(Srila Prabhupada in the courtyard of 26 Second Avenue, 1966)
In the evening, sitting on a little bench out in the courtyard, Swamiji tells us that if he could just make one person Krishna conscious, he would consider his mission successful.
"Now more people are coming to the kirtans because we are getting some notice in the papers," he says. "But because I do not lie to them and tell them they can be Krishna conscious while having sense gratification, they go away. What am I to do? Change Krishna’s message to suit Americans? That cannot be done. It is not my message to change. I can only deliver it as it is. If I have to sit under a tree with just one sincere disciple, that will be all right. We do not require many stars, just one moon. One moon will light up the sky."
We all look at one another, each of us yearning to be a moon for Swamiji. But the dark clouds of ignorance and forgetfulness are hard to disperse.
"Do you ever think of returning to Vrindaban, Swamiji?" Rayarama asks.
"My heart is always hankering after that Vrindaban," he says, smiling. "Even though I am sitting in New York, a magnificent city, the world’s greatest city, I shall be very happy to return to my Vrindaban, that sacred place. Of course, if someone asks, 'Then why are you here?' I must say that it is my duty. I have brought some message for you people. My Guru Maharaj has ordered me, 'Whatever you have learned, whatever knowledge you have, you should go to the Western countries and distribute it.' So, in spite of all difficulties, I am here. If I go and sit down in Vrindaban, I would be very comfortable there and have no anxiety. But I have taken these risks in old age because I am duty bound. In spite of all inconveniences, I have to execute my duty. That is the basic principle for advancement of spiritual knowledge.
"Now I am in America, but this does not mean that I am out of Vrindaban. If we think of Krishna always, we are always in Vrindaban. In New York, I am still in Vrindaban because my consciousness is there. Krishna consciousness means living with Krishna in that spiritual planet, Goloka Vrindaban. You simply have to wait to give up this body. That is the process. Ananya-chetah satatam yo mam smarati nityasah. For one who remembers Krishna, Krishna becomes a very cheap commodity. 'Oh, I am very cheap for the devotees,' Krishna says. The greatest, most valuable thing becomes cheap for one who takes to Krishna consciousness. Tasyaham sulabhah partha nitya-yuktasya yoginah: 'Because My devotee is continually engaged in bhakti-yoga, I am easily available.'"
Swamiji pauses a moment and looks at us. "Of course, you may think it is sometimes not so easy," he says, reading our thoughts and smiling. "Sometimes, when the moon is covered by clouds, we think it is not there because everything is dark. But when the clouds pass, we see that the moon has been there all the time, shining in all its brightness. This Krishna consciousness movement is that benediction moon, shining through the clouds of Kali-yuga."
(The Hare Krishna Explosion, Chapter 5)