(Born: 3 March 1951 – Passed away: 13 June 1979)

Remembering Miss Govindammal

Here is a moving story of Miss Govindammal, an unsung heroine.  The story revolves around the extraordinarily dramatic circumstances in which she passed away in the pioneering field. She today occupies a special place in the annals of the Faith in Malaysia, having won the eternal glory of being the first Malaysian to have passed away overseas while still at the pioneering post. Hers is a living testimony, that lack of higher education would in no way hinder a true servant from serving the Cause with distinction.

Miss. Govindammal comes from a very simple family in an urban village called Jabi near a small town of Pokok Sena in the Northern State of Kedah in Malaysia. Her father is  Mr. Doraysamy. It was Mr. Kesavanathan of Alor Setar, and M. Subramaniam or popularly remembered as M.S. Maniam who first gave the Faith to Mr. Doraiysamy in 1967.  Doraysamy liked the teachings and was ready to become a believer.  Doraysamy then called for a family gathering and mentioned about the  Bahá’í  Faith to them. They too liked the Faith and they all embraced the Faith with gladness. However, accepting a new Faith and living among people of their own kind in a face to face environment was never easy in Malaysia. One had to face relatives and friends who were deeply steeped in strong Hindu beliefs and traditions.  It was no surprise that Doraysamy’s family faced bitter opposition and criticism from the people around. Yet, with constant deepening coming from the Bahá’ís of Alor Setar, this family gained a deeper understanding of the tenets of the Faith. The believers of Alor Setar undertook frequent visits to their home in Jabi, which gave them the needed strength. The family members came for activities held at the Bahá’í Center in Alor Setar town where they were further strengthened in the Cause. In stages, they grasped the essence of the Bahá’í teachings.  This led them to boldly gave up their ancient practices and traditions within a hostile environment.  They remained very strong despite strong opposition that continued to mount from the local population.

Family photo. Govindammal is standing at the extreme left in the back row.

Miss Govindammal, the fourth child of Doraysamy was special in many ways. Right from the time she accepted the Faith she was on fire with the love of God. She started her responsibility for her family at an early age. Even as a teenager, she went to work as a rubber tapper in the neighboring estate to support her large family.

Although Govindammal was the fourth in the family of eight surviving siblings, she shouldered heavy family responsibilities. Her eldest brother and Govindammal started to work at an early age to support their family.  Govindammal took up the job of tapping rubber trees in a nearby rubber plantation. She herself set a good example by instilling strong family values among her siblings. Though completed elementary six in a Tamil Language School, she developed the art of reading and writing well in the Tamil language, and wrote some Faith-inspired poems which were published in Puthiya Oli (New Light), a national Tamil  Bahá’í Magazine in Malaysia, of which Mr. R. Ramarao was the able editor. Govindammal committed herself to conduct children classes as a path of her service to the Cause. She was excellent in composing moving Bahá’í songs with Bahá’í themes in the Tamil language,  based on tunes lifted from popular Tamil film songs. She taught the children to sing those songs. She also instilled Bahá’i virtues and upright character among the children attending her children classes. She had even served as Vice Chairman of the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Jabi and as Chairperson of the Local Women’s Committee. She was seen as the backbone of the Jabi Bahá’í community.

Govindammal, third adult from left with her parents, siblings and relatives in Jabi.

Govindammal was a very highly prayerful person. She used to wake up at dawn and spend much time reciting her prayers in the Tamil language before leaving for work. After work, she would encourage her siblings to join her for teaching in the neighboring estates, a task that she carried out almost daily. During such teaching trips Govindammal taught with so much conviction and enthusiasm. She was so much in love with the Faith that on a number of occasions she used to express her desire to offer her services in Tamil Nadu State in South India. But there was no immediate opportunity.

An opportunity came for her to serve in Tamil Nadu when, at a  Bahá’í Conference held in Port Dickson in April 1977, Hand of the Cause of God Dr. Muhajir developed the idea of opening up South India to the Faith through the South India Teaching Project. The Malaysian Bahá’í community was informed that the South India Teaching Project would involve a two-year period commencing 12 November 1977 and ending on 12 November 1979. During this period, 500 villages were to be enrolled into the Faith. The project was launched in Sulur, Tamil Nadu on 20 October 1977, the anniversary of the Declaration of the Báb. Govindammal was so excited to be on board this project. She volunteered to go in the first batch, but somehow circumstances did not permit then. She was very sad and started to pray ardently for Bahá’u’lláh to open a path.

