Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
I just wanted to add that we send out about 50 packages of books per
week, which is about 150-200 books. We write over 150 letters a month,
just from my office, and there are many other devotees writing letters.
So hundreds of letters every month to the prisons in the US. The most
popular books are Bhagavad-Gita As It Is, Beyond
Birth and Death, Higher Taste (because it explains
about vegetarianism) and
Perfection of Yoga. Many inmates have heard of Srimad
Bhagavatam and are always asking me to send it. I have been able
to put 9 sets of the Srimad Bhagavatam into prison
libraries, due to one kind person donating them to the ministry. I
often send them used copies of different cantos, so they can at least
sample the nectar.
There are a few devotees who go personally to the prisons to preach and
hold programs for the inmates. They have a very good reception and the
inmates love to get the association of the devotees. In Oregon and
Pennsylvania, there are large groups of inmates who meet regulary. We
send them videos and cds to watch and listen to. Many of the inmates
chant 16 rounds and look forward to devotee association when they are
Half of the inmates have japa beads, others use either a string
tied with knots for beads, or chant on rosary beads, twice around, or
use their fingers.
"You asked how I used aspirin
to count mantras? I have a bottle of 108 aspirins and each time
I finish a
mantra, I place one aspirin back inside the bottle, then dump them
back out again after 108."—Bhakta Paul Kimmel, Pendleton, IN
Where there is a will there is a way. Many
inmates find very resourceful ways of doing things. One inmate who is
an artist uses the dye off M&M's, Skittles and other candies, plus
coffee and toothpaste to get the colors to paint with, as in the
picture of the Gopi.
When I received the picture it smelled very interesting! Somewhat
I received a very nicely woven pendant from an inmate who had saved
threads and made a tilak symbol out of black and gold threads.
I always tell them that now is the best time to read, study and chant,
as they have so much time on their hands. And once they get released
there will be so many distractions.
Vegetarian diets are a problem many times. Some prisons in the US allow
a vegetarian diet, while others do not have it easily available. We
send the inmates a document stating that they are Hare Krishna's and
that they need a vegetarian diet, and that usually helps them get their
diet. However it is not the best food, because it is usually canned,
processed, etc., but the inmates do the best they can under the
circumstances. Many of the inmates have their own little altars, with
pictures of Krishna and Srila Prabhupada set up so, they may make
offerings. Some even have incense to offer. One inmate we know even has
Deities in his cell.
In India they of course have vegetarian diets in prison. And when the
devotees go there to preach everyone in the prison comes, they all take
books and are very enthusiastic in kirtan. Please see attached letter.
Devotees are going to prison to preach all over the world, but I am
only in touch with the ones in the US and India. I have heard that in
South America the inmates are also very enthusiastic.
Your Humble Servant,
ISKCON Prison Ministry
PO Box 261
Alpine CA 91903-0261
My dear Prabhujis,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
Since last 5 months since our last report, we have been having weekly
programs in Mathura and Agra Prisons, and monthly in Tihar Jail. Now
Tihar Jail program will also be done weekly. One very sincere Brijbasi
devotee named Janakinatha Das has joined this program and is very
enthusiatically pushing it on.
Actually we were busy with Ujjain Kumbha Mela for one month and when we
returned to Agra Prison, the jailer Mr. Gupta, was complaining that "We
missed you for one month. Where have you been? The prisoners have been
asking for you every day. We invited other groups to come, but all the
prisoners complain, 'Why don't you call the Hare Krishna wales?'
absence, the prisoners have been doing two hours of kirtan
Later the superintendent told us that "Since you have started these
the jail has become very peaceful, we don't have many fights, and they
doing their work very enthusiastically. So please don't have big gaps.
nice you went to Kumbha Mela, but don't neglect us."
Now we have one prisoner who is doing 16 rounds. A few others are doing
rounds. They asked us to bring them a mrdanga for their daily kirtans.
The next day, we went to Mathura Jail and they showed us in the ward
they had a very nice picture of Radha Madhava from Mayapur and Srila
Prabhupada. They were also keeping a copy of Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad
Gita. They were very happy to join with us in kirtan.
Then they did some
Brijbasi bhajans. After which we distributed prasad.
The superintendant told
us that we need to make a temple here in the jail. They are doing kirtan
every day, but we need one mridanga. So we will make
arrangements for these
Then we went to Tihar Jail in Delhi where Srila Prabhupada had started
prison preaching. This time we went to the Juvenile jail, where the
superintendant was also complaining that why we were coming after a big
Then he asked if we had any CDs of our prison programs, so we can send
to other jails in the country and interest them in this project. Then
can contact the nearest ISKCON temple for having programs in their
Then we told them that we have decided to do this program now weekly
Delhi ISKCON will supply prasadam for our programs.
After our class and we distributed prasadam that was supplied
by Food For
Life from Delhi Temple. Then they took us to meet some of the inmates.
Sarvabhauma asked one young fellow why he was in jail. He said, "I
one mobile." When asked why he did that he told the following story.
"I came from the village and
was doing some small key business. Then some
people came and told me that their father needs a kidney transplant, if
will give one kidney, they will give you one lac of rupees. So they
to their house and fed me very nicely for some days and got my test
some hospital. Then one day we were going in the car and the man said
need one mobile. So you see that lady across the street, you go and
her mobile and come. But when I snatched the mobile, the people caught
and the man who instigated me fled away, and I was turned over to the
"After listening to you, I know that I have done wrong. So now I will
my life and never do things like this again."
Another young man said that he stabbed someone. When asked why did he
that, he said that he was a pickpocket and someone spotted him and was
to inform the police "... so I stabbed him. So that was not good. Oh
no, I will
never do this again."
So we are just distributing Srila Prabhupada's patent medicine for
the criminal of his crime: the chanting of the Holy name. In this way,
following in Srila Prabhupada's footsteps, we are trying to develop
more this Prison Preaching Program. We want to start this program in
Bharatpur Jail also which is not far from Mathura.
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
like to help?
donations pay for:
Postage for 400 Back to Godhead magazines Hundreds of books
mailed out each month
Postage for our regular Newsletter
donations taken include but are not limited to:
Tulasi neck beads and Japa beads
Music and lecture tapes
Music and lecture CD's
Devotional videos and DVD’s
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
PO Box 158691
Nashville, TN 37215-8691