Prem Rawat in Lisbon, Portugal 2007
10 December 1957 |
|Parents||Shri Hans Ji Maharaj, Rajeshwari Devi|
Prem Pal Singh Rawat (Hindi: प्रेम पाल सिंह रावत; born 10 December 1957), also known as Maharaji and formerly known as Guru Maharaj Ji and Balyogeshwar, is a native of India who teaches a meditation practice he calls Knowledge. He was the leader of a movement known as Elan Vital, and its predecessor, the Divine Light Mission (DLM) (Divya Sandesh Parishad). DLM has been described as a new religious movement, a cult, a charismatic religious sect, and as an alternative religion. Rawat has been termed a cult leader in popular press reports and in anti-cult writings.
At the age of eight, Rawat succeeded his guru Hans Ji Maharaj, who was also his father, as Satguru (True Master) to millions of Indian followers. He gained a larger following when he traveled to the West at age 13 to spread his message. His claimed ability to impart direct knowledge of God attracted a great deal of interest from young adults, but he was ridiculed by the media for his youth and his supposed divine status. By the end of 1973 the DLM was active in 55 countries and tens of thousands of followers had been initiated.
When Rawat turned sixteen he took administrative control of the American organisation and became more active in guiding the movement. The following May he married against his mother's wishes, which prompted her to disown him and appoint his eldest brother as head of the Indian DLM. Rawat retained control of the movement outside India and later abandoned the religious aspects of his teachings to make his message more widely acceptable, replacing Divine Light Mission with Elan Vital. Rawat toured extensively in the 80s and 90s. In 2001 he established "The Prem Rawat Foundation" to fund his work and humanitarian efforts. His message is now distributed in more than 88 countries. The TV series "Words of Peace" is transmitted via satellite and cable in six continents.
The core of Prem Rawat's teaching is that the individual’s need for fulfillment can be satisfied by turning within to contact a constant source of peace and joy. Rather than a body of dogma, he emphasizes a direct experience of transcendence that he says is accessible through the meditation techniques he teaches.
Rawat was born in Haridwar, northern India, on 10 December 1957, the fourth and youngest son of guru 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. 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 during the customary 13 days of mourning his mother and senior officials of the organization discussed the succession. Both his mother, Mata Ji, and eldest brother, Satpal Rawat (known then as Bal Bhagwan Ji, and currently as Satpal Maharaj), were suggested as potential successors, but before either could be nominated, Rawat addressed the crowd of mourners, reminding them that their master was immortal and was still among them. In response, his mother, brother and the senior disciples accepted Rawat as their Satguru, bowed to his feet and received his blessing. Previously known to his father's followers as Sant Ji, Rawat now assumed the title "Guru Maharaj Ji" and was called "Balyogeshwar" by others (roughly "born saint" or "born lord of Yogis") on account of his youth and spiritual precocity. From that time, Rawat spent his weekends and school holidays travelling as his father had, addressing audiences on the subject of Knowledge and inner peace. Because of his youth, effective control of the DLM was shared by the whole family.
During the 1960s, Westerners in India searching for spiritual guidance met members of his father's Divine Light Mission and a few became initiates or premies (from the Hindi prem, meaning "love".) British initiates invited him to visit the West, and in 1969 he sent one of his closest Indian students (known as Mahatmas) to London to teach on his behalf. In 1970, many of his new Western followers flew to India to see him, and were present at India Gate, Delhi, when, still only twelve years old, he delivered an address known as the "Peace Bomb," which marked the start of his international work.
In 1971, Rawat travelled to the West against his mother’s wishes. His first western address was given in June 1971 at the first Glastonbury Fayre, he then went to Los Angeles, New York, Washington, Canada and South Africa. His arrival in the United States was met with some ridicule, as the teenaged Rawat was seen as immature and hence unfit to be a religious leader. But he also created an extraordinary amount of interest among young adults who were willing to examine his claimed ability to give a direct experience of God. Many were attracted by the sense of joy, peace and commitment shown by Rawat's followers. One witness said that Rawat "played the whole time he was there ... he played with squirt guns, flashed pictures of himself for all to see, and took movies of everybody ... Love flowed back and forth between him and his devotees." Enthusiastic new members spread the message that the 13-year-old Rawat could reveal God. He returned to India later that year with 300 westerners, who chartered an Air India Boeing 747 to accompany him and stayed in the mission's ashrams.
