Attendance: 10 inmates + 1 guard
Shortly after an unexpected and very serious surgery, our main man, Mahasimha Prabhu, the organizer, was back in his seva, (devotees ardently prayed for his well-being) therefore we got the chance for another program in Lepoglava, ,the Croatian- Mecca of prison preaching. With joy and zest I was prepared for another encounter with the inmates. Mahatma Prabhu drove us to the prison on time, but the guards were late as usual. To our surprise this time they took us to a lot smaller room but it turned out to be our Krishna’s mercy as the arrangement brought us closer to one another.
Ten inmates came four of them were there for the first time, being brought to the program by one of our regular attendants. With Maha Mantra cards in front of them, they quickly joined in the kirtan, either by clapping hands and singing or by listening attentively. We gave the karatals to our “old” friend, who liked playing them at the last program.
An inmate that came for the first time, looked at the text with great focus, and sang like he had done that before. Most of them were smiling. I looked at one and his hands immediately started to clap, as did a few others, remembering my explanation about the crows (sins) on the tree that fly away when clapping occurs. It was wonderful to see how Krishna transforms people quickly during bhajans. The atmosphere in the room had completely changed.
When delivering the talk -based on the story of Ajamila from Srimad Bhagavatam with which one of the inmates was already familiar with,- they were all listening very carefully, including the guard. You could see that the story and the subject touched him. We were not at all surprised when he told us as we were leaving: ”There is something in that.”
I mentioned several topics: death, material body (gross and subtle), soul, reincarnation, exalted character, importance of associating with saintly persons and following religious principles, stressing that Bhakti yoga, our process of striving for Krishna,begins with sravanam kirtanam.
They wanted to know what happens with people who call out for the Lord consciously, since Ajamila didn’t have the intention to call out the Lord’s Name at the time of death. They inquired whether people in the Hare Krishna movement fall from the path and were curious about my initial interest in a spiritual path and in joining the movement. They asked does material gain come when we establish ourselves spiritually…
One inmate, joyfully boasted as he already gotten his japa mala, being the first inmate to attend. At the close we distributed a few books. The atmosphere was wonderful, it was Kartik and Ekadasi.
Sri Sri Radha Damodara Ki Jay!
Srila Prabhupada Ki Jay!
Your servant Dharma-vatsalah Das