Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University

Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University
Formation 1930's
Type Millenarianist New Religious Movement
Headquarters Mount Abu, Rajasthan, India
Official languages Hindi, English
Founder Lekhraj Kripalani (1876–1969), known as "Brahma Baba" to the followers
Key people Janki Kripalani, Hirdaya Mohini, Virendra Dev Dixit[1]
Website International(bkwsu.org) India(brahmakumaris.com)

Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University (BKWSU) or Prajapita Brahma Kumaris Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya is a monastic, renunciate[2] Millenarian[3][4] new religious movement (NRM) of Indian origin. It teaches a form of meditation[2] adherents called Raja Yoga, but which differs from the classical Raja Yoga described by Patanjali.[2][5]

A neo-Hindu religious movement, the Brahma Kumaris (Hindi: ब्रह्माकुमारी, pron. [ˈbrəɦmaː kʊˈmaːriː], abbrv. BK) pre-date the New Age movement but have developed characteristics that link them to its thinking.[6] It advocates a lifestyle which includes a vegetarian diet, celibacy, and avoidance of alcohol, drugs and tobacco.[4][7]

Historically, the Brahma Kumaris have not been without controversy and a range of accusations against them have been made – see the section on controversies below for details. The controversies have involved researchers, previous members, government agency reports and the press.[8][9][10][11][12]

Contents

Early history

The origin of BKWSU can be traced to the group "Om Mandali", founded by Lekhraj Kripalani (1876–1969)[6][13] in Hyderabad, Sindh in the 1930s. Lekhraj Kripalani, known as "Dada Lekhraj" and later known as "Brahma Baba" to his followers, was a Diamond merchant and follower of the Vaishnavite Vallabhacharya Sect.[6][13] Dada Lekhraj (Brahma Baba) retired from his business with assets of 1,000,000 Indian rupees[14] to turn to spirituality. Their original spiritual knowledge was obtained though "divine revelations" and "divine visions" by sisters who channeled messages, and included "detailed knowledge ... on the basic concepts of soul, God, World, Time, Space, Karma, Mukti, Jeevanmukti, Heaven, Hell, Creation, Sustenance, Destruction, various Yugas, Maya and its various forms, the true kind of Yoga-Meditation, the divine virtues and the methodology to practise them."[15] Lekhraj started holding satsangs which attracted many people and the group became known as Om Mandali. In 1937, he named some of his followers to a managing committee, then reportedly transferred his fortune to the committee.[16] Several women joined Om Mandali, and contributed their wealth to the association as well.[14]

Some members of the local Sindhi people reacted unfavorably to this movement because women were given an elevated status. Many young married Sindhi women attended his ashram and were being encouraged to take vows of celibacy, so the Om Mandali was accused of breaking up families.[17][18]

Some Hindu members of the Sindh Assembly threatened to resign unless the Om Mandali was outlawed. So, the Sindh Government used the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1908 to declare the Om Mandali an unlawful association.[14] Under further pressure from the Hindu leaders in the Assembly, the Government also ordered the Om Mandali to close and vacate its premises.[19] The Om Mandali successfully appealed against the Government order in court.

In April 1950, after the partition of India, the Brahma Kumaris moved to Mount Abu in India, saying that they had been instructed by God to do so.[13] After Dada Lekhraj's (Brahma Baba) death in 1969, his followers expanded the movement to other countries.[20]

Expansion

Om Shanti Bawan, the main hall at the Brahma Kumaris headquarters

Beginning in the 1950s, the Brahma Kumaris began an internationalization expansion program,[21] establishing centers across India with female teachers. From 1964 to 1969 methods of outreach began involving exhibitions, seminars and conferences in different parts of India.[22]

The leadership of the BK movement remains primarily female. For example, in the UK, only one-third of the 42 centers are run by males.[23] According to the BKWSU website, there are currently 825,000 students and over 8,500 Raja Yoga centres in 100 countries and territories.[24] According to sources quoted in the Adherents website, worldwide membership ranges from 35,000 (in 1993) to 400,000 (in 1998).[25]

A number of Brahma Kumari splinter groups exist, the most notable documented by Dr. John Walliss as the Advance Party, Shankar Party or AIVV to the BKWSU.[26] Elsewhere they are referred to as the Prajapita Brahma Kumaris or PBKs.[27] Walliss states that as Lekhraj Kripalani's original message of separation, spiritual introversion and violent Destruction becomes repackaged as the emergence of a New Age through self-understanding and self-development, this direction has caused discontent within certain segments of the Brahma Kumari movement, likening them to the "Protestant Reformers to the BKWSU's mediaeval Catholic Church".

The "Advance Party" offer a radicalised rendition of the BKWSU's original millenarian message. In particular, they are exceptionally hostile to the University's New Age and UN involvement claim that Shiva is now manifesting Himself through a different medium to correctly interpret the original teachings and that Lekhraj Kirpalani's business partner Sevak Ram was the original medium. PBKs report hostile resistance from the BKWSU and Walliss met with a wall of silence and irate phone call from the University threatening him that the BKWSU would "block [him] every step of the way if [he] persisted along this line of investigation". The University restricting its member's "knowledge and access to the group so as to prevent any further defections." Founder Baba Dev Dixit was debarred from the BKWSU.[6]

According to the Encyclopedia of New Religious Movements,[28] in 2000, about 450,000 people were affiliated with the Brahma Kumaris, but many were probably not committed to the group's worldview. The Encyclopedia stated:

Since the [Brahma Kumaris] University spread to Western societies it has increasingly accommodated people with little interest in its theodicy but attracted to the practical applications of BK spiritual practices. The community service programmes of the 1980s and 1990s stimulated creative renderings of BK meditation as a tool for psychological healing and eclectic spiritual exploration. The casual participants whom the BKs have attracted in this way probably made up the vast majority of the 450,000 people on the University's records at the turn of the century.[28]:72

