Beginning of closed discussion between
Bob and the radio talk show host:
Radio Host: We'll be talking about the religious
cult mystique and the Divine Light Mission. If you don't
know what he Divine Light Mission is, it is an organisation
that was established by people who follow the Guru Maharaj
Ji. He is an Indian, and he came over to this country some
seven years ago to establish his mission. In that period of
time, the goals of the Divine Light Mission have changed.
The attitude of people in the Divine Light Mission has
changed and has now become something entirely different.
That difference is something that we are going to discuss
this morning with Bob Mishler. Bob, welcome to the show.
Bob Mishler: Thank you, Gary.
first trips to US in 1971 and
Host: Let's talk a little bit about this. It started
about seven years ago, is that right?
Bob: About seven and a half years ago. It was in the
summer of 1971, when he first came to the United States.
Host: And at that time, he was fourteen years
Bob: He was thirteen, actually.
Host: And his brother and his mother were selling him
as a perfect master.
Bob: Well, yes, you could say that! At that time, he
was saying that he was the perfect master. On his first trip
actually, his mother and brother did not accompany him. He
came by himself. People in the United States got their first
chance to meet them in 1972 when they came back, and it was
then apparent that they were in fact running things.
Host: All right, let's talk about this. There was a
time when he had a large number of followers.
first lectures in US (Back to index)
Bob: Yes, there was a time. In fact, when he came to
the United States in 1971, you could say that this country
was very ripe for that sort of thing. In fact, I remember
seeing him in Boulder in August of 1971. At that time, every
spiritual leader from anywhere in the world who happened to
come to the United States would come through Boulder. When
Maharaji came, at least 2,000 people came to see him on his
very first appearance at Mackie Auditorium in Boulder.
During the course of those few years, between 1971 and 1974,
we probably initiated something between 50 and 60,000 people
in the United States in Denver.
Host: That many in Denver?
Bob: In Colorado we had a large following. In fact,
in the summer of 1972 we had one program which lasted for
several days. We held it in Montrose, Colorado, in an
outdoor type thing with a stage out in a field. At that
program alone, we initiated 2,000 people.
Host: When the Guru first came over here, what was
Bob: When he first arrived, his message was that he
knew the truth and that the truth was within each and every
individual. He sometimes used to talk about that truth,
whether you called it God or something else, as the perfect
energy within each individual. He said that this was
something he could reveal to everyone. That, in fact, was
his purpose. He was called a perfect master because he had
mastered something that was perfect; presumably this perfect
energy inside us which was responsible for life. In
revealing that to other people, he was revealing the only
thing which could claim to be perfection, the primordial
energy of the universe.
He would essentially ask people to come to him and ask for
this knowledge, which would be freely given. The only thing
that was required was the sincerity on the part of the
individual asking. If you would ask sincerely, not just
because you wanted to do it out of curiosity, but because
you really wanted to know the truth about life, then he
would have this knowledge revealed to you. Actually, he
never really did any of the initiating himself; there was
always one of his disciples to do that. These disciples at
that time were called Mahatmas. In the beginning years, they
were all Indians as well.
He billed himself as a humble servant of God who was
essentially in charge with the responsibility of revealing
this knowledge to people by his father who was his guru. At
the same time, although there were some people who would
say, well, he has to be a god himself in order to be able to
reveal God, he would always deny this. He would say : "I
make no claims of this sort at all. What I am revealing - it
is not even as if I am giving you something - is something
that is there inside you. It is there inside everyone. By
recognising it, by having it revealed to you and then by
meditating on it, you can attain the peace that comes
through knowing the truth. Once you have found peace within
yourself, this is the way towards ultimate world peace".
Host: How did he reveal this truth?
Bob: Like I said, he never really actually revealed
it to anybody.
first initiation ceremonies in US (Back to
Host: How was the truth revealed?
Bob: OK, it was revealed to people in what was known
as a knowledge session. This is an initiation that takes
place with one of his disciples who has been essentially
sanctioned to perform this function. Like I said, they had a
special title. They were called Mahatmas. Presently, they
call them Initiators. That was really what their function
was; to initiate new people into this practice of
This practice of knowledge turns out to be a whole
lifestyle. At the core of it, the primary thing that was
taught to people in these initiation sessions was a form of
meditation that consisted of four techniques of
concentration. These four techniques of concentration were
supposed to reveal to you the inner light, or divine light,
within your own being, and also the divine harmony, or
vibration, that was going on inside you all the time. There
was supposed to be a divine nectar which was a source of
internal sustenance and an elixir of bliss of sorts. Of
course, the main thing was the primordial vibration itself;
the holy name or the word as spoken of in the Bible.
Host: What was the elixir?
Bob: The elixir was supposed to be this divine
Host: What was it?
Bob: First of all, you've got to understand that
we're talking about techniques that are actual physical
techniques that you practice. The physical technique for the
nectar was a yoga movement that is performed by inverting
your tongue back into your throat. Now some critics have
said that the only nectar that is experienced that way is
the post-nasal drip.
The belief is that the physical technique is just a means of
attaining some sort of transcendental awareness, so the
nectar would be something that you couldn't really describe.
You would have to experience it, and it would be the same
for the divine light and for the celestial harmony and the
primordial vibration as well.
Host: When people first came into the Divine Light
Mission, was it originally called the Divine Light Mission
or did it have another name?
Bob: It was called the Divine Light Mission in India.
When Maharaji came here, there was no organisation and in
fact he asked me to found the Divine Light Mission for him
here in the United States, which I did in September
Host: Were the people who got involved with the Guru
from all religious backgrounds?
Bob: That's correct.
converted by Bill Patterson (Back to
Host: How did you come to this?
Bob: Well, my actual coming to Maharaji took place
because of a former student of mine. I had studied yoga in
India in 1968, and when I came back to the United States, I
started teaching my friends to practice yoga. It accelerated
through my involvement with the Denver Free University.
During the course of teaching yoga through the Denver Free
University, I had a student named Bill Patterson. Bill had
attended a number of my yoga classes, and he decided that he
wanted to go to India to pursue his studies. We had talked
about his trip before he went. Anyway, to make a long story
short, he told me that when he came back he had joined a
This was, I believe, in June 1971. He told me about this 13
year old boy who was his guru. I thought it sounded very
interesting. It sounded as though the teachings that the
guru was giving Bill were in harmony with the Yogi
tradition. He told me that his guru might in fact come to
the United States. I said that if he does, be sure and let
me know as I would like to meet him. I didn't expect that he
would come so soon, but actually he did.
He came in July. He came to Los Angeles first, and within a
couple of weeks he was in Boulder. When he came, of course
Bill asked me to come. As soon as I went there, Bill
immediately showed me into the room and I met Maharaji. I
was impressed with him as he spoke with a great deal of
confidence and authority. For the most part, I felt that
unlike a lot of other Yogis who had come to the West and
were essentially commercialising the Yogi tradition in my
opinion, he put no price tag on the meditation. He used to
say that you can't put a price on something that's
He said that something that's this important for people to
have, you have to give to everyone freely, and the only
requirement is that they be sincere in wanting to know the
truth and then it will be revealed to them. I felt that he
was somebody that was sincere, and when he said that his
mission was to spread this meditation as widely as possible,
I offered to help in any way that I could.
Host: Would it be fair to say that you became a
follower of his?
Bob: Yes, it would be, because in fact he was the
leader, and in order to assist him in any way, you had to be
premies selected for initiation (Back to
Host: All right. Initially, people were coming to him
to receive this knowledge. I understood that they received
it in a blinding flash of light, that there were allegations
to this effect
Bob: Well, like I said, you had these initiation
sessions. First of all, you had to be selected for them. In
the beginning, you would listen to Maharaji give satsangs
Bob: Excuse me - that's a group term within the
Divine Light Mission. It comes from the Hindi which roughly
translated means 'company of truth'. It's the name that's
applied to the lectures that the guru would give. In fact
satsang is something very important in the Divine Light
Mission practice of knowledge. Anyway, you would listen to
him giving his lectures - the satsangs - and you would also
listen to some of his devotees also giving these satsang
After you were convinced that it was something that you
wanted to try, and that you sincerely wanted to know, then
you would make that known. You would ask to receive
knowledge and then you would be selected, depending upon
whether they thought you were ready or not, whoever they
were. They at that time were a Mahatma and one or two of the
devotees who were assisting him. As soon as you were
selected, you would get to sit in one of these initiation
sessions, which sometimes lasted anywhere from six to eight
or ten hours.
