Overview of Brahma Kumaris

THE ORGANISATION

Brahma Kumaris was established in India in 1936 by a wealthy Indian jeweller, known as ‘Brahma Baba’ [his real name is hard to pronounce], who claimed to have received a series of revelations from God. Today they have a large self-contained headquarters in Mount Abu, Northern India. The group had spread to Europe by the 1960’s and today has about 50 centres for study and meditation in Britain, with many more all over the world.

It has a large headquarters in London and obtained charity status in September 1975. Its working charity name is “BKWSU” but has also been known in the past as “Brahma Kumans World Spiritual University (UK)” and “World Renewal Spiritual Trust (UK).” They are also known as the “World Spiritual Organisation.”

It is financed by willing contributions from members, many of them wealthy, and according to the Charity Commissioners, in 2002 their total income was £2,855,758 and their total expenditure only £630,673.

They have their own web site. They do not advertise their central aims or belief system, but offer methods to achieve “peace in a peace less world.” This is through the courses for yoga meditation that they advertise, not only on their site but also in local papers, yellow pages, and “Mind Body Spirit” type exhibitions. These courses are free of charge and usually consist of a seven part course, followed by deeper study as the student progresses.

Homes are created for those enrolling in order to segregate male and female students.

They are known to hold interfaith gatherings and at one time were even granted consultative status within the UN.

They tend to escape being called ‘a cult,’ due to the emphasis on their charitable works, which conceal a central religious theme.

BELIEFS

In 1936, ‘Brahma Baba’ was shown that the end of the present age is imminent and the revelations went on to explain all human and universal history, with its pure beginnings and its final destruction. It explained at length the system of disciplines the elect would have to perfect, in order to purify their souls and qualify a place after death, in the new regenerated world to come. They would in effect reincarnate into new pure bodies and live during the dawn of the pure new “Golden Age” of heaven on earth; a kind of Adam and Eve society, and the seed of the next cycle of human existence.

KARMA

Based upon a fine tuned traditional Hindu belief, the revelations claimed that God created only perfection. But gradually man’s negative Karma [bad actions] dragged all creation down a path to eventual destruction. After the death of every person and the total collapse of the universe, God would create a new heaven and earth, identical in every detail to the last.

RAJA YOGA

The means to obtain a place in this new world is through Raj Yoga (Royal Yoga) – see further discussion of this below – and every student seeks to purify his/her soul so as to automatically qualify for a place in the “Golden Age” to come. As each cycle of history is believed to be identical, throughout eternity, failure to reach this goal means failure in every cycle. To achieve a little purification, they believe will mean rebirth sometime later in the next cycle, when some of the world’s purity has gone. To make no attempt to purify our ‘dirty souls’ will mean rebirth at a period of misery and hardship. Those people prone to violence, hatred, materialism etc., can only receive rebirth at the hellish end of the world cycle. Having made no attempt to clean up their Karma, those souls it is believed are destined to remain in that ‘hell’ for all eternity, experiencing endless repetition of their own violent lives.

A Raj Yoga student is immediately taught to abandon all previous religious or spiritual beliefs; in favour of the ‘truth’ they will learn in the Brahma Kumaris. Consequently, reincarnation, and the complex laws of karma are taught and form the foundation to all other learning. They are taught that each cycle of world and universal history is only 5000 years. It is said that dating methods used by scientists are inaccurate, because they have no knowledge of the decay in the ‘purity’ of matter.

Students are taught that a soul can only be in one of two places; in the heavenly realms, bathing in god’s purifying love, like a rechargeable battery, or here on earth, experiencing life within a body, using the energy they have obtained from God. In this context it is taught, therefore, that demons, sprits and ghosts etc., simply cannot exist.

It is also taught that all people [souls] following a “path of Bakti”, that is the devotion to any of the prophets of the major and minor religions, will miss the “Golden Age” of heaven on earth, because they will automatically begin their succession of births during and after the life and works of that particular prophet. For example, they believe a Christian will only gain enough purity to begin their many lives at the time of Jesus ministry on earth. So a Christian soul experiences just 2000 years of world history, and a Buddhist soul, will begin their sequence of lives after the birth of Buddha.

It is believed that a very weak soul, may be able to follow nothing more than materialism and the celebrities of this age, and will only receive one or two births at the end of the cycle. For the rest of history they have been gradually recharging in heaven. In short, the balance of existence is this:

A soul spends a long time in heaven, but only a short period in a body on earth, or a short period in heaven, and a long period in many bodies on earth. The latter being the aim of a Raj Yoga student, who hopes to begin his/her many births at the dawn of time.

