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AT AN age when most people think about retiring and easing up on the daily pulls
and pressures of life, one man decided that his true mission in life was just beginning.
Of course all this was partly fuelled by the series of visions that he experienced
at the age of 60, over a period of several months.
Early life of Dada Lekhraj
Brahma Baba, the founder of the movement, which now prefers to call itself the Prajapita
Brahma Kumaris Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya or the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual
University, was born in 1876 in Hyderabad, Sindh (now in Pakistan) and was named
Lekhraj. The son of an ordinary school teacher, Lekhraj was brought up observing
all the family traditions and Hindu rituals, as was the norm of that time. The only
tradition that he probably broke was his refusal to follow in his father’s footsteps
and become a school teacher. Instead, he decided to chart his destiny as a diamond
In the jewelry business, Dada Lekhraj, as he began to be called, met with huge success.
However, although he had entered this business, his pursuit was not for mammon alone.
He was a generous man and was involved in several philanthropic activities.
In 1936, at the age of 60, Dada Lekhraj began getting several trance-like visions.
In one such vision he saw Vishnu and various forms of Narayana. In another he saw
awful scenes of destruction. He felt that a voice, in one such vision, was telling
him that he would be instrumental in laying the foundation of a new world order
based on peace and a spirit of brotherhood.
From Dada Lekhraj to Brahma Baba
Spurred on by these life-altering visions, he began giving discourses in the courtyard
of his residence. Initially his relatives, friends and neighbors attended these
Satsangs (community gatherings). At these meetings they would chant Om
and some members in the audience would also get trance-like visions. He would strongly
advise on leading a life following a strict moral code and eating only
satvic (vegetarian non-spicy diet and not consuming certain foods like onions,
garlic and chilies) food. Soon Dada Lekhraj was being addressed as Brahma Baba and
the congregation decided to as call itself the Om Mandli.
Power to women
Although, traditionally India is a land which worships Shakti (pure energy
which is supposed to be the creative mother force from which emerged the trinity
of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva), in that era women hardly had a say in society. So,
therefore, it came as a shock to all when Brahma Baba surrendered all his assets
and property to a trust, which was headed by a committee of women. This was a first
where a spiritual organization was instituted to be run by women or Brahma Kumaris
as they came to be known as. The male workers at the organization were called Brahma
Brahma Baba felt that the traditional feminine qualities like patience, tolerance,
kindness, sacrifice and love were of utmost importance in order to nurture caring
communities. He chose a young girl - Om Radhey, later known as Mother Saraswati,
as the first administrative head of this spiritual institution. Another girl by
the name of Kumarka, later called Prakashmani, was the second administrative head.
From Hyderabad to Karachi and to Mount Abu
Brahma Baba’s establishment soon moved to Karachi from Hyderabad and stayed put
till the partition of India and Pakistan, following the independence of the sub-continent.
By 1950, the community had moved to Mount Abu in Rajasthan. Nestled in the Aravali
mountains, it proved an ideal center for meditation and quiet reflection. At that
time, apart from a few recluses living in some caves in the area, the region was
nothing but a wide barren expanse of sandy rocks.
In a few years, the community moved to another site in Mount Abu and called it Madhuban
(which means the forest of honey). Till date, Madhuban is the headquarters of this
Madhuban Retreat, Mount Abu, Rajasthan
The retreat at Rajasthan where the practice of Raj Yoga is conducted at the Brahma
Kumaris headquarters is a place of utter scenic beauty. As soon as you reach here,
a feeling of calm envelops you. The verdant surroundings, a hill as the backdrop
and the gentle murmuring of Nakki Lake makes you think that if there is a Utopia
somewhere, it must be like this.
At the Madhuban campus can be found the Meditation Hut and the Tower of Peace.
Meditation Hut is the place where Brahma Baba did intense meditation to spread “vibrations
of peace for all the souls of the world”. The latter is the Samadhi of Brahma
Om Shanti Bhawan or the Universal Peace Hall is the main hall, which
has a capacity of seating 3,000 people and has a daily visitor tally of over 8,000.
It also offers translation facilities for sixteen languages. This hall has been
the venue for several international conferences.
Annually, Madhuban hosts at least 35,000 residential guests and is home to 500 permanent
residents. These permanent members operate the 42 departments (like lodging, laundry,
maintenance, audio-visual etc.) required to meet the physical and spiritual needs
of the constant flow of visitors and students from all across the world.
The kitchen at the campus can cater meals for 4,000 people at a time!