Global News

An Update from Circle Of Love Inside

Circle of Love Inside volunteers write letters to our brothers and sisters in Amma who are incarcerated. Recently, we received a letter from one California inmate with the last name Singh.  He wrote: "Mail is the best anti-depressant. It is an instant spirit-lifter. Once you get mail, especially when it’s sent with warm regards, those feel good vibes go from the paper on which the letter is sent on to and in the person who gets the letter."

When we first began writing to this inmate, he wanted his own copy of the Bhagavad Gita, which was not available in the prison. He wrote, “I consider myself Hindu and Sikh. I’ve been blessed with the best of both worlds. One parent is Hindu and one is Sikh.”

At that time, California prisoners could only receive four packages a year and each book counted against that limit. Singh worked in the law library at the time. He found a reference in U.S. federal law and California law that said that, in losing their physical freedom through incarceration, inmates do not lose the right to be well informed and to continue to learn, so their right to educate themselves may not be restricted by keeping books sent by mail from them unless the book’s content threatened prison security.

Singh passed these references to one of the corrections officers and asked the guard to straighten out the conflict between the law of the land and department policy. Soon after, the entire State of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation changed its policy. Books no longer counted against the four package limit. Singh made it possible for hundreds of thousands of inmates to receive books and open their minds in the way that reading makes possible.

Through a Yahoo Group, an Amma devotee from Malaysia learned about this inmate’s desire to have his own Bhagavad Gita and she gave him that gift and provided five different translations of the Gita for that prison’s chapel library. “With love there is no distance,” as Amma says.

“Some days are hard; others are harder,”  the inmate wrote, “but the books and letters have always lifted my spirits and made me feel part of the world. I thank those who have written to me and those who continue to do so.  Thank you for reaching out and making me feel some of the good that is in the world.”

Learn more about Circle of Love Inside. To volunteer, contact Aikya Param.