The saga of the Prajapita Brahma Kumaris Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya began in Hyderabad, Sindh (now in Pakistan) in the year 1936, when extraordinary events unfolded in the life of Dada Lekhraj, a wealthy diamond merchant who had risen from humble beginnings to become one of the most respected members of his community.
Dada Lekhraj, a devout man, was contemplating retirement as he was nearing 60, little realising that his life was about to be transformed. One day, while he was sitting in the back hall of his bungalow with a group of fellow disciples of his guru, he had strange spiritual experiences. He recognised these unique inner sensations as the onset of a spiritual encounter, but knew neither their cause nor purpose. Yet there was a sense of heightened perception, a new clarity of mind and vision. A powerful, intuitive grasp of reality was growing in him. He went to his room for solitude. As he sat alone, waves of bliss surged on him. He had gone beyond all consciousness of his body and experienced himself as a point of light, a pure soul afloat in an ocean of bliss. Then he had a vision of the four-armed deity Vishnu.
A few days later, Dada received more visions, including a terrifying one of destruction of the modern world.
The visions made clear to him his own identity. He saw that the Supreme Soul was a point of light, and His children, the souls, were also tiny sparks of sentient energy.
In his vision of destruction, he saw very powerful bombs being dropped from aircraft on cities. He saw missiles with warheads of such devastating potency that they destroyed whole regions of Earth in a moment. There were gigantic fireballs, cities in flames and unbearable firestorms raging everywhere. When he received this vision, America had not yet dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan.
Dada also saw how death came through wars and civil wars, culminating in a wave of natural catastrophes.
While in Kolkata, he also had a vision of the death of his uncle in Hyderabad, Sindh. He saw the soul, a point of light, withdrawing its life energy from the toes upward until it was concentrated in the head. Then, in an instant, the soul left the body through the forehead. Thus Dada came to understand that in death only the body dies, not the soul.
With these visions, everything changed for Dada. He could not apply his mind to the diamond trade anymore. It held no interest for him. He decided to wind up his affairs.
Om Mandli – A Spiritual Gathering
Following the visions, Dada started sharing spiritual knowledge with his friends and relatives. When he told them that they were souls, they felt great joy, experiencing God’s love as it poured from Dada’s eyes. As others came in contact with him, they became transfixed. Men and women, rich and poor, all had this experience. As if the light of their life had been lit, they became self-aware. They experienced themselves as light. Along with this came peace of mind. Their desires and vices dropped away. Their lifestyle and behaviour changed. In a remarkably short time, the lives of all who came close to him were transformed. Thus started a unique spiritual gathering by the name of Om Mandli.
In a short time, word spread and more and more people started attending the gatherings. The men, women and children who came received visions of deities, paradise, destruction of the world and of God as a point of light. They thought Dada was the source of these experiences. Even Dada Lekhraj at first wondered how these visions came about. Only later did it become clear as to who was behind these “miracles”. Everyone gradually comprehended that Dada was merely an instrument for carrying out the task of world transformation.
Formal Establishment of the Institution
In October 1937, the Prajapita Brahma Kumaris Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya was formally established. A spiritual trust was constituted with a committee of nine young women to administer it. Dada, now called Prajapita Brahma, gave away all his wealth and property to the trust. Never before in history had a man surrendered all his wealth to a trust administered by women. Dada entrusted all the institution’s affairs to the dedicated women.
Fourteen Years of Intense Spiritual Effort
The members of the institution spent the next 14 years in Karachi (now in Pakistan) in intense meditation and spiritual study. They were around 300 in number, the majority of them young women, and all had completely dedicated themselves to the institution. These initial years of spiritual effort laid a strong foundation for their later efforts.
Shifting to Mount Abu
In August 1947, India was partitioned and Pakistan came into existence. For a couple of years, the institution served the people of Pakistan. But the country was in a disturbed state and its people had things other than spirituality on their minds.
In 1950, the institution shifted to Mount Abu in India. The new place was a quiet hill resort and a place of pilgrimage suitable for a life of meditation and imparting spiritual knowledge to others.
The 300-odd spiritually empowered women then set out to different parts of India to share their spiritual knowledge and experiences with others.
The Brahma Kumaris went first to Delhi, where a meditation centre was opened in 1952-53. They also went to Kanpur, Lucknow and Meerut. A little later, centres were established in Saharanpur, Amritsar, Patiala, Ambala, Bangalore, Bombay, etc.
The Brahma Kumaris sisters, with little money and worldly experience, faced financial and physical hardships at first. The spiritual concepts they propagated were new to the public and sometimes invited opposition from people firm in traditional beliefs.
However, their service activities expanded and, in 1954, a delegation went to Japan to take part in the World Religious Conference in Shimizu City. It also visited Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia for spiritual service. Thus the seed for service activities outside India was sown.
Today, the organization has more than 8,500 centres in 110 countries.