Chakra Discussions

Maya's Strong Grip On Prison Population Eases

by Shyama Priya dasi, ISKCON Prison Ministry

Posted November 29, 2008

Srila Prabhupada has described the material world as a prison house. There are many prison houses; the mind can be a prison house and so can one's body or a situation that one is in, but here we are talking about the prisons of the U.S. and the people who are in them.

During this time of the year we all think of how to get more books distributed. Here are some nice testimonies of real people who have received Srila Prabhupada's books and are benefiting. This is real freedom: receiving the knowledge of Krsna. If you would like to help get more books into the the hands of such spiritually hungry people, please contact shyamapriya@aol.com

Srila Prabhupada's books give me ever new fresh nectar:

Maya has a strong grip on the prison population. I try my best to stay focused on Shri Shri Radha Shyam; chanting the holy names really helps out; just from chanting I know that I am getting purified. Through the mercy of Srila Prabhupada I was pulled out of bondage that I thought was life. Before reading the philosophy of Bhakti-yoga, I was a fallen soul, a gang member. I used drugs and I practiced sex before marriage. Then I found out that I was living with a veil over my face. Since I was given mercy from devotees of the ISKCON Prison Ministry and Srila Prabhupada, I have lived a completely different life. Without the books of Srila Prabhupada and the seva of IPM volunteers I would still be a wandering soul. Now I have a mission to go back home and bring as many souls with me as possible.

The glory of Srila Prabhupada's books is immeasurable. Chant and be Happy was the first book of Srila Prabhupada I read, in January 2004. Each time I read Srila Prabhupada's books I relish ever-new, sweet nectar. I have learned the science of reincarnation and the journey of the soul by reading Srila Prabhupada's books. I no longer fear death, because the soul is eternal, and nothing can kill the soul. Maya is everywhere, and if we stay in her grips we will return in another life, to go through these sufferings of birth, death, old age and illness.

I have also learned through the literature of Srila Prabhupada the process of returning back home, back to Godhead. Bhakti yoga is the best method. Devotion to Shri Shri Radha Krishna, chanting the glorious holy names and study of the Shastras are all great ways to start on the path of Krishna consciousness. In order to liberate ourselves, however, we must chant the Hare Krishna Mahamantra. —— B.G. (Bowling Green, Florida), who is practicing Krishna consciousness in prison.

Srila Prabhupada's books give knowledge and detachment:

Prabhupada's books and my chanting of the Hare Krishna Mahamantra have helped me on the path of self-realization by realizing the method of being attached to the Supreme Being, Krishna. Prabhupada has helped me to realize that principles of knowledge and detachment are two important factors on the path of this subtle transcendental path Back to Godhead.

I now understand through the great Acarya Srila Prabhupada, who teaches by example, that as long as the soul doesn't know the Supreme Being, Krishna, it becomes attached to worldly pleasure and is bound, but when it knows Krishna, it is freed from all bondage. If we would maintain the identity of the Supreme Being Krishna all the time, we are never hurt by anything. When the Supreme Being, Krishna, is known bondage falls away. As we start meditating on this aspect of truth, we become free from all the things that bind us. Whether it is pleasure or pain, attachment or aversion, you become totally free from it. —— D.S. (Cumberland, Maryland)

I wish I could have met Srila Prabhupada:

I am chanting 16 rounds daily now; I follow regulative principles given by Srila Prabhupada. As of May 11, 2008, I am back in the general prison population and trying to spread Krishna consciousness to other inmates whenever possible. I am trying for a prison job, to be able to buy Prabhupada's books to fill the chapel library here. Even if I am only able to get less expensive books, at least news of Krishna will be available here in this prison. I will do the best I can; that is my promise to IPM volunteers.

I really wish I could have met personally Srila Prabhupada and am feeling sad that I missed that opportunity. But the upside is that I can associate with Srila Prabhupada every time I read his words in many books. When I read Srila Prabhupada's books it is like a video playing images inside my head. I am thinking Krishna was giving me a test of what "real separation" feels like between devotees and teachers.

These are some of my realizations: (1) God has many different names to all kinds of different people. My favorite name of God is Hare Krishna! An all attractive name for all attractive God. (2) When you want to commune with Lord Krishna, don't look to the sky; instead, you should close your eyes and allow yourself to travel inward to the heart. There you will find beloved Krishna ready to receive you. (3) I must put my trust, faith and love in Krishna and in service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for He will never abandon you in either time of happiness or distress. Like when you walk on the sand of a beach and there is only one set of footprints where once there were two, Krishna is the only one who carries you along the journey of life. —— K.C. (Plymouth, Wisconsin), who is preaching in prison and is trying to set up a library.

