ISKCON’S best cook Yamuna mataji’s comment on the standards of Govinda’s

I thank you for your dedicated devotional service which is deeply appreciated by everyone . Recently Yamuna Devi Mataji was here; she is the most famous cook in the history of ISKCON. Srila Prabhupad personally taught her to cook, and sent her to the best places in India to learn. She has written a book called ‘Lord Krishna’s Cuisine’. It won the most distinguished award of ‘The International Best Cookbook of the Year’. And she has traveled a lot. She told me at least 3-4 times that Govinda’s Restaurant is the best restaurant in all of ISKCON. She said the food is excellent; but good food doesn’t taste good to the heart unless it is served with very much devotion and attention. She was very impressed by the cleanliness, by the hospitality, by the affection and concern with which everything is served, and by the quality of the prasad. I took this to be a very great blessing and encouragement from Sri Sri Radha Gopinath and Prabhupad coming from her mouth and her heart. But she did have some suggestions, which we will discuss another time.

So just to balance my talk, yesterday one devotee named Darshan from Hong Kong came with his wife and two children. I spoke to them in my room. Afterwards Sridhama Prabhu took them to Govinda’s restaurant. Now people have been praising our pizza very much. Yamuna said the sauce is too wet; it needs to be cooked down more so it’s drier. And she said that the crust is very nice, but when you pick it up, the crust goes, falls down; it’s because the sauce is too wet. If u cook it down more and make it drier and make the artichokes on top lighter and not so big in size then it will not fall down. She said the sauce tastes very nice, but too wet. So, so many people have been praising the pizza that you make. I was thinking Yamuna is very perfectionist, so she wants us to make it absolutely perfect. She said I want to talk to whoever teaches them pizza. They must learn this properly. So I was thinking, first time I ever heard anything like this. Then Mr. Darshan’s family was leaving and I saw them at the gate. I said, “Did you like the restaurant?” And the mother said, “Very nice, very very nice.” I said to the children, “What did you have?” They said pizza. I said, “Do you like the pizza better in Govinda’s or in Hong Kong?” And they both said Hong Kong. So I considered Krishna wanted us to take Yamuna’s instruction very seriously. Children are honest. They do not know diplomacy so much. Govinda’s restaurant is a success beyond my imagination, but there is still much room for improvement.

 

Desire to have a Govinda’s restaurant.

You see that the world is like a river, and we are always swimming upstream against the current of time. If you are not seriously struggling to do better, then you are pushed down to do worst. We cannot stay in the same place in the river of material nature. So we should always be striving for better cleanliness, for better service to all guests. We must be always striving to improve and perfect every preparation more and more. Therefore the quality and impression on people’s heart will always be increasing. I remember, not long ago this was Archie’s gift store. And I remember that one day in front of the deities I was thinking that it would be a perfect place for a restaurant. And I just prayed to Radharani and Gopinath, “If you want this to be a restaurant, then we are ready to serve you.” But that Archie’s was very attached to this place; they wouldn’t even discuss, but somehow or other Srinathji… the deities empowered Srinathji the devotee to convince them to sell this place. As you know, in Nathdwara Srinathji temple is very famous for prasad distribution. Even in Caitanya Caritamrita, when Prabhupad talks about how Madhvendra Puri’s deity Srinathji is now being worshiped in Nathdwara by the Vallabhacharya Sampradaya, Prabhupada gives one special glorification of the temple of Srinathji that they distribute very first class prasad to guests. So Srinathji wanted this restaurant, and Srinathji prabhu, his servant, who is our master, somehow acquired this property.

