Sister Jayanti Interview with Arnab Goswami on Republic TV: Nation Wants to Know – 30th January 2021
Q: Ladies and gentlemen welcome to the Nation Wants to Know. Today we have a very special guest joining us from London. With me today is the European director of the Brahma Kumaris, Sister Jayanti Kriplani, who has been a guiding force for millions of people across the globe through the work of an organization, which teaches Raja Yoga and the application of spirituality in our daily lives, which is so important in the times in which we live. Brahma Kumaris, ladies and gentlemen, has been accorded general consultative status with the United Nations, with the economic and social council, and the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF). Om shanti Sister Jayanti, and thank you for joining me today. It’s such a pleasure to have you with me.
Sister Jayanti: My honour.
Q: Not only is the impact that you have Sister Jayanti on people with your work immensely profound, I want to start with your own personal journey, to embarking on spirituality and your association with the Brahma Kumaris which has been a profound one. What propelled you towards spirituality, so we can get to know a little bit about your background. You’ve been a spiritual guru for over 50 years. You’ve spoken about how your change in surroundings from Pune to London, where you grew up, made you aware of the fear within and you drifted towards spirituality. Could you share with our viewers a little bit more?
Sister Jayanti: I was very fortunate in that my mother and grandmother were both very closely connected with the Brahma Kumaris, and so I met Dadi Janki who later became the head of the Brahma Kumaris. I met her at very early age and even though I lived in London, we’d come back to India and I’d meet with her and also the founder of the organization Brahma Baba. It was a relationship of great love and respect, but not really an understanding of anything more than that. And then I decided I’d spend some time in India getting to know my roots, and when I did that after a few months I decided I’d just find out what the Brahma Kumaris were saying, and so it was curiosity. W=When I started listening it was incredible: all the questions that I had were being answered, and I was understanding very deeply all the things that were very relevant, for me, in my life. This was way back in 1968, a long time ago. But it was very, very valuable for me and I then thought, well this has helped me so much, I know that there are many, many of my friends, whom this would also help. So I started the journey to become a teacher and this is what happened.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit more about the philosophy and guiding principles for Brahma Kumaris, for example my question would be, how does meditation and spirituality act as a binding force, or perhaps if I can take that a little forward, the concept of Indian-ness which is rooted in Brahma Kumaris, maybe you can tell us a little bit more about it and how significant is that message of Brahma-Kumaris for India and for the world in our present times. It’s a bit of a long question. I just wanted you to elaborate on the basic principles and guiding principles of the Brahma Kumaris so that more and more people in India get to know.
Sister Jayanti: Surely. We feel it’s very important to be able to study spiritual teachings, because very often so far, we’ve just been told to believe something and not necessarily have an understanding of the ideas that come up. So Brahma Kumaris believe that the first step, is to be able to understand yourself. Very often, they say how self-realization leads to God realization and so for me that was absolutely true. When I began to understand what is the soul, but more importantly, I began to experience the existence of the inner being, the being of light, the being of peace that sits here in the centre of the forehead and is the one that’s able to do everything that I do as a human being. So, first step to have that awareness, second step to be able to connect with the Divine and our understanding of the Divine is very, very simple; a being of light in the image that you see behind me. And so no human form, no physical form, no angelic form. Just the source of light, of love, of purity, of peace, of strength. And so, in yoga meditation the word yoga means connection, union, and when I come to the awareness of the inner being, and I connect with the Supreme, I’m able to receive the love, the power that I need in today’s world. Whether India or the world out there, I think there’s at this moment of time, not so much difference. It’s as if we’ve all become part of the global family and so we’re able to recognise each other, we are able to share the same foods with each other. In England there was a time when it was curry and chips, that were the most favourite of all, top of all menus and it just gives you an idea, on the one side chips, but on the other side curry, these were the favourite foods of the British people. So, just looking at the current state of the world, I would say that