Prem Rawat's History Revealed: The Naked Truth

Creation Of A Child Guru

Prem Rawat, born Prem Pal Singh Rawat, Dec 10, 1957 in Haridwar, was the youngest son of Hans Ram Singh Rawat a self proclaimed "Satguru" of the northern Indian Sant Mat mystical tradition. [1], [2], [3], [4], [5]

Shri Totapuri Ji Maharaj
Shri Adwetanand Ji Maharaj
Shri Swarupanand Ji Maharaj
Hans Rawat aka Shri Hans Ji Maharaj

From a young age Prem Rawat was encouraged to speak at the public meetings held by his father. The language used by the child was an emulation of his father's addresses and notably included references to satnam, satguru and satsang. [6],[7],[8]

Preaching On Stage
The Boy God Speaks
The Boy God Crowned

In 1960 an organisation called Divine Light Mission was created to promote Hans Rawat to a wider audience.

In 1966 Hans Rawat died without having made any clear statement about how, or even if anyone should succeed him. Following the death, it has been claimed that a bizarre sequence of disputes arose involving the Rawat family, Hans Rawat's appointed teachers, (Mahatmas) and Officials of the Divine Light Mission. There is no actual evidence that these disputes occurred but the eventual resolution of the situation saw the youngest Rawat son, then just eight years old, proclaimed as the divine inheritor of his father's spiritual elevation. [9],[10],[11],[12]

Being Crowned Satguru
Being Crowned Satguru

"The Perfect Master never dies. Maharaj Ji is here,
amongst you now.
Recognise him, obey him, and worship him."

Prem Rawat, 8 years old

Effective control of the Rawat family assets and the Divine Light Mission fell to Prem Rawat's mother and his eldest brother Bal Bhagwan Ji (now Sat Pal Maharaj), who acted as 'regents' while Prem remained legally a minor. A seminal event held in Delhi in 1970, which came to be characterised as Prem Rawat's Peace Bomb discourse, was reputedly attended by an audience of one million.

Prem Rawat's Peace Bomb speech
Prem Rawat's Peace Bomb speech
Prem Rawat's Peace Bomb speech
Prem Rawat's Peace Bomb speech

From 1966 until at least 1971, the message of the Divine Light Mission was a continuation of the principles adopted by Hans Rawat including instruction in the four techniques of meditation as a means to spiritual advancement.[13] It was in this context of a 'spiritual teaching' and the ideology surrounding the 'Knowledge' meditation that a number of young British and American travellers were attracted to the Rawat Haridwar ashram. Two of these early 'converts' are of particular note, Mike Finch and Ron Geaves, both have written extensively on the history of Prem Rawat's career as a 'teacher', although with radically divergent conclusions about the character of Prem Rawat.

Mike Finch with Maharaji
Mike Finch with Maharaji
The Young Ron Geaves devotee of Prem Rawat
Professor Ron Geaves devotee of Prem Rawat

Expansion of the Divine Light Mission outside of India

A senior disciple of both Hans Rawat and of Prem Rawat, known as Mahatma Gurucharnanand, had in the late 1960s been sent by Prem Rawat's mother to proselytise amongst the Hindu community in London UK. In the summer of 1971 Prem Rawat then aged only 13 travelled to London in the company of Mahatma Gurucharnand, here they received support from several westerners who had received the Knowledge techniques of meditation in India and who had adopted a devotional attachment to Prem Rawat. [14],[15]

Mahatmas Gurucharanand and Saphlanand
Mahatma Gurucharanand with Maharaji
Mahatma Gurucharanand with Maharaji

Soon after arriving in London, Prem Rawat, then known as Guru Maharaj Ji was taken to the nascent Glastonbury Festival where he made an impromptu appearance, displacing rock band Brinsley Schwarz from the stage through the use of threats and violence. [16]

Maharaji at Glastonbury 1971
Ron Geaves with Maharaji at Glastonbury 1971
Glastonbury 1971

From the UK, Prem Rawat and Mahatma Gurucharnanand travelled to the US where the 'Boy Guru' attracted a significant following before returning to India to resume his schooling. A variety of claims have been made about the early development of Prem Rawat's following in Europe and North America although the only extant and consistent testimonies are those of Bob Mishler and Mike Finch. [17], [18]

