Influence of Christianity on Dada Lekhraj & BKism

for ex-BKs to discuss matters related to experiences in BKWSU & after leaving.
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Arbit

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Influence of Christianity on Dada Lekhraj & BKism

Post03 May 2017

Based on some recent studies, I am beginning to think that the BK knowledge is more Christian than Hindu (it certainly is not Vedic). There are many similarities between BK beliefs and Christian beliefs, e.g. notion of paradise, need of a prophet, white clothing, seminary-like setting of centers, minimal iconography, obsessive hatred for sex, denigration of Vedic texts, etc.

British were in India from 1608 to 1947, of which they likely dominated from -1700 to 1947, and directly ruled India from ~1850 to 1947. They also engaged in evangelism, a key method of which was to demonize local traditions and superimpose Christianity.

I now wonder, how and to what extent did evangelists influence Dada Lekhraj? He was not well-versed with the Vedic system, as we know, and hence it must have been easier to influence him.

Do we know of any encounters between Dada Lekhraj and Christianity?
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ex-l

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Re: Influence of Christianity on Dada Lekhraj

Post03 May 2017

This is a question I have also raised and explored whilst uncovering published items relating to the early history of the cult in the 1930 and 1940s.There were churches in the Sind and, of course, an impressive cathedral in Calcutta (completed in 1847) (Kolkata) which, along with the splendour of British power in the city's "White Town" where he had customers, it must have had at least a visual impact on him. Same too with Saint Patrick's Cathedral, Karachi (the first 'proper' church in Sindh). Anglicanism, Methodism, the Lutheran Church and Catholicism were all present (the Irish came as subjects of the British Empire and were a large part of the British Army).

You'll remember how often and nicely Christ is mentioned in the Murli in comparison to other "prophet souls" and have to ask "why?".

I\ve read no direct evidence but you know what the BKs are like for burying their past and claiming to be the original source of all other religions (and not the other way around, e.g. Lekhraj Kirpalani obviously influenced by other religions).

There are also 3 or 4 churches in Mount Abu, as it was a British resort, which he would have found hard to miss when they arrived ... especially Lekhraj Kirpalani being the self professed "god Brahma" and messiah to all humanity that he was at the time (no God Shiva until after 1956). One of them, St Mary's was run by the Irish Christian Brothers, which will 'ring alarm bells' for many.

I agree with the theory, I'd question where he was struck by Christian evangelism and their End of the World zeal and adopted it? He was cerrtain emamoured by the British and a British patriot and royalist, not an Indian Independence supporter (he saw them as being "traitors") nor a democrat.

But our propblem in finding the truth out is that anyone who might have known is now dead and the current BKs, who at best date to the 1950s, are making up a fantasy history to suit themselves.

I think you need to extract a certain amount of influence of Western BKs post-1980s who brought in stylistic elements, like the Victorian or New Agey angels and cherubim the BKs now use.

Christianity had been present in the Sind since at least the 1600s (others, sadhus and fakirs, claiming right back to St. Thomas’s converts of the 1st century) but I think one also has to consider the influence of islamic/Sufi monotheistic tradition. Islam is also a proselytising religion and conversions are supposed to be rewarded with “paradise” to those who convert “pagans”. It also has the Biblical End of the World in its code.

Yes, I think you are very correct about Lekhraj Kirpalani's poor knowledge of the Hindu/Vedic tradition. He was not a religiously minded at they like to portray, and certainly not well studied in general.
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Pink Panther

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Re: Influence of Christianity on Dada Lekhraj

Post03 May 2017

Arbit,

Very true.

It was said that when they first moved to Abu, Lekhraj befriended the local Catholic priest and they would go for walks together where Lekhraj Kirpalani asked and gained most of his perception about Christianity from him. This was of course before the Vatican 2 reforms of the 1960s and, if my memory serves me correctly, this priest was of Irish extraction, Irish Catholics of the time were generally very severe, puritanical, guilt, sin, fire and brimstone, sex was sinful, etc.
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ex-l

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Re: Influence of Christianity on Dada Lekhraj

Post04 May 2017

That's the sort of useful collective memory that makes this forum very useful.

