Who we are and what we do
What is Brahma Kumaris?
Brahma Kumaris (BK) was founded in India in the 1930s by Brahma Baba and now has its spiritual headquarters in Mount Abu, Rajasthan, India. Brahma Kumaris service outside India began in 1971 and now comprises a worldwide network of centres in over 110 countries and territories. There are currently estimated to be around one million students. It provides spiritual education and reflective practices for people from diverse cultural backgrounds, inspiring them to live according to their own higher nature and contribute towards a better world.
What are the aspirations of Brahma Kumaris?
- To encourage a deeper understanding of the individual's place and purpose within the broader context of life.
- To reaffirm the spiritual identity, inherent goodness, dignity and worth of the human being.
- To encourage a change of awareness, attitude, vision and behaviour within the human family.
- To help individuals rediscover their latent personal relationship with the Source of all goodness.
- To foster a spirit of human brotherhood - every human being, irrespective of their religion, their race, their gender or their nationality, can draw profound inner strength from a relationship with their eternal Parent, the Divine.
- To support the betterment of the human condition by remaining fully engaged in our communities and to support programmes, projects and initiatives with this rediscovered inner strength.
- To establish a relationship between human beings and the environment based on the principle of non-violence.
How does Brahma Kumaris fulfil these aspirations?
Through its international network of centres Brahma Kumaris offers courses in Raja Yoga meditation and a range of lectures, workshops, short courses and programmes in personal development. There are also many community outreach projects that serve a variety of local needs.
At a national and international level, Brahma Kumaris co-ordinates and works in partnership on a variety of projects that provide opportunities for people to participate in activities of social and humanitarian concern.
How does Brahma Kumaris support the local community?
Brahma Kumaris often plays a significant role in outreach to local communities. We conduct seminars, courses and workshops on meditation, personal development and new ways of working together in the community. The courses and the presentation vary according to country, culture and local facilities. To find out about the course in your area.
These courses are held at community centres, prisons, hospitals, homes for the elderly, drug rehabilitation units, schools and local businesses. They are based on practical and applied spirituality with a view to enhancing well-being and quality of life. The content is drawn from the teachings of Brahma Kumaris. Individuals are able to deepen their self-understanding, explore and experiment with spiritual life skills for easier relationships and for greater fulfilment in life.
In addition to Raja Yoga Meditation, courses we offer include:
- Overcoming Anger. Understanding the underlying causes and subtle forms of anger, the effects of anger on our well-being and how to use one's energy in a more productive way.
- Positive Thinking. Exploring the role of thought in shaping our perceptions, sense of meaning, and actions, and how to reclaim our authenticity, freedom and self mastery.
- Self-Esteem. How to re-build innate personality traits that contribute to self-respect and self-worth.
- Stress-free Living. Understanding, recognising and managing the varying levels of stress, worry, and tension, and learning some simple ways to minimise these, by making a change in lifestyle.
Further support is provided for:
Other areas of activity include education, healthcare, interfaith and places of detention. There are also residential retreat centres, which provide a supportive and nurturing environment, where individuals and professional groups can explore meditation and the spiritual underpinnings of their personal, family and work life.
Partnerships and Global Initiatives
What partnerships and global initiatives is Brahma Kumaris involved in?
Brahma Kumaris engages in a variety of partnerships, based on shared purposes and principles. Partnerships include:
- ‘India One‘ Solar Thermal Power Plant. The fusion of spirituality and values with research and development of renewable energy technology.
- Yogic Agriculture. A project underway in Gujarat, India, to teach farmers how to create a more loving and peaceful state of mind while working on their crops, is showing remarkable results. Initial research by SD Agricultural University (Gujarat) suggests that crop yields and mineral content can be increased by a significant percentage. Run by the rural wing of Brahma Kumaris, there is no cost to farmers or the environment. Other reported benefits have been improvements in farmers' well-being and emotional resilience. Read more.
- Images and Voices of Hope: Media as Agents of World Benefit. The Mission is: Positive change is about focusing on the world we want to live in - not only problem solving the world we have. It's not about glossing difficult truths. It's about amplifying the best in human nature and, whenever possible, shining a light on the steps we can take towards the future we want. Read more.