FINAL DESTRUCTION

One of the most important aspects of the Brahma Kumaris is its believed role during the final destruction of this world. Having followed the many processes of purification, detachment and dedication, each yogi is told he/she will transform into an angel while everything else is falling apart. Having become both a channel and vessel of God’s love, they believe the time is quickly coming when they will radiate peace to the terrified and perishing multitudes.

They believe that the authorities will use them on TV, and many will be transported in helicopters to areas of severe suffering. Along with the peace they bring, their task will be to remind those about to die, that they are a “soul” and not just a perishable body.

Students are taught that the millions with no particular faith will suffer badly. It is said that on death, their souls will have no direction to go, and will seek to possess the mind and bodies of those still living. In other words, the living will be temporarily possessed by the many souls of the dead. This will cause great suffering as many souls fight for control of the one mind and body. A student believes his/her purity will afford protection from this.

The revelations gave no specific date for the final destruction, but explained that it would come when every last soul had left heaven to express itself in a body here on earth. This time will coincide with the final and total perfection and purification of the Raj Yogis [who will then be almost angelic]. There will be a brief period of world war and destruction, and then the end will come.

There is however, just one clue as to when a Raj Yogi estimates the end will be. The spiritual source that provided the original revelations has made many manifestations since. The highest yogis in the HQ in India periodically allow themselves to be possessed by that same source. It speaks volumes through them. This is the information the students study. It is understood that these manifestations will become systematically less frequent as time gets shorter. Just before the end, they will stop altogether.

The reason for this, they say, is to prevent the yogis becoming too reliant upon the visits, and encourage them to “fly solo” so to speak, as the end draws near.

It is said that in the early days the visits were almost daily, more recently they have become very rare.

RAJ YOGA MEDITATION

It is believed that meditation is the central method of self purification. It is also used for relaxation and physical healing. Traditional yoga positions are not used. Both students and teachers sit in an upright manner in a chair, with the eyes usually kept open. General thoughts and emotions, and consciousness of the body, are brought to an absolute minimum. The meditator visualises him/herself as just a tiny pin-point of light – [this is believed to be what the soul looks like]. A mantra “I am a peaceful soul” is repeated silently. Often the Indian language equivalent is used which is “om shanty”. Meditation sessions can be for a few minutes or several hours at a time. Sometimes soft lighting and gentle music is played, incense is sometimes burned as well.

Meditation they believe connects ones soul to that of the “supreme soul,” God. Purification takes place as bad karma is burned away by God’s purity. Accomplished yogis claim to be able to leave their body during meditation, and claims of physical healing have also been made. For most students, a general sense of peace and stillness is experienced, resulting in mental and bodily refreshing.

It is also believed that when contact is made with God, rays of purity flow out from the yogi into the impure world. As purity negates impurity the world is gradually transformed, from the old dirty world into the new “Golden Age”.

Yogis claim that they see the supreme soul. This is described as a pin-point of bright light surrounded by an oval orange golden glow. Meditation rooms are sparsely furnished and with only instructional pictures on the walls. Sessions usually end with a chat and a cup of tea.

PEACE OF MIND THROUGH RAJ YOGA?

It appears that some dedicated yogis do achieve some kind of peace of mind, and a masterly control of their senses, desires and emotions. But most ordinary students just seem radically sobered by their discovery that death and destruction may only be a few years away. For those who may have felt that the world is heading for trouble, the discovery just serves to confirm their worst fears, and alters their outlook on life overnight.

Detachment, many hours of meditation and a deep resignation to events they cannot change, tend to have a numbing effect on the mind that might be interpreted as peace, or stillness of mind. A genuine belief in one’s entry into a “Golden Age” of heaven is an encouragement too, but it is hard to know if this can be called peace of mind.

Strangely there are side effects of this belief system that do at least release the follower from some of life’s general stress and anxiety. Believing, as they do, that they have very little time to live, reduces the importance of irritating trivia, long term financial commitment and the many small anxieties of the day. Those in difficult circumstances believe it will not go on too long.

Disconnection from pressures of materialism, and worldly values, helps, and detachment from ones own failing or loss gives a degree of freedom from self-pity. Detachment from success helps to illuminate pride. If the student masters the many disciplines concerning a humble, well-mannered and considerate attitude towards others, then some benefits are bound to be found. But if this all adds up to happiness and peace of mind is questionable.

DETACHMENT

In order to function properly in normal daily stress or extreme chaos, a student is first taught “detachment.”

This means to have mastered all unproductive and distracting thought and emotion. An accomplished yogi will have no interest in materialism, status or wealth. They will have broken all sentimental ties with their past memories, and will have no concern for the future. The present moment and present situation is all they will wish to be conscious of. All romantic or sentimental attachments to others will have been broken. To love people purely as a “person” is all that is required, and each person is to be seen as a “soul,” not a body.

