On October 18th, Prabhupada left Butler via Philadelphia for New York City. I do not have a record of Prabhupada’s visit to Philadelphia. All I know is that Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu, then a student at the University of Pennsylvania, caught a glimpse of a person in saffron robes walking across the campus. It was a vision of ecstasy. He was so impressed, he told his girlfriend about it – later to become his wife and an initiated disciple of Prabhupada, Saudamini devi dasi.
Manhattan: At the Port Authority Bus Terminal, a student of Dr. Mishra’s met Prabhupada as he arrived from Philadelphia and escorted him directly to an Indian festival in the City. There Prabhupada met Dr. Mishra, as well as Ravi Shankar and his brother, the dancer Uday Shankar. It may have been a bit of a shock for Prabhupada to plunge into New York City for the first time and be immediately brought to a non religious Indian festival where he met the impersonalists, Dr. Mishra, the world famous sitarist Ravi Shankar and his dancer brother. They were not exactly like-minded pure devotees of Krishna. But Prabhupada was not only a pure Vaisnava; he was a former hometown “Calcutta man” and a businessman for many years. He knew how to deal with worldly people in intense city life. He associated with these people like a lotus on the water; without getting wet. After the Indian festival, Prabhupada accompanied Dr. Mishra to his apartment at 33 Riverside Drive, beside the Hudson River. The apartment had large windows overlooking the River. Dr. Mishra gave Prabhupada a room to himself. Before coming to America, Dr. Mishra had been a Sanskrit scholar and a guru, as well as a doctor. He had written a number of books, including Self-Analysis and Self-Knowledge, A Work Based on the Teachings of the Monistic Philosopher, Sankara. After coming to the United States he had continued his medical profession, but as he began taking disciples he dropped his practice. Although a sannyasi, he did not wear the traditional saffron or orange dhoti and kurta, but instead wore tailored Nehru jackets and white slacks. His complexion was dark, whereas Prabhupada’s was golden, and he had thick black hair. At forty-four, he was young enough to be Prabhupada’s son. Apparently, he was financially well off.
Tomorrow we will tell more of Prabhupada and Dr. Mishra.[ meditations ]