By Suma Varughese
An interview with Dadi Janki, the newly appointed administrative head of the giant Brahma kumaris world spiritual university
What would you say if you were told that a handful of feisty elderly women were changing the world? Despite the laudable feats of women power, most would raise their eyebrows. What they need is a tutorial at the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, one of the largest spiritual organizations in the world, with over 8,000 centres spread through 130 countries, and wielding a network of eight lakh members.
The power behind this behemoth of positivity and spiritual awareness is a group of eight elderly women, appropriately called Dadis. Today, there are just two left, but they are enough, bending an exacting but benevolent eye over their spiritual empire, ensuring that the thousands of young renunciates – both men and women – who take the teaching forward and who staff the centres, keep to rigorous standards of cleanliness, seva, spiritual purity and love.
The impeccable surrounding of their Mount Abu head office is a haven of hospitality. The Brahma Kumaris and Kumars, buzz about you, solicitous beyond belief, pressing you to take a second and third helping of their delicious satvik food, and begging to be of service. My fondest memories of the Dadis, when I visited in 1998, was their endearing habit of dipping into vast steel containers sitting by their side, and pulling out sweetmeats for each of the thousands of visitors who arrived there for various programmes and events, quite like the Dadis they are seen to be. Their spiritual teaching is a simple version of the eternal truths, conveyed in such a manner that anyone can get them. We are spirits, they tell us, who have forgotten this truth and look for happiness in ephemeral material pursuits. What we need is to shift from focusing on the outside to focusing within, and access our true nature of joy, peace and stability. To do this, they advocate an open-eyed meditation called Raja Yoga.
The organization had its genesis in Hyderabad, Sindh, in 1936, founded by Dada Lekhraj, a wealthy diamond merchant who was bestowed a series of visions bespeaking the terrible anguish of Kali Yug. His mission, he was told, was to help awaken the world and thereby support the transition to Satyug, the Golden Age that Hindu cosmology says is the culmination of the Kali Yug that we presently are in.
A number of women and children responded to his call for transformation, and it is they who have taken it forward, moving it from Hyderabad to Karachi, and finally to Mount Abu in 1950. Despite lack of education or knowledge of many languages, these present-day Dadis have been at the fulcrum of a massive drive through exhibitions, padyatras, conferences, spiritual courses and various other media to spread spiritual awareness. They call themselves the midwives of Satyug, and there is little doubt that the New Age owes them much.
Today, the organization is riding a change. The massively dignified Dadi Prakash-mani, who ran it for close to 38 years, has passed on, and in her place comes Dadi Jan-ki, 91. Dadi Janki is responsible for the overseas presence of the Brahma Kumaris, and has spearheaded its movement into close to 100 countries. Described as a visionary whose uniqueness lies in her unswerving optimism and a heart that is rich with compassion, Dadi Janki is a worthy head of the Brahma Kumaris. An excerpt from an email interview with her, arranged through the good offices of BK Urvashi and BK Nikunj.
Congratulations on having taken over as head of the Brahma Kumari movement. How does it feel to have this weighty responsibility on your head?
Our sweet Dadiji (the late Dadi Prakashmani, former administrative head) has attained her complete angelic form. According to destiny, I had the fortune of knowing her for more than 70 years, and gained so much from her royal personality of humility and sweetness. Dadiji had inspired so much spiritual service, and she will continue to guide us in a subtle way. God is responsible for carrying out the task of world transformation, and for looking after His spiritual children. God has given us the fortune of contributing in His service, and success has been kind to us. When Brahma Baba attained perfection in 1969, Dadiji took over, and followed in his footsteps for 38 years. We will continue to move ahead with what we have learned from both of them. As this spiritual organization is God’s creation, it is immortal and will continue to expand.
Is there anything that you plan to do differently from the way Dadi Prakashmaniji did?
