When a police officer on the Croatian border heard from the devotees headed by Candramauli Maharaja that they are going for prison preaching programs in Lepoglava and Remetinec, they warned them about the later one, considering it more challenging but I never found out why.
It was one of the first hot days this year when Mahasimha and I arrived there at noon, after a hilarious drive in his old Opel. Soon after the rest of the team showed up. Candramauli Maharaja was graciously dressed as always but the garments of others looked more like gopis’ running to the forest after they have heard Krsna’s flute.
Prison officers had us wait in front of the black glass on the hot sun for some five minutes, and Maharaja took advantage of this for devising the preaching plan. Raghunatha and Dasaratha are going to sing, Mohan will speak introductory words, Mahasimha will explain about books in the prison library and contact address for those who want to write to us, and I will translate. Once inside the prison most often mentioned in Croatian newspapers, we were treated almost friendly and soon escorted to the big conference hall where dozen inmates were waiting for us. Arranging a book stand we sat with them around one big table.
After bhajans Maharaja started to speak about karma and reincarnation but was often interrupted by questions. One young lad was especially inquisitive in spite of having problems keeping his attention, probably due to some heavy tranquillizers. Few other inmates seemed to be under same medications, but still the whole group was very responsive. Later we found out that “Art of Living” people are visiting regularly and it seems that such programs make inmates more ready for our philosophy. They even asked if the two practices are compatible and expressed the desire to have us there regularly. During the chanting session almost all of them joined enthusiastically.
This time we had enough books (Mahasimha learns quickly) and inmates showed unprecedented greed for them. Some were taking four books at the time, others took Guide for Practicing KC in Prison in spite of it being in English. One of them specifically wanted a plastic Maha Mantra card in order to keep it safely longer. One of the inmates looking really together, almost noble, asked about prayers and how to combine them with Catholic prayers they are now using. Maharaja drove his attention to Sri Isopanisad, explaining that the book is practically made of prayers.
On our way out, a lady officer inquired more about our practices and we tried to understand better the requirements of the inmates. Coming out from the building Maharaja was greeted by two matajis who heartfully paid their obeisances in the dust of the street right in front of the curious looks from the other side of the black glass. I took it as a sign that Krishna was very pleased with our prison preaching efforts under Candramauli Maharaja’s guidance.
In spite of the warning from the border police, Remetinec turned out to be a place where quite a few souls are really calling for Krishna and highly appreciated what we had to offer. Hopefully Mahasimha will manage regular programs in this jail too, since such interest for KC philosophy is nowadays rare even outside the prison walls.
Vinata Dasi, (Krk, Croatia)
Note- Mother Vinata is a disciple of HH Smrita Krsna Maharaja.She writes for and publishes a regular monthly magazine on Krsna Consciousness events around Croatia.