Help! My sister-in-law is getting deeply involved with the Cult of Brahma-Kumari
Hi everyone! I need some help/advice. So my brother got married around 8-10 years ago to an amazing lady. She is very sweet, very caring and very smart. My father, mother and brother are all doctors (I am the only engineer in my family). My sister-in-law is also a doctor so she gelled with the family really well (it was an arrange marriage). We are Hindu but we are fairly liberal (because we are fairly well educated). We know religion is just a philosophical relic. For instance, I am into gymming so I eat non-veg everyday for protein which my family initially felt was very weird (culture shock for my parents but not for me as I studied abroad) but then later on they accepted it as a part of a healthy diet.
Now here comes the story— my sister-in-law has gotten involved with a cult called Brahma Kumari. It is a religious cult consisting of mostly or exclusively women. They wear some white gown and go and meditate somewhere. As a part of their rules, she is required to cook her own food (vegetarian food with no onion and garlic— like Jain food). Initially she used to just meditate and then post spiritual quotes on WhatsApp story. She even went on a trip to Mount Abu to meditate and stuff. And now over time, she has gotten aggressively devoted to this cult to the point that my family is worried about her. Whenever we have to travel here and there for conferences or weddings, she doesn’t even eat food because it is not cooked by her hand so she only eats fruits— as a result of this she has gotten very skinny. She has also slowly started isolating herself from her own family (not only in-laws), seemingly because of the brain-washing done by her cult members. Apparently this Brahma-Kumari cult encourages women to cut ties from their family, break marriages and dedicate their lives to this cult leader named Shiv Baba (not Lord Shiva) and settle down in Mount Abu and keep meditating there and lead deeply pious lives. This has my family extremely concerned. My father and brother confronted her many times over this— asking her to not get too involved and take care of her health as well her family. She was even trying to drag her 6 year old daughter into all this and my father/brother/mother strictly told her not to involve my niece into all this nonsense as she is a minor.
I also have a relative who was very smart (got into IIT, got a job in US and was doing very well in life). He got involved in Shri Shri Ravishankars cult and then gave up everything he has achieved to serve in Ravishankars cult in Bangalore (they call him Gurudev) and obviously his family was not happy with his decision but they couldn’t do much about it. My family is worried that my sister-in-law is headed in the same direction— earlier she used to go there just once in the morning to meditate, but now she is lying to all of us and going there many times (almost like a drug addict). All these cults in India (headed by people like Sadhguru, Ravishankar, Shivbaba) seem to be preying on peoples fears/anxieties/insecurities and brainwashing them into serving the organization and the cult leader. And their supporters are showing extreme level of fanaticism (almost like the M community). I know a thing or two about cults as I was also in a fraternity when I was in US. I know a little bit about how they operate— isolation from families by preaching exclusivity is a big part of their recruitment strategy. Members of that cult are “exclusive” because they have access to something other mere mortals don’t, such as a god man’s blessings (for religious cults) or a really dope party and girls grinding on you (for fraternities or other social clubs). I got out of my cult by pretty much graduating from college and getting a job and stuff (significantly cutting down on alcohol/weed and limiting it to weekends). But my sister-in-laws cult is a religious cult wherein they believe in things like afterlife and how the world will be destroyed by a cataclysmic event and then the true devotees will get rewarded after dying by becoming kings of heaven etc and all this mumbo jumbo, so there is no scope for a rational discussion and hence this situation is much more complex.
So if any of you has had this kind of experience or know someone in this kind of situation, please let me know your insights. They can help me my sister-in-law and my family. Just today morning she had a fight with my brother and my father (I was just a spectator).