Debunking BKWSU myths: "first women spiritual leaders"

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Debunking BKWSU myths: "first women spiritual leaders"

Post12 May 2007

I would like to to start a thread challening the mythic BKWSU history that the BK SS are somehow unique and superior paragons of spirituality and the primary female socio-spiritual leaders which miraculously emerged out of a corrupt void within India. I have had a post brewing for a while, I wonder if others would like to help me.

I think one of the smellier BK BS is an often repeated claim that Dadi Janki et al were the "first female spiritual leaders". Actually, sometimes they say also spiritual leaders in India but this is then repeated constantly by the BK proletariat until it become true for them. Neo-BKs that really have no spiritual education at all. Based on ignorance and laziness, it is then repeated without question as BKWSU PR and fed into the meda. So is it true?

Now, personally, I dislike untruths just about as much as I like self-promotion and so when the two co-incide at the same time ... out comes the "Keyboard of Doom" to fall on all Ye Unfaithful Ones

A sort of notebook to offer historical coordinates to give relevance to development of the BKWSU. Firstly, by comparison, another Sindi woman of the similar age;
Jethinben Tulsidas Siphilmalani (1906 - 1978)

Jethiben was a veteran freedom fighter, a devoted social worker, an enlightened leader, and an able legislator. She was a woman of innate humility and sobriety. She was of the view that religion meant, "serving the lowliest". She was one of the distinguished colleagues in the freedom-struggle and she took to khadi at a very early age and stuck to it till the end. She dedicated her life for the poor and the destitutes. Her heart bled for the displaced persons who had no roof over their heads. Jethiben was a cosmopolitan in her outlook and was strongly opposed to linguism, parochialism and regionalism. She was under the influence of Brahmo Samaj, and actively advocated inter religious dialogue and friendship.

She was born on February 6, 1906 in Hyderabad (Sindh), educated at the Kundamal Girl's High School at Hyderabad and thereafter at the Indian Girl's High School at Karachi passing her Matriculation examination in 1925. At college she came in contact with Gandhiji and other important national leaders, including Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, Acharya Kripalani, Jairamdas Daulat Ram, Acharya Givdani, and Annie Besant. She even led a student procession against the Simon Commission. She courted imprisonment during the Salt Satyagraha in 1930. She also actively participated in the 1942 Quit-India movement and was imprisoned.

She was attracted by Gandhiji's teachings advising women to oppose evil customs like child-marriage and dowry. She rejected offers of marriage and preferred to lead a life of service to the nation instead of living under the protection of a husband who cannot accept her without a dowry. She sarcastically commented that she did not want to buy a husband.

Jethiben was an active member in politics. She was elected to the Karachi Municipal Corporation at the early age of 24. Later, she became the member of the Municipal School Board. When Sindh was separated from the Bombay Presidency and a separate Legislative Assembly was formed for Sindh, Jethiben was elected to the Assembly and she became its Deputy Speaker. After the partition of the country in 1947, she became the Deputy Speaker of the Bombay Legislative Council and, afterwards, in Maharashtra. She earned the goodwill of her colleagues belonging to different political parties.

She founded the Navjivan Housing Cooperative Society to give solace and comfort to the destitutes and the poor. This was a unique contribution of Jethiben to the cause of the rehabilitation of displaced persons. The Navjivan Society established a Happy home for handicapped children in Kutch.

Jethiben considered education as an instrument means of social transformation. She emphasized the need for technical education and helped people to start technical schools and gave scholarships to students, specially in engineering, medical and commerce faculties, especially to women students.She was interested in women's welfare and their empowerment. Jethiben wanted girls to become self-dependent and provided a Hostel for working women, at Gandhigram. Deprived patients in hospitals were provided with medicines, nourishing diet and financial help. Thus, the Navjivan Society catered to promote all-round development of the needy and the neglected sections of the society.

Jethiben travelled world wide to carry out her mission. She attended the International Students Conference in Holland. She participated in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in England, as an Indian Delegate. She also visited Japan. Thus, Jethiben left behind her a rich legacy of dedicated social and political work. Her statue was installed at Mahim to commemorate her innumerable work for humanity. She was laid to rest on 1978.

She will forever remain in the heart of all Indians.
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Dr Annie Besant - Woman of India

Post12 May 2007

Dr Annie Besant, founder of Theosophical Society of India, avid Indiophile. 1847 to 1933. First woman president of Indian National Congress, social reformer, political leader, women's rights activist, writer and hailed as Europe's best orator by George Bernard Shaw.

A staunch supporter of Indian Independence Movement and her contribution to India's freedom struggle was remarkable. She fought for women's rights, secularism, birth control, Fabian socialism and workers' rights. She became interested in Theosophy as a way of knowing God. Theosophical Society was against discrimination of race, color, gender and preached Universal brotherhood. To serve humanity at large was its supreme goal. It was as a member of Theosophical Society of India that she arrived in India in 1893.

She toured the entire country of India. It gave her first hand information about India and middle-class Indians who were affected more by British rule and its system of education. Her long-time interest in education resulted in the founding of the Central Hindu College at Benares (1898). She succeeded in making young Indians become aware of their cultural greatness. Through a network of schools and colleges she tried to instill patriotism and contemporary spirit as well molding the minds of millions.

Mrs. Beasant always wore white sari.

In 1916, she founded Home Rule League which advocated self rule by Indians. She became the President of Indian National Congress in 1917. She was the first woman to hold that post. She started a newspaper, "New India", criticized British rule and was jailed for sedition. After the arrival of Gandhiji on Indian national scene, differences arose between Mahatma Gandhi and Annie Besant. Gradually, she withdrew from active politics.

