Brahma Kumaris is not a cult says BK guru Neville Hodgkinson

for discussing revisions in the history of the Brahma Kumaris and updating information about the organisation
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oldbk

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Re: Brahma Kumaris is not a cult says BK guru Neville Hodgki

Post12 Mar 2019

I guess it would be okay to call them "cultist religion". In reality, their transformation has been more towards mainstream religious orgs. In India, we have ISHA Yoga, Art of Living, Nithyananda, Ramdev and a host of others. All with a good number of followers, and definitely rolling in money, much of it was in display just this past week during Maha Shivrathri. The current political environment is also very conducive for these organizations.

The main difference between BKs and others, is that BKs don't project a single figure as "the guru", while others do. This gives BKs the flexibility to change their projections according to their location - one for India, one for Australia, one for UK, one for USA, and so on. Unless someone is deeply involved with the BKs they wouldn't see these differences - to the point of being an issue.

As you have mentioned, as the "old" BKs pass away, the new ones and strategy are what is being cultivated now. Very much visible, with all the "Bhakts" approaches including statues, rituals etc. Add to it the media promotions. Why not, when you can fly business/first class, have a comfortable stay at whatever Center you are in. You will always have the "bottom of the totem pole" willing to take care of your needs and wish for your "drishti" on them.
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Pink Panther

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Re: Brahma Kumaris is not a cult says BK guru Neville Hodgki

Post13 Mar 2019

if you look up the definition of cult then I think the BKs qualify on both primary and secondary level meanings.
[ C ] Cambridge Dictionary
1. a religious group, often living together, whose beliefs are considered extreme or strange by many people:
e.g. Their son ran away from home and joined a religious cult.

[ C ] 2. a particular system of religious belief: e.g. the Hindu cult of Shiva (s i c)
Merriam Webster Dictionary
Definition of cult
1 : a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious. also : its body of adherents e.g. the voodoo cult
2a : great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work
b : the object of such devotion
c : a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion e.g. the singer's cult of fans
3 : a system of religious beliefs and ritual also : its body of adherents e.g. the cult of Apollo

To me, in the sense we are talking about, a cult is known by being not only an offshoot or variation of a more mainstream belief but it’s re-interpreted in such a way that the focus and attention is directed to the one who leads or proclaims it, not to the origins or the teachings themselves, i.e. any questioning of the origins or ”teachings" finish with the authority of the ”teacher".

A Yoga 'school' will have its traditional line of masters and gurus but they will point back to origins. A Yoga 'cult' will venerate, and be encouraged to venerate, the current guru over and above all others, even above the giants upon whose shoulders they gained their ”knowledge".

Where the BKs may be "transitioning" by this definition is that BKs venerate the founder, who is now dead, at least nominally ahead of the current leaders (who are infallible representatives of the founder. Like the Vatican (which is why the Eastern Orthodox churches see the Roman Catholic church as a kind of huge cult!).

While Lekhraj (Brahma Baba) was alive, the BKs fitted that definition.
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ex-l

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Re: Brahma Kumaris is not a cult says BK guru Neville Hodgki

Post13 Mar 2019

Pink Panther wrote:To me, in the sense we are talking about, a cult is known by being not only an offshoot or variation of a more mainstream belief but it’s re-interpreted in such a way that the focus and attention is directed to the one who leads or proclaims it

As far as "offshoots" go, I'd have to throw in another word, which is 'sect' and argue that the BKs are most certainly not a sect in that their beliefs system is actually new and borrows only words, not ideas from Hinduism. I'd argue against them being a Hindu sect because I think there are other influence mixed in, eg a Christian sect might be more extreme but would still adhere to the Bible and the basic beliefs of Christianity.
Sect: a group of people with somewhat different religious beliefs (typically regarded as heretical) from those of a larger group to which they belong.

What is the collective noun for cults?

A 'school' of 'cults' ... an 'asylum' of 'cults' ... a 'madness' of 'cults' sounds about right.

As an aside, I am seeing a current tendency of the BKs to market themselves as a "Yoga" group to the Yoga market, that is now estimated to be worth $80 billion Worldwide.

I am a bit of a lone voice in that debate but I think it is entirely false and deceptive of the Brahma Kumaris to market their practise as "Yoga". For me, they are not practising Yoga but mediumship, and there is a specific difference. I would say, in Yoga proper there might be a union or absorption; but in mediumship, there is also a channeling of another energy going on. Yoga is done consciously and controlled but, in BKism, the initiation into mediumship is done deceptively and the alleged channeling said to happen without the adherents knowledge, control or agreement.

That is more akin to spiritual possession than spiritual union.

