Prem Rawat: The Naked Truth (Part 2)
Development Of A Global Business
On April Fool's Day 1973 Prem Rawat's Proclamation of the creation of the Divine United Organisation  was published in the Divine Times. In his own words "Divine United Organization will feed and clothe the world. It will save humanity." It flopped but with the loss of the Indian DLM and his replacement as Satguru by his brother, the organisation became Prem Rawat's Indian base. DUO was subsequently run for many years by one of the mahatmas who remained loyal to Prem Rawat - Mahatma Sampurananand, eventually being renamed Raj Vidya Kender..
The nationally based organisations that took the name Divine Light Mission in many countries around the world had no unifying legal structure beyond a commonality of statement of aims, primarily these were based upon a commitment to proselytise the Knowledge and to accept Guru Maharaj Ji as a source of divine inspiration. 
There is no evidence that in 1974 Prem Rawat had any clear strategy in his exercise of the charismatic leadership of a movement that he had been gifted. He harangued his followers demanding obedience to his agya. With his growing command of English slang he threatened that they "should shape up or ship out" and if they didn't shape up they'd rot like three tons of vegetables. The developments within the various parts of the worldwide DLM movement were predicated on ad hoc responses to local conditions. A small number of mahatmas had sided with Prem Rawat in the DLM India/West split, apart from Sampurananand who remained in India, Mahatmas Gurucharanand and Jagdeo continued in positions of influence.
From the inception of Divine Light Mission Incorporated, founder Bob Mishler was a key advisor to Prem Rawat, however in 1975 this relationship began to break down and Rawat increasingly looked to Canadian Michael Dettmers for advice, firstly on financial matters and from 1976 onward, wider organisational matters. 
Michael Dettmers oversaw a substantive change in the relationship between Prem Rawat and the DLM Inc. the effects of which went far beyond the administrative borders of the US. Dettmers, working with tax lawyer Robert Jacobs achieved a separation of Prem Rawat's finances from DLM Inc. This not only made Prem Rawat cash rich, but removed any legal restrictions regarding financial support which would have derived from Rawat being DLM's chief (religious) Minister. 
DLM Inc. continued to be registered as a Church, however the organisation developed two new financing strategies that saw Prem Rawat receiving 'arms length' financial support, rather than as though he were an integral part of the organisation. Firstly there was the collection of funds not included in the accounts of DLM Inc. which were directed to acquisitions for Prem Rawat's personal benefit  and secondly there was the use of donated funds to pay the generous expenses allowed to Prem Rawat for his participation in activities that "delivered his message". 
The pattern of financing adopted by the US Élan Vital Inc. was emulated by other national Divine Light Missions from 1975 onward.
A SELF ABSORBED MOVEMENT
Although the DLM movement claimed to have large numbers of adherents worldwide, there is no evidence for growth in numbers after 1975. 
In 1975 Prem Rawat had been giving satsang demanding "understanding." Rawat was just rehashing his usual point that premies must understand "we have really experienced the Truth within inside of us, and that we want to give this whole world this experience that we have experienced." Unfortunately for Rawat, this began a process of questioning in December 1975 that ended with ashram residents giving up their renunciate way of life in droves in 1976 as DLM administrators reflected on their actual experience of Knowledge and Guru Maharaj Ji and questions about Rawat's role in spreading Knowledge, his divine status, was the best way to promote him and Knowledge. In line with the new "party line" premies were told to restrain themselves in public. There were to be no outpourings of ecstatic bliss at his presence, no massed chants of "Bolie Shri Satgurudev Maharaj Ki Jai," no pranams and kissing his feet in darshan lines and Rawat appeared to accede to this.
Mishler and his fellow administrators decided that the best way to present Maharaji was as a "humanitarian leader" and premies as "part of the mainstream." Articles in DLM publications were published teaching premies how to think and present themselves:
- Is Knowledge Portable? - Divine Times, April 1976
- Dealing With Change - Divine Times, May 1976
- Part of the Mainstream - Golden Age, May 1976
- No One Can Stop You - Golden Age, June 1976
- The Ashram Examined - Divine Times, June 1976
A public relations campaign also began in March 1976 with reports to the press though responses were were frankly dubious. Public Relations Director Joe Anctil claimed that they were throwing out portrayals of Rawat as "the one, perfect manifestation and channel of divinity in this age." This was truly bizarre as Rawat had been promoted as the boy God, the Lord of the Universe, the Lord of Universal Peace. They even stated that the much vaunted premie claims of bliss in divine light had been hype and they were now settling down for long-term growth in meditative discipline and service. Mishler claimed Rawat had agreed to these changes but when he was told his allowance would be cut in half he replied "it is not up to you to interfere with the life of the Perfect Master." Mishler was fired and went quietly.
