I found out he liked to draw. A few days later I saw him and I asked how he liked the art in the Glory. He said he really liked it. So a few days later I saw him drawing in the card room and what picture did he decide to draw? The changing bodies, the picture that shows going through animals too, with the Grim Reaper in the middle. So I asked him “What does it mean?” he said “Reincarnation, we came through the animals too!” I said “What does that mean?” He said, “We’re not the body” All this from a 18 year old kid who hated to be preached to! Hare Krishna!

Your Servant, Jivananda das
Salem, Oregon

Another letter from an inmate to ISKCON Prison Ministry:

Pancha Tattva by Brian BabinskiThursday, Sept. 9th, 2004

Dear Mother Shyama Priya:
Hare Krishna! Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada.

Mother Shyama, I'd like to share something with you: Last night my neighbor and I stayed up till 4:00 in the morning talking about Krishna and the Bhagavad-Gita. His name is Jose. He was asking me many beautiful questions and I answered many of them.

Jose was back here for 10 months waiting to be transferred to Mule Creek State Prison, after one night of hearing and learning of Krishna he was transferred. He just left at 10 am. Hare Krsna! I know now I was placed here for a reason! To get deeper in touch and speak more about our Lord Sri Krishna.

I gave him your address so that he can learn more from the real teachers. He is real interested in Krishna consciousness and learns pretty quick. If and when he writes to you please let me know.

I need to ask you a favor-can you please send me the following 3 pictures: Radha-Krishna, Srila Prabhupada and Lord Chaitanya so that I can construct my altar here in my cell.

I must close for now but I pray the Lord keeps blessing and teaching all of us!

My Best of Wishes! Hare Krishna!

Sincerely, Your Humble and Devoted Student,
Ricardo Ontiveros
K63599 D8 AD/SEG
Salinas Valley State Prison
PO Box 1050
Soledad CA 93960-1050

Many of us can remember the first time we met a devotee or the first time we heard about Krishna. It was a very exciting time! The first time I met a devotee I stayed up all night and listened to Krishna Katha. It was so amazing to me. I thought how does this person know so much about God? Also the person speaking may think, "I'm so fortunate to have someone who is interested in hearing" It is such a wonderful experience, "someone to hear and someone to speak Krishna Katha. So one becomes guru by bringing someone to Krishna.

Mother Shyama Priya

Krishna Eating Yogurt by Raj PatelMany hours are spent answering letters and preaching to the inmates, explaining the process of Krishna consciousness. If you’d like to be involved by writing to inmates or if you know someone to whom we can write, or if you’d like to help fund the mailing of books, please contact us.

Would you like to help?

    Financial donations pay for:
  • Postage for 400 Back to Godhead magazines Hundreds of books mailed out each month
  • Vaishnava books
  • Postage for our regular Newsletter
    Other donations taken include but are not limited to:
  • Books
  • Tulasi neck beads and Japa beads
  • Music and lecture tapes
  • Music and lecture CD's
  • Devotional videos and DVD’s

Contact us for more information. Become part of a wonderful preaching program. Help finance this worthy cause or get personally involved.

ISKCON Prison Ministry
Shyama Priya devi dasi
PO Box 261
Alpine, CA 91901


Candrasekhara das,
Director IPM
PO Box 158691
Nashville, TN 37215-8691

ISKCON Prison Ministry — Letters from Inmates/ WORLD SANKIRTAN PARTY
©2004-Hansadutta das
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