Activities

The Brahma Kumaris conduct seven one-hour-long courses in their philosophy and open-eyed meditation technique. The organization offers courses in "positive thinking", "self management leadership", and "living values."[29]

The Brahma Kumaris also have a number of voluntary outreach programs in prisons.[30]

Lifestyle

The movement teaches that the world is approaching a time of great change that will be heralded by war, natural calamities and suffering.[4] As a form of developing inner spiritual resilience, the Brahma Kumaris adopt a disciplined lifestyle[18][31] which involves:

  • Celibacy, including no sex within marriage.[4][32] So long as chastity is followed, marriage and family life are allowed.[32]
  • Sattvic vegetarianism, a strict lacto-vegetarian diet[33] (excluding eggs, onions, garlic and/or spicy food) cooked only by the self or other members.[4][7]
  • Abstaining from alcohol, tobacco and non-prescription drugs.[4][33]
  • Daily early morning meditation at 4:00[4] to 4:45 am, called 'Amrit Vela.'
  • Daily morning class at approximately 6:30 am.[34][35]
  • Men and women traditionally sit on separate sides of the room at the centers during classes.[4]
  • Brahma Kumaris can be identified by their frequent adoption of wearing white clothes, to symbolize purity.[36][37][38]
  • Recommends that companions (friends/family) be good (satsang) soul-aware yogis as opposed to those given over to worldly pleasures, known as bhogis.[4]

Beliefs

In 1952, after a 14-year period of retreat during which Dada Lekhraj (Brahma Baba) published numerous pamphlets, newspaper articles and wrote letters to important national and international figures, a more structured form of teaching began to be offered to the public by way of a seven lesson course.[6] The movement has distinguished itself from Hinduism and projects itself as a vehicle for spiritual teaching rather than a religion.[5][28]:71[39]

Central beliefs

Radha-Krishna deities in Brahma Kumaris headquarter

Central to its faith are the beliefs that:

  • The human being is an eternal soul living within a physical body and is not the physical body which is dualistic "I am a soul, my body is a garment".[32]
  • Reincarnation happens only from one human body to another.[4]
  • Humanity is currently reaching the end of the current cycle and thus the world will be destroyed, a time referred to as "Destruction".[18]
  • Indian subcontinent will be the site of the future Golden Age paradise and that a form of Hindi is the original language of humanity, all other continents being destroyed. Followers are taught that only they will live in the coming Golden Age paradise.[28]:72[40] as Gods and Goddesses.[41]

God

The Brahma Kumaris claim their spirit guide, who they call Shiva is the God of all religions and an eternal soul, just like human soul, but the Supreme one and speaks to humanity exclusively via the Brahma Kumaris spirit mediums. They claim Shiva is the same spirit being known as Allah or Jahweh and its purpose is to awaken humanity, destroy other religions to eliminate evil and negativity.[42] He is not the creator of matter which is itself considered to be eternal.

God, they believe, possesses or incarnates into the religion's spirit mediums at mass seances at its headquarters in India and speaks to its followers in person, these messages called "Murlis" becoming the scriptures of the religion but hidden from outsiders.[6]

Self

Human and even animal souls, called atmas, are believed to be an infinitesimal point of spiritual light residing in the forehead of the body it occupies. Souls are believed to originally exist with God in a "Soul World", a world of infinite light, peace and silence called Nirvana. Here souls are in a state of rest and beyond experience. Souls enter bodies to take birth in order to experience life and give expression to their personality. Unlike other Eastern traditions, the soul is not thought to transmigrate into other species and does not evolve but rather devolves birth after birth. Within this "point of light" all aspects of the personality are contained and is said to enter the human body in the 4th to 5th month of pregnancy.[43]

Cycle of time

Time is considered to be cyclic, repeating identically every 5,000 years, and is composed of five ages (yugas): the Golden Age (Sat Yuga), the Silver Age (Treta Yuga), the Copper Age (Dwapar Yuga), the Iron Age (Kali Yuga) each exactly 1,250 years long,[44] and the Confluence Age (Sangam Yuga). The Confluence Age is said to be 100 years long, and believed to have begun again in 1936 with the descent of Shiva, during which present day civilization is to be completely destroyed by natural disasters, civil and nuclear war.[45] Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi states this information is generally hidden from non-members.[46]

During the first half of the cycle, procreation is believed to be possible through the power of yoga without sexual intercourse.[47] The Universe is never transformed into primordial or atomic state matter, nor does the world ever becomes devoid of human beings.[48]

Tree of humanity

It is taught that all of life will die and return to Nirvana, then take birth in the forthcoming cycle at their predestined time and place. This is portrayed as the "Kalpa Vriksha Tree", or the "Tree of Humanity", in which the founder Brahma Baba (Dada Lekhraj) and his Brahma Kumaris followers are shown as the roots of the humanity. A new world order starting with the birth of Krishna and a population of 900,000 is believed to go on to enjoy 2,500 years of paradise as living deities before humanity splits and the religious founders incarnate. Each creates their own branch and brings with them their own followers from the Infinite Light, until they too decline and splits, schisms, cults and sects appear at the end of the Iron Age.[6][48]

The aim of the individual Brahma Kumari is to gain a high status in the coming paradise, perhaps even a select 108 who are 'totally victorious' and will rule there. Members of the physical families of Brahma Kumaris who have contact with the University are said to become members of the 16,000 top souls and at the end of each Cycle, everyone will see visions in which their personal destinies will be fully disclosed.[6]

Meditation

The Brahma Kumaris teach a form of meditation[2] called Raja Yoga, which according to Reender Kranenborg may not be the same as classical Raja Yoga as described by Patanjali,[49] through which members are encouraged to purify their minds. This may be done by sitting tranquilly in front of a screen on to which Dada Lekhraj's image is projected, then making affirmations regarding the eternal nature of the soul.[50]

