Offering prostrate obeisance to you, Srila Prabhupada, my eternal guide, preceptor and master, I offer also these heartfelt words on the occasion of your appearance celebration as Sri Vyasadeva’s very dear spiritual descendent and representative.
On July 1, 1966, you moved into your small Lower East Side Manhattan flat behind 26 Second Avenue. You recorded this in your 1966 journal:
Today I entered the new house at 26 Second Avenue rear portion Room #B1. For my purpose it [is] all good. I do not [know] why Krishna is trying to establish me in New York. I am his servant’s servant and therefore let His desire be fulfilled through my agency.
Lately, while reflecting on your profusion of instructions on how to advance in the practice of krishna-bhakti sadhana, I came across my godbrother Mahatma Prabhu’s suggestion to improve japa of the maha-mantra with the application of “japa affirmations,” the title of a small book he has recently written. In considering “affirmations”—positive, present-tense statements that affirm the attitude and practices one wants to realize, it strikes me that you are repeatedly applying affirmations to your own engagement in your mission. For instance, in the case of this journal entry, you very simply and straightforwardly affirm your identity as Krishna’s servant’s servant. Then, based on this truth, you allow Krishna’s desire to be fulfilled in the way that is fitting to your identity: As a servant of the servant, you recognize that you are elligible to act as the supreme master’s—Krishna’s—agent.
In the same July 1 journal entry, you then go on to write,
The Landlord Mr. Gardiner is pukka landlord. He knows how to increase the rent. But I am not sorry. For two months namely July and August I will have to pay at 62 and odds whereas from September 1st I will have to pay $71 and odds. Let me see how Krishna arranges the things.
Despite the anticipated increase in rent of nine dollars per month (around $72 in present-day value), you affirm that you are “not sorry.” You are confident that Krishna will act in a way that will resolve the financial uncertainty.*
Within these simple expressions of affirmation for the progress of your mission amidst quotidian details of accounting and the times of sunrise and sunset, I find indices of the sort of mature, humble confidence that made your efforts successful. They also point to a long Vaishnava tradition of humble confidence, tied to a sense of eager anticipation to meet Krishna, as we see when Akrura excitedly journeys to Vrindavana to meet the Lord. Other, somewhat related sources of inspiration for me are accounts of situations where uncertainty regarding future events is mitigated with confidence in the Lord’s all-good intervention. At present I’m thinking particularly of Lord Brahma’s uncertainty prior to the appearance of Varahadeva. As your mission expanded during the early years of your efforts beyond as well as within India, you expressed continuing confidence. During a morning walk in Mayapur (April 3, 1975) you made such an “affirmation” that was also an invitation to anyone and everyone:
This is the movement, that you come here, live with us, and produce your food, produce your milk, be happy, healthy, and chant Hare Krishna. This is our movement. Therefore we are creating New Vrindaban and farm, and we are trying to purchase . . . This is our movement, that we give you sufficient food, shelter, health, philosophy, religion, character, everything purity.
By saying “you come here,” your confidence is magnified by such a direct appeal. What’s more, your confidence is in your—and “our movement’s”—capacity to give all that could be required for a person’s well-being.
My prayer is that you may bless me to attain and maintain humble confidence in my own ability to be a positive contributor—a positive giver—to your mission of giving. To this end I allow myself to affirm my own fitness to be so. I further allow myself to affirm my potential, through your and Lord Krishna’s grace, to hold fast to your vision of flourishing communities sustained internally by “philosophy, religion, [and] character” and outwardly by “sufficient food, shelter, [and] health.” And I pray that you allow me to
continue to participate in your ongoing powerful agency in fulfilling Krishna’s wondrous desire to establish consciousness of Him, the Lord in our hearts, deep in the hearts of all.
Your aspiring servant,
Krishna Kshetra Swami
*However, even as you waited to “see how Krishna arranges” the situation, on September 1st, two months later, you expressed yourself further: “Mr Gardiner wants to increase the rent to 71.odds. He came and got it signed by me before the trustees. I think it is not just.”