Swami Satchidananda (Sri Gurudev) always cared deeply about serving men and women in prison. When he lived in Ceylon, he and the members of his ashram built temples for both minimum and maximum security facilities and conducted regular prayer meetings for the prisoners. Sri Gurudev and a few others were allowed to enter the prisons, give lectures on spiritual life and Yoga, and speak to the prisoners individually in their cells.
After he came to the United States, Sri Gurudev continued this service by visiting prisons across the country and giving satsangs. He also encouraged his students with an interest in this type of service to teach Yoga in prisons, and there are many moving stories of inmates who were helped and rehabilitated by this service.
The Satchidananda Prison Project – Why?
Throughout the years, inmates have contacted the Ashram and Integral Yoga Institutes, looking for spiritual guidance. These letters come to us in a steady stream, making it clear that there are people in the prison system wishing for a better life and for spiritual direction.
Several of us were moved to organize our service with people in prison, making Sri Gurudev’s teachings more available to them.
The Satchidananda Prison Project – What?
- We collect spiritual books to send to inmates and prison libraries.
- We correspond with inmates, answering their questions about spiritual life.
- We are working with prison administrations to have Yoga classes taught in prisons around the country.
- We hope to eventually connect with prison projects sponsored by other Yoga and Buddhist organizations so that we can join together in serving this population.
- We offer free correspondence courses on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the Living Gita.
- We offer free malas to indigent prisoners, provide other prisoners to malas for a small donation and often give chaplains a number of malas to distribute to the Hindu, Buddhist and Yogi inmates.