Rawat took flying lessons beginning when he was 13, and had begun training in a jet by age 15. In 1972 two Cessna airplanes were obtained for his use. Travelling almost constantly, he was reported to have residences in London, New York, Colorado, California, India, and Australia.
The 1972 Hans Jayanti, an annual festival celebrating the birthday of Rawat's guru was attended by over 500,000 people. Six Jumbo jets were chartered by American followers who paid extra so that South Americans could fly from New York to India for free. Other countries made similar arrangements to help the less financially able. On arrival, Indian customs impounded a suitcase containing cash, jewelry and wristwatches worth between US$27,000 and $80,000 which they said had not been properly declared. Rawat said, "It has nothing to do with me, it is an attempt to harm the Divine Light Mission. When someone grows, others get jealous of him, and the Divine Light Mission has just blasted like an atomic bomb all over the world.” A DLM spokesman said that the money had been pooled by 3,000 followers to cover expenses, and that the valuables were gifts. The finances of Rawat and the DLM in India and overseas were investigated by the Indian government. In June 1973 the investigation was still under way, and Rawat had to post a $13,300 bond in order to leave the country. Charges were never filed, and the Indian government later issued an apology.
A reporter who attended an event in Boston in August 1973 which drew 9,000 attendees wrote that Rawat appeared humble and human, and seemed to intentionally undercut the claims of divinity made by followers. Sociologist James Downton said that from his beginnings Rawat appealed to his followers to give up concepts and beliefs that might impede them from fully experiencing the Knowledge (or life force), but this did not prevent them from adopting a fairly rigid set of ideas about his divinity, and to project millennial preconceptions onto him and the movement.
Followers stressed "love, peace and happiness" in their lives, but public attitudes were often unsympathetic. Sociologist Stephen A. Kent wrote that as a 22-year-old hippie, he found Rawat's message to be banal and poorly delivered, though his companions spoke about it glowingly.
In August 1973 while Rawat was in Detroit to receive an award, he was slapped in the face with a shaving cream pie by Pat Halley, a radical journalist. Rawat said that he did not want his attacker arrested or hurt, but Halley was himself attacked a few days later and seriously injured. When local members heard of the incident they notified Rawat who requested that DLM conduct a full investigation. Two followers were identified as the assailants and the police were immediately notified but the Detroit police declined to initiate extradition proceedings. There was speculation that the lack of action by the Detroit police may have been connected with Halley's radical politics.
Rawat's publicity campaign was unparalleled. One journalist reported,
Thousands of people follow him wherever he goes; posters of his round, cheerful face adorn the walls of buildings in every major Western city; newspaper reporters and TV cameras cover his every public appearance – particularly his mass rallies, which attract hundreds of thousands of followers each.
A tour of US cities was cut short in early September 1973, when Rawat was hospitalized with an intestinal ulcer. His personal physician said that his body, weakened by the pace of continual travel, showed the stresses of a middle-aged executive.
The Hans Jayanti of 1973, which was named "Millennium '73", was held in the Houston Astrodome. Press releases said that the event would mark the beginning of "a thousand years of peace for people who want peace." The main organizers were Rawat's eldest brother Satpal and activist Rennie Davis, who predicted an attendance of 100,000 or more. The event attracted only about 20,000. It was not covered by the national television news, although it received extensive coverage in the print media and was depicted in the award-winning US documentary "Lord of the Universe". The premies were described as "cheerful, friendly and unruffled" and seeming "nourished by their faith". To the 400 premie parents who attended, Rawat was "a rehabilitator of prodigal sons and daughters", though some reporters found "a confused jumble of inarticulately expressed ideas." The event was called the "youth culture event of the year".
The failure of the event to meet expectations hurt the Divine Light Mission and left it heavily in debt, forcing changes within the movement. By 1976, the DLM was able to reduce the debt to $80,000. According to Thomas Pilarzyk, the Millennium economic deficit was partly the result of poor management by the "holy family" (Rawat's mother and three older brothers), and partly the much lower than anticipated attendance.
Because of Prem Rawat's youth, his mother, Mata Ji, and eldest brother, Satpal, managed the affairs of the worldwide DLM. When Rawat reached sixteen years of age he wanted to take a more active part in guiding the movement. According to the sociologist James V. Downton, this meant he "had to encroach on his mother's territory and, given the fact that she was accustomed to having control, a fight was inevitable". In December 1973, Rawat took administrative control of the Mission's US branch, and his mother and Satpal returned to India.
