For the vast majority of us who believed in and trusted Maharaji, the person behind the stage persona was a mystery. We only saw him on stage, or fleetingly as we kissed his feet in the 'darshan' line. Because of our love and dependence on him, we loved to hear stories from those who spent time with him. These 'darshan' stories were usually the highlight of any 'satsang' evening, and all his actions were imbued with deep instructional meaning. The stories about Maharaji were freely interlaced with stories about Krishna, Buddha or Christ, and reinforced the belief that the Messiah was walking the earth, and his name was Prem Rawat. The stories told by the contributors to this site were known to many of the people speaking at the time but were never freely shared.
Before the information age, there was no possibility of any of us learning about the real person behind the image. Bob Mishler, President of Divine Light Mission from 1972-77, spoke out in 1979 about the real Maharaji but at that time reached very few of Maharaji's followers.
Now, with the internet, a number of those who had personal experience of Maharaji have spoken out, and current and prospective followers of Maharaji can read about the real Maharaji. Whether they still want to follow him afterwards, is their personal choice, but at least it will be an informed choice. For those who believe all the people who have spoken out about Maharaji are lying, just think about how likely that is. They are using their real names and are therefore risking libel action by doing so, with no personal gain.
The consistent picture these witnesses paint is of a flawed human being with good and bad aspects; a man who is incapable of a relationship of equals; who loves (and believes he deserves) the worship and elevation his followers give him; a man who seeks satisfaction in alcohol, tobacco, cannabis use, and extra-marital sex; a man who can treat his staff well one day, and ignore and drop them the next; a man whose appetite for material things appears to be insatiable; a man who probably believes he is doing good and therefore above criticism; a man who never accepts responsibility for any of his mistakes. And of course many of us had very powerful, intoxicating experiences in his presence. The fact we need to consider is that most followers of other 'gurus' have the same kind of experiences; and the question we need to ask ourselves is 'Does this intoxication in the presence of Maharaji mean that Maharaji is not subject to the normal rules governing human behavior?".
Although most of these accounts are from some time ago, recent accounts, including confidential accounts from former staff who are unable to speak out because of legally binding gagging contracts, confirm that Maharaji hasn't changed. Anyone in a position of signing such a contract is strongly advised not to sign. Temporary poverty is better than signing your freedom away.
Here are the personal accounts of those who were close to Maharaji. Read them all to get a better understanding of what kind of man he was and still is.
Bob Mishler was president of Divine Light Mission from 1972-77. He was the person Maharaji depended on when he split up with his mother. Although he died in 1979, before he did so, he felt it was his duty to speak out. Two recordings survived. The first, a radio interview given in February 1979, and the second, an undated recording of a telephone interview Mishler gave to two recently 'deprogrammed' followers of Maharaji.
Mike Dettmers ran Maharaji's affairs from the late 70s to the mid 80s including his organisations (Divine Light Mission/Elan Vital), his personal finances, his aircraft, and even on occasion his sexual partners. His early postings on the ex-premie forum were defensive, and generally supportive of Maharaji, but he was later pursuaded to give a more open and honest account of his time with Maharaji (while still respecting his contractual commitments). There is a wealth of information available in the Best of Forum section of this site, but this interview he gave to a former follower is probably the best summary of all the information Dettmers has provided.
Mike Donner was National Coordinator of Divine Light Mission in the USA in the mid 70s. He then became an initiator and after touring for a year was called into Maharaji's inner circle to 'coordinate' his personal staff. In 1987 he wrote Maharaji this letter. His posts on the forum regarding Maharaji's personal behavior are best found by using the search facility on the Best of Forum section.
Mike Finch was one of the first Western followers of Maharaji, and in the early years spent a lot of time in his company. In this open letter written after 30 years as a loyal follower, he sets out his reasons for leaving. Since writing the letter, he has produced his own website, which includes many essays on Maharaji, Knowledge and meditation. Also available on his website are photos of Mike and Maharaji from those early days in case anyone doubts Mike was there!
John Macgregor set up the legal structure of Divine Light Mission/Elan Vital in Australia, and has done extensive organising work for Elan Vital since 1972. He has had articles published in the Australian press, contributed a number of articles for this site, as well as writing his journey. He is currently the target of legal action taken by Elan Vital (Australia), which involved him being unable to speak about Elan Vital or the case for four months. The full story of his legal battle will appear here later.
Anth Ginn taught Maharaji and Marolyn's children for over two years. His time doing this was positive, and he found Marolyn and the children to be warm, friendly people. He has no particular revelations about Maharaji's personal habits, but his journey is included here as it is a very well written story of a person's journey to becoming a follower, and the journey away from Maharaji, containing many illuminating observations of the strange world we all lived through. He was also instrumental in getting the Jagdeo issue publicised. His story has even changed the language we use by coining the term 'drip' to describe events that make us feel that something may be wrong.
M. Moore (previously posting as 'True Blue') is the most recent person who has worked directly for Maharaji to speak out. For about a year from 1999-2000 she was responsible for managing his aircraft, reporting directly to him. Although much of her story is unrelated to her work for Maharaji, it is all well worth reading.