Those who know her intimately in her role as President of the Brahma Kumaris Raja Yoga Centre, will tell you that Sister Hemlata Sanghi is much like a goddess—such is her peaceful, giving and gentle nature.
Sanghi was a recent recipient of a National Award — The Medal for the Development of Women (Gold) for community service; but she doesn’t do well with praises heaped upon her—preferring instead to give kudos to her hard working Raja Yoga Centre colleagues and of course, God.
“The award came as a surprise to me.
“I was happy that I got it; but then I was not happy that I got it alone because I felt that the organisation, those supporting me, deserved it. I am just the instrument.”
Born in Hyderabad, India, 65 years ago, Sanghi embraced sprituality as a young girl. Her search for a spirtual place to carry out her desire to serve God ended when she came upon a Brahma Kumaris Raja Yoga Centre at age 19.
“At first I wanted to do medicine. I really wanted to give back something to humanity.”
For Sanghi the teachings of the Raja Yoga Centre helped her greatly in her studies.
“I would wake up at 4 a.m. and meditate which made it easier for me to concentrate on my studies.”
The teachings also helped Sanghi to be disciplined and so she was able to better manage her time.
“I was never one to wake up late in the night to study because of the discipline.
“One of the things we teach is being detached—temporary letting go. Less thinking and more organising reduces stress.”
When the opportunity presented itself for Sanghi to do a mission in Guyana she jumped at the chance. At the time she already had her doctorate and received permission from the Centre to do both medicine and her missionary work.
Sanghi came to Trinidad in 1976 on the invitation of missionaries here and has been a part of the Centre since its inception.
The Raja Yoga Centre consists of fully dedicated sisters and brothers who have taken a vow of celibacy and are unmarried but members are allowed to marry and have children.
It is God, Sister Sanghi said, who puts the desire in people to fully dedicate themselves to the service.
“If any sister or brother feels the need to be married then they will have to step down and become a member.”
A day in the life of Hemlata Sanghi still begins as 4 a.m. as in her teenage days and doesn’t end until 10 p.m. most times.
She does her prayers and meditation before opening the Centre at 6 a.m. to advance students and members of the public for meditation lessons and counselling.
“I still have not been able to use my skills as a general practitioner but I have been using my spiritual skills,” Sister Sanghi said.
The people who visit the Centres across the country from Monday to Friday are of no particular religion, ethnicity or class. What they all have in common, Sister Sanghi told us, is that they are all in need of spirtual refreshment.
“People are always striving for financial and physical independence; but most of them are not emotionally independent—that’s where they fail.
“When it comes to the emotional aspect of their lives, they are dependent on something or someone and in fear of losing it all.
“We help them to bring out the balance in their family and every aspect of their life.”
She added that attachment, to things and people, only brings about stress and worries.
Meditation, she said, helps them to detach—which is not to say that they withdraw or cut themselves off from the situations.
“When they meditate they learn to put God first and know that God is responsible for everything that happens in their lives.
“Then they feel that their family is protected and everything will be alright, because it is all out of their hands.”
“They receive a special vibration and blessing.
Among the benefits of meditation, Sanghi said, is the understanding of oneself, one’s intrinsic positive qualities and innate value which then becomes a natural part of their day to day awareness.
The Centre also regularly organises lectures, exhibitions, workshops and seminars on topics related to self-development, positive thinking, stress management and self management leadership.
Sister Sanghi observed that while the Raja Yoga Centre has increased in the number of visitors, its membership across the country, remains at 500 dedicated members.
The Centre runs on love gifts from generous members of the public and, as Sanghi said, they are grateful for all contributions.
“We don’t take any money for any of our teachings. People give and we are contented with what they give.”
As President of the Brahma Kumaris Raja Yoga Centre, Sanghi’s work also takes her up the islands on a regular basis. She admits that her work is a lot but she is supported by the teachers, brothers and sisters who give of their time.
“I manage because of the kind of person I am. I don’t try to control people, I don’t bring any problems and I try my best to work with everyone.
Sister Sanghi, who has two brothers back in Hyderabad travelled to India yesterday to be with her family and to carry out missionary work.
She tries to go back to India every year, she said, and there are times she misses the land of her birth.
Upon her return to India, she said, she will deliver the news of her National Award.
“I honestly forgot to tell my family about it,” she said with a soft laugh.
“Thanks for reminding me.”
Sister Sanghi’s prayer for citizens of Trinidad and Tobago is that we all be happy and peaceful.
“People here are nice and loving but if they dedicate themselves more to spiritual things and they take more responsibility for their actions, they will become even better.”