Host: OK, I have talked to people - as a matter of
fact I met the Guru Maharaj Ji's mother and I believe that
was in 1972 - and there was a get-together that you had put
together at Redrocks also. That was also in 1972, I
Bob: Yes, that was in 1972.
devotees don't have to leave religions (Back
Host: I had the chance to be there and thought it was
interesting, but not any more interesting than anything else
that I had heard. But it was amazing to me to watch the
young people who were involved, how devoted they were and
how this translated and somehow kept pace, always within
keeping of their formal religions. If they were Catholic,
they had a very Catholic view of the whole procedure. If you
didn't accept the Guru Maharaj Ji when the light was offered
to you, then you weren't going to be saved, very much like
some religions today. That whole thing changed. How did it
Bob: Well, I don't know whether that appeal changed
really very much at all. It's just that in the early days,
Maharaji was very adamant about how he had not come to start
another religion. In fact, he felt that what he was offering
should not interfere with your present religious beliefs at
all. If anything, it should enhance them in that you would
suddenly, for the first time, really know what the Bible was
talking about because you would be experiencing it
The idea was that he was doing something that would unite
all the religions of the world. Therefore, people were
encouraged to bring their religious tradition into the
Divine Light Mission. That's probably what accounted for the
thing that you were observing in the way that people would
interpret the Divine Light Mission practices in terms of
their own religious background. I think that, to a certain
extent, they would still probably tell that to people who
were interested, or trying to get interested, in the Divine
Light Mission now.
devotees always left their religions (Back to
In the meantime, it has become a religion in its own right.
I don't think that anybody could deny that. They have a
whole body of dogma; a complete lifestyle, a way of life
which they call Knowledge. It's not simply a singular kind
of experience that you translate into your everyday life, as
it was purported to be in the beginning, it's a whole system
of idol worship where you must accept the guru as God.
Host: Today, what they are saying is that the guru is
the reincarnation of God. He is God. He is not simply a
messenger; he is, as the Christians, or other religions
would say, a Messiah. In the Christian sense, he is like
Bob: I think that would be pretty much what they
would say. He is an embodiment of that power, and that power
is God. That's what we have come to know as God. In India,
you have some people argue with you for a long time saying,
"no, no, no, he is greater than God". For us, that loses
value in that we tend to interpret the word God as being
that which is all-powerful. That's how they see him, as an
embodiment of that all-powerful force which created and
sustains and enlightens all being.
Host: What happened as you saw these changes taking
place in the Divine Light Mission, and really the embodiment
of what the guru represented changing? How did that affect
Bob: Well, it was a little bit more complex for me in
terms of the changes I went through during that period
myself. In general, it affected me in that I felt that we
had a responsibility to be what we purported ourselves to
be. To change it into something else was not something that
I agreed with. Ultimately, my disagreement with Maharaji,
particularly on this basis, led to my resignation.
During a large part of the period that I was involved, I
essentially went along the prevailing belief structure.
Whether Guru Maharaj Ji was God or not really wasn't
important. The important thing was that if you were devoted
to him, you followed him absolutely. Whatever he said, even
if it didn't make sense to you, you would find a way to make
sense of it. I used to do that myself as well. I certainly
did that a great deal for the devotees as well. I was one of
the major spokespeople of the movement.
between DLM and Jonestown mass suicide (Back
Host: The People's Temple hit the news a while back
with a mass suicide, among other things. Shortly after that
information hit us through the media, you made some
statements regarding the Divine Light Mission and some of
the practices of it which you felt corresponded to the
People's Temple. Could you tell us about that?
Bob: Yes. First of all, let me explain my reasoning
there. When I left the Divine Light Mission in 1977, I felt
that I personally couldn't agree with what the guru was
doing. I had come to that conclusion probably a year and a
half before that. I never really lived with the guru except
that I travelled in the same circle as him. I never really
lived with him or became the kind of personal confidant that
I was to him until after he split with his family.
There was a period during 1974 when there was an outright
war, really, in the Divine Light Mission, between his mother
and elder brother, whom you met. Maharaji took control of
the mission. During this time, he began to rely on me very
heavily, and then after that I lived with him. In living
with him, I began to see a lot of the excesses in the
devotion and practices that I felt were detrimental to the
spiritual development of the devotees.
I had attributed these to his mother and brother, and with
them out of the way, that didn't necessarily need to be the
case any longer. This was in my opinion, at least, as I had
always found Maharaji to be very sincere and reasonable. In
fact, during that period, we did decide to make some
changes. At the beginning, well, around the end of 1975, we
started what I would call a major change of emphasis in the
Divine Light Mission.
changes mind about retiring in 1976 (Back to
This was something that Maharaji and I arrived at as being
necessary not only for the devotees but also for his own
welfare as well. That was to change this belief that he was
God, by actually coming out and denying it, and by taking
some responsibility to de-program our own membership away
from this belief. This was so that he wouldn't become the
kind of cult leader that in fact he has become today.
About half way through 1976, Maharaji got very insecure
about what was going to happen to him if we continued with
this. He realised that he was going to lose his automatic
hold over the devotees that he had had up until that
Host: Was this a conscious thing on his part?
Bob: Oh, yes. This was a very conscious thing. We
discussed it, and we outlined all the different perspectives
that would be involved. At the time, what I had planned for
him and with him, and up to the middle of 1976 he was
largely agreeing with, was to use a lot of the money that
had come to him in the form of gifts from his followers, to
set up some investments. This would enable him to become
financially independent from the continued support of the
He had grown accustomed to a very luxurious lifestyle. A lot
of the necessity of keeping the members believing that he
was God was to ensure that they would continue to support
him in this lifestyle. If it meant that he was going to have
to make any sacrifices in this lifestyle (and it had become
apparent by the middle of 1976 that this was going to be the
case) then he didn't really want to have to do that.
That's where we came to a parting of the ways, so to speak.
As a result of that, I just left, because I recognised that
I couldn't change him. If he wanted to change on his own,
then that was something I was very willing to assist with.
If he wasn't going to change, then I certainly wasn't going
to continue to stay while he turned what was originally a
mission to spread meditation to people freely into something
that solicited donations to do this type of work and had all
of its funds essentially going to support his luxurious
So I resigned from the Divine Light Mission in January 1977,
but for the last month or so of 1976 I really wasn't
involved. It was understood that I was resigning. I didn't
say anything, because at the time, I felt that a lot of the
things that I knew really wouldn't be that well received. I
had been the head of the Mission, after all, during that
whole period, and people had all sorts of different
conceptions about me. Really, I didn't feel that it was of
any interest to people other than the present members, and
most of them really didn't want to know the kind of things
that I knew.
authority 'dangerous and corrupting' (Back to
After that incident in Guyana there were just so many
striking similarities between what had happened with the
People's Temple group and how it had changed over the years
and the kind of psychological deterioration that Reverend
Jones had purportedly gone through. The whole belief
structure, this separate reality that they existed in...
Host: His people...did they go through a suicide
Bob: No, I don't mean that there actually was a
suicide pact or anything like that. What I meant was that
this kind of belief, absolute power and control in one
person, and belief that no matter what this person says, it
must be obeyed. That kind of power, the impact that power
has, even on the person who has it. The kind of corrupting
influence that kind of power over others has on an
I'd see Maharaji go through a tremendous psychological
deterioration during the time that I lived with him. These
things were, I felt, his private affairs on one level. I
also felt that the premies' beliefs were their own private
affairs on another level.
attempts to hide behaviour (Back to
Host: What is a premie?
Bob: A premie is a name for a member of the Divine
Light Mission. That comes from the Hindi word prem which
means love. Premie roughly is someone who is a lover of God,
Guru Maharaj Ji, whatever you want to say. A lover of truth.
Anyway, I made this statement, and the reason I made it was
that I felt that there was a lot that needed to be pointed
out. These were things that were deliberately hidden from
the members of the members of the Divine Light Mission.
Host: How did he take advantage of his position other
than simply to acquire some fairly worldly goods?
Bob: Well, taking advantage is a matter of
interpretation. I know that any criticism you make of Guru
Maharaj Ji can be rationalised by his very devoted
followers, simply because they give all matter of license to
him in that if he is God, well , he can do anything.
That means that, to my own way of thinking, it is very
hypocritical to teach one lifestyle as a means of fulfilment
to people, as a spiritual truth, and then live entirely
opposite to that yourself. That becomes even more
hypocritical, when in fact you don't just do the opposite,
but you also make a great deal of effort and take a great
deal of care in making sure that nobody knows this
a womaniser (Back to index)
Host: There were rumors, and I don't know whether
these rumors were based on any kind of fact or not, that he
took advantage of several young women who were members of
the Divine Light Mission, because of his position. To your
knowledge, is any of that true?
