TI:Prem Rawat

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Prem Rawat (b. Prem Pal Singh Rawat, Dec 10, 1957 in Haridwar, northern India) also known as Maharaji (formerly Guru Maharaj Ji) has been a speaker on the subject of inner peace since the age of eight, as well as offering instruction of four meditation techniques he calls Knowledge.[1][2]

In June 1971, Rawat traveled out of India to speak in London and Los Angeles, where he was the subject of substantial media attention.[3] He returned to India for the celebration of his father's birthday, and when he came back to the U.S. in February 1972 he was accompanied by his mother and eldest brother, and other Indian supporters who would assist him in spreading his message. Tens of thousands were attracted, largely from the hippie culture, and dozens of Indian style ashrams were established.[4][5][6]

During this time, tensions within his family were growing, and his marriage to an American follower in 1974 caused a permanent rift.[7][8] From this point Rawat's teachings became more western, and in the early 1980s he dropped the title "Guru," closed the ashrams, and abandoned the traditional Indian religious trappings from which the techniques originated.

The Prem Rawat Foundation, established in 2001, promotes his message worldwide via print, video and television, and also contributes to worldwide humanitarian efforts.[9][10]

Childhood

"Sant Ji", as Prem Rawat was known at age 6.© Photo: © Prem Rawat Foundation

Prem Rawat was born in Haridwar, northern India, on December 10, 1957. The fourth and youngest son of Shri Hans Ji Maharaj and his second wife, Jagat Janani Mata Shri Rajeshwari Devi, Rawat attended St. Joseph's Academy elementary school in his hometown of Dehra Dun.[11] At the age of three he began speaking at his father's meetings, and at six his father taught him the techniques of Knowledge. His father died in 1966, and eight-year-old Rawat was accepted by his family and his father's followers (known as premies) as the new Satguru and leader of the Divine Light Mission. From that time, on weekends and during his school holidays Rawat traveled as his father had, addressing audiences on the subject of inner experience.[12]

In the late 1960s, some young Western followers asked him to visit the West. In 1969 he sent one of his closest Indian students (known as Mahatmas) to London to teach Knowledge on his behalf. In 1970 many of his new Western followers flew to India to see him, and were present at a gathering at India Gate, Delhi when he announced that he was ready to begin the task of bringing peace to the world. This speech, which became known as the "Peace Bomb," marked the start of Rawat's international work.[13][14][15]

Leaving India

On 17 June 1971, at the age of thirteen and during his school holidays, Rawat flew to England alone. His arrival attracted substantial media interest. Frequently acting in public like the teenager that he was, Rawat was seen by many as immature and hence unfit to be a religious leader. On 20 June, he spoke at the Glastonbury Fayre, and on 17 July, after brief trips to Paris and Heidelberg, flew to Los Angeles to begin an American tour.[16]

In September 1971 the U.S. Divine Light Mission (DLM) was established in Denver, Colorado. In October, Prem Rawat returned to India to celebrate the anniversary of his father's birth, and in 1972 came back to the West, this time accompanied by his mother, eldest brother Satpal, and an entourage of mahatmas and other Indian supporters. A festival which DLM held in Montrose, Colorado was attended by 2000 people. An article in Time Magazine at that time reported that his mother and three older brothers kissed his feet when they were in his presence as a demonstration of worship.[17][18][19]

By 1972, DLM was operating in North and South America, Europe and Australia. Tens of thousands of people had been initiated and several hundred centers and dozens of ashrams formed.[20]

In November 1973, Divine Light Mission booked the Houston Astrodome for "Millennium '73," a three-day celebration of the birthday of Prem Rawat's father. The attendance was estimated at twenty thousand. The event was covered satirically in the award-winning U.S. documentary Lord of the Universe broadcast by PBS Television in 1974.[21] The documentary featured Rennie Davis, a former member of the Chicago Seven, speaking for the group,[22] counter-pointed by Abbie Hoffman, another Chicago Seven member, who commented: "If this guy is God, this is the God the United States of America deserves." When asked in 1971 if he was God, Rawat replied: "No. My Knowledge is God."[23]

Although Rawat appealed to premies to give up their beliefs and concepts, and publicly denied holding any belief that he was the Messiah, pre-existing millennial expectations were fostered partly by his mother, whose talks were full of references to her son's divine nature, and partly by Rawat himself, when he let others cast him in the role of the Lord. Rawat was said to "generally encourage whatever view is held by the people he is with."[24][25][26]

Coming of age

In April 1974, Prem Rawat, now aged sixteen, became an emancipated minor, and in May married 25-year-old Marolyn Johnson, one of his American students.[27] The generosity of his Western devotees had given him financial independence, enabling him to support his family and finance the world travel of staff. According to sociologist Maeve Price, he followed the lifestyle of an American millionaire.[28][29] His marriage to a non-Indian finally severed Rawat's relationship with his mother, who disowned him and returned to India with his two elder brothers.[30][31][32] [33][34] There she gained legal control of the Indian organisation and appointed the eldest brother, Satpal, as its leader. Rawat took control of the Western DLM,[35] and as its sole source of spiritual authority encouraged students to leave the ashrams and to discard Indian customs and terminology. Staff at the Denver HQ were reduced from 250 to 80,[36] [37] and most of the mahatmas either returned to India or were dismissed. The Western DLM became more secular as he focused his teachings on the experience of Knowledge.

