In Pakistan in the 1930s, a man named Lekhraj Khubchand Kirpalani had a spiritual awakening.
Lekhraj (who came to be known as Brahma Baba) realized that women should not be oppressed, but rather empowered & elevated — and that women, and female energy, would be the key to saving our species.
Brahma Baba started spreading the good word, but he wanted to step aside and let women lead. He appointed eight women, who came to be known as the Dadis (or the “Grandmothers”), to build a worldwide spiritual organization called the Brahma Kumaris (or “Daughters of Brahma”).
Today, the Brahma Kumaris have thousands of meditation centers and hundreds of thousands of members around the world. 80% of its members, and the majority of its leaders, are women.
We first met Sister Jenna when Kevin joined her as a guest on her international radio show, America Meditating. We knew that she was the founder of the Meditation Museum in Washington DC, but we didn’t know much about her aside from that.
During the interview, we were struck by her eloquence, poise, grace, and presence.
After doing some more research into her background, we found out that Sister Jenna is one of the leaders in the Brahma Kumaris in the United States, has worked with Oprah and Marianne Williamson, and has implemented many wonderful programs in meditation.
When we decided to focus this issue on Powerful Women in Meditation, we knew that we needed to talk with Sister Jenna about her story, and ask her more about the Brahma Kumaris.
Below are some powerful excerpts from the interview. If you wan to watch the full live-streamed interview, check out the video about!
I’ve heard that you used to run nightclubs in Miami! How did you end up becoming “Sister Jenna?”
You know, when I was much younger on my spiritual journey, there was just this notion like, “Oh my gosh, she’s like a saint, she’s like an angel!”
After about ten years, I started to openly share — I didn’t think it was a secret, but I started to share — “Did you all know I used to own two of the most well known night clubs in South Florida? And I had luxury cars, and I was dating…” and everyone’s eyes would pop out like “What?! What happened to you?”
My story shows that spirituality and spiritual empowerment can be for anyone. You don’t have to be born into it in order to be it.
I think my awakening originally happened in my teens, but it went really deep in my early 20’s. And here I am, almost 30 years later!
What was your journey like?
My mother was orphaned at seven years old.
After hearing all the traumas she went through, from the age of seven… being placed in orphanages, and bumping into men that didn’t have good intentions for little girls, and having to survive that trauma…
Growing up with a mother like that, and an Indian father, I had the fortune of looking at the world from two perspectives. And so I somehow always found myself in the middle of everything.
So I don’t know if that was part of my spiritual development, but with my Dad being Hindu and my Mother being Roman Catholic, my interpretation of God varied when compared to a person who’s fundamentally Catholic or Muslim or Jewish… or Hindu even. And so I always felt that differentiation while growing into who I am today.
I was having spiritual and mystical experiences when I was younger, but the one that really got me was when I was in my 20s.
I’m kind of going up an escalator in this trance-like experience. At the top of the escalator is God as a form of radiant light, this vibrational light. And it’s just calling me. And at the bottom of the escalator are my friends, drinking and smoking, saying “Come on, Jenn, come on!” And I wake up from that trance experience with a feeling like, “What do I choose?”
So, obviously I chose the light. And then I went to Mount Abu, the headquarters for the Brahma Kumaris, for the first time. I was 24.
I sat in this room of about two thousand people. I’m on the floor.
And the “trance messenger” — her name was Dadi Gulzar, she passed away this year… a very, very pure woman, who was one of the original members of the Brahma Kumaris — her specialty was going into trance and being able to communicate and allow the energy of the Supreme and of Brahma Baba, the founder, to just basically give guidance and directions.
So I’m sitting in this room and I’m sensing intuitively, “This is going to be big for me.” And in my mind I’m thinking, “I’m going to meet God today, I just know it!” But everything I had previously done that was against my peace and purity was coming up in my mind, just flipping through really fast. And my heart’s beating fast, and my mind is telling me, “You can’t! You’re not worthy! Leave the room!”
And as I’m getting up to leave, the energy of that light entered through Dadi Gulzar. It just sat me right down, and there was just this wave of like, “Ooooohhh.” Just really peaceful waves of this energy that just filled the room, and it just filled me.
And all this time, I’d thought I had everything!
All of a sudden, that moment cracked the mirror that I had been looking at for twenty-something years, and directed me to another mirror that started my journey of looking at myself from inside out.
It was very profound, Kevin! To this day… it’s been so long, but as I tell you the story, it’s like it was yesterday.
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The trance experience, when you were going up the escalator — was that a dream, or a vision or something? How was it so powerful that it made you leave your life in Miami and go to India, to Mount Abu?
It wasn’t a dream! I was actually physically awake.
And it wasn’t a daydream either.
I was being pulled into an altered, mystical experience against my wish.
And I think the reason why that experience was coming over me, is that it was an answer to a deep soul call that I must have been having for many lifetimes — but also perhaps from my present life — where I kept asking questions about the meaning of life, the purpose of our existence: who is God, why are we here?