Her sincere and ardent prayers were answered when her request to pioneer in South India was approved in 1978. On getting this news,  she jumped with joy. She immediately packed her bag with all excitement. As she was bidding farewell to her family she conversed in a tone that indicated she would not return.  Her parents, though upset, did not take it seriously. She then came over to Kuala Lumpur to board her flight to Madras, now Chennai, in Tamil Nadu. A day before her flight, she stayed in the National Bahá’í Center of Malaysia at 32 Jalan Angsana, in Kuala Lumpur. She casually mentioned to Mr. R. Ramarao the Caretaker and Administrative Assistant residing in the Bahá’i Center that she wished to lay down her life in Tamilnadu. Ramarao at first thought it was one of those emotional expressions of an enthusiastic young lady who was full of excitement to serve the Cause. The following day she flew to Tamil Nadu to take part in the South India Teaching Project.

The first batch of participants in the South India Teaching Project are seated. 
L-R: Indrabalan, Gunasekaran, Muniandy and Selvam Ellumalai.
Standing are local believers from Nagercoil city, Tamilnadu

At the time of her arrival in Tamil Nadu, there were two bases — the bigger base in Coimbatore city and a smaller one in Sulur.  Govindammal started her services in Coimbatore city. From the first day, she was at the forefront of activities in the teaching field.  She was seen to be a lady who showered much kindness and love for other Bahá’i teachers. She showed a lot of care and gave protection for the Bahá’i ladies in the project. She was a motherly figure to all those in her group and proved to be a source of great encouragement to them in moments of depression and despair.

Another Malaysian Bahá’i lady, Malliga Jothy who was teaching the Faith in Ooty (Ootacamund) Hill Station in Tamil Nadu, kept communicating with Govindammal in Coimbatore city. Once Malliga’s duties in Ooty were over, she came over to Coimbatore city and joined the project there. Govindammal and Malliga paired up very well to go for teaching in the villages. Govindammal went into the simple village huts, drank the tea prepared by those humble people, and soon won their love and admiration. In the villages, she started organizing children classes too, an activity that was always close to her heart. The parents of the children in the villages were very pleased with her noble efforts and gave her all the encouragement. The children simply flocked around Govindammal each time she entered the villages.

Govindammal and Malliga made a trip to a tribal village in the hills. Upon return, Malliga contracted chicken pox. The doctor who examined Malliga advised her to move to an isolated place so that a large number of believers in the bigger base in Coimbatore city would not contract chicken pox. Malliga decided to move to the smaller base in Sulur, and Govindammal volunteered to move in with her and look after her. Indrabalan and Selvam, co-workers from Malaysia too joined them in Sulur. After some two weeks, Malliga recovered and she and Govindammal were back in action and started visiting villages for teaching. Each time Govindammal and Malliga set out for teaching, they passed through a nearby Hindu graveyard. Govindammal used to comment in jest to Malliga that she would be buried in that particular graveyard, and that many would visit her grave. Malliga did not take that comment seriously. Malliga just smiled off.

Govindammal originally planned to involve in this Project for six months only. When she saw the need of the Cause was great, she informed Malliga that desired to stay on in Tamil Nadu for a longer period. She also expressed her desire not to get married in order to look after the greater need of the Cause she loved and served with so much devotion and sincerity.

Then came the appointed time. Close to her six months of teaching in Tamil Nadu, Govindammal made a firm decision to stay on. Just three days before Govindammal’s passing, she, assisted by Mr. Indrabalan, wrote to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’is of Malaysia in both Malay and Tamil languages, expressing her burning desire to extend further her teaching work in India by another two years. Her wish was gladly granted by the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia, and the matter was communicated to her family in Jabi. This was the time when Govindammal was actively serving in the teaching field. One day she suddenly developed a high fever and a severe headache. That morning, as the Bahá’ís were getting ready for their daily teaching, there was a small commotion from the ladies’ room.  Selvam Elumalai, another participant from Malaysia went into the lady’s room, and there he saw Govindammal vomiting. Selvam was informed she was having a high fever and severe headache. Indrabalan and Malliga Jothy rushed Govindammal to the Government Hospital in Coimbatore city, while the rest of the believers went on with their teaching routine. At the hospital, she was diagnosed for meningitis, admitted and given treatment. On hearing this, all the local believers and participants of the Teaching Project organized daily group prayers for her. They were confident that she would recover.  Malliga stayed with Govindammal in the hospital ward. Govindammal was resting her head on the lap of Malliga and passed away — unknown to Malliga. The nurse on duty was aware of her passing. She approached Malliga and requested her to leave the room, saying she had to change the bed sheet. After a few minutes of waiting in the corridor of the ward, Malliga saw Indrabalan approaching her with belongings of Govindammal. He broke the news that Govindammal has been called to the Supreme Heights.  Malliga who was weak without sleep the whole night almost collapsed on hearing this unexpected and devastating news. Govindammal passed away on Wednesday, 13 June 1979, at the age of 28.