Then I went to America and I was wondering. I was getting no reports of what’s happening, and I was asking what is going on with the restaurant? And I was getting very vague answers. And finally when I pressed, then they said, “Well, we don’t think we should have our restaurant here. We are not trained for that. We don’t have enough devotees. It would be too much trouble.” We were thinking of having a classroom here or a gift shop. What were some of the other ideas? Health food stores, Food for Life Kitchen, so many things. Everyone was resistant: we will lose money, and we will never make money. I remember. I said, “It doesn’t matter if we make money or lose money. The idea is that we give prasad to people and they associate with devotees, and then gradually their hearts change.” So the finance committee thought this is going to be a loss; it doesn’t make sense. But we’ll do it, because we have been told to do it. Is it correct? And now it’s making nice profit, and it’s become very, very popular. Not only in Bombay, but all over the world. Now when people talk about Radha Gopinath temple all over the world, one of the most enthusiastic items is Govinda’s restaurant. It’s famous internationally, and Yamuna mataji told me. When she was in Bhuleshwar buying something I don’t know, she said that the shopkeeper there he said, “Oh! Do you know the Chowpatty temple?” She said, “Yes, yes that’s where I go.” He said, “I go to Govinda’s three times every week.”

I am very happy, very happy with all of you. It’s beyond all of our expectations. It is not simply something that’s just happening. It is Krishna empowering all of you, because of your sincerity and devotion. It’s one of the only restaurant I know of its nature where everyone is a devotee. It’s wonderful. Somehow or other Damodar Dulal prabhu is very resistant to give me prasad from Govinda’s restaurant. Now that I’m here with you today I am going to fight him, if necessary. And he always thinks I need special prasad, but everything in Govinda’s restaurant is special prasad. You have really advanced greatly in the art.

 

The Sprit and Vision of Govinda’s restaurant.

But please know that we should always be striving to improve, especially the servers. That is really going to give them an impression of how bhakti is, (based on) how they are served. Each guest, whoever they are, we should speak to them, receive them, serve them, like they are the most important in the world. We should make them feel so important. And we should make them feel they are so happy you are here; and because you are here we are celebrating. And we should serve them with so much happiness and enthusiasm that they just want to come back again and again and bring their friends their relatives and everyone. And they will think, if this is what devotees of Krishna are, I want to be one of them. Every guest who comes here should feel loved. He should feel Krishna’s love through you. That is the way the cook should be cooking. That is the way the cleaners should be cleaning, and that is the way the receptionist should be receiving. And that is the way the waiters be waiting and serving. Doesn’t matter if they are rich or they are poor, they are famous or not, or they are just ordinary people. They are Krishna’s guests. This is Govinda’s restaurant, it is not your restaurant or my restaurant, this is Govinda’s restaurant and we are Govinda’s servants. And every single person, whether he is a man, women or children, who comes in is Govinda’s special guest. On behalf of Govinda’s we show them so much love and so much cooked prasad that they must feel very happy. And our goal should be that everyone, by the time they walk out of this door, they love Govinda. “Govinda’s devotees are so nice, I love Govinda.” Sri Radha Govinda ki jay! If that is your meditation, Krishna will empower you to fulfill his desire. Because this is not a money making purpose. Purpose of Govinda’s restaurant is one thing – to transform people’s heart. That’s very important. If we make money that is very nice. And engaging different devotees in some occupation is very nice,  but the whole purpose of all of these things is to transform people’s heart. If devotees are serving very nicely and really being instruments of Krishna’s love and cooking out of love for Krishna and cleaning out of love for Krishna, then people’s heart will be transformed, and already many people’s heart has been transformed. And we want to be always striving for more excellence. My hope is that some day in this new year of 2009 even demigods will come to take the nice prasad at Govinda’s. The devetas will disguise as the citizens of Bombay just to eat and serve Govinda’s restaurant. Brahma will hide three of his heads just because he wants the nice prasad of this place. And Indra will bring Sachi out for dinner. And Lord Shiva will come down from Babulnath temple with Parvati; and when rest of Bombay is celebrating Ganesh Chaturti, Babulnath will bring his whole family to Govinda’s to celebrate Ganesh’s birthday. This is all possible. Bhakti is very powerful. I want to thank you all very very much; you are really doing wonderful service. I’m very pleased with all of you. I’m very grateful to all of you. And one of the most important things for all of this to be achieved is the unity in how you all get along each other. Because people can feel, they can feel the atmosphere. If there is affection and unity in how you all work together in the front and in the back, people can feel it. It also comes out on how you speak to them. They should feel unity, they should feel you love to be together to serve them. And you are very happy to be together to serve them. Not that they are getting nice prasad in the front, but they hear screaming and pots being thrown in the back. That was one thing Yamuna mataji said. She said the special feature of Govinda’s is, the atmosphere in the front, where people are being served, and the atmosphere in the back are both very devotional, and very much the same. Just to balance and keep you humble the pizza in Hong Kong is better, the children said. And Hong Kong is not so famous for pizza, it’s a Chinese place. So that was a good blow to our false ego. And also, everyone who comes in here should feel Krishna’s love through us. And all of our guests, they shouldn’t feel like guests, they should feel they are in a family. Thank you very much.

