At Ananda Ashram, Prabhupada met an important contact in a young man named Harvey Cohen. In the future weeks, we will tell how Harvey played a crucial role in increasing Prabhupada’s followers and influencing his move downtown. Harvey was a newcomer to Ananda Ashram and he had difficulty in beginning to practice hatha-yoga. When he arrived at the morning meditation all the mats were taken up, so he picked a spot at the back of the room where he could lean against the wall. He noticed seated at one side was an older Indian gentleman in saffron cloth and wrapped in a pinkish wool blanket. He seemed to be muttering to himself and later Harvey discovered that he was praying. It was Swami Bhaktivedanta. His forehead was painted with a white V-shaped sign and his eyes were half shut. He seemed very serene.
Harvey tried, but he couldn’t do the raja-yoga. During his morning meditation, he found himself more attracted to the green mist above the lake outside the window, than to the circle on the wall he was supposed to be meditating on. He went to his room. The rain was increasing and beating against the window. It was peaceful and he was glad to be alone. He read for awhile. Suddenly he sensed that someone was standing in the doorway. Looking up, he saw it was the Swami. He was wrapped in his pinkish blanket, like a shawl. “Can I come in?”
Harvey nodded yes, and the Swami asked if he could sit in the corner. After sitting, he asked what Harvey was doing at the ashram and what kind of yoga he was studying. “I don’t know much about it,” Harvey said, “but I think I’d like to study hatha-yoga.” This didn’t impress the Swami. “There are higher things than this,” he explained. “There are higher and more direct forms of yoga. Bhakti-yoga is the highest – it is the science of devotion to God.”
Harvey Cohen: As he spoke, I got the overpowering realization that he was right. He was speaking the truth. A creepy, ecstatic sensation came over me that this man was my teacher. His words were so simple and I kept looking at him all weekend. He would sit so calm and dignified, with warmth. He asked me to visit him when he got back to the City.
Harvey followed up on this and started seeing Prabhupada in his room at Seventy-second Street. He began telling his friends downtown about the new Swami.[ meditations ]