By the end of 1973, the DLM was active in 55 countries. Tens of thousands had been initiated, and several hundred centers and dozens of ashrams formed. 1973 has been called the "peak of the Mission's success".
Rawat's affluent lifestyle was a source of controversy in the early 1970s. Some media reports said that Rawat "lived more like a king than a Messiah". Critics said that his lifestyle was supported by the donations of followers and that the movement appeared to exist only to support Rawat's "opulent existence". Supporters said there is no conflict between worldly and spiritual riches, and that Rawat did not advise anyone to "abandon the material world", but said it is our attachment to it that is wrong. Press reports listed expensive automobiles such as Rolls-Royces, Mercedes-Benz limousines and sports cars, some of them gifts. Rawat said, "I have something far more precious to give them than money and material things – I give peace". "Maharaj Ji's luxuries are gifts from a Western culture whose fruits are watches and Cadillacs," a spokesman said. Some premies said that he did not want the gifts, but that people gave them out of their love for him. They saw Rawat's lifestyle as an example of a lila, or divine play, which held a mirror to the "money-crazed and contraption-collecting society" of the West.
In May 1974, a judge gave Rawat his consent to marry without parental permission. His marriage to Marolyn Johnson, a 24-year-old follower from San Diego, California, was celebrated at a non-denominational church in Golden, Colorado. Rawat's mother, Mata Ji, had not been invited.
Rawat's marriage to a non-Indian finally severed his relationship with his mother. She retained control of the Indian DLM and appointed Satpal as its leader. Mata Ji said she was removing Rawat as Perfect Master because of his "unspiritual" lifestyle and lack of respect for her wishes. Rawat retained the support of the Western disciples. Most of the mahatmas either returned to India or were dismissed. Rawat had become wealthy as a result of contributions from his Western devotees, and led the life of an American millionaire. He ran a household for his wife, his brother (Raja Ji) and his sister-in-law (Claudia), and financed travel for the close officials and mahatmas who accompanied him on his frequent trips around the globe to attend the Mission's festivals. By early 1974 the number of full-time DLM staff had increased from six to over one thousand.
In November 1974, seeking more privacy for himself, his wife and his entourage following security concerns, Rawat moved to a 4-acre (16,000 m2) property in Malibu, California. Purchased by the DLM for $400,000, the property served as the DLM's West Coast headquarters. Controversy around a helipad on the property was resolved by installing emergency water storage for the Los Angeles County Fire Department and by limiting the number of permitted flights.
By 1976, most students viewed Rawat primarily as a spiritual teacher, guide and inspiration. In January 1976 Rawat encouraged them to leave the ashrams and discard Indian customs and terminology. He said that the organization had come between his devotees and himself. He decentralized some decision making to local premie communities, while he maintained his status as the ultimate authority over spiritual and secular matters. The staff at the Denver headquarters were reduced from 250 to 80. He described the managerial mentality that had grown in the Mission as "only cosmetic and totally unnecessary. It's like trying to take a cow and put lipstick on it. You can do it, but it's unnecessary in practical terms".
His appearance on 20 December 1976 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, wearing a traditional Krishna costume for the first time since 1975, signaled a resurgence of Indian influence and devotion. During 1977, many returned to ashram life, and there was a shift back from secular tendencies towards ritual and messianic beliefs. In 1977 Rawat became a US citizen.
In October 1978, the hillsides surrounding Rawat's Malibu estate were burned by a brushfire. His family and the DLM headquarters subsequently moved to Miami Beach, Florida. The family, which grew to four children, returned to Malibu in 1984.
In January 1979 the Los Angeles Times reported that Rawat was maintaining his Malibu following despite a rising mistrust of cults. Bob Mishler and Robert Hand, a former vice president of the movement, complained that money was increasingly diverted to Rawat's personal use and that the ideals of the group had become impossible to fulfill. The charges found little support and did not affect the progress of the Mission.
