1967 (November 23) Josip Jelavic was born in Zagreb, Croatia.
1993 (Autumn) Jelavic met Serbian prophet Ivica Prokic, who became his mentor.
1995 Prokic drowned on a beach in South Africa, leaving Braco as his successor.
2002 Braco held his first healing gazing session for two thousand attendees.
2009 Braco first visited the United States.
Josip Jelavic (alternately spelled Grbavac) was born in Zagreb, Croatia to Viktor and Ivanka Grbavac as an only child on November 23, 1967. Few details of his early life are known. He is married, and he and his wife, Dinka, have given birth to one son, Andelon. It is known that he obtained a Master’s degree in economics in 1991 and then worked as a businessman for two years before meeting his future mentor, Ivica Prokic in 1993. Jelavic was immediately drawn to Prokic, and he quickly gave up his business career to work with Prokic. Jelavic’s father, also a businessman, was opposed to his son’s change in direction and had him drafted into the armed forces to separate him from Prokic. Jelavic refused gun training, however, and was incarcerated for his refusal. Jelavic then commenced a hunger strike and was hospitalized briefly before escaping from the hospital, gaining a discharge from the armed services, and returning to work with Prokic (Whitecliff 2009c:17-20). Additional details of both Jelavic’s and Prokic’s lives are spiritual careers are largely available from hagiographic accounts, primarily Whitecliff (2009c).
Jelavic’s mentor, Ivica Prokic, was born on August 4, 1950 in a village in southern Serbia, an area noted for its spiritualenvironment. It is reported that he experienced bodily pain, visions and out-of-body experiences during his childhood. When he was only seven years old he fell and passed out while playing in the water with other children. He later described this moment as one in which “he felt like a piece of the sun did enter his body,” and this moment is understood to be “the determining moment at which his outstanding abilities have been activated” (Ivica n.d.). Prokic moved from Serbia to Zagreb, Croatia in 1971 and worked for a time selling fish. He is reported to have had a variety of visions during this time and to have engaged in astral travel. His powers continued to increase, and by 1989 he could see both past and future clearly; in November of that year he foresaw a local mining accident (Whitecliff 2009c:38). His healing powers emanated from an event in 1989 when he was bathing: “Ivica saw a man falling from a cross. The cross hit Ivica on the forehead and left a permanent physical scar and blood flowing from his hands. Since that time, he had a special ability to heal and could touch someone and make him or her feel better” (Whitecliff 2009c:38). Because he regarded this healing power as a gift, he followed the Croatian tradition of not accepting payment for his services. Prokic reports that he experienced a prophetic vision in which he “was shown the symbol of the thirteen-ray Golden Sun symbol in a prophetic vision, and told that it would be a direct means for the gift of Source, through the Sun, to reach the people. The symbol was to become a physical manifestation in our material reality, a completion of the circle of life expressing both the spiritual and material elements for the body” (“The Golden Sun, Braco & Ivica Prokic.” n.d.). Prokic adopted the thirteen-ray sun as his symbol. He was 43 years old in 1993 when Jelavic approached him with a gift, a gold necklace with a replica of the thirteen-ray sun. Initially Prokic was angered by the gift. However, once Jelavic told Prokic of his dreams concerning the gift, Prokic realized the spiritual nature of the gift and recounted that, ‘The voice of God said, ‘Accept this from the young man and buy him a sun and chain for his birthday too’” (Braco n.d). The two began to work as healers together, both wearing Golden Sun pendants and other golden jewelry. It was Prokic who gave Jelavic the name Braco (pronounced Braht-zoh), meaning “little brother,” which Jelavic then adopted.