this is such a difficult time for many people to travel through, and it feels as if it’s a time that is very heavy, very difficult, but also very dark and at such a time I feel that meditation, the awareness of the inner being, the Soul and the connection with God is the most critical aspect of our life. Because if I can go within and come to that awareness in which I can have a stable mind, a loving heart, a generous heart and an intellect that’s able to recognise the difference between truth and reality, and that which is false and illusion, I think that if I can develop these facets of my own inner being, through meditation, I’ll be able to traverse this very difficult journey of life.Without that inner capacity and that inner strength, it’s going to be very difficult. I know that for some people a long lockdown across the world, has been a very difficult challenge and that’s because either they felt lonely, they had nobody who could support them, and communicate with them and help them, or they felt too much burdened by the family. It could be either, and so maybe I have a family, and I experience the loving connection with everyone and that’s great. And if I’m alone, I can also benefit from that aspect in which I know, I have a chance to do my own inner reflection and bring about the changes I need to within myself and that’s the positive side of lockdown. But in fact, for many people it’s been a big, big challenge and now, as we go further on, yes, we have a vaccine but maybe we’re just going to have to live with COVID-19. I don’t think it’s going to go away, maybe it will, maybe not, but what must I do inside myself to be able to cope with whatever situation arises? That comes from power, that I receive from the Divine. A very simple analogy, if you’ve got a battery and you’ve been using that battery for a while, well it’s gradually going to get discharged, logical, you have a phone and what would you do, if you don’t recharge it? The same thing with the inner being, unless I give myself time, to be able to recharge my own inner battery, I won’t be able to manage very well, my decisions will be fluctuating one moment, this another moment, that my mind will become too sensitive in which every word that somebody utters becomes an arrow that pierces me. So, it’s not a very happy life, but if I can recharge my inner battery with meditation by connecting with the divine, I’m going to be able to have the power, the courage the faith, the discernment, the capacity to deal with everything and so I think that at this moment in time especially, it’s a very, very important time to give time to the self. If I don’t give time to the self, and I get busy in all the things out there, I’m doing all the things out there, but not very efficiently, not in the best way possible, maybe I’m trampling on a few toes, maybe I’m creating a sense of frustration for myself, all of these things can come. But the recharging of the inner battery yoga, Raj Yoga. Raja Yoga has a very lovely explanation. Raja, the sovereign, the master, and Yoga, when I connect with the Divine, I’m able to be the sovereign of my physical senses. What are my eyes seeing? What are my ears doing? So I take charge of all this, and then I become the master of my mind: my consciousness, my awareness, my personality, and so each day, is filled with something fresh something beautiful something more powerful, and I find myself moving on further. That’s in a few minutes the summary of what we’re doing with Raja Yoga at the Brahma Kumaris.
Q: It was so wonderfully expressed I was thinking, Sister Jayanti, that we lead very busy lives and at the core of everything that you’ve said, I think is introspection, and we go about our lives wanting to achieve things, wanting to take the next step, wanting to accumulate things. And we get attached to material objects, and what you’re really talking about is connecting with yourself, as you beautifully described, you said you know you need to connect with your inner being, and you pointed to the forehead, you said it’s somewhere here. So essentially you were talking about introspection and meditation. Most people and pardon me, if I’m putting in too layperson of a way, feel that things like meditation, things like raja yoga, these things take time. We are busy people, we have too many practical difficulties to handle, and that we will not be able to give the time. I might just give the time to something you know in our already overloaded daily schedule. So may I request you to go a little bit more into Raja Yoga, which is your core concept of making meditation simple, versatile and tell all the viewers what really it means, in as practical day-to-day terms as possible. Can people do it? Do you need to be part of a group to do it? And how will it improve your life and how will it help you tackle difficulties, problems and sorrows? Because one of the things which you said is that, otherwise it becomes very difficult to pull through the difficulties of life which I completely agree with you. How will it be of use in making our life more meaningful and peaceful?