In 1980, Rawat removed all the "religious" aspects of the movement and declared he now wanted "no movement whatsoever". The Hindu references and religious parables that had been prominent in his teachings gave way to a focus on the meditation techniques. Once called "Perfect Master", Rawat abandoned his "almost divine status as guru"  but affirmed his status as a master. Scholars such as Kranenborg and Chryssides describe the departure from divine connotations. In 1983 the Divine Light Mission was renamed Elan Vital and Rawat closed the last western ashrams, marking the end of his use of Indian methods for international objectives.
In the 1980s and 1990s Rawat toured extensively. In one two-year period he spoke at over 100 programs in 37 international cities, including New York, London, Paris, Kuala Lumpur, Rome, Delhi, Sydney, Tokyo, Caracas and Los Angeles.
In 1990 there were said to be 1.2 million followers worldwide, with 50,000 in the United States. 1999 saw the commencement of regular satellite broadcasts to North America and other countries.
In 2001, Rawat founded The Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF), a Public Charitable Organization for the production and distribution of materials promoting his message, and also for funding worldwide humanitarian efforts. TPRF has provided food, water and medical help to war-torn and impoverished areas.
Between January 2004 and June 2005, Rawat delivered 117 addresses in Asia, Europe, and North America focusing on a universal message of peace and self-fulfillment. His message is currently distributed in eighty-eight countries in print and on video, and his program "Words of Peace" is broadcast on TV channels such as Canal Infinito in South America, Channel 31 in Australia, and Dish Network in the USA.
Elan Vital states that the only effective way of reaching out to the over 80 countries where his message is now promoted is by leased private jet, which Rawat self-pilots, flying around a quarter million miles a year. In 2007 during a two-month tour of India, Sri Lanka and Nepal, Rawat spoke at 36 events, addressing over 800,000 people, and by live satellite broadcasts reached an additional 2.25 million.
A biography of Rawat, Peace is Possible, by Andrea Cagan, was published in 2006 with a foreword by Emilio Colombo, a former President of the European Parliament and former Prime Minister of Italy. In 2007 Rawat started the Peace Education Program for inmates which, as of 2012, operates in 25 prisons across 10 countries. Michael Gilbert, UTSA associate professor of criminal justice, stated that "The constructive changes in behavior among participants have been noticed in our local Dominguez prison".
In 2009, Rawat was made "Ambassador of Peace" for the Basilicata region of Italy. In 2010, he spoke at the "Words of Peace for Europe" conference in Brussels, at the invitation of European Parliament Vice-President Gianni Pittella. In 2011, he again spoke in Brussels at the conference, "Peace and Prosperity. Founding Values of the European Union." In September, 2012, in Malaysia, Rawat was awarded the Asia Pacific Brands Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, "for his contributions in championing and promoting global peace."
A number of scholars have said that Rawat's teachings began in the North Indian Sant Mat or Radhasoami tradition, which dismisses ritual and claims that true religion is a matter of loving and surrendering to God who dwells in the heart. Geaves argues that this is not quite correct; referring to Rawat's own statements about his lineage, he places Rawat and his father within the tradition established by Totapuri, which also gave rise to the Advait Mat movement. Geaves argues that while the teachings within Totapuri's lineage have similarities with those of the Radhasoami tradition and developed in the same geographical area, they are nevertheless distinct. He adds that Rawat "is unusual in that he does not consider his lineage to be significant and does not perceive his authority as resting in a tradition."
Prem Rawat claims that light, love, wisdom and clarity exist within each individual, and that the meditation techniques which he teaches, and which he learned from his teacher, are a way of accessing them. These techniques are known as the 'Knowledge'. In his public talks he quotes from Hindu, Muslim and Christian scriptures, but he relies on this inner experience for his inspiration and guidance.
Before they receive the Knowledge, Rawat asks practitioners to promise to give it a fair chance and to stay in touch with him. He also asks that they not reveal the techniques to anyone else, but allow others to prepare to receive the experience for themselves. Rawat, who emphasizes a direct experience of transcendence rather than a body of dogma, has been criticized for a lack of intellectual content in his public discourses.
Practitioners describe Knowledge as internal and highly individual, with no associated social structure, liturgy, ethical practices or articles of faith. According to sociologist Alan E. Aldridge, Rawat says he offers practical ways to achieve spiritual tranquillity that can be used by anyone. Aldridge writes that Rawat originally aspired to bring about world peace, but now he places his attention on helping individuals rather than society.
James V. Downton, who studied Rawat's followers for five years in the 70s, says "these young people had a spiritual experience which deeply affected them and changed the course of their lives. It was an experience which moved many to tears of joy, for they had found the answer they had been seeking".