Lawrence Babbs described another practise where "the student or students sit in a semi-darkened room facing the teacher (usually a woman). Just above and behind the teacher's head is a red plastic ovoid that glows from a lightbulb within, in its center is a tiny hole which appears as an intense whitelight against the red glow.[4] This device represents the Supreme Soul (known as Shiv Baba) who is the presiding deity of the universe. With devotional songs playing softly in the background, student and teacher gaze intently at each other, either in the eyes or at the forehead. While doing this the student is supposed to imagine him or herself as a soul and not as a body. The student is told to think of themself as separate from the body, as bodiless, as light, as power, as bathed in the love and light of the Supreme Soul, and so on. This might continue for fifteen or twenty minutes".[41] Babb also states that while staring (gazing into the eyes of an adept) at the teacher, many students experience visual hallucinations involving lights.[4]

Murlis

David Barrett states, "Unlike traditional forms of Hinduism, the Brahma Kumaris' teachings come not so much from ancient scriptures but from revelations given in trance states".[17] However, the mediumistic messages known by Brahma Kumaris as "Murlis" read at the 6.30 am meetings are slowly developing the nature of potential scriptures.[34] The earlier ones channeled by Lekhraj Kripalani while he was alive, are now repeated in a five year cycle. They are supplemented by later murlis channelled by Hirday Mohini of Delhi in trance states, and these too are written down.

There are two types of mediumistic messages; sakar and avyakt;

  • Sakar Murlis refer to the original classes said to be spoken by "Shiva" through the medium of Lekhraj Kripalani in the 1960s, before he died of a heart attack on 18 January 1969.[51] These include teachings by Shiva and the life of personal experience of Lekhraj.
  • Avyakt Vanis, or Murlis, refer to the teachings of Shiva and the soul of the deceased Lekhraj Kripalani combined through a medium named Hirday Mohini, or "Dadi Gulzar".[52] The Brahma Kumaris believe that the soul of Lekhraj Kripalani has become perfect and now has the role of an angel. These messages are understood by members of the BKWSU to be the words of God. The Murli's are what the Brahma Kumaris use to direct their personal spiritual effort and institutional service.

One must complete the Brahma Kumaris foundation course before starting to attend morning murli class and visiting the headquarters in India during the period when, according to Howell and Nelson, "deceased founder communicates via trance-medium".[53]

Achievements

In India, the BKWSU runs a charitable Village Outreach Programme in Mount Abu and administers the Global Hospital and Research Centre (GHRC), established in 1991 and funded by the J. Wattammull Memorial Trust. In 2004, the Brahma Kumaris established the G.V. Mody Rural Health Care Centre & Eye Hospital, located at the base of Mount Abu.[54] The Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University is an international non-governmental organization (NGO) in general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations[55] and UNICEF.[56] It is associated with the UN Department of Public Information.[57]

The Brahma Kumaris have undertaken two major international projects; ‘The Million Minutes for Peace’ in 1986 for which they received 7 Peace Messenger Awards and ‘Global Cooperation for a Better World’ in 1988.

The organization now has hundreds of branches internationally and

  • was awarded 7 UN Peace Messenger Awards 1987 for its co-ordination of the ‘Million Minutes of Peace’ project.[58]
  • Pioneering work in solar energy and sustainable energy, including developing the world's largest solar cooker.[59]
  • Chief administrator Prakashmani awarded Peace Medal of the United Nations for the year 1981 for the ‘Million Minutes of Peace’ project.[60]
  • granted International Peace Messenger Initiative status by the U.N.for the Global Co-operation for a Better World campaign.[61]

Use of mediumship

The BKWSU is believed by its members to have been established by Shiva Baba (God-Father Shiva, described as the Supreme Soul and conceived as the one God of all religions) through the medium of the group's founder Lekhraj Kripalani.[13] From the beginning, a number of trance-messengers have received messages and teachings.[15] According to an account by Sister Denise, who was at that time Director of the San Francisco Center, a medium has been used to directly channel a message from a deceased senior Brahma Kumari, Didi Manmohini.[62] In its early days, children would commonly go into trances, having visions of Krishna and Vaikunth (Golden Age Heaven) and engaging in ecstatic dances for as long as 7 days.[4] A number of mediumistic female followers known as Sandeshputris (trance messengers) also helped add to the group's spiritual knowledge through psychic visions.[15]

The deceased human founder Lekhraj Kripalani continues to be channelled through a senior sister (Hirdaya Mohini, referred to familiarly as Dadi Gulzar) at the organization's Rajasthan headquarters. The combined presence of the BKWSU's human founder and the spiritual being the BKWSU believe is God are referred to as BapDada (meaning Father and Grandfather) by BKs, especially in the context of their manifestation via this trance medium, through which the pair continue to direct the organization to this day.[63]

Divine indication

Pratibha Patil, the UPA-Left candidate and current president of India said on camera during the Indian presidential election, 2007, that she spoke to the spirit of the deceased leader[64] of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University at their headquarters in Mount Abu, Rajasthan.[65] Patil stated that she had received a mediumistic message indicating great responsibility coming her way during the last season in which the spirits called "Bapdada" communicated with the faithful of the Brahma Kumaris sect.[64][66][67] She had gone to seek the blessings of Hirday Mohini, also known as Dadi Gulzar or Dadiji.[68]