Bob: No, to my knowledge, that's not true. Although
it was true that a number of his Mahatmas did that, and we
had a number of problems with some of the Mahatmas on that
level, I am not aware of Maharaji taking advantage of women
opulent lifestyle (Back to index)
Host: Is the Maharaji a rich man today?
Bob: I don't know what his personal worth is, but you
would have to say that he is a rich man. That might sound a
bit ambiguous, but his whole financial condition is a bit
ambiguous, because he has so much of his wealth being
provided for him by the Church.
He has a great deal of income that comes to him in the
tax-free form of gifts from his followers. How he uses that;
well, when I was there, he was spending it. It was just
amazing how much money he could spend.
Host: He has several sports cars, I understand, I
mean people gave him things.
Bob: Yes, and he also had the Divine Light Mission
buy him things. Whenever he wanted something, it really
didn't matter whether we had the money for it or not. We
were to get it, somehow or another.
Host: I remember when he bought a Mercedes. There was
a lot of flak about that.
Bob: Yes, well, by the time I left, he must have had
at least three Mercedes, a couple of Rolls Royces, and least
three or four other luxurious automobiles in the 30 or
40,000 dollar range. I mean, it wasn't just a question of
having one, he had a whole fleet.
afraid of Bob Mishler (Back to index)
Host: How do the members of the Divine Light Mission
see you today? Do they see you as a Judas?
Bob: Well, I suppose you would have to ask them. They
have a special name for someone like me which, I guess is a
sort of a Judas. The call it a Munmat. That is someone who
has become anti-guru. I think that with the exception of a
few, and it really is just a few, of the present members who
still believe in Guru Maharaj Ji who have had the courage to
talk to me and still relate to me, most of them are really
afraid to talk to me. This is because I'm seen as someone
who is completely in their minds.
The mind is a very dangerous thing to a premie. That's
symbolic of everything that makes you doubt the truth which
Guru Maharaj Ji has revealed to you. In fact, he has even
commanded his following never to allow any room for doubt in
their minds. They are supposed to control their minds
through the practice of meditation. So, to talk to someone
like myself, who is completely in the mind, supposedly,
would be a very dangerous thing to do, because I could
Beginning of open discussion between Bob M., the Host,
and random telephone callers:
Caller #1: It's really a relief to hear somebody
who has left one of these cult religions rather than being
on the air to convert people. What is your purpose now in
speaking out against the Church? Are you just simply stating
your own case or are you involved in trying to win other
people away from the group, to get them to look at it more
Bob: I think that I have to agree with you in that I
am trying to get people to look at him more critically now,
particularly people who are in a position to influence
current members. I don't expect that very many current
members are going to even really listen to what I have to
say, but maybe their families will, maybe some of their
In fact, since I made the statement after the incident in
Guyana (mass suicide of cult members), I've had phone calls
continuously from parents and concerned friends and family
members from all over the country. They have been asking if
I could give information or they have just wanted to talk to
me about what they can do, how can they talk to their loved
ones who are still involved, because they are really at a
loss to know how to reach them. It's such an all-inclusive
Caller #1: Is it a problem for you to get them to
listen to you? Is it hard to get them alone? Do they just
hang around with each other for the most part?
Bob: Yes, they have their own world in a way.
Caller #1: I tried to talk to them myself. I would
characterise them basically as being young, not street-wise
or hip, in fear or confused, with very little ability to
cope with the world outside of a group. Another thing I am
thinking about is perhaps they are looking for the good
parents that they didn't have. Maybe they've come from
basically unhappy family situations, which isn't that
unusual. It might even be typical, you know, people in
Bob: Yes, I think that certainly what you have said
would apply to some of the people involved. It's hard to
capture everybody with a generalization.
Caller #1: Oh, sure, I've met some people who are
basically intelligent. I was talking to some guy who had
advanced degrees. I went to one of the satsangs. The guy
sounded pretty intelligent, and I said: "What about the
guru's behaviour? What about the fact that he's overweight?
What about the fact that he's had speeding tickets in his
Maserati? He's a young guy and he got married to a woman
maybe ten years older than himself and he's already got
several kids. He seems to carry on a lot". This guy was
saying: "This doesn't concern me that much". I guess
different people in the church have their own degrees of
what they will accept, just like in any other church.
Host: However, there are professional people,
attorneys, certainly not your wandering little lost souls. I
don't know whether that is still the case, but it was at the
time that I was familiar with the Divine Light Mission.
There were also people who were very street-wise.
Caller #1: Just because a person is a lawyer or
something doesn't mean that he's not an easy mark. I mean,
look at the psychics, like Uri Geller. They took in some
scientists, as they knew how a person could be fooled by
optical illusions, etc. The only ones that could show up
these guys like Uri Geller were the magicians - the real
sceptics. They knew the various tricks - the hand is quicker
than the eye, etc. They always said: "Well, let me be in the
room when Uri Geller is performing one of his tricks and
I'll show you how I can do the same thing".
Host: Well, they can do the same thing by trick.
However, there were a number of studies with Geller. I don't
want to go into that.
Bob: I think that what you are talking about is that
there are a lot of different reasons why people need to
believe in something. One other aspect that you must
consider is when a person does believe that things do happen
for that person. That has happened to a lot of people who
have been involved in the Divine Light Mission. They have
experiences that are very satisfying and fulfilling to
The only thing that I object to is the way they are taught
to attribute whatever experience they have to the guru
himself. This is actually where they are actually being
taken advantage of.
Caller #1: I believe that each person is God, and
that God is in man. It is up to all of us to find the God in
ourselves and develop it to be best of our ability. Do the
best you can, and good will come to you'. I think that's
basically my own belief, and I was wondering if your guest
has come around to this point of view if he is still working
for divinity somewhere.
Bob: Well, I don't think I was ever really looking
for divinity except within myself. Essentially, Maharaji was
teaching that in the very beginning himself. It's only over
the course of time that it has changed and become an idol
Caller #1: I remember in 1971 back in New York, from
the very first, the impression of the advertising was that
the guru was God, yet he didn't say that himself, everyone
else around him said that he was God.
Bob: Well, again, that just shows the latitude that
there was. You could believe he was God if you wanted to. I
didn't really want to believe that he was God, and so I
Host (to caller): OK, thank you. Bye bye.
Caller #2: Bob, I assume that you are out of the
Divine Light Mission altogether?
Bob: Yes, that's correct.
drinking alcohol to relieve stress (Back to
Caller #2: What are you doing now? Have you changed
your spiritual beliefs substantially since that point? In
other words, what did you see or not see in the guru that
caused you to get out of it?
Bob: Well, I essentially saw that the guru wasn't
what he was being purported to be. In fact, not only was he
not God or divine in any way, but he wasn't really even
capable of guiding his followers. He didn't know enough
about the meditation himself really to be able to even
instruct the disciples that were teaching meditation on his
behalf, when critical questions came up.
Even though he was supposedly revealing the means to perfect
peace to all of his following, he himself had tremendous
problems of anxiety which he combated with alcohol. It even
developed into a high blood pressure condition caused by
essential hypertension, which is a form of internalising
anxiety. So here was a man who was supposedly revealing
perfect peace to everyone else, and I figured he couldn't
even guide his own life, let alone guide others.
Caller #2: How could people ever think that a 15 year
old kid could be God in the first place is beyond me. The
accounts that we have of Jesus in the New Testament are so
Host: Remember only that those accounts are long
after the fact, and they are as his followers saw him, and
not necessarily as he really was.
don't know what Maharaji is like 'off-stage'
(Back to index)
Bob: Also remember that Maharaji puts on a good show,
and the theatrics involved are very appealing to the kind of
mass consciousness that you get in the crowds he appears in.
Most of the members have never really seen him as he
actually is. They have only seen him under very well-staged
and planned conditions.
Caller #2: I think the bottom line about the whole
thing is that the Scripture says that in the latter days
many false Christs will come out, professing themselves to
Host: Except we've had those for the last 2,000
years, for the last 3,000 years.
Caller #3: Bob, may I compliment you on choosing the
most gullible people in this universe for the adventure of
Host: I wonder what that meant.
Bob: Well, if anything, I think they are
self-selected. The call is put out, and maybe it is gullible
people who come. I think it is people who are maybe have as
their one great fault that they are naive and innocently
Host: Isn't that true of really almost any totally
devoted religious follower?