And when those questions reach a kind of pivotal point of energy in our consciousness, I believe it becomes a way to open up mystical experiences like the one I just related.
What is your role within the Brahma Kumaris right now?
I direct the Brahma Kumaris in the Washington Metropolitan area.
That requires important conversations, and working with people with great influence, to support their spiritual development as they conduct affairs in the world, in order to make very important global decisions. So it’s been a wonderful journey for me.
But what I love more than anything else is just to be a friend with everyone in the Brahma Kumaris organization, and not necessarily focus so much on my title, my position, my influence, my lack of influence… whatever it might be. I just want to be a friend with everyone.
I’ve read about the history of the Brahma Kumaris, and it is fascinating. What’s your take on it?
I’ve traveled back to the 1930’s at a conscious level, and thought about what it must have been like for Brahma Baba to have been questioning his own journey. He wasn’t thinking about a movement, or an organization, or being someone that millions of people would turn to for their spiritual development. I don’t think he was thinking like that at all.
I think he might have been like you and me, Kevin… just curious about things! Whether it’s your youthful days of [experimenting with psychedelics] or my youthful days of asking so many questions, the awakening just happens! And I think this is what happened with Brahma Baba. And that is despite all the challenges that he went through.
Just imagine – an awakening happens, and an anointment happens, and light starts to pulsate through your consciousness, and it can’t be hidden through the joy and spark in your eyes. And your whole aura starts to radiate this energy of purity and peace. People in your family and community are recognizing this, and asking, “What’s wrong with you… are you in love or something? What happened?”
And he’s wondering, “What are they talking about? I just felt God’s light.” And he felt that energy of God’s light so much, that he just moved with that energy. And people in the community could see that. They were like “Who is this man? I want what he has!”
And three hundred people moved into his house. Can you believe it? The majority of them were women, young men, fathers, brothers and children. And they learned: Who am I? I’m a soul. And then they started to go deep into, “Well, how do we connect with God? Is God really a deity? Is God Christian, is God Jewish, is God Islamic? My latest quote has been: “Don’t go squeezing God into a religion, he’s much bigger than that!”
So I think what Brahma Baba offered us was… how to develop a relationship with the divine that doesn’t restrict your ability to receive the vibrations, the purity and love that comes from God.
So, on his journey, Brahma Baba would look into the lives of these young women and mothers — who, in those days, were third-class citizens and were so mistreated — and he said: “But, that’s our future! Mothers should be saluted!”
And then he basically says, “Look, this is your world. I can see that you, the woman, will be the future of a world that is a golden age, that we can walk in.” So he handed over the entire movement to eight women. We just recently lost three of them. They were all in their 90’s, so we’re losing a lot of them now, but we still have one more left!
And to these elder sisters, Brahma Baba said, “Show us the way! Show us the way to grow in love with God, and to nurture our relationship with God, and to be of service to humanity. Show us the way!” And these sisters, who we call Dadis, have done that.
So from one little center in Pakistan, when the India/Pakistan split happened, they moved to Mount Abu in India. And that is where the community grew from – from that one center to nine thousand branches in 120 countries.
Just because of those eight little ladies. They never went to high school, they never went to college, but they went to God, and they went to purity, and they went to peace. And, as a result, they nurtured the hearts of all races, all religions, all cultures, by guiding souls to a connection with the divine.
It’s a wonderful journey! I can’t believe my karma has brought me here! It’s amazing!
It’s amazing that Brahma Baba was so ahead of his time, to focus so much on empowering women. You might even call him a feminist. And he did all this within the male-dominated culture of 1930s Pakistan, with the surrounding community pushing back against him and protesting outside the ashram…
That’s just how clean and clear Brahma Baba was. He just saw that the future would be a future of empowered women. And he always used to say, “Put women together, and the world will come together.”
I think when you try to visualize what it must have been like — where a man looked at a woman with such respect and honor, not looking at her body or wanting to use her just for his own personal needs, but, instead, to raise her up in the form of becoming like a deity to the world — just imagine what everyone else felt. Either that he’s insane, something is wrong with him, let’s get rid of him, defame him, say the worst things that you could possibly say about him. But that was the outside community. Not one person inside the ashram had anything bad to say about what it was like living with him at that time.
Brahma Baba always had full faith that the supreme energy, the supreme soul, was going to work through those women and bring the world into a golden age.
He used to look at his Bhagavad Gita and at Hinduism and say, “Why is it that the majority of deities are females? Where are those souls today? What are they doing?” And so he would look at those young sisters who we call the Dadis today. And he would see them and say, “You are those future deities! Let your virtues and your personality rise to that level of piousness and purity and love. That wherever you go and whatever you do, you only sprinkle the fragrance of divinity and truth and sacredness, which will then ripple out and inspire others.”
So you know how we all come with our own part to play? That was Brahma Baba’s part. He had to awaken society to a consciousness that valued women. And even though he encountered so many obstacles, he was unwavering, because he knew the message that he got from the supreme, from above, was that the souls in female bodies would be the future in bringing healing and vibrancy to humanity.
