Guru goes to ground after security scare

By Tony Keim

Appeared in the Courier-Mail dated September 7, 2002.
(c) 2002 Queensland Newspapers Pty Ltd

After John Macgregor's article published in the Good Weekend magazine and Neville Ackland's protest at the gates of Amaroo, several articles appeared in the Queensland's local press.

See also: Courier-Mail's article dated September 3, 2002.

Guru goes to ground after security scare

'It's all about surrender ... Unfortunately that includes surrendering your money' SECURITY concerns forced the Indian spiritual leader "Mahariji" Prem Pal Rawat to bunker down in the compound during this week's convention for more than 4000 devotees 60km west of Brisbane.

Conference organisers revealed the security threat when pressed on whether the no-frills "guru" was staying at a multimillion-$1.7ha riverfront mansion owned by an associated company in the western Brisbane suburb of Fig Tree Pocket.

Media consultant John Arlidge, spokesman for the guru's Elan Vital organisation, said the Mahariji had remained "on-site" at the Ivory's Rock convention centre during the four-day conference - and did not fly in and out by helicopter daily as he had in previous years.

Mr Arlidge said fears for the Mahariji's safety were "real" in the wake of allegations of fraud and other criminal activity and a protest outside the convention compound by former followers John Macgregor and Neville Ackland.

Ackland on Wednesday staged a failed bid to use his rented truck to batter his way into a convention to denounce the spiritual leader.

Ackland, a self-proclaimed "ex-premie" (follower) of the Mahariji, was stopped by police from driving into the Ivory's Rock convention centre to confront the "false guru".

John Macgregor, who claims to have been a confidant of Mr Rawat for more than 20 years, last weekend alleged the Mahariji had a secret tax haven in the Channel Islands (Jersey, UK), owned luxury homes from Brisbane's Fig Tree Pocket to South Africa, and flew money out of Australia into Swiss bank accounts.

Elan Vital, in a written statement, rejected allegations made by both men claiming they were nothing more than "disgruntled former employees".

The statement also rejected claims the Mahariji was in any way involved in criminal activity or benefited from a secret tax haven in the Channel Islands or owned luxury homes in Brisbane.

Convention organiser Cath Carroll this week said any inquiries about the centre should be referred to the site's owners Myrine Investments. However, company and property searches conducted by The Courier-Mail reveal Myrine Investments, a Channel Island company, owns not only the 529ha Ivory Rocks convention site, a neighbouring 176ha cattle breeding property and 2.2ha homesite, but also a prized multi-million $1.7ha river-front home site at 236 Jesmond Rd, Fig Tree Pocket.

Elan Vital, in a written statement released yesterday, conceded the Fig Tree Pocket property was originally purchased in 1986 by devotees of the Mahariji for his personal use.

"The Fig Tree (sic) property was originally acquired by a person unconnected with Myrine as a place for Mr Rawat to stay on visits to Australia," the statement says.

"It was subsequently transferred to Myrine to be held for Mr Rawat's use when he visits.

Elan Vital also rejected the claim the Mahariji received any payment for the convention.

Mr Ackland yesterday maintained his protest vigil outside the centre and remained defiant the Mahariji was a "fraud".

"I am one of hundreds of ex-premies of the Mahariji who came to realise he is nothing more than a fraud and fat cat who is living in the lap of luxury at the expense of his followers," Mr Ackland said.

"`It's all about surrender," he said of the Mahariji's teachings. "Unfortunately that includes surrendering your money."

The Mahariji, who has refused to give media interviews for 18 years, was yesterday unavailable for comment.


Also the following appeared in amongst the "Briefs" in Courier Mail:


September 6 * I WAS saddened by some of the coverage of the conference featuring guest speaker Maharaji. Thirty years ago, I received the techniques of self-knowledge which Maharaji kindly and freely offered. The practice of these simple techniques has sustained a rich and fulfilling life. In all my dealings with Maharaji, I have found him impeccable. As a teacher, he is inventive and perceptive with a no-nonsense approach. I have nothing but gratitude for his continuing inspiration in my life.-Gwyn Hanssen Pigott, Booval.

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