In late 1976, without any explanation Rawat began to once again stress the importance of the DLM ashram system  and the importance of worship of and devotion to Himself. Some followers who had moved out of the ashrams in 1976 returned to the ashram lifestyle in 1977 coinciding with a reinvigoration of the DLM movement as whole. The period after 1974 saw a less energetic promotion of Rawat's public profile than had been seen in the 1971 to 1974 period. In fact, after 1976, DLM attempted to have no public profile at all.
Rawat's role in the Divine Light Missions after 1975 was never made explicit and although he was universally regarded as the "Divine Leader" and "Perfect Master" of the DLM by all his followers, he had no legal standing in any of the organisations. The various DLMs were governed under national laws some of which placed significant limits upon what the organisations could do, yet a dynamic existed within the organisations where individuals who held legal officerships, could be 'sacked' at Rawat's say so. The first casualty of this dynamic was Bob Mishler who despite being President of the US DLM was unable to make any challenge to the direction that Rawat wanted the organisation to take and Mishler ultimately accepted the decision to fall on his sword. , 
For a time around 1980 the centre of DLM Inc. operations which had been located in Los Angeles, moved to Miami where activities included a project known as DECA which was concerned with the customisation of a Boeing 707 for Prem Rawat's personal use.  The project failed to produce an aircraft suitable for sustained use, and also failed in its commercial ambition and the business was eventually sold. DECA was dependant upon the ashram system without which DECA could not have survived financially while work was carried out on the Boeing 707. The poor working and living conditions experienced by some of the devotees involved in the project revealed a capacity for exploitation and indifference in a movement led by an individual still claiming at that time, a religious purpose.  The remnants of DECA eventually became a successful business thanks to one premie, Roger Koch, who eventually apostasised after making a sizeable financial contribution and made an interesting series of comments about Rawat.
In 1982 the DLM ashrams were ordered to be closed worldwide. No consultation with residents was undertaken and no provision was made for those who were left without homes or jobs, the final closures occurring in 1983. , 
A Bigger Business
The term Élan Vital was first used in connection to Prem Rawat when the Élan Vital Foundation was created in 1983 by Michael Dettmers and others.  Progressively the various national Divine Light Missions were renamed Élan Vital, one of the last being in Australia in 1993.  The company that had been responsible for the various DLM publications Shri Hans Publications was replaced by Visions International, - website no longer exists - a subsidiary of the US Élan Vital.
Following the closure of the ashrams, efforts were made to expunge overtly religious associations from Élan Vital's public presentation. The Élan Vital 'message' was notably anodyne and attracted little interest from outside the established following, which by the mid 1980s was no longer youthful. The generation of income was a primary purpose and the organisation of 'events' backed with the provision of tapes and various publications became the operative business model, Élan Vital was in effect a service and product provider to Rawat's now 'atomised' following.  Of itself the sale of recorded and printed media did not generate sufficient income to maintain either the organisations or Rawat's proclivity for travel and a sophisticated system of donation seeking became the major focus of the national Élan Vitals.
The Charismatic Myth
A number of academics, notably Melton, Miller, Chryssides and Geaves  have ascribed all the changes in the Rawat movement and the Divine Light Missions to Prem Rawat acting as a sole authority and agent of change, however no published work effectively explains how Rawat was able to act with such totality when he had no legal status within in the organisational structures. In writing as they have these scholars have helped perpetuate the myth of Rawat as a lone agent of leadership, while in truth a far more prosaic organisational process underlies the birth, development and decline of the Rawat movement. , , , 
Prem Rawat certainly had an unusual childhood, however other than hagiographic claims of precocious wisdom, insight and oration there is nothing to show that Rawat was anything other than average apart from his family position. Rawat attended school but there are no reports of his showing any great scholastic, artistic or intellectual abilities and this schooling ended when he was just thirteen. Rawat's 'transfer' out of India as a 'teacher' was achieved with the institutional support of the Indian Divine Light Mission and its 'mahatmas', while the new organisational structures in north America, Europe and Australasia were created by individuals who were reliant entirely on skills and experience acquired before their involvement with Rawat. Rawat was undoubtedly the 'charismatic centre' but his role in the development of the 'Divine Light Mission' was passive and reliant upon other contributors.