Her passing brought about a crisis situation.  At that time Dr. Sree Ganesh, Project Manager of the South India Teaching Project was at New Delhi for a meeting with the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’is of India. Miss Ranee Datwani who took charge of the day to day activities in his absence handled the situation well with the cooperation of other believers.  This was a case of the passing of a foreigner in Indian soil. The believers had limited financial resources to handle her burial. First things first. Her body had to be transported from the hospital to the teaching base in Sulur. On the day of her passing, there was a general strike throughout Tamil Nadu. All public transportation came to a standstill, including the special vans meant for transporting the dead.  The Bahá’ís who gathered in the hospital resorted to prayers, knowing not what to do nor how to handle the situation. And a solution came. The Bahá’ís decided to transport her body in a public taxi. Indrabalan took charge of this and he demonstrated such skills that he alone could have done in the circumstances.  He spoke to a taxi driver in a nearby taxi stand, saying there was an urgent need to transport a patient who was in deep sedation. Being a day of the strike the taxi driver charged a high fare. Ranee approved the amount charged as there was no other choice. When the taxi arrived at the hospital entrance, Indrabalan brought Govindammal in a wheelchair. He had given strict instructions to Malliga not to shed tears. Malliga went into the back seat of the taxi first, and Indrabalan placed Govindammal in a sitting position in the taxi with her head leaning on Malliga’s shoulder. Thus, Govindammal’s body arrived in the Sulur base. At the base, her body was skillfully taken into the building. The taxi driver left, and it is not known if he had guessed what was going on. He had his fare.  Next came the more serious situation -informing the Institutions in India and Malaysia.  Ranee went to the nearby public telephone booth and phoned Dr. Sree Ganesh in New Delhi. The shaken Dr. Sree Ganesh requested the Malaysian Bahá’ís in Sulur to proceed with the funeral arrangements, with the assurance that he would join them at the earliest. Selvam was asked to send telegrams to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’is of Malaysia and the State Teaching Committee of Tamil Nadu. Selvam rushed to the local post office and sent those two telegrams. Then came another issue – getting a burial ground to have a burial according to  Bahá’i rites. Prayers were on the lips of believers throughout the two days. With the help of an influential local believer, a suitable burial plot was arranged in the Hindu Cemetery in Sulur. The local believers brought some planks and made a simple coffin for her. Her body was placed into that coffin. Govindammal was dressed in her favorite Indian saree dress. The friends brought some flowers and garlands and placed them around the coffin.

Indrabalan, who passed away in Malaysia in May 1997

Eyewitnesses who saw Govindammal in the coffin related that she had such a serene and calm face.  The few believers who had gathered kept the wake said prayers throughout the night.  By morning several pioneers and travel teachers who heard of her passing arrived in Sulur.

On the noon of the funeral day, Dr. Sree Ganesh arrived with a few members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’is of India, members of State Teaching Committee of India and several local believers.  News spread within Sulur too, and those whom Govindammal had befriended or accepted the Faith through her rushed to the base in Sulur to pay their last respects. Some were seen mourning away with inconsolable hearts. Ranee put up a good funeral program. A simple, but a well-decorated carriage was arranged. The coffin was placed onto that carriage and transported to the burial site.  Some believers and friends walked behind the carriage to the burial site. Govindammal was buried following a simple, but befitting  Bahá’i burial ceremony in a Hindu burial ground near Sulur – the very burial ground where she had wanted to be buried.  The burial ceremony itself brought much publicity. Her funeral itself turned out to be a teaching episode. Through her burial, on that spot, it dawns clearly that her wishes to have her bones buried in a foreign country were answered by the Blessed Beauty. The participants of the South Indian Teaching Project were visibly shaken that one of their greatest workers had been removed from their midst. They took consolation that she was certainly in a better world, and would assist the teaching project from the Supreme Heights!