Although there were still residues of belief in his divinity, by 1976 the vast majority of students were viewing Rawat primarily as their spiritual teacher, guide and inspiration,[38] but his appearance at an event on December 20th, 1976 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, wearing a Krishna costume for the first time since 1975, signaled a resurgence of devotion and Indian influence. Rawat was elevated to a much greater place in the practice of Knowledge, many people returned to ashram life and there was a shift back from secular tendencies towards ritual and messianic beliefs and practices.[39][40][41] In 1979, Rawat moved to Miami Beach, Florida with his wife and three children, and DLM headquarters relocated there.[42]

Rawat returned to India in October 1980 after an absence of five years, and on newly acquired land in Delhi spoke to over 38,000 people. He also revisited South America, going to Mexico for the first time. He held large, multi-day events for his students in Colombia (Cartagena), Miami, Rome, London, New Delhi and Kansas City, and also spoke at programs in Cancun, Lima, São Paulo and Leicester (UK).[43]

Also in 1980, Rawat obtained the use of a Boeing 707 for his work, and during 1981 flew the aircraft to South America, Europe, India, Nepal, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia, speaking on 120 occasions in forty cities.[44]

Westernisation

In the early 1980s, Prem Rawat moved to disband the Divine Light Mission. Renouncing the trappings of Indian culture and religion, he addressed audiences in places as culturally diverse as Japan, Taiwan, the Ivory Coast, Slovenia, Mauritius, Venezuela, North America, Europe and the South Pacific, as well as India.[45]

In 1983 the downsized Divine Light Mission changed its name to Elan Vital, and Rawat closed the last western ashrams, marking the end of his use of Indian methods for western objectives.[46]

Rawat continued to teach the techniques of Knowledge and affirmed his own status as a master rather than a divine leader. The original religious movement was essentially defunct. Scholars such as Kranenborg and Chryssides describe the departure from divine connotations, and the new emphasis that the Knowledge is universal, rather than Indian. According to America's Alternative Religions, "he may [now] be reaching more listeners than ever, especially abroad, but his role is that of a public speaker."[47][48]

Prem Rawat continued to tour internationally throughout the 1980s and 1990s, speaking publicly in over 40 countries, and mostly piloting the leased executive jets himself. In December 1998, he spoke live via an interactive satellite broadcast from Pasadena, California to 86,600 participants at 173 locations in 50 countries. 1999 saw the commencement of regular satellite broadcasts to North American cities, with similar initiatives started soon after in other countries.[49][50]

Recent years

Between January 2004 and June 2005, Prem Rawat delivered 117 addresses in Asia, Europe, and North America. With a more culturally neutral approach, Rawat now concentrates on what he calls a "universal message of peace" and speaks of "self-fulfillment." His message is currently distributed in eighty-eight countries in print and on video, and is broadcast on TV channels such as Canal Infinito in South America, Channel 31 in Australia, Kabel BW in Germany and Dish Network in the U.S.A.[51][52][53]

In 2001, The Prem Rawat Foundation was founded as a Public Charitable Organization, largely for the production and distribution of materials promoting Rawat's message. TPRF also funds world-wide humanitarian efforts, providing food, water and medical help to war-torn and impoverished areas. In 2007 after an evaluation by the Better Business Bureau, TPRF became a Recommended Charity of the Wise Giving Alliance. Rotary International describes the Foundation as being established "to improve the quality of life for the disadvantaged." [54][55][56][57][58][59][60] TPRF reports that during a tour of India, Sri Lanka and Nepal in March and April 2007, Rawat spoke at 36 events, addressing over 800,000 people, and that live satellite broadcasts reached an additional 2.25 million.[61]

Teachings

Prem Rawat's teachings have been described by scholars of religion and other authors in a variety of terms and contexts, from Rawat's beginnings as an Indian Satguru at the age of 8, through the various evolutions he undertook to make his message more universally appealing. [62] Nevertheless the core of his teaching has remained the same: the process of self-discovery through the techniques of Knowledge, the four meditation techniques that he claims allow the practitioner to experience calmness, peace, and contentment.[63][64][65] Prem Rawat describes practising the Knowledge techniques as a way "to take all your senses that have been going outside all your life, turn them around and put them inside to feel and to actually experience you."[66]

The Sant tradition

Scholars have asserted that Rawat's teachings began in the traditions of the Indian Sants, who dismissed religious ritual and praised the "Divine Name" for its power to save. They emphasized honor for the guru or "Perfect Master" as an embodiment of god on Earth, and surrender to God "who dwells in the heart."[67][68] Other scholars refer to affinities with medieval traditions of Nirguna Bhakti (Sanskrit="formless devotion"), which emphasizes direct experience of the divine and criticizes religious dogma and ritual. [69] Rawat claims that the techniques of Knowledge he teaches, with the help and guidance of the Guru, will enable the practitioner to experience the divinity within.[70][71]

According to several scholars, and in accordance with Sant precepts, Prem Rawat has never developed a doctrine or systematic set of teachings, rather he has placed the emphasis on direct inner experience.[72][73][74] His early discourses were described by some Western religious scholars as lacking in substance, or as stressing experience over intellect.[75][76] In this context, Rawat often referred to the negative influence of the "mind" or "conceptual thinking" as the main enemy of direct religious experience. To some scholars in the days of the Divine Light Mission, this reference to "mind" appeared to mean either "the alienating influences that made man stray from his true nature," or a "state of consciousness characterized by everything but passive, nonrational confidence and trust".[77][78][79]

According to George D. Chryssides, the Knowledge was based on self-understanding, providing the practitioner with calmness, peace, and contentment, as the inner-self is identical with the divine, and that Maharaji emphasizes that Knowledge is universal, not Indian, in nature.[80]

Stephen J. Hunt describes Rawat's major focus as being on stillness, peace and contentment within the individual, and his 'Knowledge' consists of the techniques to obtain them. Knowledge, roughly translated, means the happiness of the true self-understanding. Each individual should seek to comprehend his or her true self. In turn, this brings a sense of well-being, joy, and harmony as one comes in contact with one's "own nature." The Knowledge includes four secret meditation procedures and the process of reaching the true self within can only be achieved by the individual, but with the guidance and help of a teacher. Hence, the movement seems to embrace aspects of world-rejection and world-affirmation. The tens of thousands of followers in the West do not see themselves as members of a religion, but the adherents of a system of teachings that extol the goal of enjoying life to the full. They claim that Rawat's authority comes from the nature of his teachings and their benefit to the individual.[72][81]

Development of teaching style

In 1974 Rawat changed the style of his message in order to appeal to a Western context. He relinquished many of the Hindu traditions and beliefs, and most of the original eastern religious practices.[82][83][84] In his discourses he began to draw more on his growing adult experiences as a teacher, parent and international traveler, coloring his speeches with stories and allegories in which the listener could find their own understanding.

