Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual Organizations
- (BKWSO)(est. 1937)A worldwide family of individuals from all walks of life, the Bahma Kumaris World Spiritual Orga-nizations offer education in human, moral, and spiritual values.The founder, Prajapita Brahma, or Dada Lekhraj (1876–1969), was born into a humble home, the son of a village schoolmaster. He was brought up within the disciplines of the Hindu Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual Organizations 89 Jtradition but was not particularly devout at an early age. He entered the jewelry business and earned a considerable fortune as a diamond trader. At age 60, he decided to invest more time in quiet reflection and solitude. In 1936, while in a meditative state, he felt a warm flow of energy surround him and experienced a series of profound visions that revealed truths about the nature of the soul and God, the Supreme Soul. He decided to dedicate his life to understanding the significance and application of the knowl-edge he received and to convey this understand-ing to others in service of world transformation. In October 1937 he formed a managing commit-tee of eight young women, and in February 1938 he gave all of his property and assets to a trust administered by them.Although the BKWSO is not a women’s orga-nization per se, it has been largely administered by women from its inception. The organization states that it is the need for the traditionally more feminine qualities of patience, tolerance, sacri-fice, and love that keeps women in leadership positions.The organization came into being under the name Om Mandali. At first it consisted of a hand-ful of men, women, and children living in Hyder-abad. After one year the organization moved to Karachi, Pakistan, where for 14 years, until after the partition of India and Pakistan, a group of 300 individuals lived as a self-sufficient community, spending their time in intense spiritual study and meditation.In 1950, the community moved to Mount Abu in the state of Rajasthan, India. In 1952, Brahma Baba, as Dada Lekhraj had become known, felt that outreach was necessary to share the knowl-edge and experiences of the community. A few sisters left Mount ABU and moved to Bombay (Mumbai) and Delhi to serve by establishing study centers where the knowledge of Raja Yoga would be taught. The Madhuban community at Mount Abu remains the nucleus of the Brahma Kumaris centers worldwide and is a pilgrimage place for study and retreat.In 1969, Dadi Prakashmani, one of the original eight trustees, was appointed chief administrative head of the Brahma Kumaris. Under her leader-ship the organization has experienced tremendous growth, expanding beyond India for the first time. It now includes 3,200 centers with over 450,000 students in 70 countries. Since 1974, Dadi Janaki has served as coordinator for all Brahma Kumaris activities outside India.Today the BKWSO offers a varied curricu-lum with classes and workshops on Raja Yoga, stress-free living, MEDITATION training, community organization, and development of communication The Universal Peace Hall, the main building of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual Organization on Mount Abu, Rajasthan, India (Constance A. Jones)skills. As part of its 60th anniversary, the Brahma Kumaris inaugurated the Academy for a Better World as a place where men, women, and children can reach their unique human potential and culti-vate common human values. The Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University is a nongovernmental organization in general consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).Further reading: Liz Hodgkinson, Peace and Purity: the Story of the Brahma Kumaris: A Spiritual Revolution (Deerfield Beach, Fla.: Health Communications, Inc., 1999); John Walliss, The Brahma Kumaris as a “Reflexive Tradition”: Responding to Late Modernity (Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2002).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.
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