For readers who don’t know Govinda dasi, she is a disciple of Srila Prabhupada since 1967. Govinda dasi served Srila Prabhupada as secretary and servant after his severe illness and release from the hospital. In late 1967, when Srila Prabhupada returned from Vrndavan, India, Govinda dasi and her husband lived and traveled with Srila Prabhupada all over America, acting as his servants and secretary, assisting him in launching his worldwide movement. Govinda dasi was also instrumental in changing the common form of address ‘Swamiji’ used at that time to the more respectful honorific ‘Srila Prabhupada.’
In 1969, Srila Prabhupada sent Govinda dasi to Hawaii to open temples in the Hawaiian Islands. A few months later, he joined the husband and wife team in Hawaii, living in their Oahu home for several weeks. Srila Prabhupada later visited their Honolulu temple on numerous occasions. He spent much time resting, and doing translation work in Hawaii’s comfortable climate akin to Bengal. He thus named the Hawaiian islands ‘New Navadvipa Dham.’
Srila Prabhupada trusted Govinda dasi to the extent that when he first formed the GBC, he selected Govinda dasi and Yamuna dasi to serve on it. She and her husband assisted in the early transcription of Nectar of Devotion and Caitanya-caritamrta, as well as illustrating the cover of the first edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is, the first edition of Teachings of Lord Caitanya and early Back to Godhead magazines.
Later on, Srila Prabhupada publicly thanked his disciple Govinda dasi for bringing Srimati Tulasi-devi to the West to facilitate his program of Deity worship throughout the world. He wrote in Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.8.55 purport, “It is specifically mentioned herein that tulasi leaves are very dear to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and devotees should take particular care to have tulasi leaves in every temple and center of worship. In the Western countries, while engaged in propagating the Krsna consciousness movement, we were brought great unhappiness because we could not find tulasi leaves. We are very much obliged, therefore, to our disciple Srimati Govinda dasi because she has taken much care to grow tulasi plants from seeds, and she has been successful by the grace of Krsna. Now tulasi plants are growing in almost every center of our movement. Tulasi leaves are very important in the method of worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
Govinda dasi is the only disciple of Srila Prabhupada mentioned by name in Srimad-Bhagavatam.
Govinda dasi now assists in serving at New Navadvipa Dham, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada Memorial Tirtha (the Honolulu ISKCON temple), and is a board member of Vrinda Trust in Vrndavan, India, the original home of Srimati Tulasi-devi. Because of Govinda dasi’s early association with Srila Prabhupada and her long-time dedication to His Divine Grace, we are anxious to hear her opinions on the changes to Srila Prabhupada’s books, and consider her insights extremely valuable.
If anyone wants to read more stories about Srila Prabhupada, please visit Govinda dasi’s website iskcon.net/govinda, “1008 Ways to Remember Srila Prabhupada,” where there are 29 short stories, and will soon be many never-before-released photos of Srila Prabhupada in Hawaii in the early days. Also a video series entitled Srila Prabhupada, the Early Days will soon be released. Interested readers may contact Govinda dasi at firstname.lastname@example.org.