I found peace and joy in Krishna Consciousness:

I was strung out on different chemicals, thinking it was the way to cope with life and it would bring peace and joy, but I found out that it only gave me peace and happiness on a temporary level. The more I used, the more I wanted. I was never satisfied. I tried booze, sleeping around, partying and doing risky behavior. I found out that I was happy on the outside, but deep down in my inner soul something was missing. I decided to try different religions, but none brought me peace of mind or comfort until I came in contact with the Hare Krishna movement; since then I have experienced true joy and peace.

I have a direction and purpose in my life. Not only do I feel peace and happiness on the outside, but I also feel peace and happiness on the inside. This only the Krishna consciousness movement has given me, along with devotee association and reading of Srila Prabhupada's books and chanting of Hare Krishna Mahamantra. I want to share the following poem:

Even though I wake up each morning
in a prison cell consisting of four walls and steel bars,
I have found peace in Krishna.
Even though I wake up each morning
in a prison cell staring through steel bars,
I have found peace in Krishna.
Even though I go through trials and tribulations,
I have found peace in Krishna.
Krishna's peace is the true and everlasting peace.

—— G.S. (Salem, Oregon), who is practicing Krishna consciousness in prison.

Human life is meant for worshiping Krishna:

I am reaching a higher spiritual platform as I have increased my chanting to two hours each day. The chanting relaxes me and allows me to express devotion to Krishna. I am very happy that I have found perfection of all religion. The essence and total foundation of all religion is to be found in Krishna consciousness. Krishna consciousness uplifts humanity and generates true peace for everyone that becomes a part of it.

Now I know that killing animals and eating meat is wrong, and I believe that the teachings of the Hare Krishna movement are the correct spiritual path. Love, kindness and compassion are natural consequences of loving Krishna. By reading Srila Prabhupada's books I feel as if I am directly associating with him. By daily chanting and reading of Krishna-conscious literature I gain the necessary strength to overcome any difficulty. A Krishna-conscious person is the enemy of no one because he/she is the true well-wisher of everyone. I am unaffected by the negative energy that resides in a prison because I am practicing Krishna consciousness.

In addition I continue to read Bhagavad-gita and Srila Prabhupada's books each day. As I reread Srila Prabhupada's books, I discover many divine spiritual truths that I had not noticed before. I am very joyful and happy to be a member of the Krishna Conscious movement. Each day with Krishna gets better than the day before. I am very enthusiastic and very joyful to be a devoted servant of Lord Krishna. I know now who God really is, God is divine and the Supreme personality and His name is Krishna; and human life is meant for worshiping Krishna. We have to accept only those things favorable for Krishna and reject everything else.

Peace is the characteristic of a person who is devoted to the loving nature of Krishna. There can't be peace in religion or philosophy which teaches that it is ok to eat meat. The Hare Krishna movement is the ultimate movement towards spiritual realization of human kind. As a follower of the Krishna Conscious movement, I am very happy and full of energy. I am in prison but, but I am joyful because I have a divine relationship with Krishna. —— R.C. (Brunswick, North Carolina), who is practicing Krishna consciousness in prison.

One can become God conscious by chanting Hare Krishna Mahamantra:

I would love to have a copy of the Gita. I have read half of the Gita, and I feel like a starving man with his half-eaten meal taken away. The Bhagavad-gita expands upon things of Islam and it even sheds light on things that my soul was always in agreement with ever since I was a little boy. The main thing captivating to me about the Gita is its constant elaboration on loving God.

I strongly agree that Hare Krishna Mahamantra is the greatest method I have personally encountered when it comes to ingraining God on the forefront of one's consciousness. I love to remember God at all times in all things I do, say and think. What better way to become Go-conscious than to chant His holy name? What better way to mold oneself into becoming a devoted servant of God than to constantly chant His holy names? True, there are many methods but, as a Muslim whose heart is biased, I take my hat off in reverence to the Hare Krishna Mahamantra. As Srila Prabhupada said, one shows the first symptom of this in the urge to dance along with the chanting of the Hare Krishna Mahamantra. I took the advice of an IPM volunteer for chanting 30 to 45 minutes and this is the first symptom I received. Allahu Akbar! (God is the Greatest!)

I enjoy reading the words of Srila Prabhupada. He reminds me of my spiritual master Wallace D. Mohammed. Srila Prabhupada's words are delightful in their teaching and more so in their actions, so please keep on sending me books of Srila Prabhupada. From reading the various books by Srila Prabhupada, I have come to see that Srila Prabhupada is only reiterating his purports from Bhagavad-gita with further expounding and emphasis, which is excellent when that call is all that matters: Back to Godhead. —— R.S.S. (Reidsville, Georgia), who was preached to by another inmate, K.B. Now he, too, practices Krishna consciousness in prison.