Time for transformation is coming close, and we are moving towards a better world. The focus is now on serving souls on a subtle level through the power of good wishes and pure thoughts. We know that in a short time God’s message of peace and love will reach every one across the world, and more souls will become co-operative in God’s task of transformation. They will make their lives an inspiration for countless numbers of human beings.
How has the organization grown over the years? I did a major story on the Brahma Kumaris in 1998, and even then it was a massive organization. How many members and centres do you have now? What are the new changes or developments since?
Falsehood and corruption is rampant today, but the good news is that the search for truth is intensifying simultaneously. Previously, people were enraptured by the modern world but now they are tired of it. Spirituality enables people to adhere to values, and with their own transformation they inspire others to walk on the path of truth. This awakening is taking place at a fast speed because there is a fervent need for change. Looking at the chaos, people are developing a distaste for the old kind of living and thinking. In contrast, when they look at institutions like ours, they are motivated to bring back quality into their lives. At present, Brahma Kumaris are serving in 130 countries with over 8,000 service centres. We have a membership of around 8,00,000, out of which a majority are leading a pure family life, holding full-time jobs, and yet leading a spiritual lifestyle.
The focus of the organization has always been on paving the way for Satyug. How much of that task have you achieved? When do you think Satyug will dawn?
The establishment of Satyug or Golden Age, Paradise, Jannat, Bahist, means the re-emergence of truth, compassion, love and goodwill in the hearts of all human beings. Satyug is when an individual is able to regain his lost purity, peace and love. The most beloved Supreme Father, God Shiva, is giving us sustenance, spiritual teachings and attainments through Brahma Baba, and these are being implemented by lakhs of human beings all over the world. This is indeed a great achievement.
We are seeing indications of destruction of the impure world very distinctly. When people become worthy of residing in the magnificent world of the Golden Age – the era of peace, happiness, purity – that new age will definitely dawn. The day of heaven is just around the corner after the night of the Iron Age.
When you look at the world around us, what do you feel?
I have great mercy for souls of the world. Many people react to others’ misery by becoming sorrowful themselves, but we don’t become unhappy looking at the world because that sorrow would weaken our spirits. Rather, we are working diligently towards eradicating everyone’s sorrow. God’s power is so infinite that He is able to empower human beings with tolerance, and ability to overcome situations.
India is currently caught up in a consumerist fever. How do you reconcile this with the need to achieve Satyug?
Externally people are mesmerized with the glamorous world, but internally they are slowly realising that it holds no benefit or permanent feeling of fulfillment. What we see today is false pomp and show which is reaching its extreme, and has to end in time. People will soon realize the value of building a life of truth, purity and true contentment.
Yours is probably the only largescale spiritual organization run by elderly women in the world. Has your age or gender ever been held against you? To what do you attribute the remarkable success of the Brahma Kumari movement?
This is the great wonder and power of the Supreme Soul. When the institution began in 1936, in Hyderabad, Sindh, women (mothers or young girls) were not able to have an identity of their own whether it was in family life, or the political and religious arenas. At such a time, God awakened the courage and faith in these mothers and young women, and revealed to them the power of purity. We mothers and sisters, with the help of God and His divine teachings, have become prominent examples for others with our dignity and service to the world.
Challenges have come in all forms but God has always given us the return of our faith and positive motives. Everything will be fine because we are on God’s service. God is making us strong and unshakable on the basis of faith in ourselves, faith in whom we belong to (God), and in what we need to do for ourselves and the world. This is why success is inevitable. Test papers will continue to come, but there is no need to fear. People who oppose us are not at fault because they are unaware of the significance of God’s task. We will continue to serve the world incognito, and make spiritual endeavor with an honest heart while staying in the remembrance and company of the Supreme Being.
How would you define the philosophy of the Brahma Kumaris?
Raja Yoga, meditation and the spiritual knowledge we live by contains the essence of all the Vedas and scriptures of all religions: to understand the self, God, time and the karma philosophy. Life is not for talking about, blaming or criticizing others or society or circumstances, but about spinning the discus of self-realisztion, and moving towards our own complete and perfect inner stage.
