By Makarand Paranjape May 2001 Amidst an ocean of calm at Brahma Kumaris’ HQ in Mount Abu, we sought a personal transformation Not too long after the devastating earthquake in Gujarat, a group of seventy people from over twenty countries met for five days in an extraordinary dialogue-cum-retreat. The meeting took place at theAcademy for a Better World at Gyansarovar in Mount Abu, Rajasthan, India, the world headquarters of the Brahma Kumaris movement. This unique, worldwide and rapidly growing organization began modestly in Hyderabad, Sindh in 1937. The founder, Lekhraj—fondly called Brahma Baba by his followers-was a successful diamond merchant. He had already achieved great fame and prosperity when, in his sixties, he began to have a series of visions that would change his life forever. He not only had darshan (holy glimpse) of Narayana, the Lord, but saw the annihilation of the world through weapons of mass destruction. These visions, interestingly, came to him before the invention of the atom bomb. Baba felt that a new creation, at the end of Kali Yuga, the last lap in the Hindu concept of cyclical time, was about to commence and it was his responsibility to set it in motion. Today, with over 5,000 centers spread across eighty countries worldwide, it appears as if Baba’s vision is slowly but surely taking shape. The group at Mt Abu, India, was asked just one question by Dadi Janki, the Additional Administrative Head of the Brahma Kumaris’ World Spiritual University. A diminutive, elderly lady, Dadi Janki is a reservoir of spiritual wisdom and power. Looking at us intently, she queried: ”What is the call of Time?” Her presence was soothing. However, I forgot all the books I’d read and the knowledge I’d garnered. Indeed, I had no answer to Dadi’s profound question. Most people I knew were busy with the pulls and pressures of mundane living, struggling to earn more money, putting their sons and daughters through college, or worrying about their future. And poor people, without even the luxury of such worries, were simply trying to survive from day to day. Dadi continued: ”Are we prepared to listen to what Time is calling upon us to do? Each one of you, who is a leader in his or her field, wants to do something. Right? This place, which is God’s own abode, may give you the answers. At any rate, you’ll have the chance to make friendships, to do something together. Do you know that in the 1930s, there were three hundred of us working together. We felt we were a secret army and could change the world.” Dadi Prakashmani, the Administrative Head of the movement, added her words of welcome. ”You have come to the ocean of silence, to the home of the Parmatman, the Ultimate Soul—but remember, this is your own home, your ancestors’ home. The Lord has called you here to solve your personal problems, and the problems of the world and society. Through your own transformation, you can transform the world.” The dialogue had three key topics—globalization, leadership, and love. All of them, we discovered, were interconnected. It is only through love that true leadership can be born. As Dadi Prakashmani said: ”A leader must first learn to be a servant. I don’t consider myself to be a leader, but a servant of the whole world. A leader is not just the ‘head’—that will only give him headaches! Instead, he must not have any ego, he must not be selfish at all. Yet, he should be firm in adhering to what is right and not get swayed by personal considerations. He should have a generous heart and wish to elevate everyone. Finally, he should think of the whole world as his family.” How simple, and yet how difficult to achieve, was this plain-speaking wisdom. I thought it worth a lot more than what business schools dish out after charging such hefty fees! Our days at Gyansarovar were like a splendid dream. The order, cleanliness, beauty and majesty of the complex was amazing enough, but more touching was the affection, service, hospitality, and blessings showered on us. The highlight for me was the mountain top meditation where the whole group sat in silent communion united by a common aspiration. I realized that the secret of the Brahma Kumaris’ extraordinary life of chastity, devotion and service was some higher ecstasy that they were privy to, which far exceeded the unreliable joys of this world.
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