How Sri Nathaji Came to New Vrindaban

(as Published in a 1984 Brijabasi Spirit, written by Revati Dasi)
A Recollection on the Travels of the Lord as the Deity of Sri Nathaji,
 the lifter of Govardhana Hill is firmly established in the western world.
According to the time, place, and circumstances, Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, incarnates Himself. There are thousands of names of God, but His original name Krsna”,meaning the “all-attractive one”. One of His names is “Giridhari,” the lifter of Govardhana hill. To protect the inhabitants of Vrndavana from the angry wrath of the demigod Indra, Giridharl lifted Govardhana hill. That is why another name for Giridharl is Sri Nathaji—the “Supreme Protector.”

More...In 1979, many Gujarati Vaisnavas and life members were desiring to worship Sri Nathaji in New York’s ISKCON center. A devotee sculpted Sri Nathajl’s murti, and it was exhibited in the New York temple. Every Sunday evening, Veda Vyasapriya*, who now lives in New Vrindaban, arranged for the life members to perform puja ceremonies for Sri Nathaji.
  During that time, my husband, Atmarama dasa, and I were living with our children in Pittsburgh, where we opened a small Sri Sri Radha Damodara temple. On weekends we would go to the Venkatesvara temple, only a few miles away. There we would chant the holy names of Krsna and distribute holy prasadam.
 Holding klrtana every weekend was very purifying, and the Indian community responded to us warmly. We were inspired to have Sri Nathaji worship established in the West¬ern world, and we wanted to eventually develop a temple as famous as the Balajl temple, the second most famous temple in India.
 Every day, Atmarama would exclaim how we had to open a temple for Sri Nathaji as soon as possible, in order to attract the Indian community and help spread the mission of Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu, to every town and village. Our plan was to manage the temple with little manpower, yet attract a huge crowd and engage them in Sri Nathaji’s service.
In April, 1981, I went to India with my daughter—4 year old Visnupriya. By May, I had travelled to Nathadwar near Udaipur, where Sri Nathaji resides, and there took His darsana and mercy. We attended three arotiks and all day heard the glories of Sri Nathaji.
     I inquired about the style of Sri Nathajl’s worship, cooking and paraphernalia. I also found out that this Deity is self-manifested on Govardhana hill; therefore, I prayed for His mercy to manifest His same feature in the mind of the artist who was going to carve the Deity for our temple.
Then we left for Jaipur. We spent the entire night sitting down on the walkway of the third-class compartment in a’ crowded train. Next morning, we reached Jaipur, and took bath in the railway station waiting room.
Finally, we arrived at Mr. Pande’s house. Every ISKCON center orders their Deities from Mr. Pande. We spent half a day with him, finally placing an order for a black marble Sri Nathaji Deity, to be delivered in two months.
For the next three months I lived at my father’s house in Surat, India. Whatever little money we had, I managed it so Sri Nathaji’s worship could begin with at least the essential ingredients.
Two months later a flood in Jaipur prevented me from obtaining the Deity. I had to return to the United States without Him.
In New York, the temple had just bought property in Queens for Sri Nathaji’s temple, but another delay came up unexpectedly, so a temple was out of the question. Atmarama quit his job and came to New York where we opened a temple in a one bedroom apartment in Corona.
On Balarama’s Appearance Day, we held an opening cere¬mony. Our friends, Siraradhya dasa and his family came. Our life member and worshipper of Sri Nathaji, Mr. Mehta, donated a very nice framed picture of Sri Nathaji on that day, and with that we began our simple worship. Later, we bought the Deity from the New Jersey temple. Every weekend was busy.
The New York temple could not provide us a place or man power, so we looked for three months. Finally we had to vacate the apartment. Where would we go? We went to Siraradhya’s apartment for fifteen days with everything and continued our program. We had to get support from others. We began traveling, preaching and collecting donations for Sri Nathan’s temple. Finally, Atamarama accepted a job in Toledo and decided to leave New York.        
I handed over the remaining work of the Deity to my father, Sri Ramacandra Desai. He had gone through a very difficult time with the government of India to send the Deity by Air India to New York. Finally, we received Sri Nathaji in October, 1981, in New York and took Him to Mr. Chaudharys, a friend of ours, and kept Sri Nathaji there for a few weeks.
Later, in November, Veda Vyasapriya brought Him to the Radha-Damodara temple. Sri Nathaji was to be installed in October, on Govardhana-puja day in New York, but those plans failed.
Our anxiety increased tremendously. It was a great resposibility on our heads to establish Him somewhere in the United States. We waited another six months for something to develop in New York, but we lost patience. Atmarama gave up hope and his job, and decided to travel for a hundred working days, and then perhaps something would break. Veda Vyasapriya was also encouraged by the idea of traveling, and got prepared for a trip.
We traveled throughout twenty-two states, covering over twenty-thousand miles, meeting about eight hundred Indian families. We had one determination: to preach, to raise funds, and make the Indian community aware of our project. We received good response during the trip; we still have a very strong backing from many of these people.
In 1982, Kirtananda Swami heard about our activities, and was very interested to establish Sri Nathaji in New Vrindaban. On the victory day festival of Lord Ramacandra, we approached him and explained our situation. The first ques¬tion he asked us was, “Why have you taken this project on as your life and soul?” We replied that this was to be the first temple of Sri Nathaji in the United States; there was so much demand for it, and it would provide a wonderful opportunity to preach to the Indian community.
 Kirtananda Swami said that he was also thinking of establishing Sri Nathaji in New Vrindaban for the same reasons. We were satisfied with his answer. We knew then that our approach and activities were all proper and progressive. This was the first time someone really recognized our sincerity towards the project and tried to encourage us. We were happy to offer Kirtananda Swami the result of our three years endeavor.
In India, Sri Nathaji manifested on Govardhana hill, in Vmdavana. Somehow He has expanded Himself. Now, Sri Nathaji, “the protector of the residents of Vrndavana,” has manifested Himself in the West, in New Vrindaban. He arrived in New Vrindaban on January 21, 1983 and was installed the following July 4th weekend.
One morning after taking prasadam, I asked Kirtananda Swami, “In order to worship Sri Nathaji, we should have a Govardhana-sila. Would you kindly bring a Govardhana-sila back from India the next time you go?” He accepted my request and said that he would bring Him. Now the Brijabasis are fully protected by a Govardhana-sila, Govardhana-dhari, who is non-different than Krsna Himself.
My greatest satisfaction is my relationship with my guru. The guru is the external manifestation of Paramatma—the Lord in the heart—who can guide one on the progressive path of devotional service.
When we first met Kirtananda Swami, he said, “Krsna always arranges the best thing for His sincere devotee.” This one sentence was enough to make me happy—simply to see that Kirtananda Swami was pleased by our small endeavor.
*now Veda Vyasapriya Swami

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