|About the Author|
Svarupa Damodara dasa Brahmacari was bom in a Vaisnava (devoted) family in Manipur, India, on February 25, 1941. His father, Jogendra Singh, died when he was a mere child. In 1961 he earned his B.S. degree, with highest honors in Chemistry from Gauhati University, and he earned his master's degree in Chemical Engineering and Chemical Technology with similar honors from Calcutta University in 1964. He was a recipient of a Research Fellowship from the University Grants Commission (1964-1966).
Allured by material advancement, he came to the United States of America and joined the Department of Chemistry, Canisius College, Buffalo, New York, in 1967 and obtained an M.S. degree in Chemistry in 1969. Then he joined the Department of Chemistry, University of California, Irvine, where he is finished his Ph.D. in Physical Organic Chemistry in June of 1974. Now he is working as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.
"Early in 1970," he relates, "I got a cablegram from Manipur saying 'Your mother expired, March 24, 1970; saradha April 6, 1970.' From that very moment, my outlook about life became quite changed. I was very much occupied with thoughts of the extremely temporary nature, filled with sufferings and miseries, of this material world. One evening in June, 1970, Dr. Rao, later Ramananda Prabhu, and I went to Laguna Beach and saw four or five disciples of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada doing sankirtana [chanting] along the street. I was extremely surprised to see this in the United States. We were watching and following them from a distance, and we wanted to know what they were doing. Soon, one of the devotees stopped by and gave us a card inviting us to come for a Sunday love feast. On that day, I bought a small book entitled Krsna, the Reservoir of Pleasure, by Srila Prabhupada. A few days later, under Dr. Rao's strong influence, I went with him to see Srila Prabhupada in Los Angeles. This was toward the end of June 1970, when Dr. Rao was initiated.
"When I saw the devotees in the Los Angeles Temple, I suddenly felt that I should be living like them. I vividly remember the beautiful loving exchange of flowers between His Divine Grace and the disciples early in the morning in front of the temple. I was quite amazed to see the beautiful Sri Sri Radha Krsna Temple in Los Angeles for the first time. Later on after his initiation ceremony, Ramananda Prabhu took me upstairs to see Srila Prabhupada. When we went upstairs, I received the most affectionate and compassionate glance from Srila Prabhupada, and immediately I felt: 'Here is my spiritual father.' Srila Prabhupada asked me some kind questions, and I replied with my broken Bengali sentences. I was extremely glad that I had come to see Srila Prabhupada. I was formally initiated in the Sri Sri Radha Krsna Temple, Los Angeles, on June 30, 1971."