New Braj Update – Progress Report

Haribol respected readers,

All glories to Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga!

Please accept our dandavat pranams. Time has flown by without much opportunity to reflect upon what has transpired over the last 2 years in New Braj Dham. When we, the New Braj Seva Team, thought “what just happened”, the following was recounted, not just for a rhetorical pat-on-our-collective-backs but rather a transparent progress report. We hope that it will demonstrate responsibility and dedication, provide inspiration, and give thanks to those who make this seva possible. Paramount of whom are Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Srila AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Goswami Maharaj, and the whole Sri Guru Parampara. Also this would not be possible without the tireless dedication of so many of our beloved sanyasis, sanyasinis, sadhus, preachers, family, and friends.

A very special thanks to Nirguna prabhu, Nilacila didi, and their respected family for unlimited seva, hard work, and wisdom; shying away from credit and acclaim but by doing so, are more deserving. We also must mention our own Bhakta Bruce, who has been so generous, always encouraging, optimistic, and here when you need him, a true godsend. Furthermore thank you Bhakti Projects who entrusted this tirtha to us, to protect and develop, supporting and challenging us along the way. We are merely puppets, full of our own flaws, nevertheless relishing the opportunity to serve. We have much to do and ask for your tolerance, patience, input, and support.

Jai Sri Radhe!

Uddhava das and the New Braj Seva Team

Purchases and Donations

  • Received donation of $161,000 towards the 9-acre temple property from Bhakti Projects, $200,000 remains.
  • Received donation of 5-acre pavilion festival site, adjacent to the temple property, from Nirguna prabhu and Nilacila didi. Valued at approximately $90,000, but truly invaluable for festivals and large programs.
  • Received a promissory note on a 9-acre property from Bruce valued at $160,000, resulting in monthly income.
  • Purchased 5-acres across the street from the temple which has a large mobile home for $130,000, providing rental income towards mortgage payment.
  • Purchased a 36-foot trailer for $3,000 to accommodate devotees.
  • Received a 26-foot trailer from Bruce to accommodate devotees, valued at $3,000.
  • Purchased a beautiful cedar gazebo to protect Srila Gurudeva’s Puspa Samadhi. Cost of over $3,500. The roofing was kindly donated and installed by Vaisnava prabhu.
  • Received Srila Gurudeva’s maha paraphernalia including His mattress, writing cushion, shoes, etc. from Radha Kanta prabhu and Ratikala didi.
  • Received a vehicle from Gopanandini didi, which we traded the Kirtaniyas for their gas efficient 4-door Toyota Corolla.
  • Purchased a wood chipper/shredder for about $2,000. This is an invaluable tool for self-sustainability. A permaculture must.
  • Purchased a commercial Hobart dough mixer for $850.
  • Purchased a new cooking stove for $814, out of necessity for big programs and daily offerings.
  • Purchased curtains/backdrop/carpet pads for pavilion for about $800. The $400 carpet pad was donated by Naveen Krsna prabhu. Previously curtains were rented each year for nearly $300.
  • Purchased necessary festival infrastructure including canopies, extension cords, sinks, hoses, tools, paint, ninja blender, etc. for over $600.
  • Purchased boxes of books for sankirtan for $500. They pay for themselves when distributed. We only have a few boxes left!
  • Purchased a sound system for about $500, which we use almost every day. Bruce donated a recording system, valued at over $400. Now we don’t have to rent or borrow these valuable tools.
  • Purchased over $500 in manure for garden, which was at a huge discount. A neighbor also donated 5 large truckloads of goat manure.
  • Purchased and installed a new woodstove for $300, with a heat-reclaiming fan. Saves wood consumption and work in excess of $400 annually. The woodstove also doubles as a cooking stove by its unique design.
  • Purchased a pressure washer for approximately $320.
  • Purchased a granite plaque for Srila Gurudeva’s Puspa Samdhi for approximately $250.
  • Purchased a printer/scanner/copier for $125.
  • Purchased a deep freezer for $75, valued at over $250.

