A global spiritual movement dedicated to personal transformation and world renewal.
The Brahma Kumaris, formally known as Prajapita Brahma Kumaris Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya, is a spiritual movement that originated in 1936 in Hyderabad, Sindh, part of pre-partition India. It was founded by Lekhraj Kripalani, known as Prajapita Brahma. This movement emphasizes personal transformation and global renewal through the practice of Raja Yoga meditation and spiritual knowledge. Over the decades, it has expanded globally, establishing a presence in over 137 countries across five continents, making it a significant spiritual organization with a strong emphasis on the empowerment of women, who lead and manage its various centers and initiatives.
Foundational Beliefs and Practices
The Brahma Kumaris’ teachings diverge from traditional Hinduism, presenting a unique set of spiritual beliefs and practices. Key among these are:
- The Soul and Supreme Soul: They view humans as a composite of a physical body and a subtle soul. The soul, an infinitesimal point of spiritual light, resides in the forehead and is eternal, distinct from the body it occupies. The Supreme Soul, or God, is similarly an incorporeal point of light but is considered the eternal source of all virtues and values, distinct from the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth that human souls undergo.
- Karma: Actions performed by the soul in this life shape its future, reinforcing the importance of purity in thought, word, and deed to ensure positive outcomes both in this life and the next.
- Cycle of Time: The Brahma Kumaris believe in an eternally repeating cycle of time, spanning 5,000 years and divided into four ages or yugas: the Golden Age (Satya Yuga), Silver Age (Treta Yuga), Copper Age (Dvapara Yuga), and Iron Age (Kali Yuga), with the current era being a transitional period known as the Confluence Age. They predict a forthcoming global transformation, marked by cataclysmic events that will lead to the renewal of the Golden Age.
Expansion and Global Presence
The movement experienced significant growth after relocating to Mount Abu, Rajasthan, in 1950. Initially focused on education rather than worship, it renamed itself as the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University. The organization has seen international expansion since the mid-1950s, particularly spreading to London in the 1970s and subsequently across the West. Notably, the Brahma Kumaris have established “Spiritual Museums” in major Indian cities and have been registered with the United Nations Department of Public Relations since 1980, achieving consultative status with the UN’s Economic and Social Council in 1983.
Educational and Social Initiatives
The Brahma Kumaris operate numerous meditation centers, retreat centers, and engage in a wide array of social, environmental, and educational initiatives globally. Their teachings are disseminated through a rich assortment of media, including books, videos, and audio recordings, focusing on spiritual wisdom and daily inspiration for living a peaceful and purposeful life.
Their efforts to impact society positively are channeled through several sister organizations and initiatives that focus on various aspects of human and societal development. These range from environmental sustainability to healthcare, education, and the promotion of values-based living.
Leadership and Legacy
Leadership within the Brahma Kumaris has transitioned through several key figures since its inception, each contributing to its development and global outreach. The current Chief Administrative Head is Dadi Ratanmohini, who continues the work of her predecessors in guiding the organization towards fulfilling its mission of spiritual awakening and global renewal.
The Brahma Kumaris stand out for their commitment to spiritual education, the empowerment of women in leadership roles, and their extensive global network dedicated to fostering a deeper understanding of the self and the Divine. Their unique perspective on the cycle of time and the emphasis on a transformative global future continue to attract followers worldwide, seeking personal growth and spiritual clarity.