“If you do not accompany me tomorrow morning to see Srila Prabhupada I will never come and see you again in this lifetime. Our friendship will be finished forever.”

Dr. Ravindra Rao

pray to Lord Sri Krishna. A little later, a devotee came and informed me that Prabhupada wanted to see me. I felt my prayer to Lord Sri Krishna had been heard and immediately went to Srila Prabhupada’s room. When Prabhupada saw me, he said, ‘You have been sent by Lord Krishna. I have been praying to Lord Krishna to send me at least one Indian boy to help me in my mission. Krishna has sent you to me.’” Dr. Rao then again requested Damodara, “Let us go tomorrow to see Srila Prabhupada”. Damodara again declined. This incident recurred for a few days – Dr. Rao would go and meet Srila Prabhupada and on returning would request Damodara to join him the following day. Damodara would refuse to go and see Srila Prabhupada on the plea that he was busy with his studies. Finally, 0ne day, Dr. Rao presented Damodara with an ultimatum, saying, “If you do not accompany me tomorrow morning to see Srila Prabhupada I will never come and see you again in this lifetime. Our friendship will be finished forever.” Damodara was surprised at his friend’s seriousness. He did not have a good opinion of the Indian Swamijis in the USA having heard of some of their activities. He wrongly thought that Srila Prabhupada would also be like them. However, out of friendship he decided to accompany Dr. Rao the next day. Something similar to this took place before Srila Prabhupada’s first meeting with Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur. Srila Prabhupada later recounted the event, “...in 1922 I met my Guru Maharaja through the insistence of my intimate friend, Mr. Narendranath Mullick. I did not wish to go, but my friend forced me. He told me, ‘There is a nice sadhu. Let us go and see him.’ I did not like these sadhus in those days due to my national spirit. So I said, ‘I have seen many sadhus. They used to come to my father’s

house. I was not very pleased with their behavior.’ But my friend dragged me forcibly saying: ‘No, I have heard this person speak and he is very exalted.’ So I went.” (Srila Prabhupada Lilamrita)

brahmāṇḍa bhramite kona bhāgyavān jīva
guru-kṛṣṇa-prasāde pāya bhakti-latā-bīja

According to their karma, all living entities are wandering throughout the entire universe. Some of them are being elevated to the upper planetary systems, and some are going down into the lower planetary systems. Out of many millions of wandering living entities, one who is very fortunate gets an opportunity to associate with a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of Krishna. By the mercy of both Krishna and the spiritual master, such a person receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service.

(Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 19.151)

In this regard, Srila Prabhupada mentions in his purport of the Srimad Bhagavatam, verse 2.2.30, “A sincere soul is helped by the Lord through meeting a bona-fide spiritual master, the representative of the Lord. By the instruction of such a spiritual master, one gets the seed of bhakti-yoga.” This meeting of the prospective disciple and spiritual master is not an ordinary encounter. It is by the divine arrangement of the Supreme Lord.

That night Dr. Rao slept in Damodara’s apartment. Both of them woke up at 4:00 A.M., took their baths and drove to the Los Angeles temple. On the way, Dr. Rao revealed that he was going to be initiated that morning by Srila Prabhupada. Damodara, surprised by the sudden change in his friend’s life asked, “Will you shave your head? Will you wear a saffron dhoti

“A sincere soul is helped by the Lord through meeting a bona-fide spiritual master, the representative of the Lord. By the instruction of such a spiritual master, one gets the seed of bhakti-yoga.”

Srila Prabhupada

lotus flower