Marc Galanter, a physician, and professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse at the New York University Medical Center, writes that "over the long term of membership, meditation also played an important role in supporting a convert's continuing involvement. An analysis of the relationship between the time members spent in meditation and the decline in their level of neurotic distress revealed that greater meditation time was associated with diminished neurotic distress".
Ron Geaves, an expert in comparative religions and a student of Prem Rawat, writes that Rawat, rather than considering himself a charismatic leader, deemphasizes the sealing of the master disciple relationship, and focuses on correct practice and staying in touch through participation or listening.
Writing in the 1980s, Paul Schnabel, a sociologist, referenced Van der Lans, a religious psychologist employed at the Catholic University of Nijmegen saying that among his Western students, Rawat appeared to stimulate an uncritical attitude, which gave them an opportunity to project their fantasies of divinity onto his person. According to Schnabel, the divine nature of the guru is a standard element of Eastern religion, but removed from its cultural context, and confounded with the Western understanding of God as a father, what is lost is the difference between the guru's person and that which the guru symbolizes—resulting in what was described as limitless personality worship.
Reception and characterization
From Rawat's first travels in the West, he and his followers attracted media attention. In an interview in Der Spiegel in 1973, Rawat said, "I have lost confidence in newspapers. I talk with them [about this] and the next day something completely different is printed." In 1973, the Divine Light Mission's 50-member public relations team concluded that Rawat's credibility had been compromised by his youth, his physical appearance, and the Rolls Royce, as well as the Detroit "pieing" incident and an allegation of smuggling (which was never prosecuted). The head of the team said that they needed to get the public to look past these factors to judge Rawat's credibility.
Rawat has been described in multiple ways. He has for exmample been termed a cult leader in popular press reports, as well as anti-cult writings. while author Andrea Cagan describes Rawat as a man who loves life and is focused "on spreading the message of peace." Rawat as head of the Divine Light Mission led an organization described in various and sometimes conflicting terms including a new religious movement, a cult, a charismatic religious sect, an offshoot of Sant Mat, an alternative religion or spin-off from other traditional religions, a youth religion, a Radhasoami offshoot, an orthodox Sikh community, an Advait Mat related tradition, a proselytizing religion ("Guru-ism"), and a defunct religious movement. A study of terms used in U.S. newspapers and news magazines, which examined the media's failure to use the more neutral terminology favored by social scientists, found that the Divine Light Mission was referred to as a "sect" in 10.3% of articles, as a "cult" in 24.1%, and as both in 13.8%. It was referred to as a "sect" in 21.4% of headlines, with 0% for "cult".
Charisma and leadership
J. Gordon Melton says Rawat's personal charisma was one of the reasons for the rapid spread of his message among members of the 1960s counterculture. Several scholars refer to Max Weber's classification of authority when describing Rawat as a charismatic leader.
Paul Schnabel described Rawat as a pure example of a charismatic leader. He characterized Rawat as materialistic, pampered and intellectually unremarkable compared to Osho, but no less charismatic.
Meredith McGuir, a professor of sociology and anthropology sees formalization resulting from Rawat's desire to consolidate his power and authority over the movement in the United States.
Lucy DuPertuis, a sociologist and one-time follower who assisted James V. Downton with his book about the Divine Light Mission, described Rawat's role as a Master as emerging from three interrelated phenomena: traditional or theological definitions of Satguru; adherents' first-hand experiences of the Master; and communal accounts and discussions of the Master among devotees.
David G. Bromley described the difficulty of a charismatic leader in proving to be above normal human failings such as not to suffer ill health or indulge in worldly pursuits. He presents Rawat's marriage as such a situation. Bromley described Prem Rawat and other founders of new religions as being held in awe by their early followers, who ascribe extraordinary powers to them that set them apart from other human beings.
Thomas Pilarzyk, a sociologist, wrote in a 1978 paper that the distribution of power and authority in the DLM was officially based on the charismatic appeal of Maharaj Ji, which he described as being somewhat ambiguous, and that many followers were not certain about his position in the organizational scheme of the movement, or the claim that he was the only true spiritual master.
Stephen J. Hunt said that in Rawat's case the notion of spiritual growth is not derived — as is traditionally the case with other gurus — from his personal charisma, but from the nature of his teachings and the benefits to the individuals applying them.
