Excerpts of Letters

By : 
Various inmates

POSTED on NOVEMBER 19, 2012

Blessed be Mr. Prabhupada
Devotees, greetings, be blessed, and blessed be Mr. Prabhupada. He really was a gifted man of God. (…) I got your beautiful magazine today. I reat it and put the pictures on my wall. I have 7 pictures of Krsna on my walls. I am just doing my time, one day at a time. II chant on my beads every day. I am a vegetarian and all my food goes to Lord Krsna.
Michael Wooten
Mt.Olive, WV

I whispered the mantra in the ear of a friend
Dear Bhakti-lata dasi, thank you for your beautiful letter. I read everything you sent. I’m chanting the maha-mantra, and last night I whispered it in the ear of a friend I was going to AA with. I’ve been incarcerated 24 years, 10 months. I come up for parole next year.
I’ve been on the spiritual path in here for almost

23 years. I read the Bhagavad-gita in 1990, then again in 2008/09. I’m currently reading the Mahabharata. I’ve tried so very hard to live right in here, and change my life, and to treat everyone with respect and compassion. But it seems maybe my karma’s not good or maybe I’m cursed. I seen hope in the pages of Mahabharata, the lessons illustrated there.
I’m enclosing a card for Krsna. Can you put it on the altar? I’m asking Radha-Krsna for mercy and that She recommend me to Krsna. Sincerely,
Craig Brush
San Diego, CA

Without Krsna—I would just go crazy
And Yes! The summary of the CC is ecstatic—I’m hooked on it. I’m on my 2nd time around and now I’m incorporating Lord Caitanya’s pastimes in my chanting—I relive them in my mind as I chant. It’s wonderful. I especially like the times when He withdrew His limbs like a turtle and when He transformed into Lord Nrsimha and scared the heck out of everybody in Navadvipa!!
Lord Krsna is helping me to get through this very difficult period of my life. I feel like—without Him—I would just go crazy. Instead, He is showing me how to take this experience—one I wouldn’t wish on my enemy—and turn it into a transcendental experience. The discovery of the paramatma within and the potency of devotional service to the Lord is preparing me to go back home, back to Godhead. That’s what all this is about and now I’m finally learning I, applying it, imbibing it and making it my life. Watching the reaction of those around me is part of the wonder—and I feel like Prabhupada is my real father—my spiritual father and his words are the lessons about life and the Absolute Truth every child needs to hear. I’ve never met him, but I feel his love and his mercy for this wretched, fallen soul. My gratitude for the purification of all the sinful reactions of my life is beyond words, Mataji.
Bhakta Richard Chase, San Bernardine, CA

Oh, to be a Vaisnava!
“Oh, to be a Vaisnava—Oh to wear the tilaka upon my forehead—to have a sikha (which I will do as soon as I get to my home prison—in South California (here it means association with a rival gang called Nortenos so many southern Mexicans would get the wrong idea). To dance, and jump and roll around the ground in ecstatic love for Krsna is what I desire so badly. THIS desire I am working on to be my ONLY desire. (…) And so, Mataji, I offer my most humble and grateful obeisances at your feet and I so look forward to the next time I get to taste the nectar of your dear letters. Let me know if there’s anything I may do for you. Your servant,”
Bhakta Richard Chase
San Bernardino, CA

I can’t wait for the day that I’ll actually get to hear kirtan
“I also find that the more I read, the more I find the answers to my questions. And of course the more answers I find, the more realizations I have. But when all is said and done, I’m grateful for Lord Caitanya’s mercy of bringing me into the fold and allowing me to take mercy in the shelter of His lotus feet. The past 2 years have been such a wondrous experience and I know it will continue to be so. I can’t wait for the day that I’ll actually get to hear kirtan and Prabhupada’s voice—but for now, I’m just so grateful to have the sastras with me and so many of the nectarian books about KC. It, once again, is truly the perfect and ideal path for prison inmates and as I mentioned before, this is my preparation for starting or adding to a KC movement when I get to my “home” prison.”
Bhakta Richard Chase
San Bernardino, CA

My realization came from chanting and reading Prabhupada’s books
“I first was attracted to Krsna because He was blue. My realization, however, came from chanting and reading His Divine Grace, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s books. It was then that I understood that being a gang member was simply a concept of the false ego, not myself, the spirit soul, a part and parcel of the supreme Lord, Vasudeva.
All the small books you sent I gave to inmates, except two, which I am now waiting to send upstairs to an inmate who has been asking for them. It is sometimes difficult to move things here at this prison, so I have to wait for the proper time to do so, but he will get them.
My little brother really cares about me, so he said he will accept my gift of Krsna consciousness; that he will listen to whatever I tell him. I was surprised to know that he wanted to be like me so badly. Now I can let him be like I am; actually, before he was attracted to be in a gang but now he’s being attracted in another way, for my heart has changed, so has his; now he wants to avoid such a life. This is good. It simply is the mercy of Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu, for I am only an instrument. My brother likes the books and he feels encouraged to change his life as an example for his son.
Anonymous
Jackson, GA

I asked an officer to chant the holy name and he did
“Today I received the package you sent that contained books, CDs, BTG and neck beads. Thanks. I am always feeling increasing bliss for I constantly chant the holy name.
If I could get my fellow inmates to taste the sweetness of Krsna consciousness, then they will immediately give up their usual engagements. They become so excited over football games. I heat them and think, “If I can get them to become this excited or attracted to know Krsna, then they will have real happiness.” These are my thoughts.
Lately I’ve learned that material nature is eternal, as the living entity, but it is the separated energy of the supreme Lord. The living entity, however, is not separated. These things I have learned from closely studying the Bhagavad-Gita. I am now practicing a meditation on the Gita; I study one chapter at a time, for a week or two, or three.
I spoke to an officer one night and asked him to chant the holy name and he did. He told me that when he was in college he had heard the same mantra. We talked for a little while.
Everything is fine. There’s just this rascal who insults me. Actually he does this behind a lock door, but I wouldn’t have done him any harm for such small talk. All day he does this, which actually helps me detach from any concept of the false ego.
I’m now getting ready to begin my morning studying and chanting, therefore I end this letter here.”
Bhakta Kevin Brown
Jackson, GA

Chanting feels natural to me and I like it
“I really enjoy chanting. I’ve noticed that when I chant it helps calm my mind. I have never experienced anything that calms my mind like chanting. It feels natural to me and I like it.”
Andre Dillard Dasa
Daytona Beach, FL

I’ve encountered the truth I’ve always known but was unable to explain
“I don’t remember hearing about Krishna Consciousness in the past. I just always had a desire to read the Bhagavad-gita. I’ve seen the Gita in different book catalogs, and even though I could have bought one I never did. I arrived at Tomoka [Correctional Institution] on 11-19-09 and I was in the library look around and I spotted Bhagavad-gita As It Is. I took it from the library without checking it out. I started reading it but didn’t get into it enough because I caught some confinement time and went to confinement without the Gita. While in confinement I overheard an inmate talking about the chaplain sending him a copy of the Gita. So I did the same and received one. I got your address from inside the book. That’s how I heard about Krishna Consciousness.
When I read about Krishna Consciousness it confirms the unspoken thoughts and feelings I’ve always had about the subject of spirituality. It manifests the truth into words that I already felt to be true, but was unable to express on my own. To me it’s like I’ve encountered the truth I’ve always known but was unable to explain. I expect Krishna Consciousness to expand my awareness of the truth.”
Andre Dillard
Daytona Beach, FL

Victory I have obtained no doubt for I feel the Lord within me
“Yes, I agree that His Divine Grace A.C Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada’s words are non-different than himself for he is present in his words as well as Krsna. When I absorb myself in reading and preaching I always feel the presence of the Lord and His pure Devotee. (…) Now, today I got a few people to accept some of the small books I have for them. One fellow however, when asked whether or not if he wanted something to read just looked as if he was haunted by a ghost. He did not say anything but I could see he was indeed haunted for he looked so worried rather than alive with bliss. I sometimes feel deep feeling for such souls, even animals I see on [the] news that were hurt. I have no control over these feelings they just come suddenly and I feel a cold tear falling upon my face. (…) As I mentioned above, I received the four books you sent as well as the beautiful picture of His Divine Grace A.C Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada. I will mediate on it while I sit and chant daily.
(…) Who can really know the need for prison ministry programs than a prisoner himself who received the mercy? [In] this way I will do as my Mother, Shyama Priya Devi; live to serve the Lord. I will write inmates and help them by giving them my life as an example of victory. Victory I have obtained no doubt for I feel the Lord within me, so ever alive causing me to have deep feelings I cannot express this really for it can only be expressed by devotion by which one get this experience.
“It’s true; books in [the] prison go from one person to another. When I give someone a book I know that I actually gave it to many. They give them to their friends and their friends do likewise and so are like me, give them to officers and family members.”
Bhakta Kevin Brown
Jackson, GA

A rascal as me is experiencing pure bliss
“He’s a really confused young man for he thinks he’s a crip,(a gang). Although, I was involved in the demoniac association before coming to Krsna Consciousness, I find it better now after experiencing my real self and beyond what I took to be myself. I no longer see myself as a crip or anything of that nature for my life has bloomed and I’ve seen the real beauty of living to be enjoyed by the Lord.
Simply, by the mercy of Srila Sanatana Goswami in the form of the Sri Brihad-Bhagavatamrta a rascal as me is experiencing pure bliss. Oh dear mother, my life has become complete in the completeness of the Lord’s loving devotional service, for now I know that devotional is actual life. It is the living glory that makes our life worth living in this material world.
One should be absorbed in one’s devotion and love toward Krsna. Yes it is love, love that is the quintessence of this universe and of this body (the macrocosm and the microcosm) love to God, love to man. Thus humanity will find it goal.
Let the Holy Name be our austerity. Through it we will sure[ly] advance and transcend the conditions that our minds place on us, for it is the mind only that causes happiness and distress which is always subject to the nature of this world.”
Kevin Brown
Jackson, GA

I perform puja in my mind by offering everything to the Lord, mostly my love
“I have received a wonderful pack of books from you, and I could not wait write and thank you. I now that you are very busy and I sincerely thank you not only for the books, but also for the time you spent in responding to me. I want to assure you that they will be read, not once, but many times. It is my profound hope that I will be able to see many other prisoners here on this unit come to the feet of Lord Krsna, and if so I am more than willing to share them with any who profess a desire to know the Truth.
As a neophyte devotee I find myself craving more and more information about Krsna and bhakti. It seems the more I think I know, the less I really understand about devotional service.
As you might expect, I have much time on my hands. In this I am so very fortunate for where this material word draws a person in the free world to see to daily mundane tasks, I, on the other hand have tried to work on Krsna Consciousness for the bulk of my day. I am increasing my chanting. I have given up eating animal flesh and though I have no access to a temple, alter, or Deity, I do perform puja in my mind by offering to the Lord everything that might please him. Mostly, I offer my love. That is growing every day, and truthfully it’s all I have to offer. I am working on teaching others about the Lord. Perhaps, if the Lord wishes, there will be a Krsna group here. That would be so nice.
In the meantime, I will share my limited knowledge with others and allow the peace that I have fond through the Grace of Lord Krsna be displayed through my actions and demeanor, as well as my words. That is worth so much in this place. Peace.
This is just a quick note to you to tell you…”thank you!”
The day will come when I’ll be out of prison and able to access not only these things but go to a temple, worship the deity and join in Sankirtana!”
Mark Davis
Iowa Park, TX

The BBT put me in touch with IPM who sent me a Gita
“As a youth I began looking into the ancient teachings of India. I read some of the scriptures and learned to meditate, pranayama, chakra work, as well as work with the various mantras, but it was only when I came to prison that I had time to really seek God. In a resource list I found the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust and I wrote them asking for help as there is no scripture here. They put me in touch with IPM who then sent me a Gita. I could not stop reading it. Something inside me screamed “this is it!” it really felt like I had come home after a long journey. Like I had come full circle and that young boy who so long ago began to search for something to fill the longing inside him had finally discovered what was missing. Lord Sri Krishna!”
Mark Davis
Iowa Park, TX

Chanting calms and clears my enemy mind
“Only solace I have in here is reading the Bible and Gita and the chanting the maha mantra, the japa practice. All I have to say about chanting is that it calms and clears my enemy mind. Chanting it is dear to me and reading the Gita. I am trying to purify the self and to know the absolute truth. I just finished reading one of the books you sent me and I certainly have Srila Prabhupada’s mercy and grace. It is very inspiring and amazing what Krsna must be planning something for humanity? It is certainly an invaluable source of inspiration for me.
P.S. Your help and time is greatly appreciated.”
Edward Dan Guzman
Iowa Park, TX

I have been granted closure with addiction
“I have been consumed by the addictive process for most of my adult life. It is through “Grace” (Krishna) alone that I have been granted closure with the addictive process. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to finally be freed from that which plagued me for so long. So it is through “Grace” that I great each day and it is through “Grace” that I’m both humbled and thankful for the understanding that I have been blessed with.
As the disseminator of all that is holy: the maha mantra He is the fountain of love of God – His essence is conveyed through the Holy Names – mere words cannot express my sentment for this most magnificent avatar. His unbound requited love is ours for the asking. Through His Grace, I am uplifted, and fear is vanquished. I, who am most unworthy am blessed with the understanding that even the most fallen shall be granted, through grace, that mercy which is His and his alone! Those infallible Holy Names and the enigma they embrace grant humanity our only hope for deliverance.”
Pat Balerio
Sterling, CO

