Techniques of Knowledge
Knowledge was a term used by Shri Hans Ji Maharaj (Hans Rawat) to denote a formulation of four specific techniques that were imparted in a process of initiation. The term has continued to be used by two of Shri Hans Ji Maharaj’s sons, Satpal Rawat and Prem Rawat.
According to David Barret, these techniques have some similarities to techniques in Sant Mat derived movements and may be derived from Surat Shabd Yoga. Kranenborg also writes that the techniques of Knowledge originated from the Surat Shabda Yoga or Sant Mat, 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.
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 Ji, and his father Hans Ji Maharaj.
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. 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."
Kranenborg and Melton provide differing details of them in their writings but agree on a general description of the practices. "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." 
Another description including the details of the four techniques of knowledge is provided by Dr. Daniel Kriegman who describes the recruitment process utilized by the Divine Light Mission in the early 1970s.
Jeffrey K. Hadden cites Prem Rawat in saying that "Knowledge 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."
Glen Whitaker, former national organizer of Elan Vital in the UK, said "That which we seek is already within us. The process of reaching it is one of learning to experience what is already there. It is one the individual needs to perform for him — or herself, with the guidance and help of the teacher".
According to George D. Chryssides, this 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 Prem Rawat emphasizes that Knowledge is universal, not Indian, in nature.
According to Stephen J. Hunt "the major focus of Maharaji [Prem Rawat] 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 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."
The experience of Knowledge is described by practitioners as internal and highly individual. The techniques are to be practised privately, with no social structure or hierarchy related to their practice. According to students, there is no liturgy or social obligation involved, but Prem Rawat instructs them to practise the techniques daily for at least one hour to fully benefit from them. 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.
In his early days in the West, Prem Rawat or his instructors (called Mahatmas in India) conducted these sessions face-to-face with small groups.
Wim Haan, a student of theology who belonged to a critical movement within the Roman Catholic Church, wrote that receiving Knowledge involved a formal initiation that the aspirant had to keep secret and that he believed that the reason for the secrecy was a direct connection between the techniques, the initiation and the need to live a life of devotion to Rawat. Haan, who did not receive the techniques of Knowledge, also wrote that the fact that other groups may also use the same techniques would probably not help to increase the interest in them. Haan wrote this article based on observations of the Dutch branch of the defunct DLM between 1980 and 1981.
As of 2001 the techniques are taught via a multimedia presentation made by Prem Rawat. 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. He then asks attendees to stay and receive "the gift of Knowledge" if they agree with these three promises.
The Knowledge Sessions are facilitated by volunteers who 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.
In 2005, Prem Rawat further developed his teaching style by introducing The Keys, a program of five DVD packs which prepare the student for receiving Knowledge. The techniques are taught in Key Six. Prem Rawat advises students that for maximum benefit the techniques should be practised daily for at least one hour.
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- Maharaj, Shri Hans Ji, Hans Yog Prakash Publisher unknown. 1936.
“Without the complete and perfect Knowledge, the heart cannot know any peace. Artificial devotion cannot hold the appearance of love for very long.” “Whoever is truly impartial can have devotion. Whoever has no illusions can have Knowledge.” “No one can reach God without devotion to Satguru. He alone can give Knowledge of the Supreme.” "Only by devotion to Satguru can you receive Knowledge of the Supreme. All scriptures sing the praises of devotion to the Perfect Master.
- Tandon, C.L Satgurudev Shri Hans Ji Maharaj. Divine Light Mission 1970.
He gifted me with Knowledge Divine. On the day of Initiation, I was reborn spiritually and learnt the true nature of the 'Self'. How simple is the knowledge. How secret is the knowledge. Light shines in man, but how sad it is that he gropes in darkness without the grace of a Guru.
- Hadden, Religions of the world, pp.428 "The meditation techniques the Maharaji teaches today are the same he learned from his father, Hansji 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.'"
- McKean, Lise (1996). Divine Enterprise: Gurus and the Hindu Nationalist Movement. University of Chicago Press. pp. 56–57. ISBN 0-226-56009-0.
- Barret V. David The New Believers: Asurvet of Sects, Cults and Alternative Religions" (2003), pp.327, Octopus Publishing Group , ISBN 1-84403-040-7
- Kranenborg, Reender Dr. (1982) Oosterse Geloofsbewegingen in het Westen/Eastern faith movements in the West (Dutch language) ISBN 90-210-4965-1
- 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)
- Hadden, Jeffrey K. and Elliot III, Eugene M. Divine Light Mission/Elan Vital in Melton, Gordon J. and Bauman, Martin (Eds.) "Religions of the world: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of beliefs and practices" pp.428, ABC-CLIO (2002), ISBN 1-57607-223-1
"The meditation techniques the Maharaji teaches today are the same he learned from his father, Hansji 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.'"
- The Keys website. "Three promises". The Prem Rawat Foundation. Retrieved Sep 2006.
- 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
- Appendix A to Dr. Kriegman's doctoral thesis describes the recruitment process by which followers were inducted into Guru Mahara Ji's Divine Light Mission.
- Chryssides, George D. Historical Dictionary of New Religious Movements pp.210-1, Scarecrow Press (2001) ISBN 0-8108-4095-2
"Maharaji [Prem Rawat] 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.
- 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."
- FAQs about Knowledge Elan Vital website, August 2005. Retrieved November 2005
- 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 (Article is based on the Dutch branch of the Divine Light Mission) ISBN 90-242-2341-5.
- 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."
- 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 978-0-19-522042-1.
"Prem 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."
- 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."