BKWSU Child Protection Policy India
PRAJAPITA BRAHMA KUMARIS ISHWARIYA VISHWA VIDYALAYA
CHILD PROTECTION POLICY India
Background and Aim:
The Prajapita Brahma Kumaris Ishwariya Vishwa-Vidyalaya of Mount Abu, Rajasthan, India, ("hereinafter referred to as Institution") recognises that members of the public and invited guests attending its activities include young people who, because of their age, are in need of special care and protection to ensure that no harm is caused to them. The institution has formalized procedures to ensure this and to deal with any breaches of such procedure. The institution aims to provide a safe and caring environment for its child and youth participants ( under the age of 18 years ) wherein they are protected from neglect, exploitation and abuse.
1. In all actions concerning children, the best interests of the child should be a primary consideration. Children should be respected and listened to, in accordance with their age, maturity and cognitive ability.
2. All children shall have equal rights without discrimination of any kind inter alia on grounds of ethnicity, religion, culture, language, gender, disability, social or national origin.
3. Due consideration should be taken of the traditions and cultural values of each child and his or her family. The rights and responsibilities of a child’s parents and family should be respected.
4. In the best interest of the child, the institution may communicate with the child’s home and therelevant authorities.
Forms of Abuse:
A) Abuse can be in the form of physical, emotional or sexual abuse and causing intentional harm to the child.
B) Abuse is caused not only by those who actually do it but also those in whose custody the child is and fails to prevent such abuse.
Identification of Abuse:
The following is a list of some possible indicators of abuse and is not all inclusive
a. Bruises or other physical injuries that may sometimes be clearly visible or a child may show distress.
b. Uncharacteristic changes in a child’s behaviour, or an inappropriate desire for closeness and attachment to an adult;
c. Fear of a particular adult (especially those with whom a comfortable relationship should normally be the case) may be a cause for concern.
Dealing with possible Abuse:
1. It is not the responsibility of those working with children to decide that child abuse is occurring but it is their responsibility to refer any such concerns to the Institution’s officer in charge who shall also serve as Children’s officer. The volunteer’s role is to report and not to investigate.
2. If abuse is suspected or has been alleged, the highest degree of confidentiality should be exercised, both for a person making any accusation and the person(s) against whom allegations have been made or by whom abuse is suspected.
3. In considering a possible instance of abuse, poor teaching practice should be distinguished from abuse. In cases where poor teaching practice is identified, the institution will ensure that further training and monitoring will be carried out for any person(s) against whom allegations have been made or by whom abuse is suspected.
4. The institution does not seek to protect staff, students or volunteers at the expense of child’s potential welfare.
The Children’s officer
1. The institution’s officer in charge will also be designated as National Children’s officer (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Children’s Officer’) AND will be responsible for implementing its Child Protection Policy.
2. The Children’s Officer may, if appropriate, request helpers directly involved with children’s activities to complete a Reference form with suitable references and/or declaration that he/she was not convicted of any child abuse.
3. The Children’s Officer will be responsible for initiating action where any abuse is suspected or alleged, keeping confidential all information on any matters referred to him or her but making such information available to the management of the institution and otherwise appropriate.
CODE OF PRACTICE AND BEHAVIOUR:
1 Be publicly open in working with children and ensure that situations do not arise in which an individual child is alone, completely unobserved with an adult;
2. Avoid unnecessary harshness or criticism and ensure that children do not cause harm to each other in any form. Be alert in bullying tactics. Where correction of a child’s behaviour is deemed necessary, there should be no physical or emotional punishment for misbehaviour for any reason whatsoever. It should always be made clear to the child that it is his or her behaviour that is not acceptable and not the person himself or herself.
3. Children under 12 years of age attending any children’s activity are to be brought and collected by their parents or other appropriate adults. In cases where the children’s parents do not remain on-site during activities, parents should leave precise details as to where they can be contacted in case of emergency. All children’s classes should have at least two teachers. At the end of a children’s programme, children are to be handed over to their parents or other appropriate adults. The parents, or such adults, are responsible for their children while children are travelling to and from children’s activity of the Institution.
4. Only those who have been regularly involved with the Brahma Kumaris and are known to one or more of its senior personnel, for at least one year may work with children and young people.