Controversies and criticism

  • The Times of India has reported that the Government of Haryana's financial commissioner, Shri R.R. Fuliya, IAS, is seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the sect for 'criminal' activities involving cases of murders, rapes, scapegoating and police cover ups. At a press conference in Mount Abu, the commissioner gave the names of accused and deceased. He claimed a girl was sexually exploited in a Brahma Kumari centre situated in Panipat district and then her brother was killed when he raised voice against the exploitation. The commissioner noted that he had also received threat to life since raising the issues in public.[69]
  • The Brahma Kumaris were declared an "enemy of the state" by the government of Greece in 1993 and classified as dangerous by the government of France in 1996.[8] The Brahma Kumaris were listed as a "cult movement" in the 1995 French government report on "Cults in France".[10]
  • In Poland conflicts arose between the Brahma Kumaris and a local Catholic priest who organized an anti-Brahma Kumaris campaign. Thereafter, local newspapers accused the organization of being a "dangerous sect".[9]
  • Dr. John Wallis wrote a book about the religion,[70] focusing on recruitment methods, the issue of celibacy, reinterpretation of religious history. He reports about the re-writing of the revelatory messages (Murlis) by the BKWSU leaders and anger and aggression towards the Adhyatmik Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya. (The Adhyatmik Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya or Advance Party and the BKWSU form the two halves of the Brahmin family who will supposedly eventually re-unite to transform this hell into heaven).[12][71]
  • In a paper for the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Howell wrote that teenage girls surrendering to the organisation were required to pay the equivalent of a dowry to the organization. The payment was meant to prevent parents from "dumping" their daughters at the BKWSU as a way to avoid the costs of ordinary marriages.[72]
  • The institution uses Hindu terminologies such as Raja Yoga and Bhagavad Gita to attract people but what is taught in the organization is completely different from what their original meanings in Hinduism.[5]
  • Followers are encouraged to undergo a ‘death-in-life’ and ‘die towards the outer world’ renouncing their families and thus be ‘divinely’ reborn in the ‘divine family [73] consequently, the Brahma Kumaris have been accused of breaking up marriages and families since the 1930s.[74][75]
  • In 2007 Graham Baldwin, a former university chaplain and army officer who is president of the educational countercult organization Catalyst,[76] was reported stating that the former members and the families of members had told him that BKWSU has driven a wedge between husband and wife and that there were complaints that it encourages single women and widows to donate property and savings and move to a community house.[11] The BKWSU, a organisation being notable for its sex ban, was said to have "used pernicious methods to control its followers".[11]
  • Ian Howarth of the Cult Information Centre, was further quoted about complaints that people have gone undergone personality changes after joining BKWSU and become alienated from their families. A BKWSU spokeswoman replied, "this is very much a minority thing", declining to comment on allegations that BKWSU encourages followers to donate property and savings.[77][78]
  • Questioned how dinosaurs fit within a 5,000 year Cycle of Time BK Neville Hodgkinson, a former scientific correspondent for an English national newspaper, questioned the existence of dinosaurs on the basis of the lack of bones that have been found whilst another BK follower argued that dinosaurs exist in a parallel space-time dimension and because of a warp hole end up in this dimension.[79]
  • The Brahma Kumaris have featured in the 'Wissen schützt' reports of Austria (edited by then Austrian Minister for Family Affairs Mr. Martin Bartenstein),[80] Russia (International Conference "Totalitarian Cults – Threat of Twenty-First Century", Nizhny Novgorod, 2001) and in a MIVILUDES report submitted to the French National Assembly as a "sectes dangereuses" (harmful cult) and "groupe d'enfermement" (group of confinement).[81] This has leading to the presecution of followers in local media leading to job losses after it discovered that they belonged to a secte[82] and denouncement for their influence on children under their care.[83]
  • Since 1978, the BKWSU is accused of falsifying claims internationally that its current leader and relative of the founder Dadi Janki Kripalani is "the most stable mind in the world".[84] Journalists quoted archivists at the University in question and "found no mention of the experiments performed on Dadi Janki in 1978". Indeed, they could not even "find any University of Texas organization called the Medical and Science Research Institute."[85]