 

Thanking devotees for making Govinda’s what it is.

 And my special gratitude to Gauranga prabhu as he has taken so seriously and so personally the success of this place. He is spontaneously, he is very, very much focused in making sure this restaurant is the best it could be. And he got in Damodar Dulal prabhu to help train systems and service. He got in the illustrious IIT graduate Radha Vallabha prabhu to give guidance, and sent him all over the world to learn preparations. And got in Kirti Govinda prabhu to give his heart and soul to dedicate his life. And also, Gauranga prabhu knowing that the foundation of this restaurant is to transform peoples heart, he has given such inspirations through his kathas and kirtans within this Govinda’s restaurant. Thank you very much. And I want to thank each and everyone of you very personally. Please take these words of mine very seriously. You may be getting paid something for your work, but that should just be a detail. We should put our heart into it so much, to give people the feeling of Krishna’s love, that your work here is pure devotional service.

Srila Prabhupad ki Jay. Sri Radha Gopinath ki Jay.

Written by

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.

  • Kalpana Kulkarni

    Govinda Restaurant at Radha Gopinath Temple, Chowpatty is indeed an amazing place with wonderful food being served with a devotional flavour! Its a very popular place for devotees and for residents in the vicinity. Am sure next time you eat a pizza it will be up to Yamuna Mataji’s standards. We pray that even the demigods would be waiting to eat in Govindas.

    • Piyush Singh

      Very inspiring comment. I’m yet to visit this restaurant but getting involved in this discussion here I’m feeling more and more inclined to plan a trip to Mumbai soon. Let’s see how it goes.

      • Gopinath Chandra

        You can visit the restaurant after your visit to Wada. It will be like icing on the cake.

        • Piyush Singh

          That’s a great idea actually. Yes, I’d try to do this. Thank you very much sir for this wonderful idea.

          • Gopinath Chandra

            Haha. I can give you a lot of such ideas for sense gratification.

          • Piyush Singh

            Thank you very much, but I guess as this involves Prasadam this should be fine in long run :).

            Some time ago I read one book named “Confession of a Prasadam Addict” and that book had such extreme cases of sense gratification through prasadam that I couldn’t believe that. However, the devotees involved in that sense gratification many years ago are extremely refined vaishnavas now. So, I also have some hope that under your expert guidance I’d also may be purified some day in distant future.

            Please continue to tell me more about specialty ISKCON restaurants.

          • Sumit Sharma

            Somehow I am getting tempted by the book you mentioned above. Is it available to buy from ISKCON centers? Thanks in advance.

          • Piyush Singh

            Fortunately, the whole book is available online at the New Vrindavan ISKCON temple blog. I heard that HH Radhanath Swami also spend many years of his life at New Vrindavan temple.

            Please do try to find and read the book. It’s very interesting.

          • Sumit Sharma

            Thanks much Piyush. I would surely try to read this book.

          • Piyush Singh

            Welcome Sumit !!!

            You may also share your views about the book if you feel like.

  • Laxmikanth

    amazing Restaurant i really loved the food, i had gone with my brother even he liked it so much, the cleanness, design of the windows and tables etc are really makes one feel like in Viakunta , i could now understand why its so wonderful , it was desire of Radhanath swami as he explains its important spirit and how went grown to what it is now .