Origins of the Techniques

The techniques of Knowledge were taught to Prem Rawat by his father, Hans Ji Maharaj, who learned them from Swarupanand, his teacher. The website "Maharaji.org" (1999) included the traceable story of "Masters" that according to Prem Rawat, referred to the techniques of Knowledge since 1780, including Totapuri, Anandpuri Ji, Dayal Ji, Swarupanand, and his father Hans Ji Maharaj.[85]

According to David Barret, these techniques have some similarities to techniques in Sant Mat derived movements and may be derived from Surat Shabd Yoga.[86] Kranenborg also writes that the techniques of Knowledge originated from the Surat Shabd Yoga or Sant Mat, or the "Path of the Sound Current", and that some of the techniques are related to the japa or mantra-yoga that are similar to some techniques of Transcendental Meditation and the Hare Krishnas.[87]

This alleged relationship to Surat Shabd Yoga or Sant Mat is not acknowledged in any literature from the organizations that support Prem Rawat's work, or by Prem Rawat himself.

Descriptions by scholars

According to the Dutch religious scholar and Christian minister Reender Kranenborg and the American religious scholar J. Gordon Melton, these techniques are secret and were originally called "Light", "Sound", "Name" or "Word" and "Nectar" but Maharaji now refers to them as the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th techniques. [88][87][89]Maharaji asks practitioners to promise "not to reveal these techniques to anyone", but says to "let other people go through their own journey... [so] they, too, can have the techniques when they are ready."[90] Kranenborg and Melton provide differing details of them in their writings but agree on a general description of the practices.[87][89] "Light" involves careful pressure on the eyes, seeking to open the "third eye" after a long period of training and practice. This is comparable to similar Tantric practices. "Sound" involves positioning the hands over the ears and temples, with the goal of hearing the "heavenly music". This is reported to be related to sabda-brahman meditation. "Name", or "Word", is a meditation concentrating on breath. Kranenborg additionally states that it employs mantras while exhaling. "Nectar" involves tongue positioning, eventually leading the student to taste the "nectar of life". Michael Drury, describes these techniques as helping the practitioner to develop "a deep and spiritual self-knowledge." [91]

The experience of Knowledge is described by practitioners as internal and highly individual. The techniques are to be practised privately, and have no related social structure or hierarchy. According to students, there is no liturgy or social obligation involved, but Maharaji instructs them to practise the techniques daily for at least one hour to fully benefit. They also say that the techniques are universally applicable and their practice has no impact on or relationship to a student's gender, race, sexual orientation, economic status or national origin. Elan Vital, the organization that succeeded the Divine Light Mission, also states that practice of Knowledge will not affect a person's religion.[92]

Teaching the techniques

In his early days in the West, Prem Rawat or his instructors (called Mahatmas in India) conducted "Knowledge Sessions" face-to-face with small groups. As of 2001 the techniques are taught via a multimedia presentation made by Maharaji. It is available in more than 50 languages (of which he speaks five himself: English, Hindi, Nepalese, Spanish, and Italian. The other languages are dubbed). In this presentation, Maharaji explains the techniques step-by-step, demonstrating them in ample detail, to ensure that these are understood and practised correctly. The process takes 2½ hours, of which one hour is dedicated to practicing the techniques, 15 minutes each. Before the presentation starts, people hear Maharaji asking for three promises: a) to keep in touch, b) to give Knowledge a fair chance, and c) to not to share these techniques with anyone. If attendees agree with these three promises he invites them to stay and receive "the gift of Knowledge."[90]

The Knowledge Sessions are facilitated by volunteers that operate the video equipment and ensure the comfort of the attendees and assist them if needed. Knowledge Sessions are available throughout the year in most Western countries. In India, due to the large numbers, there are Knowledge Sessions every day of the year. In special cases, such as people in hospitals, or bed-ridden, etc, the volunteers go to the people to conduct the Session.

The Keys

In 2005, Prem Rawat introduced The Keys, a program of five DVD sets which prepare the student for receiving Knowledge. The techniques are taught in Key Six, a multimedia presentation produced in fifty languages. Rawat advises students that for maximum benefit the techniques should be practised daily for at least one hour.[93][94][95] Practitioners describe Knowledge as internal and highly individual, with no associated social structure, liturgy, ethical practices or articles of faith.[96][97]

Personal

A U.S. citizen since 1977,[98] Rawat lives with his wife in Malibu, California. They have four grown children. He holds an Airline Transport Pilot License and has type ratings for a number of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.[99] His résumé lists skills in computer graphics, computer-aided design and the development of aviation software. He is listed as co-inventor on a U.S. patent for a world-time aviational watch.[100] He reports that he supports himself and his family as a private investor, and that he has contributed to the success of startup companies in various industries, including software.[101]