I really don’t understand how I survived without Krsna
“Lord Sri Krsna is truly a wonderful Deity. I really don’t understand how I survived without Him. Only through Him have I been able to achieve the measure of peace I have achieved. All glory to Him.”
Corey Wilson
Rosheron, TX

I was captivated hearing Prabhupada for the first time
“I have just now come from the Chapel where I listened to lecture CD # 25. At first it was hard for me to completely understand Srila Prabhupada but I was so captivated hearing him for the first time. I just closed my eyes and listened and slowly (miraculously, it seemed) I could understand his words clearly. I’m still in such a nice state of mind!
I know your service is to Krsna, but I am so fortunate to be the beneficiary of what you do. I thank Krsna for His mercy in allowing your service to reach me. Please do not feel rushed in your replies to me. I think our association is perfect, the Lord is Central.”
Bhakta Richard Chase
Petersburg, WV

I have experienced a new life in Krsna
“Hare Krsna, Bhakti-lata Dasi. Well to start with I will try to write about how I have changed since I have been reading the books that you sent me and how it has changed my life. See I cannot spell and it makes it hard for me to write but I will let Krsna guide my hand and mind. Well there is no one here on the unit to talk to about Krsna but I have been talking to my neighbor about Krsna and sharing the book that you have sent me with him. He is a cheater and I really do not know what to say to him but I know that Krishna will give me the words that I need to help him understand what it is like to feel true freedom with Krsna and chanting. I may be locked up in a box all day long whit no T.V. or radio but Krsna has given me true freedom all I have to do when it seems like everything is going bad and these 4 walls seem to close in on me then I start to chant and I feel a peace that no one else can give me it like Krsna has taken me out of this place and I can feel him all around me and I ‘m no longer in my cell. Bhakti-lata, you do not know and I cannot explain it but ever since you have send me all these books, thanks to Krsna, I have experienced a new life in Krsna that I cannot explain or understand. I hope that you will not stop helping me because you are the only one that I have to help me and to tell me more about Krishna. I did not know that I was not supposed to eat meat until I was reading the books you sent me.”
Clyde Miles
Beaumont, TX

Realizing I can change my karma is a tremendous relief
“I am writing to inform you of my receipt of the Bhagavad-Gita. Many thanks for this blessing and this gift. I have already learned from it! I was always under the impression that my karma was a permanent situation, now just realizing I can change my personal karma is a tremendous relief. I also now have a better understanding of my position in not only this yet all my lives.”
Charles McIlwain
Susanville, CA

The books and magazines were appreciated more than you can ever know
"I’m out of here Friday Oct 30th, so I’m real happy. Well I wanted to say thank you so very much for all of the books and magazines that you have sent to me. They were appreciated more than you can ever know. I also wanted to let you know that I’m going to keep following the path of Krsna consciousness and do everything I can to spread the path of Krsna. To tell you the truth I was wondering in what way I would be able to help out ISKCON or ISKCON Prison Ministry once I am out. Once I am out, I plan on finding a job a.s.a.p. and hopefully going back to school. After I’ve got my bearings back, I hope to find a good Krsna lady, and raise a family in Krsna Consciousness.”
Charles Thornton
Leavenworth, Kansas

We were able to hear the Radha-Krsna Temple tape
“Bhakta James Mendel, Robert Sager the Buddhist and I were at the chapel this morning. The electrical outlets for the tape player worked this week, so we were able to hear the Radha-Krsna Temple tape. After nice sankirtan and prayers Robert read to us from the Krsna Book, the chapter “Krsna Kills Kamsa”. We plan to read about Krsna the Butter thief next week. Bhakta James set up the altar and distributed prasadam (water, flower and Jolly Ranchers). We’re all eager to meet you with Jagannivasa dasa.”
Gerald Niles
Daytona Beach, FL

There are no insurmountable obstacles for devotee inmates to practice Krsna consciousness
“We welcome our time at the chapel on Friday mornings when we can take shelter of Krsna’s lotus feet and associate with one another; A little time for safe haven, encouragement, recharging, genuine friendship and fellowship.
A guy in the dorm this morning indicated an interest in reading the gita. Bhakta Robert informed him these are copies in the chapel library available for check out.
Yes, I chant at least 16 rounds daily. A minimum of 16 rounds, there is plenty of time! The distractions you mentioned certainly present obstacles, but it has been my experiences that any inmate devotee wishing to make Krsna consciousness a priority in life, there are no obstacles that cannot be successfully overcome. This is much easier said than done! But certainly done nevertheless!
And on remembering Krsna at the time of death, when will that moment be? We cannot know, therefore it behooves us to ALWAYS chant Hare Krsna, incessantly, 24 and 7, with a sense of urgency pleading for Krsna to engage us please in His service. It is the perfect option over being helplessly driven by the mind and senses.”
Gerald Niles
Daytona Beach, FL

I am accepting what I am reading as Absolute Truth
“I acquired your address from a book I’ve been analyzing titled: Bhagavad-gita As It Is. I am accepting what I am reading as Absolute Truth. I would like to know more but don’t know where to start. The things mentioned in the Gita are very enlightening. I would love to begin my devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but I need guidance. The odds of me encountering a spiritual master here are slim to none. I need help. I want to know Vedic wisdom. Please accept my words as genuine interest and contact me as soon as you can.”
Andre Dillard
Daytona Beach, FL

I’ve had to rely on my own Sraddha a lot lately
“I’ve had to rely on my own Sraddha a lot lately and what a blessed thing to have. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and the devotees such as you who helped me to build this foundation.”
Gary Winters
Raiford, FL

Chanting helped me get through hardship
“Well, I am as well as I can be. I even began chanting the Hare Krishna. It helped me get through a hardship I have been going through. I received October’s newsletter and read it frequently as I have no books. I nearly finished reading The Teachings of Queen Kunti before I moved. I also greatly enjoyed

the copy of Godsend Back to Godhead that I received. I read it during a couple of very trying days and it kept me focused. It truly was a godsend.”
Kevin Forseth
Susanville, CA

My mind feels clear and I feel free
“I really can’t say what drew me to Krsna, but I can say this, I felt when I walk through the door that I was home. I felt I was one with everybody. The pictures that were on the walls and statues [pictures of deities] were breathtaking. I repeat this maha-mantra more than a dozen times; I do this so much I go into somewhat of a trance, another form of spiritual body. I can say realize I’m not a part of myself when I do this. My body becomes filled energy and I feel light, my mind feels clear and I feel free. I wish I could really explain everything but I don’t know how to. I just feel at peace. When I read I sit down and ask Krsna to help me understand.”
Larry Prickett
Daytona Beach, FL

I’m trying to soak up all the knowledge I can!!
“Before I go any further thank you from the depths of my heart for taking the time out to correspond as well as educate me!!! Yes I was at school, which I’m a clerk and a couple of dudes where discussing what they believe in & the peace of mind they in now. So I ask to explain and was told to write and I would receive a pen-pal to a guide me though. I’m thrilled cause I’m trying to soak up all the knowledge I can!!”
Shawn R. Irving
Susanville, Calif.

Thank you for showing me the way to our sweet Lord Krsna
“I would like to say thank you for everything that you have helped me with. I appreciate it so very much, and thank you for showing me the way to our sweet Lord Krsna. Thank you for the recent Back to Godhead magazine; I enjoyed every article in it. I also appreciate the books you sent. They sure have helped me in my spiritual life. The Gita is my favorite; I’ve already read it cover to cover three times and I’ve just started it for the fourth time. All I do with my time is read and chant; I rarely watch any T.V. It’s all garbage on the screen.”
C. Thornton
Leavenworth, Kansas

I can’t get enough of this chanting
“Hey, I am on a constant roll of chanting a full 2 hours a day. J It’s fun to chant and I totally enjoy it, until my mind tries to wander off. I can’t get enough of this chanting. When I don’t chant I pick up the Gita ad read the nectar. I am going through the Gita page by page and I’ve gone through it twice already; I am now on my third cycle. My first time through I just read the text and the second time, only the purports. Now I am reading both text and purports. Next I am going to pick a random chapter, dissect it and pull all the nectar out of it.”
Justin Houghtaling
Woodstock, IL

The chaplain was dancing down the hall, singing Hare Krsna
“Our program has grown a lot. New men are becoming interested in Krsna consciousness. I give a Bhagavad-Gita class every day on the yard. Then we have our own worship service. Preaching is my life. And my friends always ask, “Why is it, no matter what we start talking about, we end up talking about Krsna?” And you know your friends see you as a priest when they say they’re sorry for letting a cus word slip.We have many interfaith discussions. And so many faiths are coming to our worship service. Christians, Buddhist, Islam, Wicca, and even two Vedanta impersonalists. We all chant Hare Krishna together. And dance in great joy!
In prison there are many ways to trick men into some devotional service. Like honoring prasadam. After I offer my veggy tray to the Lord, I like to ask the men sitting at my table if they’d like something off my tray. I also like to buy a bag of Jolly Ranchers (candies), offer them to the Lord, then go around asking, “Care for a Jolly Rama?” The men simply love it. And can’t get enough! At our worship, we try to engage everyone. Like the chapel orderly, by setting up a fan, or to bring a table, something, anything. And the chaplain, who lights the candle. He’s made so much advancement over the past 6 years, he was dancing down the hall, singing Hare Krsna maha mantra, matches in hand, last time.
Some men bought japa beads at our canteen and chanted Hare Krsna! They read Prabhupada’s books and preach to their friends.
Actually, due to wonderful devotees like you, this whole prison has become a holy Dhama! Because Prabhupada has come in the form of his books, CDs and DVDs.”
Bhakta James
Salem, Oregon

My faith is strong
“I’ve read in The Nectar of Devotion at times before, but never have I gotten as much out of it as I have been on the present readings. For one thing, from page 30 I can understand that I am a second-class devotee. I’m no longer a neophyte because my faith is strong. I appreciate the clarity of this book and will study it a lot. I appreciate the reliance of its teachings on revealed scriptures.”
Gerald Niles
Daytona, FL

The necklace helps me remember Krsna
“Thank you. I put this necklace on and it helps me remember Krsna. Also undoubtedly when people ask about the necklace I can tell them about Krsna. Krsna always delivers in wonderful ways. Anything a devotee asks, Krsna fulfills all desires, and not just so, but in the most marvelous ways. Haribol! Thank you also for explaining my frustration about people not serious about Krsna. I no longer feel frustrated. I feel more motivated to preach even harder!”
Gerald Niles
Daytona, FL

I have a direction and purpose in my life
“For so many years I was strung out on different chemicals thinking it was the way to cope with life and that it would bring me peace and joy. But I found out that it only gave me peace and happiness on a temporary level and the more I used the more I wanted. I was never satisfied. I was always looking for that quick thrill thinking I could find it I booze, sleeping around, partying, doing risky behavior or whatever else would be a turn-on. I was happy on the outside, but deep down inside my inner soul something was missing. So I decided to try out different religions, but none brought me any peace of mind or comfort until I came into contact with the Hare Krsna movement and since then I have experienced true joy and peace. I have a direction and purpose in my life. Not only do I feel peace and happiness on the outside, but I also feel that peace and happiness on the inside. That only this K.C. movement has given me along with devotee association and the reading of Prabhupada’s books and the chanting of the mantra: HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA HARE HARE / HARE RAMA HARE RAMA RAMA RAMA HARE HARE”
Bhakta Gordon Shaw

This is my real happiness- preaching to others about Krsna
“When I am released I plan to go directly to the nearest temple. By Krisna’s arrangement I will be given the mercy of His devotees so that I can continue my loving devotion. Honestly, I will capture many and bring them back home, by the power of the holy name alone, dear mother. This is my future. I have been considering starting a Bhagavad Gita class here, but it seems it’s going to take some time. However, I give classes in my dormitory and everywhere I go, for this is my real happiness- preaching to others about Krsna. But I will get a class started even if for only an hour and only a few good souls come.
A Krsna consciousness library has been started from the books I have had for years. I started it in the chaplain’s office to aid inmates in learning about Krsna.”
Kevin L. Brown
Waycross, Georgia

I study my books very conscientiously in order to teach from them intelligently
“I do not try to read many books. I rather absorb what I have, then, if I am able to teach what I have learned, I ask for particular books I may not have read. I study my books very conscientiously in order to preach and teach from them intelligently. Lately I have been preaching and giving the holy name to many inmates whose interest pleased me. I will have them write either you or Chandrasehhara dasa. Yes, I have already given the small books you sent me to my roommate who is reading them. Also I put the other small books in the general library, so everyone will be able to read them. Each book has IPM address within them so they can write. Actually mother, you can send as many books as you wish, for it is known that I often get more books for such reasons as distribution.”
Kevin L. Brown
Waycross, Georgia