While Rawat was an undoubted figurehead and object of worship, as an adolescent with no demonstrable practical skills, he was not the creator of the movement that grew up around him. With the predominant relationships that he experienced in his figurehead role being nominally, and often actually, that of master and servant there is no evidence that Rawat developed anything other than a 'demand' approach to his role in that movement, neither is there evidence that his message was anything other than an adolescent interpretation of the message inherited from his father. In this context in must be seen that others were and are responsible for the structures that have underwritten the career of Prem Rawat.
Of those individuals who made significant contributions to the shaping of the US centre of the global Rawat movement, three have spoken or written publicly about their experience:
Bob Mishler was one of the founders of the US DLM and served as its President until 1977. Mishler was a veteran of the anti (Vietnam) war movement and was also a yoga teacher; having been initiated into the Knowledge meditation in 1971 he became an effective organiser within the nascent US DLM Inc., and in 1974 following Rawat's split with his mother Mishler became Rawat's closest American adviser. Under Mishler's guidance there were moves in 1975 to start "a major change of emphasis in the Divine Light Mission" however according to Mishler "Maharaji (Rawat) got very insecure about what was going to happen to him if we continued with this". 
Mishler left DLM Inc. in 1977 and in 1979 was killed in a plane crash, however earlier in 1979 Mishler recorded an extensive radio interview in which he revealed many aspects of Rawat's life which were unknown to both the majority of followers and public, and which to this day are either flatly denied or downplayed by current followers. 
Mike Donner was National Co-ordinator of the US DLM Inc. from 1974 , later becoming co-ordinator of Rawat's personal staff, and then an 'Instructor' (demonstrator of the meditation techniques). In 1987 Donner gave up his position as an Instructor and in December of that year he wrote an open letter to Rawat which was highly critical of Rawat's relationship to his followers.  Donner subsequently discussed Rawat's use of alcohol and hashish, an abusive relationship with a female follower and the existence of Rawat's long time mistress on an Internet forum. 
Michael Dettmers  was Rawat's personal manager from 1975 to 1987, although he had no legal role within the Divine Light Missions, Dettmers was accorded the notional position of "International Director" and was responsible for effecting major change within the global organisation of the Rawat movement. In 2000 Dettmers contributed to an Internet discussion where he detailed his role in securing the business base of the Rawat movement.  In 2002 Dettmers agreed to the Internet publication of a private interview, in which he provided damning contentions about Rawat's personal behaviour. 
An Environment For Abuse
The departure of Bob Mishler from the US DLM Inc. in 1977 marked an end to any element of independent authority within the Rawat movement; although 'initiates' continued to be referred to as 'members' of the Divine Light Mission there were no structures of representation and all administrative and organisational decisions were taken in consultation with Rawat, but with no reference to the 'members' outside of a select organisational and social circle. Mike Finch has described the "inner circle" as a "Byzantine Court" and not a Court of Love. 
Any organisation which whether by intention or neglect, denies its participants an adequate voice, is destined to create an environment in which abuse of one form or another will thrive. In the case of the Rawat movement the conditions of those outside the inner circle was largely a matter of indifference to Rawat while the 'insiders' themselves were either negligent of care or ineffective in exercising responsibility. In the event abuse occurred and was either effectively disguised by the perpetrators or was deliberately hidden by connivance of those in positions of power so that only years after abuse occurred did its existence come to light.
Of the mahatmas that stayed loyal to Prem Rawat in 1974, only Jagdeo Upadhaya had a prominent organisational role outside of India after 1974.  Upadhaya travelled widely both in the US and Europe acting as the embodiment of Rawat's authority, particularly in the period up to 1983, although Upadhaya continued to have a presence in the Rawat movement at least until 1999. In 1998 accusations of Upadhaya's paedophilic attacks on the children within the Divine Light Mission were finally made public. 
Prem Rawat - Business Trainer
After 1983, the position of a 'follower' in the Rawat movement became one of extreme passivity; previously those initiated into the Knowledge meditation were strongly encouraged to speak publicly about their experience at satsang meetings, Rawat subsequently forbade anyone other than himself or designated initiators to speak about the Knowledge meditation. In a further move, the transmission of the meditation techniques became a role solely undertaken by Rawat, initially Rawat took initiation sessions in person (thereby ensuring there could not be large numbers of initiatees) but then from 2000 moved to having initiation by video recordings played at sessions administered by individuals approved by one of the national Élan Vital organisations.
