Rawat's Second World Tour
Guru Ji Superstar
STREETS of Delhi have seen some strange religious
processions lately. Some 3,000 Europeans and Americans have
been testifying to their faith in God on earth. He is a
fourteen-year-old Indian boy, known to his followers as Guru
Maharaj Ji, head of the Divine Light Mission, which has had
a startling success in only six years. It now has follower,
in America, Australia, Britain France, Japan and five other
Boy Guru in Cash Probe
and jewels, including diamond rings and a pearl
MEET THE GO-GETTING GURU WHOSE MISSION MEANS MONEY
By Frazer Guild
ANSWER had come over the trans-Atlantic heavenly hot-line.
Guru Maharaj Ji, The Perfect Master, had given his word.
Sales just happen to be floating a new line in cosmetics
soon after the jet-set saviour Jumboes first class back to
said he did not know what the organisation's weekly turnover
none of it went to Guru Maharaj Ji.
the same time the 20 unpaid workers at Shri Hans
Publications, which handles all printing for the Mission,
are geared up for Guru Puja 1973.
14, takes all
Shinding by jet for
350 British disciples of a fourteen-year-old Indian "god,"
Guru Maharaj Ji, leave London on an astonishing jet age
pilgrimage to Delhi.
I have found out a lot of other curious things about the Divine Light Mission, which is what the guru's movement is called.
Divine Light Mission is registered as a charity in Britain -
which gives it considerable income tax benefits.
sever contacts with their past lives and give up sex, meat,
money, drinking, smoking, TV, cinema, marriage and worldly
activities to live in "ashrams" - residential churches.
told Glen Whittaker that I thought it paradoxical that a boy
should not only live in such style, but should be exempt
from the structures that are imposed on followers.
power came to London yesterday when I5-year-old Guru Maharaj
Ji arrived at Heathrow Airport.
darkness of Divine Light
Last July he drew 6,000 ecstatic young disciples to Alexandra Palace in London for a 'Festival of Love and Light'. This month 80,000 are expected to fill the Houston Astrodome in Texas to hear and meet him at a 3-day programme called 'Millenium '73'. He is the 15-year-old Guru Maharaj Ji - 'guru' meaning one who leads out of darkness into light. He is 'the perfect master'.
At Alexandra Palace his followers exultantly shouted `Bodie Shri Satgurudev Maharaj ki Jai' - 'Praise the name of the Lord, the true revealer of light and great king'. In many student centres in Britain his followers have been active. Some were handing out their leaflets to folk attending Spree '73.
In the USA he has branches in 30 cities many publications, records and promotional films. He claims a world following of 6 million. In America his disciples have already grown from a mere handful two years ago to over 50,000.
So the 'Divine Light Mission' has been coming to the fore. Although the Guru's adherents make the most exalted claims for him, he himself does not expressly claim to be God. They say he is Christ for our day; he says, 'I am not Jesus, I am not Krishna, I am not Buddha. I am nothing. I am just a humble servant of God, come to reveal the Light.'
Eager to testify
Despite these disclaimers, he and his believers agree that through him people may come to a deep, personal knowledge of God. Many are eager to testify that their lives have been transformed as a result of hearing the Guru. His invitation and promises may seem not only extravagant but blasphemous; nevertheless many accept them as genuine.
In Delhi in 1970, addressing a crowd estimated at nearly a million, he said what he has repeated in various places since: 'Give me your love. I will give you eternal peace. Surrender . . . your life to me; I will give you salvation. I am the source of peace in this world . . . .'
He has made such claims since the age of eight in 1966, when his father died. His father, Shri Hans Ji Maharaj, founded the Divine Light Mission. At his funeral, his son said to the mourners: 'Children of God, why are you weeping? . . . the perfect master never dies. Guru Maharaj Ji is here among you. Recognise him, obey him and adore him'.
What then is the peace which these adoring souls claim to have found? The answer is elusive. This peace, they say, has an infinite quality and so cannot be explained.
'Drop out society'
On the surface it seems to be connected with all the trappings of one of the Guru's festivals. At the Alexandra Palace the scene in the Great Hall was one of thousands of people, mostly young and mostly from the 'drop-out society', quietly milling around or meditating in the traditional eastern cross-legged pose. The smoke of burning joss sticks hung heavily in the air. The platform was half filled with the 42-piece Blue Aquarius Band. Twenty-five feet above the speakers' platform was a white throne surrounded and canopied by flowers. Above that a striking rainbow had been painted. Here sat the 'Perfect Master' clothed entirely in white. His mahatmas, or apostles, sat nearby. The great crowd hung on his every word, even though the acoustics were less than perfect. In fact the teaching from the platform was contradictory, vague and often trivial - though this did not seem to concern the followers.