5. The safety of the children must take priority over everything else. All centres of the institution are accessible to members of the public and teachers must ensure that no activities are organised that involve anyone having close access to a child or being alone with him or her for whatever reason.
6. Where a child visiting from abroad is involved in regular activities or a residential programme provided by the Institution, the presence of the child should be consented to by the child’s parents or guardian. Such consent should also be given in respect of a child from within India. All children who attend organised events at the Institution, either one day or residential, are accompanied by one or more resident teachers from their centre and/or parents.
7. In cases where children are involved in activities that require travel from one place to another, it is the responsibility of the parents to ensure that children travelling to the Institution from abroad have adequate travel and health insurance.
8. Where children unaccompanied by their parents need to be accommodated for one or more nights at any Brahma Kumaris premises, this will be done with the permission of the child’s parents or guardians. In cases where young or disabled children are involved, it is the parent’s responsibility to ensure that the child is accompanied by a named helper/volunteer to assist the child with any personal or intimate care tasks deemed necessary for the well-being and comfort of the child. The institution will always ensure that children and young people are appropriately accommodated.
Reporting an incident:
If any incident of Child Abuse is reported by teacher, parent, guardian or child, the Children’s Officer will take appropriate action.
Disclosing letter from Child X’s brother
[ Continued ... http://brahmakumaris.info/forum/viewtopic.php?t=135 ]February 1999
I am finally sitting down and writing you this letter, because you have been a friend, someone I have felt cares for me, someone I have looked up to in my life, or someone that perhaps has looked up to me. This is not a letter I ever thought I would be writing, and it is painful for me to write it, but I feel I would like to express to you some of the things that have been going on throughout my life. I should have said these things many years ago, but I didn’t have the "guts".
It won’t be long before this letter hits the grapevine and people will be talking about it. But I hope that you, to whom I am actually writing, will at least empathize with what I have to say and think about it.
This letter is not about the BK philosophies, but rather their values. Whether the cycle is 5000 years long is neither here nor there, but the way I was taught to feel and perceive is my concern. Doubtless the two are connected, but philosophy can be debated until you’re blue in the face. My experience is what it is.
I don’t really know how to go about writing this at all, as there are so many complicated issues at stake, and many good things are mixed in with the bad, so bare with me. This is the culmination of many years of experience and searching for the truth within me, I haven’t all of a sudden become dissatisfied due to my present situation, and decided to write this. I have never really been satisfied. I always wanted to be somewhere else or someone else.
My observations and concerns about the BK’s have built up over the last few years. I would complain and gossip to relieve some of the pressure, but that is not good for the soul. And if none of you knew how I was feeling despite the many years I have known you, then what does that show? How can an organisation call itself your family if it knows nothing about you?
I suppose the best way to start is from the beginning. Let me tell you how "lucky" I was to be brought up in the BK institution. How nice it was to feel superior to all the other children at school, how remembering BABA would make the bullies leave me alone, and how it was nice never to be able to talk properly to my own Father, because he was not my true Father.
For twenty-odd years I was unable to talk to my Father because he was someone that needed to be served or saved, though, if he were lucky enough, he would have a ticket to heaven just because he knew us. Can you imagine trying to make small talk with your own Father as a child, because he was some kind of "Shudra"? And now to look back and see that I had a Father but in my own head I didn’t. How much did I miss? When my parents split up because of "Gyan", what did the Seniors do for me then, did they hold me when I cried? They might have given me an apple, though I am sure I would have rather had my parents back.
It was my mother that brought us into the institution and I don’t blame her for that. She did what she thought was best for us, as any mother would do for her children. She loved us and encouraged us with all her heart and still does. I do have issues that I need to resolve with my mother, but they are not part of this letter and should not be mixed up. Every child needs to talk to its parents and sort things out. But my upbringing has been unusual, to say the least, and it really involves a lot more people than just my parents.
As a BK child I was bullied at school and I found I had no ability to deal with people or confrontation, all I could do was cry and my mother would have to sort it out. I had no ability to socialize with people, that made me very lonely. I could never have any close friends. And when I told the other school children about the end of the world I was ridiculed for years after. Did the fact that I didn’t mix really make me so lucky?
