I grew up in the Brahma Kumaris and went on a regular pilgrimage to India as a child.
Some background of their teachings:
They teach 7 main lessons
They have God, soul, karma, reincarnation, a 5,000 year world cycle that repeats identically every 5,000 years. They have 4 major ages - Golden, Silver, Copper and Iron - then they have the confluence age, which is the present time, where the Iron Age (Hell) meets the Golden Age (Heaven). It is the time of change, purification and work so that you will be one of the privileged few that will go into the Golden Age.
Here are some links about the organisation and to those that have left:
Madhukar, I realize you have not claimed no family violence in India and I appreciate your concern that people have revealed some tragic evidence of cruelty against women specifically.
Yes, male dominance is as old as recorded history, however, are you aware of the studies done of pre-written history?
I went to Turkey, Greece and Crete with an archeologist who excavated in Old Europe and found no evidence of woman abuse as revealed by bones. You see, there is no written history so the scientists have to look at forensic evidence and deduce from this.
There was a period of human history when women bled monthly and didn't die, gave birth to children and was able to suckle them. In those eras, women were considered holy, sacred, to treasure of clans. There are no broken bones, no weapons or fortifications of villages, and no symbols of women other than as sacred life-givers.
There is evidence of sacred objects and places of worship in each home, no evidence of churches or temples. Evidence of spirit worship exists, and the figurines are mostly women. The hearth stone had female figurines and clay representation of foods that appear to be symbols of their nature-centered religion.
Historically, an invasion of tribes from central Asia, the Indo-European tribes, came over several centuries and brought sky gods, with thunder and lightning, and told tales of vengeful god. The sky god gave instructions to male priests who then translated to his clan. Women and nature became enemies to be conquered and dominated.
Out of that ancient history an evolution of religion began and continues to this day. If you read the bible, the horrid and grotesque stories passed from generation to generation eventually was written down with the claim to be the word of god.
Is it possible to have a peaceful culture? Are jews, christians and muslims, Hindus, etc., the only ways to live in society? I think we have ample evidence that culture that is built upon the foundation of religion that teaches domination supports notions of male dominance, obedience as a high value, as are practices that support these claims.
Thank you, Madhukar, for your prompt answer. I acknowledge your point of view and do not share it. I further do not feel obliged to protect anyone from the ravages of family violence and consider it an insult when told I make too much noise or think in too narrow a frame. I respond that those who object to my comments live in a world of denial and don't want to face what happens all around us and we are all too unaware. For those who don't like my comments, please block me. I have no interest in discussions that focus on false premises.
As to living peacefully, I have much to learn about that and I find Alice a delight as I explore ways to move on. But to move away from challenging those who do not want to know is not an option.
Madhukar, I am very grateful for your willingness to continue our conversation even as we experience differences. Your comments present me with important challenges and I value that. It never hurts to stop and think over a principle to determine if I need to make changes in my thinking and behavior. You are important to me and my growth.
There is no need to be greatful and please don't embarass me this way. We are discussing things and adding to each others thoughts.
Joan, you seem to be becoming emotional while discussion this subject. You know your pains and I can't make a judgement. I can only request you that our's is a discussion without any specific purpose, so you may control your emotions, if possible.
Joan, you may not agree with me but again consider this:Almost every religion has been restrictive to women and Hinduism is no exception. One of Hinduisms respected scripture says that women can not be given freedom and it also says that gods dwell where women are worshipped. This is a curious mixture but in reality, it does not seem to have affected the society much. In the epic Mahabharata, said to be not less than 3500 years old, I witness that the condition of women in the society at that time was not much different than their today's condition. What I mean is, whatever the scriptures may say, human actions are really guided by individual nature. Most people don't even read the scriptures or think of them in their private or public actions. I said in my early reply that those persons you have seen in your life would always be violent, religion or no religion, because that was their character. There has been domestic violence in each and evry society, irrespective of religion. Am I wrong?
Joan, please forgive me if I am causing any stress to you.
Maduhkar - please don't misunderstand availability of information as hate. We are all human - and I haven't yet come across a human group that was perfect. We all have violence in our societies and share many of the same problems. Some do claim that some cultures are better than others. I'm not sure that I agree with this necessarily. We do all have different cultures and customs. I suppose like individuals some have more to offer than others, but we all have our strengths and weaknesses.
Do you really believe that I am so naive not see the difference? Alice, please note thatin an earlier incident, I immediately stopped my comments when John, a kind person like you addressed me. There is a huge lot of information available in this world, but how somebody picks it and presents at the right opportunity tells much. I always appreciate your kindness Alice and wish that everyone was like you.