- The Spirit of Humanity Forum: Resetting the Compass towards Core Human Values. A new global network of organisations, communities and individuals committed to help bring about change in governance and decision-making, based on core human values. The Forum creates a safe space for deeper encounter, exploration and dialogue among leaders to discover new ways to move forwards. Read more.
- Global Hospital and Research Centre, Mount Abu, Rajasthan, India. In 1989, eminent Mumbai-based head and neck cancer surgeon Dr Ashok Mehta visited Brahma Kumaris spiritual headquarters in Mount Abu. His positive experience led him to believe that Brahma Kumaris represented a like-minded group of people with whom he could work in partnership to implement his vision of a model hospital focusing on holistic healthcare. The project was adopted by Khuba and GulabWatumull of Mumbai and Hawaii (USA) respectively, and was named J Watumull Global Hospital & Research Centre, in memory of their late father.
- Janki Foundation for Global Health Care. A UK charity promoting spirituality in health care. It supports healthcare professionals through values-based dialogue and training, and contributes to general well-being through inspirational books, CDs and lectures. It also gives regular financial support to the Global Hospital and Research Centre in Mount Abu, India, which has pioneered a healthcare model combining modern medical technology with spirituality and complementary medicine. Dadi Janki is the President of the Janki Foundation.
- The Point of Life Foundation. A US non-profit entity, established to serve the global community. It is founded on the vision of a spiritual model of healthcare, with a focus on the well-being of the whole person. It aims to integrate a people-centred approach within the existing paradigms in healthcare, and to inform people about issues relevant to the holistic, with emphasis on the spiritual approach to health, care, healing, self-care, and healthcare education. The Point of Life Foundation works in partnership with the Brahma Kumaris in two primary areas:
- Local educational initiatives for healthcare professionals and the public under the auspices of 'Hope in Healthcare'.
- Global outreach to support the work of the J Watumull Global Hospital & Research Centre (Mount Abu, India) and similar projects through facilitating donation of physical resources and volunteering of professional services.
Brahma Kumaris global initiatives are drawn from the creative minds of individuals who integrate their personal spiritual growth with the work they do in the world. Applying the double helix of the spiritual with the secular, topical global issues are explored through outreach to the wider population, drawing on their collective wisdom and enlightened insight. Courses, activities, programmes and initiatives are designed to help in everyday life. They cover a broad cultural context and include:
- The Call-of-the-Time Dialogue Series (COTT) – co-facilitated by BK Jayanti Kirpalani, Director of the Brahma Kumaris, UK and Peter Senge, Senior Lecturer, MIT, USA, leaders from across cultures, religions, and races come together with honour, respect and appreciation of the intrinsic value of each one present. Together they explore the crucial territory where personal and collective cultivation meet. They are convinced that such explorations will prove vital to the larger issues that lay ahead for the world.
- The Future of Power – is a series of exclusive conversations exploring the forthcoming ‘shifts in power' and their impact on leadership in the 21st Century. Hosted by Dadi Janki, Administrative Head of the Brahma Kumaris, and Nizar Juma, a Nairobi-based businessman and industrialist, the conversations successfully provide participants with an opportunity to take time out and reflect on the deeper meaning of power in their lives.
- Choose, Change and Become Retreats -- These retreats are held annually in cities around the world. They are about bringing a bunch of like-minded, hope-driven young adults together to explore brave new ways of operating, innovative ways of seeing and positive ways of being. It's about experimenting with a new approach to change, an inside-out approach and one based on an understanding of the deep connection between our inner and outer worlds. The retreat process includes a creative blend of reflection, conversation, active engagement, meditation and play, through which young people are able to develop a personal road map for expressing their potential.
- The Four Faces of Woman – Helping women to balance their personal, family and professional lives and exploring the deeper meaning of the feminine characteristics and their role in restoring humanity to its original state of authenticity and harmony.