Satguru Has Gone In the Autumn of 1971 Bob Mishler and others set up an organisation called Divine Light Mission Incorporated (DLM), this was registered as a Church for tax purposes with the US Internal Revenue Service, Prem Rawat, despite his being a minor and lacking US citizenship was according to Michael Dettmers listed as chief Minister of the Divine Light Mission church. The US headquarters of DLM Inc. was in Boulder, Colorado. [19], [20]

Satguru Has Gone
Satguru Has Gone
Satguru Has Gone

A separate DLM was created in the UK in 1972 [21], subsequently other Nationally independent DLM organisations were created in Australia, South Africa, and Canada, as well as in several European and South American countries.

Poverty, Obedience And Media Promotion

Divine Light Mission ashrams were set up in western countries despite there being no cultural precedent for their support. Those who entered an ashram were required to take a vow of poverty and give over their possessions and any continuing incomes to the organisation. They also took a vow of chastity and obedience. Drugs and alcohol were prohibited and vegetarianism was required; the rules for ashramites were laid out in The Ashram Manual.

Ashram Residents
Ashram Residents

The actual levels of adherence to Prem Rawat are difficult to establish, claims of a 6 or 8 million world wide Divine Light Mission membership in the early 1970s seem to have been drastically overstated. [22]

Prem Rawat's Teaching About The Number of His Students

Millenium '73 Festival, Houston Astrodome, Texas, November, 1973
Q: Did you receive the Knowledge in a vision?
Guru Maharaj Ji: No, it was given to me, as it is given to eight million people, it was given to me by my father.
Millenium Festival Press Conference, November 1973

In 1972 and 1973 Prem Rawat was the focus of much media attention and three feature-length films were made by premies about Rawat, Lord Of The Universe, Satguru Has Come and Who is Guru Maharaj Ji?, a book also titled Who is Guru Maharaj Ji?[23] was published which set out the definitive beliefs of the Rawat movement.

Lord of the Universe
Who is Guru Maharaj Ji?
Who is Guru Maharaj Ji?

The Attack On Journalist Pat Halley

An event in August 1973 demonstrated that Rawat's following was by no means a 'peaceful' movement. Following an incident in which the young Rawat had a shaving foam 'pie thrown in his face, the pie thrower, radical journalist Pat Halley was viciously attacked with a hammer by devotees of Guru Maharaj Ji. [24],[25]

TVTV Lord of the Universe documentary
TVTV Lord of the Universe documentary
TVTV Lord of the Universe documentary
TVTV Lord of the Universe documentary
TVTV Lord of the Universe documentary
TVTV Lord of the Universe documentary

Embracing New Age Mysticism

In November 1973 DLM Inc, booked the Houston Astrodome for a three-day event to coincide with the date of Hans Rawat's birthday. Called "Millennium '73" the festival was to be the "most holy and significant event in human history" and premies confidently expected a "millennial moment". Maharaji was to initiate a Millenium of Peace on Earth or leave the earth on the Kohoutek Spaceship to Heaven. [26],[27]

Despite having Rennie Davis, a former member of the Chicago Seven, as a prominent devotee and speaker at "Millennium '73", the event attracted at most 20,000 attendees. The vast stadium dwarfed the small crowd and losses from the event nearly drove DLM Inc. into bankruptcy. [28] Ironically the Mission was holding funds that were to reach several million dollars, these however were put aside as 'personal gifts' for Prem Rawat.

Lord of the Universe TVTV documentary
Lord of the Universe TVTV documentary

A documentary covering the Millennium '73 event and which borrowed in parody the title of the earlier DLM produced 'Lord Of The Universe' film, was broadcast in the US in 1974 [29],[30],[31],[32]

An American Guru And His American Movement

In May 1974 at age sixteen Prem Rawat married a twenty-five year old flight attendant named Marolyn Johnson. Rawat's bad behaviour precipitated a rift between Prem Rawat, his mother and two elder brothers and the Indian DLM administrators and mahatmas (the second youngest Raja Ji remained in Prem Rawat's camp). Mishler speaking in 1979 described a period of intense conflict in 1974 between Prem Rawat and his family. Even the venerable C. L. Tandon his father's secretary and Divya Sandesh Parishad Secretary General flew to the USA to try to set the boy back on the path. [33],[34],[35] Much of Mishler's testimony must be taken with a degree of skepticism. His retelling of events is inconsistent with the public record of his statements while head of DLM, with Prem Rawat's statements during this time and with the public record of their actions.

