Divine Light Mission

History

The Divine Light Mission (Divya Sandesh Parishad; DLM) was an organization founded in 1960 by guru Shri Hans Ji Maharaj for his following in northern India. During the 1970s, the DLM gained prominence in the West under the leadership of his fourth and youngest son, Guru Maharaj Ji (Prem Rawat). Some scholars noted the influence of the Bhagavad Gita and the Sant Mat tradition, but the western movement was widely seen as a new religious movement, a cult, a charismatic religious sect or an alternative religion. DLM officials said the movement represented a church rather than a religion.[1]

The organization was originally incorporated in the U.S. in 1971 as the Divine Light Mission as a non-profit corporation and in 1974 was recognized as a religious organization by the United States Internal Revenue Service under section 501(c)(3). The organization changed its name to Elan Vital in 1983, by filing an entity name change.[1] Elan Vital states in its website that the name was changed to remove Indian labels and to present Maharaji's message in a manner more congruent with Western culture.[5]