I can sit and see the pastimes of the Lord manifest in my heart
“Daily, for the last 7 years or so, I have been getting up early in the morning, at 4:30 am, chanting the holy name. When I chant my heart opens very widely. It’s a very loving feeling I have always relished deep in my heart. Sometimes I cry for no reason having gone mad in the love of Godhead. Mostly I chant in my cell, for I find such times to be rewarding in that I can sit and see the pastimes of the Lord manifest in my heart and outwardly causing my entire cell to be a manifestation of the Lord’s pastimes. However, often I walk around with my hand in my bead bag, chanting. This kind of japa I find to be rewarding in that I can overcome all urges of the mind and body. Tulasi Devi is most merciful, so I keep my fingers touching my beads while I silently chant the holy name. Often I do more than the 16 rounds daily. This absorbs me in the love of Godhead; it’s very lovely, causing the heart to smile from within in its happiness. In other words, I can (chant) in and outside of my cell. I even approach people, asking them to chant with me.”
Kevin L. Brown
Waycross, Georgia

I never thought I’d find freedom in a prison cell
“Recently I acquired a copy of Bhagavad-Gita As It Is. I can assure you it is the only scripture on this unit. Sadly, it is the only piece of ancient wisdom that I have been able to find and I was very lucky to get it because it most truly has changed my life. I am 47 years old, and most of my life, starting when I was about 13 years of age, I have studied various yoga, methods, and beliefs of the sub-continent. I was, and am, at least somewhat acquainted with hatha yoga, meditation, pranayama, and japa. As a young man I read many of the most noble of works such as the Ramayana and the Dhammapada. But I was not introduced to bhakti until I read Prabhupada’s magnificent translation of the Gita. After reading it, what else could I do but surrender totally to Lord Sri Krishna?
Now, I am a newcomer to bhakti and Krsna consciousness. I have so many questions and am starved for information. But there is no scripture or anything here. The Lord has been very kind to me. I chant the maha-mantra and it creates freedom inside me that I never thought I’d find in a prison cell. Krishna is my Lord and he is my All and it has taken me many years to come face to face with him.
I am starving for information. I think that this is the most important thing there is, knowing Krishna.”
Mark Davis
Iowa Park, Texas

I celebrated Pandava Nirjala Ekadasi with a full fast
“The purpose of this letter was to let you know that through Krsna’s glorious mercy I’ve graduated Summa Cum Laude from the associates degree program here and am hopeful (prayerful) that they will allow me to continue on to the master’s program. Also, I know more importantly, I’ve been maintaining my principles and celebrated Pandava Nirjala Ekadasi with a full fast because of the lack of dietary choices here”
Corey Wilson
Rosharon, Texas

All I desire is to study and chant and meditate
“I want to send a donation to ISKCON, I don’t make but 89 cents per hour, however I would like to establish a monthly donation to you. It could only be $ 10 per month as I make $32 and require some funds for needed canteen items. The fact is I have all I need and most of what I want, my desires are few; in fact all I desire is to study and chant and meditate. Ultimately I wish only to love and serve Krsna. Haribol.”
Bhakta Michael

We should only be sad when one leaves this world in ignorance of Krsna
“I was initially saddened by the news of Shyama Priya. After reading your account of the last days in this world and the care and honor she received I felt joy for her. After all, didn’t she achieve the goal of the human life? I’m sure my perspective wouldn’t be understood by many, but I think you will understand. Most mourning is of a selfish nature, for our love, and doesn’t consider the fate of the one who has left. We should be truly sad only when one leaves this world in ignorance of Krsna. I will always remember her, in a mood of respect and joy. I am really so full of confidence of the Lord’s love and grace, that my continued growth in Krsna Consciousness is unstoppable, I’m not “puffed-up”, I’m humble and content”
Gary Winters
Raiford, FL

The more I learn about Krsna, the more I fall in love with Him
“You know it’s wondrous how the more you fall in love with Krsna, the easier it is to love everyone else. And the more I learn and discover about Krsna, the more I fall in love with Him. The BTG is the same way. The more I read it, the more sense it makes and the more fascinating it becomes. You know I used to think it was absolutely ridiculous thinking that somebody could actually reincarnate into an animal and vice versa. But now it’s all starting to make sense ( and boy, am I glad I no longer eat animals- especially cows!!)”
Richard Chase
North Las Vegas, Nevada

The more I am absorbed in Krishna consciousness, the better equipped I am to help others
“I tell you, if it wasn’t for Krsna consciousness, I think by this point I’d be an emotional basket case! The Maha-Mantra is like a balm to the sore - like a blanket to those who are cold - like a transcendental hit off a joint - it’s the comfort of a mother’s soothing words to a crying child - and it’s the oxygen tank to a scuba diver - vital, necessary for existence while diving in the depths of this polluted, material ocean, this carnal, causal sea. I’m finding that I prefer to read Prabhupada’s words over any other text, I feel incomplete if I haven’t spent time during the day plugging into his Sac-Cid-Ananda. I can go on and on like this Mataji - if only everyone knew - could you just imagine?
The Maha-Mantra will help me through this next very difficult period - and that very difficult day - July 27. Something I read in the BTG last night just filled my heart. “Even if one commits the most abominable action, if he is engaged in devotional service he is to be considered saintly because he is properly situated in his determination” (BG 9.30). Jaya! What mercy Lord Krishna has for His devotees!
It’s so beautiful - as I continue on my path to self-realization, I find more and more that peace that exists within because of the Paramatma. And when I see things as they are, the only thing that matters is my Bhakti - and that I devote myself to loving service to Lord Krishna. It’s a wondrous relief not only that, but I notice the more absorbed in Krishna consciousness, the better equipped I am to help others and to be more compassionate - and to instinctively know when something is wrong or when something is bothering somebody, not just that, but experiencing the truth in KC allows me to recognize the truth in other things, the irony is - it wasn’t ‘till I was locked up that I was set free. I’m so blessed that in here I can perform yajnas and austerities that I couldn’t have done if I was out there.
I know, as Prabhupada’s purport said, that BG 9.30 isn’t a green light to just go out and do bad things - but what is does is it shows us inside that even though we might have done terrible things, as long as we are now on the devotional path to Lord Krisna, we are still his saints!!
Richard Chase
North Las Vegas, Nevada

“Don’t trip - I gotcha.”
“I’m going to use Caitanya’s blessings and share the wonders of KC with everyone on my row, so it’s important to receive BTG’s as I think it’s Krsna Consciousness’s best missionary tool…..
All I can say is WOW. Last night, the final indignity North Las Vegas Detention Center subjected me to was making me roll up (pack) with 5 minutes’ notice and force me to wait in a cold holding cell for 12 hours… Well, FINALLY my chance to chant Japa and sing Kirtan. For the first time since being a devotee (I’m ashamed to say) I chanted a full 16 rounds, out loud, hearing His sacred names reverberating off the cement cinderblock. It made the 12 most uncomfortable hours (without medication; they removed it again from me) melt away. I chanted with as little fruitive desire as I could. I knew I just needed to chant for Krsna to serve Him, like He tells us in the last chapter of the Bhavagad-gita - to paraphrase: “Don’t trip - I gotcha.”
Richard Chase
North Las Vegas, Nevada

Getting your letters stokes the fire of devotion within my heart
“This extremely difficult part of my life (the sentencing pending, in jail, lock down) is almost over. It was your caring and heartfelt letters that carried me through that nightmare that was North Las Vegas Detention Center. Surrounded by demonic spirits, it was you gentle lessons about Lord Nrsimha hat helped me feel (and be) protected.
It’s true wonderment returning to the literature after a period of KC growth. I just picked up the Perfection of Yoga and it makes even more sense than when I first picked it up! Same with Radha Sahasra Nama Stotra. How beautiful it is. I want you to know that your letters re-energize my bhakti. Getting your letters stokes the fire of devotion within my heart”
Richard Chase
North Las Vegas, Nevada

I’m learning to deal with controlling my thoughts while chanting
“I did receive everything else, thank you very much. I’m gonna give this veggie thing a try (smile). It’s gonna very hard to do in here but I’m gonna give it a go ‘cause I have known for a while now that red meat is no good for anyone but that’s what I was raised on and had no one to tell me different. . But I figure that if I take baby steps all will be well.
I’m learning to deal with controlling my thoughts while chanting, it’s very hard but it’s a lot better than when I first started. I have a few people that are curious as to what I’m studying as well as chanting, but the greatest of all everyone as well as the police are tripping why I don’t flash and blow up as I used to do. I feel that I’m being so tested every damn day. It’s hard being in here but then it’s me growing. It seems everyone says some way out disrespectful things or does some weird things, I have learned to breathe and count numbers in my head, and if it bothers me to much then I have found myself simply just walking away and going to my cell and chanting. Mother, it’s hard, real hard to do !!!!!!! It seems me doing so has opened a door to, “Hey he is hurt or has turned soft”, but under the conditions of me changing my life it’s for the best ‘cause I’m of trouble and I know it’s just the devil working overtime to pull me back in to that negative world, and I refuse to get caught up in that world ever again.”
Shawn R. Irving

I have spent some time preaching and giving many BTGs
“Recently, I have spent some time preaching and giving many BTGs out. So if you wish, you may send small books that I will be more than glad to give out. Upon my release I want to be a part of the prison ministry. I feel this is my duty, because I was actually raised by Mother Shyama Priya, who is our mother, and Mukta Kesa Dasa, who always encouraged me to become more purified for my future work in Krsna consciousness. Surely, I have never once forgotten the instructions of either of them.”
Kevin L. Brown
Jackson, GA

I raise my hands above my heard. I love kirtan
“I have a table that I use as an altar and another desk I use to read and write. I have been enjoying the CDs you send, especially, Amazing Grace. This CD is amazing for real. I cannot stop trying to dance. Although I cannot dance, I swing my legs and raise my hands above my heard. I love kirtan.”
Kevin L. Brown
Jackson, GA

They are passing the books around like hoarded treasure
“I took the BG and was returned to general population the next day. There I met a girl who wasn’t here before who started chanting immediately. I sent a few books to another girl in another section, so then these girls got hold of most of those books and they are passing them around like hoarded treasure.”
Bhaktin Carol
Moore Haven, FL

I feel that my life finally has meaning
“I should be getting out before the end of this year. I plan on returning to the Houston, TX area. I definitely plan on visiting the Krsna center there and continuing in my spiritual growth. I feel that my life finally has meaning! I’ve spent my entire life caught up in material desires. My time here is prison and reading the works of Srila Prabhupada have made me realize how little this material world really means and what my true meaning of life is - Krsna consciousness!”
Bradley Paulsen
Beaumont, TX

The most profound pieces of literature I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy in years
“However, “Science of Self-Realization” has proven to be one of the most profound pieces of literature I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy in years. It is extremely insightful in that it helped to clarify some long held questions on the subjects of diversity and that distinct concept of an absolute personal relationship with God. While for years I had assumed I was well established into a very personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, I had no clue that much of my fundamental ideology was based solely in impersonalism. I had no idea that at best I have been practicing my faith from a neutral position, steeped in life-times of preconditioning. Siddha yoga teaches this to some degree but His Grace doesn’t seem to mind delving as deep as He has to detail any subject matter, and to bring home His point.”
James L. Lee
Burkeville, VA

For the first time I’m going to hear Prabhupada’s voice
“OK, I’m excited that you are sending us a CD. Although I’ve never had any formal initiation, to me Prabhupada is my spiritual master. For the first time I’m going to hear his voice.”
Gary Winters
Raiford, FL

I give everything I read as pure as I received it
“Lately, I have been preaching, to many inmates, instructing them, in the chanting of the holy name. They’ve such nice interest so I often give lectures, to them on the teaching of Srila Prabhupada, I learned from reading, his many books. I give everything as pure as I received it, reading his books, and following, the instructions of his devotees. This morning as always, I chanted a real blissful 16 rounds of Hare Krsna maha-mantra; that always causes me to smile in my happiness of Krsna consciousness.”
Kevin L. Brown
Waycross, GA

Like a mother does to her child
“I am writing to send my sincere, condolence, to Madre Shyama Priya’s familia. Please! Forgive me, I get lost and don’t think well when a family member or someone I like and look-up to leaves. Since I started with this ministry Madre Shyama was the first one I wrote and since then she has always chastised me like a mother does to her child.”
Edward Dan Guzman
Iowa Park, TX

As a child we would imitate devotees we saw
“I first heard about Krsna at Coleman, FL. Chandra dasi talked to me about chanting and the Krishna movement. I grew up in NY and was familiar with chanting. As a child we would imitate devotees we saw. Hearing the chanting always made me want to dance. I remember asking my dad are the Hara Krishna’s crazy? He said no more than any other religion. My dad was known to give his children this type of answer mostly to encourage us to think for ourselves. I was raised Catholic and attended a strict Catholic school. I also remember asking my Dad is Catholic really the best religion and he said, “If you belief it is then that is true for you.” Confused I asked him, “Well what do other people think is the best religion?”, and my dad said “I don’t know; you’ll have to ask them”. I remember walking away thinking he didn’t answer my question. I had a great dad for me.
The idea about Krsna consciousness that struck me was that it wasn’t so much a formal religion but more a path to learn to love God. Also the idea that belief in God or religion is a science. Learning the laws that govern the universe and how even if we are ignorant of the laws you are still governed by them. Spiritual Warrior connected many ideas for me; aliens, disembodied spirits angels, government agencies etc….are all connected. Gods laws are in control of all of these and there is manifestations of good and evil in all of these entities. In my heart I know this was true that these things were all part of the same but after reading the Spiritual Warrior, I could understand intellectually how this was so.
Nancy Montgomery-Ware
Coleman, FL