In 1917 she wrote of a "New Spirit in India" summed up as:

    a) The Awakening of Asia
    b) Discussions abroad on Alien Rule and Imperial Reconstruction
    c) Loss of Belief in the Superiority of the White Races
    d) The Awakening of the Merchants
    e) The Awakening of the Women to claim their Ancient position and
    f) The Awakening of the Masses
Dr. Annie Besant said that the undermining of the belief in the superiority of white races was inaugurated by an understanding of the beauties of Indian languages and cultures. The Arya Samaj, the Theosophical Society and the Ramakrishna Mission sought to lead the Indian people to a sense of the value of their own civilization, to pride in their past, creating self-respect in the present, and self-confidence in the future. They destroyed the unhealthy inclination to imitate the West in all things, and taught discrimination, the using only of what was valuable in Western thought and culture, instead of a mere slavish copying of everything.
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The Truth about Female Spiritual leaders

Post20 Aug 2007

I was starting to make a list of female saints and gurus starting with those directly linked to India and Hinduism ...

    Ammachi, Mata Amritanandamayi (1953-)
    Anandamayi Ma (1896-1981)
    Amma, Mother Anasuya Devi of Jillellamudi (1923-1985)
    Annie Besant (1847–1933) - Theosophical Society, Indian Congress
    Alice A. Bailey - (1880-1949) - TS channel for masters
    Gauri Ma (established Saradeshwari Ashram in 1895)
    Helena Blavatsky (1831-1891) - Theosophical Society,
    Jayashri Ma - tantric medium
    Mother Meera (1960-) - no money, silent dhristi
    Mirabai (1498-1547)
    Mother Theresa (1910-1997)
    Lakshmi Ma - grihi sadhika
    Lalla Ded (14th Century)
    Sati Godavari Mataji (1914- )
    Shree Maa of Kamakkhya (1938-)
    Sri Archanapuri Ma (1928-)
    Sister Nivedita (1867-1911) - Irish-Indian
    Sister Alphonsa (1910-1946) Kerala
    Sri Sarada Devi (1853-1920)
    Swami Sivananda Radha (1911-1995) - German initiated in Sanyas in 1956
    Vimala Thakar (1920- ) lives in Mount Abu
    Pandita Ramabai (1858-1922) - Christian social reformer and activist, champion of Indian women - The Times of India remembered her as one of the "makers of modern India." In 1919, received the Kaiser-i-Hind award, one of the highest awards for an Indian during the British Raj.
Just to give an idea of scale of followings, in 1973 at Annapuranalayam one women's institution fed 175,000 visitors at one sitting! Amma has physically embraced more than 24 million people, embracing over 20,000 people in just one day. Sri Sarada Devi's throne was the earthen floor. Her adornments were the white sari, a broom and basket. Others manifest powerful siddhis.

And, remember, these are just the one's we hear of, not all the unnamed, incognito or ancient ones. For sure, it is part of a tradition that goes back to ancient times as by the vedas women were allow far more spiritual equality.

As the BKs are also a political movement, it might also be worthwhile to add to this list women social and political activists. Many of whom successfully fought the British as the proto-Brahma Kumaris sat at home or in the Mandli being watered, fed and dressed by one Baba or another.

    Sita Devi (1910 - 1974) - freedom fighter and rtrade unionist
    Subhadra Kumari Chauhan (1904-1948) - Satyagrahi protests against the British rule
    Nelli Sengupta (1886-1973) president National Congress 1922
    Ijaya Raje Scindia (1919 - 2001) - elected in 1957, 62, 67, 78, 89, 91, 96 and 98.
    Bhikaiji Cama (1861-1936) - Indian nationalist, banned by British from India, friend of Lenin, gender equality
    Ahilyabai Holker (1725-1795) - state ruler
    Meera Bhen (1892 - 1982) - English Gandhi followers
    Rani Rashmoni (1793 - 1861) - compelled the British to abolish taxes
    Durgabai Deshmukh (1909-1981) - She was the mother of social work in India
    Rajkumaris Amrit Kaur (1889 - 1964) - The first woman cabinet Minister in 1947
    Sarojini Naidu (1879-1949) - Born in Hyderabad. Governor of UP
    Umabai Kundapur (1892-1992)
    Rassundari Devi (1809-) - self taught author published her autobiography, Amar Jiban in 1876
    Cornelia Sorabji (1866-1954) - Barrister and Social Reformer, studied at Oxford
    Saraladevi Chaudhurani (1872-1945) - social worker and nationalist, founder member of the Congress
    Dr Haimavati Sen (1867-1932), Anandibai Joshi (1865-1887) - female doctors
    Tarabai Shinde (19th C) - feminist activist
It is also little known but India also has a long tradition of women warriors and warrior queens ... later perhaps.

Of course, as an aside, we also question whether the Sisters are REALLY running the BKWSU anyway or whether it is the Brothers like Nirwair, Ramesh, Karuna and others; especially as we have an excellent example on the forum of a fairly neo-BK male trustee over-riding Dadi Janki over the financial abuse compensation issue.

So let us correct the truth ...

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guru competition

Post20 Aug 2007

I have been seeing Mataji's posters all over the place for years. To the BKs, every other guru or sect is "nothing", they just do not exist, and if you ask them some info, they will never answer, me no know. Another marketing strategy?

Thank you also for the picture with the spaced out/sweet benevolent drishti. Who's the chick? We are collecting material on the Forum to replace our old BB photos. Lot of competition, these days!!! Let me try it out! What's the strategy in this guru rat race rivalry? How does one rate a product? Amount of miracles? Quality of the food served in the ashram, cleanliness, location?

I remember in Poona, the Rajneesh had a swimming pool, favourite hang-out for clients to hunt for a spiritual friend date! At the moment, I think that movie stars and female polititicans, writers and movie directors, have stolen the scene though, very qualified girls even for the international one.
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Post20 Aug 2007

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Mataji, Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi (1923-)

Yes, a fair call. Sahaj Raj Yoga. In 1942, whilst the Brahma-kumaris were all in love with and being cared for by Lekhraj Kirpalani, she was at the head of a student movement for the independence of her country as he family was deeply involved with the independence struggle from the 20s rather than sucking up to the British royalty and making money out of them.