See also

Associated concepts
General

References

  1. ^ http://www.bkmedia.net/press/biodata/Rajyogini%20Dadi%20Hridayamohini%20Eng1.pdf
  2. ^ a b c d Bartholomeusz, Tessa J.; Clayton, John; Collins (1994). Women under the Bo Tree: Buddhist nuns in Sri Lanka. Cambridge Studies in Religious Traditions. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521461290. 
  3. ^ Robbins, Thomas (1997). Millennium, Messiahs, and Mayhem: Contemporary Apocalyptic Movements. Routledge. ISBN 978-0415916486. 
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  5. ^ a b c "Brahma Kumaris: A New Religion?". Reender Kranenborg, Free University of Amsterdam. http://www.cesnur.org/testi/bryn/br_kranenborg.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-27. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Walliss, John (2002). From World-Rejection to Ambivalence. Ashgate Publishing. pp. 33. ISBN 978-0-7546-0951-3. "Lekhraj was born in Sindh in 1876 into the Kriplani family who were devotees of the Valabhacharya sect." 
  7. ^ a b "Brahma Kumaris: Conquering A Callous World with Purity". Hinduism Today. http://www.hinduismtoday.com/archives/1995/5/1995-5-02.shtml. Retrieved 2007-07-28. ""The most strict will not eat food which is not prepared by a BK. While traveling they abstain from public fard(sic) and carry their own utensils for cooking."" 
  8. ^ a b Cults, religion, and violence by David G. Bromley, J. Gordon Melton 2002 ISBN 0521668980 page 113
  9. ^ a b On the margins of religion by Frances Pine, João de Pina-Cabral 2008 ISBN 184545409X page 175
  10. ^ a b French government report, (number 2468) adopted by the French National Assembly on December 20, 1995
  11. ^ a b c The London Evening Standard, 6/1/2007
  12. ^ a b Walliss, John (Sept 1999). "When Prophecy Fails: The Brahma Kumaris and the Pursuit of the Millennium(s)". British Association for the Advancement of Science, Sheffield. "In addition, they accuse the University hierarchy of actively censoring or altering murlis that could potentially undermine their privileged position or which 'don't suit their philosophy'. The 'Special instruments' (senior members are, they allege 'constantly revising Murlis" to the extent that, for example, a passage from a 1969 murli referring to Shiva being unable to 'mount a virgin' was altered in the 1990 revised edition before being removed completely in the 1993 revision..." Dr. Walliss also notes that while the BKWSU was, "originally a reclusive, world-rejecting organization, over the last 30 years the Brahma Kumaris have begun a campaign of active proselytizing and international growth. Thus, whilst still retaining its original millenarianism, currently within the West the organization promotes itself as part of the New Age movement and emphasizes ideas around the issues of self-development, empowerment and personal success." Finally, Dr. Wallis disputes BKWSU's belief that Raja Yoga is the precursor to all world religions, including those that historically predate it. Specifically, "This is part of a lengthy answer to the question of how the University could claim that Raja Yoga is the precursor to and influence of world religions that historically predate it often by a few thousand years. Again, 'Baba' is cited as the source of ultimate authority."" 
  13. ^ a b c d Chander, B. K Jagdish (1981). Adi Dev: The first man. B.K. Raja Yoga Center for the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University.. 
  14. ^ a b c Hardy, Hardayal (1984). Struggles and Sorrows: The Personal Testimony of a Chief Justice. Vikas Publishing House. pp. 37–39. ISBN 0706925637. 
  15. ^ a b c "BKWSU History". BKWSU. Archived from the original on 2002-10-12. http://web.archive.org/web/20021012192150/http://www.brahmakumaris.org/history/index.html#39Onwards. Retrieved 2007-07-22. 
  16. ^ Abbott, Elizabeth (2001). A History of Celibacy. James Clarke & Co.. pp. 172–174. ISBN 0718830067. 
  17. ^ a b Barrett, David V (2001). The New Believers: A Survey of Sects, Cults and Alternative Religions. Cassell & Co.. ISBN 978-0304355921. "'sex is an expression of 'body-consciousness' and leads to the other vices', probably stems in part from the origins of the movement in 1930s India, when women had to submit to their husbands." 
  18. ^ a b c Hodgkinson, Liz (2002). Peace and Purity: The Story of the Brahma Kumaris a Spiritual Revolution. HCI. pp. 2–29. ISBN 1558749624. 
  19. ^ Coupland, Reginald (1944). The Indian Problem: Report on the Constitutional Problem in India. Oxford University Press. 
  20. ^ Hunt, Stephen J. (2003). Alternative Religions: A Sociological Introduction. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.. pp. 120. ISBN 0754634108. 
  21. ^ Howell, Julia (Sep 1998). "Gender Role Experimentation in New Religious Movements". Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 37 (3): 453–461. doi:10.2307/1388052. JSTOR 1388052. 
  22. ^ Whaling, Frank (1995). "The Brahma Kumaris". Journal of Contemporary Religion 10 (1): 10. 
  23. ^ Howell, Julia Day (September 1998). "Gender Role Experimentation in New Religious Movements: Clarification of the Brahma Kumari Case". Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 37 (3): 453–461. doi:10.2307/1388052. JSTOR 1388052. "Today the leadership of the BK movement in India remains heavily female. Sisters, or kumaris (daughters), are still "put in front", that is favored for the position of "center-in-charge" (head of a local center). As of December 1995 all Indian centers were run by "sisters." However, "brothers" also reside in many of the centers run by "sisters". Brothers are expected to work to earn an outside income, which provides a substantial share of the support of the centers, and do the domestic work other than cooking. This frees the sisters to engage full-time in service to the organization as teachers, leaders of meditation sessions and spiritual directors. Indian migrants made up half the number of Brahmins in the UK." 
  24. ^ "Brahma Kumaris Administration". BKWSU. http://www.bkwsu.org/whoweare/administration. Retrieved 2007-08-10. "Present statistics indicate that the University has 825,000 students and over 8,500 centres in 100 countries and territories." 
  25. ^ "Adherent Statistic Citations". Adherents.com. http://www.adherents.com/Na/Na_83.html#584. Retrieved 2007-08-20. "Worldwide, this path has 4000 centres and approximately 400,000 members." 