Ultimately Prem Rawat's mother disowned her youngest son and returned to India with the two eldest brothers. According to reports published in newspapers on April Fools' Day 1975 and later in the People Weekly magazine,  Jagat Janani announced that her son was corrupted by Western ways, had strayed from the holy Hindu path and claimed he drank alcohol, ate meat and visited night clubs. [36] This behaviour was later confirmed by Bob Mishler, President of Divine Light Mission and confidant of Maharaji, Michael Donner, National Co-ordinator of the US Divine Light Mission and Michael Dettmers, long time personal assistant of Maharaji. [37]

Michael Dettmers and Maharaji
Michael Donner
Bob Mishler and Rennie Davis

Legal actions brought by the Officers of the Indian Divine Light Mission[38] saw Prem Rawat lose any claim he may have had to that organisation and eldest Rawat brother Bal Bhagwan Ji, now known as Satpal Maharaj, became the spiritual head of the Divine Light Mission in India. Most of the mahatmas in the West returned to India, maintaining allegiance with Prem Rawat's mother and the eldest son Satpal.

Malibu Mansion By the time of his marriage, a property had been acquired for Prem Rawat at Trancas Canyon, Malibu, California this was to become the location of his main residence for most of the succeeding three decades.[39] With his own home, his mother and brother divorced from any control of the western Divine Light Missions, with an established and devoted following of westerners, and with US citizenship achieved via his marriage, Prem Rawat was in a position to assert sole control over the movement that he found himself to be leading. The peculiarity of this situation was that Rawat was just sixteen years old and an immigrant to the country which was the crucible for a multimillion dollar movement based on worship of this adolescent.

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Notes:

[1] Prem Rawat Bio:  Shri Hans Ji Maharaj - Prem Rawat's Father

[2] BIO: Satgurudev Shri Hans Ji Maharaj
EPO: Satgurudev Shri Hans Ji Maharaj Published by Divine Light Mission, India,  1970

[3] Shrihansa: Shri Hans Ji Maharaj The Great Spiritual Master of the 20th Century Reveals His Knowledge to the World

[4] Manavdharam: Shri Maharaj Ji meets his Guru

[5] Wikipedia: Hans Ji Maharaj

[6] BIO: Prempal Rawat's Childhood: the legend

[7] EPO: DLM/EV History: Early Years

[8] Wikiquote: Listen to satsang. It is a very good thing. God created day and night. After that He created excellent things to eat, and then he landed us in this world. Isn't this human body beautiful? There is a nose to breathe with. Tell me, could we have survived without it? See what a good job of seeing these eyes do. Look how beautiful are the hands and the feet. If no seva is done, then these hands are of no use. These two ears have been given, if we don't listen to satsang with them, aren't they useless? If you do not go to satsang walking with these feet, they are also worthless. God has created all the parts of this body quite well, but if we don't use them properly, it is our fault, not the Creator's. The river flowing over there is the Ganga, but it is not flowing for its own use. It is we who drink its water, wash our clothes in it, and irrigate our fields with it. By bathing in it only the dirt of this body is washed, but by bathing in the Ganga of satsang, all the evils are removed. What I am telling you is also written in the Gita. But Gita cannot make you understand. Only the satguru can make you understand the satnam (true name), so do practice Knowledge. Look at Lord Shiva sitting with eyes closed [pointing towards a fountain with a statue of Shiva]. He always stays in the contemplation of Guru Maharaj. Whenever I see him he doesn't do any other work. I don't know whether he doesn't like doing any other work or what. Therefore, you too should also practice Knowledge like this.
Prem Nagar, Hardwar August 21, 1962 (translated from Hindi). Issue 1, Mahesh Kare, January 1963.