This religion is strictly syncretistic, that is, it tries to combine elements from all religions and bind them into one. It claims that all religions basically worship the same God; that all the great religious leaders of the world have been possessed with the same divine spirit. So there is no essential difference between Christ, Socrates, Confucius, Krishna, Shiva, Moses, Francis of Assisi, or Vedvayasa. They all alike have been filled with the same spirit of God. In their time they have all been Perfect Masters. Now it is the turn of the 15 year old Guru. If a Christian asserts that Jesus said, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me,' a follower of the Divine Light Mission will agree - only to add that Jesus has come again in the Guru.
Mystical or emotional
I spent time with the man who had designed the ornate posters and colourful literature for the Alexandra Palace festival. He explained how people may come to know God. According to him, a person listens to the Guru speak; if he feels a longing to enter into deep communion or knowledge of God, he then finds a Mahatma to help him with his quest. The Mahatma takes a group of enquirers and deals with them in a counselling session that may last six or eight hours. The individual may or may not come into communion with God as a result. Many claim to do so. I was told that a great many of the young people there (perhaps as many as 90%) had been drug addicts before they came to the Divine Light Mission. They had found 'peace' with God.
I asked why it was that the young Guru rode around in the luxury of a Rolls Royce, when Christ had had nowhere to lay His head. (In America he is said to have a $50,000 Mercedes 600, plus three airplanes, TV and radio stations, mansions, etc.) He replied that the car had been given to him by his admirers and anyway, had not Jesus accepted the lavish gift of the woman who poured expensive ointment over His feet? He further explained that their much publicised 'Divine Jumble Sales' were far from being fund-raising stunts; they were just a means of serving the poorer members of society. It was strictly humanitarian!
How then are these experiences and beliefs to be explained? The boy Guru invites his adherents to engage in four practices: meditation, holy discourse ('satsang'), practical service in the Guru's cause, and being in his physical presence. Perhaps the most significant of these is the meditation.
Find a Mahatma
This certainly seems to appeal to those who are naturally attracted by the mystical or emotional aspects of religion.
It is well known that a person who has been in a light trance will generally emerge from it relaxed and refreshed, feeling happy and at ease for the time being. He himself has been passive. He has had a blissful but empty experience, with nothing divine about it at all.
The type of person for whom feelings are an important guide to 'truth' may well then ponder the great mysteries of life, and stand in awe before the great abyss of eternity. Depending upon the way in which he has been taught to think, he may interpret his 'experience' as having been a vision of 'God'. If such a person is caught up in the mystique of a religious movement and absorbs the simple techniques of 'meditation' - the shallow, self-induced trance - he will be convinced that he has experienced God. It will be irrational; he will not be able to explain it; but he will believe he has met with God. In fact it has been no more than an adventure in mysticism.
Nevertheless such experiences can be very powerful in their effects. Psychiatrists have acknowledged that these are quite capable of producing sufficient resolution and mental energy to shake off such habits as smoking, drinking and even drug addiction. These 'deliverances' are then claimed as evidence of the power of God and a true experience of Him. Small wonder that thousands from the drop-out society, disillusioned by this materialistic, mechanical age and longing for reality, are first-rate candidates for eastern mysticism.
This may explain the claims to religious experience of the followers of the Guru Maharaj Ji. Yet it is a man-made self deception, made plausible by two factors. One factor is the spiritual hunger of many today. Institutional, established Christianity has failed them. Its liberalism has eaten away the spiritual food of the gospel without which men and women starve. Perhaps 'Divine Light' with its definite claims seems to some to offer more than the indefinite message of a confused Christendom. The other factor is that now the existence of thousands of devotees convinces the enquirer that so many cannot be wrong.
All this has something to say to the Christian. Negatively, he needs to beware of an overemphasis on 'experience'. If ever an experience is taught or sought for its own sake, if ever it is not based firmly on the teaching of the whole Scripture then there is spiritual danger. Truth is the spiritual touchstone of experience, not vice versa.
a true experience of God must be sought - and may be known.
Few things distort Christianity more than truth which is
held in the head but withheld from the heart. A true
experience of God means a renewed mind, an awakened
conscience, a repentant will and a trust in Christ to save.
Such experience affects - and goes on affecting - the whole
'Nothing tatty' for boy Guru
little earthly problem for the Divine
THE DIVINE LIGHT Mission of Guru Maharaj Ji, 15-year-old Perfect Master and Revealer of Truth, is encountering some earthly difficulties. It faces a bill of £45,000 for last weekend's three-day festival of peace (and occasional rock music) at London's Alexandra Palace. Only £90, however, was received in donations from the thousands who attended.
