Ancient Raja Yoga?
The practise the BKWSU practise initiate followers into, and called “Raja Yoga Meditiation” affects individuals, and those around them, at a very deep psychological level. It is said to involve what would be called a ‘psychic connection’ with ‘spirit entities’ who speaks through their ‘psychic mediums’, or channellers, and which they believe to be the God of all religions.
Despite claiming that their practise is “Ancient Raja Yoga”, the Brahma Kumaris practise is neither ancient nor Raja Yoga as classically understood by those who practise and teach yoga. The Brahma Kumaris are recognised by no other teachers nor authorities except for themselves, their tradition is their own, nor are they Brahmins as they claim. Most come from lower and uneducated classes.
In its current form, the BK meditation practise can go back no further than the early 1950s, whereas the term Raja Yoga for Ashtanga Yoga – normally ascribed to an ancient and perhaps mythical yogi called Patanjali – has been used for 2,000 years or more and popularized by notable individuals such a Swami Vivekananda.
The BKWSU often claim that their form is the “Ancient Raja Yoga” in public because, to their mind, they taught it 5,000 years ago in the last identically repeating “Cycle of Time” (or Kalpa) which they claim humanity travels around and around for eternity.
According to the BKWSU, you were reading this very same page 5,000 years ago sitting exactly where you are now. And will do so in 5,000 years time again. Therefore, whatever they do, they claim is the most ancient and that there is no history, no existence even, before such a date.
In this state of mind, the lifestyle demanded of members is designed to separate and isolate them, physically and mentally, from most or all outside help and influences. Indeed, to detach from all other human beings.
The BrahmaKumaris.info website is a response to widespread needs of a support group for ex-members, and their friends and family, that are coming to terms with the effects of the cult-like aspects of the group and the psychological influences individuals within it are subjected to. It may also equally serve individuals entering into a dependent relationship with the organization, to better understand the context for their experiences from an objective and impartial point of view.
Real Raja Yoga, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
The yoga sutras of Patanjali are a core part of the ancient Vedic canon and codify the royal or highest (rāja) yoga practices, presenting these as a eight-limbed system (ashtānga). This philosophic tradition is related to the ‘Sankhya school’, one of the six schools of classical Indian philosophy. In real Raja Yoga, the focus is on the mind and ceasing all mental fluctuations, what is known as ‘Hatha Yoga’ in the West is seen as just the preparation for a deeper journey into mediation, the physical training of the body to be able to sit for long period to allow for mediation and the breaking down of blockages.
The eight limbs or the Ashtānga or Raja Yoga are:
- Yama: ethics, restraint and ahimsā
Niyama: cleanliness, ascetism, etc
Dhyāna: meditation, and
Samādhi: oneness with God
The Brahma Kumari practise and traditions have very shallow to almost no roots in traditional Hinduism, rather they borrow or steal already established and highly valued names or terms and use them to present their founder’s own ideas, revelations and constructions in which he and his first followers are general central to as “worship worthy gods and goddesses”. In fact, for the first 18 years of the religion at least, millionaire businessman founder Lekhraj Kripalani thought himself to God, the original author of the Bhagavad Gita, and the Father of Humanity.
The Brahma Kumari religion is based on ideas which have been directly sourced from a superficial and revisionary understanding of Hinduism but from Christianity, Sikhism and Islam. A perfect example of this is their use of the term “Raja Yoga” or even “Ancient Raja Yoga”. They claim theirs – which in its present form started sometime after 1950 – is the original Raja Yoga and Patanjalis – which was codified more than 2,000 years ago – is merely a partial reflection of their own. Although charismatic and a competent businessman, founder Lekhraj Kripalani was neither educated in religion nor secular studies.
Thanks to his belief that all of time exists in a 5,000 year cycle which can only repeat identically, the Brahma Kumaris claim, their Raja Yoga is the oldest because they taught it – identically to this day – 5,000 years ago. The longest period of time allowable accoring to their thought system.