ISKCON Prison Ministry's blog
The time I spend chanting the Maha-mantra in the quiet early mornings is one of my most favorite times of the day. It is that special time spent in direct association with our dear Lord Sri Krsna. But there are days when I don’t feel anything special, that even in this most auspicious transcendental activity, I feel alone, and oh, so far from my dear Lord. When this happens, it is easy to wonder if I am actually receiving His mercy; if there is purpose to my chanting or if I am just wasting my time.
Please accept my humble obeisances.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
Hare Krishna, Jai Sri Sri Radha Bankebihari Ki Jai!
My Initiated name is Candra Das. I am a disciple of H.H Bhakti Tirtha Swami Maharaja. I am currently employed as a correctional counselor at Snake River Correctional Institution in Ontario, Oregon (Snake River Correctional Institution is located 11 miles east of the Idaho/Oregon state line). I have been employed with the Oregon Department of Corrections for 18 years.
ISKCON Prison Ministry
2 Vyasa-puja Offerings
Hare Krsna dear devotees,
Below are the first Vyasa-puja offerings of two inmate bhaktas. I hope they will bring you great transcendentally pleasure!
Your servant, Bhakti-lata Dasi
1) Offering of Bhakta Richard
nama om vishnu-padaya krishna-preshthaya bhu-tale
srimate bhaktivedanta-svamin iti namine
namas te sarasvate deve gaura-vani-pracarine
by Caitanya Dasi
A team of four ladies received permission to teach a volunteer program on bhakti yoga and mantra meditation at a women’s prison in Florida.
It took a couple of months to get through the red tape like back ground checks, etc. Once this was completed, we coordinated with the prison wardens and chaplains. In this particular state prison there are three separate facilities run by different chaplains and wardens, which made it a bit unclear how their system works.
Very often, the only link an inmate has with the outside world is his correspondence with the IPM devotees. Some are fortunate enough to have supportive family or friends, but most are not. I am realizing more and more how important the relationship the inmates develop with their devotee pen pal(s) is for them.
By the mercy of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada and my Guru Maharaja, I received the inspiration to serve the ISKCON Prison Ministry. On Vyasa-puja day, while chanting myjapa, the inspiration came to me to serve in the prison ministry. Interestingly enough, at that time I didn't even know the prison ministry existed.
I researched the internet, saw on the web site a request from IPM for volunteer pen pals. I thought this was an easy service, one I would enjoy and could do from the comfort of my home and in my
In May 2012, a Chaplain from El-Paso, Texas, Steven Cottingham, emailed me in the hope of getting some books for the inmates he served. He said,
“My name is Steven. I serve in 5 jails, 3 federal prisons, and 2 state prisons and there are people asking for books in each of these institutions. What I do is place books in each institution’s Religious Services library, so it is cost-effective that way. Do you have books we could have?”
Ever hear the phrase, “The long arm of the law”? Most of you probably have. But just in case you haven’t, this phrase refers to the tendency for legal authorities to always, “Get their man”. Well in my experience Lord Krishna’s “arm” is much longer than the law, and He has extended it through His beloved representative Srila Prabhupada, and Srila Prabhupada’s faithful servants, to reach out to devotees in every circumstance of life.
Closing a year of ecstatic preaching and opening a new one is very exciting. More opportunities to serve the sweet lotus feet of Prabhupada and Krsna!
This year I am hoping for more volunteers to correspond with the many inmates reaching out for support and guidance. Below is some more nectar from the inmates as well as an overview of the activities of IPM in 2012.
New Inmate Letter Excerpts
How I came to Krsna
by Bhakta Ben
As year 2012 is coming to a close, I am reflecting on all the service rendered to Lord Krsna by the prison ministry, and I feel very grateful to all who have been involved in pleasing the Lord in this way.
In preparing more excerpts from inmates’ letters to share with the devotee community, I had to go over the ones that haven’t been published yet. Although a majority of them are from letters I have received in the course of the year, reading them again was as refreshing and inspiring to read as the first time around. I felt the same eagerness to drink this very unique nectar.