Size and nature of following
Estimates of the number of Rawat's adherents have varied widely over time. Petersen states that Rawat claimed 7 million disciples worldwide in 1973, with 60,000 in the US. Rudin & Rudin give a worldwide following of 6 million in 1974, of which 50,000 were in the US. According to these authors, the adherents had fallen to 1.2 million for Prem Rawat's personal worldwide following in 1980, with 15,000 in the US. Spencer J. Palmer and Roger R. Keller published a general DLM membership of 1.2 million worldwide, with 50,000 in the US, in 1990 and 1997.
Downton said by 1976 the vast majority of students viewed Rawat "as their spiritual teacher, guide and inspiration". Quoting a student he had studied, Downton said a typical view was that "the only thing he (Rawat) wants is to see people living happily and harmoniously together". Downton concluded that the students had changed in a positive way, "more peaceful, loving, confident and appreciative of life".
Former followers became known as "ex-premies", and Elan Vital has characterised the vocal critics among them as disgruntled former employees. Based on an analysis of Sophia Collier's Soul Rush, John Barbour, a professor of religion, concludes that Collier's deconversion from DLM was uncharacteristic compared to other deconversions from other movements, in that her deconversion brought her no emotional suffering.
Stephen Hunt writes that Western followers do not see themselves as members of a religion, but rather as adherents of a system of teachings focused on the goal of enjoying life to the full.
According to Prem Rawat's official website, in the eight years prior to May 2008, Key Six sessions were attended by 365,237 people in 67 countries. These are the video sessions where the techniques of Knowledge are taught by Rawat.
- Geaves, Ron (6 May 2004). "Elan Vital". In Christopher Hugh Partridge. New Religions: A Guide: New Religious Movements, Sects and Alternative Spiritualities. Oxford University Press. pp. 201–202. ISBN 978-0-19-522042-1. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
- Callinan, Rory. "Cult Leader Jets In to Recruit New Believers: Millionaire cult leader Maharaj Ji is holding a secret session west of Brisbane this weekend" in Brisbane Courier-Mail. 20 September 1997
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- Larson, Bob (1982). Larson's book of cults. Wheaton, Ill: Tyndale House Publishers. p. 205. ISBN 0-8423-2104-7.
- Rhodes, Ron The Challenge of the Cults and New Religions: The Essential Guide to Their History, Their Doctrine, and Our Response, Ch. 1: Defining Cults. Zondervan, 2001, ISBN 0-310-23217-1, p. 32.
- Mangalwadi (1992), pp. 135–136
- Aagaard (1980)
- US Department of the Army (2001)
- Fahlbusch et al. (1998), p.861
- Geaves (2006b), p. 64
- Melton (1986), p. 141–2
- Fahlbusch et al. (1998), p. 861
- Geaves (2006a), pp. 44-62.
- Kranenborg (1982), p. 64
- Downton (1979), p. 3
- Lewis (1998a), p. 83
- Downton (1979), p. 5 & 7
- Derks, Frans, and Jan M. van der Lans. 1983. Subgroups in Divine Light Mission Membership: A Comment on Downton in the book Of Gods and Men: New Religious Movements in the West. Macon edited by Eileen Barker, GA: Mercer University Press, (1984), ISBN 0-86554-095-0 pages 303-308
- Downton (1979), p. 132
- Downton (1979), p. 4 & 146
- "Pretty Far-Out Little Dude" Henry Allen, Washington Post, 14 September 1971
- Cameron (1973)
- Moritz, (1974)
- "Gifts for a Guru" in Stars and Stripes, 15 November 1972.
- Morgan (1973)
- Galanter (1999), p. 22
- Messer, Jeanne. "Guru Maharaj Ji and the Divine Light Mission" in The New Religious Consciousness by Charles Y. Glock and Robert N. Bellah, eds. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976, ISBN 0-520-03472-4, pp. 52-72.
- "Guru's Pupil Slates Talk", SYRACUSE POST-STANDARD 3 Feb. 1973. p. 3
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- THE TIMES SATURDAY NOVEMBER 19, 1972
- India still studying goods confiscated from youthful guru. New York Times, 18 July 1973
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- Winnipeg Free Press, Tuesday, 19 December 1972
- Moritz 1974
- Downton (1979), pp. 187-8
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- Kent (2001)
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"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."
