2008 - Today (The Shift)
In 2007 the beloved Dadi Prakashmani, passed away ("left her body"). Dadi was the spiritual guide, mentor and head of the Brahma Kumaris from 1969, and beloved elder sister of many. She lead the community from 1969 when Brahma Baba handed the running of the yagya over to her and her companion, Didi Manmohini, until her passing 38 years later.
This significant event set in motion a chain of events that researchers and elders within the Brahma Kumaris have classified as "The Shift". It's often easier to document the remote past with the benefit of hindsight, than to narrate historical change when one is living close to its margins in the present. However, we attempt to do that here. All history is subjective and documented through the life of the historians. Therefore, any errors, omissions or assumptions are ours.
In 2011, Patrizia and Tamasin were in Gyan Sarovar, sitting on the steps outside of Vishnu Puri watching BKs leaving and arriving for the annual trip of spiritual sustenance. As they were chatting, they discovered that both of them had been part of a new kind of conversation that was taking place in the 'Brahmin family'. BKs were talking about things that - until recently - had never really been discussed. Topics like family, ageing, health, relationships, sexuality, work and money. We had found people wanting to laugh and cry, express doubt without fearing correction, express need without feeling spiritually unaccomplished. With their longterm experience of BK life (1983, 1984 respectively), the psychologist and anthropologist began designing a research study.
Our Yagya Community Research (pilot) study, was colloquially known as "The Survey" (2012) and was part of a grassroots wave of self-reflection captured with academic methods and rigour. Early in 2016, five years after the initial study, the term "The Shift" was coined to capture the growing de-religionisation of the Brahmin family. There is an overarching search for deeper authenticity, for acting less on the basis of appearance, of understanding the BK spiritual journey as a human journey, of acknowledging dynamic and immersive emotions such as love, joy, friendship, connection and appreciation as inherent to wellbeing. Fear is being replaced by love. BKs are finding that religious spiritual practice is evolving into spiritual human life. That a series of disciplines and presentations of language and dress do not make one deeply pure, deeply kind or deeply loving. It is a kind of gentle compassionate anarchy, where BKs are freeing themselves from structures and systems that no longer support their wellness and happiness. It is a fascinating time to be part of this organisation and community, and wonderful to be living through yet another period of evolution and change in this extraordinary community.
Here is a blog entry that encapsulates "The Shift". It includes a class from Sister Denise, who also discusses this very critical period of change that we captured in our earliest study. We continue to receive letters, emails, phone calls and personal interactions from Brahmins who have come upon the research report, confirming how the study also resonates with what they are experiencing.