- Being with One Initiative -- In light of the current speed of change, the instability of many areas of our world, and the suffering of millions, perhaps there is another way we can help. As spiritual beings we all share the same Source of spiritual light and power. Many now recognise that we can gently raise our consciousness, connect with the Source, and serve as instruments of the ONE to bring that healing light, love and power into the world.
It is a subtle exercise in which we can serve to empower and strengthen others. In the process we also empower our own resilience to face our own daily challenges. Whatever you call the ONE whom we all share and to whom we are all connected, we invite you to join us annually in a collective effort in Being with ONE from 21 September,- The UN International Day of Peace - to 2 October,- The UN International Day of Non-Violence.
- just-a-minute – is an initiative created to mark the 70th anniversary of the Brahma Kumaris. Worldwide, more and more people are realising the benefits of short meditation breaks during the day. These breaks in our busy, often challenging, everyday lives help us experience peace and well-being, no matter what is happening around us. Everyone can practise these one-minute breaks, wherever, whenever. The just-a-minute website offers easy tools and tested tips on how to get started.
- The Culture of Peace and Non-Violence - is a commitment to peace-building, mediation, conflict prevention and resolution, peace education, education for non-violence, tolerance, acceptance, mutual respect, intercultural and interfaith dialogue and reconciliation. The Brahma Kumaris participated in the Decade 2000-2010 promoting the Manifesto and collecting thousands of signatures in the form of pledges.
- Sharing our Values for a Better World – was a year long project that started in September 1994 and continued through October 1995 culminating in a celebration honouring the UN50. Throughout the year all the Brahma Kumaris' centres organised and focused activities around 12 values – Co-operation, Freedom, Happiness, Honesty, Humility, Love, Peace, Respect, Responsibility, Simplicity, Tolerance and Unity.
- Global Co-operation for Better World – A United Nations Peace Messenger Initiative elicited from people, in words or pictures, responses to the question: "What is your vision of a better world?"Visions, hopes, and aspirations of a sweeping cross-section of individuals from more than 120 countries had been collected. The Global Vision Statement synthesised and reflected the contributions of the people. Visions of a Better World, a Peace Messenger Publication, was published featuring some of the vast outpouring of colour and creativity produced by the Project.
- The Million Minutes of Peace Appeal – was dedicated to the UN International Year of Peace. That appeal, which asked people to pledge time in meditation, positive thinking, or prayers for peace, reached 88 countries and collected 1,231,975,713 minutes of peace. The total was equal to some 2,344 years of peace! The Brahma Kumaris were awarded seven national and one international Peace Messenger Awards by the Secretary General of the UN for their contribution to the Year.
Teachings and way of life
What is the core curriculum of Brahma Kumaris?
At the heart of the Brahma Kumaris teachings is the Foundation Course in Raja Yoga meditation. This course provides a practical understanding of the relationship between spirit and matter, as well as an understanding of the interplay between souls, God and the material world.
The series of classes in this course will facilitate your inward journey in an efficient and effective way. Learn about:
- consciousness and self-realisation
- connection and relationship with God
- the law of karma
- the cycle of time
- the Tree of Life
- a spiritual lifestyle
The lessons are offered in two parts:
- Part 1: offers the basic knowledge and practice of Raja Yoga meditation. This is for people who are interested in only learning how to meditate as a regular practice.
- Part 2: offers the teachings of Raja Yoga as a study. The teachings take the aspirant into the depths of universal truths. The goal of the teachings is to learn how to concentrate the mind and to discover the innermost core of the soul's divinity. This is for people who want to exercise their own reason and judgment; who want to learn from the authority of their own experiences and sustain a lifestyle on a more elevated spiritual plane
What are the main pillars in the Brahma Kumaris way of life?
There are four main pillars:
- Study – The daily study of spiritual knowledge gives nourishment to the soul to remove blind faith and to see events, situations and circumstance as opportunities to apply the teachings.
- Meditation – Meditation provides a direct connection to the Source, enabling the soul to draw power and build resilience and spiritual capacity.
