“This material world is just like a prison house; it is a punishing place meant to bring us to that point of becoming disgusted, surrendering at last to Krishna..."
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ISKCON Prison Ministry

Shyama Priya devi dasi
October 27, 2005
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Inmates get GitasISKCON Prison Ministry has been giving Krishna consciousness to the inmates of prisons all over the world for over 18 years. Candrasekhara dasa heads this ministry, which started as a way for him to preach as a householder. Responding to hundreds of letters and inquiries every year, he has kept the ministry going all these years, through many difficulties and with very little help.

Many people are looking for Krishna while incarcerated. The ISKCON Prison Ministry is helping them find Him by sending books, tapes, Back To Godhead magazines, videos, japa and neck beads. Some inmates, guided by the ministry, have been able to take shelter of a guru. Many prisoners never had association of devotees before meeting them through the ministry. Some have never visited a temple, but are looking forward to it after they are released. Somehow or other finding a book and writing to a temple or the BBT, they were at last connected to the ministry. Gradually, they begin to understand the philosophy and start chanting Hare Krishna and studying Srila Prabhupada’s books. Some inmates even have altars in their cells and are allowed incense and they learn to offer their food to Krsna. Some prisons offer special vegetarian meals, while others give the men a hard time about their diets. Currently, devotee inmates are working to get vegetarian diets into many prisons.

Workers at the ministry realize that the material world is the “Big Prison House” of repeated birth and death. Srila Prabhupada writes in The Science of Self Realization: “This material world is just like a prison house; it is a punishing place meant to bring us to that point of becoming disgusted, surrendering at last to Krishna, and going back to our original nature of eternal life in bliss and complete knowledge.” (SSR 7) We empathize with the inmates who are suffering in so many ways. We know everyone is in prison and they may be released from this imprisonment by chanting

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

We encourage everyone to chant.

After preaching at Tihar Prison… “ 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.”—Srila Prabhupada, letter to Sri Puri, 1962.

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

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.
Hari Bol,
Bhakta David, Angola, LA

These quotes from inmates tell a little about how Krishna Consciousness is benefiting them.

A few weeks ago I came across an Srimad Bhagavatam, first canto-part two, Creation. The book is from ISKCON. I’ve been reading it for about 3 weeks. I am truly amazed and humbled at the same time, by it and the Bhagavad-gita As It Is. I did not even know that this level of knowledge and wisdom was even in this world- Tony Boggan, Lucasville, OH
The Pastor Dave Mason, in this jail was kind enough to lend me his personal copy of Bhagavad-gita As It Is , for reading in jail. It is a great solace to me through this very stressful time. I am going through, without it I would go crazy-no kidding- Bhaktin Snehal Diksheet, Battle Creek, MI
I received the “How to Practice Krishna Consciousness in Prison”, you sent. I have prepared a small altar in my cell, according to directions. I’m trying the best I can with what I have-Evan Lowther, Watonga OK
This is what I like about Krishna Consciousness; it is scientific, not sectarian. From God’s point of view there is no question of Hindu or Christian. I don’t know about all these “new age” spiritual groups, but in the Srimad Bhagavatam (4.3.23), it is said, “When a man is situated in pure goodness he worships Vasudeva”-David Lightsey, Angola LA
In 2006 I come up for parole, for the first time. I’m not worried about it if I get denied. I’m more interested in sharing and preaching about Krishna to others.-Ruben Minjarez, Gatesville, TX

Many 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

©2004-Hansadutta das
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