Devindree Pillay was born in an informal location in a picturesque rural area in Durban. Her formative years were simple and close to nature. Devindree’s years of primary and secondary schooling were focused on academic achievement. Incidentally, her secondary school English teachers were all political activists and they had an enormous influence in broadening Devindree’s perspective on life.
It was during her studies that Devindree’s thirst for spirituality and truth accelerated and ultimately led her to the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University. For the past 22 years that journey has taken her into a deep understanding of her self, the Divine and of her fellow human beings, at the level of spirit. Devindree’s humanitarian spirit and passion for justice was effectively addressed by the focus on how self transformation creates sustainable world transformation. Devindree sincerely believed that this was the missing ingredient in South Africa’s efforts to attain true liberation and so she chose to engage herself in the service rendered by the organisation. Her life has since focused not only on her own spiritual journey, but also sharing her personal experiences of that journey with others. It is at a spiritual level that she finds her greatest inspiration and motivation.
In a world of ever increasing stress and emotional challenge, Devindree uses her insights as a spiritual practitioner to guide and encourage people to explore and to develop their own inner potential through spiritual learning. As a member of the core co-ordinating team for Brahma Kumaris service in Kwa-Zulu Natal, she teaches courses in Raja Yoga Meditation, runs workshops and coordinates large scale public awareness programs to encourage spiritual exploration.
Over the years Devindree has focused on her special interest which is the spiritual sustenance and nurturing of young people within the community. She has found that although they face enormous challenges in their lives, with some mentoring and guidance, they have great potential to transcend those challenges. For the past 12 years Devindree has held the portfolio of National Co-ordinator of Youth Activities for the Brahma Kumaris in South Africa. These activities include youth empowerment workshops and self awareness retreats held in the major cities around the country. Devindree is also part of a dynamic international team of facilitators that annually host youth retreats at the headquarters of the university in Mount Abu, India. In these retreats young people come from countries around the world to spend 10 days in a program of dialogue and spiritual experimentation.
Devindree chose to pursue studies in Occupational Therapy, because she resonated with its focus on empowering individuals to attain functional independence despite having a disability. Exposure to the lives and difficulties of people with disabilities was an enriching experience. Her sense of compassion and social literacy skills were refined and she learnt how to effectively interact with people from all walks of life and age groups. In 2000 Devindree completed her degree in occupational therapy at the University of Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa. On a professional level, Devindree’s special area of interest is paediatrics and psychiatry. Currently she conducts psycho-social rehabilitation groups for adult and adolescents who are affected by psychiatric difficulties. It is her ability to integrate her spiritual understanding, compassion and profound insight into her work, which makes Devindree successful as an occupational therapist.
In 2011 the Brahma Kumaris Representatives to the United Nations in New York, wished to continue the early visionary work of Dadi Prakashmani, by offering a scholarship in her name, and invited applicants. The Brahma Kumaris United Nations selected Devindree as the first Prakashmani Scholar and BKUN Intern for 2012.
The journey through the internship experience at the BKUN Office was one filled with learning and self-progress for Devindree. The intern was afforded the exposure and opportunity to experience and function within the setting of an international intergovernmental organisation such as the UN. The opportunities to attend conferences, sessions and committee meetings covering a wide cross section of themes of global importance enabled Devindree to gain experience on how to apply a broad framework of spiritual understanding to global concerns.
The initial integration into a completely new country, social setting and professional setting was somewhat daunting but as time progressed, reflection and research into relevant themes acclimatised Devindree and she felt more functional in her capacity as the intern in the BKUN team. In addition to her great learning curve in this global context, Devindree paid great attention to her own spiritual progress and reflected profoundly on Dadi Prakashmani’s example. She relied on this inspirational leader to guide her decisions and conception of ideas in fulfilling the criteria of her internship. She took the initiative to understand the consciousness that Dadi operated from and hence tap into this source of her greatness. This yielded an experience of a powerful state of being whereby Devindree was able to appreciate the uniqueness, specialities and contribution of people she came into contact with, thus enabling her to give respect to each one, whilst remaining stable in her own self respect. This subtle experience of connection and support from Dadi Prakashmani at every step was the most enriching and exquisite result of this entire internship opportunity, as it allowed her to mature spiritually and maintain stability in the face of challenges.