- Practise virtues – The awareness of the self as a soul awakens the essential core of divine virtues, giving the inner strength to overcome negative self-beliefs and the freedom to be the authentic self.
- Serve – Being is seen as the basis for serving – bringing the virtues of the soul into whatever role one happens to be playing.
Are there any special lifestyle disciplines in the Brahma Kumaris way of life?
The journey towards self-realisation involves observing certain lifestyle disciplines, which are recommended and not imposed. Brahma Kumaris' environments are nurtured by observing these disciplines.
Spiritual study and practice underpin an individual's spiritual journey. It is the responsibility of each person to discern and choose what lifestyle disciplines they are ready to implement, and at whatever pace suits them.
The two main lifestyle disciplines observed are:
- Satwic (pure) diet: a vegetarian or vegan diet contributes to general well-being and helps develop clarity and concentration. No substance abuse, including not using any alcohol or tobacco.
- Celibacy is seen as the basis for cultivating a safe and pure way for people to be and live together. This choice can make people stronger in themselves, more autonomous and more self-confident. It liberates both genders from their over-reliance on each other and supports greater equality. The Brahma Kumaris view celibacy as fundamental to self-realisation and to recreating a loving relationship with God and to creating a culture of peace and non-violence.
Does everyone have to conform to Brahma Kumaris way of life to be part of the BK community?
No. This is a learning community in which all the participants are involved in a process of spiritual development. Each individual chooses what to take from the curriculum, according to their interest. It is an open learning environment, to which people from diverse backgrounds come, bringing with them the richness of their specialties. The level of commitment is a personal decision.
Is there a special dress code?
There is no specific dress code, although casual, modest dress is generally appropriate, when attending BK courses or activities. White is the preferred colour within the BK community, as it reflects the inner aspirations towards living a life of simplicity, purity, cleanliness and truth – qualities to which the practice of Raja Yoga meditation gives rise.
How does Brahma Kumaris view religion?
The Brahma Kumaris emphasises the importance of the ‘dharma' element of religion – the inculcation of the universal principles, taught by God to humanity, for spiritual renewal and restoration. The purpose of ‘dharma' is to recognise that spirituality is the key to bringing justice, peace and well-being to humanity.
Every soul, regardless of the religion, is spiritually moulded by his or her relationship with the Supreme, and their understanding and practice of faith and life experiences. The way forward is a return to the spirituality at the heart of the great faiths. In practical terms, this would mean living the highest ideals that faith inspires within souls - of love, compassion, truth and non-violence.
How does ‘knowledge-based' meditation work?
The Brahma Kumaris teachings are set within the context that the world is at a turning point at which a transformation of consciousness is taking place. One of the main teachings is that the tree of humanity has one seed, God, the Supreme Soul, who stays eternally full of all divine qualities. As children of the one Seed, human beings are one family. By making a subtle shift from an outer, material dependency to an inner, spiritual awareness, human beings realise their true selves and recognise the Source, God, and restore themselves to their original nature of peace, respect and love.
Raja Yoga meditation requires the individual to study spiritual knowledge. Understanding of the knowledge is essential to its practice and application. The aim of Raja Yoga is self-sovereignty and self-mastery and so it is important for the individual to be discerning on his or her spiritual journey. The process of learning is a simple one: listening to and understanding the teachings; contemplating and making sense of how to apply the teachings in life; inculcating the teachings and emerging the innate qualities into the awareness of the self; experiencing the meaning of insightful wisdom and deciding the quality of one's actions.
The process begins at the personal level with a collective momentum building, and eventually leads to a shift from a world torn apart by anger, attachment, arrogance, greed and lust to a kinder, gentler world, with only the finest in human virtues – happiness, love, peace and purity.
What is the role of the meditation teacher?
The term ‘teacher' is used for a person facilitating the process of taking an individual through the lessons of the Raja Yoga Meditation Course. The teacher's role is more of a spiritual coach.
How is Brahma Kumaris funded?
The Brahma Kumaris runs on voluntary contributions, both financial and in kind, from individuals who have benefited personally through its courses and activities. Brahma Kumaris students, inspired to serve others, choose to contribute regularly in support of the work, according to their means. There is no membership fee.
