Monday, April 29, 2013

Meet My Surrogate Mother in India

Dadi Janki, the 97 year old administrative head of Brahma Kumaris
Photo from

She entered the hall like a child- eyes sparkling, hands clasped, and voice excitedly greeting all the 200 students of raja yoga from various parts of the world.  Dadi Janki, the 97 years old administrative head of the Brahma Kumaris left the gathering of 24,000 meditators from India at Shantivan, the largest complex by the foot of Mount Abu, Rajasthan, India to meet the a few hundred yogis at Pandav Bhawan, the first and smallest of the three campuses in Rajasthan which rests on top of the mountain.  Such is this leader of one of the world’s largest volunteer organization, she personally sees to it that each one is taken cared of.

In Hindi dadi means senior sister, but she was more of a mother to meditation students in 130 countries.  The evening she met with us, she told us of stories of the early days of the yagya (gathering).  Before bidding us good night, she handed each one of us ice cream with special mango slices (she specifically asked the kitchen to reserve it for the foreign students).  The next day, she sneaked in time in her busy schedule to meet the group again before heading back to the huge gathering in Shantivan.  This time she brought another gift- a book she authored. 

Words for the World
In her newly released book, Words for the World, Dadi Janki provokes the reader.  She asks, are you the soul who “who plods through life, carrying a burden, as if forced?  Or are you free?”.  She also states that the devil is inside of us.  Contrary to the belief that the devil lurks out there, she says that it is “linked to our faulty personality traits”.

Moreover, she demystifies the absurdities in the world.  She reasons that depression persists because “we no longer have enough material to keep our thoughts good”.  She explains that insecurity thrives because of too much dependence, pointing out that “so much power of the soul/self has been lost that people are hardly able to enjoy being alone”.  She underlines that the falsehood, loneliness, emptiness, and violence in the society is a result of deviating from our inner truth.

Then, she presents the solution- “charge the mind”.  She prescribes “developing one’s inner stability” through meditation.  She encourages the reader to remember the Supreme Father and through this receive the power to “put a brake on thoughts” which are wandering here and there.  She invites everyone to go into silence to be cognizant of the mechanism of our mind and observe the trappings of negative and unnecessary thoughts.  Silence then allows one to move away from the wrong way of thinking because it is in contemplation that we discover our inner treasures.
Beyond Words 
Dadi Janki does not sit down and write.  This publication like most of her previous works is a compilation of the classes she gives around the world.  She does not want to be called a speaker though, she says she merely shares what she has experienced in her spiritual practice.  

I stand in awe of this 97 year old jet-setting yogi.  She speaks with such child-like animation and enthusiam and yet commands an international volunteer organization with mastery and precision.   As I eat my ice cream, I watch her give instructions to the senior teachers and inquire about the whereabouts of things to be accomplished as they take their turn to get their toli (sweet).  At such a senior age, she is tireless.  She met us for chit-chat at 9pm after a full day, met the senior teachers afterwards until near midnight.  The next day she was at the hall at 4am conducting meditation, giving class after breakfast, then traveling back to the campus by the foot of the mountain (by car but it's not an easy 1-hour ride given the zigzag road) to conduct more classes to the local students.  

Indeed as described in her book, Dadi Janki provides a working leadership model for all those seeking to integrate both male and female qualities into their personal and professional lives.

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