  26. ^ Walliss, John (2002). The Brahma Kumaris As a Reflexive Tradition: Responding to Late Modernity. Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 978-0754609513. "Another rendition of the University's Millenarianism [is] put forward by a group named the Advance Party. This group is made up of predominantly disaffected ex-members of the University and are highly critical of what they allege to be the increasing worldliness and corruptness of the University's hierarchy. The University, they claim on their website, has become a true Ravan Rajya (Kingdom of Devil) where pomp and show and grandeur are given preference over true godly knowledge. At a deeper level, the Advance Party's critique is aimed at the BK theodicy and the manner in which they allege its millenarianism has been understood." 
  27. ^ "Advance Knowledge". http://www.shivbaba.org.pl/. 
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  30. ^ Bedi, Kiran (2007). It's Always Possible : One Woman's Transformation of India's Prison System. Himalayan Institute Press. ISBN 978-0893892586. 
  31. ^ Lochtefeld, Ph.D., James G. (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism Vol. I, entry "Brahma Kumaris". Rosen, New York. ISBN 0-8239-3179-X. 
  32. ^ a b c Wilson, Bryan; Eileen Barker, James Beckford, Anthony Bradney, Colin Campbell, George Chryssies, Peter Clarke, Paul Heelas, Massimo Introvigne, Lawrence Lilliston, Gordon Melton, Elizabeth Puttick, Gary Sherpherd, Colin Slee, Frank Usarski (1999). Bryan Wilson. ed. New Religious Movements: Challenge and Response. Routledge. ISBN 978-0415200493. 
  33. ^ a b Bartholomeusz, Tessa J. (1994). Women Under the Bo Tree,:Cambridge Studies in Religious Traditions. Edited by John Clayton (University of Lancaster), Steven Collins (University of Chicago) and Nicholas de Lange (University of Cambridge). Rosen, New York. ISBN 0-521-46129-4. 
  34. ^ a b Whaling, Prof Frank (2004). Encyclopedia of New Religions; New Religious Movements, Sects and Alternative Spiritualities. Edited by Christopher Partridge and Gorden Melton. Rosen, New York. ISBN 0-745-95073-6. 
  35. ^ Peace & purity: the story of the Brahma Kumaris. Page 96. Liz Hodgkinson – 2002
  36. ^ Hinnells, John (1997). The Penguin Dictionary of Religions. Extract by Eileen Barker. Rosen, New York. ISBN 0-14-051261-6. 
  37. ^ Barker, Eileen (1989). New Religious Movement: A Practical Introduction. HMSO, London. pp. 168–70. ISBN 0-14-051261-6. 
  38. ^ Melton, J. Gordon (1993). The Encyclopedia of American Religions. 4th edition. Gale, Detroit. pp. 909–10. 
  39. ^ Howell (2006) states that "The "Brahma Kumaris" are a world-wide spiritual movement... Drawing on Hindu religious culture of its founder, the movement has nonetheless distinguished itself from Hinduism and projects itself as a vehicle for spiritual teaching rather than a religion " (p. 71).
  40. ^ Howell (2006) states that "The BK teachings revise Hindu beliefs in a Golden Age that deteriorates into successive ages in an endlessly recurring cycle of time; according to the movement, we are now in the worst age, on the eve of destruction, and only BKs who have purified themselves through a vegetarian diet and chastity and cultivated 'soul consciousness,' will be reborn into the Golden Age."
  41. ^ a b Babb, Lawrence A. (1981). "On celibate marriages: the Polish Catholics' encounter with Hindu spirituality". Glancing: Visual Interaction in Hinduism", Journal of Anthropological Research Winter (4): 387–401. 
  42. ^ Peace & purity: the story of the Brahma Kumaris : a spiritual revolution by Liz Hodgkinson. Page 47
  43. ^ "Hindus In America Speak out on Abortion Issues". Hinduism Today. http://www.hinduismtoday.com/archives/1985/09/1985-09-07.shtml. Retrieved 2007-07-18. "The Brahma Kumaris view the body as a physical vehicle for the immortal soul, and therefore the issue is not "pro-life" or "anti-life" but a choice between the amount of suffering caused to the souls of the parents and child in either course, abortion or motherhood. They view existing legislation in America as fair and reasonable, with the proviso that abortion after the 4th month should be avoided except in medical emergencies, since in their view the soul enters the fetus in the 4th to 5th month." 
  44. ^ Barrett, David V (2001). The New Believers. Cassell & Co. pp. 265. ISBN 0-304-35592-5. "Time is cyclical with each 5,000 year cycle consisting of a perfect Golden Age, a slightly degraded Silver age, a decadent Copper Age, and an Iron Age which is characterized by violence, greed, and lust. Each of these lasts for exactly 1,250 years. Our current Iron Age will shortly come to an end, after which the cycle will begin again." 
  45. ^ "Brahma Kumaris: Conquering A Callous World with Purity". Hinduism Today. http://www.hinduismtoday.com/archives/1995/5/1995-5-02.shtml. Retrieved 2007-07-18. 
  46. ^ Beit-Hallahmi, Benjaminin (2003). Apocalyptic Dreams and Religious Ideologies: Losing and Saving Self and World. PSYCHOANALYTIC REVIEW, VOL 90; PART 4. pp. 403–439. ISBN 0-304-35592-5. "A case study of Brahma Kumaris, a contemporary group characterized by an apocalyptic vision (kept hidden from nonmembers)." 
  47. ^ Babb, Lawrence A. (1987). Redemptive Encounters: Three Modern Styles in the Hindu Tradition (Comparative Studies in Religion and Society). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0706925637. "Sexual intercourse is unnecessary for reproduction because the souls that enter the world during the first half of the Cycle are in possession of a special yogic power (yog bal) by which they conceive children" 
  48. ^ a b Lalrinawma, V.S. (2003). The Liberation of Women in and through the Movement of the Prajapita Brahma Kumaris. ISPCK. Cambridge Press, Delhi. pp. 13. ISBN 81-7214-771-6. 
  49. ^ Reender Kranenborg. "Brahma Kumaris: A New Religion?". Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR). http://www.cesnur.org/testi/bryn/br_kranenborg.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-18. 
  50. ^ Chryssides, George. ""Members are encouraged to purify their minds by the practise of Raja Yoga. This can entail sitting tranquilly, in front of a screen which Dada Lehkraj's picture projected, then making a number of "affirmations", regarding the eternal nature of the soul (atma), the original purity of one's nature, and the nature of God (paramatmā Shiva). The Brahma Kumaris believe that practice of Raja Yoga enables spiritual progress as well as having pragmatic benefits, for example, business success. Brahma Kumaris frequently organize seminars on business management and on developing personal life skills"" 
  51. ^ Ratan, Vishwa (2000). A Unique Experience. Autobiography of Dada Vishwa Ratan. Om Shanti Press. pp. 57. ISBN 955-95823-3-X. 
  52. ^ "Brahma Kumaris: Landmarks in History". BKWSU. http://www.brahmakumaris.org.in/Landmarks.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-18. 
