Narada Youth Fund

A fund has been established at Ananda Seattle to help continue Narada's work with the Living Wisdom Youth Group, and to provide scholarships for Seattle area young people who would like to attend Living Wisdom High School at Ananda Village. To contribute online, please click on the button above and select "Narada Youth Fund" at the bottom of the form.

Narada James Agee – In Memoriam

Narada James AgeeThis is blog is a compilation of memories that provide an overview of Narada’s life.  There are contributions from family members, from Ananda members and ministers all over the world; and there are some memories in Narada’s own words, taken from a Living Wisdom Youth Group application he completed as an example for his students.  All who met him were touched by Narada’s huge heart and saintly life.  As much as possible, we have left each contributor’s words intact.  It has been a joy and a privilege to assemble these stories and to learn about Narada’s life.

You may select a chapter, story or author from the list on the right, or just browse all posts. And please feel free to add your comments and memories, as well.

Joy to you!

—Rebecca Davis, Catie Hobson, and Hriman McGilloway, editors.

Early Life

The Agee siblings

Narada (left), his sister Loretta and brother Joe

From Joseph Agee, Narada’s Brother

Narada was born and raised in Bakersfield, California.  This is a major town at the most southern end of the San Joaquin Valley, one the largest agricultural regions of the world.  Our family goes back several generations, many having arrived in the 1880’s, with last in the early 1900’s.  The family business was a long-established funeral home, Payne and Son, that his father, Herman Agee, directed until his death in 1961.

People may be surprised to know that Narada, in his teens, was an avid racing enthusiast for both boats and cars.  We were privileged to have very sophisticated models of these vehicles and it’s my guess that this is where he got some of his proclivities and talent for mechanical things.   The electric car he built recently is certainly a good example of what he could do!

Narada went to Catholic schools throughout his education, and attended high school at the St. Thomas Military Academy in St. Paul, Minnesota.  I started at the academy a year later so we spent three years together in a starkly cold environment about as far away from sunny California as you can get.    However, I think this experience greatly helped his transition into the Army as it did for me.  Fortunately we made many trips across country going back and forth from St. Paul to Bakersfield and got to traverse the cornfields of the Mid-West to the vast desert regions of the West.

After graduation in 1961, Narada began working in the funeral home with his dad.  When his dad died, he continued working in there to assist his mother, who later opened a new funeral home in Shafter, a small town outside of Bakersfield.  He remained there until 1965, when he was drafted into the US Army.  He was stationed in Korea until he was discharged in 1967.  From there he moved to Alaska where his sister, Loretta, was living with her family in Soldotna, a small town on the Kenai Peninsula, not far from Anchorage.

Gadgets & Adventures

From James Humecky, Narada’s nephew

My earliest memories of Narada are from when I was about six years old:  he was living in Alaska then.  He was always a rugged, self-sufficient type and he came down to our house in Soldotna.  He was showing us all these gadgets; he had a camper and he showed us how he could make bread in tin cans in the oven.  He built his own kayak and then kayaked down the Kenai River; I remember going to watch him from a bridge as he went under on the river.  This was in the ‘70’s before he got hooked up with Ananda.

Alaska to California

From Joseph Agee, Narada’s Brother

While in Anchorage, Narada trained to become an electrical contractor and worked there until 1974 when he decided to go back to the “Lower 48”.  He packed all his belongings in his truck and drove south until he happened to find the Ananda Community near Nevada City in California that Swami Kriyananda had recently founded.  Meeting Swami signified a major spiritual transformation, causing Narada to decide to devote the rest of life to the community and to promoting Swami’s mission.

My Greatest Adventure

Here is what Narada wrote about his decision to devote his life to building Ananda, which he called “by far my greatest adventure”

I moved to Ananda Village near Nevada City,CA in 1975.  The community was very rustic when I moved there.  I lived in an old trailer without electricity, no running water, a tin lizzy wood stove for heat, and an outhouse about 100 feet away.  The roads would turn to mud in the winter rains, and became impassable.  But you know what, none of us considered it a hardship.  It was actually one of the best times of my life, and it was very interesting helping and watching the community grow, and I made many lifelong friends.  Such communities will be a great help to mankind in the future.

First Day at Ananda

From Anandi Cornell

I met Narada on his first day at Ananda and took him on a Village tour. I remember thinking, “This man has to move to Ananda. He’s far too gentle, humble, and kind for the regular world.”