Sister Jayanti: Firstly, let me point out that it’s a very, very simple practice and it actually is intended for people who lead very busy lives. Because they’re the people, who need that extra punch, that extra power, and energy that can come from meditation. So certainly, it isn’t for people who have all the time in the world and nothing to do, except look at their navel and meditate on that. So, none of us do that. Raja Yoga is connected very much to the mind and so it’s not where you sit, how you sit, the place that you’re sitting in.It’s really me and my personal connection with the Divine. And in fact, I think, within two lessons I was able to learn to meditate and start practicing. It was very, very simple and natural. You see, the first step in coming to know the self; a question I have is if I were to give a description of my physical form to anybody how much they would be able to know about me? They’ll know the colour of my hair, they’ll know the colour of my skin, they’ll know the colour of my eyes, they’ll know my height, my weight, and maybe all those things. But how much do they know about me? Zero, and this is because they’re just looking at the external form and the external identity. Even myself, if I’m simply associating with that external form, I never get to know myself and this is why there’s confusion, there’s frustration, there’s sorrow. If I take a moment, and go deep inside, deeper and deeper, to come to the core of my being I begin to realize that the inner being that I am, the being of light, has everything that I am within it. My thinking, my perception, my awareness, my feelings, my emotions, my memory, my conscience, my personality. Everything that I am, is not this. It’s actually all in this tiny, tiny infinitesimal point of light – the soul. And so starting with that, knowing that I have everything I need within myself. But what’s happened is that I’d forgotten to connect with myself and there were layers and layers of dust that accumulated. And so what I need to do is to just go a little bit deeper a little bit deeper a bit deeper, and come to that awareness of the shining star that I am. And I begin to watch my thoughts and I see that most times, any given moment there’s 12 different channels going on in my mind. All sorts of things are happening. Now, I don’t want that anymore. I want to be able to focus my thoughts and be able to concentrate. And the buddhi, I’ll use that Hindi term because the word intellect doesn’t really convey the full sense of it, so when the buddhi has this understanding; I’m a soul, I am the master of my mind, and I can make my mind my friend, instead of making it my enemy. You know some people have this fight going on inside themselves. And if I’m fighting myself, what am I going to do with others around me? I’m going to be quarrelling and getting into conflict with them also. But when I come to that inner state of peace what happens then? When I communicate with you, I communicate peacefully, with meaning, with significance. Instead of just all sorts of things that are coming into the mind and floating out of the mind. So immediately you begin to see the benefit of this in your life. How many people complain about themselves? And say “oh I can’t focus, I can’t concentrate, my mind is all over the place, I keep thinking about the past, I can’t focus on the present.” Meditation changes all of that very, very quickly. It’s not years and years of practice. It’s two lessons. First lesson: who am I? Second lesson: who is the Divine? So firstly, giving time to myself, as you said to introspection. As I do this, I’m learning to be the master of my thoughts, and to make my mind my friend. Which means let me talk kindly, with compassion, to my own mind. Let me be able to go deep into myself and see that my original qualities are actually very beautiful. So often we fluctuate between superiority and inferiority, up and down and up and down. But there’s a state in which I can come to an understanding of myself in which I’m able to have self-esteem. And that’s not selfish, but self-esteem and connecting with my own inner dignity, I’m able to treat you with dignity and respect. You know so often today, many people complain, parents don’t have respect for their children, and their children don’t have respect for parents, that goes on all the time. Teachers and pupils, employers – employees, it’s a constant struggle. But where I have self-esteem, I don’t need you to give me respect, but rather I’m able to give respect to you. And probably what will happen is that you’ll start giving me respect in return. It won’t happen instantly, maybe it’ll take a while, but it means that it starts with me. And so knowing myself, and then secondly, learning to focus my thoughts on the Divine. On that being of light who is the source of all positive attributes: love, truth, peace, happiness, all the things that we want in our lives but we don’t know which shop to go and find them in. We used to think that you know buying something is going to make me happy. Well, for how long? Half an hour, one day, two days? And it’s gone. And so happiness is actually something that I have within myself, and when I connect with the divine all the layers of dust are removed. And I’m able to connect with that happiness which is truly mine, and I don’t need things to make me happy. I don’t even need other people to make me happy. Rather, it can go the other way. I could think, what