In India report, the government is now supporting the "wellness industry", said to be worth INR 490 billion, perhaps accounting for part of their interest in the BKs? They've even categorised it into parts, eg "AYUSH sector" (Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) and are supporting it as an export industry.
The [Indian Institute of Foreign Trade] will explore entrepreneurship opportunities in Yoga and wellness by bringing together industry leaders, influencers, practitioners and professionals. It will also serve as a launchpad for a year-round series of events and initiatives dedicated to promoting Yoga and wellness in India.
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Pink Panther

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Re: Brahma Kumaris is not a cult says BK guru Neville Hodgki

Post13 Mar 2019

I’d agree with all of that.

However, I don’t think the BKs are a new religion separate to "Hinduism" that have borrowed only the nomenclature from various other religions, unless by new you mean, a new blend. Hinduism itself is a variety of ‘blends’.

I like the idea of stripping away the labels and looking directly at the actions alone (like a silent movie?) to see what they actually resemble, no verbal misdirection!

The channeling of spirits is fairly common in many religions, Eastern and Western. The Christian churches that ”speak in tongues” resemble less their staid Protestant brethren than they resemble a Voodoo cult or an indigenous ritual involving invocation of ancestor spirits via rhythmic chanting.

Where the BKs mark out their product, which I agree is a melange of Hindu narrative, Islamic and Sikh theology, Christian millenarianism* and soteriology**, and Charismatic authoritarianism, is that they say their spirit is the One God of Monotheism, and that One God is theirs alone, the other religions being mere palimpsests*** of a spiritual relationship, crumbs of the Divine Feast that are left for the lowly beggars.
_________________________________

    * Millenarianism - a millenium is a thousand years. Millenarianism is the idea that after a millenium or many millenia of decline there will be a millenium of peace and a divine kingdom. In Christianity, it is mainly referred to in the Book of Revelations; in BKism the various ages are defined in periods of 1250 years totalling a cycle of renewal every 5000 years.

    ** Soteriology is the idea that personal salvation is (desirable and only achieved if) mediated by a specific (divine) figure found in a particular religious movement.

    *** Palimpsest is where traces of an original text or painting can be seen, having faded, decayed, been obscured overwritten or over-painted by the current one. It’s not unlike a white board which has been wiped but traces of the last class can still be seen.
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ex-l

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Re: Brahma Kumaris is not a cult says BK guru Neville Hodgki

Post14 Mar 2019

Pink Panther wrote:However, I don’t think the BKs are a new religion separate to "Hinduism" that have borrowed only the nomenclature from various other religions, unless by new you mean, a new blend. Hinduism itself is a variety of ‘blends’.

Do you mean religions or sects within Hinduism, as well as outside of it? I say plainly Lekhraj Kirpalani and the BKs "stole from Hinduism" without paying any 'price' ... by which I mean a proper training, education, practise, or submission to a lineage.

I refer back to the Bhaibund bag men's pattern of wealth creation, their trade. 'Taking the produce of others as entrepreneurs, and re-selling them to third parties at a profit' ... from which Lekhraj Kirpalani moved on to 'taking the ideas of others, and re-selling them to third parties at a profit, (and as a prophet)'.

Except he did not really know or understand the ideas in the first place, so he just took the most valuable assets; the logos (iconography) and trademarks (words and names) of the religion.

For me - I may be wrong and I am open to correction from any Indians - the key element of Hinduism is its pluralistic nature ... one that BKism utterly contradicts and, hence, separates itself from. Its core appears to have emerged from the Abrahamic traditions, the Islamic and Christian influences he was exposed to in the Sind and Bengal.

Latterly, the BKs have put on the 'garb of pluralism' in public, a facade of tolerance and respect, but we, as ex-BKs, know that is an utterly lie. The BKs believe that Lekhraj Kirpalani's scriptures — the Murlis or "The Knowledge" — are "the repository of the absolute and final truth".

In that way, they are more like Islam, swopping Lekhraj Kirpalani for Muhammed as the final messenger.

Thinking about it now, I'd say the entire religion looks more like an expression of expansion of Lekhraj Kirpalani's unresolved psychology, then expanded further by the unresolved psychologies of influence BKs, like Janki, Chander etc.

Hypocritically, the BKs practising putting on a pose in public of looking as if "all religions are equally worthy of respect", but privately they *know* it is not true, and *know* theirs is the highest and supreme one of all, the *only one* to deliver moksha and jeevan mukti. In that, perhaps, they have all the zeal of Christian missionaries or evangelists, that again I am pretty sure Lekhraj Kirpalani must have encountered ... and question whether he modelled his cult on them.
Religious pluralism and Hinduism

The Semitic religions believe that their scriptures — Torah, Bible and Quran — are repositories of the absolute and final truth. Those who do not accept these exclusive truths are referred to as ‘pagans’ or ‘kafirs’ [edit: Shudras and Bhagats in BKism]. Hinduism regards all other religions as nana panthas, as innumerable paths for spiritual realisation. It regards the choice of a pantha as a matter of personal preference.