What would you mark as your own significant achievements on behalf of the Brahma Kumaris? Looking back on your life, what have been some of the most remarkable experiences you have undergone?
From the time I became a Brahma Kumari, that is, since God made me belong to Him, I feel I have made a perfect deal with God. I have always known that I should follow God’s path to attain my own perfection, as well as give my life in the spiritual service of humanity. I have always maintained firm faith in who God is, what He is teaching us, and what He has come to do. By making God my constant companion, I am able to look at every scene of life as a detached observer, learn from it, and then carry out my next step accurately.
The scriptures tell us, “If you want to know about supersensuous joy (ateendriya sukh), ask the Gopes and Gopis.” I believe this applies to us, for when we learn how to be victorious over the mind and sense organs, we experience great bliss in life. With power from the Almighty Authority, God, we learn how to conquer maya (negativities, vices), and how human beings can purify themselves and the five elements, so that impurity is eradicated from the world. I have experienced the wonder of the power of yoga (attaining spiritual experiences and powers by connecting the mind and intellect to the Divine Being). In this stage of yoga, we are able to take guidance from God to look at our role, and other’s roles in life objectively, and act in a way that is beneficial for all. There is never any doubt in my mind because I believe God is the benevolent one, the drama of life is beneficial, and if I act according to God’s directions nothing can be amiss.
Do you feel that Brahma Baba would be satisfied with all that you have achieved?
Brahma Baba is definitely pleased because he is the one inspiring us every day. The Almighty Authority God Shiva made Brahma Baba the instrument to establish this institution. God gave us the strength of spiritual knowledge and yoga, instilled faith in us, and began this task. Brahma Baba motivated us to follow the path he carved out, and he continues to help in the service of humanity. Success of the Brahma Kumaris is attributed to God, and our founding father, Brahma Baba, and I know he is pleased with our honest efforts. It was his fervent desire to see the world transform from hell into heaven, and he must be happy to see us moving closer to fulfilling his aim.
What are the essential qualities needed to live life successfully?
Maintain self-respect, keep faith in goodness and pure feelings in your heart, make your inner state strong and unshakable. Let there be the practice of renunciation of negativity, sincere remembrance of God, and whole-hearted selfless service of others. Stay beyond mental limitations or temporary desires or expectations as these lead to disheartenment or a false sense of ego. God, our unlimited Supreme Parent, is giving souls of the world the unlimited inheritance of peace, happiness, purity, wisdom, love, bliss, power, so let us focus our efforts on these imperishable and ever-lasting attainments. Success is ours when we allow God to work through us.
What do you foresee for the next year? Will it see a lot of shifts towards positivity?
God has given us a very clear understanding of how this world drama turns. I believe the world is receiving more light, and darkness is being dispelled. It’s a guarantee that the period of darkness is ending. People are extremely tired having stumbled around for so long, and they desperately want peace and love. In the coming future, people will have more of the desire to experience God, understand where they came from, and what they need to do now. Their distaste for the false world will increase, and they’ll be motivated to adopt more spirituality in their lives.
At 91, how do you have the energy and determination to keep going?
I am fortunate that throughout my life, even before becoming a Brahma Kumari, I never wasted my time, money or mental energy, and have always used them in a worthwhile way. This is why I don’t feel the strain of physical age. It has been my deep, natural wish to use everything I have (thoughts, time, words, actions, money) in a worthwhile way, and inspire others to do the same. This is how energy can be conserved and increased; it never decreases.
What message do you have for Life Positive readers?
At the present time, negative thoughts, words and actions act as poison for us. What is essential is that we free ourselves from wasteful and weak influences, and use the power of positivity to create elevated thoughts. Negativity traps us in feelings of revenge, which stop us from transforming our own weaknesses or helping others. There is great power in being positive and humble and beautiful relationships can be built on the basis of truth, love and co-operation. Let our thoughts be filled with determination and discipline that are the keys to a successful life.
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