FORMER JHARKHAND GOVERNOR IS SPIRITUAL, BELONGS TO BRAHMA KUMARI SECT
By Harihar Swarup
On June 22, Droupadi Murmu reached the Brahma Kumaris Centre at Rairangpur in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district. Inmates of the centre, including its in-charge, Brahma Kumari Supreya, were pleasantly surprised to see the presidential candidate of the BJP-led alliance paying them a visit. The spiritually inclined Murmu, who could be first tribal President of India, was at the Centre to offer prayers and to mediate. The 64-year-old practices Rajyoga and mediation regularly. She became an ardent follower of the Brahma Kumaris sect after she was forced to deal with multiple personal tragedies. “Murmu remains just as simple as she used to be, despite the big announcement,” said Supriya. “We just celebrated her birthday a couple of days ago”.
Born on June 20, 1958 in a Santhali tribal family in Mayerbhang’s Uparbeda village, Murmu has traversed a long path in life with mixed experience. Her father, Biranchi Narayan Tudu, was a farmer, who studied till class five. Her mother had never gone to school. With help of her relatives, Murmu moved to Bhubaneswar as a child and completed his studies there. She finished her BA in 1979 from Rama Devi women’s college, which was updated into a University in 2015.
Aparajita, the Vice-Chancellor of the University, said it was a matter of great pride for the institution that Murmu could be the next President. After finishing her studies, Murmu joined the state secretariat as a junior assistant. She got married to Shyam Charan Murmu, a bank officer and the couple was blessed with a daughter. The happiness, unfortunately, was short-lived as the daughter met with untimely death. As she slipped into depression, Murmu gave her job and moved to Rairangpur, where her husband was posted. The couple had later had two sons and a daughter.
Once the kids started attending schools, Murmu started teaching in a private school, but in an honorary capacity. She also got involved in public life and started working for a tribal school organization. She gradually got attracted to BJP and was elected councillor of the Rairangpur Urban body on the saffron body ticket in 1997. Three years later she won Rairangpur seat in the assembly polls after the BJP joined hands with the newly formed Biju Janata Dal launched by Naveen Patnaik. The BJD-BJP alliance romped home to power and Murmu was appointed minister of state with independent charge of commerce and transport. She remained a minister till 2004 and an MLA till 2009, when the BJP and BJD parted ways.
It was the time Murmu’s life turned into tragedy once again. One of her sons died under mysterious circumstances in 2009 and the other died in a road accident three years later. Her husband died of cardiac arrest in 2014 and life appeared bleak for Murmu and her daughter. And she turned towards Brahma Kumaris for solace.
Multiple tragedies turned her into an ardent follower of the sect and she suggested to her daughter to stay single like Brahma Kumaris. Her daughter who works at a nationalized Bank in Bhubaneswar, however, married. Her husband is a sportsman.
After BJP came to power in Delhi under Narendra Modi, Murmu was named governor of Jharkhand in 2015 and she completed her term in July 2021.
Murmu regularly visits Raiangpur centre of Bhahma Kumaris whenever she is in town. She is also frequent visitor to the sect’s headquarters at Mount Abu in Rajasthan. “Murmu is extremely dignified woman with strong values and uncompromising principles” says Santosh Sathpathy, her principle secretary while she was Governor. Brahma Kumari Geeta, who is in-charge of the Bhubaneswar centre of the organization, said Murmu’s life offered an example of all those who were facing challenges in life. “If one looks at her personal tragedies and the way she overcame depression, she would come across as a great example for all”, she said. “It shows that with the help of divined knowledge everybody can face the world”. (IPA )