Croatia: Lepoglava Penitentiary

Devotees: Mahatma, Zoran, Dharma-vatsalah

Attendance: 20 inmates

This time, our trip to Lepoglava was without the fog, we entered the prison very quickly. A few inmates were already in the room where we hold the program and they eagerly told us that more inmates are coming. Sure enough, soon there were 20 along with three guards.

I raised my head there was an inmate with tilak on his forehead. It was normal to see a person with a tilak at the program, so I didn’t pay any heed. Later on with every glance at the audience, I noticed another one with a tilak, and another, and another. While leading the bhajan I counted ten inmates with nicely drawn tilaks on their foreheads. When asked about this, they explained that they smuggled it in, because last time I spoke about tilak.

Later, Bh. Zoran said that he saw how one inmate was drawing tilak on another one, probably with pastel colors. They were happy and secretive, like children who want to show off in front of their parents in a proper light after they’ve done something good.

During bhajans two inmates danced. Most were singing the Maha mantra. A few attended for the first time. One inmate played the karatals, just like at the previous programs.

Topic of the lecture was “the mind”, titled “The mind, our biggest friend, or enemy?”I described the situation on the battlefield of Kuruksetra when Arjuna asked Krishna “What makes a man to act sinfully even against his will?”, explaining what constitutes our gross and subtle body, and how lust, anger and illusion arise. Arjuna said “the mind is very restless, strong, stubborn and harder to control then the wind”.

We tried an experiment: for a few moments we tried to think of nothing. Generally, they didn’t want to admit that their minds wandered. Later we found out that most of them like pizza, so I went on with the experiment and said not to think of hot, tasty, delicious, pizza. After this experiment they agreed that mind is very difficult to control.

To show them how our mind is constantly active and that we can only satisfy the mind by Krishna consciousness. Krishna and Srila Prabhupada tell us this in the Bhagavad gita, I used the story analogy of the two wolfs and the genie in a bottle who had to fulfill wishes all the time, until a devotee instructed him to chant Hare Krishna, after which he calmed down.

We ended the program with bhajans, few inmates started to dance, someone took over the karatals for a little while and enjoyed playing with great pleasure. After the lecture there were several questions.

  • How should we understand when someone who was a good person during his life time, dies in great suffering?
  • If our lives and the hard things we go through in life are our lessons, why can’t we remember our past lives (lessons)? If we could remember previous bad actions we could avoid them.
  • Why did Krishna had 16108 wives? It seems immoral.
  • Why did Krishna marry his son to the daughter of his sister?
  • I made a little summary at the end and asked them what is the best way to control the mind? One of them immediately replied: drugs!!! Another quietly said: All of them are bad!

Five inmates wanted “The Manual for Practicing Krishna Consciousness in Prison”. The guard allowed us to give the books directly to the inmates because they are of religious character. Few inmates said that they would like to have beads. Jay! But I was wondering how many really want to chant?

We pray that at least some will accept Sri Krishna and start seriously chanting.

Dharma-vatsalah das

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