Childhood in general was very mixed up for me, and I do believe that to be so for many BK children. On one level it was taken away from me: "you are an old soul". People thought I was like an old man when I was about 12. And the responsibility of the world was placed on my shoulders, let alone that of saving my own Father. It’s not fair to give children this kind of superiority complex and burden, yet still treat them as children. And then to give them so many "hopes" to live up to, as well.
Then again, we were never allowed to grow up. For example, my sister was always the angel, until she became a teenager when she fell from grace in the eyes of others. How can she ever love herself when she can see herself changing from a perfect angel to a menstruating, acne-ridden teenager? And when everyone can only remember that little angel that she was. And for myself, how the hell was I going to understand pubity? The beginning of sexual energies could inspire nothing less than self-hate and denial.
What advice could the Seniors give me then? Whatever they said only made me feel worse about myself. Who could I even tell? Not my own parents, or BK friends, there was too much shame. To believe that by masturbating you are letting God and the whole world down and carving yourself a pathway to hell is ludicrous. Was my semen one of the world’s last natural resources or something? Teenage years were not normal to say the least. I never rebelled against my parents, or anyone, because by then I was already conforming to "God’s will" for the good of humanity.
At 16 years, I should have at least been sat down by the Seniors and asked whether this was what I wanted in my life. Someone should have said to me: "You are old enough to decide things now, why don’t you go and look at what the world has to offer, then decide if you want this life or not." Even that would have been too late, I was already so sure that this was for me – how little I knew. Some of you must have known better and could have done something, surely. I can’t bear to see the same thing happening to future generations.
And what about fun? I only had fun because others and myself were "naughty"; otherwise it was certainly not condoned. Though there were certain days when you could dance in a circle. I was a feisty, energetic child, who was pushed into being a "mature", quiet, "knowledgeable soul". There is a line in a film that comes to mind: "If you’re not going to have any fun than what are you saving the world for?"
You could say that I had so many chances to perform in plays, travel the world, meet people, etc, but they all came at a price. I could never do these things on my own terms. I did have fun performing on stage, as any child of my nature would. But later on the plays and productions we did, were done in spite of the lack of encouragement, positive distrust and censorship.
The arts were always looked down upon; perhaps it was an Indian thing? Though that has changed a bit nowadays. I felt that I had to fight to do service – fight the very people that wanted it done. And I was willing to do this because of the promise of a higher purpose. I remember we created a team of artists to become a design team for the BKs, but we got nowhere, and we had to fight for it – why did we bother? Were we so gullible? It was a genuine gesture to do something useful and use our "potentials" as I was so often told to do.
To be fair I did receive encouragement, help and fun from certain individuals during my life, but that was still only within the parameters provided by the BKs. I thank them for that and give credit to them. They did it because that was their nature anyway. I believe they were nice people and would have been even if not BKs.
Then there was destruction! A concept that in my observations and experience can do nothing but destruct. The BKs themselves teach that if you focus on the negative it will get the better of you. Destruction has been an important part of my upbringing and it has done nothing but damage. It can only fuel hopelessness, fear, panic, guilt and pain. How was I supposed to be able to do anything worthwhile with my life if it was all to be over soon? I should have just sat and meditated alone until becoming "Karmateet". Yet I was supposed to live in the world as well. What was I supposed to do? How confused can that make a child?
If Destruction is coming then you might as well see the world and have some fun while you can. There was no point to studying, as I heard so often, but then working in an underpaid "office job" was okay. Why? Was it only money that was worthwhile for the institution? Could they not be offered anything else? Was my spirit not enough? As far as I could see, both studying and working occupied your time when you should be preparing to die. The BKs taught me how to die, not how to live. If I am going to help humanity than I am going to do it because I want to and on my terms, not because the world will end.
I used to say to people since last year that I learned more self-respect and gained more strength in the few years I learned Kung Fu than in the 20 years of serious "effort" with the BKs. Yet I was supposed to be able to cope with world destruction. After twenty years of meditation, I should be able to stand on my own feet; I shouldn’t need Dadi to give me Toli before I can go outside.