Jelavic spent the next two years studying under Prokic, until the latter’s death in 1995. Braco biographer Angelika Whitecliff relates that when Ivica Prokic drowned when he was caught up by a “rogue wave” during a trip with his protege to South Africa, “Braco’s gift of healing emerged spontaneously” (Whitecliff b:2009). Upon Prokic’s death his pupil continued Prokic’s work. Braco built a center in Zagreb to receive visitors and quickly accrued interest from devotees, journalists and scientists. Whitecliff reports that “Braco’s first act of healing occurred when he touched the picture of a very ill boy whose mother came to him after having a dream that Braco would make her son well” (Whitecliff b:2009). In 2002, Braco held his first healing gazing session, with an audience of two thousand attending. Braco continued to hold sessions at his Zagreb center, but also traveled extensively, holding gazing sessions regularly in such countries as Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, United States, Denmark, Italy and Japan. Braco first visited the U.S. in 2009. According to the hagiographic account, before his death Ivica had prophesied that Braco would not visit the U.S. until there had been a “great change of consciousness,” a transformation that is identified as the election of Barack Obama to the presidency in 2008 (Whitecliff 2009c:1).
Braco is not associated with any doctrines, religious beliefs, or religious institutions. As Braco puts it, “I am not a guru or leader or any sect’” (Remez 2010). He also does not claim to be a healer. As Stollznow notes, “Braco doesn’t call himself a healer because he doesn’t make any claims directly; his claims are made by his staff and devotees” (Stollznow 2011). Braco draws the distinction between a healer and his own helping activity; healers claim that it is their energy that producing healing while he asserts that he is the conduit but not the source of healing energy. Braco acknowledges that “ He sends his love and his warmth to the people, but he feels that something positive is flowing through him while he is gazing.” (“Braco – The Gazer 2011). Although he does not provide a detailed explanation of the source of his energy, he ultimately attributes it to the sun (“Il movimento di Braco” 2008). Despite his disclaimers, Braco is often referred to as a healer.
Since 2002 Braco’s ritual events consist entirely of Braco gazing silently. During these sessions Braco makes “fleeting eye contact with each member of the audience” (Stollznow 2011). The sessions typically last five to ten minutes, for groups ranging from fifty to a thousand persons. Attendees are encouraged to bring photos of loved ones who cannot attend, so that they too may experience the power of Braco’s gaze. Braco’s energy is considered so potentially overwhelming that children under eighteen and pregnant women are not admitted to the sessions. Those who participate in gazing sessions through videos are cautioned that eye contact must be limited to seven seconds at most.
Whitecliff describes the ritual in the following way: “Braco simply stands on a platform in front of his audience and silently looks
ahead with a gentle gaze. All present are instructed beforehand to stand and to look at his eyes and to think of their illnesses and problems. During the five-minute healing session, many immediately feel an intensity of energy and bodily sensations; others shed tears or have profound experiences of joy” (Whitecliff b:2009). A group of staff members, called “Guardians,” are available to assist participants who have intense emotional experiences. The Miami Herald reported that a spectator at a Miami Beach Convention Center likened the sensation of Braco’s gaze as similar to his emotional experiences at Woodstock; “others described sensations that also evoked memories of the 1969 concert, such as seeing a glowing aura around the healer or watching his face morph into that of Jesus or their children” (Smiley 2011). For his followers Braco is “a conduit of an ethereal energy” (Smiley 2011). Following the gazing session the session host plays a pre-recorded speech by Braco in his native Croation language.
Accounts on Braco’s website describe his energy as curing people of such ailments as “anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia, endometriosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, thyroid conditions, asthma, brain tumors and cancer of various kinds. He reportedly “restored someone’s sight, healed a paraplegic woman, and even cleared someone’s blocked nostrils” (Stollznow 2011). Healings have been reported by individuals who have simply viewed Braco’s videos.
Braco eschews spiritual authority for himself, although he acknowledges that miraculous events do attend his gazing sessions. He has stated that “‘I am only here for those who need me or will need me without their yet knowing it. I look for no gratitude for I am also a man with his own sorrows and joys. I can speak only in respect with what deeds pass through me and which sometimes astound even me by the things they can do’” (Remez 2010).
