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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
From Ananta McSweeney
It seems the salient quality of Narada’s life was his humility.
When he first came to the village in the mid-70′s he was one of only two certified electricians (the other being Muktan Knowles). Swamiji lived in the dome and had electricity only from a generator. Whenever it would go out, Narada would get the call. I remember many nights holding the flashlight for him, or moving the two 12-volt car batteries out of his way so he could fix the generator and get Swami back in the light. He was always cheerful and eager to help Swamiji, even if it was very cold, wet and dark, which it usually was. He was very devoted to serving Swamiji in any way he could.
One of his greatest aphorisms was, “Why, there’s nothing holding back this project now but a lack of money and common sense!” It seems that many projects we worked on in the 70′s were especially suited to this truth.
He worked tirelessly on whatever project we were doing. He spent many long hours for many long months getting the Shower House at Ananda Farm working. It was the first indoor flush toilet and the first clean water shower at downtown Ananda. The project involved water, septic and electricity, a pump from the septic tank to a distant leach field. Narada, as always, was cheerful, cooperative in the utmost, joyful despite circumstances beyond our control (El Nino rains flooding the project repeatedly). Beyond all that, he was also a very professional electrician and absolutely invaluable to the success of the project. As the project repeatedly went underwater with deluge after deluge, I would ask Narada each morning, “What’s the weather forecast for today?” And he would affirm, “Santa Ana winds and a drying pattern!” Miraculously, it stopped raining long enough for us to get the septic tanks in the ground in downtown Ananda.
From Daiva Glazzard
I recall working with Narada during my early years at Ananda Village(mid-1980s). He worked with the Ananda Builders’ Guild, doing the wiring and plumbing. We used to joke about him writing a book called “Warp-Speed Wiring and Low-Clearance Plumbing.” He was endlessly cheerful and industrious—qualities I yearned to adopt. From the beginning, I found myself embraced by his endless friendship, thoughtfulness, delightful sense of humor and sweet devotion.
From Richard Salva
I had the great pleasure of working with Narada for two years on a regular basis at Ananda Electric during the late ’80s. In a number of heated situations, I never saw my friend anything but calm and centered. Narada has one of the purest and most beautiful hearts I’ve seen on the spiritual path. I believe that, among us, are hidden great souls that may not seem to make a big splash in terms of “Great Deeds and Positions in the Work,” but are quiet saints who silently lift the vibrations of everyone around them. Narada, sage divine, is and was one of those humble and serviceful saints.