Ranee Datwani Sreedharan, now  settled in Malaysia

Meanwhile, news of her untimely and unexpected passing and burial that had already taken place reached the family, unfortunately only the day after her passing. The news was passed to the family in person by Mr. S. Nagaratnam, Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’is of Malaysia, and R. Ganasa Murthi, an Auxiliary Board Member then. On hearing this shocking news all the family members broke down and sobbed.  Doraysamy, father of Miss Govindammal remained firm and quiet for some time, with no tears in his eyes. Then he commented with a heavy, but clear heart, “We sent her to serve the Faith, but if Bahá’u’lláh had decided to call her to the Abha Kingdom, what choice can we have.  As a family, we are proud  Govindammal has laid her life in the teaching field.” Unfortunately, no one from her family could go to India immediately to pray in the spot in which she was buried. The believers in Kedah kept visiting the family for some days to offer prayers for Govindammal and to give strength to the family in distress.

The Universal House of Justice sent the following message on her passing:


The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of India sent the following message:


Upon completion of the South India Teaching Project, the participants returned to Malaysia.  Malliga Jothi who was with her in the hospital at the time of her passing brought back Govindammal’s personal belongings and handed over to the family. She related to them how Govindammal had served the Cause with so much of love for Bahá’u’lláh. There was yet a small consolation for the family. The family members of Govindammal says Malliga resembling Govindammal in many ways. They all took a fond liking for Malliga, as a consolation that God had created somewhat identical twins.

Selvam Ellumalai, a co-teacher from Malaysia in the South India Teaching Project has this to say of Govindammal, “I knew her for the first time during the South India Teaching Project. I found her to be a very simple and detached person,  with a deep love for Bahá’u’lláh.”

Malliga her close friend who was with her in her last days says, “It would be difficult to get a dedicated and sincere worker like Govindammal, who radiated so much love for her fellow workers in the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh.”

Malliga, a grandmother today in Malaysia

Dr. Sree Ganesh, Project Manager of the South India Teaching Project says, “Miss Govindammal’s untimely passing has indeed robbed the teaching team of one of the best workers who was so committed, devoted and exemplary in the field. Her passing was an irreparable loss, creating a  vacuum that was never filled.”

Ranee Datwani, another co-worker in the Project says, ” Govindammal shall always be remembered for her love, affection, purity of spirit and dedication to the Faith. She had the privilege of burying her bones in the teaching field in a foreign country. She is indeed one of the immortal heroines of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh.

Ramarao, the editor of a popular Tamil  Bahá’í Monthly called “Puthiya Oli” in Malaysia, ran a good coverage of Govindammal in the immediate next issue, and was widely read and well received by the Tamil speaking believers in Malaysia.  In that issue, he recalled his conversation with Govindammal a day before her departure to India, in which she had indicated her wish to lay down her life in the blessed teaching field in Tamil Nadu. The news of the passing of Govindammal was the talk of the Malaysian Bahá’í community for many months.

Back in India, the Bahá’ís of Tamil Nadu erected a simple gravestone in her resting place in Sulur, with the hope of refurbishing that for a better one in the future. Several travel teachers and  Bahá’í visitors from Malaysia to Tamil Nadu made it a point to pay a visit to her resting place.  Sad to relate, with the passage of time, and in the absence of regular and proper caretakers, her grave in Sulur was razed to the ground to give way for development. Today there is no trace of any burial ground there, including her grave. What remains today in the annals of the Faith is the record of Malaysia’s first pioneer who has passed away overseas while still at the pioneering post.

But Mr. Muniappan of Seremban community in Malaysia undertook travel teaching to Tamil Nadu some years after her passing and paid a visit to her resting place in Sulur. He gathered some soil and placed it into a bottle. When he returned to Malaysia, he visited the family of Govindammal and gave the bottle containing that soil. Her family then erected a simple monument in memory of Govindammal in the  Bahá’í cemetery in Alor Setar town.

Burial place of Miss. Govindammaal, which no more exists.  (L-R) Mrs. Sundari Thangaraj, Mr. Muniapppan and Mrs. Adari Gilbert.