Her experience related below would either put her down as a new soul being possessed by her religious founder soul like Christ by the BKs ... or see her as part of a tantric tradition of possession and channelling by devi/deities/whatever ...
Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi was born on March 21, 1923 to a Christian family in Chindawara, India. Her parents were direct descendants of the royal Shalivahana dynasty and played a key role in India's Liberation Movement from under British rule. Her Father, a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi, was a member of the Constituent Assembly of India and helped write free India's first constitution. He was a renowned scholar, master of 14 languages, and translated the Koran in Marathi. Her mother was the first woman in India to receive an Honors Degree in Mathematics.

As a child, Shri Mataji lived with her parents in the ashram of Mahatma Gandhi. As a daring role as a youth leader the 1942 "Quit India Movement" announced by Gandhi and was arrested and put in jail along with other. She studied medicine and psychology at the Christian Medical College in Lahore.

Married to Sir. C.P. Srivastava, one of India's top civil servant officers and knighted by the Queen of England who held the post of the Joint Secretary to the Prime Minister's office. He was elected for 16 consecutive years to be the Secretary General of the United Nations International Maritime Organization.

As she was pondering on the many faceted problems confronting human beings, on the 5th of May, 1970, on a lonely beach of Nargol (about 150 km from Mumbai) a divine spiritual experience filled her whole being and suddenly she found an answer to her question. She discovered a historical process of en-masse Self Realisation through which thousands of people could get this connection to their Spirit and thereby their inner transformation.

Amazingly, without any financial support from any person, Shri Mataji neither charges for Her lectures nor for Her ability to give Self Realisation, nor does one have to become a member of this organisation. She insists that you cannot pay for your enlightenment and to-date she continues to denounce the false, self-proclaimed "gurus".

An official guest in the former Soviet Union, she enabled over 100,000 people to experience their Self-Realization. She regularly speaks to audiences of 10,000 to 20,000 in the former Eastern bloc nations and has filled year after year the Royal Albert Hall in London for her conference on Sahaja Yoga.

Shri Mataji has delivered thousands of lectures, given many television and radio interviews, and been the subject of hundreds of newspaper articles around the world. An articulate speaker, Shri Mataji is the founder and sole director of Sahaja Yoga or "Vishwa Nirmala Dharma", which is an established non-profit organization in many countries worldwide.

She has been recognized and greeted by the mayors of several cities in North America (Yonkers, NY, 1994 & 1996, Los Angeles, 1993 and 1994, British Columbia, 1994, Cincinnati 1992, Philadelphia 1993, Berkeley, 1997). She was given a Proclamation by the US Congress in 1997 which was submitted to the Congressional Records. Shri Mataji was declared "Personality of the Year" in 1986 by the Italian Government.

NGOs created by Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi in the last 25 years;

    An international hospital in Mumbai to help patients all over the world to get a chance to cure themselves through Sahaja Yoga methods. This hospital has been producing quite successful results in curing a number of incurable diseases like cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis etc.
    An international cancer research centre in Mumbai in order to study the effects of Sahaja Yoga methods on curing various illnesses, including psychosomatic diseases.
    An international music school in Nagpur to promote classical music.
    A charity house for the poor people in Delhi, to provide shelter to destitute and homeless people. Also to help them through the process of Sahaja Yoga to become better individuals.

As an aside, India's first female commercial airplane pilot flew in 1951 as the BK settled into Mount Abu.

Really, what I am offer is an alternative feminist critique. One that ought to be made. If the Brahma Kumari leadership and their sycophants seek to erase other women's contributions from history, is what they are doing any better than the males who they seek to replace?

The women’s movement in India took off in the 1920s, building on the 19th century social reform movement. Again, it was a Briton, James Mill, who wrote in his "History of India" (1817) "that the condition of women in a society is an index of that society’s place in civilization". I am asking how original Lekhraj Kirpalani's idea was and if it was not influence by events about him?

Between the 1820s and 1850s reformers, who favored both legislative interventions by the colonial state and a wider program of female emancipation, set up organizations like the Brahmo Samaj in eastern India, the Prarthana Samaj in Western India, the Arya Samaj in northern India, and the Theosophical Society in southern India.

Elite urban men led these movements and challenged many of the ritual and social restrictions to which upper-caste women were subjected. As fathers and husbands, the men were able to extend many benefits of modernity to a small but significant group of women. These women were drawn into the public spheres of formal education and eventually into employment, political participation, and leadership.

During the late 19th century, women had become the arena in which agreements and conflicts between the colonial bureaucracy and the colonized middle class was to be played out. "New Women" movement began to speak in the 1880s and the movement was revived in the 1920s. Women-only associations called Mahila Samitis were created.

The Women's Indian Association was launched (1917), the National Council of Indian Women (1925), the All-India Women’s Conference (1927), Mahila Atmaraksha Samiti (Women’s Self-Defense League), under the leadership of women from the Communist Party, in 1954 they formed the National Federation of Indian Women, in 1973-74 Maoist women formed the Progressive Organisation of Women, initiating a feminist critique of leftist politics and gender oppression, the Chipko movement (eco-feminism) and the Bodhgaya movement (women’s land rights).
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Post05 Sep 2007

Sheena Patel wrote:Daughters of the Goddess: The Female Saints of India by Linda Johnsen

"India has produced more saints per capita than any other culture in history, but why aren't there any Indian women saints?"

'Daughters of the Goddess' begins with the author recounting this question, which she posed to a Pandit in India many years ago.

The Pandit was surprised. "There are thousands of lady saints in India. You think because there are no books about them, they do not exist." This conversation seemed to have spurred Linda Johnsen into action, and serves as a backdrop to this fascinating and highly readable book, consisting of a selection of stories, insights, accounts and interviews of great female Hindu saints from ancient to modern times, as well as an explanation of Goddess philosophy in the Hindu tradition. Thus 'Daughters of the Goddess' reveals the feminine face of Hinduism in all its glory.

There is particular emphasis on accounts of contemporary female saints, with the intention that sincere individuals can actually seek out and meet these tremendous women if they so desire. The author takes great pains to point out that meeting enlightened teachers in real life is much more fascinating and rewarding than just reading about them in books.