Footnotes

  1. Cagan, A. Peace is Possible: The Life and Message of Prem Rawat. Mighty River Press -ISBN -10: 0-9788694-9-4
  2. Hadden, Religions of the World, pp.428
    "The meditation techniques the Maharaji teaches today are the same he learned from his father, Hans Ji Maharaj, who, in turn, learned them from his spiritual teacher [Sarupanand]." 'Knowledge', claims Maharaji, 'is a way to be able to take all your senses that have been going outside all your life, turn them around and put them inside to feel and to actually experience you...'
  3. Goring, Rosemary (Ed.) Dictionary of Beliefs & Religions (1997) p.145. Wordsworth Editions, ISBN 1853263540
  4. Melton, Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America. pp.141-2 entry Divine Light Mission
    "Just six years after the founding of the Mission, Shri Hans Ji Maharaj was succeeded by his younger son Prem Pal Singh Rawat, who was eight when he was recognized as the new Perfect Master and assumed the title, Maharaj Ji. Maharaj Ji had been recognized as spiritually adept, even within the circle of the Holy Family, as Shri Hans' family was called. He had been initiated at the age of six ... He assumed the role of Perfect Master at his father's funeral by telling the disciples who had gathered ... Though officially the autocratic leader of the Mission, because of Maharaji's age, authority was shared by the whole family."
  5. Melton. Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America. pp141-145.
    "In 1970 Maharaj Ji announced his plans to carry the knowledge throughout the world and the following year, against his mother’s wishes, made his first visit to the West. A large crowd came to Colorado the next year to hear him give his first set of discourses in America. Many were initiated and became the core of the Mission in the United States. Headquarters were established in Denver, and by the end of 1973, tens of thousands had been initiated, and several hundred centers as well as over twenty ashrams ... the teachings of the Mission, particularly the public discourses of Maharaj Ji, were condemned as lacking in substance. Maharaj Ji, who frequently acted like the teenager that he was in public, was seen as immature and hence unfit to be a religious leader.
  6. Stephen A. Kent, From Slogans To Mantras. "I found his poorly delivered message to be banal."
  7. Downton, Sacred Journeys. "Nearly sixteen, he was ready to assume a more active part in deciding what direction the movement should take. This of course meant that he had to encroach on his mother's territory and, given the fact that she was accustomed to having control, a fight was inevitable."
  8. Geaves, Ron, in Christopher Partridge (Eds.), New Religions: A Guide. New Religious Movements, Sects and Alternative Spiritualities. pp.201-202, Oxford University Press, U.S.A. (2004) ISBN 978-0195220421.
    "As Maharaji began to grow older and establish his teachings worldwide he increasingly desired to manifest his own vision of development and growth. This conflict resulted in a split between Maharaji and his family, ostensibly caused by his mother's inability to accept Maharaji's marriage to an American follower rather than the planned traditional arranged marriage."
  9. Melton, Encyclopedia of American Religions. "In the early 1980s, Maharaj Ji moved to disband the Divine Light Mission and he personally renounced the trappings of Indian culture and religion. Disbanding the mission, he founded Elan Vital, an organization essential to his future role as teacher."
  10. The Prem Rawat Foundation website.
  11. A.Cagan. Peace is Possible: The Life and Message of Prem Rawat. p3.
  12. Melton, Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America, pp.141-2 entry Divine Light Mission
    "Just six years after the founding of the Mission, Shri Hans Ji Maharaj was succeeded by his younger son Prem Pal Singh Rawat, who was eight when he was recognized as the new Perfect Master and assumed the title, Maharaj Ji. Maharaj Ji had been recognized as spiritually adept, even within the circle of the Holy Family, as Shri Hans' family was called. He had been initiated at the age of six [...] He assumed the role of Perfect Master at his father's funeral by telling the disciples who had gathered. [...] Though officially the autocratic leader of the Mission, because of Maharaji's age authority was shared by the whole family."
  13. Geaves, Ron, Globalization, Charisma, Innovation and Tradition: An Exploration of the Transformations in the Organisational Vehicles for the Transmission of the Teachings of Prem Rawat (Maharaji), 2006. "Journal of Alternative Spiritualities and New Age Studies," 2 44-62.
    "There had been a presence in the UK since 1969, located in a basement flat in West Kensington and then in a semi-detached house in Golders Green, North London. This had come about as a result of four young British members of the counter-culture taking the ‘hippy trail’ to India in 1968 discovering the young Prem Rawat and his teachings and requesting that a ‘mahatma’ be sent to London who could promote the message and show interested individuals the four techniques known as ‘knowledge’.
  14. Navbharat Times, 10 November 1970, (from Hindi original)
    "A three-day event in commemoration of Sri Hans Ji Maharaj, the largest procession in Delhi history of 18 miles of processionists culminating in a public event at India Gate, where Sant Ji Maharaj addressed the large gathering" Hindustan Times, 9 November 1970 (English)"Roads in the Capital spilled over with 1,000,000 processionists, men, women and children marched from Indra Prasha Estate to the India Gate lawn. [...] People had come from all over the country and belonged to several religions. A few Europeans dressed in white were also in the procession." Guinness Book of World Records, 1970
  15. Kranenborg Oosterse Geloofsbewegingen in het Westen.pp.64
    English translation "This prediction came true very soon. In 1969 Maharaj Ji sent the first disciple to the West. In the next year he held a speech for an audience of thousands of people in Delhi. This speech was known as 'the peace bomb' and was the start of the great mission to the West." Dutch original "Deze voorspelling gaat al snel in vervulling. In 1969 stuurt Maharaj ji de eerste discipel naar het Westen. In het daaropvolgende jaar houdt hij een toespraak in Delhi voor een gehoor van duizenden mensen. Deze toespraak staat bekend als 'de 'vredesbom' en is het begin van de grote zending naar het Westen."
  16. Pryor, The Survival of the Coolest, p. 148.
  17. J. Gordon Melton, Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America. (New York/London: Garland, 1986; Revised edition, pp.141-145