It is believed that all emotion is simply destructive deviation from the natural stillness of a perfectly calm pure soul. This detachment can easily be seen as coldness, or even “zombie” like to others, although a good student should appear cheerful at all times.

In theory a yogi should have learned full detachment from all close emotional involvement, to the point of full acceptance concerning the destruction and death of their family and friends etc. They believe that each person’s character and talents will not be wasted but will continue in their next life. It is a yogi’s hope that their family will follow them after death into the new Golden Age, but they know that if this cannot be achieved they will at least be reborn in another body, somewhere. It is probable that a few of the most devoted yogis do achieve this degree of detachment, but for most, the death of loved ones, especially children, is rarely mentioned. In reality to break those bonds was too much to deal with.

TEACHING ON JESUS

As with the founders of all major religions, Jesus is a much respected teacher and prophet. They do not believe in resurrection, as this does not comply to the theory of reincarnation. They do not believe He was sinless; (1) this is because they teach that suffering is the result of wrongdoing either in this life or a previous existence. It is well documented that Jesus suffered greatly, therefore He cannot have been sinless.

It is believed that He was crucified, but they teach that He survived His wounds and climbed from the cross to continue His work. It is said that after His natural death He began the usual sequence of reincarnations into many bodies right up to this day. He is probably now an obscure, but fairly religious person, obtaining His spiritual knowledge from Raj Yoga courses. It is likely that the same is thought of other major prophets.

They do not believe Jesus, or anyone else, could atone or remove the bad karma (sin) of any other person. They believe, as each individual brought about their own sin, it is up to them to reduce and remove it. This they say can only be done through meditation, and pure thought and deed.

It was taught that praying is not effective, apart from any meditative value it may produce. They do not believe Jesus is with God in any way, but believe their own original founder “Brahma Baba” is completely alone in the heavenly realms, directing Raj Yoga souls at work out of their bodies. (2) This is believed because they say that only “Brahma Baba” reached the state of 100% purity which meant he could not be reborn into any impure body on earth.

WHY DO PEOPLE JOIN AND WHY IS IT HARD TO LEAVE?

People join usually out of curiosity, and lured by claims to provide methods of Yoga, meditation for peace of mind, and general wellbeing.

Why is it difficult to leave? First, it must be said that many do leave quite quickly and easily because it does not fit the ‘yoga and candles’ type of image they may have expected. There is too much study for many, but a long-term student may find it hard to shake off or replace the belief system – it is very convincing.

A student believes that to abandon the system will ensure they are trapped in an eternal repeating life cycle of misery and hardship. All other faiths will have been discredited. Hobbies and general interests may have been lost, relationships may have been lost or badly damaged. The student is likely to feel he/she knows a deep dark truth about the immediate future, but has no one to confide in, or even take them seriously.

Also they believe that during meditation, God’s rays of purity radiate from them destroying evil in the world. To stop meditation means one is doing nothing to change the evil world into the new Golden Age where all suffering has passed.

Some students may come to the conclusion that if the central spiritual source of Raj Yoga is something or someone other than God; they may be in great danger by leaving.

The sheer intensity of study and meditation, makes trying to return to a normal life very difficult. A student may find nothing to replace this. If they still believe the end of the world is rapidly approaching, normal life after leaving is very difficult.

RELIGIOUS BOOKS

A Rag Yogi believes that all the major religions are an expression of God’s love and concern for the human race. However, it is said that man has misunderstood, altered and added much to the various written scriptures and that these alterations and additions are the cause of much confusion. It is taught that the Bible is an expression of God’s love for His people, with an emphasis on the importance of forgiveness. But it is thought that the early writers took it too far by saying that forgiveness and redemption could come the way the Bible explains it.

It is believed that the Gita is the nearest to the truth concerning man’s path through time and existence, although even this book, men have added to, over the years. They believe that the writings and arts depicting the ancient Greek legends of heroes, heroines and people of superhuman strength and beauty, is a subconscious recollection of life in the pure Golden Age, at the dawn of time.

DOCTRINE THAT IS HARD FOR AN EX RAJ YOGI TO DISPEL

Jesus said “My sheep hear my voice.” The Brahma Kumaris do not dispute this at all, but add that Buddhists will hear Buddha’s voice; Mohammed’s sheep will hear his voice and so on. To illustrate this two stories are sometimes told.

On a farm, an old cow-man is ill one day, and so sends the boy out to milk the cattle. The boy enters the field shouting commands, pushing and hitting he cows with a stick. Consequently the cows scatter all over the field. Seeing the commotion from his window the old cow-man gets out of bed and simply opens the gate quietly. Having done it hundreds of times, the cows automatically wander through the gate and head towards the milking sheds.