Linda Johnsen's account challenges the Western stereotype of Hinduism as a male dominated religion; pointing out that despite the (sometimes serious) gender issues that exist in Hindu society, in no other religion do women form such a large number of the most revered religious figures, both human saints and archetypal deities. She explains, "It is no accident that in India, the deity who governs education, the arts, and religious knowledge is Sarasvati; the deity associated with strength and protection is Durga; the deity who rules wealth and commerce is Lakshmi - all are Goddesses."

She also contrasts India's 'women of spirit' with Western role models of feminism: "I wonder what it might have been like growing up not with Cinderella or Sleeping beauty as role models, but Lallesvari or Mira Bai. Suppose instead of aspiring to be presidents of software firms, ultra thin models, or successful artists and scholars, we women of the West could also picture ourselves as divine beings who could move at will through the inner corridors of the universe?"

Overall, Daughters of the Goddess is an engrossing and charming book. At only 128 pages, and written in a lively and fast paced format, it is sure to reach out to a wide audience. The only downside is that the liberal use of technical Sanskrit terms may baffle some readers (although this is remedied by the glossary). Overall, however, I am sure that this book is destined to change many lives, and highly recommend it to anybody sincerely interested in the subject matter.
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Tenrikyo

Post12 May 2008

Does this all sounds familiar? But this time with an earlier woman spiritual leader.
Tenrikyo is a Japanese religion which claims over 2,350,000 members.

It was started in October 1838 when, through the mouth of its female founder, Miki Nakayama, God the Parent spoke to human beings for the first time declaring, “I am God of Origin, God in Truth. There is causality in this Residence. At this time, I have descended here to save all humankind. I wish to receive Miki as the Shrine of God.” On the third day after this revelation, October 26, the beginning of Tenrikyo was marked.

Followers call their medium and foundress, “Oyasama,” meaning “beloved Parent”. Oyasama not only taught the will of "God the Parent", as the "Shrine of God" for fifty years since the beginning of Tenrikyo she also personally showed the world the Divine Model of single-hearted salvation. "Shrine of God" meant that Oyasama's mind had been replaced by that of God the Parent, although outwardly She was still human. Oyasama taught the intention of God the Parent by Her spoken and written word and by demonstrating it in Her life. Through easily understandable instructions and her own examples, Oyasama showed a model of how to lead the Joyous Life depending solely on the state of the mind no matter what situations or circumstances one might find oneself in. "God the Parent" was deemed to be "inside" her, but she was seen as separate from it.

She "withdrew from physical life", i.e. died, on January 26, 1887, to urge the spiritual development of the children but apparently she still works today as ever before for the cause of world salvation. After being settled as the Shrine of Tsukihi, Oyasama plunged herself into poverty by casting off her possessions as well as those of the Nakayama family. Even when they did not have any food to eat, Oyasama gave away what rice the family had to anyone in need , she could not bear seeing anyone suffer. Her family and relatives strongly protested her actions.

Oyasama taught that the purpose of our lives is for human beings - the children of God the Parent - to lead the joyous life, through helping each other. Followers practise "Hinokishin" (repaying God the Parent by appreciating the blessings of God the Parent at all times), believe that “through saving others, one shall be saved” and are led to realize that every incident happens due to the parental love of God the Parent. Miki is said to be alive waiting for the time when Tenrikyo becomes the religion of all mankind. Her Followers continue to offer her food.

By performing service, and administering the truth to people suffering, the minds of the people throughout the world will be purified, and this world will be reconstructed into the world of Joyous Life, the world of true peace. They say, the obstacle preventing us from leading the "Joyous Life" which is our true and original state, is none other than the self-centered ways we use our minds. By experiencing God the Parent's blessings, individuals can correct their self-centered use of mind and make a commitment to return to their true and original state, whereby they will assuredly receive the blessing of good health etc.

In order to receive the truth of the Sazuke, followers start by attending nine lectures which set forth the teachings of God the Parent. In the course of attending the nine lectures, individuals correct their self-centered use of mind and try to understand the teachings. Upon completion of the nine lectures, the mind will become purified. By receiving the truth followers become "Yoboku" - instruments for world salvation.

God the Parent and Oyasama are hastening our spiritual development, and are waiting for the children from all over the world to come back to Jiba, the Parental Home.
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Re: The Truth about Female Spiritual leaders

Post12 May 2008

Very familiar. As a BK I learned that only God can use such language. No human being would even dream of using such words. The voice of God introducing Himself to the children is heard only once per Kalpa, etc.
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Re: The Truth about Female Spiritual leaders

Post28 Jul 2008

Again debunking their often quoted advertising that the Brahma Kumaris were the first women spiritual leaders (despite having a male leader, male god, male trustees etc). Perhaps it is not their fault that they were not educated enough to know of other religions but given that their first important overseas invitation was to Japan, it is a wonder that they do not credit it.

Again, note the similarities to Lekhraj Kirpalani's experiences. Oomoto-kyo
Oomoto

Oomoto (literally "foundation"), also known as Oomoto-kyo, is a Japanese religion. The spiritual leaders of the movement have predominantly been women. Since 2001, the movement continues to be led by a women and its fifth leader, Kurenai Deguchi.

Founder, Mrs Deguchi Nao from Ayabe in Kyoto Prefecture, declared that she had a "spirit dream" at the lunar New Year in 1892, became possessed (kamigakari) by 'Ushitora no Konjin' who declared that soon the "Great Cleansing of the Three Thousand Worlds" had commenced. Nao started to transmit his words, repeatedly experiencing "possession" or channelling the spirit and 1894 began to write through a process of automatic writing. The religion was established based on Nao's channelled writings.

