A new project, The Pilgrimage, is providing luxury spiritual retreats and online education for corporate clients, while also offering ISKCON devotees the chance to earn a living amongst Vaishnava peers.
Founder Sandipani Muni Das (Kal Key), originally from Coventry in the UK, worked on Wall Street before a visit to the sacred village of Vrindavan, India changed his life. An encounter with a holy man there, who lived so simply yet was ready to share everything he had, gave Sandipani Muni a new appreciation for the important things in life.
“I’m not saying that material things don’t make you happy,” he says in a promotional video for The Pilgrimage. “I’m saying that they just don’t fulfill you. If you want to find fulfillment, if you want to make a difference, then you first need to explore where you came from, and what happens at the end. Whether it’s the pilgrimage, a holiday, a vacation, take the time to discover who you really are. Because time isn’t waiting. If you’re not asking those questions, if you’re not exploring the point of your life, you’re wasting it.”
The setting will feature stunning views of the Austrian Alps
Wanting to get out of the rat race and make a difference himself, Sandipani Muni began by starting his own learning consultancy business, training investment bankers and other corporate clients in leadership and stress management. But he still felt somewhat dissatisfied, because he was not able to fully pursue his passion of sharing bhakti-yoga philosophy in the corporate sphere.
This is where his new company, The Pilgrimage, comes in. A bhakti version of online education platforms like Mindvalley or Masterclass, https://www.thepilgrimage.com/ promises to nourish clients’ body, mind and soul, promote relationships and connections with oneself and others, and guide one on a journey to inner wellbeing, authenticity, spirituality and profound purpose.
The website will offer readymade video workshop series on topics like vegetarian cooking; mindfulness; and yoga. Each series will come with an e-book, homework and a chance for an online one-on-one with a teacher.
Members of The Pilgrimage team (left to right) Balaram Perez, Sandipani Muni Das (Kal Key), and Kavi Sivyer
While these workshops are still in the pipeline, set to be launched next year, the core of The Pilgrimage will be its luxury retreats for corporate clients, the first of which will run from May 13th to 17th this year in the Austrian Alps.
To ensure a comfortable, quality experience, a maximum of fifteen to twenty participants, mostly from the U.S. and UK, will attend the retreat at a hotel in picturesque Weissenseerhof, two hours’ drive from Vienna.
As with The Pilgrimage’s online education, the focus of the retreat will be wellbeing of the body, mind and soul.
“For the body, there’ll be yoga and exercise; for the mind, there will be different workshops on mindfulness; and for the soul, there will be kirtan and reading of the Bhakti Sastras,” says Head of Reteats Balaram Peréz, who formerly organized retreats for Bhaktivedanta Manor.
The retreat will include yoga classes
There will also be workshops on personality types, leadership, kindness and gratitude, as well as Ayurvedic cooking classes.
“We’ve brought on exceptional cooks Radhika Anderson from the UK, and Sankirtan from France, whose mom and grandmother have both cooked for Srila Prabhupada,” Balaram says. “They’ll talk about the right food to eat for people with different body types according to Ayurveda, and figure out eating plans for everyone on the retreat. They’ll also talk a little bit about conscious cooking, and offering food to Krishna.”
The Pilgrimage expects to hold just two retreats in 2020, but plans to facilitate four every following year, usually in beautiful natural spots around the world. Eventually, it will organize literal pilgrimages in sacred places like the St Francis Way in Italy, Camino de Santiago in Spain, and holy mountains in Tibet.
“It’s a way to share bhakti yoga with a very non-sectarian approach,” Balaram says. “We’ll bring in teachings that share the same values as bhakti, but from a variety of different places.”
Team members of The Pilgrimage -- the company hires young devotees
The Pilgrimage’s UK branch, run by Sandipani Muni, and its U.S. branch in New York, run by his brother Neel Madhav, both hire skilled young ISKCON devotees to create online content and teach at retreats. As well as Balaram, Radhika and Sankirtan, these include Radhika’s brother Madhva Anderson as kirtan facilitator, Rupa Patel as mindfulness facilitator, his wife Komala Kumari Mayshark as relationships facilitator, Kavi Sivyer as head of online education, Sundari Riccio as Ayurveda facilitator, and more.
“I think this project will be great for the devotee community – it will give them an ability to be part of something purposeful, and will also help them financially,” says Balaram.
As far as the benefit to corporate clients, he explains: “In one really inspiring class, Srila Prabhupada said that if the leaders of society take up bhakti-yoga, even if they’re just 0.01% of the population, naturally everyone else will follow. So our hope with the pilgrimage is to reach the leaders of society. Because if they have a bhakti perspective, then that will definitely make the world a better place to live in.”
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For more information, please visit https://www.thepilgrimage.com/[ pilgrimage ] [ retreat ]