[9] BIO: Our Treasure Increases, July 29, 1966, Prem Nagar, India
EPO: Our Treasure Increases. July 29, 1966, Prem Nagar, India

[10] BIO: The Incarnation of Prem Rawat (Maharaji)
EPO: DLM/EV History.  Divine Light Mission founded, Maharaji becomes Satguru

[11] BIO: Transcript of Radio Interview with Bob Mishler - How Maharaji was selected to succeed his father
EPO: Transcript of Radio Interview with Robert Mishler - How Maharaji was selected to succeed his father
Mishler has no first hand knowledge of the events, he is merely repeating gossip

[12] The Unbroken Garland And It Is Divine magazine - the "official" version of the events

[13] BIO: Satgurudev Shri Hans Ji Maharaj
EPO: Satgurudev Shri Hans Ji Maharaj Published by Divine Light Mission, India,  1970

[14] Finch: Maharaji's Start in the West

[15] BIO: Prem Rawat - Early Success in the West

[16] BIO: Glastonbury Fayre
The Daily Telegraph: Nick Lowe on Maharaji's visit, 1971 "I played the Glastonbury Fayre with Brinsley Schwarz to about 1,500 people in a field. It's heresy to say this, but I couldn't bear it - it was so cold and muddy. My abiding memory is of Maharaji, the teenage guru, turning up in a flower-bedecked Ford Zephyr, followed by all these weird Americans. He wanted to address his people while we were in the middle of a really good gig. There was no security in those days, and when we wouldn't get off, the flower children became more and more nasty. We'd finish a tune, and they'd say "The master is here!" Then huge chunks of metal started being dropped on us from the pyramid by his more enthusiastic followers, and eventually they drove us off the stage. He got on, asked the audience for money, got back in his car and cleared off."

[17] BIO: Transcript of Radio Interview with Robert Mishler - Maharaji's first trips to US in 1971 and 1972
EPO: Transcript of Radio Interview with Robert Mishler - Maharaji's first trips to US in 1971 and 1972

[18] Finch: Maharaji's Start in the West

[19] BIO Statement by Michael Dettmers Oct 30, 2000
EPO Statement by Michael Dettmers Oct 30, 2000

[20] EPO: Divine Light Mission official documents

[21] UK Charity Commission: Registry Entry for Divine Light Mission

[22] Adherents.com: Table of entries for numbers of 'members' of Divine Light Mission given by country.

[23] Who Is Guru Maharaj Ji: Book - 1973, Bantam Books, Inc.© Shri Hans Productions

[24] BIO: Pat Halley, The Shaving Cream Pie And The Heavenly Hammer
EPO: Murder Attempt

[25] Fifth Estate magazine: Article - Guru's Secret September 14, 1973

[26] BIO: DLM/EV History - The Millennium '73 Festival
EPO: DLM/EV History - The Millennium Festival

[27] BIO: Prem Rawat - Early Success in the West

[28] BIO: Statement by Michael Dettmers Oct 30, 2000
EPO: Statement by Michael Dettmers  Oct 30, 2000

[29] EPO: Film - Lord of the Universe excerpts

[30] BIO: Film - Lord of the Universe - full transcript and video excerpts

[31] Wikipedia: Lord of the Universe

[32] IMDb: The Lord of the Universe (1974) (TV)

[33] BIO: The Wedding of Prem Rawat

[34] BIO: Transcript of Radio Interview with Bob Mishler
EPO: Transcript of Radio Interview with Robert Mishler - Parallels between DLM and Jonestown mass suicide  "There was a period during 1974 when there was an outright war, really, in the Divine Light Mission, between his mother and elder brother, …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."

[35] BIO: Prem Rawat - Coming of Age

[36] BIO: People Weekly Magazine The teenaged guru fights his brother for control of the wealthy divine light mission
EPO: People Weekly Magazine: The teenaged guru fights his brother for control of the wealthy divine light mission

[37] BIO: Mike Donner's Open Letter to Maharaji & EPO: Mike Donner's Letter to Maharaji, plus discussion.

[38] Civil Proceedings: C. L. Tandon v. Prem Pal Singh Rawat, AIR 1978 Delhi 221 "One valuable touchstone for determining whether the matters in issue are directly and substantially the same is whether the decision in the prior suit will bring the principle of res judicata into operation in the subsequent suit. Because the removal of Prem Pal Singh Rawat by Mataji and the nomination in his place of Satya Pal Singh Rawat and the competence of Mataji to do the same, issues of utmost importance, are alien to the Patna suit, the disposal of the suit at Patna will not stand in the way of the trial of the said issues by the appropriate courts."

[39] BIO: Prem Rawat's Malibu Mansion & EPO: Trancas Canyon property.