Bob: I would say so. In that sense, I don't really
feel that they are that much different than anybody else. I
think that some of the people that I met are some of the
finest people I have ever known. It's a shame, in a way,
that they are being deceived, but nevertheless, as I tried
to explain to one of the other callers, they get a lot of
benefits from their association with each other and
certainly they have their own experience.
The problem is when you see people taking such a toll upon
themselves, because the nature of their belief is such that
when anything goes right in their lives, well, that's the
grace of Guru Maharaj Ji. When anything goes wrong, well,
that's themselves. That's their minds. So they are kind of
in a bind, where anything that's beneficial they have to
credit to the guru, and anything that's bad, well, they know
that they're just not trying hard enough. So a lot of them
have a great deal of difficulty. They are very hard
A lot of the professional people that you were mentioning
before had to give up their professions, simply because part
of their calling now is that they must attend these
festivals that the guru has all the time. In fact, he's
having one here in Denver in about two weeks' time. They
have to travel all over the country and to other parts of
the world to attend these on average of every three or four
months. Consequently, they can't hold a job. They can't
maintain a profession. They get very impoverished as a
result of this. They have to not only pay to get into these
festivals, but they are also expected to make a cash
contribution to the guru, when they go through the ritual of
kissing his feet.
So these kinds of beliefs do take a toll on the people, even
though they may feel that they are getting something from
it. It's very captivating, and there is a sinister element
to it that is hidden from people.
Caller 4: Everything is within yourself, within your
body and mind. I agree with that, as far as he was
preaching. But how do explain his character? Do you explain
him as a magician, or somebody who has extraordinary power?
Of course, I've never seen his performance.
Bob: If you ever knew anything about him, you would
know that he inherited a following from his father. It was
his father who really started the Divine Light Mission. When
he was eight years old, his father died and he was put upon
the throne of his father. So he had a tremendous following
in India, and he had played this role for that following for
five years before he ever showed up in this country.
So he had had a lot of practice, and it's a kind of a mass
consciousness phenomenon that takes place. In a crowd,
people are receptive to images that they might not really be
receptive to in a conversation one-on-one; at least, they
are impacted in a way by those images. He used to tell his
story to a receptive crowd of eager seekers who wanted more
insight into their own spiritual practice.
He was saying the kind of things that you could relate to,
and there was a kind of reaction that took place between the
crowd and him. He was portrayed in such a way that he was
the master. He was the one who was sitting on the throne up
on the stage.
Caller #4: So what you are saying is that every
thirteen year old boy who would have that type of training
and background could be able to perform that way.
Bob: I'm not saying that everyone would be able to.
Obviously, you would have to have certain aptitude for
Caller #4: And charisma.
Bob: Yes. Charisma is the concept we are talking
about. In fact, it's not only the capacity on the part of
the individual to speak with absolute authority, but it must
also be reciprocated by the crowd. The crowd must be
receptive to it.
For example, I have been with this same person in lots of
situations where he would not seem significant. You wouldn't
notice him. In fact, for the most part, he had a very
difficult time with just getting people's attention or
handling normal day-to-day interaction with people. When he
was out on the stage on that throne, speaking into the
microphone and being amplified, he had the charisma.
Host: There have been many young people who have been
religious leaders in the past. There is a young kid now who
Bob: Krishnamurti was another example of someone who
was picked out at an early age to play that role. Of course,
when he got older, he realised that wasn't correct. He bowed
out. I sort of hold that out for Maharaji too. Maybe
someday, he'll let these people go and he'll quit squeezing
them for their money. It would probably be in everybody's
best interests if he would do that. He hasn't reached that
point yet. [Editor's Note: Click here
to read Krishnamurti's resignation speech.]
Caller #4: I sure appreciate your effort in sharing
all your experiences and thoughts with the public. I hope
more people listen to you and don't fall into something that
Bob: Thank you.
Caller #5: Hello. I am a Christian calling from
Albuquerque. I assume you are Jewish, is that correct? (to
Host: Yes. My statement, though, would apply to any
Caller #5: Well, I am a Christian, and it kind of
bothered me because I know that as a Jew, you don't accept
Jesus as your Messiah. I'd say that the differences between
Jesus and Maharaji are substantial.
Host: Well, let me preface what I am going to say by
saying that I don't want to change anybody's religious
belief into anything or away from anything. One of the
responsibilities that we have as individuals is to recognise
our freedom of choice, and to recognise also the
similarities in all religious movements.
That same thing is true in Christianity, or the Divine Light
Mission, or in various times in Jewish history when there
have been Jewish Messiahs that have popped up. They
developed a tremendous following; there were numbers of
them. The same thing is true in Islam and Hinduism. You have
to recognise that aspect of all religious philosophy.
Caller #5: I am glad that you have brought that point
out. It's not that I'm afraid that Jesus can't stand up with
Buddha, Mohammed, Maharaji or any of these individuals. I
believe that the Bible stands on its own merit. The
scepticism of myself or anyone else cannot reduce the fact
that Jesus, I believe, was who he said he was.
Host: The important thing here is that you believe.
As long as you believe, that is fine. But it is a system of
belief, because in any religion, there ain't no proof!
Caller #5: Well, as they say, the proof is in the
Host: Well, that isn't necessarily true. I think that
ultimately whatever you believe in, if you believe in it
strongly enough and feel that it changes your life, then it
provides satisfaction for you. Really, that's all a religion
Caller #5: I think that it's possible to be sincere,
but it's also possible to be sincerely wrong, as he is
proving very well this morning.
Bob: I don't think that it's as simple as being
sincerely wrong. One thing you don't have the capacity to
do, except through your own faith, is to put Jesus to the
test. In your faith, you can do that. With the premies, the
members of the Divine Light Mission, they can in fact put
Maharaji to the test because he is here.
They tend to rationalise everything that he does. I lived
with him and I saw him as he actually is, not as he is
staged to be. In doing that, I saw that he isn't what he
purports himself to be. To that extent, I don't even think
that he is sincerely wrong, I think that he is deliberately
Host: You see, we don't have people around from the
early foundations of Judaism that we can put on the grill
and who are willing to come forward, because they are dead!
The same thing is true of Christianity, or Hinduism, or
Islam, or anything else. We don't have those people around.
So all we have are the books about them.
There will be a time in the future when the guru will no
longer be around, and when the Bob Mishlers will no longer
be around. At that point, what will the followers of the
guru believe, and how big will it become?
Caller #5: I believe that there is more to life than
just this one world. I believe that, based on the Bible,
each and every one of us will give account to God someday. I
believe in the person of Jesus Christ. This of course would
relate to Maharaji, in that what our faith is placed in will
determine our eternal destiny. We all have to believe, but
we all have to have the proper belief and have it channelled
in the right area.
Host: Thank you. Do you have any comment, Bob?
Bob: Well, you said it. Our belief is a personal
Caller #6: I am just really confused right now about
Maharaji. I didn't actually receive the knowledge, but I
went to a couple of those seminars. I've just been really
confused about what to think about the whole thing. Since I
dropped out of it, I feel like I may have been sort of
brainwashed into it, and yet maybe not. I was halfway
believing that stuff for a while. Now I'm just at a point
where I'm confused about what to think of the whole
Bob: Well, the people who are trying to convince you
that he is God probably really believe that. The thing is,
they don't know who he is. There are very few people who do,
because he keeps who he is very well hidden from people. He
plays that role and he wants you to believe that he is
If you believe that he is your Lord, then you become his
willing slave. You completely dedicate your life to him. In
the course of serving him, of dedicating your life to him,
you provide his means of support and income. That's really
what's at the core of it. It's sad, because there's no
provision being made for these people.
There are so many of them in his ashrams. That word is
roughly equivalent to the English word 'monastery'. He has a
number of people living in them in a state of poverty,
chastity and obedience. These people give all of their fruit
of their labour to him.
Some of them are probably under the impression that he is
using it to spread his knowledge, to spread the practice of
meditation and the means of inner peace to the people of the
world. In fact, that's really not what happens. Most of the
money just goes to support him in his lifestyle.
As far as the brainwashing aspect, well, it is similar to
brainwashing in the sense that you have a great deal of
social pressure. Usually, people that do get involved, and I
would guess that this was the same for you, get involved
because of other people.
You're always in a situation where there are a lot more
people around who believe then there are people who don't.
Just the sheer number of people around you who believe, all
talking about how they thought the same things that you
thought, they had all the same doubts, etc, etc, and
continuing to testify that now they know, now they have the
It's all set up that you really must go along with it if you
want to continue to have that sort of social interaction
with that group of people. As far as being an aspirant; even
that condition makes you vulnerable to the pressures to
conform, because you're in a situation where you're seeking
The biggest approval of all is being selected as being ready
to be initiated into the 'perfect knowledge'. Of course,
nowadays, I guess that's probably why you had to leave. You
have to accept him as God before they initiate you. You have
to essentially take the whole religion and accept it before
you have even got any inkling of what the experience that
they are talking about is.