The Christian Brothers first came to India in 1890. They came to Mt. Abu at the invitation of Bishop Henry Caumont and took over St. Mary’s School on 4th March, 1929. Perhaps it was them. Seems they operated much as they did in Ireland ... sadism tinged with paedo-erotic elements.(link).
While the Irish Christian Brothers at St Mary’s were certainly Irish, they were neither Christian nor brotherly. In the main I recollect them as being a sadistic bunch of sob's who enjoyed inflicting punishment for minor infractions. We used to get whacked on the hand with a leather strap quite hard for missing homework assignments and on the bottom for major infractions like fighting in the dorms or going “out of bounds”. Both the hand and bottom punishments hurt a lot. There was no question about not being able to sit for a few hours -- you couldn’t!

I was bright enough to avoid most of the physical punishments once I figured out the rules. There was a strong rumor while I was at St Mary’s that a student or a teacher had been shot by one of the students. I have since seen that this was probably true ... Anyway I ended up hurt and in tears and was hauled off to the teacher in charge. I was made to strip while he strapped my bottom.

The first church built in Mount Abu was the Anglican St Lawrence (1847), now St Saviour’s Church. There's the Catholic St Ann's (1870). and also another Catholic Church down at Abu Road.

One could probably track down who it was.
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Arbit

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Re: Influence of Christianity on Dada Lekhraj

Post05 May 2017

This is interesting. Thanks for that tid-bit, PP.

My guess would be that he was influenced even before 1936 (because of several similarities even at that early stage), but perhaps the influence grew stronger when he arrived at Abu. Could that explain the transition from God-incarnate Prajapati Brahma to the prophet Prajapita Brahma?

I am discounting Islamic influence on Dada Lekhraj, because there aren't similarities with it in my view. The few that seem to be, are more with Christianity.
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ex-l

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Re: Influence of Christianity on Dada Lekhraj

Post05 May 2017

Hyderbad and Karachi were bits of a backwater before he left but certainly in Calcutta, before the Om Mandli days, he would have been struck by the full power of the British and the Church. I sure there were churches in the Sind to serve the British and Indians. The Fransicans and Jesuits were there since at least the 1860s and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Karachi was established in 1948 ... blowing the "miracle" of BK existence in post-partition Pakistan ... the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Karachi was established in 1844, a very grand Protestant "Scottish church", St Andrews, was built in 1868. The Roman Catholic St. Anthony's in Krachi was built 1937 and by 1941 had 829 parishioners.

I've just never heard or read of any connection.

You'd have to look at the geographcal evidence ... work out where he lived and worked and look at the neighbourhood. The grandeur of the buildings would have impressed him. Look at the pictures linked to above to get an idea of the lay of the land. They too would have had marches and processions.

Say what you like about the British in India but, boy, they liked to build to impress the natives with their power and built well.

Shame the BKs hid Lekhraj Kirpalani's past before making it all. One has to ask why, and what they were hiding?

There was an active Theosophical Society but, after speaking to old Sindhis, I discounted that as a strong direct influence as he just was not of that class they said.
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Re: Influence of Christianity on Dada Lekhraj

Post06 May 2017

Some geographical evidence.
Abu satellite St marys_BKs.jpg
ST. MARY'S HIGH SCHOOL, MT. ABU est. 1929.

I agree that BK theory in total, relating to Lekhraj, is closer to Christianity. Christians believe Jesus was the only time God took human form, while BKs say Lekhraj is the only medium taken by god. The Christians have their Trinity to explain this ”mystery”. In this topic, we should not forget that some of the original followers at the beginning and later, Om Radhe, and later still people like Shiloo and Shashi etc, were educated in Christian religious schools, usually Catholic ones.

