The President and Prime Minister of India headed a long list of dignitaries gathered February 9, 1997, at the world finale to the Brahma Kumaris' 60th year celebrations. They were there to honor the dedication and determination with which the organization has pursued its goal of creating a "value-based society" through social, spiritual and educational programs. It began in the 1930s when its founder, Prajapati Brahma, had a vision in which he saw a society of spiritual love and perfect harmony. Creation of such a society became his life's goal and is now that of his thousands of followers.
Dr. Shanker Dayal Sharma, President of India, opened the event at Indira Gandhi Stadium. He said, "Moral character and conduct, which are the foundations of peaceful life and society, should be cultivated for our individual and world welfare. A country does not become great by men of mean character but by persons of noble character and integrity. They do not merely preach but practice values like truth, nonviolence, nonpossessiveness and fearlessness–all on the basis of realization of the immortal nature of the soul." He expressed deep appreciation for their work.
Mr. H. D. Deve Gowda, Prime Minister of India, launched "Project Positive Change" at the afternoon youth session. He told the youth that at a time when we enjoy a higher standard of living there is a lower standard of life. Mothers, scriptures and the lives and works of great people should guide our life, thoughts and actions, which are increasingly being contaminated by material considerations, violence and vices.
Rajyogini Dadi Prakashmani, administrative chief of the Brahma Kumaris, presided over the conference. She told the group that the inculcation of divine qualities and the demolition of devilish traits in one's thoughts and deeds was the key to a balanced and blissful life. This was possible through spiritual practices and Rajyoga meditation.
Mr. Feodar Starcevic, director of the United Nations Information Center in New Delhi, spoke on the years of cooperative effort between the UN and the Brahma Kumaris in the areas of peace, education, development and promotion of values. Others who addressed the conference were Jagatguru Balagangadharanathaswami, head of Adichuchanagiri Mutt, Karnataka, and Brahma Kumari chiefs Rajyogini Dadi Janki, Chandramani and Hriday Mohini.
The core of the Brahma Kumaris' teachings and mission was set forth by the group's founder, Prajapita Brahma, from a series of visions and spiritual experiences. While Hindu-based in their beginnings and teachings, and still worshiping God as Siva, the Brahma Kumaris have declared themselves an independent religion. Eight thousand full-time workers oversee 4,000 branches and 400,000 followers in sixty countries. Together they work at the individual and social level to create a peaceful, loving world and to be a vanguard of the impending new age of peace, foreseen by Prajapita as the "Golden-aged Deity World"–the Sat Yuga of Hindu philosophy. Global Headquarters: Pandav Bhawan, Mount Abu, Rajasthan, 307 501, India.