Penitentiary is seemingly like any other facility where the souls, due to bodily identification, are forced by law to reap what they sown. From a spiritual perspective, aren`t we all in a penitentiary?
By the arrangements and determined efforts of a local devotee of ISKCON Ljubljana, Vikalotkarsini and the addition of three other local devotees Bhakta Marko, who lead the Kirtan, Anandana Vardana, our translator, Bhakta Misho, our sound man, plus IPM member Candra from the U.S. together showered the benevolence of the Hare Krishna Mahamantra upon a well received audience of 35 inmates at the IG Women’s Correctional Facility near Ljubljana, Slovenia.
The correctional facility is caressed and nestled in a manicured woodland area that surrounds the facility at the fringe of IG, Slovenia. The women’s facility, formerly a castle, was transformed into a prison in 1956. The facilities holds a maximum inmate population of 79. ( source: http://www.cpt.coe.int/documents/svn/2008-07-inf-eng.pdf pg. 26
The Kirtan was initiated in concert with great anticipation by the resident populous. The inmates were swooned by melodies charged out by the sweet sounds of kartals, harmonium, mridanga and devotees. After 15 minutes of Kirtan, a lecture proceeded and was given by Candra das, by the mercy of H.H Candramauli Swami. Initially H.H Candramauli Swami was scheduled to attend and give lecture but circumstances necessitated a modification.
The lecture focused on the meaning of the Mahamanta, rather, it’s a prayer requesting to be engaged in the loving service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as to assist the Supreme Feminine energy of The Lord. It was explained that much like the catholic tradition, Mother Mary is also prayed to first before approaching or petitioning the Supreme Father. The lectured continued on how this mantra can qualify one’s love for God and His constituent parts and parcels, or loving one’s own self and neighbors.
The lecture made direct reference to how this mantra can eradicate the anxieties of the mind. The majority of the inmates responded in the affirm that they experienced anxiety. The inmates were also asked about their condition after chanting the Mahamanta. They overwhelmingly acknowledged they felt happy after chanting.Therefore, it was asserted that if they wanted to stay anxiety free, then chanting the names of God was the only means to do so.
We ended the lecture with more Kirtan, prasadam (fruit) and distribution of Srila Prabhupada”s books. The fruit remnants were all taken and we had only a hand full of books remaining after the many that were brought. The inmates left us with the impression that they indeed had a hunger for God consciousness and we helped them in digesting parts of this massive meal in our efforts to repatriate these misplaced citizens of Vaikuntha.