Traditional Hinduism accepts the idea that that there are masters who became ”self-realised” therefore they are "God become flesh” - to use a Christian term. I’ve seen Hindu icongoraphy depicting a collage of figures like Krishna, Vishnu, Narasinhga (Lion incarnation of Vishnu) Ganesha along with people like Buddha, Vivekananda, Jesus, etc all depcted as avatars of God.

I think there is a great deal of Islamic influence on BK ideas of Shiva as supreme separate almighty god whose knowledge needs the conduit of Brahma to articulate it, just as Mohammed needed Gabriel to pass on the message from God. The idea of Avyakt Baba is close to the image of Archangel Gabriel.

Let’s not forget however that Islam, Christianity and Judaism are all ”cousins” in the Abrahamic religions. I think BKism is a cross fertilisation (infection?) of Dvaita Vedanta with Abrahamic Monotheism, also dualistic as it separates creator and creation.

This is an interesting series of responses to the question around different types of Vedanta. Although the BK trinity of the Trimurti seems to have been officially redacted from BK teachings these days, you’ll notice patterns of ”3” in the answers on that page.

The great Swiss archetypal psychologist Carl Jung predicted that the Roman Catholic Christianity mythology would eventually need to bring Mary as Mother of God into official standing with Father, Son and Holy Spirit, given the level of Marian enthusiasm and worship among the people (and as seen in many othe religions). The Trinity is numerologically abstract, intellectual, ungrounded, unstable, so as to establish a more stable (earthed) ”Quaternity” - because 'The Mother' is a necessary agency by which Father begets Son. And this indeed came to pass in the second Vatican Council. This allowed the church to manifest a more feminine ideology, less concerned with power and authority, more able to bring healing and social conscience to the fore. The current Pope is an extension of that development, someone like him could never have been made Pope before that.

This joke could easily be reworded for BKs -
Moshe is a wealthy Jewish New York business man. One day walking down the street he suffers a heart attack. A Catholic priest across the road sees him collapse and thinks ”That may be one of the faithful, I should go over to administer the Sacrament and last Rites”.

He goes over and kneels by Moshe and says ”Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth, in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary?

Moshe opens his eyes, groans and replies, ”Here I am dying and all you do is ask riddles?
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ex-l

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Re: Influence of Christianity on Dada Lekhraj

Post06 May 2017

I was thinking more about what was around them in Karachi, Hyderabad and Calcutta but you raise a good point regarding the influences on the primary adherents, e.g. Nirwair was a Sikh amd you can see where Lekhraj Kirpalani adopted references to the Guru Granth presumably guided by the questions and influences of the adherents?

The PBKs have the BKs down for being led by the "Islamic influence" within Bkis. Prakashmani and so on. I think they see "traffic control" as equivalent to the Muslims daily prayers to Mecca. I forget their argument.

Certainly Sindhi was awash with Sufis who were equally revered by Hindus but I have no idea of any inter-relationship (see, 'Sufi Saints and State Power: The Pirs of Sind, 1843-1947' by Sarah F. D. Ansari).

But I think we should be careful not to continue fooling ourselves as to how "holy" Lekhraj Kirpalani and his original followers were. Even current followers. Remember, Om Radhe's crowning cultural glory was to have been able to sing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" in English. A song for putting infants to sleep ... (later re-interpreted to 'prove' her prescience about the nature of Shiva ... although Shiva bini did not exist at that time in the cult).

I am not buying. I don't think Lekhraj Kirpalani was that bright or that religious at all. I actually go along with the theory that the historically re-invented charcater of Lekhraj Kirpalani is somewhat of a composite with influences of another elder in the cult who left (possibly at the time of the "Golden Circle" parting).

No sincere, intellgient individual with any degree of religousity would take on the "God" mantle, or as you are saying, play the Christ figure, in the way he did. Only utterly deluded nutters (mentally ill) and frauduleent charlatans do.

Yes, the recent iconic representations of Lekhraj Kirpalani are very much copied from Christianity, e.g. hands splayed out, halos and beeming lights etc but in the early days he was clearly playing out a Krishna archetype, e.g. bathing with his gopies, dressing up and dancing the ras lila down at Clifton at midnight etc.