By 1920 the group had their own newspaper, the Taishō Nichinichi Shinbun, and started to expand overseas. In 1921 and 1935 the Japanese government headquarters destroyed and took its leaders into captivity. After World War II, the organization reappeared as Aizen’en, a movement dedicated to achieve world peace whereas, initially, her first revelation in 1892 were apocalyptic and foretold of the destruction of the world and the appearance of a messiah who would usher in the new heaven on earth. From 1925 until 1933 Oomoto maintained a mission in Paris. From there, missionaries travelled throughout Europe, spreading the word that Onisaburo Deguchi was a Messiah or Maitreya, who would unify the world.

In 1949 Omotokyo joined the World Federalist Movement and the world peace campaign. At present time, the movement has its headquarters in Kyoto and has a nominal membership of approximately 170,000. There is a temple for religious services in Ayabe, and a mission in a large park on the former site of Kameoka Castle that includes offices, schools, a publishing house, and shrines.

Omotokyo teaches that the achievement of personal virtue as a step to universal harmony and members of Oomoto believe in several kami (or spirit gods). Oomoto members also tend to recognize notable religious figures from other religions as kami. However, all of these kami are believed to be aspects of a single God concept. It is a monotheistic religion but not like the “exclusive monotheism” of Judeo-Christianity but an “inclusive monotheism,” meaning the religions believe many gods may exist but all are essentially the same and come from one source; therefore it doesn’t matter under which name or ritual God is worshipped. Oomoto teaches that all gods, religions, prophets and messengers throughout time came from the same source – the Supreme God of the Universe. Oomoto is active in interfaith efforts.

One of the more well-known followers of Oomoto was Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, a Japanese martial art. It is commonly thought that Ueshiba's increasing attachment to pacifism in later years and belief that Aikido should be an "art of peace" were inspired by his involvement with the sect.

Emily Groszos Ooms, Women and Millenarian Protest in Meiji Japan: Deguchi Nao and Omotokyo, Cornell Univ East Asia Program, 1993

strictly speaking, the Brahma Kumaris would belittle this religion as a Kali Yugi cult, having its Golden Age in their hell. Deguchi Nao would be nothing more than an "impure" Iron Aged Chariot for whatever new soul entered into her in order to start their religion according to the BKWSU model.
oomoto.or.jp wrote:Nao was perfectly aware when the spirit entered her. First her body became extraordinarily heavy, and she felt a great force in her abdomen. At this time all feeling of fatigue left her and her posture became erect and rigid, like an effigy in stone. Presently her body began to rock backward and forward and she would raise and lower her feet alternately. At such times Nao's chin would be drawn in, her eyes glittering, and with tremendous pressure from the pit of her stomach the voice would come forth in a solemn tone.

Nao, who did not care for all this bellowing in a loud masculine voice, would occasionally clench her teeth, determined not to speak. In vain. The great voice would burst forth even so, forcing her mouth to open.

When the Foundress first entered this state of spirit possession she was startled and alarmed by what was happening to her, and only wished to rid herself of the intruder. Since this proved to be impossible, she eventually settled down and began to question the entity as to who and what he was.

"Who are you?" "I am Ushitora no Konjin." "Surely you are trying to deceive me." "I am God. God does not lie ... I am the god who will reconstruct the world."
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Re: The Truth about Female Spiritual leaders

Post29 Jul 2008

Its wonderful the claims one can make of oneself if one encourages one's followers not to education themselves. Another very brief survey regarding the Brahma Kumaris claim to be the world's first women spiritual leaders ...

Americas;

Jemima Wilkinson (1758-1819) - The Re-Incarnation of the Divine in Female Form, founder of the movement of "Universal Friends"
Mary Barrett Dyer, Elizabeth Hooton, Reverend Mary Starbuck - 17th and 18th Century Quaker leaders and martyrs
Anne Marbury Hutchinson (1612 - 1643) - founder of "Antinomianism" and feminist leader
Annie Armstrong (1850 - 1938) - Southern Baptist denominational leader instrumental in the founding of the Women's Missionary Union
Helen Barrett Montgomery (1861 – 1934) - social reformer, church leader, women’s activist, missions activist.
Anne Ayres (1816 - 1886) - founded first Episcopalian religious order for women
Grandy Nanny (18th-century) - Jamaican Maroon female spiritual leader and warrior, her image appears on the Bank of Jamaica's $500 currency note.

In Europe;

Thiota (9th Century) - heretical Christian prophetess who prophesied that the exact date of the end of the world in 847
Saint Angela Merici (1474 – 1540) - Italian religious leader and saint who founded the Order of Ursulines in 1535 in Brescia.
Beguines (13th century) - semi-monastic community of religious women who sought to serve God without retiring from the world
Hild (7th Century) - female Celtic monastic leader, abbess of her own "double monastery" (one including both men and women)
Regina Jonas (1902 - 1944) - first woman to be ordained as a rabbi

India;

Hazrat Babajan (1806 - 1931) - Baloch Muslim saint considered by her followers to be a Satguru or qutub, disciples included Hindus, Muslims, and Zoroastrians
Lalleshwari/Lal Ded (1320-90) - a Kashmiri wandering ascetic and devotional poetess promoting a non-dualistic philosophy of Saivism and Islamic Sufism
Amy Beatrice Carmichael (1867 – 1951) - Protestant missionary in India whose work with young ladies, some of whom saved from forced prostitution, and children

China;

A Han mandarin bragged that he had destroyed thousands of shrines of the wu (female shamans) in southern China

Philippines;

In the 16th century, Spanish colonizers were stunned to see that "old women" led most ceremonies in the Philippines
Marie Louise De Meester (1897 - 1928) - founder of Missionary Sisters of the Immaculati Cordis Mariae, born in India
Jeronima de la Fuente (1555 - 1630) was the foundress of the first Catholic monastery in Manila and the Far East
Dionisia Talangpaz ( - 1732) - foundresses of the Beaterio de San Sebastian de Calumpang
Ignacia del Espiritu Santo (1663 - 1748) - foundress of the first congregation for women in the Philippines
Mother Francisca del Espiritu Santo (1647-1711) - first Prioress of the Congregation of Dominican Sisters

Africa;