In retrospect, it appears that Govindammal had decided to be buried in the teaching field. By Indian custom, one would say “I am going now and shall return” when setting on a long journey. But when bidding farewell to her family in Jabi, Govindammal said, “I am going.” The family was upset with that statement but did not take it seriously. A night before her departure to India, she had informed Ramarao in the National Bahá’í Center that she had wanted to lay down her life in the teaching field. While in the teaching base in Sulur she had even identified her burial place. Her wishes must have been serious and sincere. Her wishes were granted.

Not many of us in the current generation may remember the late Miss Govindammaal. But her Creator certainly does.

“O Son of  Being! Make mention of Me on My earth, that in My heaven I may remember thee, thus shall Mine eyes and thine be solaced.” Bahá’u’lláh


A. Manisegaran
15 February 2018




  1. Ya Baha-u-llah Abha!… I am from Tamilnadu,India. It was at 3 am after reciting my dawn prayers that I read then story. I became very emotional and tears rolled down the cheeks. I just cannot describe the sorrow the story brought to my heart. I have heard many wonderful stories about the services of this precious soul and her sad passing in Coimbatore during the South India Teaching Project. I was so moved to hear about her dedication to the Cause. She clearly is no ordinary soul. This is the first time I am reading a written account of this saintly handmaiden of God. Even before coming to Tamilnadu she had wanted to have her bones buried in the teaching field. The Blessed Beauty must have fathomed her sincerity and fulfilled her wish. Thanks a million for sharing about this great heroine…
    Whenever I visited Coimbatore I used recall her services. My love for her has truly gone sky high after reading this story. I shall keep her in my prayers… What a spiritual bridge she has established between Malaysia and India!
    May Bahaullah bless her sincere and pure soul.

  2. I am thankful to Mr.Manisegaran for having put on record the story of this wonderful soul. Having known her and her family in person, I am glad that this beautiful recollection of her services is a befitting memorial the family would be proud of. Govindammal’s parents, the late Mr and Mrs Doraisamy and her late brother Mr.Arumugam were steadfast and radiant believers of the Cause of God. In 1982 during my short travel teaching in Tamil Nadu I had the bounty of visiting and praying at her grave.

  3. Mani,
    May I say how moved I was to hear of Ms Govindammal’s story that you have recently published. I thank you for recording this story, and so many others for posterity.

    Reading your story I am humbled to visualize gentle Govindammaal, a young lady doing hard manual work tapping rubber trees, carrying pails on her shoulders to the weighing stations, being paid for the amount she tapped. So, much depended on how much of that precious latex would fill the cups fixed to the trees. Her payment depended on that.

    Unknown to her fellow tappers, all the time her heart must have been brimming and overflowing with something far more precious-her love of Baha’u’llah. And her payment is now in worlds of eternal joy’ having laid down her life in the path of God.
    With deep appreciation


  4. Dear Brother Manisegaran,

    I read your touching story on Govindammaal at 5.00 am. It is well written beginning from Jabi and how the family accepted Baha’u’llah. Central to your story is how Govindammal herself accepted the Cause and saw a meteoric rise and served the Cause until her passing in the blessed teaching field.

    I am also delighted to see nice photographs of Rani, Indrabalan and Malliga, who were the key players attending to her burial. Thank you for also including the group photograph that has me too as one of the participants in the South India Teaching Project. You have taken the details from various sources and put them together very well. I was there at the time of the drama that unfolded right in front of my own eyes. Yet I am not able to recollect all those minute details that you have very meticulously narrated. I have to say that if not for your effort, Govindammaal’s story would continue to remain only as a few pieces here and there.

    Many of my friends who read your story were immensely inspired. I am also told that a new believer in Alor Star was inspired after reading your story. Looks like many are looking forward to reading the Bahai Recollections Historical Blog. As a simple and ordinary Malaysian Baha’i I want to thank you for all you are doing to bring together all those historical events and records that have been hitherto unknown to many.

    Keep up the good work. May Baha’u’llah bless you in abundance!
    Selvam Ellumalai

  5. My dear Mani, I just finished reading the write up on the life and sacrifice of this incredible handmaiden of Bahaullah, Govindammal. It was so touching and inspiring. I felt like crying reading her story. Though I did not have the privilege of meeting this fantastic Bahai, now I feel I know her already after reading your write up. Thank you dear Mani for posting this beautiful write up for all the friends in and outside Malaysia to read.
    Already so many of my friends have read and are sharing the story with several others on account of how well it has been written.