I feel quite spoiled by all the books
“Dear Bhakti-lata Dasi, thank you so much for all the books. Please convey my appreciation to all the people responsible for making these books available to us. I am very grateful for them. I read the Spiritual Warrior first and I loved it. I felt like it was speaking to my heart and mind at the same time. So many realizations for me I couldn’t put it down. I would like any other ones in his series if they are available. “The Spiritual Warrior” is now making the rounds to the other ladies. I have started on “Alien Identities” and in the evening I been reading Sri Isopanisad. I am enjoying them as well. Chandra has “Mysteries of the Sacred Universe” which she will cycle back to me when she is done. Thank you for all your support of our needs. I feel quite spoiled by all the books. Hare Krsna”
Nancy Montgomery-Ware
Coleman, FL

I began offering obeisances to Prabhupada prior to chanting
“For the last week I have been trying to put into words my relationship to Srila Prabhupada. You asked me in one letter what I meant by saying that I am very touched by what I am learning about Prabhupada. It’s been an ongoing process, in which my relationship with him continues to evolve. When I started reading Prabhupada’s books, my skeptical mind led me to check what he wrote about scriptures, time frames, other great swamis, history, any facts of interest. I would track down things in the library, have my daughter check on things; any way I could find information. I never found one single erroneous fact. I no longer have a need to research what Prabhupada says.
After reading “Memories”, “Prabhupada Nectar” and "Prabhupada is coming!” I had a real sense of the person, the great person he is. I then began offering obeisances to Prabhupada prior to chanting and asking him to please accept my food as an offering to Lord Krsna. What is so profound to me is that he has certainly transcended this material world and that I experience his mercy, his compassion. Those who were initiated by Prabhupada, who were directly taught by him, were certainly blessed. Yet, to feel his greatness, his authority as a representative of Krsna, without ever having met him physically, when I think about this I’m overcome with love and reverence. It is as if I have a certain perspective, or understanding, not despite having never met him, but because I have never met him. I hope that makes sense to you because there are no words that I have to explain it any better.
My chanting and studying are going very well.”
Gary Winters
Raiford, Florida

It’s a strong urge to sing to Krsna
“I now have in my possession the most wonderful string of beads that ever existed! Thank you again for sending them. (…) I offered obeisances to Mukta Kesa, Srila Prabhupada, Lord Caitanya, Lord Krsna. I thanked them all for sending you to me, and asked them to bless my beads. I chanted the Panca-Tattva mantra, chanted one round on the beads and I was moved to kirtan-like singing the mantra until my roommate came back. I am trying to stick with japa chanting to get more rounds than the two or three I’m doing, but this feeling to sing the mantra slowly is always coming to me. My mind isn’t drifting away from Krsna. It’s a strong urge to sing to Krsna. I can’t see anything wrong in it. Please remember that I’ve never heard anyone else chant the maha-mantra.”
Gary Winters
Raiford, Florida

Chanting helps me stay centered
“I like to chant and I chant 4 rounds. Chanting helps me stay centered. This is such a nice service you are doing for Krsna by writing to others.”
Gordon David Shaw
Salem, Oregon

It was the exact topics I needed to hear
“Thank you so very much for the wonderful lesson on Lord Nrsimha and the boy saint Prahlada. I am so enjoying them and it seems you chose the exact topics I needed to hear. I’ve been going through some temporary difficult things and reading about Lord Nrsimha made me tear up in comfort. I’m going to draw Him and Prahlada. Your letters bring me great comfort and support.”
Richard Chase
North Las Vegas, Nevada

I see the application to my life/situation
“I really like the story in one of the books you sent, about how Krsna’s young friends would just play without worry and Krsna would kill demon after demon sent to kill them. Krsna does all the work gladly and we just have to love Him and leave the worries to Him. I can feel buoyed up spiritually when I chant. Of course, in here, I too have worries and concerns galore but all things work at Krsna’s will and he takes care of us like He took care of Arjuna; the Kurus took His army and Arjuna chose Krsna Himself. I see the application to my life/situation.”
Kenneth Manthei
Corcoran, California

I introduced two female officers to chant the maha mantra
“Dear Mother Shyama, Hare Krsna. I received the books you sent on Friday. I read Easy Journey to
Other Planets and it really opened my eyes to Krsna consciousness knowledge. Mother, I'm willing to follow all of God's rules. They are not so hard at all. I've lost a lot of interest for material things, even having a wife and kids on this material planet. I'm very happy Mother, greater then I've ever
been before in my life. I feel so good and brand new. I don't worry about anything. And fear nothing. You never gave up on me. You knew I was only still blind.
The day you sent the books, one man saw me get them and asked me what they were, so I gave two to him to read. Then there were two female officers I introduced to chant the maha mantra and hold these books, they both took off. I told them not to be afraid and what was happening, that
they were having their consciousness revived back to God. They didn't want any part of it. But never forgot. Soon they got their nerves to calm down and read. Soon they felt God's bliss and love. Mother they were shocked and attracted. I also explained how we were all misled from the true teachings of God and they believed it. So I told them how to contact you for more information. Mother it feels so great and so much fun doing this. I want to teach others how to chant the maha mantra, focus on the lotus feet of the Lord, never doubt, never give up and just read all the books they can, Krsna Himself, will teach them if they do it with faith.”
Jerome
Reidsville GA

At this stage of my life I’m on a quest for truth
“I was to a couple of other guys speak of the ISKCON Prison Ministry, they spoke with so much genuine passion, my mere curious alerts got the best of my mind!! The next day I ran across the address of ISKCON. At this stage of my life I’m on a quest for truth, peace and spiritual balance.
You have explained so much in this missive but more so, you spoke with vehemence and this attracts me to seek more.”
Shawn R. Irving
Susanvillle, California

I have experienced already a significant shift in consciousness
“After I wrote my last letter thanking you for the Gita, I realized that I neglected to include a sincere thank you for the copy of the BTG you also sent me. It is an especially good edition, July/August 2008. It has Lord Caitanya’s “Eight Instruction” in the article Japa and the Opening Heart. This was a real blessing to me. I’ve been reading this article over and over and keep getting new insights from it. I got a lot out of the other articles as well, especially the lecture by Swamiji, “How to Love Everyone”.
I have been reading the Gita constantly and chanting several rounds a day. I have experienced already a significant shift in consciousness. It is incredible how much difference chanting and studying makes. I feel very fortunate that God is showing me this mercy. I am undeserving of such blessing. I do want to thank you once again for the work you are doing and for the precious gifts that you send. Your gifts are treasured.”
Robert Harrington
Sneads, Florida

I am learning so much every time I read a chapter or section of Bhagavad-gita
“The only thing that gave me a shakti feeling and especially spiritual insight was Prabhupada’s writings and, as views expressed therein were the most valid ever, I knew I had found something solid and good. I can’t even remember the details from back then anymore- I just remember reading and old Bhagavad-Gita As It Is and learning so much every time I read a chapter or section. That was my turning point in life. Krsna seems to keep us on the edge of our seats (or at least me!) sometimes but He always does what is best for His devotees and I take shelter in that thought and more importantly- in that promise! I can’t lie- I am often distressed in here, my friend!”
Kenneth Manthei
Corcoran, California

It’s easier and quicker to approach theTruth directly
“I really like to think about little Krsna being so approachable and playful like my little cousins. God just being a little baby is strangely compelling for some reason- it’s excellent! (…) Actually I’ve cooled a little on the study of IChing because it’s easier and quicker to approach Truth directly and since Krsna is the touchstone of Truth I am as well go to Him first and Last!”
Kenneth Manthei
Corcoran, California

One fellow almost began to cry upon hearing me chanting the holy name
“I have been engaging in giving the holy name to several inmates that they too may come to relish their eternal love for Krsna. One particular fellow almost began to cry upon hearing me chanting the holy name. I was surprised that he manifested such an experience…I am always desiring to spread the message of Lord Caitanya. By the mercy of other kind devotees as yourself who are willing to help us fallen prisoners come to know what actual freedom really is, freedom to surrender to the lotus feet of Sri Krsna.”
Kevin Brown
Waycross GA

I desperately wanted to read the Bhagavad-Gita
“Dear Candrasekhara, I would like to tell you how I came to Krsna. When I was sent to prison I began searching for my true original self and sought to find myself in the Bible and later in the Qur’an. I kept reading about other faiths as well and read some books on the history of Hinduism and wrote down some quotes from the Holy Scriptures. I loved those books. I desperately wanted to read the Bhagavad-Gita, but could not find one, finally one day I met a fellow inmate who happened to be from India and he gave me the address for ISKCON and I wrote to them and they sent me many wonderful books, in fact I received a letter from you, I think that was in 2005. I have continued studying the Bhagavad-Gita and chanting the holy name of God everyday. I also started the Bhagavad-Gita course. I have been spending a great deal of time reading and studying. I am pleased with how my quest is progressing. I don’t know what my life would be like without Krsna now and I am very thankful that I found ISKCON and became aware of Krsna and His purpose for my life. Thank you again for your kind letter.”
Brad Crawford
Teague, Texas

As I chant Krsna’s name, my life is improving in every way
“I do not know how to thank you for these treasures. Thank you so very much for these nectarian books and magazines. They will be read and enjoyed many, many times in the months to come.
All is well with me here. As I continue to seek God and chant His name, my life is improving in every way, at every level. It is very challenging to pursue sadhana here in this environment but to return to mundane concerns and material consciousness is no longer a viable option. I’m all in!
I am sharing your articles with Robin. She is totally supportive of my interest in Krsna Consciousness. She is chanting the mantra as well.”
Robert Harrington
Sneads, FL

I use medical dose cups to offer water to the deities
“Yes, I have a picture of Lord Nrsimhadeva, Lord Caitanya and associates, and Srila Prabhupada on a 3 way cardboard frame which I can put on my desk while I chant. I also use medical dose as “cups” to offer water to the deities.”
Unknown

I’m chanting on my bootlace (with knots on), getting a few rounds in
“Referring to the Gita and Prabhupada’s purports, I reached the following conclusion; surrendering to Krsna is the goal. (…) Don’t send any more books for now; I want to devote my time to studying Bhagavad-Gita, Nectar of Instruction, and Lord Caitanya in Five Features, and to my chanting.
I still don’t know if I’ll get the beads you sent for the second time. I’m chanting on my bootlace though, getting a few rounds in, and mentally chanting all day as I go through my prison routine.
I say a prayer to Srila Prabhupada to accept the food as an offering for Lord Krsna. I’m hoping my sincerity overcomes any defects in my offering.”
Gary Winters
Raiford, Florida

Back to Godhead is the theme song
“There are no words to express what joy is within my heart. Material worlds have nothing on this transcendental road…where Back to Godhead is the theme song and Krsna prema is the goal.”
Unkonwn

I offer others things from my tray after Sri Lord Krsna has had His
“I am doing well and am following the 4 regs, chanting a minimum of 16 rounds, and studying. I wake around 4-4:30 AM and do japa, then chant the 12 names of moonlike Nityananda, then chant songs out of the copy of Temple Bhajans book I have. Then pray for my Guru Maharaja’s teaching to be fruitful wherever he is-and that he stays well and that I please him in all my endeavors. Then, I pray fervently and with profound sincerity to Sri-Sri Gaura-Nitai for Their help and blessings on this kanistha-adhikari and for the happiness of my devotee friends and “family”. I eat only what we’re allowed to as tough as that is in prison and offer others things from my tray after Sri Lord Krsna has had His.”
Bhakta Abner Old
Madras, Oregon

It’s my responsibility to teach these inmates as best I can
“(I read) about the result of Ajamila having chanted the holy name of the Lord, and the explanation of the Visnudutas to the Yamadutas. So it’s my responsibility to teach these inmates here as best I can, regardless of their disabilities or limitations. Their coming to the program once a week and participating heartily really is a lot for Krsna, and themselves, whether they realize it or not.”
Gerald Niles
Daytona, FL

She was so happy she started singing Gurudeva at mail call
“I just thought I would let you know, N got the books, thanks so much. Of course, she will pass the books out. Angie, who is in process to writing Bir Krsna Swami, was THRILLED to get the Prabhupada life story book; she was so happy she started singing Gurudeva at mail call. We were all singing (about 3 or 4 of us) the Vishnujana tune Jaya Prabhupad, and Gurudev, Gurudeva. It was cute, not disruptive. Nancy says when we are having fun like that, she knows everyone wants to “play” with us too...you know, desires in the heart, waiting to sprout.”
Chandra Dasi
Coleman, FL

I just touched the Krsna Book and felt something dramatic
“I’m always grateful for you and can’t wait to get out of this place and serve the Lords the very best I can with a pure, true heart. I’ve just finished reading Srimad-Bhagavatam (first canto, part one) and am now starting on Bhagavad-Gita As it is. I don’t understand how anybody can’t understand this simple common-sense knowledge of Krsna. (…) I’ll never forget when I first read a Krsna book. I just touched it and felt something dramatic; and when I first chanted the mantra I felt this strong loving bliss. At that very moment I knew that this was God himself. Easily I was wise enough to know that this book was indeed sacred. Until this very day I would say that anyone who gets introduced to Krsna and don’t believe he is the supreme God is a fool…Mother, remember the Christian reverend I told you about, the one I introduced to Krsna and who took off faster than a race horse? Well, he came back and read some of this knowledge with another preacher. They both looked at each other and agreed with it. Krsna is my witness. I believe Krsna chose me to help spread his word because he knew I get a thrill out of seeing their reactions. (smile)
It’s a lot of fun too; if not the greatest fun you could have. I never try to teach it, only introduce and explain what it is and show them the books to let them read or feel the bliss. One prisoner (two months ago) I let him read two of the books you sent me after I finished reading them. Mother, he hasn’t returned them yet. (smile) I love it and it’s proof that Krsna is all attractive.
Gerome Jones
Georgia

