Yamuna Devi’s Govinda Prayers

We received the latest BTG (March/April) yesterday and just wanted to share our appreciation for a most wonderful issue.

I was wondering why there was no mention of Yamuna Devi being the one who is singing the Govinda Prayers that we hear during greeting the deities every morning in our temples, along with the story of how that came to be. I’m thinking that perhaps many devotees have never put a face with the voice.

Also, on a historical note, you mentioned in your “Welcome” that Yamuna Devi was part of the three couples who opened the first temple outside of North America. But it was actually my husband, Shivananda Prabhu, who went first to Germany (alone) and opened a temple shortly before they did. Hare Krishna.
Madana-mohana Mohini Dasi
Sandy Ridge, North Carolina

Our reply: We couldn’t find an account of how the Govinda Prayers ended up being played in all ISKCON temples. But we found this recollection of how Srila Prabhupada responded to hearing the Govinda Prayers in the Los Angeles temple for the first time:

“Danavir Goswami: It wasn’t too long after I joined that the Govinda Prayers started to be played in the morning. The album had come from England, that Radha Krishna Temple album. Just one morning it happened. It seemed quite spontaneous that the deity doors opened up and the Govinda Prayers went on, and Prabhupada went through his normal offering his dandavats in front of each altar. But when he went around and he sat on the vyasasana, tears were coming down his face. He was so pleased by the Govinda Prayers, and he wasn’t able to speak for some time.” (Following Srila Prabhupada: Remembrances, DVD 2)

From this it appears that the Los Angeles temple authorities decided to play that song from the album, Prabhupada approved, and the practice spread around ISKCON and became standard.

Yamuna Devi on the Cover

I just wanted to make a brief statement about your article on Yamuna Devi in the last issue. While I thought the article itself was very nicely presented, I felt that the magazine should have made the effort to dedicate a more emboldened headline on the cover, rather than a small insert tucked away in the corner. I think we can all agree that Yamuna Devi’s achievements in her devotional service are monumental at the least.

I only met her once, in an encounter at the grand opening of the new temple in Seattle some years back, and we spoke briefly with each other. Still, when I heard of her passing I felt a great sadness within, as if I had lost someone very close to me. How that can be possible can only be understood in terms of devotional service. I never met Srila Prabhupada, as he left this world the same year I joined ISKCON. But I can imagine how Prabhupada’s disciples must have felt great pain and separation at his passing, because of my own sadness from feeling the loss of his beloved disciple, whom I never really knew but had a moment’s association with.
Balabhadra Dasa
Boise, Idaho

ISKCON and the Vedas

Why don’t we ISKCON devotees study the Vedas as a book? Instead we study “Vedic” literatures such as the Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, etc. Do the Vedas contain flaws?
Aryan Kash
Via the Internet

Our reply: ISKCON devotees are followers of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and He emphasized the unique authority of the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. In the Tattva-sandarbha, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s follower Jiva Goswami, one of the Six Goswamis of Vrindavan, discusses why the Bhagavatam is our primary evidence. His agrument is fairly extensive, but the gist of it is this: For various reasons, the Vedas are extremely difficult to understand in our age, but they can be understood through the Puranas, and the purest and most authoritative Purana is the Bhagavata Purana, or Srimad-Bhagavatam.

The Bhaktivedant Book Trust (BBT) will soon publish the Tattva Sandarbha, the first of Jiva Goswami’s six sandarbhas, or treatises. The BBT edition will include a commentary by Gopiparanadhana Dasa based on the eighteenth-century commentary of Baladeva Vidyabhushana. Jiva Goswami establishes the supremacy of the Srimad-Bhagavatam and then uses it as the authority for Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy (ISKCON’s philosophy), which he explains in the other sandarbhas.


In the last issue, the article “The Rising Moon of Mayapur,” about the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium, referred to the temple as the adbhuta mandir (“wondrous temple”) predicted by Lord Nityananda to Srila Jiva Goswami during their tour of Navadvipa-dhama. We have sincelearned that the Sri Mayapur Project Development Committee (SMPDC) resolved in November 2005 to avoid calling ISKCON’s temple the adbhuta mandir because during Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s time the temple built by his father, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, at the birthplace of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was referred to as the adbhuta mandir. The SMPDC resolution also notes, “There is no record of Srila Prabhupada using the term. Therefore, this appears to be a matter of individual faith and realization, which includes the possibility of seeing both temples as adbhuta in their own ways and in their own time.”

Also in the last issue, the caption for a photo on page 55 said that the person with Yamuna Devi was Tulasi Harrison. It was actually Tulasi’s sister, Jahnavi.

We apologize for these errors.