I have never known basic human rights, even to have had them taken away from me. Look at it: The right to eat, drink, sleep, feel, fornicate, defecate, speak freely, have friends of your own choice, have a family. Not one of those things could I do without feeling bad or guilty about it. I even had to remain constipated until I could find a shower! I do not believe that is a healthy way for a child to grow up. I used to get up, get taken to class and sit there sleeping. Even today you will see many people get up religiously, attend class and sleep and be tired all day at work, in the hope that just by turning up they are doing something for their spirit. These things make me angry.
Anger is something else that I could never have. I was never angry, and I used to think that was a good thing. But it was a terrible thing, because anger was there and it could only come out through constant irritation and sorrow. Emotions would come out sideways, as I was never taught how to handle them head on. I don’t know what it means to throw a tantrum at my parents. I have never even been irritated at my Father, because I was always on show for him. Even towards my mother I could only express very controlled words and sulk a bit, because I knew it was wrong, though inside I was fuming. That anger is still there and only now am I trying to deal with it.
Did any of you know that about me? I doubt it. Emotions had to be kept well under wraps lest the peace and harmony be spoilt. This, I believe, is very unhealthy, especially for a child. To cause children to suppress their feelings is nothing less than abuse. The BKs are such a "peaceful" organisation, so "humble and caring"; but its only skin deep. Scratch the surface a bit, push the right buttons and they are just as angry as the next person is, indeed more so because they are delusional about it. The only thing wrong with that is hypocrisy. And BKs take the meaning of that word to the extreme. I am sure you have all seen it to different levels and even to the highest. To sit back and see this happening does not compute with my integrity. They should either change policy or be honest. Yet most BKs seem to be unable to hear a bad word said about the organisation, why? Is it because people would rather not see what they see? Surely a policy of self-examination and constructive criticism is required in any good organisation?
This brings me on to say that some of you "brothers" that "left Gyan" were my teachers and mentors in those years. I looked up to you and believed everything you said. Having willfully abandoned my own Father and family, you became Father-figures to me, in a world of women. Then for some reason you left "Gyan". Disappeared without a word and left me and my generation wondering "why?" If you found something better or realized something was wrong - why did you not tell me about it? Why did you leave me there? You were conveniently pushed under the carpet by the institution and I heard many stories about you that I couldn’t understand. I thought about you for a long time after, and still do.
I really do not want those of you that looked up to me in the same way to feel like that, which is why I have included you in this letter. I want to apologize for helping to perpetuate some of the hang-ups and untruths that you may also face in your life now. But I can only say in my defence that I knew no better and I was genuine in what I said and believed. I still am. And I will always be there for you if you need to talk, and if you are ready to hear the advice that I have accrued over the last 20 years. Please do not think that I have betrayed you by writing this letter, but rather that I would have, had I not done so.
My student days were painful. It was hard to feel ambition or any kind of joy in doing things for myself, though I am naturally ambitious and determined. I enjoyed studying; especially my degree, but those were also the years I was a "space cadet". (Its funny that we used to joke about being fundamentalist if we knew it was wrong, yet still perpetuated it.) I did not mix with anyone and just kept myself to my chart. It was a constant battle to try and live in two worlds and split my intellect between them. How was I supposed to remember BABA and solve abstract mathematical problems?
I served my time as a "centre niwasi" during my degree and I lived with a very regimental, authoritarian brother. It was awful. Do the BKs have any idea about the people that run their centres? At that time I did not even have the London BK family to support me, and I felt abandoned. But I thought I was some kind of "spiritual teacher", and it was my duty to be able to handle it. What could I have known at that age?
If I am going to start something I will do the best I can. I am someone that strives for perfection and success, which is why I was so "pukka" and lasted so many years as a BK when so many of my generation "fell by the wayside". If I believe I have to make efforts, attend classes, wear white to achieve spirituality then I will do it. I was up at 2am meditating until 5.30. Going to Baba Bhavan every morning and staying there until it was time to go to Dudden Hill for class. I was called a Dada on occasion, which for a teenager is quite a mix-up. I did everything "right" and received all the praise from Dadi. I even adopted an Indian personality, as it seemed the best way to "come close". My mother and sister (let alone my Father) were nothing more than irritations for me. Obstacles in my path to the "Karmateet" stage. I was perceived to be a successful "effort-maker" and an example of the "perfect western kumar". I did indeed make sincere efforts without coveting overt name and fame. But I was arrogant, delusional and imbalanced. I was so far from reality and who I really was.