can I do to give happiness to another? Is there some time I can give? Is there some food I can give? Is there just a smile I can give? Whatever it is that I have, but there’s something that I have that I can share that can make another one happy. And so that connection with the Divine is something which is absolutely vital in today’s world, and my hope is that even though there are people watching who maybe have a path of meditation which is their own, or a part of bhakti which is their own, and that’s absolutely fine, but to acquire more knowledge is always valuable in human life. And so I would recommend find out more about these ideas, and follow them through. When it comes to a question of time, we always make time for things we enjoy. There will be things that we all say; you know I don’t have time for this, but when it comes to something I enjoy doing, oh yes I’m going to set something aside and make time for that. And so meditation isn’t a serious discipline. It’s a very joyful experience, in which you’re able to experience the love of the Divine, the beauty of the Divine, and further on, the beauty of the inner being, of the soul itself. Because all the traditions have said that we’re a reflection, an image of the Divine. The soul, a point of light, is absolutely the mirror image of the Divine. It has those same attributes within itself that the Divine has. God is the ocean, the infinite one, but the soul also is able to have those qualities within the self. Even if you start with five minutes, ten minutes, every day, especially first thing in the morning. Then you’re setting your mind on track, you’re putting the compass straight, then throughout the day, it can guide you. You also asked about its relevance to our lives today. I’ve mentioned a few things already, but what I also want to mention is one thing in particular. Today it’s so difficult to discern between right and wrong, between falsehood and that which is real. And meditation enhances my discernment capacity, so that I’m clearer. My mind is clearer, my focus is correct, but also, the buddhi now has a clarity that it lacked before. If I’m able to bring this balance within my own intellect, the scales of justice, so that then I know what it is I need to do, that’s going to make it very helpful to make little decisions, big decisions, things that impact me personally, that might impact my family, my community. You can see it’s such a vital thing in today’s world, and so at every step along the way, once you can meditate, life is more beautiful, much sweeter, more of everything that is excellent. One in which your heart is opened up, you’re able to be more generous, more giving. Your family benefits, everyone benefits, you benefit.
Q: Sister Jayanti, another question people would have is, people have difficult lives, difficult backgrounds, and different experiences. Life is not easy, we go through hardships, and a lot of pain as well. And people often use the cliché about healing the soul, and very often people turn to spirituality to heal the soul. Is it possible to heal the soul? Is it possible to remove negativity from your inner being? Is it possible to reform? And how difficult or how lengthy is that process of self-realization? But I’m in a space where either I would say we don’t have time or I would say that people would say they’ve gone too far to heal the soul. So a practical question then. You earlier said a wonderful thing, where you said that this is meant for people who are very busy. And I think that’s absolutely so well put. You know my father used to always say, and he was an army officer, he used to say about his father, my grandfather, who was a very busy lawyer. He used to say to my father that if you want something done urgently you must give it to a person who is very busy, because they are more likely to do it in time. So I agree with you on that – time can be found. But what about healing of the soul? Is it possible to do it at any stage, at any age, and in whatever capacity?
Sister Jayanti: Absolutely. This is what meditation is really about. Because if you scratch below the surface for everyone, I don’t think there isn’t a single human being around at this moment, in the story of humanity who doesn’t have pain and sorrow that they’re carrying. It’s only through meditation, and God’s love that the soul can be healed. In physical terms, I scratch myself and there’s a bit of blood, or I have an accident, and there’s a lot of blood spilled. Well there are ways to heal the body, but the healing of the soul is a very different matter. It’s not even a question of time. Something may have happened ten years ago, twenty years ago, and I still carry the pain of that. My experience is that, in meditation, when I’m genuinely feeling that I want to come closer to God, I want to be able to move forward, then my connection with God opens up a stream of love. The power of God’s love is such that it is able to heal the wounds of the soul. And when my wounds have been healed, and I’m filling myself with God’s love, so that my own heart becomes open and generous and able to give, then I can share that pure love not with one, not with two, not with four, but with each and every individual that I’m in contact with. And even through vibrations of meditation, send out those vibrations to the world, so that then God’s love can heal all the human family. Because the whole of the world is in need of healing at this moment.
