Early History

by Tamasin Ramsay

What we now know as The Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University began as ‘Om Mandli’ (“sacred circle” or “gathering of those who chant om”) – a spiritual revolution in the North West of the Subcontinent that evolved through a time of great social unrest and national tension. There was also violence in their local community, as the yogic practice and understanding of those in the yagya jeopardized the Hindu tradition of marriage and the role of women, empowering young girls and mothers to become leaders and live pure lives.

As early as 1932, people began to gather at the home of Lekhraj Kubchand Kripalani. Stimulated by deep reflection, Bhai Lekhraj or Dada Lekhraj as he was known, had begun reading the Gita upon the advice of his guru. Satsangs were popular, and so Dada’s reading provided an opportunity for women and children to come together and study scripture, which was considered a good use of their time, particularly with many of the men in the families away for long periods.

The original gathering was a socially and geographically intimate one. Most people came from the Bhaibhand (Band of Brothers) caste comprising wealthy traders and merchants, and families lived in proximity to one another. When people attended to listen to Dada read the Gita, he would increasingly feel the presence of a great power, and the women, children and men who attended were also powerfully moved by the experiences.

1932 – 1934
Dada became deeply contemplative. He spent a great deal of time talking to his mind and endeavoring to understand its behavior. To facilitate his understanding, he held satsangs in his home, and would read the Gita aloud, and others would come to listen.

January 1934
Dada’s uncle died. This was a decisive moment for him, and he began to turn his mind more deeply to spiritual matters. Dada Lekhraj entered Vanprasth, the age of retirement.  This is also sometimes called sathiyana, meaning ‘sixtyishness’. Dada Lekraj was born between 1884 and 1890.

The part of chanting and visions begins.
The first clear knowledge accepted within the community is that of a 5000 year, endlessly repeating cycle of four ages (a fifth age was understood later).  Souls travel through the four ‘castes’ of Brahman, Kshetriya, Vaisha and Shudra. These ‘castes’ are identified as belonging to specific eras of human existence; Golden, Silver, Copper and Iron Ages. Outsiders begin to call Dada Lekraj’s satsang ‘Om Mandali’. The community adopts the name.

Baba goes to Kashmir for a period of months. During Baba’s absence, the yagya members continue to experience trance and visions. Upon his return, Baba feels that there is another power working within him, but the community who are completely enamored of Baba, and the experiences they are having through him, largely ignore this.

Dada has three powerful visions; One of paradise, one of destruction and one of Vishnu. When Dada chants “Om” during times of contemplation, people attending the satsangs frequently go into trance and have visions of Dada as Vishnu, as well as seeing other divine beings and light. At this early stage, Dada Lekraj is referred to as Baba, Om Baba, Bhagwan and Mandli Mata.

October 1937
The Trust is established, whereupon Dada hands over his wealth and property to a group of 8 – 15 sisters.  He remains an advisor. Picketing and protesting from close family members begins, in defiance of the perceived anti-Hindu approach of women being empowered and leading celibate lives.
Early knowledge is limited to the Cycle and the Soul. There is a clear perception that destruction is imminent – there will not be another Diwali.
During Golden Age and Silver Age the consciousness will be I am Creator of Creation (unity). During Copper Age and Iron Age the consciousness will be I am God but the Creation mere illusion (duality). There is great intoxication with the knowledge of the Drama and it is referred to in beautiful ways including the Eternal Creative Play and the World Bioscope. Early yagya members understand that there is a confluence of the old and new time periods but the Confluence Age per se, is not yet understood.
The understanding of the soul is distinctly different to what we know today. In the 1930s and 1940s the soul is understood as ‘Aham Brahm Asmi’ or ‘I am God,’ although it can be translated in a number of ways. The understanding of the soul as a jyoti bindu (or a sentient living point) takes nearly 20 years to become clear. In the Gita, Brahma is both manifest and unmanifest, the ocean and a thumb. At that time there is no clear distinction between God and the self or between the self and the realm of light known as ‘Brahm’.
Despite their lack of intellectual understanding, members have great spiritual confidence that they are the same souls of the previous kalpa, that they are the chosen ones, and they are the key to the world’s liberation from sorrow. They experiment with practicing different states of mind. The great love, awareness, belonging and purity sustain them through many years of scant knowledge.

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