ISKCON Prison Ministry's blog

CHRISTMAS ALL YEAR LONG

As a child, Christmas was a time of great anticipation and excitement. Until my teen years that is, when it became more and more a source of disappointment—but that’s a story for another time.
Christmas, a time of giving and receiving, of goodwill for all mankind, is experienced all year long in devotional service, and it is certainly true of the prison ministry service. It is Christmas every day! And there is no disappointment, no letdown, and no hype about it: it is the real deal and it brings me the pleasure and satisfaction I have been hankering for all my life!

APPRECIATING KṚṢṆA AND HIS DEVOTEE

To write about the devotee who corresponds with me is an honor and a humbling effort as I do not believe myself worthy to write and discuss Reverend Rambhoru. She is gracious, patient and has a heart of pure gold. Our very first connection by mail was of a familial tone and nature. Her letter was written to me as though I was a longtime devotee. This began a teacher/friend relationship over three years ago. Not so long, but spiritually and soulfully enriching.

CRAVING TO READ ABOUT KRSNA OVER THE MUNDANE

[Excerpts from two of inmate Bhakta David's letters]

Dear Mother Bhakti-lata,

Hare Kṛṣṇa! My most humble obeisances to you. Jaya Srila Prabhupada!

I am so very grateful for all the books you sent me and I wish there was more time in the day, but I try to read at least fifty pages each day from a few of them. I am learning and enjoying the process so much! I actually find that now I crave reading this Kṛṣṇa conscious material over the mundane. Still, I am but an infant and have very far to go.

Strengthening my Faith

Hare Kṛṣṇa, Mataji.
Dandavat pranams. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

In prison my Kṛṣṇa consciousness has been truly "hands on" (isn’t it always? ). Sri Kṛṣṇa knows best and is always testing and strengthening His bhaktas. I truly feel that He has been especially and specifically helping me for the past twenty-six months I have spent in prison. I am a Naturopathic Physician and Ayurvedic Medical Consultant in my professional life and was brought here because of immigration issues with some of my employees.

UNPRECEDENTED HARINAM!

EXCERPT OF LETTER from Bhakta Krishna Kirtan

We have a new bhakta. His name is Thomas Biers and he is the MOST sincere new bhakta I've come across since I've been practicing Kṛṣṇa consciousness (2009). He is very genuine and his bhakti was spontaneously awakened in his heart at the sound of the maha mantra. Lord Caitanya and Srila Prabhupada sent me a great one. I've known him for years. He became disenchanted with the Buddhists because of his belief in a creator and Kṛṣṇa consciousness resonated with him like nothing else!

Dying in Prison

One of the inmates who has been in contact with the prison ministry since 2009, Bhakta Sasha, now has terminal cancer. He is fifty-seven years old. The prospect of dying is overwhelming for everyone, but having to die in prison is even more daunting. Prisons are not known for their warm, loving atmospheres; they are cold and impersonal at best. However, Bhakta Sasha is armed with Prabhupada’s teachings and graced with the holy name and he is taking full advantage of it.

Embracing all of Krsna’s Family

NOTE from Bhakti-lata Dasi: As the inmates evolve in their Kṛṣṇa consciousness, increasingly realizing the importance of Prabhupada’s teachings and making a conscious effort to apply them in their life, they develop in strength and realization. Being a witness to this spiritual growth, I feel the joy and pride of a mother seeing her children mature. I am forever captivated by the power of Srila Prabhupada’s words to completely transform the lives of so many who receive his mercy.

Romanticism Versus Realism

For many years I have wondered why it is so difficult to find devotees who are inspired to not only correspond with inmates but to do so steadily as well. It’s been quite a bottleneck since there are far more inmates who write than there are volunteers to reply to them.

It seems that often the devotees who volunteer with IPM have an unrealistic, romantic view of what this service is and they get discouraged when reality turns out to be different. I am wondering if, in some way, this IPM NEWS itself contributes to this misconception. Why?

Typing my Way Closer to God

[For a couple years I’ve had the pleasure to do service with Yahna, who has been steadily volunteering to type letters for IPM. She has been very quick to type the letters I send her and she is so humble that when I asked her if she would share her realizations from this service, she emailed me the following response, “I've written a little something, but is that okay as I am not really a devotee of Krsna Consciousness and just want to be of service?”
Below are her reflections. She’d rather not disclose her last name and location.]

Janmastami in Huntsville, Texas

One of the most memorable experiences during our last visit to Houston was our trip to the Estelle Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice near Huntsville, Texas on September 19, 2015.
Although we had not planned it into our schedule, Krishna apparently had, so we went along with Krishna's plan. It's always good to cooperate with Krishna's plan.

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