The Expansion Years (1970 - 2007)
Normally, Brahma Baba would give a class in the evening. On the 18th of January 1969, Brahma Baba had been experiencing chest pain. Against his normal routine, Baba didn't conduct morning class. Rather, he asked Ishu Dadi, the senior sister who looked after the mail, for any unanswered letters saying "I want to clear all my accounts". After responding to all the letters, Baba went on a tour of the kitchen and the new construction of the Training Section, near where they used to play bandminton, and the current site of Brahma Baba's memorial, 'The Tower of Peace'. Baba was aware the children would be waiting for the murli so he decided to give evening class early. The dinner bell rang early and class was also held earlier than usual at 8pm.
After giving class, Baba stood at the door of the History Hall, gave drishti (looked at everyone with spiritual love) and said "Tonight, Baba is taking leave". He leaves, and Senior Sisters Kumarka (later named Dadi Prakashmani) and Shantamani follow him. No-one would realise the gravity of what Baba said, until later that evening.
In his room, Baba said to Kumarka that he was feeling unwell, with a slight pain in his chest. She asked Shantamani to tell Vishwa Kishore to call the doctor. Vishwa Kishore went on his bicycle to call the doctor. In 15 minutes they would return. But by then it would be too late. While waiting for the doctor, Brahma Baba was in obvious pain, before moving towards a state of complete yoga (connection with the Divine). In this stage, Baba handed the leadership of the Brahma Kumaris over to Dadi Prakashmani and Didi Manmohini (c. 1922 - 1985).
In 1969 many in Mount Abu wondered what would happen to the Brahma Kumaris now that their founder had passed. It was a difficult time for the senior sisters, as they had grown up with Baba, and never imagined a day would come when he wouldn't be a physical presence in their lives. It was up to Dadi and Didi to guide the organisation through the passing of Baba and then continue as caretakers of the organisation.
After he 'left his body', the soul of Brahma briefly came into a number of different sisters including Sister Santiri, Sister Sheil Indra and Sister Gulzar (the current medium). There was initial uncertainty as to how the teachings would continue. There was also still the sense of spiritual urgency that had accompanied the community from the very earliest years.
From 1966 through to 1974, Avyakt BapDada predicted 1976 as the date of 'vinash' or catastrophic world change. This would be followed by the liberation of all souls, and the beginning of a new Cycle of Time, with souls either in the deep peace of liberation (Nirvana) or the peace and abundant joy of liberation in life (Golden Age). Many of those in the community, while mourning the passing of their founder, were also wondering what would happen next. Under the guidance of Didi Manmohini and Dadi Prakashmani, the organisation flourished. International service began and foreigners began coming to India, and claiming the path as theirs, with as much love and dedication as the earliest members. Many still remain.
As with many new religious movements, dates have come and gone. However, the sense of urgency remains today, with the feeling that 'time is short' and thing will happen 'suddenly'. This awareness is universal within the membership and reinforced through the annual spiritual teachings given by BapDada.
More about predictions within the Brahma Kumaris teachings can be found here.
Dissemination and Service
1959 to 1970 Classes were conducted in the homes of BKs.
1970 The first overseas centre is established in Slough, United Kingdom in the house of Nirmla Bakshi and Suman Bakshi (who would later start service in Germany). Brother Shiv Kumar teaches meditation and gives discourses in knowledge. A small group of locals became very interested in the teachings.
1971 An inaugural group of BKs from India were sent to help support this early service. The delegation of five included Brothers Jagdish and Ramesh, Sisters Sheil Indra, Rosie and Nirmala. Nirmala continued the service in Slough before travelling later to begin service in Australia.
October 1971 The seminal Raja Yoga centre is established in Tennyson Road. Senior sisters come and go to sustain the centre, including Nirmala and Rattan Mohini (Dadi). It would be almost three years before Dadi Janki would establish a real presence in London.
1974 Dadi Janki travels to London from India and establishes international service. Starting with the small house at 96 Tennyson Road (Kilburn) Dadi remains in the UK for four years before returning to her native land of India. With remarkable courage and resolve, Dadi Janki founded international service that has since expanded to over 120 countries.
1975 Service begins in Australia.
1977 Dadi Prakashmani travels to New York and visits the UN. Her vision is for a BK presence to be established at the UN in order to support the UN's international work towards global peace. The first centres are established in the Americas.
1980 The Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University gains affiliation as a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) with the United Nations (UN) Department of Public Information (DPI).
1983 The Brahma Kumaris are put on the roster of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) at the UN.
1998 The Brahma Kumaris are given general consultative status with ECOSOC, affording them the opportunity to contribute a spiritual expertise to matters of global concern, in a substantive way.
1990s Several retreat centres open in the UK, Kenya, USA, Italy, South America and Australia changing the face of service. From a small inward looking community, the Brahma Kumaris becomes an organisation with a stronger outward gaze, now offering regular services to the public. From the mid 1990s to the mid 2000s, the change in service means the Brahma Kumaris has to become more professional and accountable as an organisation. For the first time, yogis and community members must consider issues like child protection, insurance, mental health, access for people with disability, occupational health and safety, risk management and such. There is a need now to abide by the laws of the state. Considering the organisations past history in Sindh, balancing spiritual laws with worldly laws becomes a need that requires care and deliberation.
The medium of digital communication changes the face of the organisation. Murlis are distributed electronically, as opposed to by post. This means that all centres around the world read the same murli on the same day. This brings a new form of cohesion, as well as a de-personalisation. It also brings some defamation as people who have been associated with the Brahma Kumaris find a voice to share their misgivings online.
2007 Under the leadership of Dadi Prakashmani, the senior members from India and abroad decide to conduct some social research into the organisation, to find out how people are feeling.
- Global Functioning endeavours to learn what it needs to do to abide by the systems of the world while acknowledging and adhering to the spiritual principles on which it is founded.
- Dadi Prakashmani passes away. Her leadership and love leaves a significant void in the membership. The leadership is succeeded by Dadi Janki, accompanied by Dadi Gulzar and Dadi Rattan Mohini.
- Researchers find original documents about the history of the Brahma Kumaris. Many who could answer some of the questions posed have just recently passed or are elderly or unable to respond. As many original members pass away, there is a renewed interest in the stories and experiences of the 'early days'.