Param Hans Satgurudey Shri Sant Ji Maharaj - the 15-year-old
so-called boy god arrived in Britain yesterday to a welcome
from 800 devotees who thronged London Airport.
Ten thousand more - from Britain, Europe and the U.S. - are
expected to gather tomorrow in a 'Divine City' under canvas
at Alexandra Palace, North London, for a three-day rally at
which they will hope for a chance to prostrate themselves
before their 'perfect master.'
For his part, the luxury-loving holy boy, Guru Maharaj Ji,
for short, hopes to double his British following of 6,000 -
doubtless boosting the amount they pay for the privilege of
seeing the Divine Light.
His Divine Light Mission, which claims a world-wide
following of six million and the fastest growth of any
religion today, already has a capital of £100,000 in
Britain, including a luxurious £40,000 London HQ and a
fleet of 36 vehicles, one of them a £9,800 Rolls used
only by the boy god.
Critics ask how he can require his worshippers to exist on
basic essentials while he lives in high style on his jet
trips round the world.
is a bland stock reply: 'I do not ask them for a penny. They
give because they love.' The mission is currently planning
to buy a £65,000 meeting hall in East Dulwich and a
country mansion with 40 acres of grounds fit for a god to
the generous worshippers may not know is that the Indian
Government is still determinedly investigating the
mission's finances and allegations of smuggling
£10,000 worth of jewels, currency and travellers'
cheques from the U.S. last year.
Ji, 5ft. tall and a waddling 13st., grows fat on his good
life. He eats elegantly prepared vegetarian food, followed
by liberal portions of ice cream. Exercise is rare, and his
chauffeur-driven limousines turn out for even the shortest
His only boyish traits seem to be passions for water
pistols, horror movies - and those fattening mounds of ice
The guru's glossy publicity brochure refers to Him and His
Holy Family, always with a capital initial. Followers call
his possessions 'divine' - he lives in divine residences,
has his food cooked in the divine kitchens and rides in a
Ji has already dodged a grilling by India's revenue
investigators on three occasions. But when he returns to
Delhi this month he must face close questioning - or
forfeit a £5,000 bond, the 'smuggled' goods and his
top level investigation, in which Premier Mrs Indira Gandhi,
as head of India's intelligence services, is taking a
personal interest, began last November when Customs men at
Delhi Airport had a tip from America that one of the divine
bags was stuffed with jewels for the guru's mother plus
sterling, dollars and travellers' cheques.
The boy said they were nothing to do with him. Top
executives in his mission team claimed that the money was to
feed and house 350 American converts-in-the-making, who had
flown in with him in the chartered jumbo jet he called his
silver steed and were going on a three-week course at the
imposing training academy on the banks of the Ganges.
Special investigators from the revenue department have been
trying to find out just how much he is worth and how much
wealth the mission has accumulated in other countries.
It is an offence in Indian law to have a bank account abroad
without permission from the Treasury, but the guru set up in
Britain as a charitable trust which banks all the
Now the Indian Government will decide whether or not a
charity abroad benefiting Indian nationals is contravening
The Indian Special Branch has its own interest in the guru.
It fears that with or without the knowledge of the mission's
hierarchy, spies or CIA agents might use the security of the
mission as a cover.
The Indian Home Office is also watching the boy. A spokesman
said: 'We find it hard to believe that he's only 15. We
think he's nearer 18 or 19.
'If he is older than 15, we will want to know why he's
living a lie and what difference a delayed coming of age
might mean to the finances of the mission.'
The boy is just one of thousands of gurus in India - some
genuine, some quacks, all out to make a living from the
millions who believe in them.
The difference between this boy and most others is that two
years ago he realised the big money wasn't to be made in
India but in the West.
The boy's method involves a three-week course during which
devotees-to-be are allowed to work in the mission in the
daytime and attend satsangs - spiritual meetings - in the
Then one of the mahatmas - holy men -- gives a private
lecture at the end of which the worshippers, full of peace,
can say they have 'taken knowledge.'