The Hindi class and Dadi loved me, but as some kind of a gimmick or showpiece, whereas the English class couldn’t relate to me at all. It hurts me to think of those years and how far I was misled. I am, by nature, trusting and innocent; I am not a cynic. I have always believed that things would be alright in the end if I just stick with them. I clung to the fragile dream of the BK world and gave everything. I feel that my trusting nature has been abused. I did things by the book, remained pure, barely even flirted, been honest and, in short, given the best years of my life away. Yet because I gave it away of my own "free will" it was okay. What chance does a child have to develop itself in that organisation? Did I ever have free will?
You may be wondering if I have forgotten my experiences in Yoga, and certainly during my fundamentalist years I had many of them. But I would like to point out that the BKs do not have a monopoly on meditation, trance-states, possession and voices from God or visions. They are ubiquitous throughout the cultures of the world and anyone can access deeper spiritual modes through penance, extenuating circumstances, hallucinogens or whatever. I was relieved to find that I can still access my spiritual side without walking into GCH, and without imagining Brahma’s face. Truth and spirituality can be found everywhere, by their very definition, and not just in the small world of the BKs.
I feel that after all these years the BK organisation, as it is, does nothing for your spirit, in fact it is detrimental to it. The atmosphere does not encourage individuality, though if you stand out in spite of it you are frowned on or praised, depending on whatever the flavour of the month is.
I feel that my spirit has been crushed, and I see that in so many of my compadres who are still BKs. I feel like a wild horse that has been tamed and now can only run for its rider and cannot run free for itself. It feels like I have to fight for my own freedom. This is a battle within myself. But the BKs work within you, never that overtly. I was never tamed with a whip, but with sweet guilt-ridden words. The passion, the verve for life and creativity that I see in many "normal" people I never had. It felt hard to do anything for myself. Often people would say that I was wasting my life, but I had no drive. I thought that to work or study was a waste of time when I could be doing "service". These ideas made me lost and confused. Everything seemed hopeless or pointless.
Sometimes I had to fight to wake up at all. I spent five years writing a book, and I had to keep that a secret because I knew it would be frowned upon. Even as I wrote it I had to censor myself, I had to justify to myself that it was "good service". Then I began martial arts about 7 years ago and kept that secret as well. There was a constant battle inside me as to whether I could be a BK and do Kung Fu, even though I was unfit and overweight and had to do something. How can any organisation that claims to be spiritual be so closed minded and blinkered? Surely that goes against the ideals of holistic living?
Spirit is something alive and free, it needs to be encouraged to find itself, to explore, to create and to stand on its own two feet. Ultimately I do not feel that the BKs can teach people to look after themselves, you are spoon-fed their own special brand of spirituality, and just by following a few basic principles you can get to heaven. True spirituality is more than that, it has to be. It is a holistic thing. The Chinese have a saying: "If your feet don’t touch the ground your hands can’t touch the heavens".
The BKs want to reach heaven, but their feet are nowhere near the ground! They need some serious grounding. I used to say that if all the BKs disappeared and GCH was destroyed, I would still have my spirituality. And now I am finding out how hard that really is. Effectively I have created that situation for myself and it is hard to find my own spirituality, because I am still attached to the BKs and feel that I have to be there to be spiritual. That notion has been implanted in me as a child.
I would like to say that I have tried for many years to affect change within the BKs. I have not been just idly complaining. I did workshops and held meetings and debates in which I questioned the things we believed and the attitudes we had. I even asked the question: "Who are the BKs?" I was greeted with suspicion, contempt or tolerance. If what the BKs have is so wonderful and strong then why not be open and let people see everything? They should be saying: "come and look in every corner, we have nothing to hide!" Why all the panic of trying to keep people? It should be easy to come and go without being treated as a traitor or a failure. Instead they project themselves as some kind of "executive training programme", embarrassed of their humble beginnings as an Indian cult.
