Nate Natesan is the CEO and founder of Swacch Devalaya. He has been running this seva for about 10 years in various temples around Atlanta.
Nate Natesan- Firm believer that educated Indians in US & western countries can achieve Swacch Devalaya’s . Swacch Devalaya is time well invested.
Each year CNN receives thousands of nominations for CNN Heroes out of which it selects 25 and honors ten Everyday individuals doing extraordinary things to change the world. In 2016 Atlanta resident Nate Natesan was nominated by over 700 families for this prestigious honor. People consider Nate as “our Atlanta hero”, doing what no one wants to do. Nate, is living Mahatma Gandhi's words "Be the change you want to see in the world". Nate has been putting our sandals in racks and promoting awareness to keep temples clean. He believes purity of soul begins with self-discipline.
Nate Natesan is the pioneer of world-wide Swacch Devalaya reform movement. The movement started in 2006 initially at various sathsangh events, then at temples and social media. Facebook: Swacch Devalaya and Nate Natesan
Nate’s Vision - Swacch Devalaya– Swacch Manasalaya – Swacch Bharat. (Swacch Manasalaya – Self-Introspection prayer to evolve overcoming our vasanas, failings and temptation. (See Facebook cover photo)
- Launched swacch devalaya in Facebook and various temples in June 2014 (Nate visits near-by temples regularly at peak hours and temples far away for festivals. Nate also visits various social events in the community to promote awareness to discipline.
- The movement to promote self-discipline and self-esteem is gaining momentum with organic change and awareness among children too for 5S (sort, straighten, shine, standardize, sustain) which is ingrained in the Japanese and western culture and corporate America.
- Over 1000 families expressed eagerness to nominate Nate as CNN hero including many new people he meets at temples
- Major temples in Atlanta have embraced swacch devalaya in concept and honored Swacch Devalaya https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmud9GiQbYE
- Nate introduced Numbered Bag System to augment rack capacity.
- TV Asia USA/Canada, covered the story in Dec. 2014, shot at Shirdi Sai mandir. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKMpPMGB1VQ
- Please visit theinnerview.org by Viju Chilluveru a free-lance journalist
- NRI Pulse a local newspaper covered the story in Aug. 2014 -http://www.nripulse.com/swacch-devalaya-lets-keep-our-temples-clean/
- Maharashtra Mandal Atlanta spontaneously honors Nate at 2016 Ganesh Utsav event, inviting him to the podium to address a large audience who gladly complied with swacch devalaya getting the message from the vest Nate wears.
- Gujarati Samaj garba attended by about 5000 people got to know Swacch Devalaya Mission as Nate quietly walked around the huge hall wearing his vest and distributing the flier to many. Many people took pictures with him.
- In 2017 March Nate launches Swacch Devalaya in Ambhaji shakti Mandir near Atlanta airport, 50 miles away from his home & the temple honors and recognizes his dedication to the cause.
- Nate is blessed by his guru Swamini Svatmavidyananda, (disciple of Pujya Swami Dayanand Saraswati) for his role in promoting Swacch Devalaya and Swacch Manasalaya. Swamini has known Nate from 2006 he started the movement.
When asked what inspired him to start Swacch Devalaya movement he says it was at the Sunday Bal-Vihar classes where he was struck by the mess of sandals thrown on floor carelessly without any concern for cleanliness, or order or safety from trip and fall. Without a thought he started arranging sandals neatly on the floor. Thus Swacch Devalaya was launched and the name coined from Swacch Bharat in 2014. Until 2014 Nate arranged the sandals by himself which enables him to stand tall at temples and manage a large throng of devotees and ensure all sandals are kept in rack or numbered bags. He still does arrange sandals neatly when necessary and offers to help people who may need help.
Nate says we teach yoga to the world. But we lack internal discipline. Patanjali’s yoga sutra prescribes yama and Niyama for internal
discipline as the first two step followed by good postures, correct breathing, control of senses, meditation, control over mind and finally Moksha.
Nate’s compassion for his brothers and sisters inspires him be committed to this reform movement. He fearlessly drives the movement to raise awareness to civic sense, to inculcate discipline and cleanliness at all places including leaving sandals neatly lined with care at social parties, driving and parking cars in an orderly way, standing patiently in a single line for aarti and Prasad, respecting rules to maintain the sanctum of temple and public property neat as we want others to respect ours, respecting other’s space and not leaving sandals over other sandals just as we do not run our dogs on neighbor’s lawn.
There is organic change say people, children are better organized at home and people think of Nate wherever the question of cleanliness and order arise. Nate says we are proud of our Hindu heritage and culture and the highest values depicted in our scriptures, but forget Hinduism is a way of life that must be honored and practiced.
Every NRI knows about Swacch Bharat. Nate wants the same awareness in every NRI for swacch devalaya. He is looking for support in promoting awareness in social media from people, community leaders, our Mahatmas and world-wide leaders of spiritual and Seva based institutions. The double standard we follow is very disturbing to many and people are crying for change. With awareness people take pride in putting sands in rack. If we cannot promote cleanliness among educated people at temples in the western world where there is a system in place and high civic sense Swacch Bharat seems a pipe dream. Nate has approached several leaders including Indian ambassador to the US for getting help from Swacch Barat team with little success. Nate does not belonging to any social or cultural Association and is cheered from the sidelines by devotees, temple management and all the priest hailing his “noble” work. Nate is a familiar figure at various temples and events in Atlanta wearing a Swacch devalaya vest.
As Winston Churchill said, tasks that seem ordinary, can turn everyday people into heroes. Nate says “We have to come out of the box. We put everyone in a box and thus end up in a box. We need grow out of apathy and inhibitions and not blindly follow the crowd. There are plenty of social causes to be addressed. Money does not solve never ending problems.
Nate believes in “Just Do it” (karmani eva adhikaraste, maa phaleshu kadachana ) and “Leaving the lights on for all. He opens the heavy doors for devotees at the temples to open his heart to one and all. He says he has many failings to overcome and he has a long way to go towards evolving. When asked about his spiritual sadhanas he said I don’t want to just keep dribbling the basket-ball, I want to share and pass the ball to play in God’s team.