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Pioneering Devotees Open a Retreat Center in Western Texas as a Spiritual Oasis
By Thomas Haribol, ISKCON News Managing Editor   |  Июл 15, 2023

Nearly 100 devotees came together for the commencement of The Bhagavata Academy.

On a peaceful 20-acre tract of land in Sealy, Texas, about an hour west of Houston, a few pioneering devotees have established The Bhagavata Academy Spiritual Retreat Center. It aims to create an immersive setting focused on transcendental education and spiritual nourishment, a kind of detox from the material world.

The Vision
The vision for the spiritual oasis came after years of contemplation and planning by one of its founders, Vatsala Dasa. He and his wife Shashikala Devi Dasi (along with their two children) were introduced to Krishna Consciousness in 1972 in San Francisco, where he was initiated a year later. They have served all over the world, from Berkeley, CA, to the Philippines, Hong Kong, Hawaii, Utah, and North Carolina, to name a few. Vatsala served as Temple President in both Los Angeles and Hawaii. They lived in Texas previously before starting this latest project in Sealy.

Seeing a need for this kind of spiritual oasis, Vatsala shared his vision with Probeer Dasa of Katy, TX (mid-way between the property and Houston), who saw a path to realizing their dream. The current property was acquired, and they began earnestly developing the infrastructure for hosting events and guests.

Vatsala Dasa and his wife Shashikala Devi Dasi.

Opening Event
In May, nearly 100 devotees came together for the commencement of The Bhagavata Academy. The celebratory day was marked by kirtans, a presentation on chanting, devotional performances on an outdoor stage, and ending with a prasada feast. “The amount of support and encouragement offered by the attending devotees was so appreciated and certainly increased the enthusiasm for the resident devotees working full time on the property,” said Bhaktin Kimberly, who, along with her family, is a resident at the center.

Bhaktas Bradley and Kimberly with two girls, Ganga and Sarasvati.

Kimberly came to Krishna Consciousness about five years ago through reading Prabhupada’s books. “Vatsal Prabhu and his wife were some of the very first devotees I came into contact with, and I immediately connected with them. Just two weeks after meeting them, I was buying a house near them in Warne, North Carolina, where I attended their morning program every day for two years.” Then she moved with them to California, Hawaii, and Texas with her two young daughters. Kimberly married before this latest move to Texas, and the family now lives at the retreat center. “I have always believed in Vatsal Prabhu’s vision for a spiritual retreat center, and I am convinced there is no better way to spend my time and resources than here supporting this project.”

Current Offerings
Regular morning and evening programs are currently being held at the center, and special outreach events are planned. The guest house is now ready for visitors who would like to experience a short-term stay and can accommodate several people. A second guest house is under construction. “We have a vegetable garden, blueberries, figs, and many lovely fragrant flowers. Cultivating these areas is an educational, meditative, and therapeutic activity for guests,” said Vatsala.

The Next Phase
The project’s next phase is constructing a small village using CEB (compressed earth bricks) consisting of cottages to house guests, housing for residents, and a kirtan hall of approximately 1,000 sq. ft., including a kitchen. “We purchased a compressed earth brick machine from a devotee in Prabhupada Village, NC. It can make about 1000 bricks a day,” noted Vatsala.

Upcoming Kid’s Bhakti Retreat
The Bhagavata Academy is holding its first annual Kid’s Bhakti Retreat this summer for ages 6-10, July 28-30. “The kids will attend a morning program suited for their age group and during the day learn skills like kirtan, playing musical instruments, and cooking,” said Kimberly, “There will be organized recreation and agricultural activities as well, and parents can pick them up early Sunday afternoon in time for the Sunday feast at the Houston Temple. Last weekend in July.

To learn more about the upcoming Kid’s Retreat and how you may support this unique initiative, visit their сайт., или эл. почта .

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