That's just the reverse of the way is started. In the
beginning days, he used to say: 'You'd be a fool if you
accepted anything that anybody says about me before you
experience this knowledge'. Of course, now, they won't even
initiate you until you accept this.
Caller #6: Did you actually experience the knowledge
while you were involved in this and living with him? Did you
really have good experiences from that? Did you really feel
happier in you life? Or did it just get you more confused
until you finally decided that it wasn't for you?
Bob: I think meditation is something that could be of
value to anyone who could learn these relatively simple
practices to be able to focus their concentration inward and
enhance their own consciousness in that manner. I still feel
there is a value in that.
But the way that it is being taught in the Divine Light
Mission now, this whole way of life... it's a whole
religious dogma that goes along with it. I think that's very
detrimental. In fact, meditation - even the way they
encourage people to practice it - can be detrimental. They
encourage people to use meditation to suppress their minds,
their questioning, their doubting.
This to me is something that is not necessary to attain
peace. There is a certain amount of uncertainty that exists
in the world, and you don't have to eliminate that in order
to have peace. To me, this a distortion of the Yogic
practices that were essentially at the core of what was
being taught originally.
It's being done deliberately now, because what they want
people to do is find fulfilment in the belief that they are
saved by accepting Guru Maharaj Ji as their Lord. Then, the
only purpose in their life is to serve him. That means just
working at your job for two or three months at a time, and
then going to his festivals.
Caller #6: Another thing I'm really confused about is
all those kind people giving him all this money. Was it
really just a big financial racket for him to get rich? Does
he really want people to find peace?
Bob: Well, the kind of peace he's offering is not
real peace. It's called annihilation of your individuality.
If you can call that peace... well, I guess a frontal
lobotomy would do the same thing. It would be a lot quicker,
and would probably have very sure results.
He wants people to continue working because it's by them
coming to the festivals, paying their admissions and giving
their donations when they're kissing his feet that he makes
his money. He doesn't have any other income. He lives a
very, very extravagant lifestyle.
Caller #7: There are just a couple of things
bothering me. Firstly, you have a man here (Bob Mishler) who
says that because he sees wrong in the Divine Light Mission,
that makes it wrong for everybody. Therefore, it is wrong
for everybody because it is just objectively wrong.
Bob: Well, I didn't really say that; you're
attributing that, but go on.
Caller #7: Well, it just seemed to me that because
you were saying that it couldn't possibly be right, it was
evil and bad for anybody to be in it, because they were
going to lose their individuality, their personality, all
kinds of things. It seems to me that you are starting on a
road towards anti-religion in general, because all religions
do this to some extent or another. They ask that you believe
in something that cannot be proved. If examined closely, it
may even be unlikely.
Host: Well, yes, but understand something. Firstly,
Bob was President of the Divine Light Mission from 1971 to
1977. His differences with the Divine Light Mission are not
over practices of meditation, but over the financial aspects
of the mission itself, and over the motivation of the
Caller #7: What motivates the guru? Possibly only the
guru could answer that.
Host: Well, he had an opportunity (and I don't know
whether you heard it earlier in the show) to find out
because he lived with the guru.
Caller #7: I didn't hear that part. But the thing
that bothered me was that the financial aspects. He's
obviously getting donations from everybody. So does any
Host: But does any church then use those donations to
have Maseratis and Mercedes? Do the ministers of the
churches lead an opulent lifestyle? Do they want to continue
with it only so that they can? You didn't hear the beginning
of the show. Those were some of the inside things that were
discussed in meetings that Bob had with the guru.
Caller #7: One of the reasons my father left the
Presbyterian church was because ministers were kept in large
mansions in the best part of town.
Host: Did you hear what I just now said?
Caller #7: Yes...
Host: It had to do with the motivation of the guru.
His motivation. The guru's reasons why.
Caller #7: OK. The other thing that bothered me: a
couple of people have come on and said that the guru is
nowhere like Christ. At the risk of sounding pedantic, I
must say that Christ was supposed to be (at least, when I
was taught) 100 percent man as well as 100 percent God.
Also, he was famed for going to parties, keeping company
with moneylenders, and changing water into wine.
Host: Are you a member of the Divine Light
Caller #7: No.
Host: OK, I'm just curious. There are similarities,
you're right. I wouldn't argue with that.
Caller #7: It's just that so many people are saying
that Christ wasn't human. That seems an atrocity to me.
That's about all I have to say.
Host: OK, thank you. Bye bye.
Caller #8: Bob, I wonder if you'd go along (and I
think you will) with the thought I have that we wouldn't
have any cult without a leader with exceptional charisma.
Would you go along with that?
Bob: Well as I explained before, charisma is a
by-product of the individual in the crowd.
Caller #8: Well, assuming it's a by-product, an
exceptional leader then, say.
Bob: Well, to follow what you are saying to its
logical conclusions, then presumably if you got rid of the
leader, the flock would disband, and there would be no
Caller #8: I'm not talking about getting rid of them,
I'm talking about their existence in the first place.
Bob: I'm trying to bring it back to that. There may
be certain dynamics of different groups that necessitate a
Caller #8: We don't have a group of any size without
a leader of some kind, do we? Even the Republican Party and
the Democratic Party does!
Bob: I think that what I'm trying to address was your
original question that you've got to have some kind of
exceptional person with charisma.
Caller #8: If you have a cult, the leader is likely
to have exceptional charisma.
Bob: That would certainly be a by-product of that
interaction between the leader and the group.
Caller #8: With your experience with the guru and a
cult, do you see any similarity between that group, the
group that Jim Jones had, Scientology, or, in the present
instance, what is happening in Iran with Khomeini?
Bob: I see a lot of similarities with Jim Jones. In
fact, the aspects of his own personal psychological
degeneration that were publicized after the incident in
Guyana were very strikingly similar to a similar sort of
psychological decaying process I saw Maharaji going through
myself when I was living with him.
As far as the phenomenon taking place with Khomeini and
certainly in our social movement, I don't even think you
have to limit it to religious figures. It can also happen
with political figures, or any case where an ideology
becomes a major component in assembling a mass of people who
then look to one person to take their lead from. It
certainly happened with Hitler. I'd say there were a lot of
Caller #8: Some of us see a considerable difference
between an ideology and a religion.
Bob: I agree with you, there are differences. But I
think that the similarities are in terms of the behaviour of
the crowds of people who follow.
Caller #9: Mr Mishler, I've been listening to you
speaking about the Guru Maharaj Ji. I'd like to compliment
you on your courage to walk away from such a situation. I
assume that it was rather difficult for you.
Bob: It was a pretty difficult thing to do.
Caller #9: And quite painful?
Bob: Yes, I would say it was very painful as
Caller #9: Assuming you were looking for something
just like millions of others, some kind of truth...
Bob: It's a hard thing to give up your dreams, when
you realise that they didn't turn out the way you had
Caller #9: A lot of that happens with different
religions to other people, the same for myself. I have this
feeling that you are being marauded with phone calls from
people that don't seem to quite understand. In other words,
they are saying that they wouldn't make the same mistake,
which we are all capable of doing. I just wanted to say that
I think you are very brave and a very strong person to be
able to have that sort of insight.
Bob: Thank you.
Caller #10: I've been listening to your program. What
you are saying about the guru is really interesting. I've
attended a few of the satsang meetings. To me it always
seems ridiculous how the premies all seem to be cut out of
the same mould. Why is that?
Bob: It's not so much that they have been cut out of
the same mould. It's that they have been re-moulded into the
same mould. You'll find that there is a tremendous amount of
diversity in the backgrounds of the members in the Divine
Light Mission. Over a period of time, they are really
re-programed into a whole new way of looking at things.
I think one way to look at it is to view the Divine Light
Mission as a sub-culture. It has its own perspective on
reality. People are in fact finally assimilated into that
sub-cultural group. That accounts for the similarity you see
Caller #10: Another thing is that somewhere along the
line I heard that there is basically a conflict throughout
his own family. I take it that after his father died, he
supposedly was the one that became the new guru. Somewhere
someone told me that his brother believed that he was. Is
there any truth to that?
was selected to succeed his father (Back to
Bob: Well, that's a very interesting story. I don't
know if we have time to go into it. Gary's nodding so I'll
try and explain it very quickly. The story as it is told to
the Divine Light Mission members is that when guru was going
to go into his Maha Somadi - he doesn't just die, you see,
he transcends into some other dimension - he had to pass on
the mantle of spiritual authority that he bore.
