It was BK Gayatri Naraine, representative of the Brahma Kumaris at the UN and UNICEF, that was quoted as saying of the BKWSU, “We don’t have dark secrets”. An opinion repeated by others which leaves BK watchers asking how informed the organization keeps its followers ... or which reality they live in.
In the Mount Abu headquarters a male BK follower was found hanged from a fan in one of the central classrooms. In a Dehli center, another male BK follower committed suicide in the meditation room.
In the latter case, the center-in-charge apparently responded by locked the door, going off to “offer food to God” (a ceremony called Bhog), serving it to the class and then, only after morning class was over going back to deal with the body. In Agra, the body of a BK sister was found in a burnt out Raja Yoga center.
In London, we remember the suicide of Ranjana Patel who threw herself off a fifth storey building following a relationship with another BK. A symbolic suicide as BK followers are taught that to make love, (or “use the sword of lust”) is spiritually like “throwing yourself from the fifth floor” and “worse than murder”. It was her second attempt between which she spoke of the desolation and aloneness which she felt. Her body lay on a mortuary slab for months before it was finally identified.
In Panipat, India as reported widely, another center suicide victim was internally dismissed by the BKWSU as “merely suffering from mental illness”. The act in no way connected with the organization or abuses despite court evidence including a doctor’s report finding him in good health and a series of letters to the BK leadership relating to concerns over serious sexual harassment of female followers, threats and bullying. The same BK was reported to have previously paid for a large proportion of the construction of a building for the BKWSU.
In the mediumistic channelled messages the BKWSU believes to be from God, talking to them personally and exclusively, their ‘Baba’ promises them that “not a hair on their head will be touched”, giving an example of “a mother cat to her kittens” (the BK followers). Not much solace to the families of another murdered Australian BK, on their way back from a pilgrimage to mean with the very same spirit entity at the Mount Abu headquarters.
Observers are left wondering at the dissonance between the words of faith that individuals commit their life to and the largely unreported reality arising from them; the imaginary, infantilized world view the leadership encourage their “lost and now found again children” in which neither have ultimately any responsibility for any other. “Baba will take care of everything”, claim the leaders whose actions allegedly have no karmic reactions because they are in the constant remembrance of their god.
But it is the long shadow of mental illnesses and breakdowns that permeate the BKWSU, affecting both newcomers and experienced members, that leads us to ask what structure is in place to monitor or support members and ex-members? All too often, members relate, the response of the organization is merely to return the previously surrendered individuals to their physical families to be cared for. The very same physical families the organization encouraged followers to leave behind, cut off from entirely, even disinherit in order to “gain benefits” by surrendering their lives and wealth to “Baba” then channelled through the BK center system.
At best a senior member might be offered a place at one of the BK retreat centers, scenes of noted psychotic incidents themselves. At worse, they might suffer the full stigmatization of mental illness that is prevalent in some Indian communities, and the passing of the buck to “their own karma”. The leadership, the organization, its demanding 24/7 lifestyle, the constant checking and the constant threat of “Destruction” and Judgment ... even the mediumistic practises having no responsibility whatsoever.
The questions arise;
- can an organization with such extreme beliefs in a 5,000 year Cycle of Time and a series of failed “End of the World” predictions, one that has been described by academics as “aggressively evangelical” and whose leaders engage in psychic practises as “channelling spirits” be expected to act responsibly in such matters at all?
Or is it just for concerned individuals to focus their attention on protecting those not already initiated into its circle as to the reality of life inside?
- what findings have the BKWSU leadership made of their own business’s failings?
What inquests of these events were held?
What reports were ever made back?
What warnings do new followers receive?
What training do center-in-charges receive to recognize warning symptoms of stress and disorder?
The answer appears to be none. Where a psychotherapist might need 5 years of training before being let loose on the minds of other human beings, all it takes is 7 Days Course for a Brahma Kumari.
admin says: October 2nd, 2007
The image used above is a stock photograph that represents the reality of the events at the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University in Madhuban, Mount Abu, India. It is not a photograph of the actual suicide victim.
liveee says: October 23rd, 2007
impressive write up.