This illustrates that each soul has its home and will simply go there automatically

On various islands millions of birds gather each year to lay their eggs and rear their young. Soon the islands are covered with baby birds and their parents. Above the constant din however the parent bird can recognise the call of its own young, and the young instinctively know the call of their parent. This they say illustrates that each soul instinctively hears and follows the call of his/her spiritual parent. That being one of the prophets or for a Raj Yogi it will be the call of God alone – because his/her soul begins its travel in the golden age long before the emergence of prophets.

MURLIS

Murli comes from the Hindi word for flute. They are considered to be the words of God, by this they mean Shiva, spoken through the medium of Brahma Baba. Most Murlis are not available to the public but they contain all the primary teachings of the Brahma Kumaris. However, controversy exists over just how much of the Murlis are Shiva speaking and how much are Brahma speaking. Their are a wide variety of opinions but the ‘official’ line would be that Brahma Baba’s words are to be equal to Shiva’s. Further discussion of this can be found on the Brahma Kumaris website.

This has also led to some confusion though because as also admitted on the Brahma Kumaris site there are a number of archived editions of these words now available on the Internet and these have “raised significant anomalies in the history of the teaching of the philisophy…”. This whole area does throw into doubt who has been actually speaking to them and indeed if what was said could be relied upon.

OTHER ISSUES

A Raj Yogi will often use the phrase “om shanty.” It means “I am a peaceful soul”. It is used as a greeting to others – a mantra – and a note of encouragement when things do not appear to be going to plan.

This can be seen on T Shirts and car stickers etc. It is simply a reminder of the belief that underneath all the grime of bad karma, each person is a pure happy soul.

SOUL GENDER

They believe that the soul has no gender, but is a combination of all female and male traits. It is understood that the soul expresses its male and female characteristics alternately in each life. Thus when a man dies, he is reborn in the body of a female baby. When that old lady dies, she is born into the body of a male baby, and so on.

God, the “Supreme Soul” remains a constant combination of all good male and female traits.

SOUL TYPES

It is said that a human soul remains human eternally. A bird’s soul, or animal soul, remains within its species type, as do all life types. Due to karmic recorded experience it is totally impossible for a cross soul migration.

GENERAL DISCIPLINES

It is believed that once inner purity and total self control have been mastered, there will be no longer any desires. Sexual intercourse will be used only to produce babies. There should be no “pull” on the soul for unnecessary love of food or drinking. A good student will be vegetarian, teetotal and celibate – even in marriage. All general disciplines of self control, good will to others and peaceful mindedness at all times is to be followed.

To see where the belief system differs from Christianity, look at the article on Reincarnation.

To see the need for a change from the life of Brahma Kumaris see this testimony.

FOOTNOTES

(1) These notes were written by a former member of the Brahma Kumaris, however another member would disagree with this statement and explains it thus:

“In the case of Jesus we have the Jesus Soul,Impure (but not that impure as we would be today) and the brand new Christ Soul which is sinless (as you would say). The Christ Soul is brand new and straight from God – and has all the knowledge – at least the knowledge of his part of the cycle. When Jesus has the Christ Soul he has all the knowledge and is protected by Christ’s purity – he cannot be violated in any way – he can walk through the crowds of angry people and nobody can lay a finger on him.

However, when the Christ Soul has finished his mission, he leaves the body of Jesus and Jesus is left ‘unarmed’.(Oh Lord why have you forsaken me) He can be then crucified. The Christ Soul they say goes on to take a new body and will always be with the Christian religion – and play a major role in it right until the end of the cycle. Thus Christ will always be with his children – on earth.” … (return)

(2)The same former member would also disagree with this and says:

“In fact they say that Brahma Baba resided in three ‘subtle’ region between heaven and earth (a sort of in-between region!).No Soul can return to the Soul world until the end of the cycle – there are no exceptions – even Brahma Baba! (they teach).They point out that the religions are born in a similar way i.e. two Souls right to the end when things get so bad that God him(her) self has to descend and teach in the Body of Brahma Baba. This he does to this day (though less frequently and a senior sister is used as the medium).” … (return)

3. There is another group that goes under the name of “Prajapita Brahma Kumaris” and is made up of former Brahma Kumaris members. There is reported animosity between the two groups because the ‘Prajapita’ see themselves as being more ‘advanced’ in their beliefs. An in depth summary can be found at this website but in summary they teach:

1. Brahma Baba was the vehicle through which the ‘Supreme Soul’ played the part of the World Mother (Eve).

2. The part of the World Father is being played out in our day (April 2005) by a person in New Delhi.

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