Dr. Mishra had been suffering from bad health when Srila Prabhupada came into his life, and Prabhupada’s arrival seemed the perfect medicine.
Ramamurti Mishra: His Holiness Bhaktivedanta Gosvamiji really knocked me down with love. He was really an incarnation of love. My body had become a skeleton and he really brought me back to life – his cooking and especially his love. And his devotion to Lord Krishna. I was very lazy in the matter of cooking, but he would get up and have ready.
Dr. Mishra appreciated that Prabhupada, cooking with the precision of a chemist, would prepare many dishes, and that he had a gusto for eating.
Ramamurti Mishra: It was not bread he gave me – he gave me prasadam. This was life, and he saved my life. At that time I was not sure I would live, but his habit to eat on time, whether I was hungry or not – that I very much liked. He’d get up and say, “All right, this is bhagavat prasadam,” and I would say, “All right.”
Joan Suval, an old student of Dr. Mishra’s, often saw Srila Prabhupada and her teacher together at the Riverside apartment.
Swamiji was very sweet. I remember him as a very, very good man. Even in the practical details of living in New York, which seemed to involve him very much, because he was a practical man he was looking for the best place to begin his work. I remember very well that he was always careful about washing his clothes out every night. I would come in and find a group of students in the living area of Dr. Mishra’s apartment and in the bathroom would be hung Swamiji’s orange robes.
Srila Prabhupada would sometimes discuss with Dr. Mishra the aim of his visit to America. Expressing his spiritual master’s vision of establishing Krishna consciousness in the West. He requested Dr. Mishra to help him, but Dr. Mishra would always refer to his own teaching work which kept him very busy, and his plans for leaving the country soon. After a few weeks, when it became inconvenient to maintain Prabhupada at the apartment, Dr. Mishra shifted him to his hatha yoga studio on the fifth floor of 100 West 72nd Street near Central Park. The large studio was located in the center of the building and included an adjoining private room where Prabhupada stayed. It had no windows.
As I will describe tomorrow, Prabhupada and Dr. Mishra were philosophically at odds. Dr. Mishra would not allow Prabhupada to preach to his students. Confined to a windowless room in a hatha yoga studio, Prabhupada could not yet begin his missionary activities. But, as with the Agarwals in Pennsylvania, Prabhupada won over his New York host with his cooking. Pancharatna prabhu has asked me to describe the mission driving Prabhupada and his qualities and how they are relevant and inspirational to devotees today. There is not much that we can describe yet of Prabhupada’s missionary activities, but his habit of serving people Krishna prasadam already stands out. Sometimes devotees today are restricted from straight preaching, such as to their parents or disinterested persons, but we can always serve them Krishna prasadam and hardly anyone will refuse. Prabhupada showed this open secret from his first days in America. Where I live, in an ashram in Stuyvesant Falls New York, my disciple Baladeva serves the garbage man full sumptuous prasadam every day and the man is being visibly purified. We can always remember Srila Prabhupada in 1965 serving prasadam in restricted situations and be inspired and prepared to do the same.[ meditations ]