As an organisation it seems totally obsessed with its own glorification. It must look good above all else. In doing this it has sold out all spirituality and become a commercial venture. Enough is enough. I feel now that there was nothing I could do from the inside, and it was hurting me too much to see people turned into mindless zealots, so I can only now stand up for integrity and honesty by writing this letter and resigning formally. A bit dramatic I know, but I am very serious. I hope someone will finally sit up at take notice of what I say.
You may wander at how I can doubt the values of this organisation, as it preaches values itself; but I do. Is not equality of rich and poor, black or white, man or woman, BK and non-BK an important value? Then what about the unbending heirachy? The preferred treatment of the rich and famous? The blind arrogance of deciding what is pure and what isn’t; who is good company and who isn’t? Need I go on? They say that they teach by example, but do they? The Seniors are our examples, yet they live lives so different to us on the grass roots. Served hand and foot while we dote over them, hanging on their every word, imagining they know our very thoughts. Gandhi led India to freedom because of his integrity. He lived a poor man’s life to prove we are all equal. Ask yourself will you ever really feel equal to the Seniors, or the Seniors ever feel equal to you? Just because they visit your house are they living at your level? Who put them up there as "representatives of God"?
The BKs are a charity. Charities donate things to people that are worse off. Does it require such vast acquisitions of wealth and property to do "service of the mind"? They collect money, but donate "virtues and good wishes". We are encouraged to collect money and give it away to them, yet they don’t give anything away. As far as I know they won’t even sponsor their smaller centres, it’s the other way round. The smaller centres (run by people who work as well) have to provide for the expanding mother. Let’s see something valuable done with that money!
I remember sitting in front of Avyakt BapDada and watching as the Seniors all sat there crowding him for hours. It made me quite jealous. They have known him all their lives, lived with BABA, and yet still need all the attention. I myself used to sit at the back of the hall so that newcomers could have a better view. But if I followed the example of the Seniors where would I be sitting? One rule for one and another for another it seems.
I was told not to judge people or categorize them, but the example of the Seniors does not follow. If any of you have been the victim of gossip, you will realise that they believe the first thing that they hear about you. And I can guarantee they will be jumping to conclusions about me right now, categorizing me as an "X-BK", but will they be able to spare the time to come "down" to my level and try to understand me? Or will they just have words with my mother? If I turned up to class tomorrow morning wearing my white kurtas, would they not see me differently? How shallow is that?
For an organisation that says we’re on the family path, look what happened to my family. Look how parents treat their kids. Where are the family values in the BKs own families? They are just for show it seems. Once more if things are okay on the surface, everyone is attending class, then they are the perfect example. Don’t let’s hear about what goes on behind the closed doors. In fact you are positively encouraged to disassociate yourself from your own family - they become "lokiks". For me, as a child or young person, how could I ever leave the BKs? Since my blood family no longer counted, I would be leaving my "true family" - which no child can do!
There is a saying that I heard about the BKs: "when they want something from you, they are a family, when you need something in return, they are an institution." It is very unpleasant to play with people’s feelings like that. I am sure you know what I am talking about.
Perhaps now you are wondering if I have sent this letter to the Seniors. No, I have not. Why? Because I do not feel that they have been close to me in the same way as you have. They have never let me close to their level. I only ever had an official relationship with them, without any genuine contact or empathy, just one-way traffic. I have only really been afraid, in awe, or defiant of them, never friends; though I did try. Besides, I know they will get this letter anyhow.
It seems that the BKs only attract certain types of people. No people that are already strong in their own identity and successful in their lives, but people that are mixed up, hopeless and failed in their relationships. Hence all the stories of "zero to hero". In that weakened state people need the world to be small and simple; they need reasons for everything and people to tell them what to do (indeed God), so that they can control life again. The organisation is such that it seems to perpetuate this neediness, like an overprotective mother, incestuously attached to her child. When you join the BKs you are handing over your "self sovereignty"; your freedom and it feels good because of the security you get in return. But is it a true security? Or have you just been suckered?