So, perhaps the Christian influence, with its purity and austerity, did come later on and from up in Abu ... I don't know at present.

For example, St Mary's in Abu was attatched to a convent (see also the students drills and uniforms similar to the BKs). It was called, 'St Mary of the Angels Convent'. Under the British, hill-stations also tended to be (fairly elite) education hubs, especially for convent schools, and Mount Abu is no exception.

Something else I took from a tourist website about Mount Abu ...
Once home to the meditating rishi and munis, the legend has it that Mount Abu is home to 33 crore Gods and Goddess.

So let us presume there is where the 33 crore (330,000,000) population figure at the end of the BKs' "Silver Age" came from. Goddess.
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Re: Influence of Christianity on Dada Lekhraj

Post06 May 2017

No sincere, intelligent individual with any degree of religousity would take on the "God" mantle, or as you are saying, play the Christ figure, in the way he did. Only utterly deluded nutters (mentally ill) and frauduleent charlatans do.

I don’t see that being deluded or nuts detracts from sincerity. Even intelligence can be of a high order but misused, misapplied. In fact, delusion and mental illness are defined by the sincere belief of the person. If insincere, then "fraudulent charlatan” becomes a more valid term.

This all involves a lack of self-awareness in which a person is not aware they are actually defrauding/tricking themselves! And who is most prone to self-deceipt or to being deceived? Again, the one with the need, the one looking for something.

Interestingly, if someone takes their cue on how valid their beliefs are by how others respond to them, agree and convert to them, (and aren’t we humans largely social creatures looking for validation from others? ) then,when others are drawn into the same folly, it only reinforces that folly as a successful "truth”.

I have often imagined that there is a person somewhere in every generation who really sees the truth of life and reality - even more than any Buddha or Christ, but that truth involves living one’s life simply, without seeking to influence others. Like, hypothetically, the world’s best novel that was written then lost in a fire, never read by anyone ...
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Re: Influence of Christianity on Dada Lekhraj

Post06 May 2017

Abu market around when Lekhraj Kirpalani turned up. Note the Church's rather impressive position at the end of it.

From, here.

Abu-Church.jpg
Abu-Church.jpg (25.1 KiB) Viewed 9373 times
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Re: Influence of Christianity on Dada Lekhraj

Post06 May 2017

It's all in the BK cycle: Two major characters are Krishna and Christ. Krishna has influence in the Golden and Silver Ages; Christ or Christianity from the Copper Age to the end stages of the Iron Age. However, the birth of Jesus and Krishna have many similarities to that of Horus, the Egyptian god.
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Re: Influence of Christianity on Dada Lekhraj

Post07 May 2017

Once home to the meditating rishi and munis, the legend has it that Mount Abu is home to 33 crore Gods and Goddess.
So let us presume there is where the 33 crore (330,000,000) population figure at the end of the BKs' "Silver Age" came from. Goddess.

Yes, indeed. A class in Mt Abu included that. Like everything else, the legend is a ”memorial” to last Kalpa which "proves” the Gyan.

It’s a bit like that classic comedy sketch where the actor says, ”I’ll get it” just before the phone rings. Absurdly funny.
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Re: Influence of Christianity on Dada Lekhraj

Post28 May 2017

Often ex-l and others have been critical of BKs for (mis)appropriating symbols and ideas of other religions to further their own agenda and philosophy. For example, showing Brahma Baba in the same posture as Jesus Christ in prevailing popular Christian art, equating Brahma Baba to Santa Claus as the one who brings the gift of the Golden Age at the end of the year, which is symbolic of The Cycle's end, etc.

It turns out that Brahma Baba may have borrowed this trick right out of the Bible! This is exactly how St. Paul spread Christianity in the early years from the middle-east, where it was born, to Europe. Here is the quote from 1 Corinthians 9:19-23:
For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law, I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law, I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

So St. Paul surreptitiously became a Jew or a Pagan, misappropriated their symbols and rituals, e.g., 25th December and Easter, and many many more, to win their confidence and converted them to Christianity by trickery. This method is cited and explained with examples in evangelical manuals today and continues to be used successfully.