Nongqawuse (1840 – 1898) - Xhosa prophetess who led a millennialist movement that culminated in the Xhosa cattle-killing crisis of 1856–1857
Wanankhucha (mid-1800s) - a Mganga diviner and prophetess who organized the escape of large numbers of Zigula people from slavery and led them to freedom
Dahia al-Kahina (7th century) - galvanized Tunisia to resist the Arab conquest of north Africa
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Re: Debunking BKWSU myths: "first women spiritual leaders"

Post12 Aug 2008

Akka Mahadevi - (12th century) a prominent figure of the Veerashaiva Bhakti movement in 12th century Karnataka. Her Vachanas, a form of poetry are considered her greatest contribution to literature. The term 'Akka' (elder Sister) which is an honorific given to her by great Veerashaiva saints like Basavanna, Cenna Basavanna, Kinnari Bommayya and Siddharama. She was said to have accepted Lord Shiva ('Chenna Mallikarjuna') as her mystical husband. A prominent figure in the field of female emancipation and a person of mystical vision and a household name in Karnataka, she had said that she was a woman only in name and that her mind, body and soul belonged to Lord Shiva.

During a time of political uncertainity in the 12th century, she launched a movement that made her an inspiration for woman empowerment and enlightenment and took part in many gatherings of learned at the Anubhavamantapa sangama to debate about philosophy and attainment of spiritualism becoming a Sanyasini (woman saint) before settling down in Basavakalyana, Bidar district. Her non-conformist ways caused a lot of consternation in a conservative society. A true ascetic, Mahadevi is said to have refused to wear any clothing - a common practice among male ascetics, but shocking for a woman.

Mirra Alfassa (1878-1973) - otherwise known as "the Mother", a Parisian of Egyptian descent. After having many spiritual and occult experiences of her own, she left for Algeria in 1906 to learn occultism more thoroughly, under the guidance of the little-known adept Max Theon and his wife Alma. She then returned to Paris, where she set up her own spiritual-esoteric circle. Later, with her second husband she traveled to India, where in 1914 she met Sri Aurobindo, who had recently taken refuge in Pondicherry. She later left for Japan and after some years returned to Europe. Worked on a process of spiritual transformation totally different to that of previous yogas: rather than being simply a self-transformation in order to attain the state of individual eternal transcendence or Moksha, it was work on transforming and divinising the entire planetary consciousness.

Aandaal (10th century) - Tamil saint and one of the twelve Alvars (saints) and the only woman Alvar of Vaishnavism. She is credited with the great Tamil works of Thirupavai and Nachiar Tirumozhi that are still recited by devotees during the Winter festival season of Margazhi. Aandaal is known for her unwavering devotion to Lord Vishnu. Aandaal avoided earthly marriage, the normal and expected path for women of her culture, to "marry" Lord Vishnu, both spiritually and physically. In many places in India, particularly in Tamilnadu, Aandaal is treated more than a saint and as a form of God herself, similar to tradition of Lord Buddha and Jesus Christ.
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Re: Debunking BKWSU myths: "first women spiritual leaders"

Post12 Feb 2009

Upliftment of women ...

Saroj Nalini Dutt, - (1887 - 1925). Social worker and feminist, awarded MBE.

A well known social reformer, educationist and a pioneer of the movement for the upliftment of women in Bengal who dedicated herself to the cause of women both inside and outside the home as well as the community. Her name had become intimately associated with the Women’s Movement as one who stood out for women’s freedom. The devotion of her heart to the Women's Movement was so deep that it had become with her an all-absorbing passion.

Rabindranath Tagore wrote about her: "as I read this little sketch of the life and work of Saroj Nalini, I realised that her husband ... is indeed a fortunate man. For such a woman as Saroj Nalini cannot be lost even in death ... Ordinarily when we look for the typical Bengali woman, we think of one whose activities are confined within the four walls of her home ... Saroj Nalini lived for the most of her life in the midst of the crowd outside her home. Her life's work was not confined to the family circle only; her home sphere comprised many and varied elements ... Her relations with this large home circle were rendered gracious through her sweetness, and beneficient through her unselfishness ... In her own life the home was not sacrificed to society, nor society to the home.[5] ”

Her dedication to the improvement of the condition of Indian women was evident in the great efforts she took to actively participate in the raising of the social status of zenana ladies, leading the introduction of the charka (spinning wheel) in village homes and educating girls.

She was also the founder of the Women’s Institute Movement in India.

NB, not the noted scholar, the late Arambam Saroj Nalini, born 1933 who attended Calcutta University to become the first Meetei woman to obtain BA and MA degrees, majoring in Philosophy.
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Re: Debunking BKWSU myths: "first women spiritual leaders"

Post13 Feb 2009

Lest they be forgot ... let us cast our net widely again to challenge our Sindi daughters self-aggrandisement as the first and best of everything etc ...

Spiritual leaders:

Maitreyi - vedic philosopher from ancient India, the second wife of famous sage and philosopher, Yajnavalkya. Maitreyi was well-versed in Vedas and associated scriptures and was called brahmavadini or "one who speaks like God" by people of her time. About ten hymns in Rig Veda are accredited to her.

Gargi Vachaknavi - ancient Indian female philosopher, born in the family of Garga, circa 800 - 500 BCE. The daughter of sage Vachaknu, Gargi is mentioned in the Sixth and the Eighth Brahmana of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. She is known for challenging the sage Yajnavalkya with questions on the atman (soul). In Vedic literature, she is honored as one of the great natural philosophers.

Academics:

Chandramukhi Basu - (1860 – 1944), a Bengali speaking Christian was one of the first two female graduates of the British Empire. She received her Bachelor's degree in Arts from the University of Calcutta, India in 1883 and was the only and first woman to pass MA from Calcutta University in 1884. Her Sisters, Bidhumukhi and Bindubasini, were the first two woman medical graduates from Calcutta Medical College in 1890.