    • Umesh

      Yes I agree. I have been there couple of times and I could see the quality of food being served and the cleanliness and the politeness of the staff. Thanks to the brilliant vision of Radhanath swami which made the Govindas to come up and serve many thousands of people.!!!

      • Piyush Singh

        Yes, the standards there are really top class and what to say about the delicious taste of the prasadam served.

    • Sumit Sharma

      That’s true! Govinda’s restaurant is like spiritual hotel where you can taste the nectar of Prasadam.

  • Vinay Malani

    Thank you Radhanath Swamiji for being the inspiration behind Govinda’s restaurant in Chowpatty. The food served here is simply nectarean. The ambience & the staff are also very wonderful. It is always a great delight to be honoring prasadam here.

    • Sumit Sharma

      That’s correct. I also got to taste the sumptuous food prepared there. My friends were amazed to realize that one may make tasty prepares without onion/garlic.

      • Umesh

        Quite eager to go there yet again .. I have tasted only once there. I wish to go there once more along with friends and family for the unforgettable taste.

  • Sumit Sharma

    Thank you very much Radhanath Swami Maharaj for sharing the history of Govidas. Undoubtedly, Govinda restaurants are getting fame all over India because of nice cuisines prepared there. Apart from the food, one gets a chance to taste Lord’s mahaprasad which is beyond any other benediction because one who tastes it at least is given human birth in his/her next life. Through Govindas chain of restaurants, the whole world is getting to experience the real nectar of Lord’s mercy.

    • Gopinath Chandra

      I once heard a story. A man had a disease by which his taste buds got destroyed. He couldn’t taste anything. Once he happened to visit Govinda’s restaurant, and there when he ate prasad, he actually could taste it. So he became a regular customer, and hopefully he became a devotee too!

      • Piyush Singh

        Interesting story. There should be an interview of this person and that should be published for everyone else to be benefited. Is it possible somehow?

        • Gopinath Chandra

          I heard this story long time ago, when I was in college. I guess Gauranga Prabhu told this story. Will check with him. Yes, to investigate this story will be interesting.

          • Piyush Singh

            Thank you very much sir for considering my request. I’m really excited to know more details about the same.

      • Sumit Sharma

        I also heard this story in one of the lectures when I was taking foundation course as conducted by ISKCON preachers. I was amazed to know about that person. certainly, things and people are empowered when they are done for the pleasure of the Lord. As per my understanding, Lord certainly reciprocates with those who are sincere, serious and without ulterior motives while following the path of devotional service. Lord is a person and He reciprocates with His devotees. In this story, we can clearly see that reciprocation. Out of mercy, Lord reciprocated with this person, giving him assurance that He is there in the form of Prasadam.

  • Gopinath Chandra

    Radhanath Swami is a visionary. And he has the right people in his team to make his dreams a reality.

    At one point of time Govindas restaurant seemed a mission impossible. At one point of time Govardhan Eco Village seemed a mission impossible.

    And there have been quite a few other mission impossibles that have become possibles. In most cases Gauranga prabhu headed these missions. He is my hero.

    • Piyush Singh

      Actually I agree to what you say. I’ve been to Govinda’s and I must say that the environment there is like mesmerizing. You feel like going there again and again.

      • Gopinath Chandra

        Have you been to Govardhan Eco Village? I was there a few days ago. I just felt like staying there. Now there is so much greenery in the Vrindavan forest there, and the entire place has completely transformed. It’s unbelievable.

        • Piyush Singh

          Actually I heard a lot about Goverdhan Eco Village and explored about it. It seems to be a fascinating place developed under the guidance of HH Radhanath Swami. I’m planning to visit there sometime soon.

          • Gopinath Chandra

            Yes, that’s an excellent place to spend time with your family on a weekend. It has been developed as a spiritual retreat center.

          • Piyush Singh

            Thank you Sir for motivating me to be there soon. I already started planning my visit. Let’s see how it goes.

          • Gopinath Chandra

            This is the best time to visit. The monsoons have just begun; so the atmosphere is cool, and the surroundings are lush green.

          • Piyush Singh

            Yes, I also think this is the exciting time to be there. I should be there within next 1 month or so, hopefully.

