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Understanding the Brahma Kumaris

Frank Whaling

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13 Jul 2012
Dunedin Academic Press
160 pages - 216 x 138mm
Understanding Faith
The Brahma Kumaris are a new spiritual tradition. The movement now has over 450,000 adherents world-wide in more than 100 countries. In this book Frank Whaling seeks to understand the Brahma Kumaris. As with all spiritual traditions, the Brahma Kumaris are different, bewildering, fascinating in their newness and in their complexity. The Brahma Kumaris began in 1936 in Hyderabad in the Sind province of India. A millionaire diamond merchant named Lekhraj Khubchand began to have visions at the age of around sixty. They led him to start meetings in his own home which were attended mainly by women. This was the beginning of the Brahma Kumaris. Dada Lekhraj, as he became affectionately known, used his fortune to set up a trust composed of eleven youngish women. One of the young women, who became known as Om Radhe, became the leader of the new movement, whilst Dada Lekhraj remained a key figure. Following the Partition, the Brahma Kumaris moved to Mount Abu in Rajasthan in India and this remains their headquarters. Through phenomenology the author attempts to 'get inside' the Brahma Kumari tradition and to see that tradition from the inside. Phenomenology involves firstly putting one's own world-view aside in order to understand the world-view of others. Applying 'epoche', to avoid bias, and 'empathy', to engage sympathetically, the objective of this study is to understand, as far as is possible, from within. Titles in Understanding Faith are intended as first readers for students of comparative religion and as basic source books of essential information about the major world faiths in the 21st century for those who seek to understand this aspect of influence on our lives today.
List of Illustrations. Introduction. 1. Dada Lekhraj and the Sindi background of the Brahma Kumaris; 2. Dada Lekhraj's Visions and the beginnings of the Brahma Kumaris; 3. Growth of the Brahma Kumaris and opposition to them; 4. Om Mandli in Karachi; 5. Mount Abu; 6. Expansion; 7. Implications of the Changes; 8. A Model of the Brahma Kumaris Tradition; 9. What about the Future? Glossary. References. Further Reading. Index.
Frank Whaling is emeritus professor of the study of religion, University of Edinburgh. He has taught and researched in many countries including India, the USA and South Africa.

'Whaling succeeds very well in describing the Brahma Kumaris in a sympathetic manner, in its historical context, and in lucid language, which students should find appealing and useful. This book is a very good introduction of this religious movement to those interested in religious topics. Those teaching courses on women and religion will also find much to like in this text with its emphasis on the role of women in a contemporary religion and their struggle to survive and flourish within the context of a strongly patriarchal culture.'
Journal of Hindu Studies

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