This is why there’s such anger, violence and aggression that we see continually because when I’m hurt there’s a saying that goes something like this; Hurt people hurt people. And it’s a fact, and so if I can heal myself with God’s love, then I can also maybe be an instrument to connect others with God, so that then they can also take that healing power of love from God. In fact there’s a book that’s available and it’s called The Healing Power of God’s Love. And so maybe at some point we can talk about that in more detail. Not only is it possible to heal the self through God’s love, it’s possible to go through a whole transformation, and through that transformation be able to remove whatever is negative within the self. If you think about it, you see that whenever there’s a negative thought, it’s ego, anger, greed, attachment, whatever. The basis of that thought, is the false notion that my identity is connected with my physical form. Not true. My identity is something much more than the physical form. It is latent within myself, within the inner being. And in that eternal identity of who I truly am, I see everyone as my brother. I see everyone with that vision of equality and dignity. No superior, no inferior, but each one of us has gifts that have come from the divine. And the more we maintain this awareness of who we truly are, there is no ego. Yes, self-respect, but a great deal of humility, recognizing that every human being is valuable. And not just humans, you recognize the value of all forms of life, you recognize the beauty of nature, the beauty of the planet, and the gifts that God has given us to enjoy. Which we’ve spoiled, and now it’s up to us to repair that damage and put it right. But there’s just a huge appreciation of each one, and so there’s no ego there at all. Just appreciation and love. Greed; you know when I’m in this limited form, I think about me, and that’s probably the first thing. I should have this and this and this and this and this and this. And next I probably think about the three, four members of my family or even my eight members of extended family. But I’m thinking in a very limited narrow way. Can I think about the world as my family? Can I think about being able to be as concerned for their needs as I am for my needs? My behaviour would change very dramatically if I were to do that. You know there’s a lack of one thing in the world. What is it? It’s a lack of love. We are not willing to share. Mahatma Gandhi famously said at one point “There’s enough for everyone’s needs, but not enough for even one person’s greed”. And so when I change my attitude, I change my awareness, and my vision and perception changes, and I see others who are needy, I have a different way of connecting with them, I have a different sense of being able to relate to them. When I begin to think about all of these matters, this is a thing that is not just a ritual that you go through. You know you bathed the idol, and you’ve now put it away, you’ve offered some bhog and prasad and you’re done for the day. You know it’s a little bit more than that. This is living spirituality, this is living my life as it should be lived, in the awareness of who I am and what is my relationship with all the people around me. Those who I see in front of me, and those who I don’t see at this moment. Yes, definitely, it’s possible to overcome lust, anger, greed, attachment, and ego. It is possible to work on the self and bring about reformation and transformation. And you know what? If one person starts becoming kind and compassionate, others around them learn to do the same. There have been experiments in Harvard that have indicated one person’s kindness has an influence on 125 people. That gives me great hope for the future because I think corona came and it taught us that we have to live with karuna, with compassion. And so yes, it can share, and be spread and the world can change.
Q: Fascinating, Sister Jayanti. It’s also very interesting that in these times of corona, we’ve had unique situations that people have been in; our families have spent more time together because people are at home. But we’ve also seen especially in the last one year, we’ve seen a lot of polarisation, we’ve seen a lot of violence, we’ve seen a lot of divide, we see that everywhere. We’ve seen what happened in India with the farmer’s protest leading to violence, you may have seen it. Very unfortunate, very, very unfortunate. We’ve seen people incite people, then we’ve seen you know what happened in Washington at the Capitol Hill siege, which took place on 7th January. So there are constantly people trying to provoke, stoke and provoke. Then we’ve seen also that even when courts have a consensus we had the Ayodhya verdict in India. There are still many people, politicians, and others who continue to provoke. I was listening to you intently, and thinking that what you are talking about is about inner realization, meditation, Raja Yoga, at a national level, at a global level. I think that this can contribute so much, because what you are talking about is completely secular. Your philosophy, your spiritual guide, seems to be open to people from all beliefs, if I’m not mistaken. Am I correct in that anybody can be following your spirituality? It’s open to all; it’s not got any walls to build? And I think this message of inner spirituality becomes more relevant in the difficult times that we are in. So I want you to talk a little bit more about the relevance of the Brahma Kumari philosophy, spirituality, to heal the wounds of the world at large, which are becoming evident if you switch on the channels and you read the news these days.
