Swamiji Reveals the Panca-Tattva
Before leaving for California, one of Swamiji’s first-initiates, Haridasa (Harvey Cohen), gave Swamiji his original rendering of the Panca-Tattva. Swamiji was pleased and placed it in the window of his new storefront at 26 Second Avenue. The picture showed Lord Caitanya in a yellow dhoti, Lord Nityananda in a bluish dhoti, Advaita Acarya in a full white beard and white dhoti, Gadadhara with arms upraised in reddish dhoti, and Srivasa Acarya with shaved head and hands in pranams. Another devotee, perhaps Haridasa Thakura, was playing the mrdanga. There were other dancers and players in the background.
Some passers-by were naturally critical, thinking the long-haired young dancers were strange—perhaps women or transvestites. (They didn’t stop to think that if Lord Jesus raised his arms and danced, he would look much the same as the men depicted in this sankirtana party.) Others were intrigued, couldn’t figure it out, but liked the occult aura. So even though the characters in the picture were a little strange for the Lower East Side hippies to comprehend, it was certainly conceivable that a group of mind-expanding, ecstatic nonconformists—Lord Caitanya’s sankirtana party—would appear on Second Avenue in a bare, storefront window under a big sign reading “Matchless Gifts.”
It made even more sense when, after a few weeks of operation, Prabhupada had people inside the storefront up on their feet and dancing like the figures in the painting. Then the painting became an invitation to come on in and join the sankirtana song and dance.[ meditations ]