I’ve sent this letter to news sites where the letter it replies to was published.
I have a very soft spot in my heart for my senior godsister Govinda Dasi. In 1968, right after I was initiated, she was serving as Srila Prabhupada’s cook, and for a couple of weeks in Boston I got to assist her. I will always fondly remember those days of being with her and Gaurasundara in serving Srila Prabhupada. She was (and is) such a nice example of a devoted disciple! But as for Govinda Dasi the historian, well. . .
A letter from her to Yashoda Dulal Prabhu, lately being circulated on the internet, gets several points wrong. But I’ll just mention two of them.
>It seems you believe the propaganda that Hayagriva was never around
>Prabhupada much, and there were many editors etc. What can I say?
>This is simply not true. I knew Hayagriva from the time I joined
>Prabhupada in San Francisco, January of 1967. Hayagriva was there,
>and was already editing the Gita, and spending hours every day with
>Srila Prabhupada going over every verse!
Hours every day going over every verse? Perhaps we can get a more reliable picture (contradicting the one above) from Hayagriva Prabhu himself. You can find his account, from his book The Hare Krishna Explosion, here: http://www.jswami.info/editing/hayagriva.
In summary: According to Hayagriva Prabhu, his “spending hours every day with Srila Prabhupada going over every verse” is something that never happened.
>And later, just before the first Gita was printed, in late 1968,
>Hayagriva LIVED with us in Los Angeles. (I was Prabhupada’s secretary
>for the whole year of 1968 and part of 1969) Daily they would spend
>hours in Prabhupada’s room, going over every inch of the final edits.
>I am an eye witness to this.
I’m sure this account is sincere. I’m equally sure it’s wrong.
The facts are these:
While Hayagriva Prabhu was teaching at Ohio State University, he used his 1968 Christmas vacation to visit Srila Prabhupada in Los Angeles for just over two weeks (starting on December 13). A high point of the visit was Hayagriva’s marriage to Syama Dasi on December 25. And the book Hayagriva reviewed with Srila Prabhupada was not Bhagavad-gita but Srimad-Bhagavatam.
In Srila Prabhupada’s words: “Recently, Hayagriva came from Columbus, and he remained with me for more than a fortnight. He was assisting me in editing Srimad-Bhagavatam. Now he is married with Syama Dasi and has returned to New Vrindaban with his many responsibilities.” Letter to Rupanuga, January 15, 1969 (emphasis supplied).
>Jayadvaita M. had not even become a devotee in early 1967, so how
>would he know?? He says many things that are not in keeping with what
>really happened, since he was not there; perhaps he is relying on
>hearsay, I don’t know. Neither was Jayadvaita M. in Los Angeles in
>late 1968 when Hayagriva lived with us for weeks on end, completing
>the editing work. Most of what the bbt says in this regard is based
>on fairy tales, hearsay, and perhaps some personal ambition as well.
>I do not know how they can skew things in this way and still sleep at
Now you know where I get my stories from: Hayagriva Prabhu and Srila Prabhupada, telling the facts in black and white. The best of all possible sources, no?
Srila Prabhupada loved Govinda Dasi, and I always regard her with great affection and respect. But, again, she is dear to me as my godsister, not as a historian.
For history I’ll turn to more reliable sources, but for her devotion to Srila Prabhupada she has my lasting admiration.
PS: The portion of Srimad-Bhagavatam Govinda Dasi saw Hayagriva Prabhu reviewing with Srila Prabhupada in 1968 would have been from the first canto or, at most, the second.
In the mid 1970s I extensively revised the first canto, especially the first two chapters. Srila Prabhupada explicitly approved of this work, and the revised version was published in 1976. The revisions I made for the translations of the first two chapters are all available for you to see at http://www.bbtedit.com/node/244.
In 1976 I also lightly revised the second canto, already edited by Hayagriva Prabhu and published. After the “Rascal Editors” conversation, Radha-vallabha Dasa, then the BBT production manager, sent Srila Prabhupada samples of my second-canto editing, and this is what led to Srila Prabhupada’s statement, in a letter dated September 7, 1976, “Concerning the editing of Jayadvaita Prabhu, whatever he does is approved by me. I have confidence in him.” The revised second canto was also published before Srila Prabhupada’s departure.
And so, ironically, the history Govinda Dasi brings forward as evidence that I defied Srila Prabhupada’s authority by editing the work he had already carefully gone over with Hayagriva Prabhu turns out, on closer inspection, to be an example of how, when I revised such work, Srila Prabhupada gave his full and unconditional approval.