Sister Jayanti: You’re absolutely right. It’s become a huge sense of polarisation, but that’s because when there’s great darkness and light begins to enter the world, then it’s time for that battle between the light and the dark. Always, not just in fairy tales, but in reality, ultimately it’s the light that wins because the light isn’t fighting the darkness. If there’s darkness what do you do? Just light a candle, and the candle and the power of the illumination of the candle, will gradually allow the darkness to go away. When the sun rises it doesn’t fight the darkness or the night, it just begins to shine. And the more the sun rises and shines, there is no more darkness. So, in a way, ignorance and darkness come in because there’s an absence of light, but when light begins to enter the world, then the darkness disappears. So I’m thinking about the situation where you know in India, we would use this word Kaliyug, the dark age, the Iron Age, the age of darkness. Well that’s now changing. People are interested in meditation, people are interested in vegetarian diet, veganism, people are interested in looking at a holistic approach to things rather than a very limited approach. These are things that people are interested in across the world. Yes, the Brahma Kumaris started in India, and India is our home base, and of course we serve India; every village is being served, not just the cities. But the knowledge is universal. It’s knowledge which is applicable to every human being, and so Brahma Kumaris centres now exist in over 120 countries. It’s not just the Indians in London, we have the Indians and the westerners who all come to study Raj Yoga together, and in every other place also the same. It’s local people who come and they take benefit, they become the teachers, they share these ideas with others. And so Raj Yoga is the medicine that everybody in the world needs today, and it has relevance to people of every culture, every tradition, every background. We have the proof of this. A warm invitation to you to come to Mount Abu when we have our gatherings, when gatherings begin again and you’ll see a multi-national gathering. At Shivaratri last year for example, we had people from 110 countries, and so people recognise the ancient treasures of India. You know this idea of Vasudev Kutumbham; the world is my family and it’s relevance. I just want to mention a few things about Raj Yoga, that really can heal the soul of the world. Firstly this awareness that you and I, and all others are one family. And if I begin to see people of different colours and races and backgrounds and genders with that vision of the soul, that divisiveness that has come in, that’s separating us and creating all the problems in the world. That shifts completely. Again, come to Mount Abu and you’ll see people of all backgrounds not just sitting in silence and meditation together, but also joining in all the different activities and working together in so many different ways. The other huge crisis that’s facing the world today, and we don’t realize that we’re in the same boat, and if water is coming in on one part of the boat it’s going to reach my side of the boat also. I’m talking about the ecology, the environment, and climate change. At this moment, we think that maybe well it’s only a few Pacific islands that are going to be impacted. Not true. The world is being impacted by climate change and we’re not recognising it. It’s only when all of us together in that consciousness, of coming back to the awareness of nature as being absolutely vital for our well-being and survival, when we begin to treat nature with respect. In that awareness, yes, we’re going to be able to work together, and do something about the environment, otherwise climate change is moving forward very, very fast and survival is a big issue. Spirituality teaches us respect, respecting ourselves, respecting the laws of the land, respecting nature, and so our relationship with nature shifts again. So the light is shining, and the light is spreading around. More and more people are talking about values. More and more people are talking about meditation. I see the change in a very practical way that’s happening, and so my vision for the future, is that yes, humanity will together move forward to the next stage, the next level, which is the golden age, Satyug, the Age of Truth. A world in which all of us together can live in harmony, with respect and dignity, and love and joy, as truly one family. I believe that is the future of humanity.
Q: I hope that is the direction in which we are moving, and as they say Sister Jayanti, sometimes the darkest night is before the dawn and that’s what we have seen in the last one year. But at least the whole world, a large part of the global population has had time to introspect, including on what you just said. Our lack of respect and our abuse of nature, there’s so much to talk about but I have a limitation of time. May I say one thing to you? That every word that you have said has had a profound meaning for me. And I truly look forward to learning more about your philosophy and perhaps getting to meet you one day, and taking some spiritual guidance myself. I thank you very much Sister Jayanti. It has been an honour to speak to you today and I hope every word you’ve said reaches as many people as possible through the Republic Media Network. Thank you so much. Thank you so much.
Sister Jayanti: Thank you so much. Thank you for this opportunity, and excellent questions that gave me an opportunity to share these ideas. Much appreciated.
Q: I don’t know. I don’t know about the questions, but it came from the heart. Thank you so much. Namaskar.