“I have come here to give the Americans something very valuable which they do not have — Bhagavata Culture. Why don’t you do the same as I am doing?”

Srila Prabhupada

Why don’t you also give something?” This statement by Srila Prabhupada to Damodara, at their very first meeting, affected him greatly and is similar in nature to the statement made by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur to Srila Prabhupada upon their first meeting - The instruction to present Bhagavata Culture to the Western countries.

After that momentous meeting Damodara started visiting Srila Prabhupada in Los Angeles almost every day and after a short period of time he received spiritual initiation. At the time of initiation, Srila Prabhupada gave him the spiritual name, Svarupa Damodara Dasa. Later, after taking sannyasa initiation the prefix Bhakti was added and since that time he has been known as Sripada Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Maharaja.

The ISKCON Los Angeles temple is known as New Dwarka and it served as Srila Prabhupada’s headquarters in the 1970s. While visiting Srila Prabhupada in Los Angeles, Maharaja began to ask him questions on subjects such as ‘What is the nature of this material world? What is the nature of life? What is the Absolute Truth?’ Whenever a sincere spiritual aspirant of the Absolute Truth meets a genuine spiritual master, this type of inquiry is natural. Srimad Bhagavatam recounts the story of Vidura meeting his spiritual master, Maitreya Muni, where Vidura similarly inquired from Maitreya Muni about the nature of life and the universe. Srila Prabhupada elaborates on this in his purport of the Bhagavad-gita verse 7. 3, where he says, “There are various grades of men, and out of many thousands, one may be sufficiently interested in transcendental realization to try to know what is the self, what is the body, and what is the Absolute Truth.”