The cult has also attracted the attention of the Charity Commissioners, who this week begin an inquiry into the Mission's general finances in Britain. And in India, birthplace of the Guru, officialdom is equally unfriendly: the Government is investigating the Mission and is keeping a "close watch" on its expensive way of life.
The Alexandra Palace festival, with the Guru perched high amid the organ pipes of the Great Hall, was the culmination of a remarkable year for the Guru. His followers have turned out in their thousands; and his own life-style, with his fondness for life's little luxuries such as the new £20,000 Mercedes car bought for him last week by British devotees, private planes, "Divine Residences" and motorbikes, has made him one of the summer's celebrities for the unbelievers, too.
its Trust Deed, when it registered as a charity last year in
order to gain considerable tax exemption, the Divine Light
Mission gave its aims as:
In the year or so that it has been operating in this country the Mission has acquired a "Divine Residence" in London costing £25,000, for the sole use of the Guru and his "Holy Family" on their occasional visits; an Odeon cinema in Southeast London for £65,000, in which to hold prayer meetings; and the Mercedes, which has replaced a Rolls. There is also the outlay on the Peace Festival.
According to Peter Potter, the accountant for the Mission, and Glen Whittaker, general secretary and trustee, the money has mostly been provided by donations - "dedications" - by Britain's 7,000 followers of the Guru. Apart from the 300 followers who live in community homes (Ashrams) and turn over their pay packets, it is said that only 10 per cent send regular contributions. Mr Potter says: "We have been saving hard for more than a year and it is not difficult to get this amount of money if you scrimp and save." But they had to have a £30,000 short-term loan in order to buy the cinema.
The Mission also receives a regular income from Divine Sales - mainly of second-hand goods given by the faithful - and from the sale of its Divine publications.
are urged to show their love for the Guru by giving money.
In asking devotees to provide the "Divine Residence," an
article in a Mission publication said:
Followers were also told: "Do not fall into the maya [illusion] of ego thoughts, thinking, 'I want to have some say in how my money is being spent,' or doing something else with your money both these thoughts are terrible traps."
A spokesman for the Charity Commission said last week: "Just because they are registered, that does not mean that we approve. It does not indicate that the Commissioners have checked them as a bona fide charitable organisation." In fact, any person or organisation presenting an acceptable Trust Deed may become registered as a charity. And there is no duty to provide accounts to the Commissioners unless they are specifically requested.
the Guru had been expected to leave Britain early last week,
both he and his entourage were still in London yesterday.
Glen Whittaker commented: "The two most unpredictable
things, are the weather and the
THE Guru Mahariji, dispeller of evil, possessor of all knowledge, gifted inventor, and "The Divine Light" himself, was suffering like an ordinary mortal yesterday.
He was " thoroughly exhausted" after a first-class jet flight from his home in Northern India.
Not surprising, perhaps, for this latest Guru to arrive on our scene is only 15, although his followers claim he makes up for his lack of years with a wealth of experience.
He has been broadcasting his message of eternal love since he was three, by which time his father, the Guru before him, was proclaiming a bright future for his gifted lad.
But if the young leader was indisposed, two of his most dedicated disciples were ready to do the talking for him and to reveal something of the life style of this teenager, whose worldly interests range from extensive appreciation of electronic gadgetry to "The Three Stooges", and "Man From U.N.C.L.E." on TV.
Jonathan Mills, 23-year-old son of actor John Mills, is deeply committed to the Guru and his movement. "I am at peace with myself and the world," he says.
And he hopes to arrange an introduction for his father and mother soon, in the interest of similar results.
Whether or not the young Guru can persuade John Mills to fall in behind him and convince him me is Jesus Christ returned is something else, but already he claims to have six million followers all over the world.
Six thousand of them are here, and in the next two weeks the aim is to multiply this figure several times.
Jonathan Mills said: "My parents have supported my beliefs. They have seen how I have changed."
This Guru is not a tub-thumping religionist. His "message" is directed at all denominations and is designed to promote international peace and harmony on earth.
Noble principles projected with the aid of a highly efficient business network, sophisticated computers - and money.
The Guru, even at 15, believes in the trendiest gear, the fastest cars, the best plane seats and all forms of earthly luxury; yet he claims he owns nothing himself and his bank book is empty.
Michael John Cole, the English disciple known as "Milky," has been a constant travelling companion. He has no money either, receiving only cash for food and clothes when the need arises.
" We are not in need of "worldly goods," he said. "All we require is peace".
