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Dying in Prison

One of the inmates who has been in contact with the prison ministry since 2009, Bhakta Sasha, now has terminal cancer. He is fifty-seven years old. The prospect of dying is overwhelming for everyone, but having to die in prison is even more daunting. Prisons are not known for their warm, loving atmospheres; they are cold and impersonal at best. However, Bhakta Sasha is armed with Prabhupada’s teachings and graced with the holy name and he is taking full advantage of it.
Premvilas prabhu, from Columbus Ohio, has generously sponsored a Srimad-Bhagavatam set for him to read. Hopefully he’ll have time to read it all before he passes away. Due to prisons’ regulations, I cannot send him the whole set at once, so I send him two volumes at a time so that when he finishes a volume he always has the next one ready.

Bhakta Sasha writes:

“Thank you for sending the first and second cantos of Srimad-Bhagavatam. I have just finished the first canto and was intrigued by the in-depth description of all the friends and kinsmen of the armies from the Bhagavad-Gita. From the demigods to the demons—like Kamsa and Sisupala— to King Yudhishthira and his actions which determined the future of the Pandavas. It really helps me get a better grasp and understanding of how the saga has carried the words of Sri Kṛṣṇa to the Kali-yuga.

I start my day at 2 AM, showering, cleaning my room, and doing laundry. I now have pure vegetarian meals. I do not think about how I feel. I take it one day at a time. I am only concerned about staying Kṛṣṇa conscious. I spend my day reading and listening to my Kṛṣṇa CDs. I own no other kind of CDs. My day begins with the Daily Temple Program CD.

There are a few CNAs (certified nursing assistants) and RNs (registered nurses) here that are Kṛṣṇa conscious. They were surprised to see that I spend my days in this way.
Unfortunately, in this particular unit, everyone has only 6 months or less to live.

Every day I also let other patients read some of my other books like Coming Back, A Second Chance, and Holy Jail (the book by Candramauli Swami, about prison inmates).

I only want my last breath to have Kṛṣṇa on it. Reading and hearing bring me so much peace of mind and calm in my everyday life. It’s a battle, but I resist taking any strong dose of morphine. I want my days to be lucid; I only ask for some to take the edge off my pain.

I am going to close for now as I tire easily while concentrating on writing the proper words to express my thoughts. Until my next letter. I bid you peace, joy, love and happiness in everything related to Kṛṣṇa. Hare Kṛṣṇa.
Bhakta Sasha”

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ISKCON Prison Ministry
PO Box 2676
Alachua, FL 32616