Funds from philanthropists, national or international agencies are sometimes received for humanitarian and environmental initiatives, in such fields as solar energy projects, health and education.
Why are all Brahma Kumaris courses and programmes offered free of charge?
From its beginning, the work of Brahma Kumaris has been based on the principle that spiritual knowledge is a basic right of every human being. It was the founder's (Brahma Baba's) aim to provide opportunities for everyone to develop their own spiritual potential, without charge, regardless of age, gender, background or financial circumstances. This ethic is practised by all participating BK teachers and students.
Can anyone participate in the courses and programmes?
All adults are welcome to participate in any activity of their choice. Informal open-house meetings and visits provide an opportunity for individuals to learn more about the organisation even before deciding to participate in any of the courses or activities at local centres. For many of the courses and programmes, prior registration is required.
Are children allowed to participate?
Young people aged 16 and over may join group classes and activities. Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by their parent/carer.
All Brahma Kumaris centres carry child-protection policies, in accordance with the laws of their respective countries and cities.
Do I need to take any precautions before learning Raja Yoga meditation?
In general, anyone can benefit from Raja Yoga Meditation. If you are uncertain or if you are suffering from a mental illness, it is advisable to ask your doctor's opinion before learning to meditate. It is also important that you do not discontinue any medication without first consulting your doctor.
Do Brahma Kumaris centres offer counselling?
The organisation does not offer counselling at any of its centres. It provides a wide range of courses in spiritual knowledge. Individuals are free to choose what they wish to practise.
History and Leadership
Where was Brahma Kumaris founded and when?
It was founded in 1930's in Hyderabad, Sindh (now part of Pakistan, but at that time part of colonial India) by Brahma Baba, formerly known as Dada LekhrajKripalani, who had a series of visions depicting world transformation. In 1937, he formed a managing committee of eight young women and established an informal group that grew into the Brahma Kumaris of today.
What is the history of the Brahma Kumaris' founder?
Dada Lekhraj was a successful and much-respected jeweller. In 1936, around the time when most people at his age start to plan their retirement, he actually entered into the most active and fascinating phase of his life. After a series of deep spiritual experiences and visions, he felt an extremely strong pull to give up his business and dedicate his time, energy and wealth to laying the foundations of what later would become the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University. He soon became known as Brahma Baba. He spent the rest of his life bringing people of all cultural, socio-economic and religious backgrounds together to rediscover and develop the spiritual dimensions of their personal lives and to integrate this into their world. He insisted that his role was that of a simple instrument and not that of a guru. He recognised God, the Being of Light, the Benevolent one, as the primary inspiration for Brahma Kumaris and their work. In May 1950 he moved with the other founding members from Karachi, Pakistan, to Mt. Abu in India, where he remained until his passing in 1969.
Organisation and Administration
Who currently heads Brahma Kumaris?
When the founder, Brahma Baba passed from this life in January 1969, the leadership of the community continued with members of the original group of young women. Today, the few surviving leaders, mostly in their eighties and nineties, carry a powerful presence, having spent a lifetime mastering the inculcation and application of spiritual knowledge. Dadi Janki currently serves as Administrative Head of the Brahma Kumaris worldwide, Dadi Hirdaya Mohini as Additional Administrative Head and Dadi Ratan Mohini as Joint Administrative Head.
These women, fondly called Dadis (elder sisters), serve as instruments who share a total dedication to God. Regarded as senior yogis, they have an immense love and regard for one another and an absolute commitment to world service.
What does ‘Brahma Kumaris' mean?
Brahma Kumaris means ‘daughters of Brahma'. Seminal to the vision of world renewal was the revelation of the important and prominent role of women as spiritual teachers. Brahma Baba correctly foresaw that core values based on traditionally feminine qualities – patience, tolerance, sacrifice, kindness and love – would increasingly become the foundation of progress in personal growth, human relations and the development of caring communities. To maintain the emphasis on this vital core of leadership, he named the organisation The Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University.
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