A member of the Brahma Kumaris – a ‘BK’ – adopts a highly regulated and controlled lifestyle. Based on the belief that the burden of karma is either decreased or increased with every thought, word and action, every moment and every aspect of ones’ behavior should be governed. One must be very careful to ensure that one is inculcating purity at every step. Any mistake must be confessed in order to be empowered to not repeat that mistake. (This confession would be to one of the seniors and is an essential part of mind control). “Obedience is freedom” is key to a BKs’ thinking and living.
The concept of becoming a completely pure soul free from the burden of past sin dominates a members thinking. Whilst many people would see this as an impossible expectation it is the basis of a BKs’ lifestyle. Thus the members day starts with meditation at 4.00am for 45 minutes . This is known as “Amrit Vela” and is one of the “Maryadas” – the basic rules for living a pure life. This may be done alone or in a group. Amrit vela is followed by general class.
Having completed the ‘7 day course’ one is entitled to start attending the general class. Starting time varies from around 5.00 am to 6.30 am depending on the demographic.The general class starts with a short meditation, then a class from the head teacher followed by the reading of a murli. Good students will takes notes and study them with vigour trying to imbibe as much of the thinking from the murli as they can. They are effectively engaging in an active process of self indoctrination.
The rest of the day will take on an appearance of normality for ordinary students. They will go to work or to take care of home duties – but their personal agenda is now completely at odds with a normal environment.They will be practising detachment, internally separating themselves from those around them in preparation for their deaths in the impending global destruction. They will be practising “traffic control” – a timetable of short meditations in which the member practises thinking “correctly”.
Another of the “Maryadas” is a strict vegetarian diet that incorporates no alcohol or tobacco. The BKs’ also require that the food they eat be prepared with “pure vibrations” – and such pure food can only be prepared by a conscientious BK. This means that a BK cannot eat the impure food cooked by their mother or wife and restaurants are not an option. The ramifications of this can be very serious in certain cultures. It certainly separates a BK from family and friends as food is integral to ongoing family and social relations.
If a member is “surrendered” then from morning class they will continue to do service throughout the day. It is normally fairly relaxed agenda of office work, preparation for planned events, dealing with day to day issues, all hopefully accomplished in a meditative state of consciousness. This changes when they are busy on a major program and this is when the seniors are most likely to reveal their dark side – something for which the faithful will forgive them too easily.
A new member will ordinarily continue to live in the same environment as they were when they came across the BKWSU. After attending morning class and following all the maryadas for six months a member is considered pukka. However their new beliefs will inevitably bring changes. Diet is one example. Conflict often occurs in the case of celibacy when both partners are not members. This has lead to a common accusation against the Brahma Kumaris as home breakers. There has been many a divorce as a result of this “Maryada”. As celibacy is one of the “Maryadas” it is an absolute requirement for any member to be taken seriously by the group or to be allowed to travel to Madhuban.
At the end of the working day a BK will normally attend evening class. This will include meditation and a lecture. It is not compulsory as morning class is but a BK will demonstrate his worth as a BK by attending. Such pukka students will be rewarded with opportunities in service and by implication a higher status in the BK family. A member who has trouble attending morning or evening class due to protests from husbands, wives, other family members, or due to sickness, would be considered to be in “bondage” – this means that the soul has a severe karmic burden as a result of past bad actions. They are, by implication, very impure.
A BK will spend their spare time in study and meditation, or be at the centre helping in service projects, giving courses or even just cleaning or doing handiwork. At the end of a day that started before 4.00 am they will go to bed exhausted – only to wake up a few hours later to sit in meditation to cement their beliefs and do it all over again – day after day, 7 days a week.
Once a year a BK will go to the BKWSU headquarters in Mt. Abu, India for about 3 weeks. There they will immerse themselves in all things BK surrounded by other BKs and actively engaging in the indoctrination process.
A member who has been a BK for some time will have removed themselves from family and friends and will now move only in BK circles. They will have cut back on work commitments, careers, old interests and hobbies. They will not watch television, go to the movies or any form of public entertainment.
For a pukka BK, there is nothing for them outside of the life and work of the BKWSU. They live in a very small world engaging in a very limited and reductionist belief system. After many years of living in this tiny bubble their lives are shattered when that bubble bursts. They find themselves in an alien world unable to grasp the social codes of a world that has changed so much in the time they were out of it. Many find this traumatic because they are unable to cope. Some will take their own lives.
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