If you ask a member of a group,
if they are a member of a cult, they will answer, "No". If
you ask former members of that group, and they answer "Yes,
we were in a cult", then you should be sceptical about the
answer given by current members.
Elan Vital attempted to answer this question in their
Views FAQ on their
website (since removed, but preserved here). Although they
are selective in their criteria for what constitutes a cult,
even using their criteria, Divine Light Mission, the
predecessor of Elan Vital, was clearly a cult.
But cult membership is a little more subtle than the
criteria Elan Vital choose. Joe Whalen analyses the
definition of a cult in more detail, and describes the
process of becoming a member of the Maharaji cult, in his
excellent analysis here,
and his followup.
For more recent accounts of the process of becoming a cult
member, read a