I get up at 4 AM and meditate [chant] till 6 AM
“I now chant every day, sitting in before the pictures you sent me of Radha-Krsna. Also, I get up at 4 AM and meditate till 6 AM and then from 7 to 8 PM. Then when I go to bed at 10 PM I meditate and talk with the Lord till 12 PM. “
Bhakta Robert

I am currently engulfed in the pastimes of Lord Krsna
“First I want to thank you for the books. I have received them in great honor. I am currently engulfed in the pastimes of Lord Krsna, His words and instructions. I feel so wonderful just reading His words, knowing that His words are no different from Himself. I must say that now (after reading some cantos of Srimad-Bhagavatam) I feel the need to read the whole collection; this is just wonderful. I am elated and my spirits have been lifted. Thank you so much.”
Bhakta Gregory
Reidsville, Georgia

My gratitude is immeasurable
“Well, it sounds as if IPM has grown quite a bit since I first started writing. That’s such a good thing. Inmates are really in need of this ministry and I’m one of the main ones in need. I don’t know where I’d be without sincere devotees like yourself. I want you to know you’re a great devotee, doing a great deed, and it’s wonderful that you’re helping spread what Srila Prabhupada brought to America. My gratitude is immeasurable.”
Bobby Glover
Bowling Green, Florida

This kind of reading adds depth to my desire
“I’m currently reading the book “Srila Prabhupada is Coming!” by Mahamaya Devi Dasi. It is very nice reading and I can see myself inside the telling of her personal memories as I read them as a real witness. This kind of reading adds depth to my desire to have personal face to face dealings and association with devotees.”
Kevin Cummings
Plymouth, WI

The tapes you have sent have moved me to tears
“I received your transcendental correspondence, including the timely/needed scriptural quotes and the beautiful photograph of Srila Prabhupada’s murti in Los Angeles. Thank you so very much. Each of these items bare so very purifying. And, yes, I very much like the picture; I put it before my eyes and chanted while looking upon His Divine Graces’s wonderful form. (…) About transcendence, I would like to tell you that the tapes you have sent have moved me to tears while listening to the sweet spiritual sounds of this music. (…) There is a tape in particular that has profoundly touched me in such a way that I could not contain the tears as they streamed down my face. This tape is entitled Ancient Hymns…it has changed my life so much for the better…listening to it only once thus far. Again and again, I humbly offer to you my deepest expressions of heartfelt gratitude for these glorious gifts.”
Bhakta Jason

I stick Krsna consciousness faithfully, as my only course of action
“Thanks to Srila Prabhupada for bringing Krsna consciousness to the West to purify materialism into spiritualized way of life. It is hard to do myself, but easier to follow His divine Grace’s instructions.
How I became Krsna conscious. It happened after I moved to Colorado from N.Y., after I was disillusioned with Maya. I met devotees at the Mall and got interested in vegetarianism then in prasadam and Festival of India. After a while, somehow I got distracted and began to get intoxicated and in trouble with the law. I ended up in prison. Then I picked up Krsna consciousness again and still stick to it faithfully, as my only course of action. I’m happier and freer in Krsna consciousness than I was when in Maya.”
Mark Barnett
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I am not on a solo journey; I must preach
“So here I am, an aspiring bhakta, trying to make even a little advancement in my personal practice of Krsna-bhakti, however, for me, this is not enough. I am not on a solo journey; I must preach, propagate the glories of Sri Hari-nama. I must do everything I can to go and expanding Lord Caitanya’s sankirtan movement, all the while humbly and very respectfully crying out for your mercy, the mercy of all of you, kind, caring, and compassionate devotees of the Divine Couple Sri-Sri Radha-Govinda.
Anonymous inmate

I am calling tech support (IPM) for “bombs” (books)
I need assistance, books, booklets and BTG magazines, articles, downloads, etc. Like a field commander, I am calling tech support (IPM) for “bombs” to be strategically dropped. ”
Jason Matthews
Columbia, SC

“I very much enjoy reading Srila Prabhupada’s books and BTGs. The Nectar of Instruction is PRICELESS.”
John Hunnicut
Chillicothe, OH

Even though I am in prison in solitary confinement, I do not feel alone
“Hare Krsna. All glories to Prabhupada.
Today is Thanksgiving. I was up early doing my studies and preparing myself for the day. My chanting could not go so well though because I have been awake for over two days now. It seems there is an individual nearby who has been banging real loud all day and night on his cell door. He only does it to aggravate everyone else. It has been ahrd to meditate but I still found myself able to give thanks.
I gave thanks to Krsna for making me who I am…(there he goes banging again!)…for allowing me to be on a path to yearn to know him and understand His instructions. Thanks that even though I am in prison in solitary confinement, I do not feel alone because I know His energy animates and sustains everything. And thanks that He has blessed us with the teachings of His Divine Grace to best understand our relationship to Him and a way back to Godhead.
I just received the latest BTG and as always the articles are informative and inspiring. I loved His Graces’s article, “Only the Pious Turn to Krsna.” It made me again aware of how much the soul cries for more than material living; food, films, jewelry and other illusions. I really enjoy the BTG magazines and I pray that Lord Krsna continue to protect me and watch over me on my journey. Thank you for your support in the prison ministry.”
Bhakta Robert Cepeda
Malone, NY

I enjoyed reading the booklet by Mr. Prabhupada
“I found your address in a booklet titled, “The Perfection of Yoga”, by his divine grace Swami Prabhupada. I’m writing to see if someone would be interested in having a pen-pal.
Even though I am labeled as an inmate, I’m devoted to spirituality and advancement. I’m 28 years young and I’m seeking someone who is like-minded to correspond with. I enjoyed reading the booklet by Mr. Prabhupada and found it to be full of truth. I look forward to possibly discussing the various topics that Mr. Prabhupada has written about. I consider myself to be open-minded. Thank you for your time. Take care. Hare Krsna!”
Blake McGrath
Lauringburg, NC

The simple chant from that formula has brought me comfort and calmness
“Prison has forced me to look within myself and understand the need for a spiritual life. That’s why I wrote to you because I want to learn and to change for the better. For two years now I’ve been doing Hatha Yoga and contemplative meditation but it’s just not what I’m looking for. I believe in a power much greater than myself and I want to obtain the consciousness to be in harmony with this power. The peace formula that you sent makes a lot of sense and I’m very interested in prayer and chanting. So far the simple chant from that formula has brought comfort and calmness to me as I currently in a tough situation. I grasp the idea of Krishna consciousness. How does one actually reach this state of being?
I want to learn and lead a happy spiritual life during my prison term and take it out into the free world with me. Because of my surroundings, I am aware that oftentimes the only peace that I’ll know will only be within. Once again I thank you for responding to my letter and I hope to hear back from you. Please teach me more about Krishna consciousness.”
Ivan Braden
Lompoc, CA

I am often amazed at the depth, yet simplicity, of Prabhupada's explanations
“Right away [after being put in solitary], as stressful as I saw this situation to be, I knew all I needed was my meditation and yoga books. I knew that this was to be an opportunity to gain some introspection on myself. I am still going though periods of depression. I want to do service. In here I have no contact with anyone but the officers who bring me my mail and food.
Of course, as Srila Prabhupada says in his purport of Queen Kunti, “The duty of the sane person, therefore, is to be undisturbed by worldly calamities, which are sure to happen in all circumstances.” I am often amazed at the depth, yet simplicity, of his explanations on simple truths of the material world, the mind and the spirit soul.”
One thing that has been clear to me in this situation is the transient nature of this body. It has definitely become clear I am not this body; that it is like luggage I am carrying around, a space suit for the soul. The aches and pains that trouble me have shown me how fragile and temporary it is and thus I recognize not to put my faith and hope in “another” who is as temporary.”
Bhakta Robert Cepeda
Malone, NY

I’m like ol “Johnny Appleseed” sowing seeds of Krsna consciousness
“Dear Bhakti-lata, Hare Krsna!
I’ve shared my KC knowledge with other inmates here in a community group meeting in our program. There have been 3, 4 other inmates already that have read the books and magazines I was fortunate to have with me. I even introduced kirtana to the inmates on my pod and one day I came out to the dayroom for “independent study” and some inmates at a table in the back yelled out to me, “Hey, do the Swami two-step!” and they all raised their arms, palms up, and swayed back and forth in their chairs, chanting “Hare Krsna-Hare Krsna.” Two of my cell mates often spontaneously dance around the cell doing the same thing! What a trip!
Maybe in some small way my being here had value unseen by me at first. I’m like ol “Johnny Appleseed” sowing seeds of Krsna consciousness along the way in his travels. That’s all fine and dandy but I still want to serve Krsna from the other side of the wall, so to speak.
Reading “Prabhupada Nectar” game me some really good insights about myself and what I need to do to be successful and return back home to Godhead. I have been maintaining my 16 rounds of chanting daily and reading and meditating on Prabhupada and Krsna.
Again, thank you for standing by me and inspiring me to continue my service to Krsna and IPM, my true and real family. The only place I actually feel I have found of contentment in a life filled with so much turmoil.”
Bhakta Kevin
Milwaukee, WI

I have become very fond of Lord Nrsimha
“This morning I was given the beautiful Nrsimha pendant and necklace you kindly sent. Thank you so much. I have it on and will keep it on. Mother Syamapriya was so fond of Lord Nrsimha, and since she told me about that and we shared some experiences, I ,too, have become very fond of Him and totally trusting. Two times I've been threatened with violence by demoniac inmates. Both times I invoked the holy name of Lord Nrsimha and the same thing happened on both occasions. My would-be attackers became totally befuddled and forgot their own intentions. It was pretty cool seeing something like that and knowing the protection that Lord Nrsimha offers to devotees.
Did I tell you about the “Tomaka Idol” contest? It'll be on the yard. Contestants can use a microphone. There'll be many spectators. So I signed up! I will sing the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. I will get to do it at practice Monday and the event next Wednesday. Haribol! A really big show for Krsna! Even if we lack talent we should do our best at everything and give our all for Krsna.
Often I reflect on instances of life prior to my Krsna consciousness and I realize such existence was actually ludicrous, totally senseless! Now, everything makes perfect sense. No, I do not 'know it all', I only know the reality of Krsna.”
Gerald Niles
Daytona Beach, Fl.
(Gerald later sent me a certificate he received for having participated in the event!)

The more I read, the more I chant
“Yes, indeed! I am truly enthusiastic because the more I read, the more I chant the maha-mantra, the more I see that this is where I should have been all along! Yes, BTG is the inspiration with its colorful illustrations and insightful articles. I share it at my “KC Table” here in my living section.
I pray to Krsna constantly for an increase in my fund of knowledge so that I may be worthy to fall at His lotus feet...I have the greatest desire in myself to become an initiate and live the renounced order of life. Any information you have concerning that issue is a blessing.
Yes, KC Has already begun to help me. I still have a journey because there are aspects of KC that I have yet to experience, but so far. I feel the greatness. My life is truly transforming.
Yes, my family is upset with me, but it is a conscious choice of mine. I have been searching for Krsna, I have come home.”
Albert Gertman
Beeville, Texas

The depth of meaning in them becomes clearer and clearer
“Hare Krsna! Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
I can remember when I first began my association with devotees by letter, that I wrote the above lines because that's the way the Hare Krsnas do it. As time went by I often wondered if others wrote this as a simple greeting out of routine. As years have passed I've found that rather than these lines becoming routine, the depth of meaning in them becomes clearer and clearer. I have made it a conscious practice that each time I write them or read them I instill in them or absorb from them this depth of meaning.”
Gary Winters
Raiford, FL

these are, to me, a very precious gift
“Hare Krsna! I received the japa mala and the three books that you sent to me. Thank you so much! Please know that these are, to me, a very precious gift, helping me on my journey towards the lotus feet of Lord Krsna. The books, I will let you know my reaction to them as I read. I will begin studying immediately. I have already learned something from the mala. It seems I've been concentrating more on the number of japa repetitions done, instead of remaining centered on God. I noticed this immediately when I was able to simply chant, allowing the beads to mark the rounds. I do appreciate this.”
Joseph Powell
Galesburg, IL

Thank you so much for mercifully ministering to me on a personal level
“I want to thank you so much for mercifully ministering to me on a personal level in the form of sending transcendental items for my sadhana. I have received the two BTG magazines that you sent; one just recently and the other some months ago. Greatly appreciated! For when my mind is disturbed, which is quite often these days, and I cannot concentrate well enough to read a book I can always turn to BTG so as to simply look at the spiritually potent pictures, and at times, read a short article or a few captions and 'Vedic Thoughts.' Again, mata, I am certainly grateful for these wonderful gifts given in Krsna consciousness. Uplifted, as well!
Jason Matthews
Columbia, SC