Seva and Projects Completed

  • Administration was created. Board of Directors: Nityananda prabhu, Uddhava prabhu, and Vrindaban prabhu; Financial Advisory Board: Vishwambhar prabhu and Iksvaku prabhu, Project Advisory Board: Nanda Gopal prabhu, Manjuvasini didi, Yajnoprabhokta prabhu, and Temple Board: includes those who live in the ashram. These Boards were created with much guidance and thoughtful deliberation. Many others are consulted regularly.
  • Registered New Braj with the state and federal government as a 501(c)(3) federally tax-exempt public church nonprofit organization.
  • Sripad Tirtha Maharaj performed a fire jajna to bless and bring auspiciousness for the project and he installed Sudarshan Chakra on the temple.
  • Produced a body of literature to support New Braj administration i.e. – Mission Statement, Release of Liability Form, Guest Registration Form, Rules of Conduct, etc.
  • Srila Gurudeva’s Puspa Samadhi installation. The first in the west.
  • Began construction on the Puspa Samadhi site by constructing a cedar gazebo, carefully landscaping, and installing a fountain.
  • Paid mortgage, taxes, and insurance on temple property in excess of $54,000.
  • Maintained monthly expenses of approximately $4,200.
  • Began energy and lakshmi conservation measures i.e.- reduced phone bill by more than 60% and PG&E electric bill by more than 25%.
  • Set up a ‘New Braj’ mailing address: PO Box 155 Three Rivers, CA 93271.
  • Phone number was created (858) 232-6902 for New Braj, Inc. with voicemail.
  • Created Facebook profile: New Braj; to stay connected with rest of world.
  • Created our website: newbraj.com.
  • Put most bills into the name of New Braj, Inc.
  • Opened several bank accounts to help manage our funds. This includes a Bank of America ‘Virtual Terminal’, where we process debit and credit cards.
  • We rented a backhoe for one week for many projects including the excavation of Srila Gurudeva’s Puspa Samadhi site for a cost of over $1,500.
  • Property improvements- i.e. defective glass door was replaced, new ceiling fans installed, changed all doorknobs inside, outside lights installed, painted whole temple inside…
  • Pressure washed just about everything in New Braj.
  • Stained the deck on the upper house on temple property, improves longevity and looks great.
  • Expanded and excavated pads for parking lots and future greenhouse, etc.
  • Bought lumber and constructed stages/seating for the pavilion.
  • More than tripled the size of the vegetable and flower gardens with newly installed water pipes and faucets.
  • Painted all outbuildings around the property including cow barn.
  • Started the publication of New Braj Village, our periodic newsletter.
  • Expanded our on-site residency. Devotees from all over the world have come and stayed in New Braj. We can now host 4 times more guests, on a permanent basis.
  • Installed new fence around pool for about $300. We also posted 3 up-to-code signs around the pool, donated by Lola didi.
  • Repairs and upgrades on studio with built in book locker, closet, and more beds.
  • New fencing and fence repair on cow pastures and barn.
  • Temple room closet was removed to create much more space for programs.
  • Built new altar for Gaura-Nitai, which is now in line with Radha-Govinda.
  • Improvement for the deities such as new lights, backdrops, camaras, paraphernalia, etc.
  • The Sri Guru Parampara was mounted on a nice oak backdrop in temple room.
  • Planted strawberries and bulbs along the driveway and the terraced hillside by the pavilion.
  • More than 10 local devotees attended a 3-day permaculture course to aid temple gardening projects and sustainable land development.
  • Built a greenhouse for garden starts, summer peppers and winter crops.
  • Orchard was professionally pruned for $200.
  • Built our first donation box.
  • Pumped septic system for the first time in over 10 years which cost $450.
  • Created volleyball court for community fun days.
  • Installed permanent signs along road to indicate location of New Braj for our visitors, at the bottom of the driveway and at the nearest crossroad.

Continued and New Programs

  • Hosted 16th and 17th Annual Hari Katha Festival with around 400-500 devotees per day on the weekends.
  • Started regular Sunday feast programs.
  • Continued daily Srimad Bhagavatam classes.
  • Continued programs like Gaura Purnima, Guru Purnima, Baladeva Purnima, Janmastami, Radhastami, Annakuta Maha Mohatsava Govardhana Festival, etc.
  • Restarted the Badger Rathayatra, after 17 years of dormancy, with a new beautiful handmade cart. The materials cost about $1,000 in which Darpraha prabhu and his helpers created a work of beauty.
  • Hosted numerous sadhus, preachers, and guests including: BV Sripad Tirtha Maharaj, Srimati Umarani didi, BV Avadhuta Maharaj, BV Vishnu Maharaj, BV Padmanabha Maharaj, BV Sajjan Maharaj, Sriman Ramachandra prabhu, and many more.
  • Maintained Srila Gurudeva’s bhajan kutir and garden as holy places of pilgrimage.
  • Hosted our first bhakti yoga retreat for women.
  • Began semi regular temple istagostis.
  • Developed closer interpersonal/working relationships within the community through workshops given in New Braj.
  • Began regular meetings for Board of Directors, Advisory Board, and Temple Board.
  • Continued the care of our 3 beloved cows, peacocks and Dasi the dog as well as the other living entities in New Braj with the help of Nirguna prabhu, Nilacila didi, Niscintya didi and others.

