At the request of the writer of this testimony no names are given however the original is held at head office.
Lured by their offer of “peace in a peace-less world” I entered Brahma Kumaris out of curiosity, and a desire to find a philosophy that made some kind of sense in a world posing very difficult questions. Brahma Kumaris ran a series of seven short introductory lessons through which the student would learn a basic belief system, which they assured would bring total peace of mind.
I had looked briefly into eastern religions when I had failed to grasp Christianity as a teenager, and picked up on their ideas very quickly. It was a “bitter-sweet” time, because on one hand I felt I had at last stumbled upon something that seemed to make a great deal of sense; but on the other I was shown, on their “god” inspired time charts, that we all had very little time left to live – as a parent of small children this was very distressing. I recall being advised not to get too attached to the children, because they probably had only about 2 years to live; this was about 13 years ago!
Had these people been fools there would be no need to take them, or their claims seriously. However, they tended to be some of the most genuine and intelligent people I had come across. Their philosophy fitted together like a perfectly complete jigsaw, and they seemed to have a genuine desire to help people cope with everyday pressures and ultimately their death in the soon approaching world collapse and destruction.
The belief in one’s imminent death has very strange effects, and it was only the hundreds of hours of meditation and the numbing effect of resignation to the unchangeable that enabled a student to remain functional and level-headed. The only thing to add to that was the need to believe one had a place in the new heavenly “Golden Age” to come.
To be honest, in the beginning I was more an observer than a true participant but the evidence mounted and you might say the brainwashing intensified until I saw no alternative but to believe. Even in hind sight it is safe to say that theirs is an absolutely masterly concept, appearing faultless in its design and pure ingenuity!
Students were of all ages and cultural backgrounds, and as such we were shown that by closely following the various disciplines we would gradually purify our own souls, in order to qualify at death, to reincarnate into a new and perfect body within the Golden Age that would follow the worlds (and universe) destruction.
Failure or back sliding would automatically result in one being reincarnated into a miserable and toilsome existence when the world cycle had moved once again into violence and pollution etc.
All the foundational disciplines of self-control, non-violence, non-materialism, loving and caring for others had to be followed, (which was not a bad thing) but then students were advised to become detached emotionally from husbands, wives, children and friends etc. Hobbies, pastimes, sports and general interests were not strongly discouraged but became automatically pointless under the new circumstances. All and any previous faiths or beliefs were totally undermined leaving the student nothing to hold on to other than the Brahma Kumaris’ doctrine. True followers had to be vegetarian, teetotal and celibate even within marriage.
Students could meditate for several hours a day and attend sittings where the “murlis” would be read to them. These were the channelled teachings and instructions obtained from their god. Reams of material were obtained when the god takes possession of one of the senior yogis in their HQ in India. He speaks out the information which is then recorded and then sent to all the Brahma Kumaris centres throughout the world.
The information covers all subjects from the mundane to the deepest knowledge of life and the universe, but there is always an emphasis on the coming world destruction and all that entails. Usually the “murli” would end with a word of encouragement for those Golden Age souls destined for pure happiness in the next incarnation.
The Major Prophets were discussed, and Jesus was counted in their number. It was explained that Jesus could never have taken away the sin or bad karma of any other person and this is where the Christian faith had gone wrong. Nonetheless Christians were liked and respected, but we were advised not to tell them the truth in case we upset them.
I used every opportunity to ask the senior yogis as many challenging questions as possible, and was never disappointed. They seemed to have, or be able to obtain through meditation great wisdom on all issues. Then something changed. I am not sure why but I began asking questions about Jesus Christ, His ‘sinless’ nature and resurrection etc. It was then that their response was noticeably naïve, even slightly ridiculous. I was not trying to force any point, as I had very little interest in Christianity, but the obvious inconsistencies were bothering me. About this time, the stress of living under the Brahma Kumaris death sentence, and trying to live a normal life was getting hard to cope with. Hardest of all was trying to associate with others, and their seemingly irrelevant concerns. It was impossible to care if the car was dented or that the coffee was short in the local store, when you believed that death and total destruction lay just around the corner.
The claim that Jesus was “sinless” and had, freely, taken away all the “bad karma” that I was in the difficult process of burning off myself, seemed very unlikely. Resurrection we were told was impossible, as He would have reincarnated. We were told that if Jesus “suffered” then He must have done something negative in His previous life to have earned that suffering. Quite a dilemma! So when I found a Bible I decided to look for myself and maybe see where Christians had got it all wrong. A few years in the Brahma Kumaris equips a student with a great ability to think and reason in spiritual terms. With this mind set I dug into the New Testament and was almost immediately bowled over by the discovery. I read at every opportunity and I knew a battle had begun. I had no real Christian contacts, had been told that prayer did not work and I had to break through about three years of intensive conditioning if there was any chance that I could accept anything I was discovering. The next 12 months or more was a whirlwind of fears, relief, believing, not believing, revelation, back sliding. I had revelatory dreams, yet was often afraid to sleep because of the dreadful nightmares too. I would have given anything to speak to a former member of Brahma Kumaris but I never found one, and no one else had even the faintest idea of what I was going through.
Gradually the wrestling match came to an end, and I just knew that Jesus was and is exactly who He says He is. I do not claim to fully understand the immensity of God’s act of loving salvation, but my own limited understanding knows that it is true; that the Bible is God’s Word and that the “small quiet voice” tells me to believe and enjoy!
It was a long time before I stopped thinking like a Brahma Kumaris (Raj Yogi) but my course was set. There were even times when I wondered what had come of Christianity, had I joined a sinking ship? My first experience of Church was a locked door on a wet winter’s night. Then a small gathering of old people that had no concept of my position. But I prayed, and believed and soon found a real Church.
I shall be ever grateful for the loving welcome I received in that Church, and all that followed, but even there I found it hard to explain the “mindset” I was still in the process of changing. I mention this only to remark how important it is that organisations such as Reachout Trust exist. I only wish I had known about them then!!
Lastly I wish to point out that I believe the followers of the Brahma Kumaris are sincere in their belief and aims. There is no evidence that they are being robbed of their money or possessions. The leaders truly believe they are working to secure souls for a new age of heaven on Earth. Every one I met was intelligent, sober, usually kindly very “gentlemanly” and self controlled and selfless. They had mastered many virtues that a Christian could respect. However, behind the scenes, the Bible warns us that this is something very mysterious, and well worth avoiding.
By far the biggest difficulty a former member of Brahma Kumaris has to overcome is that the Brahma Kumaris religion encompasses all other faiths, both major and minor, by giving them a limited place within the time cycle of human history. So when a student is attracted by Christianity they have to overcome their belief that they are simply transferring their soul into the mere 2000 relatively peaceless years of Christian history. Here, they believe, they will remain trapped in repeating time cycles for all eternity, and will never experience heaven. However, they need to come to believe in the kingdom of heaven that Jesus taught and promised, which is utterly opposed to all they have been led to believe so far. Indeed a conversion or return to any faith will pose the same problem. This problem is without doubt the hardest obstacle to cross.
Lastly it is likely that people will always explore unusual or alternative belief systems, and maybe that is a good thing. All people should be free to form their own opinions and to explore, just as they should be free to explore unusual parts of the world. However just as in all exploration people sometimes get lost or hurt, and will need some first aid:
That then, is my desire. I have no further interest in the Brahma Kumaris other than to give a little “first aid” to those that have been hurt. To this end I hope my testimony and general observation and conclusions may help.