B.T. Swami's open letter to Alachua
Posted January 18, 2005
Dear devotees of the Alachua Community,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to ISKCON Founder Acharya Srila Prabhupada.
I have been informed about the program you had the other night at the Temple, where you were all so kind in sharing your thoughts, realizations and pastimes in relationship to myself. I cannot explain to you how humbled and appreciative I am for your compassion and Vaisnava etiquette. I have had the privilege of serving with so many of you. I can truly say that I benefited so much from your association.
So many of us know the Alachua Community is one of the most important communities we have in our Society. This community represents ISKCON's past, present and future -- more than any other community in the world -- because there is such a large number of serious devotees who, in spite of so many different institutional, family and individual challenges, have managed to go on in their Krsna consciousness year after year. How dear you must be to Srila Prabhupada and his mission. I was reflecting on how you took the time to think of me; this was, for me, great mercy from Srila Prabhupada, especially because so many of you are such loyal disciples and grand-disciples of His Divine Grace.
Needless to say, what I have been experiencing for the last six months has been overwhelming. My concerns were how could I be forced to become totally pure and surrendered, and simultaneously be used to absorb some of the negative karma that is hanging over our Institution. Some of this negative karma is due to abuse and lack of proper caretaking of women, children, elders, brahmanas, cows etc. In my own immature way, I am trying to take on some of the mood of Vasudeva Datta, by asking to be used to extinguish some of the obstacles that many devotees are experiencing, which causes them so much suffering in their daily lives. In some ways what I am going through is an answer to my prayers to become more dependent on Guru's and Krishna's mercy so that I could give up the more stubborn and subtle attachments and, most importantly, get a chance to serve the Vaisnava Community in a profound way.
I am so full of gratitude for what Krsna and Srila Prabhupada have given me, even though I am so unworthy. I feel that, in many ways, I have taken more from the Vaisnava Community than I have given; therefore, I feel I still have serious responsibilities and obligations to the Vaisnavas.
I do not know how much longer Krsna will let me stay in this body -- whether it will be weeks, months, or even years, but it seems more likely that my time is up and I am living on borrowed time. I am praying to use this extended time in a way that I can increase my services to our spiritual family. Thank you all for coming together to create such an important Community.
Yes, I know of some of the many difficulties you experience collectively and individually, but I also know of the tremendous sacrifices that most of you have made year after year. This is one of the reasons that I am so honored to be with you as we all try to strengthen ourselves at this most difficult time in world history. We want to be loyal to our vows and our identity as Vaisnavas. As we all give more attention to purity, we will be able to see better what we can change within ourselves to create a better Institution, better Community and a better world. We are all part of the drama to help bring forth healthy global transformation, so let us prepare ourselves to become saktyavesa, so that Krsna can directly use us as puppets and we can act as perfect servants.
Before I leave this body, I will be sure to come and spend a few days in the Community, so that I can have the special association from many of Srila Prabhupada's dearest servants. We are all so fortunate, but I am the most fortunate, because I have been a receiver of your compassion, love and blessings.
Once again I am most humbled and profoundly appreciative.
Yours in service to Srila Prabhupada,