Lepoglava Penitentiary Monday, December 23. 2013

Devotees: Mahatma . Zoran Dharma-vatsalah

Attendance: 13 inmates + guard

Preparing for our eight prison preaching program in Lepoglava, I felt very happy knowing that we were bringing them a new book translated into Croatian – The Definitive Guide to Practicing Krsna Consciousness in Prison by inmate Tirtha Das.

The day before the program Mahatma reported that he would probably not be able to come, I prayed to Sri Sri Gaura Nitai to help me, and suddenly a devotee appeared who could come and play mrdanga. In the morning of the same day when the program was scheduled, Mahasimha miraculously managed to get permission from the jail authorities for a different mrdanga player to enter the prison. It was a relief because I was aware that the inmates were expecting a bhajan team. But still I was hoping that Mahatma will manage to join us. And he did! Soon he phoned telling me he would come because he canceled his trip. Haribol!

The entire day was covered by a thick fog. I spent much time driving around covering many kilometers. As we approached the town of Lepoglava the fog dissipated the sun was setting. The sunshine was comforting and energizing.

A friendly guard led us through an empty church. Upon entering the room where 13 inmates were waiting, I was feeling some disturbance. Dissatisfaction on the faces of the inmates showed something was wrong. After a while one of them stood up and hurt feelings, blurted his heart out. After collecting 50 signatures from other inmates, he had asked the prison superintendent to allow weekly gatherings. The authorities rejected their appeal. Expressing the objection that it was against the religious rights of the inmates bore no fruit so he asked us for help, adding that even some of the inmates who wanted to attend our program were left locked in their cells.I didn’t expect that! It was a serious issue, but it is encouraging to see their desire to gather more often.

When we started bhajans, the atmosphere changed. Two or three inmates came for the first time. Most of them were singing.

The lecture was based on Chapters 7 and 10 of the Bhagavad Gita. “Who is the source of everything, and where is He” Wanting to make them aware of different ways we can experience God, I talked about different aspects of realizing God, about His energies, inferior and superior, about the conditioned souls, who, though spiritual by nature, as marginal energy, are able to choose to which energy of the Lord they want to take shelter of. Unfortunately, when we try to please our own wishes and senses, we mostly choose material energy as our shelter. In such a way, by exploiting the lower energy of the Lord, we forget our real position as spirit souls, part and parcel of God.

To realize our constitutional position, we must practice Yoga according to Krishna’s instruction, states Srila Prabhupada. We have to focus our mind on Krishna by prescribed devotional service.

Inmates wanted to know reasons for fall-down and how to protect ourselves from it.

They also inquired about the authenticity of Bhagavad Gita and how to avoid misinterpretation of the spiritual knowledge.

One inmate with his recently arrived japa mala, wanted to know the meaning of the words on the bead bag. We left them 4 “Guides to Practicing Krishna Consciousness in Prison” by writing the names of inmates on each copy so that the guards could give them the books afterward. A few more inmates asked for chanting beads, and some of them even wanted Tulsi necklaces.

Srila Prabhupada ki Jaya!

Your servant Dharma-vatsalah Das

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