          • Gopinath Chandra

            Wonderful. There is a small counter of Govinda’s there also. You can taste the pizza that’s described in this article.

            And one of the best pizza makers of Govinda’s does the pizza there. Enjoy with your family.

          • Piyush Singh

            Thank you very much for sharing this useful details. Will sure take advantage of this.

  • Piyush Singh

    Such a motivating talk. HH Radhanath Swami speaks here like a ideal leader. He gives all the due credit to the team and the same time offers to share the needed corrections that will take the service to the next levels of perfection.

    The best part of the talk I like is where he shares the purpose of the Govinda’s restaurant, which is to transform hearts and not the money making.

    Many thanks for publishing this heart touching talk by HH Radhanath Swami.

    • Gopinath Chandra

      Goptratve Varanam Tatha, the conviction that Krishna is the maintainer. This is one of the six symptoms of surrender. So a devotee never worries about from where money will come. Just go on serving Krishna, and Krishna will provide all facilities for service. Why can’t he? After all he owns everything that exists. He has given the billionaires billions of dollars. Why can’t he provide his devotees, if he feels his devotee requires it for service?!

      • Piyush Singh

        This is really inspiring knowledge and makes a lot of sense. The owner of the whole creation can certainly ensure to provide whatever is needed for his dedicated loving servants.

  • Umesh

    This is wonderful vision behind Govinda’s by Radhanath swami. I doubt if any other restaurant in modern world would have as such –

    “This is Govinda’s restaurant, it is not your restaurant or my restaurant, this is Govinda’s restaurant and we are Govinda’s servant. And every single people whether he is man, women or children who comes in is Govinda’s special guest. On behalf of Govinda we should them so much love and so much cooked prasad that they must feel very happy”

    • Vinay Malani

      Govinda’s is any vegetarian’s delight. Once anyone relishes the delicious food here, I bet he/she wouldn’t want to even have a look at any non-vegetarian cuisine. Thank you Radhanath Swamiji for making this happen.

      • Piyush Singh

        So true. That is exactly the case.

  • Jerry Richard

    Govinda’s is always striving to improve and perfect every preparation more and more. Therefore the quality and impression on people’s heart is always increasing

    • Gopinath Chandra

      Yes, nothing happens without putting in planned effort. I think even in this talk, Radhanath Swami mentions how if we don’t strive to improve ourselves, the current of this world will drag us backwards.

  • brajswaminidd

    Govindas is really good. so true it takes continues efforts to maintain high quality.

  • Satya Kama Das

    Govinda’s restaurant is special gift to us. Thank you very much.

  • vidya karekar

    Wow I just liked Maharaj’s way of saying Lord Shiva along with Parvati and the whole family will come from Babulnath on Ganesh chaturti to govindas to celebrate Ganeshji s birth day

    • Piyush Singh

      Yes, this statement is really inspiring. And who knows HH Radhanath Swami even has seen these great personalities visiting the Govinda’s facility :).

  • Satya Kama Das

    Wonderful talk.

  • Keshav Kishor Das

    I remember 12th chapter of Bhagavadgita where one of the qualities of a devotee is mentioned as “Daksha” or being expert. So expertise is an inseparable component in devotional service. Maharaj is exemplifying this in this article. Thanks for publishing….!

    • Piyush Singh

      So well pointed Keshav ji. The expert leadership of HH Radhanath Swami is evident from this wonderful talk.

  • Kalpana Kulkarni

    There are a multitude of restaurants all over the city but there’s something different and special about Govindas restarurant at the Radhagopinath temple, chowpatty. Food is served as “Prasad” in a mood of love, humility, devotion, attention and warmth permeating the atmosphere. it’s a different experience altogether!

  • Jerry Richard

    Man cannot be enlightened through any organization, creed, dogma, priest or ritual, nor through any philosophical knowledge or psychological technique. He has to find it through understanding the contents of his own mind, through observation, not through intellectual analysis or introspective dissection. Man needs to take shelter of an Authorized Spiritual Master.

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About Me

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.