In The Works

  • We researched solar energy and got bids on installation for whole property. This is one huge step towards self-sufficiency.
  • Get monthly pledges up to self-sufficiency levels, which is about $5,000 per month. We are currently receiving about $3,000 from monthly donations, including mortgage and rent payments. Generous individuals have covered the shortfall over the last 2 years.
  • The temple property will be put into a trust, once the remaining $200,000 is fully paid off, so it will never be sold.
  • Collect remaining pledges for Puspa Samadhi.
  • Finish developing a ‘master plan’ for property and get county approval.
  • Build more cabins to host guests.
  • Host 24-Hour Kirtan on December 21-22, 2012.
  • Host a Japa Retreat in the summer of 2013.
  • Start businesses to help maintain self-sufficiency, such as prasadam distribution, production and sales of fruits and vegetables, soap making, retreats, merchandise, etc.
  • Continue expanding garden and landscaping. This will provide more organic fresh food for the community. We can also sell produce at farmers markets, local stores, and restaurants.
  • Continue to help develop the “Golden Triangle” of Bay Area/ New Braj/ LA yatras.
  • Revamp New Braj website.
  • Hook up with WWOOFers and other international community websites.
  • Get accounting system set up online.
  • Help to facilitate monthly istagosi for all residents in New Braj Mandala.
  • Construct bunk beds for ashram, retreats, and more guests.
  • Develop stronger loving, affectionate relationships.
  • Study grant writing and non-profit management.
  • Compile a New Braj cookbook.
  • Create audio and visual productions in New Braj.
  • Cow seva opportunities.
  • Complete a written inventory of the whole temple property with labels & photos to be put on record.
  • Community fun days such as hiking, camping, team sports, swimming in rivers and lakes, art projects, and much more.
  • Create more New Braj merchandise and memorabilia.
  • Organic certification.
  • Create an heirloom seed bank.

Wish List (with approximate cost)

  • Reach necessary pledges in order to maintain monthly expenses ($5,000 per month).
  • Pay off mortgage for temple property ($200,000).
  • Pay off 5-acres across street ($135,000).
  • Men/Women bathhouse with 10 toilets and showers ($40,000), 5 for women and 5 for men. We all know the need for this. It will make New Braj much more dynamic and hospitable.
  • Commercial kitchen ($50,000), so much can come form this, especially future businesses and large-scale prasadam distribution.
  • Acquire a milk cow ($3,500 plus monthly expenses).
  • Apply for a ‘Special Uses’ permit from Tulare County officials ($5,000), so we can expand programs and host even more guests.
  • Purchase electric generator ($5,000).
  • Purchase a water storage tank with at least a 20,000-gallon capacity ($5,000).
  • Purchase a riding mower ($3,000).
  • Purchase a hand pump for well ($2,000).
  • Install floor in temple ($2,000-10,000), linoleum, wood, or tile.
  • Construct a sound studio ($15,000).
  • Make curtains for Srila Gurudeva’s room, temple room, etc. ($800).
  • Purchase a new washer and dryer ($800).
  • Tulsi greenhouse ($500).
  • Purchase a push lawnmower ($500).
  • Purchase a safe for protecting important documents, items, and valuables of guests ($400).
  • Purchase a rug for Srila Gurudeva’s room ($300).
  • Purchase a vacuum cleaner ($250).

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6 Responses to New Braj Update – Progress Report

  1. Swami BV Vaikhanasb December 11, 2012 at 12:00 PM #

    Simply amazing. I recall when the continued existence of New Braja was in doubt because of financial concerns and a lack of long range plan. Your commitment to this project and your teamwork and boundless energy and optimism have protected this place of Srila Gurudeva’s lila. But more than that, you have developed a vision to bring this holy tirtha into greater prominence and activity than ever before.

    How about presenting a picture essay so we can see with our eyes the members of your team and the work you are doing? I haven’t been to New Braja since 2003 and would love to see what is happening.

    Thank you for sharing this with us.

  2. Sudevi Geary December 11, 2012 at 4:43 PM #

    I am so impressed! You’re an inspiration and I’d love to come visit your haven one day soon.

  3. Sarojini didi December 12, 2012 at 8:52 AM #

    You guys are so organised and dedicated! I’d love to visit one day :)

  4. gadadhara das December 14, 2012 at 4:12 AM #

    Affectionate respects Uddhav prabhu,
    Appreciation for enthusiasm and dedication to all devotees involved.
    I use our Badger sanga regularly as example of the sterling results from AC Bhaktivedanta Swami, Srila Prabhupada and beloved Srila Gurudev.
    Aspiring sevak,
    Gadadhara das

  5. Srimati Umarani didi December 14, 2012 at 11:40 AM #

    Beloved New Braj Sevakvrinda team,

    All glories to Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga and all glories to Sri Sri Radha Vinode Bihariji.

    I became extremely happy hearing your report. Your report has really touched my heart. New Braj Seva project that you all are doing is Gurudeva’s Seva. Whatever effort you all are giving for New Braj (most dearest place of Gurudev in the West), for that Gurudev is always seeing your service and how pleased he is becoming. Always remember that what you all are doing is done by causeless mercy and blessings of Srila Gurudev.

    I remember few years ago when devotees mentioned that they may have to sell New Braj property. This had made me very sad. I appreciate very much your service to save Gurudev’s Tirtha and making so many beautiful improvements. Gurudev inspire all of your heart that with more and more enthusiasm mood you can serve New Braj project.

    I have been very fortunate to be able to come to New Braj Festival for past 5 years but I am not sure if I will come this year due to expiring my Visa.

    My heartily blessings to all the Sevakvrinda and all the devotees of New Braj.

    Your ever well-wisher,

    Sri Guru- Vaisnave padapadme charan renu seva abhilasini,
    Uma didi

  6. Madhukantha das January 6, 2013 at 2:22 PM #

    Beautiful, I just wish I could go there , Pictures would be very nice like Swami BV Vaikhanas
    says we all would like to see the progress
    Pranaams.

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