I don't know whether Brahma Baba read the Bible or observed other evangelicals. Or perhaps he learnt from his contact at Mt. Abu. After all, he was sharp. Note that this very method is also one aspect that attracts the Hindus - many aspects of BK philosophy overlap with Hinduism. (Other aspects include the benefits of meditation that many claim to experience).

However, BKs have not succeeded to the same degree as the Christians in attracting non-Hindus. Even outside India, they mostly attract the diaspora and very few from other faiths. One reason could be that they did not have someone smart enough to study how Christians dealt with Christianity's failed prediction of the end-of-the-world (which as per Christianity was to happen in the very lifetime of the then disciples).
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Re: Influence of Christianity on Dada Lekhraj

Post28 May 2017

Good find.

One has to wonder how much came from Lekhraj Kirpalani and how much influence came in from later adherents ... with Lekhraj Kirpalani going "achcha" to turn everything into a God spoken "truth"?

But I agree with you, a "clever businessman" is good at marketing, knows what sells and goes along with it.

I think one of the greatest weaknesses or oversights of the BKs is not in passing on the 'business savvy' Lekhraj Kirpalani had and passed on to his closest ones, in particular the elder males. My feeling is the old dears never quite "got" it all but largely went along with game playing their roles.

What conversations did Lekhraj Kirpalani have with Ramesh Shah, Nirwair, Chander etc, and what was their nature?

We were not told and were impoverished as a result of it ... the old Dadis presenting the creation and institution of the cult as a god given "magical act" (as it was just given to them without them really making or earning it).
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Re: Influence of Christianity on Dada Lekhraj

Post29 May 2017

Arbit,

You need to unpick what St Paul was saying based on his biography, translations and context.

He was born in what is today called Turkey, racially Jewish but culturally Greek, as were all the educated classes of that region (the Corinthians are, of course, Greek, Corinth being just south of Athens). He was considered an outsider by most Christians at the time who saw him as less than Peter or James whose Christianity was essentially a reformist Jewish doctrine, while Paul’s success was found in changing the ”message”, leading to his becoming the second most important figure in Christianity - with many theologians saying Christianity could easily be called Paulinism.

"To the Jews I became as a Jew” - is about his being Jewish culturally & ethnically and able to mix and communicate in ways they’d relate to.

"To those under the law, I became as one under the law” is better understood to be about religious Jews, those who followed Torah; which literally transaltes as ”the law”.

Those ”outside the law” are those who did not follow Torah, probably educated in Hellenistic philosophy and religion, assimilated into the Roman Empire and its structures etc.

That is, he had these elements in his background which he was able to utilise, just as someone today may be a multilingual migrant born into a different culture but knows both his parents’ culture and his society's. Whereas Jesus’s direct disciples were largely preaching to the Jewish diaspora, it was Paul that really made Christianity accepting of non-Jews, and acceptable to non-Jews, by being "all things to all people” and in his ability to introduce Hellenistic culture, particularly giving the religion an ethical philosophical (Platonic) underpinning to the religion, rather than relying on claims to Jewish prophecy-fulfillment.

There are efforts within the BK world, particularly outside India, to create a BK version of Paulinist revisionism, i.e. to change the original teachings to one that's more universal, less exclusive, less ”Hindu”, less apocalyptic. The difference is, of course, that the vast majority of BKs are Indian, and the fundamentals of BKism are built on Hindu culture and mythology, antagonistic to democratic secularism, social pluralism, science, history, liberal (personal) morality, sexual freedom etc and very specific about certain things which, if removed, leaves BKs without ”market differentiation”.

That works great in the West where any ”Eastern spirituality” is removed from the mainstream, part of the ecumenical New Age 'anything goes’ alternative. But in India there is a culture of competitive religious nationalism, the BKs make competing claims of ”right" over the mainstream religion rather than being an alien alternative.
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