I was just teaching a few young girls this morning in the Om Shanti Village and – you look at their energies – they’re bright, they’re alert, they’re no-nonsense! I wish I’d had that in my early days.
Just imagine the way Brahma Baba looked at those young daughters and mothers and grandmothers and said, “You don’t need to wash anyone’s feet. You don’t have to bow to anyone! You are God’s child! Salutations to the mothers! You are the ones that will transform the impurity of the entire world!”
And that’s exactly what those eight sisters believed, and it transcended throughout the whole organization, to empower not only the women in the organization, but also the men. The men who study with the Brahma Kumaris also believe that, by practicing purity, peace, love and being in service to humanity, the world will be a better place.
And there’s a partnership between the small percentage of men in the Brahma Kumaris, with, yes, the larger percentage of women in the Brahma Kumaris. And there’s a reverence which the men hold for the women, and there’s a respect which the women hold for the men. And what you will witness, if you ever get a chance to spend time within the walls of the Brahma Kumaris, is this great balance, and this sense of vision, that everything they think, say and do is towards a golden age of humanity, where there won’t be greed, and there won’t be violence and there won’t be racism and there won’t be fear — rather, they will be filled with vibrations, and the qualities of truth and wisdom and love… which will usher in a world that has no sorrow.
So it’s a wonderful time! This is a great age to be in. I’m so glad you’re doing this article… providing information on spiritual leadership of the feminine potential. And I know that there’s some men out there that have that, but the fact that you’re highlighting the female voices of spiritual leadership, spiritual introspection, and spirituality… we appreciate that in you! That’s like a Brahma Baba vision, because that’s what he saw – he saw something more than what the world was showing. And that’s one of the reasons why I think, for me, I just have so much appreciation for his courage to maintain that vision and guidance.
Remember that your vision will pull you and your past will push you. I don’t think Brahma Baba lived from a past narrative of how the world envisioned women. I think he allowed the energy of God’s purity and light to show him something that maybe he didn’t even want to see.
Maybe, at least at first, he didn’t want to see that the future of humanity’s well-being would be run by women. But no matter what, he kept seeing it, and he knew he had to surrender to that. And I think there are many people in the world that, when they tap into their inner awareness of being a soul, and they begin to feel the essence of their soul awareness, the energy and the answers of light, truth, divinity and sacredness emerge from that consciousness.
Why do you think that there is still so much divisiveness in this world – racism, sexism, classism, etc?
When we go into ALGAE consciousness — ALGAE is an acronym that I use: A for Anger, L for Lust, G for Greed, A for Attachment and E for Ego — we feed the humanness, or the “body awareness” of our personality. Then you’re going to have conflict, you’re going to have fear, jealousy, anger, judgment, criticism, competition… it’s endless!
I think that what’s going on in the world right now is that we are too caught up in the ALGAE consciousness and we need to transcend into soul consciousness.
I’ll tell you a story…
You go to the Ritz Carlton with some friends, and you’re planning to spend the weekend there.
You pass by the guy that opens the door, you go to the concierge, and you just say “Hello.” You check in, and the bellboy puts the bag on the trolley to make it easy for you to get to your room in the penthouse.
You’re approaching your door, and you see Beyonce, Barack and Michelle Obama walking out, and all of a sudden, you’re up! You’re like, “Oh my God, this is Barack, Michelle, Beyonce! We’re staying here with Beyonce, Barack and Michelle?” And then everyone’s excited, everyone’s saying “Hello” and being respectful. And they tip the little bellboy like he’s nothing.
So, did you have the same vibration and feeling for the man that opened the door for you? The same degree of love and adoration? Was there the same vibration for the concierge, for the bellboy? Why did you put so much importance on Barack, Beyonce and Michelle? It’s because we’re so attached to labels that we don’t see each other, soul to soul!
So that’s why you’ve got the caste system, that’s why you’ve got racism, that’s why you’ve got illiteracy and poverty the world over. It’s because people don’t give everyone a chance! People are always trying to move towards whoever has the power, whoever has the most likes, the most followers…. whoever is in power and has control, and totally disregarding the “other” people who actually matter just as much.
So what Brahma Baba was teaching and what he has taught in the Brahma Kumaris: See everyone as souls, because you too are a soul!
And what that warrants is a sense of respect, love, kindness and generosity.
So, if we can develop that way of being in the world, there will be an end to poverty, there’ll be an end to violence, there’ll be no more incarceration. There’ll be nobody feeling that they should kill somebody, just so they can take a “shortcut” to get what they are seeing on the television. People will not have that vibration anymore.
So the most important teaching in the Raj Yoga: Consider yourself a soul, and remember God, the supreme soul, and perform actions that are kind and generous. And then the world will become a golden age and… that’s it! It just seems so simple to me! Doesn’t it seem simple to you too?
So, I think that if we can accept that the solution to the world’s crisis is through soul-conscious vision, we won’t have any of these problems, and everything will be very easy.