I chanted a full 16 rounds for the first time
“I crave the association of Krsna devotees and Prabhupada is always stressing that association. When I get out, I want to at least live close to a temple for daily devotional service.
I do have positive advancement to report. On Tuesday, September 14th, 2011 I chanted a full 16 rounds for the first time. I was never able to do this with the other job that I had. I'm not doing this on a daily basis yet but on that day I just kept going.
I've let my new roommate read Bhagavad-Gita and he seems to have some interest. If you have a copy you can send me I will give it to him and we will see how it goes. Also, if you have a copy of “Chant, and Be Happy', I'll give it to him since he is a fan of George Harrison.
Please pray that Krsna will bestow His mercy upon me.”
Bhakta Gary Griffin
Portland, OR

“Since time is a luxury that I have plenty of, I have spent on average 61/2 to 8 hrs a day studying, absorbing, and digesting the principles and teachings of the Bhakti-Rasamrta Sindhu (Nectar of Devotion) and the 'Teachings of Lord Caitanya'.
The reading and study of these two specific pieces of devotional literature has truly awakened my slumbering Krsna consciousness and has anointed my understanding with the salve of enlightenment to the love of Godhead, which is the ultimate goal of human existence. In performing my path of devotional service to Lord Krsna, I have found myself very drawn, as a moth to a flame, to the whole prayer and worship aspect of devotional service. More specifically, I am very drawn to the service of Deity worship (aratika) and offering of prayers, however all the literatures I read, study, research, only touches on the entire aratika process, there are no details on the subject. I would really like to learn more of this art of Deity worship by studying more elaborate and detailed literatures on the process.
Due to my current unfortunate position, I have to rely upon the mercy of Lord Krsna, through His devotees to assist in my spiritual advancement and further cultivation of transcendental knowledge.
I thank you so very much for your time, attention, and efforts invested on my behalf. I am very eager to hear from you soon. Hare Krsna!”
Richard Allen Hogan
Mount Olive, West Virginia

“To whom it may concern,
A friend let me borrow a CD and book of Swami Prabhupada, and reading it, I became very interested and wanted to learn more. Shortly thereafter I saw the address for ISKCON in a resource guide I had and wrote them. Also I read a BTG magazine not too long ago and I wrote the people there too. I was curious as to if it would be possible to have books and/or magazines sent to me for further study.
Words can’t express my appreciation; what I have heard/read so far really speaks to me. Krsna consciousness feels like a deep truth I have always known about in some part of my mind, but have never fully realized or seen clearly. It’s hard to put into words my feelings about it, or to properly describe how it appeals to me. By learning more about Krsna consciousness I expect to discover more of the truth about myself and about reality itself. Thank you in advance for whatever you are able to send, if anything.
With respects,
Eric Wells
Spruce Pine, NC

_______________________________________________

“I got a little nervous when everyone went around and introduced themselves by name and tribe [at a sweat lodge]. Especially when my cellie just said, “I’m Rick, Arizona Hopi.” Luckily Sage said, “Most of you know me. I’m Sage, Northern Cheyenne and I want to introduce the man on my right. We call him Griff. He’s Arizona Rick’s cellie and my neighbor. He looks paleface by he’s Hare Krishna, Hindu tribe. His people are wise and his medicine is strong. I ask that you all respect him as my guest.”
Bhakta Gary Griffin
Salem, OR

“I came into contact with Krsna Consciousness via an issue of “Back to Godhead” magazine that I found in a cell when I arrived in prison (I still have it!). I was very intrigued by the lessons and saw in them the thoughts that I have been having quite some time now. For instance “birth and rebirth,” transcendence, etc. I have always firmly believed in what Krsna consciousness teaches. I just never knew what path to take to find it until now. I have been a Muslim since I was 17 years old, but the philosophy of Islam does not fit with my yearning to be as close to God (Krsna) as I would like.
I am attracted to Krsna consciousness for the following reasons:

1. No eating of meat, 2. No gambling, 3. No illicit sex, 4. No intoxicants. And we get to have altars! (I love candles and incense!)
The basic principle of the Hare Krsna way of life is “simple living and high thinking.” (pg. 342 of The Science of Self Realization) and “Krsna consciousness is a serious education, not an ordinary religion. (pg. 27) and “The first thing is to understand that you are a spiritual soul. You are changing your body.” (pg. 29)”
Bhakta Albert Gertman
Beeville, TX

“Our program has grown a lot. New men are becoming interested in Krsna consciousness. I give a Bhagavad-Gita class every day on the yard. Then we have our own worship service. Preaching is my life. And my friends always ask, “Why is it, no matter what we start talking about, we end up talking about Krsna?” And you know your friends see you as a priest when they say they’re sorry for letting a cuss word slip.
We have many interfaith discussions. And so many faiths are coming to our worship service. Christians, Buddhist, Islam, Wicca, and even two Vedanta impersonalists. We all chant Hare Krishna together. And dance in great joy!

In prison there are many ways to trick men into some devotional service. Like honoring prasadam. After I offer my veggy tray to the Lord, I like to ask the men sitting at my table if they’d like something off my tray. I also like to buy a bag of Jolly Ranchers (candies), offer them to the Lord, then go around asking, “Care for a Jolly Rama?” The men simply love it. And can’t get enough!

At our worship, we try to engage everyone. Like the chapel orderly, by setting up a fan, or to bring a table, something, anything. And the chaplain, who lights the candle. He’s made so much advancement over the past 6 years, last time he was dancing down the hall, singing Hare Krsna maha mantra, matches in hand.

Some men bought japa beads at our canteen and chant Hare Krsna! They read Prabhupada’s books and preach to their friends.
Actually, due to wonderful devotees like you, this whole prison has become a holy Dhama! Because Prabhupada has come in the form of his books, CDs and DVDs.”
Bhakta James
Salem, Oregon

“None of this material hullabaloo seems important. All that’s important is to try to remember Krsna at every moment and especially at the time of death. Maybe we’ll be as fortunate in the end as Ajamila! I still find memorizing scriptures and prayers to be a good method of training the mind to always be on Krsna. Haribol!”
Bhakta Gerald Niles
Daytona Beach, FL

“I’ve been reading the Mahabharata, which has been increasing my character and virtues.”
Carlos Parham
Helena, Georgia

“I was told to write you in order to obtain more knowledge concerning Hare Krsna. My roommate is Mark Dozier and honestly, he has been an inspiration to me concerning this subject….
I have up until this time studied various religions, but haven’t shall we say, applied myself due to the contradictions and illogical reasoning, so to speak.
After being introduced by Mark to this movement and reading various articles in the Back to Godhead magazine by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, I feel that I have found what I have been seeking. His Divine Grace wrote that “You have this human form of life. REALIZE GOD. This is responsibility. Otherwise, you are finished. Your only responsibility is to understand God….” So I must now apply myself.”
Allen C. Crane
Valdosta, GA

“When I started reading Prabhupada’s books my skeptical mind led me to check what he wrote about scriptures, time frames (etc). I would track down things at the library and have my daughter check on things. I never found one single erroneous fact. I no longer have a need to research what Prabhupada says. I then began offering obeisances to him prior to chanting and asking him to please accept my food as an offering to Lord Krsna.
Without ever having met him physically, when I think about him, I’m overcome with love and reverence. My chanting and studying are going very well.”
Gary Winters
Raiford, Florida

"Dear Mother Shyama Priya, I received the scriptural quotes I needed and the beautiful photograph of Srila Prabhupada’s murti in Los Angeles. Thank you so very much, my very dear Mother. Each of these items is so very purifying, and, yes, I very much like the picture, having put it before my eyes and chanted while looking upon His Divine Grace’s wonderful form.
Thank you for your kind words expressing your appreciation for the article within my previous correspondence. And, as for your being impressed by writing skills, I am truly humbled all the more before the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna.
About transcendence, I would like to tell you that the tapes you have sent have moved me to tears while listening to the sweet spiritual sounds of this music. Yes, Mother, please know that your loving devotional service is reaching me at the deepest level of my very soul. And, speaking of this, there is one tape in particular that has profoundly touched me in such a way that I could not contain the tears as they streamed down my face. This tape is entitled Ancient Hymns…it has changed my life so much for the better…”
Jason Matthews
Columbia, South Carolina

“At this point, I’ve been trying to strengthen my mind and body. I have to sharpen my mind. Without Krishna I believe the world would be lost. When I do read the books, I like to believe that they’re talking to me and teaching me.”
Larry Prickett
Daytona Beach, FL

“This past Monday at the chapel there was just Bhakta Mike, Frank (the faithful Catholic) and myself. We heard “Govinda” first, then read the poem, “Lord, Claim me as Thy Own” from Sri Brihat Bhagavatamritam. Then we enjoyed the CD reading of Bhagavad-Gita As it is, chapters 8, 9, 10 & 11. Then we had sankirtan and I recited the few prayers I’ve learned, and had a splash of [read about] Radha-Kunda and distributed prasadam (Jolly Ranchers). Each time is fresh and nice, and we’re always looking forward to remembering Krsna. Haribol!”
Gerald Niles
Graceville, Florida

“Yes, I keep Krishna on my mind daily.I choose the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Through my devotional service, Krsna has revealed to me wonderful things. He has showed me the doors, or gates, to the spiritual world. I have learned and seen so much in the last 30 months.
I have a Srimad-Bhagavatam and I love the pastime stories of Krsna. The transcendental bliss I get from reading and chanting is indescribable. I will be waiting for the books and BTGs; I appreciate them highly.”
Farrat Garnett
Delano, Georgia

“You also spoke about the mind’s resistance to chanting 16 rounds. I see that happening to me even in this cell alone. Nowhere to go and nothing else to do and still the mind would rather do something “else”. I see now the mind is like this stranger that is there. Just there. And if you don’t keep an eye on him and remain vigilant against the mental projections he weaves, you will get caught up in his recklessness, chasing illusions and replaying the past like a broken record.
I only want to do service now. For what else is this human birth for? To chase sense pleasures? It is to help humanity grow in honesty, dignity, righteousness and God consciousness.”
Robert Cepeda
Malone, New York

“Hello and thank you for making your material available in prisons. My name is Eric; I am 24 years old and in prison. I’m getting out next year and thank God I am where I am at because my life was all messed up before I came to jail and woke up from my old life. I just read the book The Higher Taste and I am now vegetarian. You have probably already heard but is difficult to have a specialty diet in prison. I haven’t eaten any meat in three weeks and I don’t miss it one bit. This is going to be a big change for me on the outside as well. You see, I have been a cook my whole life, working in all kinds of restaurant kitchens. I never realized before how heavily centered meat is in most people’s diet. I won’t be cooking meat anymore so I may need to change jobs soon. My other passion besides cooking is farming and I have experienced working on an organic produce farm in PA. I am interested in ISKCON farm communities and restaurants. I live in Harrisburg, PA and would like to request any info about ISKCON centers in PA please. Working in a spiritually minded restaurant or farm would be perfect for me and if that isn’t possible I’d still like to learn more and volunteer. Also, the recipes in The Higher Taste seem delicious and I can’t wait to try them myself! Thanks again.”
Eric
Frackville, PA

“Hi, my name is T.W. I once received knowledge from this ministry about 1 ½ ago. I am not incarcerated as I speak, but I really would like to continue my walk with Krsna. I’m sitting at my kitchen table writing this letter because I’m really in need of knowledge and protection from Lord Krsna. I chant sometimes but I desire to do more than chant. I want to become fully Krsna conscious. I haven’t met no one yet in the free world that is Krsna conscious. I went to church last week and I felt far from God, and I think that was because of the people I was around. I became Krsna conscious when I was in prison and I knew that it was the purest thing I could do. Right now, I feel lost because I have no knowledge, period. I would like to become a dedicated devotee. As I write this letter I can only think of how thankful I am to be able to seek help from this ministry. I would like for this temple to pray for me, ask Krsna to show mercy upon my life. Thanks.”
Tawon Warren
Moultrie, Georgia

“Recently, I found a partial and tattered copy of BTG in the trash. In this particular issue of BTG, there were several articles that I found very enlightening, spiritually educational and inspiring.”
Richard Allen Hogan
Mt.Olive, WV

“I do not know how to thank you for these treasures. Thank you so very much for these nectarean books and magazines. They will be read and enjoyed many, many times in the months to come.
All is well with me here. As I continue to seek God and chant His name, my life is improving in every way, at every level. It is very challenging to pursue sadhana here in this environment but to return to mundane concerns and material consciousness is no longer a viable option. I’m all in!
I am sharing your articles with Robin. She is totally supportive of my interest in Krsna Consciousness. She is chanting the mantra as well.”
Robert Harrington
Sneads, FL

“I was to a couple of other guys speak of the ISKCON Prison Ministry, they spoke with so much genuine passion, my mere curious alerts got the best of my mind!! The next day I ran across the address of ISKCON.
At this stage of my life I’m on a quest for truth, peace and spiritual balance.
You have explained so much in this missive but more so, you spoke with vehemence and this attracts me to seek more.”
Shawn R. Irving
Susanvillle, California

“I really like the story in one of the books you sent, about how Krsna’s young friends would just play without worry and Krsna would kill demon after demon sent to kill them. Krsna does all the work gladly and we just have to love Him and leave the worries to Him.
I can feel buoyed up spiritually when I chant. Of course, in here, I too have worries and concerns galore but all things work at Krsna’s will and he takes care of us like He took care of Arjuna; the Kurus took His army and Arjuna chose Krsna Himself. I see the application to my life/situation.”
Bhakta Kenneth
Corcoran, California

