ISKCON Prison Ministry
Posted June 18, 2003
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Parbhupada.
Thank you for your important service in keeping devotees connected.
Attached is a letter from an inmate. Please put it on your website followed by our contact information:
Anyone desiring to help with donations, or books, tapes, beads, etc, please contact us.
ISKCON Prison Ministry
Mother Shyama Priya
4455 Quince St. #A
San Diego, CA 92105
PO Box 2693
Toledo OH 43606
Prison as Devotional Paraphernalia
Letter to Candrasekhara from Sarva Laksmi Mayi, an inmate in Louisiana State Prison.
She had found one of Srila Prabhupada’s books about 2 years ago, which had been sent out to the prison 15 years prior. This is a wonderful example of how Krsna, in the form of His books, goes where He wants to go, waiting for the person who will read the book and take advantage of the knowledge. After finding the book and contacting the Prison Ministry, Sarva Laksmi Mayi, (then Maureen), started chanting japa, reading everyday and preaching to other inmates. She desired initiation and Bir Krsna Maharaja gave her Hare Nama Initiation.
May 8, 2003
Please accept my humble obeisances and respects. All glories to Srila Prabhupada’s lotus feet. Jaya Bir Krsna dasa Goswami. Jaya Sri Krsna Caitanya, Prabhu Nityananda, Sri Advaita, Gadahara, Sri Vasadi Gaurabhakta Vrnda.
My dear Prabhu, please sit down, do not read this letter standing up or you may pass out. Yes, by your mercy and Candramauli Swami’s prayers I met my guru Maharaja. It was so wonderful and full of transcendental enlightenment. We chanted japa, talked of the Supreme Lord and his glorious past times, I even sang him my own special song, “The Yogi of my Mind”. He told me he was very glad he came and he could see that I was Krsna conscious. During the visit he asked about my release. I humbly told Gurudeva that I had a 90-year sentence. I only had one chance for parole and it wasn’t likely that I would make it.
So, in essence I had 25-flat years left in prison, but I told him I was very happy and would utilize the prison as paraphernalia in the service of the Lord. I also told him I got a time cut, 6 years ago, but it was denied by the Governor, because of my crime. But it was OK, because I don’t ask for release, I only ask for pure devotional skills. That’s all I want wherever I am at. Well Gurudeva said, “We have to get you in a temple. I believe Krsna will let you get out of here.” So it was a very nice visit and I returned to my room and chanted in ecstasy very happily.
The next day the authorities called me to the front office and handed me a brown envelope and said “open it”, I didn’t think it was anything important, so I haphazardly opened it. Enclosed was an official document from the Governor saying he grants me a clemency and cut 50 years off my sentence! I floated back to my room, the paper was on my bed and I noticed the date on it. The date the Governor signed it and granted the pardon was Monday April 28th, the same day Maharaja spoke his desire to see me out. As I looked at the date I thought “you must have faith in Radha-Krsna and guru”, these were the exact words Maharaja wrote me in last letter, right before he visited. I cried and laughed and felt Krsna’s grace very clearly in my tiny room. So now, I do not have to go to a parole board at all. I am suddenly being released instead, in July or August. I’m serious, 50 years cut off my sentence. I feel H.H. Bir Krsna das Goswami has performed a miracle. I was told Governor Foster could not sign or give clemency to me, it was denied. But suddenly by guru’s wish Krsna turned it all around.
Prabhu, Krsna is beautiful and has eyes that are blooming like lotus petals, His figure of beauty is tinged with the hue of blue clouds, His unique loveliness charms millions of cupids. I am a simple devotee, an ant, yet Krsna has given His causeless mercy so easily. I am so undeserving, compared to all the swam-like devotees; I have nothing to offer Krsna but love and service. I am so happy, but I do know that all of this has transpired because of the mercy of the devotees, you, Candramauli Swami and Guru Maharaja. Now, in a few months, I walk out, no parole board! I get double good time, so 40 years automatically turns into 20 years, which I have done! It’s amazing how Krsna reciprocates. I can’t go to the temple right away, because I have to be gainfully employed and I still report to a parole officer for 20 years. It’s all up to Krsna, He is the puppet master, I am a puppet, if He says dance, I dance. Maharaja said my service would be to write and teach yoga classes at the temple-Hatha Yoga-to draw people to the temple. I am a step-aerobics instructor so; it’s easy to do exercise class for me.
We are all puffed up at times, but by Krsna’s mercy He allows bad qualities to somehow evaporate and good qualities to replace bad ones. Prabhu, I am sweating in 98 degrees inside our building, everyone is suffering. The material body is so full of misery, but due to Krsna’s mercy I am happy, even in this conditioned life. We can be transcendental to it.
Lord Jagannatha makes a loud concert with His flute in the groves on the banks of the Yamuna. He is like a bumblebee tasting the beautiful lotus like faces of the Gopis and Laksmi, Siva, Brahma, Indra and Ganesh. This is Sri Jagannathastaka from my beautiful songbook you sent me. Prabhu you are very compassionate, kind and merciful. I am a simple ant, who doesn’t know the first thing about devotional service, but I will learn the Gita, because I see how Krsna speaks through you to me. It is very clear now. Also Candramauli Swami’s mercy, Bir Krsna Maharaja said, “Yes, Candramauli Swami is praying for you and you are receiving his mercy.”
I’m going to New Orleans, somewhere to a halfway house. So at least I will be able to worship at the temple and go to festivals, until I can get permission to go either to Chicago or North Carolina.
Your humble servant, Sarva Laksmi Mayi