Mother Vikalotkarsini arranged prison programs throughout Slovenia for Candramauli Swami and a team of devotees from Ljubljana, time came for the first program in Celje.
I arrived at the temple 5 minutes before departure time and knew there was no time for honoring prasadam. I had already accepted the fact I may go the whole day without eating.
I went down to the dining room to see if I could maybe grab a few pieces of bread for the road. When I came to the dining room there was an abundance of palatable dishes but with no time, so I grabbed 4 chapatis and off I go. The devotee serving prasadam said in great surprise: “No subji?!” I said: “I am going, no time for taking prasadam.” He replied: “You can take it on the road!” I knew very well that usually there are no plates during the week, but I decided to look anyway. To my surprise, there was exactly one plate behind the door as if waiting for me. It then dawned on me: “When we do our duty and what’s necessary first all other things just fall in place!” “As they surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly”. I took some subji , chapatis and a bottle of water and we drove. It was a valuable lesson for me to remember since I am always running low on time.
After an hour drive, we arrived at the prison. This being our second visit here, the entrance formalities were not as strict. We quickly did the necessary check-up and proceeded towards the dining room where the program was to be held.
Bhakta Tine’s began singing very slow and very sweet bhajans which perhaps a little slow for the inmates. Candramauli Maharaja then delivered a wonderful lecture. Since this was already our second visit, Maharaja decided to be even more direct and “straight to the point”. He started – as usual with the standard opening “You are not this body” and “The material world as a whole is just a prison house”. He then expanded saying “Our happiness is inside ourselves when you find it there you will find it everywhere. It’s not dependent on what we have or do”. Actually we see that people with money are not necessarily happier than poorer people. Happiness is more connected with the way of life than a person’s bank account. Maharaja told a story of a man who had a restaurant where he would throw live shrimps into boiling water to cook them. Only later he would end his life in a similar circumstance: once while diving in the sea along the coast a big forest fire broke out nearby. The firemen used airplanes with big tanks to take water out of the ocean and pour it onto the blazing flames. Somehow he was scoped up together with ocean water was thrown into the blazing forest. So karma is just material law of action and reaction and the only way to avoid it is to take up spiritual life. Maharaja explained the only way out of this materialistic prison life is the chanting of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra which is completely spiritual and connects us with God. To further substantiate his case Maharaja told another story about a woman who took up chanting and then accepted a spiritual master while inside of jail. Miraculously she received a rarely given suspension of her sentence by the governor that same day she met her spiritual master. Maharaja also told of an inmate on death-row who took up the reading of Bhagavad-Gita (BG) and chanting of the maha-mantra and thus overcoming all fear of death. Going to his death with Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-Gita in his hands. I briefly glanced over the inmates’ faces when Maharaja was talking and could notice that most of them seemed skeptical. The overall impression that I was getting : “What are they speaking about? They are speaking about God and karma, and they are saying that everyone is an prisoner. Because of their ignorance they can’t see that people on the outside are also prisoners – prisoners of a lesser degree but prisoners nonetheless
On our last visit, an inmate asked Maharaja if he knew some exercises and mantras to improve his health and this time he came forward to thank the Maharaja how the Tibetan exercises worked nicely. Maharaja then requested him to chant the maha-mantra regularly since: “It is good both for physical as well as for spiritual health”, while the Tibetan mantras he gave him may only be good for the body.
After a few questions, we again performed bhajans and ended our visit. All in all although the inmates didn’t appear interested yet many books were distributed and by Krsna’s special mercy prasadam in the form of oranges and bananas were gotten by all.
All glories to Sri Sri Gaura Nitai Who have ad-vented to give the highest to the lowest.
Gaura Premanandi Hari Bol!
Written by Bhakta Saso
11 Beginners Guide to Krsna Consciousness by Tirtha Das
4 Bhagavad Gita
7 Life of Prabhupada
6 The Teaching of Lord Caitanya