“I now have in my possession the most wonderful string of beads that ever existed! Thank you again for sending them. I offered obeisances to Mukta Kesa, Srila Prabhupada, Lord Caitanya, Lord Krsna. I thanked them all for sending you to me, and asked them to bless my beads. I chanted the Panca-Tattva mantra, chanted one round on the beads and I was moved to kirtan-like singing the mantra until my roommate came back.
I am trying to stick with japa chanting to get more rounds than the two or three I’m doing, but this feeling to sing the mantra slowly is always coming to me. My mind isn’t drifting away from Krsna. It’s a strong urge to sing to Krsna. I can’t see anything wrong in it. Please remember that I’ve never heard anyone else chant the maha-mantra.”
Gary Winters
Raiford, Florida

“I now chant every day, sitting in before the pictures you sent me of Radha-Krsna. Also, I get up at 4 AM and meditate till 6 AM and then from 7 to 8 PM. Then when I go to bed at 10 PM I meditate and talk with the Lord till 12 PM. “
Bhakta Robert

“I received the scriptural quotes I needed and the beautiful photograph of Srila Prabhupada’s murti in Los Angeles. Thank you so very much, my very dear Mother. Each of these items is so very purifying, and, yes, I very much like the picture, having put it before my eyes and chanted while looking upon His Divine Grace’s wonderful form.
About transcendence, I would like to tell you that the tapes you have sent have moved me to tears while listening to the sweet spiritual sounds of this music. Yes, Mother Shyama, please know that your loving devotional service is reaching me at the deepest level of my very soul. And, speaking of this, there is one tape in particular that has profoundly touched me in such a way that I could not contain the tears as they streamed down my face. This tape is entitled Ancient Hymns…it has changed my life so much for the better…”
Jason Matthews
Columbia, South Carolina

“Well, I will say my relationship with Krsna will get better; I have found inner peace with myself and am able to understand things better. I tried chanting and felt as someone was calling me. I will do this more and more.”
Jesse Garcia

“Today I got all the reading material that you sent, and was very excited after going through it, and I could tell just by scanning it that all the enclosed items contain a great deal of knowledge.
I don’t have any of the books the other devotees sent me because I read them then gave them to my neighbor. I do an excessive amount of reading.”
Jonh Paul McGowen
Abilene, Texas

“The only thing that gave me a shakti feeling and especially spiritual insight was Prabhupada’s writings and, as views expressed therein were the most valid ever, I knew I had found something solid and good. I can’t even remember the details from back then anymore- I just remember reading an old Bhagavad-Gita As It Is and learning so much every time I read a chapter or section. That was my turning point in life. Krsna seems to keep us on the edge of our seats (or at least me!) sometimes but He always does what is best for His devotees and I take shelter in that thought and more importantly- in that promise! I can’t lie- I am often distressed in here, my friend!”
Bhakta Kenneth
Corcoran, California

“Today I feel unusually enthusiastic. I was doing a “japa walk” I my cell just now (space back and forth a 12 ft or so path) and after about 1 ½ hours time doing this, I experienced an odd but humorous vision. I am still chucking as I write this with a big smile on my face. See, I was at first feeling kinda “down in the dumps”, worrying of mundane issues going on in my life right now. So I thought to focus my attention only on Krsna by repeating His name in the maha-mantra. He showed me mercy and lifted my spirits!
I envisioned a photo of Jaganivasa Dasa sent me long ago of him doing sankirtan with a drum on his shoulders. I saw it like he was there in front of me and next I saw myself raise both arms and hands to the sky and I started to smile and twirl around and around in circles! Like if I was actually part of the sankirtan party.
Just seeing this vision in my mind’s eye made me so joy filled that I completely forgot about my prior worries! Krsna knows just what I needed.
I will fast for at least one meal (because of my diabetes) and I plan to do japa walk in my cell for 2 hours after breakfast and at the noon and dinner time in the prison. That will be 6 hours total in observance of the appearance day of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. I will also read Science of Self-Realization until bedtime around 12 midnight.
When I read the articles in BTG it is like I am being transported right into the activity being described in the article. I can envision the scenery and feel the presence of other devotees, even though I have never met face to face with any of them. It still can feel a special connection to them through the articles they write.
The scriptures lessons are helpful to learn more about Krsna, and how to offer my bhakti to Him. Also the art work gives a wonderful way to visually keep Krsna in my mind’s eye! Makes me long to be in Krsna’s presence physically.
I found another family (the devotees) to cherish that gives me so much happiness and gives me hope and dreams of future association.”
Kevin M. Cummings
Plymouth, Wisconsin

“One good thing he did was give me the maha-mantra, and attaining Krsna Consciousness was instantaneous and simple. The soul thereafter, while yet in this material body, continues traveling rocky paths and steep hills, but no longer without the mercy of God and transcendental guidance.”
Gerald Niles
Graceville, Florida

“I took the Nectar of Devotion to school today and I got to break the ice so to speak with a classmate. Who knows, lets pray about it. At any rate, I have read only a few of Srila Prabhupada’s books and currently am in a cell with someone who shares his Gita with me. I also try to do the studies or lessons in every issue of BTG.”
Jerry Moffit

“I have been engaging in giving the holy name to several inmates that they too may come to relish their eternal love for Krsna. One particular fellow almost began to cry upon hearing me chanting the holy name. I was surprised that he manifested such an experience…I am always desiring to spread the message of Lord Caitanya. By the mercy of other kind devotees as yourself who are willing to help us fallen prisoners come to know what actual freedom really is, freedom to surrender to the lotus feet of Sri Krsna.”
Kevin Brown
Waycross GA

“There are no words to express what joy is within my heart. Material worlds are nothing on this transcendental road…where “Back to Godhead is the theme song and Krsna prema is the goal.”
Anonymous

“I have received the beautiful hard-cover copy of Bhagavad-Gita As It Is. I cannot tell you how overjoyed I was to receive this precious gift. It will be treasured. Thank you.
Thank you also for this association and the encouragement to chant. I am once again chanting daily and not eating any meat. I am feeling 100% better already. I am far from being a devotee of Lord Krishna, but I do aspire to become one. Any assistance you provide in this endeavor will be profoundly appreciated. Please know that I am a serious student. I do not wish to waste a moment. Any books or materials that you may send will be treasured, studied, and read over and over.
I am looking forward to hearing from you again. I hope you will share any advice or guidance you feel may help me advance in realization. Please allow me to benefit from your knowledge and wisdom. And if there is anything I can do to be of service to yourself or ISKCON, please let me know.
Again, thank you so much for this beautiful Gita. It is already my most cherished possession here. Thank you for all you are doing.”
Robert Harrington
Sneads, Florida

“I have been absorbed in chanting and reading.
I want to tell others about Krsna. I just don’t know enough so far. I was waiting until I read more. Currently I am reading the Bhagavad-Gita as it is. I just made it to chapter 10. I have to say that I enjoy the Gita a lot. I plan to go through it a second time and keep a journal of verses and Prabhupada’s purports. I was wondering how I could help spread the movement. I have tried chanting some more. It seems to be going a lot better for me.”
Richard Cayea

“I passed the newsletter to several other inmates who had never even heard the names “Hare Krsna”. So I am happy to say that IPM is succeeding in starting conditioned souls on the path of Krsna bhakti, thus saving them from the greatest type of fear. Not a day goes by in here without me letting a few people know about Krsna, His names and His pastimes. The seed is then planted and the jiva’s awakening has begun. All glories to Sri Krsna sankirtan, to Prabhupada and to IPM!”
Alex A. George
Marienville, PA

“Lately, I have been preaching, to many inmates, instructing them, in the chanting of the holy name. They’ve such nice interest so I often give lectures, to them on the teaching of Srila Prabhupada, I learned from reading, his many books. I give everything as pure as I received it, reading his books, and following, the instructions of his devotees.
This morning as always, I chanted a real blissful 16 rounds of Hare Krsna maha-mantra; that always causes me to smile in my happiness of Krsna consciousness.”
Kevin L. Brown
Waycross, GA

"I had been suffering out of ignorance and due to leading a sinful life. I want to be rescued from this ignorance. I'm trying very hard and as long as I continue to read and chant everyday, I'm beginning to see things clearly."
Bhakta Billy
Amarillo, TX

"A few weeks ago I came across an Srimad-Bhagavatam, first canto-part two, Creation. The book is from ISKCON. I've been reading it for about 3 weeks. I am truly amazed and humbled at the same time, by SB and also the Bhagavad-gita As It Is. I did not even know that this level of knowledge and wisdom was even in this world."
Bhakta Tony
Lucasville, OH

"The Pastor Dave Mason, in this jail was kind enough to lend me his personal copy of Bhagavad-gita As It Is, for reading in jail. It is a great solace to me through this very stressful time. I am going through, without it I would go crazy-no kidding."
Bhaktin Snehal
Battle Creek, MI

“I came to Krsna consciousness Dec 15, 2006 and have read several books on Krsna. Somehow I don’t doubt Krsna Conscious teachings and knowledge and take it “as it is” I accept it 100%. I have received transcendental bliss. And easily catch on to the teachings and understand that I’m not supposed to worship demigods, nothing else, but the lotus feet of the Lord Krsna. Everything I do, I want to do it for Lord Krsna the rest of my life, no matter if I become a pure devotee or not. I’ve prayed that whatever life form I take that the Lord will never let me forget His lotus feet after this body.”
Bhakta Jerome
Reidsville GA

“I’m chanting more and I am chanting in my mind most of the time. I have been chanting in my mind for at least 2 years. At any rate, I am moving along to the point where I actually chanted in a dream I had to avoid a fearful situation. I am blessed to be able to say that I am learning to see God is love. I chant because I have to…to escape myself, my personal demons.”
Anonymous

“I completed the “Brahmacharya test 1” on Bhagavad-Gita & just sent it in to Mukta Kesa Dasa. I’m also doing the Beyond Birth &Death course with him. He sent me my certificate for completing the Nectar of Instruction course. It makes me proud! 
I’ve been reading Krsna book at night before I go to sleep, as Mukta told me to do. I like the stories.
I have been adjusting my rounds to avoid the 10 offenses, pronouncing all the names.
I have also gotten a few compliments from different guards lately (I guess Krsna has changed my general attitude and demeanor.
I am reading Krsna Book; tonight I’m on chapter 6, Putana Killed. I love it!”
Bhakta Paul
Pendleton, IN

“Today I got all the reading material that you sent

, and was very excited after going through it, and I could tell just by scanning it that all the enclosed items contain a great deal of knowledge.
I don’t have any of the books the other devotees sent me because I read them then gave them to my neighbor. I do an excessive amount of reading.”
Bhakta Jonh Paul
Abilene, Texas

“My Krsna consciousness has been just a joy in recent weeks in spite (almost) of the situations I’ve found myself in. As for sharing insights, it’s really only that I can see where for so long I’ve been running from Krsna and now feel a pull toward Him.
Thanks so much for the Nectar of Devotion. I got it and have been devouring it ever since.”
Bhakta Jerry

“I am a 51 years old aspiring devotee. I have made a mess of my life because of my drug and alcohol abuse. I am trying to salvage a few years by being of service to God and man.
I am a sincere student of Swami Prabhupada. I have searched diligently over the years and I am convinced Swami Prabhupada provided the highest teachings available in this age. I would be very grateful for the opportunity to study his books at this time. Please know that any books about Krishna consciousness will be appreciated so very much.
For now I will use my time wisely chanting and studying. I have plenty of time here to do both. I do not want to waste a moment.”
Bhakta Robert
Sneads, Florida

“Well, I will say my relationship with Krsna will get better; I have found inner peace with myself and am able to understand things better.
I tried chanting and felt as someone was calling me. I will do this more and more.”
Bhakta Jesse

“When I started reading Prabhupada’s books my skeptical mind led me to check what he wrote about scriptures, time frames, etc. I would track down things at the library and have my daughter check on things. I never found one single erroneous fact. I no longer have a need to research what Prabhupada says. I then began offering obeisances to him prior to chanting and asking him to please accept my food as an offering to Lord Krsna. Without ever having met him physically, when I think about him, I’m overcome with love and reverence. My chanting and studying are going very well.”
Bhakta Gary
Raiford, Florida

“I am doing well and am following the 4 regs, chanting a minimum of 16 rounds, and studying. I wake around 4-4:30 AM and do japa, then chant the 12 names of moonlike Nityananda, then chant songs out of the copy of Temple Bhajans book I have. Then pray for my Guru Maharaja’s teaching to be fruitful wherever he is-and that he stays well and that I please him in all my endeavors. Then, I pray fervently and with profound sincerity to Sri-Sri Gaura-Nitai for Their help and blessings on this kanistha-adhikari and for the happiness of my devotee friends and “family”. I eat only what we’re allowed to as tough as that is in prison and offer others things from my tray after Sri Lord Krsna has had His.”
Bhakta Abner
Madras, Oregon

“I feel like I’ve been fighting for an eternity. Now I’m so tired; mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. I don’t want to fight anymore. This is why I’ve begun research into spiritual matters.
Anyway, I will follow your instructions on chanting.”
Bhakta Micheal
Jefferson City, Missouri

