Zadar Prison June 10th, 2014. First program

We arrived at the prison according to plan. H.H. Smita Krishna Maharaja, Sudevi dasi Marunda dasi and I (Yours truly Vrsabha das). The first thrill was at the reception when the doorwoman complimented our ladies for being wonderfully and elegantly dressed. On the third floor we were welcomed by another doorman who was thrilled by our visit. He told us that he had to stay at the reception desk, but he wanted some contact info because he liked what we talked about. He received my web page and thanked us.

The prison warden informed us that the inmates were on substitute legal drugs and that we should contact security if we have any problems. She led us into a reception hall. We arranged the chairs in a semicircle. The jail contains 80 inmates 3 came for the lecture. One of them greeted us with “Haribol” as he was entering.

I led bhajans for ten minutes. We could notice that the three of them were curiously watching our performance and one of them sang along. Marunda played karatals and Sudevi played tambourine. However, when she noticed inmate Frane`s enthusiasm (the one who greeted us with “Haribol”) she gave him the tambourine, encouraging him to join us, which he did, with a smile on his face. After 10 minutes of bhajans, he felt free and started to tell us his story. “I associated with devotees 7 years ago, in Šibenik. I was a vegetarian. One guru came from the USA in 2007. We organized a program for him and that was a very nice time in my life. I regret having to eat jail food which is not vegetarian.” He talked with a feeling of melancholy while his eyes were glowing.

Another inmate said that he has a Bhagavad Gita at home, and the third said that he hadn’t the opportunity to hear about this philosophy. H.H. Smita Krishna Maharaja gave an appropriate lecture lasting for 45 minutes, in which he emphasized the most important points to be applied according to their lifestyle. They listened carefully and gratitude could be felt in their gazes. They explained to us that there is a program of religious diet, but they don`t have the conditions, because after a while, the prison stopped making food for a small group of inmates, objecting that if they wanted such food, they would have to pay for it.

We stayed a little over an hour, the guards seemed to have forgotten about us. We had a good time because we were talking about Krishna. At the close, we shook hands and they told us to come again, exclaiming: “Hare Krishna!” wishing to meet us again sometime, outside of jail. We were happy for them and they were happy we came. We felt gratitude in our hearts because we had an opportunity to be with the people who are rarely remembered by anyone. We left, our hearts filled.

Vrsbha Das

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