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GHAZIABAD, India (ChurchMilitant.com) - The media institute of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India has performed a Hindu rite with a pro-abortion doomsday cult to celebrate a Hindu festival that ritually seals a sacred bond between brother and sister.
The ritual involves a sister tying a rakhi (sacred thread) around the wrist of a brother on the feast of Raksha Bandhan (knot of protection), and, in turn, the brother pledges to protect his sister at every birth of the cycle of reincarnation.
The popular ritual, which has its origins in multiple Hindu scriptures, involves a deity and a demon. In the Bhavishya Puran, Sachi, the wife of the god Indra, ties a sacred thread around Indra's wrist to protect him in battle against the demon King Bali.
In the Bhagavat Puran and Vishnu Puran, the goddess Lakshmi ties a sacred thread around the wrist of the demon King Bali, making him her brother, so she can liberate the god Vishnu and bring him back home.
According to Hindu tradition, the sister prays the following prayer while tying the rakhi onto her brother's wrist:
By tying this sacred thread (rakhi) onto your wrist, I am binding you just like the powerful demon King Bali was bound by it. O sacred thread, do not get displaced.
On Aug. 30, The National Institute for Social Communications, Research, and Training (NISCORT), managed by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India and led by Fr. Robinson Rodrigues, invited the Brahma Kumaris cult to perform the rakhi ritual on its premises in Ghaziabad.
Wearing white sarees to symbolize purity, the female members of the Brahma Kumaris cult, who are required to be celibate even within marriage, tied the talisman on the wrists of Fr. Rodrigues and staff members of the college.
The Brahma Kumaris (daughters of [god] Brahma) completed the rite by applying the sacred tilak on the forehead of the Catholic priest — a mark "signifying which spiritual lineage a devotee adheres to within Hinduism."
The tilak is placed in the space between the two eyebrows to facilitate the opening of the "third eye" or the "wisdom eye," which can see that which is not physical. Hindus believe that the opening of the god Shiva's third eye causes destruction and brings new life.
Father Rodrigues told Matters India that marking the Hindu festival "served as a poignant reminder of the significance of festivals in fostering a sense of togetherness among people from diverse backgrounds." The priest mentioned that he was observing the feast for the second year.
Speaking to Church Militant, Indian Catholic evangelist Ivan Lobo said he "did not see the need for us Christians to participate in Raksha Bandhan."
Lobo, a retreat preacher who is also involved in the ministry of deliverance and has taught courses for deacons on "spirit and spiritism," warned that "such practices could have adverse consequences on us."
"Sisters and brothers are bound by the band of love painted red by the blood of Christ. Why tie something over and above it as an assurance of brotherhood and sisterhood or to let you know that I will protect you?" Lobo asked. "Be sure of our commitment and prayers on account of the unity that we share by the blood of Christ."
Lobo's conclusion is supported by evangelicals who warn against Christians celebrating Raksha Bandhan because "the festival is centered around Hindu gods and the exchanging of talismans" and "amulets," which "are believed to hold supernatural powers."
In August 2022, the Catholic media institute teamed up with Brahma Kumaris to conduct a seminar on "stress management and right thinking media and spiritual wisdom."
In June, NISCORT celebrated International Yoga Day, emphasizing that the Hindu art of yoga can "foster the spirit to promote unity, peace and harmony among all individuals and nations."
Despite the college's claim to be "one of the national institutions of the Catholic Church in India," NISCORT's principal proudly quotes Hindu icon Swami Vivekananda on the institute's website: "Truth can be stated in a thousand different ways; yet each one can be true."
Founded by diamond merchant Lekhraj Kripalani in 1936, the Brahma Kumaris have been accused of occult practices, including the claim that the founder was a "divine medium" and a "human trance messenger."
The Brahma Kumaris maintain that Kripalani had visions of the Hindu deities Vishnu and Shiva and "received the message that he was the reincarnated form of the original Krishna soul."
Officially known as the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University and consisting primarily of women, the cult regards sex as "something destructive, having an effect on the soul for many subsequent rebirths," states George D. Chryssides in his book Exploring New Religions.
"Husbands and wives live chaste lives as sexual intercourse is inconsistent with Brahma Kumaris philosophy," writes researcher Gerelene Jagganath. "In the Brahma Kumaris scheme of the four ages, sexual intercourse did not exist in the first half of the cycle. Souls entered the world by being invoked (yog bal) and not through procreation."
The cult adheres to the belief that over 7 billion human beings must die during an imminent and desirable "end of the world" scenario so that 900,000 faithful Brahma Kumaris followers will inherit a heaven on earth before 2036.
In the eschatology of the movement, "the final goal will be an age of peace, which will be led by a responsible and caring world government," New Age expert Chryssides notes. "To this end, the practice of Raja Yoga is crucial."
The Brahma Kumaris are pro-abortion, claiming parents have the authority to kill their unborn children.
According to its website, the movement supported the pro-abortionists against the Catholic Church during the Irish referendum on abortion.
Since the cult considers "the body as a physical vehicle for the immortal soul," the "issue is not 'pro-life' or 'anti-life' but a choice between the amount of suffering caused to the souls of the parents and child in either course, abortion or motherhood," Hinduism Today explains.
Claiming to be the largest spiritual organization in the world led by women, the Brahma Kumaris have 8,700 branches in over 130 countries across five continents with over 1 million daily students.
In 1980, the group became affiliated with the Department of Public Information of the United Nations; three years later, it obtained consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council and with UNICEF in 1988.
Pope Francis welcomed the cult in May after the Dicastery for Interfaith Dialogue joined the Hindu Forum of Europe and the Italian Hindu Union for a meeting on the theme of "Hindus and Christians in Europe: Building together a 'fraternity-based new humanism.'"
Pope John Paul II received the Brahma Kumaris at the Vatican in 1989, and an official delegation of the Brahma Kumaris was invited to the pontiff's funeral in 2005.
Interestingly, while the Catholic hierarchy is building links with the millenarian cult, Hindu leaders and academics warn that its "ideas concerning God deviate considerably from what we encounter within Hinduism as a whole."
In 2020, media company HBO India was forced to apologize for a tweet referring to the Brahma Kumaris as an "Indian cult" that "sends a chill down your spine."
In his book on Christian brotherhood, Die Christliche Brüderlichkeit, Cdl. Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) concluded that, according to the Bible, "only the limited application of the idea of brotherhood is Christian."
According to the New Testament, brothers (and sisters) are those who belong in the unity of God's chosen people. Believers only become brothers (and sisters) by virtue of their common participation in Christ's sonship, Ratzinger stresses.