    "In 1970 Maharaj Ji announced his plans to carry the knowledge throughout the world and the following year, against his mother’s wishes, made his first visit to the West. A large crowd came to Colorado the next year to hear him give his first set of discourses in America. Many were initiated and became the core of the Mission in the United States. Headquarters were established in Denver, and by the end of 1973, tens of thousands had been initiated and several hundred centers, as well as over twenty ashrams which housed approximately 500 of the most dedicated premies, had emerged."
  18. Time Magazine, 2 November, 1972. Junior Guru"
  19. Time Magazine, April 28, 1975. One Lord Too Many.
  20. J. Gordon Melton, Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America. New York/London: Garland, 1986; revised edition, pp.141-145
    "Many were initiated and became the core of the Mission in the United States. Headquarters were established in Denver, and by the end of 1973, tens of thousands had been initiated, and several hundred centers as well as over twenty ashrams, which housed approximately 500 of the most dedicated premies, had emerged."
  21. Template:Web cite
  22. J. Gordon Melton, Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America. (New York/London: Garland, 1986; revised edition, pp141-145. Copyright 1986.
  23. Interview with John Wood of the Boston Globe with Guru Maharaj Ji in Newton, Massachusetts, August 3, 1973. Published in And It Is Divine. Dec. 1973, Volume 2. Issue 2.
    "Question: Guru Maharaji Ji, are you God? Answer: No. My Knowledge is God."
  24. Reporter: "I was told that probably the best question to ask you, out of sincerity, is: 'Who are you?' Maharaj Ji: "... really I can't say who I am. But, though, there is a very basic thing, what I feel about myself. And that is that people have been claiming me as God or as Jesus or so on, and, ah, many television people have been asking this question, and this is an interesting question of course. I thought maybe you will be interested in the answer. I am not Jesus and I am not God or so on, but I am just a humble servant of God, and I am preaching this Knowledge, and it's ideal of humanity. I don't want to form a small sect or a religion. It's an open thing to all. It's for all casts, all creeds, all colors. And man is human, and it's OK he can receive it. And it's something that is internal, something that does not interfere with any religion. And this is the highest thing that I am teaching, about the people of this time, today. I don't claim myself to be God. I don't claim myself to be something like that, but I can claim I can show you God." Montrose, Colorado, 25 July, 1972.
  25. Downton, Sacred Journeys.
    "During 1971, there were social forces encouraging the development of millenarian beliefs within the Mission. They were developed in part by the carryover of millennial thinking from the counterculture; by the psychological trappings of surrender and idealization; by the guru's mother, whose satsang was full of references to his divine nature; and partly by the guru, himself, for letting others cast him in the role of the Lord. Given the social pressures within the premie community which reinforced these beliefs, there was little hope premies would be able to relax the hold that their beliefs and concepts had over them....From the beginning, Guru Maharaj Ji appealed to premies to give up their beliefs and concepts so that they might experience the Knowledge, or life force, more fully. This, as I have said, is one of the chief goals of gurus, to transform their followers' perceptions of the world through deconditioning. Yet Guru Maharaj Ji's emphasis on giving up beliefs and concepts did not prevent premies from adopting a fairly rigid set of ideas about his divinity and the coming of a new age."
  26. Collier, Sophia, Soul Rush: The Odyssey of a Young Woman of the '70s Morrow, 1978.
    "There are those who sincerely believe that Guru Maharaj Ji is the Lord of Creation here in the flesh to save the world. And then there are those who know him a little better than that. They relate to him in a more human way... to them he is more of a teacher, a guide, a co-conspirator in their personal pursuit of a more heavenly way of life..Guru Maharaj Ji, though he has never made a definitive statement on his own opinion of his own divinity, generally encourages whatever view is held by the people he is with. Addressing several hundred thousand ecstatic Indian devotees, prepared for his message by a four-thousand-year cultural tradition, he declares, 'I am the source of peace in this world . . . surrender the reins of your life unto me and I will give you salvation.' On national television in the United States he says sheepishly, with his hands folded in his lap, 'I am just a humble servant of God."
  27. Cagan, Peace is Possible: The Life and Message of Prem Rawat. Mighty River Press. ISBN -10: 0-9788694-9-4pp.200. p197.
    "In Denver in April 1974, Maharaji applied to become an emancipated minor, because he and Marolyn were now engaged and he knew his mother would not condone his marriage at sixteen (or any other age, considering the American wife he'd chosen). With his emancipation, he could obtain a legal marriage licence without his mother's signature. After spending about forty five minutes with a judge, he was granted his request."
  28. Downton, Sacred Journeys. "The staff in Denver was 250 just a couple of months ago. Now it is 80."
  29. Price, The Divine Light Mission as a Social Organization. pp.279-96
    "Immediately following Maharaj Ji's marriage a struggle for power took place within the Holy Family itself. Maharaj Ji was now sixteen years old. He had the knowledge that his personal following in the West was well established. It is likely that he felt the time had come to take the reins of power from his mother, who still dominated the mission and had a strong hold over most of the mahatmas, all of whom were born and brought up in India. Another factor may well have been the financial independence of Maharaj Ji, which he enjoys through the generosity of his devotees. Note 27: Contributions from premies throughout the world allow Maharaj Ji to follow the life style of an American millionaire. He has a house (in his wife's name), an Aston Martin, a boat, a helicopter, the use of fine houses (divine residences) in most European countries as well as South America, Australia and New Zealand, and an income which allows him to run a household and support his wife and children, his brother, Raja Ji, and his wife, Claudia. In addition, his entourage of family, close officials and mahatmas are all financed on their frequent trips around the globe to attend the mission's festivals."
  30. "Guru Maharaj Ji," Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Michigan, Thomson Gale, 2007
    "The marriage further disrupted his relationship with his mother and older brothers. A lawsuit in India gave control of the Indian branch of the Divine Light Mission to Maharaj's mother and led to a complete break with her son, who maintained the complete support of the Western disciples."
  31. "Guru Tries to Take Control of Mission" in The Ruston Daily Leader, April 9, 1975.