He indicated that it was to be his younger son who was going
to succeed him and become the Guru Maharaj Ji. What actually
happened was that when the guru died, there were some very
dubious circumstances surrounding his death, but that's
another story as well.
His mother, the former guru's wife, who was known as Mataji
and was part of the so-called Holy Family before they split
apart, wanted to ascend the throne herself. At the father's
funeral, at which time the new guru was supposed to be
proclaimed, she was in a meeting with the governing body and
some of the very influential devotees - the Mahatmas -
arguing this point view.
She had one Mahatma who was very influential arguing on her
behalf. Most of the governing body was resisting this,
because they were saying that it flaunted the Hindu
tradition that the 'perfect master' must in fact be a man.
They couldn't go over to a 'holy mother' kind of belief
structure when all along they had been operating in this
'perfect master' one.
While this was going on, some other younger and not quite so
influential but nonetheless aggressive Mahatmas had a much
closer relationship with the younger son. The one who was
most instrumental was a Mahatma known as Mahatma
Sampuranand. They seized upon the opportunity of absence
while this argument was going on behind closed doors in
another part of the Ashram.
They put the youngest child who was eight years old at the
time - the Guru Maharaj Ji that we're talking about tonight
- on the throne and crowned him. He was already accepted as
the guru by the devotees by the time that they had finally
come to an agreement in this other meeting that was taking
In this meeting, they had decided to put the eldest son on
the throne, because that was in line with Hindu tradition
that the eldest son always inherits from the father. This
eldest son would then be under the control of the mother
anyway, as he was about thirteen or fourteen at the time.
The mother finally agreed to that.
When they came out, they were really shocked to find that
the youngest son was already sitting on the throne, wearing
the crown and already accepted by the devotees. So they
accepted this, but nonetheless there was the enmity that
existed between the eldest son, who felt that his
inheritance was robbed, and the younger son.
That dynamic eventually exploded in 1974. The mother then,
at that point, when the youngest son was really defying her
authority, said she'd back the eldest son now. But it was a
bit late by that point.
Host: I think the same thing happened with Esau and
Caller #10: When you did try and leave the group, did
you have to go through de-programming? What happened
Bob: Actually, I had pretty much been de-programed in
a sense, if you care to call it that, as a natural result of
the experiences I had dealing with the guru myself. When I
left, the main difficulty for me was leaving behind all
those years of my life and all the work that I had put into
Losing the relationships that I had with all the people that
were involved was difficult, as my life revolved around that
group of people. When I left, I was an outcast. I had to
start all over again materially, because I had given
everything I owned and I left with nothing. I also had to
start all over again in terms of building new relationships
and so on.
Caller #10: I'm a member of the US ski team now and
I'm also a former Moonie. I gave up my position in the US
ski team many years ago to follow Reverend Moon. There is a
great deal of similarity there.
Bob: No doubt there would be.
Caller #10: I didn't go through a de-program. Even
afterwards, there were repercussions of meeting different
people with the groups. It seemed that even if you did leave
the group, there would still be someone knocking at your
door trying to make sure that you got back in with it.
Bob: They didn't really do that with me. I had a
different kind of situation, given that I was the President.
I was in such a high position. I knew so much more, and they
never pursued me. In fact, it was to the contrary; I was an
outcast and they deliberately avoided me.
Caller #11: Regarding the PTL Club, and several other
similar clubs that are devouring the nation right now, do
you feel they are a threat? In the overall view of this
nation, do you think they might be too powerful, too
influential? For instance, the PTL Club now has its own
network. I understand they are going to start doing their
own news show. Do you think they might be able to influence
everybody up to a point where it might really hurt this
[Editor's Note: The PTL ("Praise The Lord") Club was
the name of an organization which was headed by US
televangelist Jim Baker. Baker was subsequently charged with
fraud and imprisoned.]
Bob: I'm really not qualified to speak in terms
of the capacity of the PTL to influence people. Regarding
what can hurt this country, I don't feel that we have that
much to fear from any group organising itself in such a way
that they are capable of having a voice in a mass
We have a diversity of opinion in this country; that's one
of the principles that we cherish the most. It is through
the competition of all these different ideas that the choice
exists for each individual to make his decision.
On the other hand, there are practices of certain groups
where once they have a person in their sway, they then
systematically rob that person of any capacity to be able to
leave the group. In fact, they try to deliberately hold that
person and exploit them for economic gain.
Host: How do they try to rob them of an ability to
leave? What kind of methods are you talking about?
Bob: First of all, they strip them of their financial
independence. The way that this is done is to have them live
in some kind of communal situation. Ultimately, if possible,
they try to get them into one of their monastic type living
situations where they are actually under vows of
Anything that they produce doesn't really belong to them, it
belongs to the organisation. Therefore they really haven't
got any financial capacity on their own. All of their
possessions have been turned over to the organisation. In
addition to this, they also have the individual
systematically sever their ties with anyone who doesn't
believe as they believe. This includes family members,
former friends and associates. An effort will be made to
convert family members and former friends. After a certain
point, they are just supposed to leave contact with these
Over a period of time, what happens is that everything on a
physical, emotional and psychological level is really being
controlled by the group. That gives a tremendous kind of
ability to manipulate the individual.
Host: What about spiritual blackmail, in terms of
Bob: Well, that's part of it as well. When you have a
person in this position, you condition them with fear. The
fear is that if they leave, they will suffer some horrible
fate. I think that, whether you're talking about the Hare
Krishnas, the Moonies or the Divine Light Mission members,
they believe that their belief is the truth. If they leave
that, they are subject to all kinds of eternal
I know that the Maharaji threatens his devotees at certain
levels, once he gets them to the point where they've
sacrificed everything. At this point they will have become
initiators, which is the final degree of surrender. He
threatens them with eternal damnation if they ever
Caller #12: What did you turn to? (after you left the
Divine Light Mission) What religion are you now?
Bob: I think I've had enough of religion for a while.
I didn't really turn to anything.
Caller #12: OK, but you don't believe in anything
now, any person or whatever?
Bob: No, I don't.
Caller #12: OK, so you don't believe in Jesus
Bob: I'm not a practising anything.
Host: OK, we're going to talk about the whole
religious phenomenon of the believer. I'm a believer, there
are other believers of various religions... that whole thing
is rather interesting.
Caller #13: I have a question for your guest. I
recently read an interview in 'Playboy' with Ted Patrick (He
abducted and attempted to de-program cult members on behalf
of concerned parents. I think he was successfully sued for
kidnapping). I'm curious about these methods he describes.
Does your guest agree that there is a certain kind of mind
control involved in recruitment for the Divine Light
Bob: I didn't read that article, and I'm not exactly
sure what you mean by 'mind control' in the recruitment. I
definitely think that there is a systematic process of
thought reform that goes on. The ultimate outcome of that
thought reform process is that there is definitely a mind
control that exists with the members.
Caller #13: In his interview, Mr Patrick seems to be
of the opinion that the Krishnas, the Divine Light Mission,
the Scientologists and others like them are using a great
deal of mind control in order not only to recruit, but after
recruitment to place these people in a sort of controlled
state. This is so that they will not only turn over their
earnings, but will also continue to serve as robots. I was
just curious whether you felt that was happening.
Bob: Oh yes, I definitely do.
Caller #13: So doesn't that make this sort of a
Bob M.: If you mean subverting the individual, yes. I
don't think that with the Divine Light Mission there are any
larger goals other than to subvert whatever individuals they
can, and then hold them in this state of servitude for the
perpetuation of the group. As far as the subversive nature
of it is concerned, yes, it does subvert the individual's
ego. The individuals will say, yes, I appreciate that, I
like that; in fact I'm in bliss because of that.
Caller #14: I have a question for Bob. Earlier in the
program, you said that you had received a lot of calls
recently from people who have had loved ones they were
concerned about who were premies. I just wondered what you
told them when they called.
Bob M.: Well, it depended. A lot of the conversations
were very individually oriented around what they could do in
their particular situation. If I can generalise a bit about
it, a lot of these parents just really needed someone to
talk to to help them understand what was going on with their
child or family member. In fact, in one case it was a
daughter worried about her father.
experiences not due to the power of Maharaji
(Back to index)
What I would usually try and tell them was to try and keep
some respect for the individual's experience and for their
faith in their beliefs. If the family member suddenly
challenges that, and says: 'How could you believe such a
stupid thing?', it reflects on the individual as if to deny
their experience altogether.