There are about 2,000 mahatmas on the mission's books, three
or four of them at present in Britain.
headquarters is a walled fortress in Delhi. There, as in all
his missions, the guru has his own private padlocked
21-year-old American at the HQ, Gary Cashin, explained
that the guru was 'completely unattached' to his Rolls
and Mercedes. 'He really is. He wouldn't mind at all if
he had nothing.'
American Frank Donado, 20, who is collaborating with Gary to
produce a book on the boy god, added:
'One day a devotee's Volkswagen ran backwards and crashed in
Maharaj Ji's Mercedes. It was terribly damaged. The devotee
was prostrate with anguish at having damaged the car. But
the guru smiled. "Please do not worry about it. I don't mind
in the least being without it," he said.'
Of course there was another Mercedes on order next day.
Just above their sparse, Spartan room, completely devoid of
any simple comfort, where they sleep on blankets on the
stone floor, is the guru's luxurious suite.
They're not in the least envious. They believe that the guru
himself would live in their room if it were ever
But of course it never has been, nor is it likely to
talk of bliss . . . and ban sex
boy god's father was a much-loved guru who for years had
taught the Divine Light 'knowledge' to millions of people in
He died seven years ago and the boy took over, claiming: My
father's soul has passed into my body.' If the guru is 15
now, he would have been only eight then. Indian Government
officials believe he is nearer 19.
What is the Divine Light? It seems that only the premies -
those who have 'taken the knowledge' - know. They describe
the process as the mind slipping into another level of
consciousness, producing a sensation of light.
One of them said: 'When I saw knowledge I saw pure white
light. It started off like spirals which exploded into light
in my third eye you know, the psychic eye in the middle of
The guru first brought the Divine Light Mission to Britain,
where it is registered as a charity, in June 1971.
The mission's solicitor, Mr Clive Sell, says: 'I was
suspicious at first, but I am convinced now that the
movement does a great deal of good. The guru has taken a lot
of young people off drugs. I would estimate the movement in
this country is now worth about £100,000 - there is an
awful lot of money coming in.'
There are 29 ashrams - communes - in Britain, covering the
whole of the country. Daily Mail reporters visited a random
cross section and found an atmosphere of peace in all of
Bliss is a word they often use. They seem happy to have
detached themselves from material things.
There was a high percentage of young people who had kicked
the drug habit. There is no sex, no smoking, no drinking, no
meat. Husbands and wives have to live in separate
Devotee who live outside are allowed normal lives but are
expected to make contributions and recruit followers.
The mission's headquarters at Woodside Avenue, Highgate,
London, N, has two chefs ready 24 hours a day to cook for
the guru and his family.
OF A FATHER WHO LOST THREE SONS
took just nine months for the Kemp family to split up under
the influence of the boy guru.
Groundsman Mr Raymond Kemp, of Bank Lane, Roehampton,
Surrey, said : 'One minute we seemed to have a reasonably
happy family with four loving sons. Now three of them have
been taken away from us - they just laugh in our faces.'
First Chris, 22, came in contact with the mission. Within
weeks he introduced his brothers, 18-year-old Peter and
Bernard, 17. (The fourth brother, Anthony, 20, is a mentally
'Suddenly they were no longer part of our family,' says Mrs
Mary Kemp. 'They could only talk to us about the Divine
'They became very withdrawn, like zombies. All their
Interests went by the board.'
Mr and Mrs Kemp's concern has not shaken their sons'
Bernard said: 'I am truly very sorry about the way my
parents feel. I only hope they can eventually take knowledge
themselves and see what I see.'
Peter, a trainee operating theatre technician, explained: 'I
was looking for an explanation to life. Then Chris
introduced me to the teachings of the Guru Maharaj. Now all
that is important is spreading his word to others.'
Chris, who is living at an ashram in Oxford, said: 'This Is
the first time I've heard of any family upheaval. I still
love and respect my parents.'