    "Earlier this month, the guru's mother issued a statement in New Delhi saying she had disowned her son because of his pursuit of 'a despicable, nonspiritual way of life.' [...] Sources close to Rajeshwari Devi said she was upset because of her son's materialistic lifestyle, including a fondness for expensive homes and sports cars, and because of his marriage last year to his secretary."
  32. Downton, Sacred Journeys.
    "The end of 1973 saw Guru Maharaj Ji breaking away from his mother and his Indian past. He declared himself the sole source of spiritual authority in the Mission. And, unlike some gurus who have come to this country and have easternized their followers, he became more fully westernized, which premies interpreted as an attempt to integrate his spiritual teachings into our culture."
  33. Stephen J. Hunt Alternative Religions: A Sociological Introduction (2003), pp.116-7, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 0-7546-3410-8
    "Maharaji transformed his initial teachings in order to appeal to a Western context. He came to recognize that the Indian influences on his followers in the West were a hindrance to the wider acceptance of his teachings. He therefore changed the style of his message and relinquished the Hindu tradition, beliefs, and most of its original eastern religious practices."
  34. Miller, America's Alternative Religions, pp.474
  35. Downton, Sacred Journeys.
    "The end of 1973 saw Guru Maharaj Ji breaking away from his mother and his Indian past. He declared himself the sole source of spiritual authority in the Mission. And, unlike some gurus who have come to this country and have easternized their followers, he became more fully westernized, which premies interpreted as an attempt to integrate his spiritual teachings into our culture."
  36. Downton, Sacred Journeys. "The end of 1973 saw Guru Maharaj Ji breaking away from his mother and his Indian past... he became more fully westernized... many of the movement's Indian traditions and rituals were eliminated...the Mission was moving in a more secular direction."
  37. Downton, Sacred Journeys. "The guru had inspired greater autonomy by saying in January 1976: 'Don't expect that all these premies who are in the ashram right now are going to stay in the ashram. I hope they don't.' This comment had the effect of producing a widespread exodus from the ashrams that year, which gave rise to an individualistic attitude ....Changes in terminology were made in an attempt to divorce the Mission from its Indian trappings. 'Festivals' became 'regional conferences.' 'Holy Company,' a term used to describe the state of being in the presence of other premies, fell from use, as did the customary Indian greeting."
  38. Downton, James V., Sacred Journeys: The Conversion of Young Americans to Divine Light Mission, (1979) Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-04198-5 p199
    "Although there were still residues of belief in his divinity, in 1976, the vast majority [of premies] viewed the guru primarily as their spiritual teacher, guide, and inspiration.
  39. Downton, James V., Sacred Journeys: The Conversion of Young Americans to Divine Light Mission, (1979) Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-04198-5. p211. "To the surprise of everyone who had come to the Atlantic City program at the close of 1976, Guru Maharaj Ji appeared in his Krishna costume, a majestic looking robe and crown he had not worn since 1975. The sight of him in his ceremonial best brought premies to their feet singing, as nostalgia for the early days caught them up in feelings of devotion once more.... With so many premies coming out in support of devotion, there has been a shift away from secular tendencies back to ritual and messianic beliefs and practices....elevating the guru to a much greater place in their practice of the Knowledge.
  40. Cagan, Peace is Possible: The Life and Message of Prem Rawat. Mighty River Press. ISBN -10: 0-9788694-9-4. p228
  41. Downton, Sacred Journeys.
    "Signs of rededication both to Guru Maharaj Ji and the inner guru became quite apparent. Most of the premies who left the ashrams in the summer of 1976 began to return in 1977, when more than 600 signed up to enter the ashrams in just a few month's time.
  42. Cagan Peace is Possible: The Life and Message of Prem Rawat. Mighty River Press. ISBN -10: 0-9788694-9-4 page ?
  43. Cagan, A. Peace is Possible: The Life and Message of Prem Rawat, pp. 229.
  44. Cagan, Peace is Possible: The Life and Message of Prem Rawat. Mighty River Press. ISBN -10: 0-9788694-9. p. 229
  45. Melton, Encyclopedia of American Religions.
    "In the early 1980s, Rawat moved to disband the Divine Light Mission and personally renounced the trappings of Indian culture and religion. Disbanding the mission, he founded Elan Vital, an organization essential to his future role as teacher. [...]Maharaji had made every attempt to abandon the traditional Indian religious trappings in which the techniques originated and to make his presentation acceptable to all the various cultural settings in which followers live. He sees his teachings as independent of culture, religion, beliefs, or lifestyles, and regularly addresses audiences in places as culturally diverse as India, Japan, Taiwan, the Ivory Coast, Slovenia, Mauritius and Venezuela, as well as North America, Europe and the South Pacific."
  46. Miller, America's Alternative Religions, pp.474
  47. Chryssides, George D., Historical Dictionary of New Religious Movements pp.210-1, Scarecrow Press (2001) ISBN 0-8108-4095-2
    "Maharaji progressively dissolved the Divine Light Mission, closing the ashrams, affirming his own status as a master rather than a divine leader, and emphasizing that the Knowledge is universal, non Indian, in nature" [...] "This Knowledge was self-understanding, yielding calmness, peace, and contentment, since the innermost self is identical with the divine. Knowledge is attained through initiation, which provides four techniques that allow the practitioner to go within."
  48. Miller, America's Alternative Religions, pp.474
  49. Cagan, A. Peace is Possible: The Life and Message of Prem Rawat. Mighty River Press. ISBN -10: 0-9788694-9- pp255, 266
  50. http://www.contact-info.net/broadcasts.cfm
  51. http://www.tprf.org/prem_rawat.htm
  52. Conversation with Prem Rawat, Available online. (Retrieved January 2006)
  53. "Words of Peace" by Maharaji receives TV Award in Brazil" Press release.
  54. The Prem Rawat Foundation
  55. [1]
  56. Young professionals from 42 countries meet in Malmö to promote international understanding. Rotary International.
  57. Guidestar report for non-profit organizations.Available online
  58. Humanitarian Initiatives The Prem Rawat Foundation (Retrieved January 2006)
  59. Prem Rawat Inaugurates First 'Food for People' Facility in Northeastern India (Retrieved March 25 2006)
  60. Charity report. BBB Wise Giving Alliance.
  61. Over 3 million people participate in events with Prem Rawat in India
