Program in Butner Correctional Facility


On Friday the 18th of August Vimala, Vasanti Didi and I began our journey to North Carolina. There we were hosted by and had the sweet association of Bhagavati Kanta Prabhu and his dear wife Syamali Didi. We were there for the purpose of visiting The Butner Correctional Institution. There we held a Kirtan as well as shared the Hari katha that we have heard from Sri Guru and Vaisnava’s. This is the second of such programs that we conducted there. We were happily surprised to find Acyutananda Prabhu there, and were joined by him and Bhagavati Kanta Prabhu, by who’s kind invitation we had the opportunity to render some service. The group that gathered sweetly expressed their happiness to see us again, as our first visit there had been cut short. We began our program with an explanation of the mangala caranam. We then proceeded with that followed by Kirtan breaking in between with questions and answers in regard to the Bhakti yoga teachings. The group though smaller than the last made up with enthusiasm the lack of physical presence. It seemed that all were enlivened. One of the members of our program led a very nice Kirtan that impressed all present. We are allowed two more visits there during this year. We all expressed our eagerness to meet again and hopefully it will soon come to pass. We will put together a small study course for this group using The Essence of Bhagavat Gita as a format. 
All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga,
Syamasundara dasa


Hare Krishna
Dear all,

In spite of our hectic Janmashtami program on the very next day, which itself required all the time with hardly any time to sleep, we still did our prison seva at the Butner Federal Prison on Saturday Aug 19th!.We had our special team from Florida visiting us and the program at Butner was so amazing! I missed going to Butner foralmost for 2 months due to Janmashtami tasks and dramas, and ‘real’ dramas of getting practice times.

When we were walking from the parking lot, there was a security officer in a van kind of yelling at us. We turned and looked. The officer said, “O, Dr. Raj (they know me as Dr. Raj), we missed you for a long time! Where were you?”. It was a real surprise for us that he inquired about me. This officer used to be in the front desk before and whenever he would me thru his far away glass door, he used to grab my badge (he knows my badge number by heart amidst a hundred!) and used to greet me. Our Gurudeva’s mercy is playing a big part in this prison and every one used to talk there about our programs as we use multimedia and singing and chanting. Even the Chaplain who is the head there never wanted to miss our program. It is all by Gurudeva’s mercy! 

We took our mrdanga, kartals, shakers and all and made a huge impact. It was a full 2 hour program. Any way, we entered and after security scanning went thru the double door leaving ‘everything’ out.  It is actually quite scary if you are not used to it.. You may remember that once a volunteer was shot to death as suspicious because he was walking without an escort in a Baltimore prison and the security is now very tight.

We were in, walking thru the passage to the main area and then to the chapel hall. It is a large nice hall and we started the program. You may not believe that the inmates also played kartal with us, even leading maha mantra, discussed about their spiritual progress, stories about Krishna, Prahlad Maharaj and many wonderful things. Many there chant so many rounds and they have Radha Krishna pictures we previously gave them in their cells and do regular sadhana. The whole two hours went without we noticing! The inmates did not want us to leave and wanted us to come back again…

Actually in my heart I would like to do more prison programs than doing our weekly satsang, because the inmates have all the time for us and are really hungry for spiritual help compared to all of us who have hardly any time away from our families and children.

After September 2nd week, we can start another class on “Essence of Bhagavad Gita” and the inmates seem very interested. In this new 2 month course, at the end we can even have a test and award certificate of completion. We have our group from Florida going to make some wonderful materials as well.

Aspiring for the service of Sri Guru and the Vaisnavas,

Bhagavati Kanta dasa

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