By the late 1990s Rawat's only identifiable role was as an "inspirational speaker" attending less than 100 events per year. Perhaps in response to this 'diminishing' presence Rawat suddenly sought to emulate his long time followers, Timothy Gallwey  and Valerio Pascotto  both of whom were active in "Corporate Training". Rawat did not go so far as to try to openly sell his services to business but to use the 'training' context as a means to reframe his 'leadership' of his movement. Trainings were offered on a fee paying basis to followers who volunteered to assist the propagation of Prem Rawat's message, a number of 'trainings' took place between 1998 and 2000. , , 
The Public Relations Era
Rawat's 'trainings' ended in 2000, however the 'business model' approach that was presaged by the 'trainings' developed into a full scale PR and Marketing campaign aimed at selling Prem Rawat as a source of "inspiration" , an "Internationally-Known speaker" , and as a Teacher with 'students' rather than a Guru with devotees. 
Created in 2001 The Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF) has been the primary vehicle for the PR Campaign with slick marketing values coupled with a claimed Humanitarian Agenda although the balance of the organisation's expenditure places actual funding of "humanitarian activity" as low priority. Prem Rawat has not given an 'unconditional' media interview for over 25 years and a statement on an Élan Vital website says: Maharaji speaks to the media from time to time. He is happy to grant interviews to journalists with a sincere interest in his message.  however TPRF as well as Élan Vital websites list numerous "paid for" and otherwise 'conditional' interviews.  TPRF puts out frequent promotional and hagiographic Press Releases about Prem Rawat. 
TPRF claims that it was founded by Prem Rawat , although there is no evidence in public documents that Rawat personally had any involvement in the foundation of TPRF. The directors were listed as: Linda H. Pascotto, Stephen Sordoni, Karen Pearse, Scott Mazo, Brad A. Griffin.  In 2014 the TPRF Press Kit listed the directors as Linda Pascotto, Chairman - Daya Rawat, President - Amar Rawat, Vice President - Matt Altman, Secretary - Bruce Keenan, Treasurer - Stephen Sordoni, Director - Edward Hanzelik, Director.
The most consistent of Rawat's public relations initiatives has been the "legitimacy project"  which has sought to arrogate legitimacy for Rawat by association with bodies such as the UN and the Lord Mayor of the City of London. 
In 2006 an 'authorised' biography of Rawat was commissioned by a company owned by followers of Prem Rawat, similarly a UK version was published by a UK follower. The Book "Peace is Possible" which is a competing title with a work containing the personal stories of Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Jody Williams, Daniel Ellsberg and Howard Zinn , was written by one time actress Andrea Cagan for which TPRF paid her $60,000 and is widely promoted on Prem Rawat supporting websites. 
Rawat continues to travel in considerable luxury having taken delivery of a new $60 million Gulfstream jet in 2007 , . The costs of the jet attributable to Rawat's speaking engagements and hotel bills are met through the Élan Vital charitable arrangements, primarily via the Élan Vital Foundation - website no longer exists. TPRF describes Rawat as a "successful investor"  although no indication is given for Rawat's chosen investments. In fact there is no evidence that Rawat has ever been successful in 'investment' finance, rather the companies from which he profits have either been gifted to him in entirety or he has received share ownerships as gifts, in the former case Amtext Inc (Sterling Educational Media) has Rawat's personal lawyer on the board. , . He received millions of dollars through shares in Deltek gifted him by devotee Don de Laski.
BIO: DUO Satsang
EPO: DIVINE UNITED ORGANIZATION. Statement - Divine Times Volume II, Number 6 US Edition - April 1, 1973 Published by Shri Hans Productions, 1607 Race Street, Denver, Colorado 80206. © 1973 Divine Light Mission.
EPO: Statement by Michael Dettmers Oct 30, 2000 "… through me, instructed Maharaji's lawyer and accountant to re-classify all of the checks that had been made out to Maharaji, but deposited into DLM's bank account, as Maharaji's personal funds that were simply being held in trust for his personal use by DLM. When the financial records were re-categorized in this manner, the records clearly showed that Maharaji had more than enough funds to personally pay for the Malibu residence, the cars, and his personal expenses with his own money …"
Note: Although Dettmers is confident that there were funds that were Rawat's personal assets, nowhere was it ever made explicit what the donors' expectations were - the fact that checks were made out to 'Guru Maharaj Ji' is not evidence that the donors did not expect the funds to be put toward a charitable purpose and not for the purchase of cars and mansions.
