Due to growing excitement and demand of our courses in Butner Federal Prison, our 4th course was started from Thursday Sept 14th. The new course is on “Journey of the Soul”.
I was not in Butner for a month since we our last joint program with Syamasundara dasa, Vasanti and Vimala dasis of IPBYS Outreach who came from Florida. It was an amazing program for two hours.
The sign up for this new course was overwhelming and this time more new inmates also signed up and the chaplain conveyed this news with so much of happiness. “Dr. Raj, the sanga here is growing and I can also see how nicely these once called criminals are now turning into devotees! They even stopped eating meat and are now chanting! Their heart and lives are changing for good!”. I said, “All these belong only to my Srila Gurudev and the IPBYS Outreach devotees!”
On this day, we donated an entire new set of Srimad Bhagavatam that I bought ago as a second set for home, few large Spanish books on “Caitanya Bhagavat” from Sripad Avadoot Maharaj, DVDs and even a Bluray disc of our Janmashtami dramas!. With more than 20 large books, it came to 2 big boxes!
When I was reaching Butner, as usual, the security guard seeing me thru the front glass door picked up my badge already and greeted and he told me that Chaplain is arranging to bring a hand trolly to transport the books! Wow.. I felt great
Within minutes, I saw Chaplain Richard Hicks bringing the trolly from inside the prison by himself taking it thru the double doors! I could see great happiness in his face. Chaplain and myself both took the trolly outside and moved the books from my van onto the trolly and chaplain was pushing the cart with Srimad Bhagavatam set. In my mind I smiled, “Wow! He is so lucky to have Krishna’s glance at him.” Srimad Bhagavatam is the literary incarnation of Lord Krishna Himself. When coming in, the chaplain also told that as the number of books and media are now so big, he said that he will be making some larger room and space for our books.
The chapel I give the program with the projector, audio and video facility is nothing to compare. The inmates came on time and helped to bring and arrange the chairs nicely. Yes, the crowd had now grown bigger! I started the class with guru vandana, a welcome and intro video about the course. As I have timed the class accurately, it ended just 3 minutes before for the questions session. At the end when the chanting time came, we also played our ending Hare Krishna dance of Krishna Kuchela drama! It ended with nice applause and every one stood up!
When they came to know about the new Srimad Bhagavatam set, couple of inmates jumped in joy and others were smiling. Few inmates even expressed that they were all going to regular church programs and now they are interested in attending this as well. One even asked for initiation. Few inmates asked for Spanish books and I communicated it to our IPBYS team and we will be getting few books very soon.
When coming out after the program, the Chaplain when guarding me out expressed that these courses are having good effects on the inmates and he does not see them as were criminals once. He also expressed the fact that at the end of this course, we should award certificate of completion as we did for a previous course. For the last course it was chaplain himself took the effort of printing the certificates!
… When I started my van to drive back, I felt something so special inside that made me very happy because Gurudeva’s blessing was in full swing at them, and during the entire class it was like pin-drop silence as every one was so focused in the program and at the end asked great questions! Many were taking notes.
At home I told the whole thing to my wife who is the great supporter behind me. I also said that I really felt that Gurudev’s mercy was seen to be flowing at them! I prayed to Srila Gurudeva that my life should be used only to serve him like this!
… As you may know, our prison seva program has now grown to such a level that when we started we had only 20 inmates and 15 prisons, and now we have 500 prisons and 745 inmates of which 456 of them are so active. Our crew has been visiting several prisons about which separate blogs are being written.
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Our Website: http://www.gokulbhajan.com
Jai Srila Gurudeva!
– Bhagavati kanta dasa