Braco operates from his center in Zagreb, Srebrnjak 1, but also tours the world to hold gazing sessions in various locations. The groups run from fifty to one thousand people per session. According to his website, his “current form of delivering the energy to the people is by simply gazing at his visitors in groups between 50 and 1000 people without doing any individual meetings or treatment” (Braco n.d.). He performs “twenty sessions a day working 10-12 hours each day at locations across Europe. He is booked with appearances four years in advance” (Whitecliff b:2009). Braco does not charge for his work, though there is an eight-dollar fee at his international appearances to cover organizational costs, such as renting the venue. Braco’s followers also sell books and DVDs about Braco’s life and gazing sessions as well as jewelry. As Braco has begun scheduling gazing sessions around the world, the total attendance at these sessions has climbed above 200,000 (Whitecliff 2009a).
While Braco’s mentor, Ivika, was an established healer in Serbia, he encountered some resistance to his healing practice prior to his death. According to Whitecliff (2009c:161), “The church, health profession and media attacked him, and he started to lose some power.” Early in his career Braco did speak to participants in his gazing sessions, but this practice stopped when he also faced media scrutiny, criticism and skepticism. Braco’s response was to end all public communication at his events. Whitecliff (2009a) reported that “Many in the scientific community and media have been distrustful, explaining originally that Braco only hypnotized the people, but when he stopped talking completely during healing sessions this explanation could no longer apply.” The controversy continues. Corroboration of Braco’s healing power has been offered by figures such as Professor Alex Schneider, President of the Parapsychological Association of Switzerland and Founder of the World Healing Congress as well as Dr. Harald Wiesendanger, Founder of the International Agency for Outstanding Healers. On the other side skeptics are dismissive of his reputed powers. For example, Stollznow (2011) has concluded that There is no evidence that Braco’s kind of gazing has any benefits at all, but he takes credit for any perceived successes, and absolves himself of failure by claiming he makes no claims. However, the “no claim” claim is disingenuous; whether the claims come from the public or his crew, the claims are promoted by and therefore made by Braco. For his part, Braco no longer speaks in public, nor does he grant interviews to news media; he relies exclusively on his silent gazing sessions to communicate with his audiences. Despite the debate over his healing power, his audiences have continued to grow in size.
“Braco.” n.d. Accessed from http://www.braco.net/ on 20 February 2012.
“Braco -The Gazer – Biography (and his Teacher Ivica Prokic).” 2011. Accessed from http://lylescott89.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/braco-the-gazer/ on 26 February 2012.
“Il movimento di Braco. 2008. Accessed from http://www.cesnur.org/religioni_italia/m/metafisica_08.htm
on 26 February 2012.
“Ivica.” n.d. Accessed from http://www.braco-info.com/dcms/about-braco/ivica?lang=en on 25 February 20012.
Remez, Sherry. 2010. “Braco: Man of Miracles Returns to Maui.” Maui Weekly, June 3. Accessed from http://www.mauiweekly.com/page/content.detail/id/501548/Braco.html?nav=103 on 20 February2012.
Smiley, David. 2011. “Hundreds Flock to Miami Beach to feel Rare Power of Man’s Gaze on 1-11-11.” Miami Herald, January 11. Accessed from http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/hundreds-flock-to-miami-beach-to-feel-rare-1177907.html?printArticle=y on 20 February 2012.
Stollznow, Karen. 2011. “Braco the Gazer: The Silent Evangelist.” Skeptical Inquirer, April 26. Accessed from http://www.csicop.org/specialarticles/show/braco_the_gazer on 20 February 2012.
“The Golden Sun, Braco & Ivica Prokic.” n.d. Accessed from http://www.braco.net/golden-sun on 26 February 2012.
Whitecliff, Angelika. 2009a. “Braco: Mystery Healing Gazes Causes Miracles.” Examiner, March 17. Accessed from http://www.examiner.com/earth-transformation-in-national/braco-mystery-healing-gaze-causes-miracles on 20 February 2012.
Whitecliff, Angelika. 2009b. “Braco: The Lineage of a Super Healer.” Examiner, March 19. Accessed from http://www.examiner.com/earth-transformation-in-national/braco-the-lineage-of-a-super-healer#ixzz1fO2DJzTR on 20 February 2012.
Whitecliff, Angelika. 2009c. 21 Days with Braco. Kealakekua, Hawaii: Awakening Within.
David G. Bromley
29 February 2012