  53. ^ Howell and Nelson (1998). "On celibate marriages: the Polish Catholics' encounter with Hindu spirituality". Glancing: Visual Interaction in Hinduism", Journal of Anthropological Research. "in order to progress to the next stage of membership – the visit to the University's headquarters in Rajasthan during the period where its deceased founder communicates via trance-medium – they have to not only demonstrate their commitment by following the recommended lifestyle but also, more importantly, be seen to be doing so by the university. this is instrinsicly linked with the second technique, the utilisation and negotiation of different metaphors or readings of the university's theodicy at the different events and in different types of literature in relation to its intended (core or periphery) audience" ... "amongst committed, core members "...the tradition is lived [and expressed] without apology, translation or dilution"." 
  54. ^ "Brahma Kumaris: Global Hospital". BKWSU. http://www.ghrc-abu.com/aboutus.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-23. 
  55. ^ "ECOSOC". UNO. http://www.un.org/documents/ecosoc/docs/1998/e1998-8.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-22. 
  56. ^ "List of UN NGO and respective status within UNICEF". UNO. http://www.un.org/esa/coordination/ngo/pdf/INF_List.pdf. Retrieved 2007-07-22. 
  57. ^ "DPI/NGO Directory". United Nations Department of Public Information. http://www.un.org/dpi/ngosection/dpingo-directory.asp?RegID=--&CnID=all&AcID=0&kw=brahma%20kumaris&NGOID=226. Retrieved 2007-08-20. "NGO in consultative status with ECOSOC; associated with DPI" 
  58. ^ Walliss, John (September 1999). When Prophecy Fails: The Brahma Kumaris and the Pursuit of the Millennium(s). pp. 5. "...The Million Minutes of Peace which raised over one billion 'minutes of peace' people in 88 countries participating in prayer, meditation and positive thoughts. For this the University was awarded one International and six UN National 'Peace Messenger' Awards." 
  59. ^ "BBC". BBC. 2000-01-17. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/606951.stm. Retrieved 2007-07-22. 
  60. ^ "The Sunday". Indian Express. http://www.indianexpress.com/sunday/story/31939.html. Retrieved 2007-08-21. "Current head is Dadi Prakashmani. Recipient of UN Peace Medal for her efforts to spread across the message of peace and goodwill." 
  61. ^ "Hinduism Today". Hinduism Today. http://www.hinduismtoday.com/archives/1995/5/1995-5-02.shtml. Retrieved 2007-07-22. 
  62. ^ "Beloved "Didi", Sivabhaktar and Co-Head of Brahma Kumaris, Passes In Bombay". Hinduism Today. http://www.hinduismtoday.com/archives/1983/10/1983-10-03.shtml. Retrieved 2007-07-22. "Sister Denise, Director of the San Francisco Center, flew right away to Mt. Abu, and shared this very intimate account of the traditional 13-day period of sacred ritual and vigil which honored Didi: "Large piles of red rose petals covered her – offered by nearly 1,500 devotees who managed the difficult ascent up Mt. Abu, braving the driving rains. After two days, we put her on a wooden litter and carried her through the city of Mt. Abu, pinnacled high above the flat plains of Rajasthan far below. Ghee, sandalwood and other substances were applied to her body. She was placed on the wood pyre and cremated. Soon afterward, messages began to come from Didi through one of previous month, while apparently in a coma state, had been in trance, in total God-consciousness, enjoying the fulfillment of all her deep spiritual sadhanas. Didi shared detailed accounts of everything that was transpiring in the so-called "transition experience.' One message said that the sincere and deep meditations performed by so many of the Brahma Kumaris worldwide during this time had purified the womb that Didi would enter for her next birth on the 13th day. On that 13th day, rather than just deliver a message through the medium, she came fully into the body. I was there and saw this." 
  63. ^ "Hinduism Today". Hinduism Today. http://www.hinduismtoday.com/archives/1995/5/1995-5-02.shtml. Retrieved 2007-07-22. "Prajapita Brahma gave up his physical frame on January 18, 1969. This day is celebrated as the day of his spiritual ascension. It is believed that he continues to aid the organization from inner worlds, but the ultimate guidance and authority still comes directly from God Siva, who has since chosen another to be His "trance messenger." Currently Sister Raday Mohini serves as the instrument to give voice to Siva's messages, but this is viewed as a temporary assignment given by God. Every year, around February/March, a gathering occurs in Mt. Abu where Siva speaks, guides and gives blessings. This sets the patterns for the coming year as the guidance is distributed to the centers around the world, including through their intra-organizational e-mail" 
  64. ^ a b "Race for Raisina: Shekhawat vs Patil". IBN. http://www.ibnlive.com/videos/43632/pratibha-patil-speaks-to-a-ghost.html. Retrieved 2007-07-22. "Dadiji ke shareer mein Baba aye ... Maine unse baat ki ("Baba entered Dadi's body and he communicated to me through her")" 
  65. ^ "Patil kicks up another row". IBN. http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticleNew.asp?xfile=data/subcontinent/2007/June/subcontinent_June1110.xml&section=subcontinent&col=. Retrieved 2007-07-22. 
  66. ^ "Battle for the palace". The Pioneer. http://www.dailypioneer.com/columnist1.asp?main_variable=Columnist&file_name=shankar%2Fshankar227.txt&writer=shankar. Retrieved 2007-07-22. 
  67. ^ "Pratibha believes in spirits?". Times of India. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/Pratibha_believes_in_spirits/articleshow/2152156.cms. Retrieved 2007-07-22. 
  68. ^ "Dadi Hirdaya Mohini- Joint Administrative Head". BKWSU. http://www.bkwsu.org/whoweare/spiritualleaders/dadihirdayamohini.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-28. 
  69. ^ CBI probe into spiritual sect sought in Haryana [1] The Times of India Apr 1, 2011 "In his letter to Rajasthan Chief Minister, Fuliya said, "A few years ago, when I was divisional commissioner in Hisar, some serious crimes were committed in the sewa kendra of Barwala town and Panipat by some people of these kendras." Giving names of accused and deceased, Fuliya further said, "In 2005, these people kidnapped a devotee, who was probably killed later on. Those involved scapegoat a female devotee and blamed for the crime. After this incident, two persons went missing." Fuliya said, "That time, a girl was sexually exploited in a sewa kendra situated in Panipat district. Then, her brother was killed in Uttar Pradesh when he raised voice against the exploitation. After my intervention, a case of rape was registered."
  70. ^ Walliss, John (2002). The Brahma Kumaris As a Reflexive Tradition: Responding to Late Modernity.
  71. ^ http://pbks.info/index.html