These people really do have an experience. They may be
mistaken in attributing whatever inner spiritual peace they
find within themselves to the guru. In fact, he really
doesn't have anything to do with it, but they are sincere in
placing their faith in him.
We must try to help them see that the guru really isn't
responsible for whatever positive benefits they are deriving
from their belief, and that therefore they shouldn't
continue to allow their lives to be dominated by
subservience to the guru.
Friends and relatives are going to have to try to understand
the experience enough to be able to really relate to the
people by not regarding them as mental defectives. A lot of
the conversations have centred around just how to make a
much stronger contact. I know that a lot of the people
involved are getting a lot of psychological strokes from the
individuals that they associate with.
If the parents just treat them as naughty children and take
a disapproving attitude, they tend to take that personally
as though the parents were disapproving of them as a person.
This not only further alienates them, but actually severs
those ties altogether. In that sense, it actually aids and
abets the cult.
Caller #14: The person I have in mind happens to be
an ex-wife. She is a very intelligent person. I wonder if
you thought a tape-recording of this program might help open
Bob: Well, it could possibly, particularly if she is
not aware of some of the hypocrisies that I have pointed
out, maybe not completely in this program, but certainly in
other statements I have given to the news media. I think it
helps, given that so many of the people that are involved
are very sincere. If they begin to see that what they are
being told and what is actually taking place are two
different things, then they begin to see that possibly they
could have had the same experiences without having had to
attribute it to the guru.
Look at all these hypocritical practices that the guru
engages in. There was never any response from him. Of
course, he couldn't really respond. To respond, he would
either have to admit it, and he is not likely to do that, or
he would have to deny it. If he denied it, we could get into
a whole protracted court battle.
believe' masks truth about Maharaji (Back to
I haven't said anything about him that I'm not capable of
proving. So consequently they tend to just try and ignore
it, hoping that they control the communication within the
premies' world strongly enough to be able to weather it out.
To that extent, I think it is up to relatives and friends to
actually use that relationship to get the person to listen
to the truth as it gets exposed, and not to just let it get
shoved aside as though I were some crackpot.
I mean, I was the President of the Mission for five and a
half years. Somebody who was essentially responsible for
organizing the Mission throughout the United States, and was
the personal secretary to the guru, is not just any crackpot
who comes along! The things that I'm saying are true. If
they can't deal with that truth, if they tend to just ignore
it, well, I think that their need to believe is so strong
that there's really not a whole lot we can do.
Persistence on the part of people like yourself who have a
relationship with members is probably the most important
Caller #14: Let me ask one more question.
Approximately how many members are there in the Mission at
the present time?
Bob: Well, it would be hard for me to say for sure,
but from what I understand, they get 10 or 15,000 people
showing up at these meetings where they invite essentially
all of the premies in the United States and Canada, and even
Europe as well. Maybe there's as many as 10 to 15,000 in the
United States. That's down considerably from the amount that
there once was. Nonetheless, it's been holding pretty much
steady for the last couple of years.
Caller #15: I have some friends who are devotees of
the guru, and they've been telling me to come to their
meetings. I can't find out who the guru really is to them.
Do you view him as a Christ or what? It's really hard to get
inside their heads.
Bob: Well, I think a lot of that comes from a
confusion that has served them well in terms of an ambiguity
about who he really is. If, in fact, they say that he is
their Lord, what do they mean by that? I know it's hard to
pin people down, particularly if they don't want to be
pinned down by somebody who they are trying to attract,
because they might put you off.
Caller #15: Yes, but who do they think he is?
Bob: Well, I can't speak for all of them, but I think
at this point, given the way that he has been running things
since I left, they pretty much have to believe that he is
God. They think he is the incarnation of whatever that power
we call God is. They believe him to be the living Lord of
Caller #15: OK. These people I know are super-nice
people. I really like them. But I'm not into their ideas at
all; it doesn't tie up with anything I was brought up to
believe in. I have now become an agnostic,and I find it hard
to believe that he's going to be the Messiah incarnate or
anything like that. They've been urging me to go to these
meetings, and I just wandered what would I be getting
Bob: You'd be getting into an idol-worship cult.
Caller #15: I want to get in there and find out what
is going on.
Bob: It's really set up that way. Members are
obtained through association with other members. I know that
so many of the premies are really nice people. I've often
even thought that they are better than most, because a lot
of them seem to be really concerned about other people.
You'll find, as I did when I no longer believed as they
believed, that it is a completely different story. All of
that love and brotherhood that we had shared was suddenly
gone. It's because the belief that they have is
Part of the way that this technique of thought reform works
is to get you to come to the meetings. When you come to the
meetings, you are subject to the influence of the group. I'm
talking about the psychological influence that takes place
just when you're in a group of people who all believe in a
certain way, and you don't necessarily.
Nonetheless, just because they are your friends, and because
they are all looking to you, thinking: 'Isn't this
wonderful, and now you're going to get into it too', you're
under a great deal of pressure to conform, just out of your
own social nature.
If you go to enough meetings, you'll probably then begin to
get interested in what they call 'knowledge' and that's the
whole idea. Once you get interested in receiving knowledge,
they've got you on the way to having this whole process take
In order to receive knowledge, you've got to be an aspirant.
As an aspirant, you're already subjected to so much social
pressure. You are under this incredible pressure to succeed.
The way that you succeed is to be selected to receive
knowledge. When somebody says: 'You are finally ready to
receive knowledge' you just go along with it.
In the knowledge session, you come out afterwards and
everybody says: 'Isn't it wonderful, it's your spiritual
birthday. You're a new person. Quite likely, by that point
you are, because your ego has been reformed. It has been
reformed around a whole new belief system. You asked what
you were getting into; well, it's an idol-worship cult. The
idol is Guru Maharaj Ji and the role of the premie is to
family & 'Who is Guru Maharaj Ji?' book
(Back to index)
Caller #15: Are you familiar with a book on the
career of the Guru Maharaj Ji?
Bob: Sure. I was President of the Divine Light
Mission. It was my idea to have that book published. Charles
Cameron, a premie originally from England but now living
here in Denver, was the one who edited it and put it
[Editor's Note: The book referred to is titled
"Who Is Guru Maharj Ji?"]
Caller #15: So you had quite a bit to do with it?
Bob: Yes, it was part of a whole campaign. In 1973,
we were still trying to attract people out of curiosity.
Maharaji was saying: 'I've got something to reveal to you.
It's free; there's no continuing obligation. All you have to
do is sincerely want to know the truth and I'll have it
shown to you. It's the truth within you; how can you pass it
So we tried to get people to question themselves. Who is
this Guru Maharaj Ji? What kind of a person can make these
claims? The idea was that he really was somebody special and
he really was going to unfold a plan for world peace. That's
what he told us he was going to do, and we were going along
We set up a program in the Houston Astrodome in the same
year that the book was published. That was in 1973. We had
media from all over the world there.
Caller #15: Can you tell me some of the fallacies in
Bob: Try reading the whole chapter on the Holy
Family. Then get the premies that you know to explain that
to you. In that book, it talks about his Holy Family. They
have a story about how every one of his brothers and his
mother are divine incarnations. If they are, where are they
Caller #15: I don't know. Where are they?
Bob: Well, they had a fight over who was going to
control the Mission, and they split up. The mother and the
two eldest brothers are now running their own Divine Light
Mission in India. They don't have anything to do with each
other. There was a big fight; lots of court battles and so
on. My point is that this book isn't a Gospel of any sort,
Caller #16: I'd like to ask your guest: What would
you say is the current average age of the followers of the
Bob: The people in their teens and early twenties are
now getting on, because it's been seven or eight years now.
They don't necessarily drift away. Most do; most of the
people who have been initiated have left. But there is a
real 'hard core' of people who have been involved for a long
There have always been a number of older people. There has
always been a spread in the membership from the really
young, I mean teenagers, to elderly people. At one point,
even children were being initiated in the very early years,
but that changed after the first couple of years.
It's not just that it appeals to young people, although
young people, especially those in their late teens or early
twenties, are prime targets. This is because they are going
through a natural kind of ego reformation at that point in
their lives anyway. So they are very susceptible.
Caller #16: I just wondered if, with the particular
insight that you have, you have considered writing some kind
Bob: A number of people have suggested that to me.
About a year and a half ago, I worked up a proposal and
circulated it to a number of book publishers. I just
received rejections; nobody was really interested in
publishing a story about a guru cult.
