Third Program in Pula, Croatia---December 13, 2013

By : 
Bhaktin Lara

     The third program in the Pula prison (Croatia), held on December 13th, was somewhat different. Again, the visiting group was Namacarya das, Sivananda Sena das, Misra Purandara das, Malati Mala dasi, Nadya Nimai das and me. This time, only one inmate attended– the inmate librarian. He was quite happy to be alone sitting on a chair in the middle of the hall. This scene would make a very good picture, I thought. A committee of 6 devotees dressed in Vaisnava clothes wearing tilak, sitting in a prison hall in front of a single inmate. The scene looked more like a job interview than a program lecture. Even the prison guards decided to leave us. Again, Krishna had shown us that nothing is impossible, for His ten steps towards a person making the one step, He will go very far in arranging a situation.

     Our attendant talked a lot; he admitted he feels free to talk honestly about what's on his mind when other inmates are not listening. He told us his mom would take him to visit similar programs given by Yoga groups about daily life organization. They would talk a lot about meditation, but he said he was always skeptical about religions. He wondered what's behind the rejection of material life, and why do people spend the whole day chanting like the Tibetan monks in the Himalayas. His conclusion was that giving up material life is impossible, and in many cases it's just a false pretense of renunciation. But, on the other side, he admitted that because he's in prison he has a lot of time to think and read about these things, maybe even more than he would in his civil family life.

     I liked the way he described the passing of time in jail: he said in the morning you wake up and then it's morning, morning, morning forever until someone brings you lunch, and then it's afternoon, afternoon, afternoon forever until someone brings you dinner, and then you go to sleep and the next day it starts all over.

     Once, he told us, his mom had to wait for several hours to see him, and when he asked her was she bored, she replied that she wasn't at all bored because she was chanting and praying while she was waiting. That made him wonder about the power of mantras and prayers, and the effect they have on the mind. He said he would like to try chanting, but that's impossible in jail where he's always surrounded by other inmates who may tease him.

     We all listened to what he was saying, and Namacarya das and Misra Purandara das answered his questions. In general, they told him, the interest for spiritual life is very rare, and he should be satisfied with his position for a start. We explained that he can always chant silently in his mind, that way others won't know or notice that he's chanting.

     We concluded by saying we don't mind coming for programs, even if it's only one person. We'll see you again in a month, and maybe others will decide to also come.