Kadambini Ganguly- (1861 – 3 October 1923). The first female physician of South Asia to be trained in European medicine and daughter of Brahmo reformer Braja Kishore Basu who started the movement for women's emancipation at Bhagalpur, establishing the women's organisation Bhagalpur Mahila Samiti in 1863, the first in India. In 1878, she became the first woman to pass the University of Calcutta entrance examination. In 1886, she was awarded a GBMC (Graduate of Bengal Medical College) degree, which gave her the right to practise. She thus became the first Indian woman doctor qualified to practice Western medicine.

Kadambini went to the United Kingdom in 1892 and returned to India after qualifying as LRCP (Edinburgh), LRCS (Glasgow), and GFPS (Dublin) and was actively involved in female emancipation and social movements to improve work conditions of female coal miners in eastern India. She was one of the six female delegates to the fifth session of the Indian National Congress in 1889, and even organized the Women's Conference in Calcutta in 1906 in the aftermath of the partition of Bengal. A mother of eight children.

Anandi Gopal Joshi - (1865 - 1887). The first Indian woman to obtain a medical degree and trained in Western system of medicine. When Joshi's decision to study abroad became known, she was rejected by Hindu society, spat at in public and had stones thrown at her. She stressed the need for Hindu female doctors in India, and talked about her goal of opening a medical college for women in India. The Viceroy of India contributed 200 rupees towards funds for her education but Joshi had to sell her gold bangles to fund her travel and education.

Authors:

Lalithambika Antherjanam (1909-1985) who wrote stories and a personal memoir about the oppression of women by her community.

Feminists:

Sarala Devi Chaudhurani - (1872–1945) founder of the first women's organisation in India, the Bharat Stree Mahamandal in Allahabad in 1910. One of the primary goals of the organisation was to promote female education. The organisation opened several offices in Lahore (then part of undivided India), Allahabad, Delhi, Karachi, Amritsar, Hyderabad, Kanpur, Bankura, Hazaribagh, Midnapur and Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) to improve the situation of women all over India.

Tarabai Shinde - feminist activist who protested patriarchy and caste in 19th century India. She is known for her published work, Stri Purush Tulana ("A Comparison Between Women and Men"), originally published in Marathi in 1882, a critique of upper-caste patriarchy and the first modern Indian feminist text. It was very controversial for its time in challenging the Hindu religious scriptures themselves as a source of women's oppression. Involved with the first school for Untouchable caste girls in 1848, as well as a shelter for upper-caste widows in 1854.

Pandita Ramabai - (1858 - 1922), an eminent Indian Christian social reformer and activist, poet, scholar and a champion of improvement in the plight of Indian women. Read Puranic Sanskrit and made quite a name for herself as a scholar in Puranic circles, earning the name Pandita. Although she was a Brahmin, she married a non-Brahmin. Given a scholarship to study medicine in England, wrote the feminist classic "The High Caste Hindu Woman", a scathing attack on traditional practices including widowhood, polygamy and child marriage which was translated into English and widely read in England and America.

She established the Mukti Mission in 1889 as a refuge for young widows who were abused by their families which is still active today, providing housing, education, vocational training, and medical services, for many needy groups including widows, orphans, and the blind. In 1919, the British King conferred on her the highest awards an Indian could receive during the period of the British Raj.

Bhikhaiji Rustom Cama - (1861 – 1936). A prominent figure in the Indian independence movement and international campaigner on women's rights. "Flag of Indian Independence" which a modification of would later serve as one of the templates upon which the current national flag of India is based.

Savitribai Phule (1831-1897) - social reformer and women's rights in India during the British Raj. Savitribai was also the first female teacher of the first women's school in India and the first female poet in Marathi language. In 1852 she opened a school for Untouchable girls and campaigned for the education of girls and underclasses, widow remarriage, suicide protection and other reforms. Faced wholescale personal attacks from groups of orthodox men would follow her and abuse her in obscene language, throwing rotten eggs, cow dung, fruit and stones at her.

Politicians:

Sarojini Naidu - (1879, Hyderabad - 1949, Lucknow). A child prodigy, freedom fighter, and poet. Naidu was the first Indian woman to become the President of the Indian National Congress and the first woman to become the Governor of Uttar Pradesh. Active in the Indian Independence Movement, she joined Mahatma Gandhi in the Salt March to Dandi, and then leading the Dharasana Satyagraha after the arrests of Gandhi, Abbas Tyabji, and Kasturba Gandhi.

She attained national fame for entering Madras University at the age of twelve. In 1895, at the age of sixteen, she travelled to England to study first at King's College London and subsequently at Girton College, Cambridge.

Vijaya Lakshmi Nehru Pandit - (1900 - 1990). An Indian diplomat and politician, the first Indian woman to hold a cabinet post. In 1937 she was elected to the provincial legislature of the United Provinces and was designated minister of local self-government and public health. She held the latter post until 1939 and again from 1946 to 1947. In 1946 she was elected to the Constituent Assembly from the United Provinces, later becoming India's ambassador to the Soviet Union, the United States and Mexico, Ireland and United Kingdom, Spain and headed the Indian delegation to the United Nations. In 1953, she became the first woman President of the United Nations General Assembly.

Pritilata Waddedar - (1911 – 1932). An anti-British, pro-India revolutionary in East Bengal, meritorious student at the Dr. Khastagir Government Girls' School of Chittagong passing the matriculation examination in the first division in 1928. Graduated in Philosophy with distinction from Bethune College of Kolkata. Pritilata received combat training from Nirmal Sen and joined the armed resistance movement.

In 1932, when Surya Sen planned an attack on the Pahartali European Club (which bore the notorious sign 'Dogs and Indians not allowed'), he assigned Pritilata to lead a team of 10-12 men. Committed suicide by swallowing cyanide on being caught.

Rajkumari Amrit Kaur - (1889 – 1964). Health minister in the Indian Cabinet for ten years after India's independence from the British Raj in 1947, eminent Gandhian, freedom fighter, and social activist. Educated at Sherborne School for Girls in Dorset, England and Oxford University. After completing her education in England, she returned to India. After meeting in person Mahatma Gandhi in 1919 in Bombay (Mumbai), she felt drawn to his thoughts and vision for the country and joined the INC to participate in India's struggle for freedom and also in social reform activities. Rajkumari co-founded the All India Women’s Conference in 1927, became its secretary in 1930, and president in 1933.