God, or the manner and place in which one chooses to worship God are not central to religion. It lies in the principle of sarva dharma sambhava — in the spirit that all religions are equally worthy of respect. It is the mindset that recognises that faith is a ‘matter of hearts and minds and not of bricks and stone’, or directions or locations, or a given or pre-determined set of imperatives and prescriptions.

The BKs will take "bricks and stones" (property and land) over "hearts and minds" any day!
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Re: Brahma Kumaris is not a cult says BK guru Neville Hodgki

Post14 Mar 2019

Ex-I and Pink,

Your definitions and elaborations are quite accurate and precise. Ex-I, for sure, medium-entity interaction is the core of the BK practices and ways of living. A cultural anthropologist or physical anthropologist would derive a conclusion that medium-entity interactions is at the core of BKism; ie an unbiased cultural or physical anthropologist.

There is, however, deficits of peerage in the culture of the BKs. Lekraj is the founder. Who trained Lekraj? Was it the Universal Parent?
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ex-l

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Re: Brahma Kumaris is not a cult says BK guru Neville Hodgki

Post14 Mar 2019

GuptaRati 6666 wrote:There is, however, deficits of peerage in the culture of the BKs. Lekraj is the founder. Who trained Lekhraj? Was it the Universal Parent?

Clearly not ... and you put your finger on the $64,000 dollar question.

The problem is ... Lekhraj was not trained.

What we know was that Lekhraj was initiated by some Sadhu in Bengal, at a huge price ... from which I think we can extrapolate that that his lack of training, foundation or discipline, and continued submission to the tradition, led him to blowing his fuses. His "I am God Krishna/Brahma/Vishnu/Lord Prajapati/Divine Father of Humanity" ego getting in the way.

What was the initiation into? Which tradition? That remains the key mystery to BKism.

That he gained it solely from paying a huge price, suggests to me it was not "on the path of light".

Was it a siddhi, and did Lekhraj Kirpalani blow some chakra wide open? Or was is spiritualistic mediumship and possession by some other being, the being that they now claim - with typically narcissitic egotism - to be "the Universal Parent".

From my point of view, the BKs' god spirit clearly falls far short of being enlightened, never mind being "The One", "The Supreme", or "the Universal Parent" ... and their re-marketing of their spook as "the Universal Parent" is a highly irresponsible or even dangerous "pea under the shell" game.

If it ultimately turns out that it is not "the Universal Parent" ... and the odds appear to be very, very, very badly stacked against it ... then their promotion of it is possibly the very worst karma of all.

I'd say at best it was just a powerful Jinn or Asura ... could just be some deceased guru ... could even be a group of disincarnate spirits ... but Asuras tend to be thought as benign, and I am not sure about this one.
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Pink Panther

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Re: Brahma Kumaris is not a cult says BK guru Neville Hodgki

Post14 Mar 2019

ex-l wrote:What we know was that Lekhraj was initiated by some Sadhu in Bengal, at a huge price ... from which I think we can extrapolate that that his lack of training, foundation or discipline, and continued submission to the tradition, led him to blowing his fuses.

His "I am God Krishna/Brahma/Vishnu/Lord Prajapati/Divine Father of Humanity" ego getting in the way.

You can add to his God Krishna/Brahma/Vishnu/Lord Prajapati/Divine Father of Humanity. He also (most humbly) self-declares that he is, Narayan and in turns Lakshmi, Adam, Rama and in turns, Sita and even the legendary King Vikramajit - this last one used to be occasionally mentioned in Sakar Murlis, a king who, according to BK legend, was supposed to have built the first temple - to himself (if that is not a psychological analogue of what the whole group is, I don't know what is) - but I have found no such references in Hindu mythology to Vikramajit being the first temple builder. If i rememebr correctly BKs also say the first temple was the Somnath temple and Vikramajit built it but the traditional legends say he built one in Ujjain and nothing about it being the first. Another case of expropriating a name.

Which brings us back to the definition of what a cult is.

Most studies will mention how a cult is usually led by a charismatic narcissist who controls or bans sex, controls or bans marriage and controls any relationships, including simple friendships, then insists all love and relationships be directed at him or her.

The leader is the arbiter of what people wear, ie clothes, hairstyles etc; what is acceptable speech; what jobs they will do inside the group or for employment outside the group (to bring in money); and even what they should think at any time of day or night, with that advice usually being to think of the cult leader.

To prove their devotion and to gain spiritual merit & authority within the group hierarchy, adults are encouraged to sacrifice autonomy and agency to decide much for themselves. This infantilisation is romanticised as spiritual ”surrender”, ”humility”, a ”submission" to a "higher being”, a letting go of ego.

Members will pay lip service to "equality" and Brother/sisterhood but always, some will be more equal than others. At the same time as everyone is agreeing to agree with everything that is taught and presented, they will all show consistency and agree ”we are not a cult”.
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