Dadi Janki is 100-year-old spiritual lighthouse and administrative heads of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University. The BKWSU is an international organization that works at all levels of society for positive change.
Established in India in 1937, the University now has more than 5,000 branches globally. It is active in a wide range of educational programs in areas such as youth, women, men, environment, peace, values, social development, education, health and human rights. Local centers around the world provide courses and lectures in meditation and positive values, supporting individuals in recognizing their own qualities and abilities and making the most of their lives. All courses and activities are offered free of charge.
By her example, she demonstrates that it is possible to live an authentic spiritual life in a world of spiritual poverty.
As a current administrative head of the Brahma Kumaris, Dadi presides over a worldwide student population of 650,000 people of all ages and backgrounds. Each year she travels the world sustaining the regular students and teachers of the University and bringing a message of peace and a method of enlightenment to hundreds of thousands who attend her public talks. As a member of the United Nation's prestigious Keepers of Wisdom, Dadi is a leader in the truest sense, seeking not so much to change people, as to model a whole new paradigm. Her personality, shaped by much inner joy and wisdom, has triggered life-altering experiences in those who meet her. Whether it is giving time to an individual, meeting leaders from different professional backgrounds, or lecturing to groups often numbering tens of thousands, Dadi shares her wisdom with equal passion and enthusiasm to all.
Yet despite her impressive credentials, Dadi is disarmingly innocent and humble. Acknowledging this woman for her amazing life story brings only a smile of complicity to her face. She always deflects praise, confidently pointing her finger above, saying, "When there is understanding of the divine self and a relationship with the Supreme, then no worrisome, fearsome or sorrowful situation can affect us. When the soul experiences the strength that comes from God´s love, there is nothing that can distance the soul from its original state of peace and bliss. Nothing can stop it from walking the path of righteousness and truth and inspiring others to do the same".
Born in 1916 to a philanthropic family of very high moral and religious standing, one of Dadi Janki's earliest memories is of chanting the name of God as she was rocked in her cradle. Her whole childhood reflects a deep love for God, as well as an unswerving desire to serve humanity. From the start, Dadi's parents were determined to raise her in an atmosphere free of materialism. For the first 10 years of her life, Dadi's education was through a private tutor and based solely on the study of religious scriptures. Dadi's formal education - the study of basic learning skills - began only afterwards, when she spent a scant three years attending public school before going, at her insistence and with her parents blessings, on an extended tour of India's many holy sites. She was 14 years old.
Travelling with her father, Dadi met with all the foremost gurus, sages and saints of the day. She approached them all with the same query, Who is God? Where is He? How can I find Him? How can I experience Him? This intense search for God was relieved only by her intense devotion to charity. Even as a young child, Dadi was always going out to serve to the poor and needy in surrounding villages.
Dadi was 19 years old when she met Brahma Baba, the founder of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University. She describes that first encounter as a recognition. At first sight, Dadi simply knew that here was the instrument of the Divine that she had been seeking. She not only heard the truth from this man but she says she saw in his behavior and felt in his presence the source of truth itself. A few years later, Dadi herself became part of the Brahma Kumaris institution, surrendering her life to God.
By the early 1950's, Dadi's own spiritual development had turned her into one of the institution's foremost teachers, responsible for the establishment of BK centers throughout India. From 1953 onward, the community began outreaching to cities in response to invitations from around India. Dadi's first journey took her to Delhi and then on to Punjab. One of her first lectures was at a gathering of sages in Amritsar. She was the only female speaker amidst a host of sages and saints who were, of course, all male. Dadi's talk was completely different from those of the gurus and they did not lose time in challenging her at every level. Taking them in her stride, she responded from her own personal experience, not just from her own understanding, but also from her heart.
Apparently, it was a quite a unique sight! A woman in India in those times taking on the role of a spiritual guru, on the very same platform as those gurus. And a woman whose teachings were a radical departure from everyone else's ! The audience of 10,000 absolutely loved her. While Dadi stayed on in Amritsar, continuing to share the truth as she experienced it, increasing numbers of people began coming to her to learn more. This was too much for the gurus! Ultimately she was handed very politely a train ticket. Dadi knew it was time to leave and she did so, with dignity and grace.
This pretty much exemplifies the context within which Dadi and other Brahma Kumaris began to share their ideas across the length and breadth of India at that time. They had absolutely no status, no money and no possessions; however what they did have were hearts full of love for all souls. Their eyes radiated light and they made everyone feel that at last they had found the spark of enlightenment for which they had been searching.
In 1969, at the passing away of the founder, Dadi was appointed Director of Teachers Training at the headquarters of the institution in Mt. Abu, India. In 1974, when she was in her late fifties, she arrived for the first time in London to begin a spiritual odyssey that would touch and transform the lives of millions of people worldwide. She did not come as a guru, but as someone whose intentions were as pure as they were simple to help others awaken themselves to their true and eternal spiritual nature and, in doing so, connect them to the Source, to God. She came without being able to speak English, carrying just a tiny suitcase with a few clothes. Staying in a small, damp, terraced house in Kilburn in North London, she set the foundations of the Brahma Kumari's work outside India. Gradually people were drawn to learn meditation and study the spiritual truths taught by the BKs. Slowly but surely the University's work expanded across the UK and into Europe, the Americas and Australia.
After 10 years of holding daily morning meditations and classes at a local community center, the first custom built center was opened in North London. In 1991, a retreat center was acquired near Oxford, and before long, other retreat centers around the world were opening. While most of the BK centers throughout the world are established in the homes of regular students and teachers, a growing number of residential and purpose-built facilities have been built which are able to service a wider international community and larger numbers of people.
Despite making no charge for any spiritual teaching, the Brahma Kumaris now have centers in over 80 countries. In 1974, there were none outside India. Thirty years of tireless, focused, loving, compassionate and dedicated service to others have borne fruits on many levels. In many ways, these are the material manifestations of Dadi Janki's inner spiritual work on herself and her selfless service to others. It is a classic example of what goes around comes around, where the return of the deep spiritual service of a few is seen at the material level by the many.
There is also a thriving international network of friends and companions who now support Dadi in her work. They have been maturing spiritually over the last two decades, and many now find themselves in positions and roles where they can help the world through the current crop of social, economic and environmental challenges. It is in these areas, which some have described as undergoing a crisis of last chance proportions, that there is now a fast growing openness to spiritual solutions.
Today, many years later, Dadi still has no personal possessions and her original motives to serve remain exactly the same. She personifies the profile of an authentic spiritual leader, whilst considering herself only a humble instrument for the Supreme. By her actions, Dadi invites us all to walk with her on the highest path of spiritual purity. By her example, she demonstrates that it is possible to live an authentic spiritual life in a world of spiritual poverty. By her words, she inspires and enlightens all who meet her, as she challenges us to look deeply inside ourselves to realize who we are and what we need to do at this time. By her vibrations, she fills each soul with courage and connects the soul to God. By the absolute purity of her heart, she draws the hearts of others to stand alongside her at a time when the world is in the chaos of transformation and in need of spiritual leaders.
At the age of 100, Dadi Janki continues to trot the globe with a childlike lightness combined with the wisdom of the deepest sage. Rising above the pain of her own ailing body, her pact is with God, His vision is her vision, in sickness and in health, till the task is done and the establishment of a better world is complete.