  62. Miller, America's Alternative Religions, pp.474
  63. Drury, Michael, The Dictionary of the Esoteric: 3000 Entries on the Mystical and Occult Traditions, pp.75-6, (2002), Sterling Publishing Company, ISBN 1-842-93108-3
    Maharaj Ji [teaches] meditation upon the life-force. This meditation focuses on four types of mystical energy, known as the experiences of Light, Harmony, Nectar, and the Word. These allow the practitioner to develop a deep and spiritual self-knowledge
  64. Chryssides, George D. Historical Dictionary of New Religious Movements pp.210-1, Scarecrow Press (2001) ISBN 0-8108-4095-2
    "This Knowledge was self-understanding, yielding calmness, peace, and contentment, since the innermost self is identical with the divine. Knowledge is attained through initiation, which provides four techniques that allow the practitioner to go within.
  65. Hunt, Stephen J. Alternative Religions: A Sociological Introduction (2003), pp.116-7, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 0-7546-3410-8".
    The major focus of Maharaji is on stillness, peace, and contentment within the individual, and his 'Knowledge' consists of the techniques to obtain them. Knowledge, roughly translated, means the happiness of the true self-understanding. Each individual should seek to comprehend his or her true self. In turn, this brings a sense of well-being, joy, and harmony as one comes in contact with one's "own nature." The Knowledge includes four meditation procedures: Light, Music, Nectar and Word. The process of reaching the true self within can only be achieved by the individual, but with the guidance and help of a teacher. Hence, the movement seems to embrace aspects of world-rejection and world-affirmation. The tens of thousands of followers in the West do not see themselves as members of a religion, but the adherents of a system of teachings that extol the goal of enjoying life to the full."
  66. Hadden, Religions of the world, pp.428 "The meditation techniques the Maharaji teaches today are the same he learned from his father, Hans Ji Maharaj, who, in turn, learned them from his spiritual teacher [Sarupanand]. 'Knowledge', claims Maharaji, 'is a way to be able to take all your senses that have been going outside all your life, turn them around and put them inside to feel and to actually experience you... What you are looking for is inside of you.'"
  67. Lipner.
  68. Melton, J. Gordon The Encyclopedia Handbook of Cults in America. p.143, Garland Publishing (1986) ISBN 0-8240-9036-5
  69. Geaves, Ron, Globalization, Charisma, Innovation and Tradition: 2006. Journal of Alternative Spiritualities and New Age Studies, 2 44-62.
    "Prem Rawat has affinities with the mediaeval Nirguna Bhakti (formless devotion) tradition of Northern India, more commonly known as Sant. With its emphasis on universalism, equality, direct experience, criticism of blind allegiance to religious ritual and dogma, and tendency towards syncretism."
  70. Hadden, Religions of the World, pp.428
    "The meditation techniques the Maharaji teaches today are the same he learned from his father, Hans Ji Maharaj, who, in turn, learned them from his spiritual teacher [Sarupanand]. 'Knowledge', claims Maharaji, 'is a way to be able to take all your senses that have been going outside all your life, turn them around and put them inside to feel and to actually experience you..."
  71. Stephen J. Hunt, Alternative Religions: A Sociological Introduction. (2003), pp.116-7, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 0-7546-3410-8
    "The process of reaching the true self within can only be achieved by the individual, but with the guidance and help of a teacher."
  72. 72.0 72.1 Barret, David V., The New Believers: A Survey of Sects, Cults and Alternative Religions (2003),pp.65, Cassel, ISBN 1-84403-040-7
    "Elan Vital has now dropped all of its original Eastern religious practices. [...] Unusually, the fact that Maharaji came from a lineage of 'Perfect Masters' is no longer relevant to the reformed movement. This is not where the authority comes from, nor the recognition of Maharaji as the master by his student; this comes rather from the nature of the teaching and its benefit to the individual. The experience is on individual, subjective experience rather than on a body of dogma, and in its Divine Light days the movement was sometime criticized for this stressing of emotional experience over intellect. The teachings could perhaps best described as practical mysticism.
  73. Mangalwadi, Vishal The World of Gurus revised edition Cornerstone Pr Chicago; Revised edition (July 1992) ISBN 094089503X, pp 137-138
    "The Divine Light Mission has not been interested in teachings and philosophies. Balyogeshwar and his brother have consistently rejected "theoretical" knowledge as "useless." I found the DLM devotees most difficult to talk to, because they neither wanted to teach their philosophy to me nor answer philosophical questions and objections. Their one comment was "Take the practical knowledge of the experience of Sound and Light and all your doubts and questions will be answered."
  74. Hummel, Reinhart Indische Mission und neue Frömmigkeit im Westen. Religiöse Bewegungen in westlichen Kulturen, Stuttgart 1980, ISBN 3-17-005609-3
  75. Hummel, Reinhart, Indische Mission und neue Frömmigkeit im Westen. Religiöse Bewegungen in westlichen Kulturen Stuttgart 1980, ISBN 3-170-05609-3, p79.
    "In a satsang in 1975 in Orlando/Florida, he speaks in a language similar to American evangelical campaigners." Original: "In einem 1975 in Orlando/Florida gehaltenen Satsang spricht er eine aehnliche Sprache wie Amerikanische Evangelizationsfeldzuege."
  76. Kranenborg, Reender (1982) Oosterse Geloofsbewegingen in het Westen/Eastern faith movements in the West (Dutch language) ISBN 90-210-4965-1
  77. Lans, Jan van der & Frans Derks, Premies Versus Sannyasins "According to Maharaj Ji, all evil should be attributed to the mind[...] indicat[ing] the same obstacle of freeing oneself from former bonds [...] DLM’s concept of mind refers primarily to a state of consciousness characterized by everything but passive, nonrational confidence and trust."
  78. Haan, Wim (Dutch language) De missie van het Goddelijk licht van goeroe Maharaj Ji: een subjektieve duiding from the series Religieuze bewegingen in Nederland: Feiten en Visies nr. 3, autumn 1981. ISBN 90-242-2341-5 Note: Haan was part of a critical movement within the Catholic church (Based mainly on the Dutch branch of the Divine Light Mission.) Dutch original:
    "Het woordje "mind" wordt binnen de premie-gemeenschap gedefinieerd als de 'gekonditioneerdheid', d.w.z. alle vervreemdende invloeden die de mens van zijn ware aard hebben doen afdwalen.
    Soms ontaardt de strijd die tegen dit woord wordt gevoerd echter in een volstrekte irrationaliteit. Elke kritiek en objektieve benadering wordt dan als mind bestempeld. Als iemand zich slecht voelt of gedurende lange tijd geen goede ervaringen heeft heeft tijdens zijn meditatie, dan is de betreffende persoon 'in zijn mind'. Gesprekken met buitenstaanders worden vaak uit de weg gegaan, omdat dat wel eens de mind zou kunnen stimuleren."