Caller #16: The reason that I brought this up was
that I think there should be a publisher somewhere who might
have more interest in it. They might urge you to consider
re-drafting your proposal and circulating it again. I think
there are a lot of people who would like to have something
like this. I think it would be a great service to a lot of
I don't look upon what you have to say as necessarily just
insight into the DLM, as much as it is insight into any
religion, whether it be called 'cult' or 'mainstream
religion'. To me, it's a real problem when people just get
so blind that common sense just wanders astray.
I'd like to add one more thing: I certainly would like to
offer my empathy to you. When you say that you are not a
practising believer in anything, I can very easily
understand that. You had a few callers inquiring about what
your present belief is. After going through this, I am sure
that if you want to place your faith in something else
again, it is going to have to be earned. You've been
'burned'; anyone who doesn't understand that is a little out
of touch with how the human being works.
Host: Well, it would be something akin to Paul
suddenly saying: 'I made the whole thing up because I wanted
to get a bunch of disciples or Moses saying: 'Look, I'm
really an Egyptian, and I was trying to get you to follow
the same guy that Akhnaten was talking about'. It would
cause some waves!
Caller #16: Right. I thank myself that I have been as
well educated as I have. I continue to reach for knowledge
and hope I always will. But we're always, always in need of
more information about this kind of thing. In my particular
area, I deal with a lot of people. I just really feel that
nobody should ever get into a thing where any human being
becomes so almighty and important. It just seems
counter-productive to me.
cries on Bob's shoulder (Back to index)
Caller #17: Bob, how old is the Maharaji now?
Bob: Let's see...He'll be 22 this year
Caller #17: And he started when he was 8?
Bob: He became the Guru Maharaj Ji aged 8.
Host: He didn't really come over to this country
until he was 13.
Bob: That's right.
Caller #17: As he was so young, do you believe that
he was somewhat brainwashed into this thing too?
Bob: Oh yes. I feel that he is as much a victim as he
is a victimizer. I've tried to make this clear in other
interviews that I have given. He was set up for this. He
certainly didn't have a very normal childhood, having to
play God on weekends!
Caller #17: I can imagine that! Did you discuss this
Bob: Oh yes, we talked about this. I had to be very
diplomatic with him. I was a devotee after all, but I
probably had as frank a relationship with him as anyone.
Caller #17: In other words you were his
Bob: Yes. He literally used to cry on my
'stupor' every day, says Mishler (Back
Caller #17: Did he ever let go of this facade at any
point in time?
Bob: His own doubts? Oh yes, on a number of
occasions. He is a pathetic person in this respect. Earlier
in the show, I made reference to his own psychological
degeneration. The anxiety that is caused to him by the role
that he is in is tremendous.
Unlike what he advocates, he is not capable of dealing with
it by means of meditation. He ends up drinking excessively
in order to cope with the stress. It was very sad to see him
drinking himself into a stupor day after day.
Host: It's really interesting that some of his
followers can handle their problems through meditation,
through what they received from him. But he is unable to do
Bob: I don't think he ever really meditated. He talks
about how, when he was 8 years old, he meditated for a few
minutes and realised the knowledge. Presumably, that was all
he needed. But he doesn't really use it.
Caller #17: That's really sad. I can't imagine being
in that type of situation myself. Would you communicate this
to him now?
Maharaji to retract Messiah claim (Back to
Bob: No, we came to a final confrontation prior to
when I left the Divine Light Mission. He knew how I felt.
We'd talked about it. At the beginning of 1976, we had
agreed that we would in fact change his image.
I had persuaded him to see that he was going to lose his
popularity and ability to do any good at all in this
country, if he became a cult leader. If he continued to
allow his devotees to believe that he was God, that was
inevitable. He agreed, and we started de-programming our own
membership and telling them to see Maharaji as only a human
being who had a great concern for humanity.
In fact, he went along with this image change for about half
a year. Then, when he saw that he wouldn't have the same
kind of ascribed status that he had as the guru being God,
he suddenly realised he wouldn't have the same kind of
control over people. He started worrying about what was
going to happen to him in terms of his finances.
Caller #17: He started having self-doubt?
Bob: I think the self-doubt was there all along. At
that point, he got out the picture of his father and put it
up on the wall. He started worshipping it the way his
devotees worshipped the pictures of him. That really made me
feel sorry for him.
Caller #18: I'd also like to congratulate you on your
ability to break away and seek some sanity and rationality
in life. I'd also like to congratulate you on your moral
rectitude in wanting to let others know the truth about the
situation. I think it's extremely important that people of
all beliefs hear this sort of thing from the inside, as
you're telling it.
Somebody brought up the name of Ted Patrick earlier, and I
wanted to ask if you have had any contact with him?
Bob: I haven't had any first hand-dealings with Ted
Patrick, although when I was President of the Mission, I
remember that I had to deal with situations in which members
of the Ashrams were abducted and deprogramed by Ted
In the early years, he didn't have a very good success rate
with Divine Light Mission people. In fact, he couldn't
de-program them. He didn't really know enough about the
group at that time to be able to do it. Recently, however,
that has changed, and he has a few former premies working
with him. He is having a very good success rate with the
Divine Light Mission premies.
Recently, three individuals who were de-programed by Ted
Patrick within the last three months, called me. All three
of those people told me that they felt he was not at all
like the images that exist of him in the Press. They felt
that he was a very sensitive person who treated them with a
great deal of respect.
During the whole period, what he did was keep them
questioning and talking and talking, until they were finally
able to use their own reasoning to recognise what had
happened to them. This would enable them to recognise what
had happened to them, and to work their way out of the
belief structure that they were trapped in.
Caller #18: They started to listen to what they were
actually saying, in other words.
Bob: Right. By talking it out, they began to listen
to what they were saying. It helped having some former
members there to point out the things that they didn't
really know, things that they had just learned to accept by
Caller #18: That's fascinating. I was really
interested in hearing whether or not his methods were as bad
as people had been portraying them.
Bob: Evidently not. I guess you hear about that when
he fails. When he fails, obviously when somebody escapes or
something like that, they are going to portray it as a
terrible thing, because they say they are being physically
In all the cases I am familiar with, the person is usually
being detained in their family's home. Some family member
has arranged to get the person there, and then they do
detain them. They have to keep at it until the person has
managed to go through the whole thing and gets to the point
when they can start reasoning again.
Caller #18: That's very interesting. In that case, I
hope he has more success. In the same vein, there is a
recent book out by a man and woman who have researched a
variety of cults. It's called 'Snapping'. I was wondering if
you were familiar with that.
Bob: A number of people have recommended it to me,
but I haven't seen it.
Caller #18: Apparently they were on the Carson show
the other night. From what I gather from their conversation,
they refer to the mental process that goes on when a person
is subjected to high pressure indoctrination or propaganda
that some groups give out to new members. They say that
something actually 'snaps', that they actually do 'turn' and
become mentally different.
Bob: I think that this is something that social
philosophers and social psychologists have talked about for
a long time. In a crowd, the person loses his individuality.
In fact, their intellectual capacity is debilitated in that
If there is a systematic attempt to transform that person's
thinking, you could hypothetically say that there could be a
point at which they would 'snap' and start seeing things
Caller #18: It's good to know that the situation can
at least in some cases be reversed, as shown by the
experiences of Ted Patrick.
Bob: Human beings are such complex creatures. We have
all kinds of possibilities in our lives. I'm not willing to
write anybody off.
Caller #18: I was wondering if you'd mind stating
Bob: I'm 34. I was 26 when I got into it.
Caller #18: That's interesting. I feel that some of
these groups are appealing to a specific kind of immaturity
Bob: I don't think it's just necessarily an
immaturity. A lot of grown people are immature at times. I
think that everyone is susceptible at certain times under
certain circumstances. I know there are a lot of people
getting involved after the death of a loved one or maybe a
There are all kinds of circumstances that can even affect
mature individuals, rendering them psychologically
Host: Most people who will suddenly embrace religion
at any point do it because of some deep need.
Bob: Maybe it's some disillusionment with what they
find going on around them. Let's face it, during the early
1970s there were a lot of people who were disillusioned with
what was going on in the predominant culture here in the
United States, as a result of the Vietnam War, Watergate and
so on. So you look for something better, and somebody offers
you something that's supposedly perfect. It's a good
Caller #18: It's powerful. It seems like there is a
tendency to revert to something simpler. That happened to
the young people in the Sixties. I thought it was
fascinating to hear your comment about the Maharaji putting
up the picture of his father and worshipping it.
Bob: When he had doubts, he looked to the way it had
been taught to him for strength.
Caller #18: He looked to the situation he was in when
he was young, when he had guidance from someone
The tape ends abruptly here! (Back to