- TIME, 7 April 1975
- "'You're a Perfect Master'", Newsweek 19 November 1973
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- Downton (1979), p. 191.
- "Guru Tries to Take Control of Mission" in The Ruston Daily Leader, 9 April 1975:
- "MOTHER OUSTS 'PLAYBOY' GURU" in Los Angeles Times. Wednesday 2 April 1975, PART II, p. 6A
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- Downton (1979), p. 199
- Downton (1979)
- Björkqvist, K (1990): World-rejection, world-affirmation, and goal displacement: some aspects of change in three new religions movements of Hindu origin. In N. Holm (ed.), Encounter with India: studies in neohinduism (pp. 79-99) - Turku, Finland. Åbo Akademi University Press - "In 1976, Maharaj Ji declared that he felt that the organization had come between his devotees and himself, and he disposed of the headquarters altogether."
- Downton (1979), p. 196
- Downton (1979), pp. 210–211
- "Guru Maharaj Ji becomes a citizen of the U.S." Rocky Mountain News, Wednesday, 19 October 1977, Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
- Björkqvist, K (1990): World-rejection, world-affirmation, and goal displacement: some aspects of change in three new religions movements of Hindu origin. In N. Holm (ed.), Encounter with India: studies in neohinduism (pp. 79-99) - Turku, Finland. Åbo Akademi University Press
- Kranenborg (2002), p. 178
- Chryssides (2001), pp. 210–211
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- "Whatever Happened to Guru Maharaj Ji?". Hinduism Today (Himalayan Academy). October 1983. ISSN 08960801. Archived from the original on 7 August 2010.
- Contact Info - Broadcasts
- "About Prem Rawat" at the website of The Prem Rawat Foundation
- "Charity report". BBB Wise Giving Alliance. Retrieved March 2007.
- Conversation with Prem Rawat, Available online. (Retrieved January 2006)
- "'Words of Peace' by Maharaji receives TV Award in Brazil" Press release.
- "Over 3 million people participate in events with Prem Rawat in India". The Prem Rawat Foundation. Retrieved 2008-11-08.
- Andrea Cagan: Peace is Possible, The Life and Message of Prem Rawat. Mighty River Press, ISBN 0-9788694-9-4
- "University of Texas at San Antonio". Jan 2012.
- "WORDS OF PEACE FOR EUROPE: LA BASILICATA PROTAGONISTA NEL PROCESSO DI PACE". Agenzia Internazionale Stampa Estero. 2 July 2010.
- "Domani a Bruxelles la conferencia "Words of Peace for Europe". basilicatanet.eu. Retrieved 2011-10-03.
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- SwitchUp TV
- Lipner (1994), pp. 120-1
- Schomer (1987)
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- Geaves (2007), pp. 267
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- 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 44–6 – Although Rawat does not see himself as part of a tradition or as having to conform to the behavior of any predecessor, in my view, the best way to place him is to identify him with Vaudeville’s definition of the sant.
- Drury, Michael, The Dictionary of the Esoteric: 3000 Entries on the Mystical and Occult Traditions, pp.75-6, (2002), Sterling Publishing Company, ISBN 1-84293-108-3
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
- 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.
- 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, which brings a sense of well-being, joy and harmony. 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."
- "Three promises". thekeys.maharaji.net. Retrieved 2008-05-16.
- Schnabel (1982), p. 99
- Aldridge, Alan — Religion in the Contemporary World (2007) — p.59
- 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.
- Downton, James V., Sacred journeys: The conversion of young Americans to Divine Light Mission, (1979) Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-04198-5 Encounters with God" Page 156
- Marc Galanter,Cults and new religious movements: a report of the Committee on Psychiatry and Religion of the American Psychiatric Association (1989) ISBN 0-89042-212-5
- Cagan, Andrea (2007). Peace is Possible: The Life and Message of Prem Rawat. Mighty River. pp. 115–116. ISBN 978-0-9788694-9-6.
- name=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
- Stephen J. Hunt Alternative Religions: A Sociological Introduction (2003), pp. 116–7, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 0-7546-3410-8
- Schnabel, Tussen stigma en charisma ("Between stigma and charisma"), 1982. Ch. V, p. 142
The reference texts by Van der Lans quoted by Schnabel in that chapter:
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- Der Spiegel - 8 October 1973
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- Cagan 2007.
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