I believe Narada is the source of 2 great quotes about Ananda: “This ain’t no retirement community,” and “We’re not building houses, we’re building character.”

It Seems Like You Belong Here

From Kalyani Todd

One day in 1975 I was alone in the meditation retreat kitchen doing the dishes when Narada walked up the covered walkway from the Common Dome, as we called our dining room, and asked if he could have an apple.  I told him, sure.  He helped himself to an apple from the big box in the walkway. We introduced ourselves, and I asked him, “What brings you here?” He said he was searching for something more in life.

After a few minutes talking together, I said, “It seems like you belong here.” His eyes lit up and he smiled, almost in disbelief, and then he looked down, nodding his head as if he agreed. Several times in later years he told me how happy he was about that meeting, because it was what made him decide to join Ananda.

Narada and Kalyani 2009

I’ve always been grateful that Master prompted me to say what I did, because not only did Narada become an integral part of the community, he became one of my best friends, as well. Over the years, each member of my family (Nitai, Prem, and Mirabai) and I have shared countless birthdays, trips, spiritual events, workdays, and casual times with Narada and his mother, Evelyn Agee. They are deeply woven into the fabric of our lives, enriching us forever.

A Hidden Saint

From Savitri Simpson

I first met Jim Agee in the summer of 1975, before he became Narada.  It was my first summer to visit Ananda. I was taking part in the newly formed Apprentice Program led by Prakash and Shivani. I believe that this was his first summer to come to Ananda also. I returned again the next summer and was happy to see that he had decided to move her permanently, for I was always very impressed by his quiet competence and humble joy.

One very early memory I have of him is when a group Apprentices went to a local swimming hole to cool off on a very hot summer afternoon, after finishing our work-day. The vibrations were very definitely “clothing optional” in those days–not at Ananda Village itself, but “off campus,” for sure. So we all joyfully stripped and jumped in. But not Narada. He quietly sat apart from us on a big rock in his swimming trunks—keeping his eyes turned away from the naked bodies all around him. At the time I thought: “What a party pooper! What’s wrong with him?”

As the years went by, I always remembered that day and how quietly he stood by his convictions of what he believed to be the right. No fuss about it and never a word did he speak—but he made his point clearly. That was his way! What a dear and great soul, and how much we will all miss him. Often I’ve thought that we have many “hidden” saints among us at Ananda, and as often as I’ve had that thought, he was one of the ones who came to mind. I know he’d laugh and say: “Who me a saint? Not hardly!” But a true saint would probably not admit it anyway.

A Place He Loved

From Joseph Agee, Narada’s Brother

When Narada moved to Ananda, I started visiting almost every summer, and when my sister moved to Marysville near Sacramento it became an annual event.  I have a lot of fond memories spending time with my brother at a place I knew he loved.  Of course, I got to see the community slowly grow over the years from just a few geodesic dome houses and a small store to a large community with different types of housing and a complete village, with main roads, etc.

He Could Explain Everything

From James Humecky, Narada’s Nephew

When we moved to California, I was about 15 and Narada had been living at Ananda for a few years.  We went to visit Narada.  It was pretty fresh and raw back then and he was always moving, living in a trailer in different places way out on the land someplace.  I have always felt pretty connected with Ananda, getting to know people and seeing their kids grow up.  For a long time he was taking pictures; I have several albums of photos he took and gave to me, of me and my daughter.

He connected with my daughter really well and would take her on these nature walks.  He knew a lot about geology and the formation of the land, and would explain how “that was glacier action.”  I find that I am always thinking about him that way when I’m noticing land forms, his lifestyle and everything.  He was constantly in meditation.   I’d go up to Ananda to visit and he would take us out on nature walks to places like Malakoff Diggings.  He could explain everything.  Narada and Ananda had a lot of influence on me growing up.  His gentleness and acceptance, the non-judgment that he really practiced really well: that has spilled over to how I am with my kids.

Solar Energy

From Joseph Agee, Narada’s Brother

During his time at Ananda in California, Narada worked tirelessly as an electrical contractor, both in and outside of the community, and directly contributed to its growth.  He can also claim credit for having designed and developed one of the first inclusive electrical circuit boxes that allowed the complete connection for solar powered homes.  This came of his years of experience helping set up solar components for many homes in the area.   He saw the need for some kind of device that would make the process simpler and more feasible for the average home.  Working with several colleagues in the community, he founded the Ananda Power Technologies Company that prospered for several years and set the standard in the solar power industry.

Chapters