I think I was born sensitive... :)
Thank you, Alice, for sharing our story. If emphasis was on peaceful living are there things you brought away from that experience that has helped you? If self-perfection was a value, what fun things did you do? Was it austere? How old were you when you lived there ... was it a commune type situation?
I read the articles you cited and had no idea what was involved. What kinds of feeling do you have when you think of those days? ... happy, sad, afraid, angry?
Is your husband a gentle man?
Sorry to bombard you but your story is so compelling. Do you have a theme or issue that you want to convey. My theme is family violence and I don't suppose that problem will ever be reduced until we stop thinking of women as below or secondary to men. I guess I have work to do until the day I die.
Do you have any such urge? I would like to learn from you how to live peacefully.
LOL - I'm no role model for peace... :)
I'll try to respond to the many questions you have...
I'm sure that there are experiences that contributed to who I am - although I would say that genes have a big impact - perhaps 50% - then environment - my mum had more effect on me than the cult I would say.
My mum has always beaten herself up for not being a 'better' person - so perfection was compatible with her style. I suppose it was guilt driven. I have had a similar pattern in my life - although I think I'm just about over it now.
On the times that I met with 'god', the women who was the medium - she was very loving and melted you on eye contact. A pretty simple women, been with the BK's since 9 years old. She would sit still in meditation for 13 hours at a time through the night and maintain a loving gaze to all she met with.
I found it hard going to sit still and not speak for meditation - every month they had an hour meditation day - and when everyone came to our house - because we had the classes and gatherings at our home - we had the most space - the attic room was converted into a meditation room. I was told to keep quite for morning, evening and weekend classes and meditation.
There were a lot of funny adults - I think that because they were away from the pressures of life - to find a mate, look cool etc, there was an element of the perpetual child.
I have good memories of going to India as a child - it was a fun adventure. Most people were friendly. I had other children to play with most of the time when travelling.
At home, I had personal relationships with all the group members - there were only a few - mostly women, which was good - as they were all kind people.
It was only a problem for me when I got older and didn't want to be celibate, and didn't think I believed in god or the eternal world drama. That doubt was started off when I was about 8 years old and the stories conflicted - my dad telling me about evolution and the big bang theory, and the BK's telling me about the eternal world drama that repeated identically every 5,000 years. I first asked my dad for the figures - I think I asked him if the earth was 5,000 years old - he said no, what a silly idea - or something similar - and then proceeded to tell me the actual figures for it all - they were in the millions of years or so - so I knew it was a big difference and so not a mistake. Then I asked my mum - could they have got the figures wrong, in translation from Hindi perhaps? She was great in this sense - because she may well have disbelieved it herself - and she said that no, it was definitely 5,000 years and there was no mistake. I don't think she did go along with all that anyhow - she felt safe in the group, and it gave her what she wanted, it was more of a personal journey for her, about meditation and inner peace.
In India we used to have cultural programs, where groups would organise singing, theater, dancing and other entertainment. It was fun. But the Australian's got kicked out one time for insulting some other group. Later I found out that my now husband was one of the Australian's causing the trouble.
It was a skit about meditation - where the centre in charge of everyone impersonated Hitler, in wanting to keep everyone quite and focused on being peaceful. The German's were offended, and after that the organisation - senior sisters decided to curtail future cultural programs to more serene activities such as angelic dancing - although I think that even these got the boot in the end due to the lust of the brothers...
It was like a big family. I felt safe. Although one time in India a young man, new to the cult, after I spent a lot of time with him helping in the kitchen and serving the food - asked me to meet him after and rubbed himself on me - I was 7 years old at the time - and lucky for me my friend came to look for me - so I got away. But I had other worse instances like this whilst at home from the local street kids, and later as a teenager - so it happens all the time - and perhaps some kids are more vulnerable than others because they are more shy or something.
My husband is generally a kind and gentle person - although he is also a man and likes teasing others and rugby.
This rings true for me also from Facebook:
This is for all the strong ladies who have been through a lot in life and survived!! Say this out loud "I am strong because I know weakness. I am compassionate because I have experienced suffering. I am alive because I am a fighter. I am wise because I have been foolish. I can laugh because I have known sadness. I can love because I have known loss. " Re-post if you are a strong woman who has weathered the storm but still loves to dance in the rain!.. ♥ ♥ ♥
Re-post if you are a strong woman who has weathered the storm but still loves to dance in the rain!..
You seem to be this, after gaining a lot of worldy and possibly rare experiences.
OMG - that's a long post!
I guess I have work to do until the day I die.
Great words Joan. They show a great singularity of purpose.
Joan - perhaps it is a simple answer in terms of how you view yourself and what you expect from others - if you sense that they put you second based on gender - call them on it - and ask for equality. Is that a bit too simplistic?