He was just twenty-four years old when he was found guilty of a crime he didn’t commit. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole, and thirty-six years have passed since then. Though he’s appealed his sentence many times, this innocent man has spent his entire adult life behind bars.

His name is Joe Hunt, but we call him by his spiritual name, Jairam, meaning “Victory to God.” Jairam is a dear friend, and one of the most courageous, inspiring people we know. We first met him about twenty-five years ago after he had read Autobiography of a Yogi, and contacted Ananda to see if someone could come to his prison to teach him meditation.

Over the years, many Ananda members have visited him in various California prisons as he was transferred from one facility to another. He not only learned Master’s meditation techniques, but began to practice them for hours each day sitting on the bunk of his cell. Later Jyotish initiated him into Kriya Yoga in a little closet that the guards allowed him to use.

Amidst the noise and unrest of maximum security prisons, Jairam continued to meditate and do Kriya Yoga for hours daily. During his years behind bars, Jairam also studied law, and through his efforts he was able to get many of his fellow prisoners released. But not himself.

Jairam turns sixty this year. A few weeks ago he began having heart palpitations, and was taken by ambulance to a prison hospital. Though shackled to his bed with leg chains, Jairam continued to practice meditation and Kriya. (At this time, his heart has stabilized, and he’s been returned to his cell, although he’s developed leg infections from the chains.)

My heart was heavy with the thought of his suffering in the hospital, and I prayed earnestly to God and Guru to help him. One morning after I had been praying for him, I randomly opened Yogananda’s Metaphysical Meditations and asked Master to help me understand what was going on for Jairam. These are the words of our Guru that my eyes fell upon:

I Go Within

I was a prisoner carrying a heavy load of bones and flesh, but I have broken the chains of my muscle-bound body by the power of relaxation. I am free.

You can imagine my amazement at reading Master’s words in direct response to my prayer. I began to think, “Who are the real prisoners? Jairam, who finds peace and acceptance while chained to a prison bed? Or those of us who, wherever our bodies reside, are trapped behind self-made bars of desires, negative emotions, or self-involvement?” As long as we’re locked up behind these bars, we are all sentenced to a life in prison without parole.

Jairam or Joe Hunt who is fighting for freedom from prison with Nayaswamis Jyotish and Devi

Jyotish, Jairam, and I.

There is a way out, however: Master has given us the secret key to escape the bondage of ego, and Jairam uses it every day. Through daily meditation, and withdrawing the life force through Kriya Yoga practice, we can break the bars of limitation that keep us bound to this physical plane.

Master concludes the prayer above with these words: “Now I shall try to go within. . . . Like a sacred hidden river my life-force flows in the gorge of the spine. I enter a dim corridor through the door of the spiritual eye, and speed on until at last the river of my life flows into the ocean of Life, and loses itself in bliss.”

From the bondage of ego to soul freedom, from suffering to joy, from limitation of consciousness to expansion into infinity: We can find the way out of our self-made prison, if we go within. Through the grace of God and Guru, may Jairam and all of us find true freedom.

Towards the infinite shores of bliss,

Nayaswami Devi

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  1. Very nicely explained…yes we really are prisoners of desires…expectations… material world in short…

  2. Dear Nayaswami Devi,

    Yesterday I was thinking about this exact issue (can a man sentenced with life find freedom through meditation in prison?), so you can imagine my surprise when I read your post this morning. I am so happy that my questions are being answered, and I am being helped to understand and accept. Thank you for your work!

  3. Krishna is great jairam g has full meditation work through out life by the grace of god and guru . Guru g help him to come out and share sh Jairam g with us silence and meditation work don by him . V have to face sins always as guru gives us strength and courage to face chalanges of life . Jailor and prisners all r proiûd to b deciple of god

  4. This is a very beautiful story for all of us.
    And specially for the sick persons.
    There is a way out and we can work on it
    Thanks for remembering for all of us.

  5. Thank you for this inspiring essay. I hope Jai Ram finds healing for his physical ailments and that he continues to serve as a beacon of Light to all. Has the Innocence Project heard of his case though?

  6. Hallo my new Friends,

    That is very sad, but also very inspiring.
    And so true, I have told others many times that I feel like this life is not freedom.
    (They do not understand me. I do not try to explain to much, cause I do not want to depress them.)
    All the restrictions and rules we are to obey. There is no free will as the politicians state.
    We get brainwashed by commercials and banners. This causes the new (Or maybe not so new) religion of Materialism. You are only aloud to be in this religion, when you have the money. And other wise you are nothing. A prisoner?

    I understand that Jairam is dead. Some story’s still state him as guilty? God works in mysterious ways. He helped people in prison. That is good. Maybe you would call him a Light Worker?
    Amazing that Jairam was so strong in his faith.

    Life gave me tests and I lost my faith. Not completely. But I found out, I was not strong enough.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Wishing you all love and light.

  7. Such a beautiful and inspiring message. Thank you for sharing with us Devi.

  8. Beautiful and heartbreaking (in the best way). Brings tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing this. Aum Aum Aum

  9. So timely and profound dear Davi. Jairam is certainly getting a large dose of karma off his back this incarnation. The fact that he is pursuing soul liberation while his body is behind bars is surely the mark of a highly advanced disciple. May he, and all of us, melt into the sacred light some day, and “speed on until at last the river of his life flows into the ocean of Life, and loses itself in bliss.”

  10. Awesome message through beautiful sad story. Our joy n freedom is inversely proportional to our desires. This story brings out this message very clearly.
    Jairam soul is taking this path view his karmic account settlement.
    Thanks for sharing awesome story.

  11. Thank you Deviji. I have not met Jairam personally, but from all you have shared and what I have heard and what he has done for Ananda, I feel to be his gurubhai and spiritual friends. Julie and I pray for him nightly. Initially we prayed for his physical freedom, but more recently I have prayed for his highest and best dharma. Jai Jairam.

  12. Dear Nayaswami Devi Ji,
    Thank you for your blog. We are praying for Jairam! And it’s an inspiration to carry on with our spiritual practice no matter what comes…

    In Master’s love

  13. What an inspiring story! Thank you. And thank you to Jairam for playing his part in God’s divine drama, helping others to get free, and helping us all in the process by practicing kriya yoga!

  14. Dear Devi ji,
    Prayers for our dear friend Jairam.
    His love for Master and meditation is amazing! Brought tears, both sad for his sufferings, and happy that he is a great yogi and has tremendous love for Master, besides all hurdles, thus inspiring all of us. We love you Jairamji!
    May Master be with him always and bless him with Joy, always.
    Thanks for sharing.

  15. Dear Deviji,

    Very inspiring and yet very sad. Jairam’s faith in his Guru and love towards Him is amazing giving the sufferings he is going through. My sincere prayers for him ,and lots of love. Thank you for sharing this story.

  16. This is truly beautiful.
    I am almost in awe of this soul …. it puts into clear perspective the potential we have to step away from our self created bars. This is like a sequel to Nelson Mandela, but even more inspiring.

  17. Very inspiring. Thanks a lot for sharing.
    It seems like God reaching out to me with this story.

    Thank you once again Devi

  18. An encouraging message of hope. Thank you for writing about Jairam, Devi. May he find inner freedom and, if it be God’s will, may he be granted outer freedom.

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