The Brahma Kumaris present a heavily edited and revised history to its’ membership and potential consumers. According to legal documents the organisation was established in 1932 by Lehkraj Kirpilani in Hyderabad, Sindh when he was 48 years old. After significant legal action against him it became a predominately female membership in an ironic twist – male membership had been accused of sexual misconduct and were banned by the courts. In 1971 the organisation expanded into the West and has effectively become a global corporation:
The Brahma Kumaris have a 70 year history and are more than apt at rewriting and re-editing that history for the sake of its consumers. They get away with it because the constant ‘refinements’ are designed to make the Brahma Kumaris identity more palatable to it’s members and future consumers. The strong sense of denial inherent in any members belief (in any religion really) makes them blind to any evidence that history is being reinvented to suit.
According to the Brahma Kumaris current version of their history Dada Lehkraj Kripalani was a devout and impressive man of impeccable character. Born in 1876 he was from the state of Sindh (now incorporated into Pakistan) and lived in Hyderabad. He was a wealthy diamond merchant. He was also a Vaishnavite of the Vallabhacharya sect.
The story goes that in 1936, when Dada Lehkraj was 60 years old, God Shiva began to descend from His spiritual abode outside this Universe and occupy his body. He would speak through Lehkraj’s mouth to reveal the Truth. According to accounts cited at the time, Lehkrajs’ eyes would glow and the room would fill with a ‘golden red light’. It all began with the declaration “I am Shiva, I am Shiva” (Shiva being a traditional Hindu god).
Lehkraj formed an organisation at that time he called Om Mandli in Hyderabad, in what is now Pakistan. It comprised a majority of woman and girls. The organisation was challenged by an “anti-party” that included Lehkraj’s own brother. The Brahma Kumaris describe this period as an inevitable aspect of a spiritual revolution and proof of the ignorance of the masses.The group relocated to Karachi but the activities of the anti-party only increased, including legal challenges and harassment.
In 1949 the group relocated to Mt Abu, in India but had run out of money by this time. This began a period the Brahma Kumaris refer to as the ‘beggary period’ and, in typical cult-speak, was a time in which those of weak faith left. This included (though now kept quiet) Lehkraj’s own family.
As Lehkraj no longer had funds he sent his devotees out on ministry – to reveal the ‘divine knowledge’ – and to collect donations.The organisation recovered financially and new recruits would travel to Mt Abu to see Dada whom they believed to be Gods’ “chariot”. They would also listen to Shiva speak through Dada in daily morning class, or “murli” class. And they no doubt gave donations to “Gods’ work”.
Dada Lehkraj died in 1969 but, “due to his superior state of purity, did not take rebirth”. In order to maintain control of the faithful the leadership claimed that he ascended to the ‘subtle region’ where trance messengers could contact him and get directions for the future of the organisation.
In 1971 a BKWSU ‘sister’ left India for London. Her name is Janki Kripilani and, later refered to as Dadi Janki, she is now the head of the BKWSU globally as her reward. It was hard ground at first. However there was support from members of the BKWSU who had left India earlier and were already resident in the UK. Over the next few years westerners were recruited who brought their skills into the organisation and consequently growth became exponential.
There are glaring differences between the Brahma Kumaris version of the establishment of the organisation and legal documents obtained from that period that tell quite a different story.
In response to the legal disputes that emerged Dada Lehkraj had his number one disciple, Om Rahde, compile a written response although it is doubtful it his her work alone. She was 19 at the time and the document is easily perceived as being too sophisticated for someone with so little experience. This document provides a very clear history for the period from 1932 to 1939.
This document shows:
That Dada Lehkraj began preaching in 1932 at age 48. He developed a following of about 500 people by 1936.That Dada Lehkraj was 52 in 1936 and not 60 as claimed may seem like a minor detail at first but in Hindu tradition age 60 is very important. It is the age when a man adopts “van prahst” – which means to retire and take a guru. The Brahma Kumaris play on this by claiming that Lehkraj had reached this significant spiritual milestone and that God Shiva had waited for this moment to establish the organisation. None of this is true. At age 48 Lehkraj was establishing a personality cult – something which had to be denied.
The document also shows that the membership of Om Mandli believed that Lehkraj was in fact God (Prajapita Brahma Gita Sermoniser) and that they believed God was omnipresent in accordance with traditional Hinduism (how Lehkraj was God and also omnipresent demonstrates how confusing Hinduism can be). There is no mention at all of Shiva.
The document includes statements from a number of supporters who were witness to the teachings of Lehkraj at the time that testify that the knowledge taught by Lehkraj was direct from the Upunishads and Bhagavad Gita – both dominant Hindu scriptures.
Below is a letter written by the BKWSU in 1942 addressed to “Military Marshalls and Commanders” in red writing as was typical of the BKs.
This statement “Divine Father Prajapati Brahma, the Gita Author…….” is a clear reference to the groups belief that Dada Lehkraj was God. This idea was subsequently remanufactured into the notion that Shiva is God and channelling through Lehkraj.
From the content and nature of the letter it is apparent that the group believed that the world was to end at that time i.e. during World War two.
It is also clear that the group was fundamentalist and peculiar.
Moving on to other aspects, of significance also is that nowhere in this history, which lists every member of Om Mandli at the time, is Dadi Janki included. Dadi is now head of the Brahma Kumaris. Her personal biodata claims that she was a significant member of the organisation from 1936. Edited from the current version of history is the fact that she was married with a child at that time and that she abandoned both. This document establishes that she was not involved with the organisation between 1932 and 1939 and was not considered a member of Om Mandli. This has significant implications for the membership who have been trained to believe that she was one of the ‘original souls’ and therefore is a soul of great power.
Another significant claim that Dada Lehkraj established Om Mandli to give women a voice in a country and time in which they were oppressed is also a blatant fabrication. Yes they were oppressed. But the reason Om Mandli comprised a vast majority of women was due to a ruling by the Courts.
Those who were opposed to Om Mandli had brought a case against the group accusing Lehkraj and his cohort of sexual abuse particularly of young girls. The Courts subsequently ruled that males and females could not reside together in the same facility. Thus it became of ‘female society’ which probably played straight in Lehkraj’s hands.
Since the 1980′s the organisation has expanded exponentially. This is largely due to the recruitment of individuals who had skills in marketing and public relations. No longer were the Brahma Kumaris hosting small programs in community halls – they were now holding international conferences on World Peace and Global Cooperation. They were now actively recruiting well known individuals such as Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London.
The Brahma Kumaris continue to squeeze every penny and rupee out of every member – with a promise of no tomorrow and heaven after that – with exceptional talent. With an extraordinary capacity to use people (to the point of abuse) they have been able to create an overwhelming facade of success and, by default, legitimacy. This is manifest in the building boom of the late ’80′s and ’90′s when they constructed what can only really be described as edifaces – such as “Global Cooperation House in London” at a cost of over 5,000,000 pounds sterling in 1989 just for construction.
In 2007 Dadi Prakashmani, Head of the organisation since 1969, died. She was a sufferer of Alzheimers and ultimately a stroke. Dadi Janki was then appointed as the new Head.
The legal document referred to in this text can be downloaded here.
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