Lekhraj Khubchand Kripalani (15 December 1876 – 18 January 1969), also known as Dada Lekhraj, was the founder of the Brahma Kumaris. He is also known as Brahma Baba by the members of the Brahma Kumaris.
Originally from Hyderabad, Sindh, Lekhraj Kripalani became extremely wealthy from a jewellery in Calcutta. In his fifties, Kripalani reportedly had visions and retired, returning to Hyderabad in Sindh and turning to spirituality.
In 1932, Lekhraj established a spiritual organisation called Om Mandali. Originally a follower of the Vaishnavite Vallabhacharya sect and member of the exogamous Bhaiband community, he is said to have had 12 gurus but started preaching or conducting his own satsangs which, by 1936, had attracted around 300 people from his community, many of them being wealthy.
The BKWSU claims that a relative reported that a spiritual being (Shiva) entered in his body and spoke through him. Since then, Lekhraj has been regarded by the BKWSU as a medium of God, and as such, speaking channeled messages of high importance within the religious movement’s belief system.
In 1937, Dada Lekhraj named some of the members of his satsang as a managing committee, and transferred his fortune to the committee. This committee, known as Om Mandali, was the nucleus of the Brahma Kumaris. Several women joined Om Mandali, and contributed their wealth to the association.
The Sindhi community reacted unfavourably to Lekhraj’s movement due to the group’s philosophy that advocated women to be less submissive to their husbands, going against that strong cultural aspect at the time in India, and also preached chastity.
Organizations like the Indian National Congress and Arya Samaj accused Om Mandali of being a disturber of family peace. Some of the Brahma Kumari wives were mistreated by their families, and Dada Lekhraj was accused of sorcery and lechery. He was also accused of forming a cult and controlling his community through the art of hypnotism.
To avoid persecution, legal actions and opposition from family members of his followers, Dada Lekhraj moved the group from Hyderabad to Karachi, where they settled in a highly structured ashram. The Bhaibund anti-Om Mandli Committee that had opposed the group in Hyderabad followed them.
On 18 January 1939, the mothers of two girls aged 12 and 13 filed an application against Om Mandali, in the Court of the Additional Magistrate in Karachi. The women, from Hyderabad, stated that their daughters were wrongfully being detained at the Om Mandali in Karachi.
The court ordered the girls to be sent to their mothers. Om Radhe of the Om Mandali appealed against the decision in the High Court, where the decision was upheld. Later, Hari’s parents were persuaded to let their daughter stay at the Om Mandali.
Several Hindus continued their protests against Om Mandali. Some Hindu members of the Sindh Assembly threatened to resign unless the Om Mandali was finally outlawed. Finally, the Sindh Government used the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1908 to declare the Om Mandali as an unlawful association.
Under further pressure from the Hindu leaders in the Assembly, the Government also ordered the Om Mandali to close and vacate its premises.The Om Mandali successfully appealed against the Government order in the court.
After the partition of India, the Brahma Kumaris moved to Mount Abu (Rajasthan) in India in April 1950. After his death in 1969, the Brahma Kumaris expanded to other countries.