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“I only see the neck of the bird.”

There is a story in the Mahabharata, about Dronacarya testing the young Kauravas’ and Pandavas’ skill at archery. An artificial bird was placed in a tree and, as each of his students came forward, one by one, Drona asked,
“Do you see the bird at the top of the tree?
“Yes, I do.” each replied.
“Do you see anything else?”
“Yes, I see the tree, myself, my brothers and the me.”
Drona was not pleased and ordered, “Stand aside! You are not fit to strike the target.” Only Arjuna pleased him by replying,
“I only see the neck of the bird.”
With his hairs standing on end out of ecstasy, Drona ordered, “Release your arrow!”

I often recall this story when I see how fixed up some of our inmates are. They learn to ignore all obstacles, serving Kṛṣṇa in whatever ways they can; chanting, reading, and giving Kṛṣṇa to others. Disregarding all the distractions around them (temptations, quarrels, tensions, and injustices), they remain fixed on their service to Kṛṣṇa.

This year, the spread of the infamous “Coronasura” virus made an already difficult situation (prison life) a hundred times more challenging for the inmates.
In some prisons, there has been months-long lockdowns (there are still some going on as you read this), during which inmates were not allowed to leave their cells at any time, for any reason, not even to go to the cafeteria. Meager meals of peanut butter sandwiches (the vegetarian option during this emergency period) were brought directly to the inmates.

In other prisons, as cells were gradually filled with sick inmates, the rest were packed together in open halls, where privacy became non-existent. Rivals had to live side by side, with no bars separating them. Loud music was played, each group listening to a different music genre; you can just imagine the unbelievable cacophony it created. With frustration rising due to a lack of privacy, comforts, and freedom of movement, tensions grew with each passing day. inmates Although inmates can normally buy extra items from the commissary (the prison store) such as food, hygiene items, cigarettes, and more, due to the pandemic, the commissary was closed, depriving inmates from the few luxuries they had. And, with everyone piled on top of each other, hostilities increased; between inmates, and between inmates and guards. In such a hectic and stressful environment, you can just imagine how difficult it has been for the bhaktas to try and maintain a minimum of chanting and hearing. But, to their credit, many managed to do just that. Their determination and faith were direly tested and they succeeded.

I myself had the virus and was out of commission for a few months. I was so sick I felt like I would have to retire from my service. I was very concerned about what would happen to the prison ministry, since, up to now, I have yet to find a devotee who has a burning desire to be trained up to take over when my time comes. However, by Kṛṣṇa’s mercy, I recuperated and He allowed me to continue giving His mercy to the sincere souls.
Please give me your mercy so I can keep serving Prabhupada’s prison ministry for many years to come.
I thank all the volunteers who have worked with me, by either writing inmates, sending books, mailing the BTGs and newsletter, or typing: Śrutadeva prabhu; mother Bhranti, mother Ramaniya, Balabhadra prabhu, mother Govindanandini, mother Nandini Radha, Bhakta Arturo, Jhadu Thakur prabhu, Premananda prabhu, Svarbhanu prabhu, mother Brajarani, Anupama prabhu, mother Jamuna Jaya, Ekanatha prabhu (UK), mother Manmohini and her husband Raghava prabhu, mother Lila Kishori, and two volunteers who wish to remain anonymous but that want to acknowledge here.

I probably forgot someone so please excuse me and let me know so I can acknowledge you in the next newsletter.

I also thank all our well-wishers who have donated all the material and funds that allow us to distribute Kṛṣṇa’s mercy to hundreds of inmates.

May you all be blessed with an increasing taste for the holy name!

2021 IPM book distribution

Prabhupada’s Books total: 2,102
Breakdown:
Booklets: 493
Small: 1,126
Medium: 30
Big: 101
Maha-Big: 352
Books by other devotee authors: 94
BTGs: 2,021
BBT Art Calendars: 51
CDs: 152
MP3s: 9
DVDs: 14
Japa Mala sets: 12

GRAND TOTAL of all Books and BTGs in 2021: 4,217

Srila Prabhupada, ke, Jaya!!!

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NOTE:

This article is only a part of IPM NEWS, our bi-monthly electronic newsletter. To read whole issues, please go to: iskconprisonministry.org
If you wish to receive it in your mailbox, simply email me at iskconprisonministry@gmail.com with "SUBSCRIBE" in the subject line.
More excerpts of inmate letters and also their artwork are available on our website at: iskconprisonministry.org

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ISKCON Prison Ministry
PO Box 2676
Alachua, FL 32616

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ISKCON Prison Ministry
PO Box 2676
Alachua, FL 32616
IskconPrisonMinistry@gmail.com
IskconPrisonMinistry.org