On weekends, Prabhupada would accompany Dr. Mishra to his Ananda Ashram one hour north of the City in Monroe, New York. Dr. Mishra therefore maintained three high-rent properties, his Riverside Drive apartment, his yoga studio on West Seventy-second Street near Central Park, and his sprawling country estate in upstate New York. Ananda Ashram had a large building and acres of country land with a lake. It had a retreat atmosphere for the city-dwelling, yoga students.
Joan Suval, who used to drive Prabhupada and Dr. Mishra there, would overhear their animated conversations in the back of her car. Although they spoke in Hindi, she could hear their conversations turn into loud shouting arguments; afterwards, they would again become friends. At Ananda Ashram, Prabhupada would usually hold kirtanas with Dr. Mishra’s students joining him in the chanting and even dancing. Dr. Mishra was particularly fond of Prabhupada’s chanting.
Ramamurti Mishra: I have never seen or met any devotee who sang so much. And his kirtana was just ambrosial. If you pay attention and become relaxed, that voice has very electrical vibrations on your heart. You cannot avoid it. Ninety-nine per cent of the students, whether they liked it or not, got up and danced and chanted. And I felt very blessed to meet such a great soul.
Although Prabhupada was restricted from lecturing, his devotional kirtana won over the impersonal yoga teachers and students. This is another example that is relevant to us today. In situations where lecturing is not feasible, it is often possible for devotees to hold kirtana. Lord Caitanya emphasized ecstatic congregational chanting as His main means of spreading Krishna consciousness in India. He reserved the dissemination of intellectual discourses to learned scholars like Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya and Prakasananda Sarasvati and He enjoyed intimate, philosophical teachings with confidential devotees like Rupa and Sanatana Gosvami and Ramananda Raya. But for the mass of people, love of God was distributed by Lord Caitanya’s empowered chanting of the Holy Names.
ISKCON devotees who engage in public harinama are purifying and influential. Daily harinama is held in Jacksonville Florida at the University of Florida; six hours a day seven days a week in Union Square Manhattan; downtown in Port of Spain Trinidad, and in other places around the world. Most ISKCON temples hold at least a weekly harinama in public for several hours. For a period when harinama was de-emphasized, the general public began to ask, “Where are the Hare Krishnas? Do they still exist?” Public harinama is the most visible and symbolic form of presence for the Movement to the general public. Although he could not speak, Prabhupada thought that it was well worth his trouble to attend Dr. Mishra’s yoga classes in the City and at Ananda Ashram – because it gave him the opportunity to lead kirtana. It created a sensation and made a deep impression on the participants. By cooking and distributing prasadam, and by leading kirtanas, he was infiltrating the Mayavadi camp.[ meditations ]