“The many books from ISKCON were my bread and butter for my conditioned soul. I owe every level of gratitude to the best writer of Vedic truth to our holy spiritual master, His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada. In 1990 (…) I made Krsna (God, at the time) a promise to never stop praying each and every day to the best of my ability, trusting in his love no matter what.
(…) All I wish to tell is that when you desire the Lord even a little, He will cause you to taste more of His love. Today I am proud to say that in my heart is the Vishnu form, directing and keeping up with love I have to give the Absolute Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna, as I pray each day to Him.”
Bhakta Richard
Jesup, Georgia

“Lately, I have been giving brief lectures to several inmates who were in my dormitory.
Yes, I remember the fellow who I chanted to who almost began crying. Honestly, I must admit that Krsna entered his heart, and thus he was dumb to reality, sitting on the bed, about to cry like a little baby.
I love to again cry for the Lords, for in such emotions, I have no control. I only respond to a love that is beyond the slumber of bitterness and lust.
“You may send me more BTGs and when I am finished reading them, I’ll give them out to others, so they can have this offering of love.
I miss Mukta Kesa’s Dasa,who was like a father. Sometimes, I read his old letters, relishing again and again his instructions.”
Bhakta Kevin
Waycross, Georgia

“Daru Brahman Dasa brought a drum and cymbals but no one knew how to use either, so he used the drum and led us through very nice sankirtan. About 20 people came.
This was another turbocharged, mind-blowing Monday morning in Graceville, CF, thanks to the mercy of Krsna!
I preached about how Bhakti-yoga is the best yoga, using Bhagavad-Gita As it is, 6.47 and the purport, and then we read about chanting the song sung by Lord Siva in the beautiful Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.24
We donated some literature and distributed prasadam (fruit candies), and listed the chapters 12. 13. 14 of Bhagavad-Gita As It Is, read on the CD, and had discussion. Also, we had sankirtan and prayers. Bhakta Mike, Brother Franck and I were the only ones there. As I was entering the chapel, a young man stopped and we talked. He wanted to attend, but had school. I told him he can submit an Inmate Request Form to the chaplain and have his name put on a callout, and miss school one day a week.”
Gerald Niles
Graceville, Florida

“I have witnessed it myself, just by the chanting of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra one can awaken his spiritual consciousness. Mataji, I chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra all the time. Just like the other day, I sat down in the middle of the floor and started chanting the maha-mantra very loudly. I don’t know what had got into me, but I could not stay seated so I got up and walked around still chanting, and everybody I stopped by and chanted in front of, they began chanting with me. Some would ask; “what are you singing and what does it mean?” I could not stay in one spot for too long because I would start to shiver, etc.
Mataji, I’m already attached to Krsna, but I want to increase that attachment. So give me more tips on how to become attached to Krsna.
Also, I would like to share something with you, as far as holding service within the prison. Who can I contact that will voluntarily come down to this institution and preach to us, the ones that are practicing and also to others that want to come.”
Bhakta Mark
Helena, Georgia

“I want to tell others about Krsna. I just don’t know enough so far. I was waiting until I read more. Currently I am reading the Bhagavad-Gita as it is. I just made it to chapter 10. I have to say that I enjoy the Gita a lot. I plan to go through it a second time and keep a journal of verses and Prabhupada’s purports. I was wondering how I could help spread the movement.
I have tried chanting some more. It seems to be going a lot better for me.”
Bhakta Richard

“Referring to the Gita and Prabhupada’s purports, I reached the following conclusion; surrendering to Krsna is the goal. Don’t send any more books for now; I want to devote my time to studying Bhagavad-Gita, Nectar of Instruction, and Lord Caitanya in Five Features, and to my chanting.
I still don’t know if I’ll get the beads you sent for the second time. I’m chanting on my bootlace though, getting a few rounds in, and mentally chanting all day as I go through my prison routine.
I say a prayer to Srila Prabhupada to accept the food as an offering for Lord Krsna. I’m hoping my sincerity overcomes any defects in my offering.”
Bhakta Gary
Raiford, Florida

“I received “Memories” and am immersed in it.
Earlier, my heart and my mind became very troubled but just kept staring at my poster of Lord Caitanya & Nityananda and it was like He comforted me and held my hand through the night. I chanted extra rounds and I became at ease enough to sleep. Then this morning - lo and behold - I was called out for a visit. It was my attorney coming to visit to work with me to counter that very negative item which the judge will read before sentencing. I will pray to Radha for Her mercy - but my point is - I can see how - as soon as I reached out to Krsna, it was like He didn’t wait. He reciprocated so quickly.

I’m so grateful for both the Teachings of Queen Kunti and Memories. I’m learning so much from them as well as from the BG. Even though I don’t time myself, I know I must spend at - least - 2 hours a day reading from a mixture of all 3 for them. Jaya! (my new favorite word)
Now that I know without doubt or question that I’m going somewhere when my soul no longer needs this body, its an incredible liberation. Death is not scary - nor am I saddened for anyone I would be leaving behind. Being in jail is definitely a way of having an ascktic way of life. Thing is - the more I do without all those little luxuries of sense gratification, the more I realize - not only do I not need them - I don’t want them. Celibacy has truly empowered my spiritual connection. As Mormons say, “The veil has become very thin.” The more renounced I am from the things of the world the closer I become to Krsna, Jesus, Heavenly Father and the more I depend on them - and the more I realize I need no one else but them. I’m never lonely or bored. I know Krsna and Jesus and Father Elohim know my every thought, know what I need before I need it. To experience the trial of faith has truly brought me the victory of faith. It’s a wondrous process and I look forward to serving Him with all my heart and mind and strength.

As I become more and more Krsna Conscious, I can see myself transforming in the way I view life - anger is only momentary - as if Caitanya appears beside me and issues a gentle rebuke. If I were to associate a tactile feeling for KC, I would have to say - so far - it has been velvety smooth, creamy. I could only imagine how wonderful it would be having other devotees to share it with and to Kirtan. I dreaming about KC now too! In my dream, I was donating food to someone and I warned them - “It’s not Prasadam - I didn’t pray over it!”

When I read what you write about Lord Caitanya coming to the most fallen of souls, my eyes welled up in tears and my love swelled for Him. Here I was drawing Him and Nityananda and didn’t realize they were brothers!

This one guy who has gotten out and come back 6 times since I’ve been here just got back again and asked me for something to read. I gave him a Mormon magazine and a BTG. The next day, while I was sleeping, he slipped the Mormon magazine back under the door with a note: “Yogi, the Back to Godhead is great! Please give me more to read!”
How do you like that? So today I’m going to give him another BTG and one of the copies of the ISKCON Prison Ministry newsletters. If he shows more interest, I’ll let him borrow the Queen Kunti book.”
Bhakta Ricky

“I was transported from OSP to the Lane County jail last Tuesday for a court date and I’ve been here since. I had to leave everything at the penitentiary and the few books I had there are checked out from the chapel library. So I’ve just been locked in a box here in the county hooskow chanting japa on my knuckles, reading secular paperbacks and singing everything from “govindam adi purusham….” To Michael Cassidy to george Harrison and everything in between.

The sudden rattling of keys in the door of the cell I’m in surprised me because I knew by the time of day and the rapping of jackboots down the tier that it was mail call - and no one knows I’m here to write me. It was Krishna’s grace and mercy that your envelope was even forwarded to me here since it came from intake at Coffee Creek somehow. The only piece of mail to be forwarded to me and I know from talking to my family that I have mail sitting at OSP. I really appreciate your sending me the BTG’s because upon arrival and contacting my favorite chaplain here, a really cool, dynamic woman named Sister Margaret. I learned that the old hardback copy of Prabhupada’s Gita that’d had its cover torn off to make it “paperback” was no longer in the chapel library. So here I was reading Tom Wolfe, JD Salinger and even the DaVinci Code until Monday (three days ago) when your parcel arrived. Again, thank you so much.

I just wanted to express to you how grateful I am as soon as I was able to rustle up an envelope and the means to write you. Thank you. I was kind of adrift here - no Gita, no beads, no devotees (at least at OSP theres Jivananada and a couple of other bhaktas) I’ve read both issues of Back to Godhead entirely and am now focusing on the Bhagavatam excerpts in the middle. I never read Back to Godhead magazine so attentively and completely before (though I’m sure I thought I did).

At first, I was very concerned and dearly hoped they’d let me bring these Back to Godhead issues with me back to the penitentiary (which they probably wouldn’t - “legal paperwork only” the sign in reception says). But after the guy 3 cells down from me asked to borrow the May June issue and has been asking me everything from “Why is Krishna blue?” to “So you don’t eat any meat?” to “What’s up with this prison ministry stamp inside the cover?” (yeah, I told him to write you) I’m now excited to leave them here for other seekers.”
Bhakta Gary
Salem, OR

“Hey, I am on a constant roll of chanting a full 2 hours a day. J It’s fun to chant and I totally enjoy it, until my mind tries to wander off. I can’t get enough of this chanting. When I don’t chant I pick up the Gita ad read the nectar. I am going through the Gita page by page and I’ve gone through it twice already; I am now on my third cycle. My first time through I just read the text and the second time, only the purports. Now I am reading both text and purports. Next I am going to pick a random chapter, dissect it and pull all the nectar out of it.”
Bhakta Justin
Woodstock, IL

“I do not try to read many books. I rather absorb what I have, then, if I am able to teach what I have learned, I ask for particular books I may not have read. I study my books very conscientiously in order to preach and teach from them intelligently.
Lately I have been preaching and giving the holy name to many inmates whose interest pleased me. I will have them write either you or Chandrasehhara dasa.
Yes, I have already given the small books you sent me to my roommate who is reading them. Also I put the other small books in the general library, so everyone will be able to read them. Each book has IPM address within them so they can write. Actually mother, you can send as many books as you wish, for it is known that I often get more books for such reasons as distribution.

“Daily, for the last 7 years or so, I have been getting up early in the morning, at 4:30 am, chanting the holy name. When I chant my heart opens very widely. It’s a very loving feeling I have always relished deep in my heart. Sometimes I cry for no reason having gone mad in the love of Godhead.
Mostly I chant in my cell, for I find such times to be rewarding in that I can sit and see the pastimes of the Lord manifest in my heart and outwardly causing my entire cell to be a manifestation of the Lord’s pastimes. However, often I walk around with my hand in my bead bag, chanting. This kind of japa I find to be rewarding in that I can overcome all urges of the mind and body. Tulasi Devi is most merciful, so I keep my fingers touching my beads while I silently chant the holy name.
Often I do more than the 16 rounds daily. This absorbs me in the love of Godhead, it’s very lovely, causing the heart to smile from within in it’s happiness. In other words, I can (chant) in and outside of my cell. I even approach people, asking them to chant with me.”
Bhakta Kevin
Waycross, Georgia

"I did not know that I was not supposed to eat meat until I was reading the books you sent me."
Bhakta Clyde

“I’ve been maintaining my principles and celebrated Pandava Nirjala Ekadasi with a full fast because of the lack of dietary choices here.”
Bhakta Corey
Rosharon, Texas

“I want to send a donation to ISKCON, I don’t make but 89 cents per hour, however I would like to establish a monthly donation to you. It could only be $ 10 per month as I make $32 and require some funds for needed canteen items.
The fact is I have all I need and most of what I want, my desires are few, in fact all I desire is to study and chant and meditate. Ultimately I wish only to love and serve Krsna. Haribol!”
Bhakta Michael

“You know it’s wondrous how the more you fall in love with Krsna, the easier it is to love everyone else. And the more I learn and discover about Krsna, the more I fall in love with him. The BTG is the same way. The more I read it, the more sense it makes and the more fascinating it becomes. You know I used to think it was absolutely ridiculous thinking that somebody could actually reincarnate into an animal and vice versa. But now it’s all starting to make sense. And boy, am I glad I no longer eat animals- especially cows!!
It’s so beautiful - as I continue on my path to self realization, I find more and more that peace that exists within because of the Paramatma. And when I see things as they are, the only thing that matters is my Bhakti - and that I devote myself to loving service to Lord Krisna. It’s a wondrous relief not only that, but I notice the more absorbed in Krisna Consciousness, the better equipped I am to help others and to be more compassionate - and to instinctively know when something is wrong or when something is bothering somebody, not just that, but experiencing the truth in KC allows me to recognize the truth in other things, the irony is - it wasn’t ‘till I was locked up that I was set free. I’m so blessed that in here I can perform yajnas and austerities that I couldn’t have done if I was out there.
I know, as Prabhupada’s purport said, that BG 9.30 isn’t a green light to just go out and do bad things - but what is does is it shows us inside that even though we might have done terrible things, as long as we are now on the devotional path to Lord Krishna, we are still his devotees!!
Bhakta Richard
North Las Vegas, Nevada

“I took the Bhagavad-Gita and was returned to general population the next day. There I met a girl who wasn’t here before who started chanting immediately. I sent a few books to another girl in another section, so then these girls got hold of most of those books and they are passing them around like hoarded treasure.”
Bhaktin Carol
Moore Haven, FL

“Well, I am as well as I can be. I even began chanting the Hare Krishna. It helped me get through a hardship I have been going through.
I received October’s newsletter and read it frequently as I have no books. I nearly finished reading The Teachings of Queen Kunti before I moved.
I also greatly enjoyed the copy of Godsend [Back to Godhead] that I received. I read it during a couple of very trying days and it kept me focused. It truly was a godsend.”
Kevin Forseth