    On a personal note, I can imagine how you must have felt while write the story. Even just reading it brings so much pain to my heart.

    Sometimes I wonder where you are able to get so many derails about the person you are writing, or any article for the matter. You are incredible, Mani. Bahaullah has blessed you with this ability which not many people have.

    Lily Chinniah
    Kuala Lumpur

  6. Dear Manisegaran
    The story of Ms Govindammal’s sacrificial services in the Cause of God, so well depicted in your story of her life, not only will cause many, known or unknown to her, to remember to say a prayer for a departed soul like hers. It also will be a cause for many, especially the youth to plan to serve Baha’u’llah in spite of them “seeing”, seeming unworthiness which today’s material life projects in their minds!
    Whenever occasion permits, especially in Baha’i gatherings, let us, as I myself have planned to remember her and her precious services in the field of teaching, by saying a Prayer for the Departed.
    Dr. Sreeni
    Petaling Jaya

  7. Dear brother Manisegaran,
    Your story on Miss Govindammal is really heart touching. Her story itself should serve to inspire simple people like me to serve the Cause.

    After reading her story, I cannot express in my words about her firmness in the Baha’i Faith and her desire for serving the Cause of Baha’u’llah, and finally wishing to lay her life for the Cause in the teaching field in Sulur, Tamil Nadu. Many of us pray to offer our lives for the Cause, but very rarely we hear of such prayers that have been answered. Govindammal’s prayers must have been sincere for Baha’u’llah to grant her wishes quite immediately.

    I appreciate the way Mr. Indrabalan, Miss. Melliga, Miss. Rani and other Baha’i colleagues rose to manage the crisis situation- Baha’u’llah has been with them to ease the situation.
    I can never doubt that Govindammal’s name would be written in Crimson Ink and remain in the history of the Baha’i Faith forever.

    Jaya Thota Raju
    Andhra Pradesh

  8. Dear Manisegaran,
    Thank you so much for the inspiring and beautiful story on the life of Govindammaal. You have recaptured her last few months in the South India Teaching Project with such precision. We were in the South India Teaching Project together and her selfless service and sacrifice are truly example for all the generations whether past or future. May God bless her soul.

    Thank you
    Ranee Sreedharan

  9. Dear Mani,

    Thank you for this moving story on Govindammaal. I never met her personally, but was well aware of her travel teaching efforts in those days. God bless this noble soul. I hope Baha’is, both from Tamilnadu and Malaysia will arise to continue her unfinished work in Coimbatore and especially Sulur where she laid down her life.


  10. Dear Mani,
    I had been a silent reader of all your postings. But you have wakened me from my slumber through this story!
    How could I thank you enough for posting this moving story in your blog. I had never seen nor associated with this great soul Govindammal. It is after reading your story that I seem to have understood the greatness of this lady. You have added so much details, and coated the story with so much emotions and feelings. Writing historical facts is a difficult job, but of greater difficulties is adding the right emotions. You have balance both very well with your God-given writing skills. Reading your story moved me to the very core of my soul. I became rather emotional as I read through the entire story in one sitting.
    Your parting sentence sums up everything- what is most important is not to earn name, fame or praises from mortal souls, but to be eternally remembered by our Creator!

    Ronnie Koh

  11. Dear Mani,
    It took me a few days to get to read this, but I did with great delight and thank you so much for posting this story.

    We American Baha’is and all Baha’is need the food of knowing about the actions of the early days.
    Janie Moore
    North Carolina

  12. Dear Uncle Manisegaran
    On behalf of all family members, I thank you for beautifully capturing the services of my aunt Govindammal. She is elder to my mom and I call her “Periyamma” in the Tamil language. I couldn’t hold back my tears as I was reading this recollection of hers. All these years my family members were able to pick up only bits and pieces of information from friends and family members. But today we are happy to have the full and concise story of her life, which will be chrished as a legacy for my family and later generations. Reading your write up made me feel as if I was there in person with my Periyamma, witnessing her last days on this earthly plane.

    Your precise capturing of the events in the teaching field and her last days come as a great gift for we family members. I was not even born at the time of her passing, but from what I had heard from my mother, I can only imagine how the family would have felt upon hearing of the passing of my aunt only a day after she was buried. They lost the backbone of the family. Periyamma was a mother to her little siblings back home.