  79. Hummel, Reinhart Indische Mission und neue Frömmigkeit im Westen. Religiöse Bewegungen in westlichen Kulturen, Stuttgart 1980, ISBN 3-17-005609-3 English translation
    "The young Guru explains that conceptual thinking, translated by the English word “mind” in German translations also, is the main enemy of direct religious experience."
    "Der junge Guru erklärt das konzeptionelle Denken, das auch in deutschen Übersetzungen mit dem englischen Wort >>mind<< bezeichnet wird, als Hauptfeind der unmittelbaren religiösen Erfahrung."
  80. Chryssides, George D. Historical Dictionary of New Religious Movements pp.210-1, Scarecrow Press (2001) ISBN 0-8108-4095-2
    "Maharaji progressively dissolved the Divine Light Mission, closing the ashrams, affirming his own status as a master rather than a divine leader, and empahasizing that the Knowledge is universal, non Indian, in nature"[...] "This Knowledge was self-understanding, yielding calmness, peace, and contentment, since the innermost self is identical with the divine. Knowledge is attained through initiation, which provides four techniques that allow the practitioner to go within.
  81. Stephen J. Hunt Alternative Religions: A Sociological Introduction (2003), pp.116-7, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 0-7546-3410-8
  82. Stephen J. Hunt Alternative Religions: A Sociological Introduction (2003), pp.116-7, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 0-7546-3410-8
    "Maharaji transformed his initial teachings in order to appeal to a Western context. He came to recognize that the Indian influences on his followers in the West were a hindrance to the wider acceptance of his teachings. He therefore changed the style of his message and relinquished the Hindu tradition, beliefs, and most of its original eastern religious practices."
  83. Miller, America's Alternative Religions, pp.474
  84. Downton, Sacred Journeys.
    "The end of 1973 saw Guru Maharaj Ji breaking away from his mother and his Indian past. He declared himself the sole source of spiritual authority in the Mission. And, unlike some gurus who have come to this country and have easternized their followers, he became more fully westernized, which premies interpreted as an attempt to integrate his spiritual teachings into our culture."
  85. Maharaj.org: Masters (1999). Retrieved on 1999-01-01.
    "Even though references to the technique of Knowledge are made earlier than 1700, this is the traceable story so far"
  86. Barret V. David, The New Believers: A survey of Sects, Cults and Alternative Religions" (2003), pp.327, Octopus Publishing Group , ISBN 1-84403-040-7
  87. 87.0 87.1 87.2 Kranenborg, Reender, (1982) Oosterse Geloofsbewegingen in het Westen/Eastern faith movements in the West (Dutch language) ISBN 90-210-4965-1
  88. Frankiel, Sandra S. in Lippy, Charles H. and Williams. Peter W. (Eds.) Encyclopedia of the American Religious Experience p.1521, Charles Scribner's Sons (1988), ISBN 0-684-18863-5 (Vol III)
  89. 89.0 89.1 Melton, Gordon J., Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America (1992) pp. 143-4, Garland Publishing, ISBN 0-8153-1140-0
  90. 90.0 90.1 The Keys website. Three promises. The Prem Rawat Foundation. Retrieved on Sept 2006.
  91. Drury, Michael, The Dictionary of the Esoteric: 3000 Entries on the Mystical and Occult Traditions, pp.75-6, (2002), Sterling Publishing Company, ISBN 1-842-93108-3
  92. FAQs about Knowledge Elan Vital website, August 2005. Retrieved November 2005
  93. Melton, Encyclopedia of American Religions.
    "Maharaji had made every attempt to abandon the traditional Indian religious trappings in which the techniques originated and to make his presentation acceptable to all the various cultural settings in which followers live. He sees his teachings as independent of culture, religion, beliefs, or lifestyles."
  94. J. Gordon Melton, Christopher Partridge (Eds.), New Religions: A Guide: New Religious Movements, Sects and Alternative Spiritualities. pp.201-202, Oxford University Press, USA (2004) ISBN 978-0195220421.
    "Rawat is insistent that it is not the product of any one culture or the property of any religious tradition and that it can be practiced by anyone. Consequently, Maharaji asserts that he is not teaching a religion and there are no particular rituals, sacred days, pilgrimages, sacred places, doctrines, scriptures or specific dress codes, dietary requirements or any other dimension associated with a religious lifestyle."
  95. Geaves, Ron, Globalization, Charisma, Innovation, and Tradition.
    "He does not demand obedience, in that no outer requirements or prohibitions are placed on those taught the techniques. The simple axiom, 'If you like it, practice it, if you don’t, try something else,' is applied on frequent occasions in his public discourses. Neither does Prem Rawat regard himself as an exemplary leader, a role often ascribed to religious founders."
  96. Chryssides, George D. Historical Dictionary of New Religious Movements pp.210-1, Scarecrow Press (2001) ISBN 0-8108-4095-2
    "This Knowledge was self-understanding, yielding calmness, peace, and contentment, since the innermost self is identical with the divine. Knowledge is attained through initiation, which provides four techniques that allow the practitioner to go within...and emphasizing that the Knowledge is universal, non Indian, in nature."
  97. Hunt, Stephen J., Alternative Religions: A Sociological Introduction. (2003), pp.116-7, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 0-7546-3410-8 Br />"The major focus of Maharaji is on stillness, peace, and contentment within the individual, and his 'Knowledge' consists of the techniques to obtain them. Knowledge, roughly translated, means the happiness of the true self-understanding. Each individual should seek to comprehend his or her true self. In turn, this brings a sense of well-being, joy and harmony as one comes in contact with one's "own nature." The Knowledge includes four meditation procedures: Light, Music, Nectar and Word. The process of reaching the true self within can only be achieved by the individual, but with the guidance and help of a teacher. Hence, the movement seems to embrace aspects of world-rejection and world-affirmation. The tens of thousands of followers in the West do not see themselves as members of a religion, but the adherents of a system of teachings that extol the goal of enjoying life to the full."
  98. "Guru Maharaj Ji becomes a citizen of the U.S." Rocky Mountain News, Wednesday, October 19, 1977, Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
  99. Cagan, A., Peace is Possible: The Life and Message of Prem Rawat, pp.228
  100. U.S. Patent Office
  101. Maharaj.org - Answers to common questions) (1999).