  72. ^ Howell, Julia Day (Sept 1998). "Gender Role Experimentation in New Religious Movements: clarification of the Brahma Kumari case". Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 37 (3): 453–461. doi:10.2307/1388052. JSTOR 1388052. ""The likelihood that surrendered sisters in India will remain Brahmins throughout their lives is increased by the practise of parent giving dowries to the Brahma Kumaris for daughters they concede will not marry. This practise goes back to the early days of the organization but it is not clear how common it was. Whaling and Babb report it as an occasional practice. Recently the pattern has been formalized, with retreats at Mount Abu being offered for girls in their mid-teens who may wish to undertake a fuller commitment to the organization. The girls are offered a short period of taking classes and living near Senior Sisters, at the end of which they may nominate to undertake a year trial as surrendered sisters. A payment equivalent to a dowry is required from the girls' natural families to cover their living expenses over the trial period. This payment is also meant to prevent parent "dumping" daughters on the Brahma Kumaris to avoid the dowries and other costs of ordinary marriages. Return to the world for women who have has such a dowry paid for them is difficult."" 
  73. ^ Walliss, John (2002). The Brahma Kumaris As a Reflexive Tradition: Responding to Late Modernity. Ashgate Publishing. p. 37. ISBN 978-0754609513. "Of primary importance in the revelations Lekhraj is said to have received is that the members of the Brahma Kumari ‘university’ should undergo ‘death-in-life’, they should ‘die towards the outer world’. They had to renounce their families and thus they got the opportunity to be ‘divinely reborn’ in a ‘divine family" 
  74. ^ Smith, Dr Wendy A. (Autumn 2007). "Asian New Religious Movements as global cultural systems". International Institute for Asian Studies 45: 16–17. "Conversion involves members changing their daily lifestles and even leaving long term relationships...Married converts have often had to forgo their marriage partnerships." 
  75. ^ Kościańska, Agnieszka Z (May 15–17, 2003). "On celibate marriages: the Polish Catholics' encounter with Hindu spirituality". On the Margins of Religion, Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, Warsaw University. "Conversion to so-called new religions often causes a conflict within converts' families. He/she changes his/her beliefs, but also lifestyle: He converts prays differently and eats differently. The Brahma Kumaris members spend most of their time on 'spiritual development'. To be successful on this path one must fulfil very strict requirements, which totally reorganise everyday life of both members and their families. Families of converts become arenas of conflict between spirituality rooted in Hindu tradition and the very Polish 'popular Catholicism', on two indissoluble levels. First, on the level of religious practices and second, on the level of daily live. Sexual relations within marriage are considered to be 'sacred' by Catholics in Poland. The Brahma Kumaris believe that relations between husband and wife should be based on 'a marriage of souls' e.g. they should meditate together, communicate via telepathy etc." 
  76. ^ "Is joining a cult always wrong?Geraldine Bedell on the murky ethics – Independent, The (London) – Find Articles at BNET.com". http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_19960115/ai_n9636788. [dead link]
  77. ^ GALLAGHER, IAN; RICE, DENNIS; CHURCHER, SHARON (2007-01-06). "The PM's wife, the Druid priestess and the no-sex guru". London: Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=426903&in_page_id=1770. Retrieved 2008-01-24. "Brahma Kumaris, a women-led spiritual organisation that, while striving for world peace, has allegedly used 'pernicious' methods to control its followers. The group is led by 90-year-old Indian spiritualist Dadi Janki, a woman Dwina regards as her guru and whom she consults, according to a source close to her, 'about everything'. Both Dwina and Robin make regular donations to Brahma Kumaris ... "Former members and the families of members have told me that Brahma has driven a wedge between husband and wife,' said Graham Baldwin, a cult expert who has counselled former Brahma members." 
  78. ^ Momin, Sajeda (2007). "Is Cherie becoming a Brahma Kumari?". Daily News and Analysis, Mumbai. http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?NewsID=1073280. Retrieved 2008-01-24. 
  79. ^ Walliss, John (2002). The Brahma Kumaris As a Reflexive Tradition: Responding to Late Modernity. Aldershot: Ashgate. p. 106. ISBN 978-0754609513. 
  80. ^ Human Rights Without Frontiers, Int
  81. ^ Gest, Alain; Brar, president, Jean- Pierre; Sauvaig and others, Suzanne (1995/6). "Cults in France". French National Assembly in the name of The Board of Inquiry into Cults. http://www.cftf.com/french/Les_Sectes_en_France/cults.html. 
  82. ^ "Orthophoniste et naturopathe, il est dénoncé comme "gourou"". Coordination des Associations & Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience. 2000. http://www.coordiap.com/temo13.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-24. 
  83. ^ Licenciements dans une crèche en Gironde pour appartenance à une secte, Agence France-Presse [2] 18 Juin 2003 [3]
  84. ^ "Companion of God". BKWSU. http://www.companionofgod.com/gallery.htm. Retrieved 2009-02-28[code]. "In 1978 Scientists at the Medical and Science Research Institute at the University of Texas, USA examined the brain wave pattern of BK Dadi Janki, Joint Chief of Brahma Kumaris. She was described as the ‘most stable mind in the world’ as her mental state remained completely undisturbed whilst undergoing tests at the Institute)" 
  85. ^ "Companion of God". The Keinnyung Gazette, South Korea. http://www.rickross.com/reference/general/general924.html. Retrieved 2007-04-26. "Dadi Janki, now in her nineties, has been a member of the BKWSU from the beginning. Her current official title is Joint Administrative Head of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University. According to the BKWSU ... Dadi Janki was declared by scientists from the University of Texas’ Medical and Science Research Institute in 1978 as having the most stable mind in the world. The Gazette contacted an archivist at the University of Texas Archives who replied, “I have searched the likely places and found no mention of the experiments performed on Dadi Janki in 1978. Indeed, I didn't even find any University of Texas organization called the Medical and Science Research Institute." Despite evidence that the institute that ran those experiments never existed, Dadi Janki recently described to the Indian news site www.tribuneindia.com the experiments carried out on her and repeated the claim." 

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