"Our organisation relies on private subscriptions alone, plus the sale of our literature. There are no fees demanded and we exist to spread the message of peace and love, just as Christ did. The Guru is Christ."
At the same time he admitted that the Guru, whose well-nourished appearance indicates he is suffering none of the deprivations experienced by Jesus, has the use of scores of homes all over the world, including the one he is presently using in the wealthy London suburb of Highgate.
He also has three planes, principally based in the United States which is the fastest expanding area of his influence, several cars (only the best like Rolls-Royce), TV and radio studios, a complex office organisation and an IBM computer to ensure that it all runs well.
"The Guru believes in utilising modern technology to the full," explained Michael Cole.
He is too young to have a pilot's licence but his disciple says he has already logged 52 hours of instruction. And while he is still unable to drive on the roads he is, by all accounts, pretty nifty behind the wheel of a Rolls-Royce on private roads and runways.
"All things are possible for the Guru", said Mr. Cole.
The juvenile Guru is here with Mum and his two brothers (Dad died several years ago), and his big dates, and a bid for new member, will come at a summer celebration of love and light at London's Alexandra Palace on July 13, 14 and 15.
This remarkable boy will be able to show us all then the kind of magic that attracts millions.
"Give me your love," he says, "and I will give you eternal peace."
believes in the trendiest gear, the fastest cars. He watches
'Man from Uncle' on TV. And six million worship him as the
a God kept me waiting
THIS poor parson went to meet God he tried to bunk out of
the back door. The Rolls-Royce was ready, complete with
disciple and a blanket to shroud his head. The Guru Maharaj
Ji was not pleased to see the parson and only stopped to
talk to me because I barred the way to his gleaming car.
young people who follow him are gentle, considerate and well
behaved. As I write, hundreds are passing my front door, yet
there is no litter or unnecessary noise. The scouts and
ramblers make far more mess !
minutes after my interview he appeared to his followers -
with all ideas of premature departure presumably forgotten.
As he addressed them he said how he was criticised for the
Rolls-Royce which, anyway, was falling to pieces. The
sect told to show accounts
Charity Commissioners are to study the financial affairs of
the Divine Light Mission, the organisation sponsoring the
£45,000 three-day festival for the boy Guru Maharaj Ji
at Alexandra Palace, London, this weekend.
mission's spiritual head is the 15-year-old Guru Maharaj Ji,
"the Perfect Master," whose disciples believe he is the
living incarnation of God and whose followers claim he has,
given them direct experience of God.
expense is spared to provide the Guru with costly
accommodation, lavish transport and good food. But, mission
officials say, he does not ask for this treatment. "We do it
because we love him."
plead 'release cash'
of Guru Maharaj Ji, the 15-year-old Indian boy-saint, are to
press Indian customs officers to release £13,600 in
currency and valuables, the contents of a "divine bank"
confiscated last year.
'boy god' with a taste for ice cream...
There is a bland stock reply: 'I do not ask them for a penny. They give because they love.' The mission is currently planning to buy a £65,000 meeting hall in East Dulwich and a country mansion with 40 acres of grounds fit for a god to live in.
What the generous worshippers may not know is that the Indian Government is still determinedly investigating the mission's finances and allegations of smuggling £10,000 worth of jewels, currency and travellers' cheques from the U.S. last year.
Ji, 5ft. tall and a waddling 13st., grows fat on his good
life. He eats elegantly prepared vegetarian food, followed
by liberal portions of ice cream. Exercise is rare, and his
chauffeur-driven limousines turn out for even the shortest
Maharaj Ji has already dodged a grilling by India's revenue investigators on three occasions. But when he returns to Delhi this month he must face close questioning - or forfeit a £5,000 bond, the 'smuggled' goods and his passport.
top level investigation, in which Premier Mrs Indira Gandhi,
as head of India's intelligence services, is taking a
personal interest, began last November when Customs men at
Delhi Airport had a tip from America that one of the divine
bags was stuffed with jewels for the guru's mother plus
sterling, dollars and travellers' cheques.
The headquarters is a walled fortress in Delhi. There, as in all his missions, the guru has his own private padlocked suite.
A 21-year-old American at the HQ, Gary Cashin, explained that the guru was 'completely unattached' to his Rolls and Mercedes. 'He really is. He wouldn't mind at all if he had nothing.'
American Frank Donado, 20, who is collaborating with Gary to
produce a book on the boy god, added:
They talk of bliss . . . and ban sex
boy god's father was a much-loved guru who for years had
taught the Divine Light 'knowledge' to millions of people in
ANGUISH OF A FATHER WHO LOST THREE SONS
By Peter Cliff
took just nine months for the Kemp family to split up under
the influence of the boy guru.