 Élan Vital Canada - website no longer exists: Statement Prem Rawat receives no compensation, fees, honoraria, or financial benefits from Élan Vital, which funds only documented expenses of events that are Élan Vital sponsored.
EPO: Price. M (1979): The Divine Light Mission as a social organization. Sociological Review, 27 "In fact what had occurred was the removal from power of his closest adviser, who had been the International President since the headquarters were set up in the United States. It is apparent that Maharaj Ji resented the advice given to him by his chief subordinate and dismissed him when a clash of wills occurred. (28) The dismantling of the International Headquarters did not in fact take place, although staff numbers were greatly reduced, at the national level as well, and officials are very cautious now, afraid to take initiative while they try to guess what it is their Guru really intends."
EPO: Forum reply - Michael Dettmers Oct 24, 2000 The Swiss Foundation …"Also, there was considerable litigation over the DLM name in India and elsewhere caused by the dispute between Maharaji and his mother. I organized, and was a Director of, the Swiss Foundation which served as a hub (not the legal owner) for the overall coordination of most of the independent, not-for-profit DLM/Élan Vital organizations around the world. This structure simplified the organization and financing of worldwide programs, festivals, tours, and all of their related support activities."
BIO: Melton, Religions of the World
Maharaj Ji came to see the Indian spiritual motif as unnecessary, perhaps even a hindrance to reaching a larger audience. In the early 1980s he began closing down ashrams. He eventually disbanded the Divine Light Mission altogether and formed a new corporate structure through which he would present his teachings: Elan Vital. He also repackaged the message, changed his name to Maharaji and then began to use his given name Prem Rawat and redefined himself as a teacher by dropping all outward appearances as an Indian guru.
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 Élan 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."
 Miller, America's Alternative Religions
 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."
Journal of Alternative Spiritualities and New Age Studies: Globalisation, Charisma, Innovation and Tradition. Geaves, Ron 2005. "A new organisation was created by Prem Rawat, and named The Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF).". "This new development [TPRF] provides an agency through which Prem Rawat can independently promote his message, but also offer the same independence to individuals who wish to assist him locally, organising their own events through supplying both print and electronic materials."
MD: Well, the stuff that I've talked about - his drinking and pot smoking, that was pretty prevalent in the 70's and 80's. I don't know if that's still the case. And his affairs with various women, and his long-standing affair with Monica Lewis.
 Finch: Article - A Byzantine Court. M. Finch Nov 02 2003. "Are the Divine Light Mission honchos to blame too? Yes of course. Maharaji has often said 'the student needs the master, and the master needs the student'; in a like manner, a Byzantine court needs the buy-in of both the unassailable ruler and the sycophantic courtiers in order to function."
EPO: Letters written by Michael Donner National Executive Director 1974 "Mahatma Jagdeo and I have been on the phone a good deal lately with Guru Maharaj Ji and others at the residence. It seems that during this time of apparent calm, the pot is being stirred."
PRR: Inspire electronic magazine v1 i7: Maharaji addresses a record audience of 275,000
TPRF: Press Release - More than 1 million people come to seek Maharaji's inspiration and guidance. April 6, 2004
Élan Vital: Does Maharaji speak to the media? - website page no longer exists
Maharaji speaks to the media from time to time. He is happy to grant interviews to journalists with a sincere interest in his message. Because he travels approximately 11 months each year, and because his schedule is very busy, interviews usually need to be arranged at least two months in advance. downloaded 31 January 2005 from www.elanvital.com.au/faq/idx/3/0/index.html
 PRNewswire: Press Release - TPRF August 20, 2007 The Prem Rawat Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by Prem Rawat, an internationally recognized ambassador for peace often referred to as Maharaji. - website page no longer existing
TPRF: FAQs - Prem Rawat is a successful private investor and does not receive any compensation for his work.
EV Australia: FAQs - He enjoys an affluent lifestyle and makes no secret about it: his view is that neither poverty nor riches brings fulfilment. His lifestyle is entirely supported by his own personal business investments. Absolutely no money flows from the organisations supporting his work to him or his family. downloaded 31 January 2005 from www.elanvital.com.au/faq/idx/4/034/article/index.html