    Although I never had the privilege of meeting my Periyamma in person, she still lives in my memory, always inspiring me to serve the Cause. I expressed my utmost despair to mum when I heard of the demolition of Periyamma’s resting place in India. We learn from the Writings that the physical body is of this mortal plane, while the souls of such heroes and heroines of the Faith are immeasurably blessed in the next world.

    I also wish to thank all the friends who posted their comments in this blog for all their kind words. Thank you again Uncle Mani for bringing the story of this humble soul from Jabi to life. We are assured that her soul is rejoicing in the Abha Kingdom with all your prayers.

    Sangitaa Subramaniam
    Cheras South

  13. The late Miss Govindammal is an inspiration to the friends who have arisen to connect hearts to Bahá’u’lláh. She had the courage, endurance and resilience required to bring victories. Such fortitude is currently required in our midst.

    Lum Weng Chew

  14. This is a story that I could not complete in one sitting. I always look forward to the latest postings in this blog. While I enjoyed reading each and every story that is posted, this particular story on Miss Govindammal has touched me deeply. Half way through I could not control my tears, and had to move away from my computer to calm myself.

    I myself hail from very humble beginnings and I can well understand the struggles of Miss Govindammal. She is such a simple person and had understood the tenets of the Faith very well, and clearly far beyond the so called educated, elite and intellectuals in the community. Her love for the Faith and the Blessed Beauty must have been so strong that she had decided to sacrifice her life as a moth would in fire. When starting off to pioneer in India, she was determined to lay down her life in the blessed field. I have known of many who had wanted to die for the Cause, but their prayers were not answered. But here is Miss Govindammal whose prayers were answered, and certainly because Bahaullah must have fathomed her sincere, pure and stainless heart.

    Her story and her legacy shall always continue to decorate the annals of the Faith in India and Malaysia, and by extension in the entire Bahai world community.

    Mani, this is indeed my favorite of all the stories so far. Kudos to you for keeping alive the memories of those unsung believers whose graves are no more around.

    C. Kanagaratnam

  15. Dear Uncle Mani,

    I just happened to read this soul-stirring spiritual journey of Ms. Govindammal. While reading it, the one thing that crossed my mind was in order to serve the Cause of God, one does not need big education but sincere love for the Blessed Beauty. What Ms. Govindammal did out there in her teaching field was truly unbelievable and her strong desire to be united with the Blessed Beauty was finally granted at her pioneering field. During my stay in Sungai Petani, sister Malliga shared with me her teaching experience back in Tamil Nadu and especially about the tribal village in the hills – the difficult living condition and the absence of environmental hygiene in those areas.

    Today, I read the following words of the Master and I thought it harmonizes with Ms. Govindammal’s spiritual thirst for the Blessed Beauty:

    “I am calling you away from this world. Nothing you can ever think of here will remain. You, yourself, will pass away as the roses wither at the touch of winter’s breath. I wish for you heavenly happiness. I am praying that the confirmation of God may descend upon you, that you may become His servant, that you may go forth to save mankind from the bonding of this mortal world. I wish you to escape from this hell of materialism. Be not occupied with material things. Have no anxiety about your affairs. You are under the protection of Bahá’u’lláh, in His service. Live in the spiritual world as I do. Think of nothing else.”

    ‘Abdu’l-Bahá [Stare of the West, IV; 12, 16 October 1913, page 210]

    May her radiant soul is abundantly nourished in the Abhá Kingdom.

    With Loving Bahá’í Greetings,
    Velayutham Gopal
    Phnom Penh, Cambodia

  16. Dear Mani,
    Today 13 June 2021 is the anniversary of the passing of our most radiant maidservant of Bahaullah, Miss Govindammal.

    When I embraced the Cause of Bahaullah, one of the first names mentioned to me as an example of a sacrificing, dedicated and exemplary Bahai teachers was Govindammal. Thanks to your most excellent write-up, I now have have a name, a face and living details to inspire me.

    Although I have not met her in person, her radiant personality lives on in your lively story. I catch a glimpse of her spirit to teach and serve when I see her nephew and nieces here in my community, who are in the forefront of all our teaching and community building activities. Through them, I can see the Mystic Connection and know for sure that the spirit of Govindammal flows through to our mortal world even this day.

    So once again, I wish to express my very sincere appreciation and gratitude to you for taking on this arduous task of unearthing those wonderful pearls of history especially on unsung or forgotten heroines and heroes of our beloved Faith so that they can continue to inspire us today and in the future.

    Ronnie Koh

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