As an adult you have the right to be gullible and give your life away if you choose, but as a child you are by nature gullible. I do feel now that I am a strong personality and always have been, which is why I was a leader in my own way as a BK and why I made "efforts" with integrity as I am sure you do know that about me. But I feel that the things I took on board were not suitable for someone with spirit, like me, someone who has the ability to control their own life and make decisions on their own. That personality has been oppressed in me and instead I picked up the personality of dependence and accountability. Where I not brought up as a BK I now don’t think I would be one. I think I would have grown up as a strong, independent man with a healthy interest in spirituality, instead of a small, dependent boy who believed he was the answer to the world’s problems.
"You should always say ‘Yes’", "you are an instrument of Baba", "surrender your intellect", are comments that I would often hear. What do these do to you? Take everything away. You become a nothing, just a spoon for God to eat with. Even your "talents" and "virtues" are no longer yours, but BABA’s. Everything you have has been given to you, because you are so "lucky". These ideas cannot create strong individuals in my opinion. Because a strong person knows who they are and their abilities belong to them. If a non-BK is talented in something was that BABA’s blessing? I would so often hear that people do things for BABA and I would always wonder why. Surely God doesn’t need anything. Do I have to cook for him? Even if taken metaphorically these ideas take away the individual’s power to act for themselves. I was taught always to look towards BABA or the Seniors and never to find strength from within myself. That is not self-empowerment.
Any good spiritual healer, with the genuine interest in helping you would not want to keep hold of you. They would want to help you to heal yourself and move on – leaving them behind. You would leave them without pain of separation; indeed would leave with a warm glow. But here, after 20 years of so called help, look at the problems I face in my life now and the "healer" still wants me to come everyday. I was virtually born into this organisation so surely my problems should have been cured even before I got them! Then again I suppose I did have "Maya", "past karma", "clash of sanskars" or any other convenient excuse to hide behind.
I could always find something to blame other than the organisation - usually myself. If this was a genuinely caring and warm organisation with the spirit of freedom I should be leaving now with fond thoughts and thanks, the legacy of spirituality should leave me feeling strong and good about myself in whatever I do, rather than battling with residual guilt and anger.
Let me talk about sex now.
In fact why has that been always so hard to speak of? Are you now cringing inside as I was for so many years? Shrinking away at the very mention of the word "sex". Or perhaps you would like to hear if I have any exploits to tell to fuel your imagination? Has it been suppressed so much? Externally I could talk about the efforts I made to conquer "lust", but inside I hoped no-one would ever see my real feelings. I now feel that celibacy as taught by the BKs is irresponsible. You cannot just be told to be celibate for the good of the world, there is a lot more to it than that. I was the only person to write something for BKs about celibacy and send it round the world – and I wrote that as a teenager. Who told me how to be celibate? The Taoists have the right idea; they developed exercises to elevate your sexual energies, practical things that you can do, instead of just "remembering BABA".
I put it to you that most of the problems in the BKs come from unresolved sexual desires. If you try and switch off your natural instincts and emotions it is bound to twist your motivations. Manifesting, for example, in perversion, power struggles and grown people flirting like twelve-year-olds! Power has become an important issue in the BKs and there seems to be so much available, so many ways to manipulate and control people. Perhaps the thirst for power and position compensates for that of sex. People who "need" power thrive in that organisation.
Repressed sexuality also opens the doors to all kinds of abuse. My sister and her friend as young children were sexually abused, on several occasions and by different people in Madhuban and Delhi. The Seniors were informed, but did nothing. It seems that they blame the victim for "attracting it" no matter how young they may be. That somehow women attract rape. What "Women’s Organisation" would allow that attitude? And these people have the gall to say that the vibrations of Madhuban are so "pure" and that nothing bad could ever happen in "God’s home". I remember my sister telling me about the "brother" that did this to her, but what could I do to protect my sister when I was only 12 years old myself? Though, I believed her and would have done whatever I could to prevent it happening again, (It did happen again). If I saw this happening now –woe betide! My mother was also powerless to do anything. Do not look too closely or listen to too many stories, lest the fragile dream be shattered! What makes it worse is that the Seniors have always been aware of these all-too-common travesties yet have done nothing except hide them away. How can I affiliate myself with any organisation like that?