Rajkumari went to live at Mahatma Gandhi's ashram in 1934, and took up the austere life there despite her aristocratic background. She served as one of Gandhi's secretaries for sixteen years and was imprisoned by the British many times. She championed the cause of universal suffrage and testified before the Lothian Committee and the British Parliament on Indian constitutional reforms. Member of the Indian delegation to UNESCO conferences in London and Paris in 1945 and 1946, respectively. Rajkumari worked to reduce illiteracy, and eradicate the custom of child marriages and the purdah system for women, which were prevalent then among some Indian communities. After India’s independence, she was the first woman to hold Cabinet rank, assigned the Ministry of Health becoming the president of World Health Assembly in 1950.

Mira Dattagupta - well-known freedom fighter, social worker, educationist, politician and activist on women's issues in Calcutta, India. Brilliant student of the University of Calcutta (masters in mathematics and secured a first class with second rank from the University of Calcutta in 1930), she secretly kept documents and even arms and ammunition for revolutionary party workers at her family home whilst giving shelter to both Muslim and Hindu riot victims, founder of many prominent women's organisations and educational institutions in West Bengal including the All India Women's Conference and All Bengal Women's Union. Member of the Indian Congress Party between 1939 and 1959, she was twice elected as member of the state legislative assembly of Bengal. From 1933, the police became suspicious of her activities and she was placed under constant surveillance, she was actively involved in fund raising activities or the Quit India Movement and jailed for her nationalistic activities.

Rulers:

Razia al-Din - (1205-1240) the Sultan of Delhi in India from 1236 to 1240. She was of Turkish Seljuks ancestry and like some other Muslim princesses of the time, she was trained to lead armies and administer kingdoms if necessary. Razia Sultana was the very first woman ruler in the Muslim and Turkish history.
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Re: Debunking BKWSU myths: "first women spiritual leaders"

Post26 Apr 2010

ex-l wrote:Sarala Devi Chaudhurani - (1872–1945) founder of the first women's organisation in India, the Bharat Stree Mahamandal in Allahabad in 1910. One of the primary goals of the organisation was to promote female education. The organisation opened several offices in Lahore (then part of undivided India), Allahabad, Delhi, Karachi, Amritsar, Hyderabad, Kanpur, Bankura, Hazaribagh, Midnapur and Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) to improve the situation of women all over India.

An interesting side note to the story of Saraladevi, who started the first women's movement in India. In recognition of men's commitment to Independence, Sarala used to tie rakhis around their wrists as tokens of their vows, something usually only practised by Sisters. So the BKs are not new to do that either.

Sarala Devi she exhorted young men to organize pratpaditya bratas, defensive exercises with swords and clubs as well as wrestling and boxing to protect women, especially from the British. The udayaditya bratas and birastami bratas often took the form of a parade. When in 1910 she started the Bharat Stree Mahamandal, the chief aim was to be the spread of female education. She later became the lover of Mahatma Gandhi, a married Father of four. Neither Mahatma Gandhi nor Sarla Devi wrote about their love affairs in their autobiographies.

Pandita Ramabai, also mentioned above, formed an association to fund schools for child widows in 1889, Bombay. This was the first home for widows in Maharashtra. It moved to Poona and it was hit by the great 1900 famine, Ramabai and her helpers were able to rescue several hundred women. A training school for teachers also opened, and an Industrial School with gardens, fields, oil press, dairy, laundry, ovens, etc which also taught sewing, weaving, and embroidery. Good practical skills for women promoting independence and self-reliance.

    What do the Brahma Kumaris teach their unpaid female servants?
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Re: Debunking BKWSU myths: "first women spiritual leaders"

Post24 Aug 2014

Savitribai Phule, (January 3, 1831 – March 10, 1897) was an Indian social reformer who played an important role in improving women's rights in India during British Rule. Opened the first women's school at Pune in 1848.

Funnily enough, whilst the Brahma Kumaris turn around and imagine themselves as Brahmins and the rest of the world as Shudras ... I cannot remember at any point god through Lekhraj Kirpalani or the BKs making any big statements about the Untouchables in India. They've always been much more interested in chasing the rich, famous, powerful and VIPs.

In English, we call that social climbing, not social reform or upliftment. The idea with upliftment is that you uplift the whole of society, or the lowest, most discriminated against members of society ... not just yourself.

Savitribai Phule and her husband were two of the very few social reformers, along with the great Dr.B. R. Ambedkar, who attempted to address such inequalities.
Savitri Phule realized that in addition to working on education, it was necessary to work on other social fronts, to build up the self-esteem and confidence of women. Many girls who were married off young would be widowed by the age of twelve or thirteen. After the death of their husbands, widows' head would be clean shaven to make them "unattractive" to other men.

These helpless women, with no rights to denial, were easy targets for men. The resultant pregnant widows would resort to suicide or killing the newborn, for fear of being ostracized by the society. To counteract this situation, Jyotirao started a home for pregnant widows and orphaned children. Savitri ran the home and considered all the children in the orphanage as her own. Savitribai and her husband Jyotirao were moved by the plight of such widows and penalized the barbers by organizing a strike to persuade them not to shave the heads of widows.

Savitribai was not only involved in the educational efforts but also in social reform. Moved by the treatment of the untouchables, who were refused drinking water meant for the upper caste, both Jyotirao and Savitribai opened up their reservoir of water to the untouchables.

Once Jyotirao stopped a pregnant lady from committing suicide, promising her to give her child his name after it was born. Savitribai accepted the lady in her house and helped her deliver the child. Savitribai and Jyotirao later adopted this child, who grew up to become a doctor. This incident led the couple to open a "Delivery Home" for women on whom pregnancy had been forced. The delivery home was called "Balhatya Pratibandhak Griha".
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