I found that I had to split my personality, into that dark and the light. The dark side was called "old sanskars" or "karma" or "Maya", or whatever other excuse I was given, whereas the light was the "real me". I always hoped that those sexual feelings might just go away, I certainly made enough efforts, though I came to the conclusion years ago that they would always be there and I would just have to keep them hidden or let them out secretly.
All I learnt from the BK’s is to suppress things, so that the surface is calm. Which is why people that are good at that can achieve so much in that organisation; they can get away with murder if they are able to smile afterwards. Again, this rankles my integrity.
Attitudes to sex, I think, are very closely connected to attitudes towards men. The BKs are traditionally run by Indian women that have had unfortunate experiences with men. Men will either rape you, beat you, or leave you, given half the chance. And men have an uncontrollable desire for sex (and women don’t.) This is nonsense, of course, yet we hear very little about women’s sexuality from the BKs except that they are "impure" when menstruating – another incredible act of sabotage towards women’s rights by a Women’s Organisation. Basically, men cannot really be trusted, especially the ones with facial hair, (except Brahma of course).
Are there any manly men in the BKs? I can’t think of any regular attending man that isn’t in some way self-effacing, effeminate, or quiet. In the early days I used to wish I were a sister so that I could surrender and achieve the "purity" and "status" that only they could achieve. A couple of months ago I was with a group of BKs and someone joked that I had a lot of "Macho ego", but I am just a regular guy. Can they really not tell the difference between a good, honest man and a misogynist, arrogant lecher? There is nothing wrong with being a man! Tell me that these ideas do not affect your natural instincts. In an organisation run by neurotic women what chance did I have of becoming a man?
I was essentially brought up by the BKs and hence where I am today surely is partly their responsibility, is it not? And if I, someone with so much capacity to do service, one-time "Dadi’s pet", am leaving in bitterness, surely they must look at themselves? Will they accept even part of the responsibility and not make the same mistakes again? Indeed, will I get an apology? I doubt it.
Once more I will be expected to blame myself, as it is conveniently all just "karma". They may try to get me back with smiles and Toli, so I cannot badmouth them anymore. But frankly, I no longer want my good name dragged down with them. I am no longer a pawn to be played or a "subject" in the "Kingdom". I will settle for "cremator status", it is honest work and at least I shall be free. I do believe that we are all ultimately responsible for our own lives, and I feel that by writing this letter I am accepting that responsibility and leaving some of the pain and confusion behind.
Did you find this hard to read? If so, why? It should not be difficult to express freely or listen freely. There is so much to write and I am finding it hard to stop, but I have to end somewhere. There will be other letters I am sure, not only from me, but there are many more people with similar experiences that could write just as much as me. But it is hard. I had to fight everything in me to write this, I had to fight the guilt that it would be "disservice". Can you see how well I have been controlled? I cannot even say what I feel without difficulty. Is that freedom? I feel like I am standing alone against the world I have known, and it takes courage. I hope you can appreciate that.
So what do you think of me now? Have I forfeited the place in the Golden Age, which I was promised? Am I still a second-birth Brahmin, or have I forfeited that as well? Am I still a member of "the family", or have I been disowned? Or was I ever a member of "the family"? Can you really tell me what you think or will there be a hidden agenda when you talk to me?
You may think that five years down the line I would have worked it out of my system. Had my relationships and done all the "normal" things until I fail in them or reach boredom and decide to come back. Some people have done this, which doesn’t surprise me, because what you learn from the BKs doesn’t help you with facing relationships or the "real world", so its no wonder people fail and return to be mollycoddled. (The BKs seem to be proud of this.) Or perhaps they want to keep one foot in the BK boat – just in case. But that isn’t me.
I have never been shallow, and whatever I do, I do with integrity. Because I have always been caring, honourable, honest and good-natured. I hope you know this about me. I was always like this regardless of whether I attended class or not, or the "fluctuations" in my "efforts". This is me and I still am that. I don’t have the BKs to thank for these qualities and I don’t have to hand them in at reception when I leave! All life is an adventure and a mystery, both physical and spiritual and the world is not as small and simple, as we sometimes like to believe. But I would like to tread that path on my own terms and find my own guides along the way, the most important of which is me.