What is the point of Guru Maharaj Ji touring the country if not to give darshan? No one remembers what happens on the tours, except that all at once he is there - standing next to you - and your eyes feel like they're seeing again for the first time since the last time you had darshan.
The tour began in Los Angeles, where in January, Guru Maharaj Ji made three surprise visits to the ashram. One morning at 8 o'clock he walked into the ashram to be greeted by pajama-clad and sleepy premies who, until his visit, were confused about the proper time to wake up in the morning. Maharaj Ji clarified the issue.
"Get up early and meditate," he said, "You should really get into meditation now. Really get into it or otherwise you might get blown away. Who meditated an hour this morning? I mean really meditated, not just sat there under a blanket."
One week later he drove up behind the ashram after dinner to be welcomed by Jay Zemel, the housepainter who testified in the Who Is Guru Maharaj Ji? film. Maharaj Ji asked him, "Have you been going beyond your paint job?" One by one, premies inside the house found out about the darshan in the back yard and collected around Maharaj Ji's car while he sat in the driver's seat and gave satsang. "I think I should disguise myself as a premie and come here and make you all meditate," he told them.
Sneaking into the kitchen for his third surprise visit, Maharaj Ji left two secret messages. On a paper plate he wrote, "I was here and now I'm gone. Please do more meditation." On an envelope he wrote, "To all the premies - I love you."
Meanwhile, Mata Ji was providing darshan of her own. At a housewarming party for Blue Aquarius, she cooked all the food with the technical assistance of Bal Bhagwan Ji. Mahatmas served while Bhole Ji made the rounds, asking everyone if they had had enough to eat.
A few weeks later, Mata Ji and Bhole Ji treated the band to a picnic on the beach. At one point, Mata Ji stood close to the ocean, all worried that she would get her sari wet. She wasn't worried about it, though, because she then waded out into the freezing Pacific Ocean. Turning around, she called to all cowards to join her. Everyone did, even a reluctant Bhole Ji. For more than an hour, the picnic continued in the water as Mata Ji splashed and played with the band. Observers report having seen a God-intoxicated Mahatma Gurucharanand stumbling around in soaking saffron muttering. "I can't believe it, I just can't believe it." At least this time the band members were true to their name - blue aquarians.
Blue Aquarius, Bhole Ji's 16 piece soul band, split up last month due to "exorbitant finances necessary to keep up an international group of this size."
No plans have been disclosed at this time for the formation of another orchestra. The disbanding came at a time when Blue Aquarius was preparing for a West Coast tour.
The following is a review of the last Blue Aquarius concert, a benefit for the Hopi Indians on April 2:
"Blue Aquarius packed the auditorium of California Lutheran College just outside of Los Angeles for their first performance since the Millennium '73 festival in Houston last November.
"Approximately 75% of the audience consisted of premies eager to hear the music of Bhole Ji's band. Hassles with the sound system delayed the concert for over an hour but the audience, accustomed to long waits at satsang programs, sat quietly meditating and talking until the music began.
"Blue Aquarius began pumping energy into the audience with a couple of fast numbers led by the vivacious Sylvia St. James. People who caught the DLM music convention last spring will remember Sylvia as the girl who did a soul rendition of 'Lord of the Universe' for Bal Bhagwan Ji in Denver's Phipps auditorium. One of Sylvia's lead tunes is called 'TLC'.
"Sylvia was followed by Polly Bolton, formerly with Britain's Dando Shaft and Anand Band. Polly is best known to premies as the girl singing 'Lila' on the Apostles album. Polly did several of her own songs including 'Sound of All Love' and 'Life Goes On When You Least Expect It To.' Allan Thomas sang his familiar 'Praising Him' and a new tune called 'Teach Me'.
Heavy jazz influences in Blue Aquarius were apparent in several numbers but most especially in 'Hollywood Boulevard'. It was a concentrated moment when reed player Don Eaton did an extended solo on soprano sax.
"Despite the late start and the long drive back to L.A., the audience was not ready to quit after the 16 song set. Cries for Bhole Ji brought the 20 year old band leader back to lead Blue Aquarius in an encore, a Thomas tune called, 'Surrender'. About halfway through the song the entire string section began waving white flags as Allan exhorted the crowd to 'surrender to your lover'."
As the tour got underway, Maharaj Ji carried the relaxed, family atmosphere of L.A. with him wherever he went. In San Francisco, he spent much time cooking food in the ashram and driving around in the hills with premies.
In Seattle, he spent time exploring by himself in the interludes between darshan sessions with premies from Vancouver, Alberta, Portland and Spokane. One sister exclaimed after touching Maharaj Ji's feet, "This is fantastic!" to which Maharaj Ji replied, "I told you it would be like this."
Mata Ji was doing some exploring too, but always with as many premies as could pile into the available cars. Upon taking a trip to see a local waterfall, the premies discovered to their anguish that the falls had been temporarily turned off. Peter admitted that it was a bit difficult explaining the situation to Mata Ji.
Of Chicago, Guru Maharaj Ji said, "Forget it. It's like there's a Vincent Price in every house." So he stayed indoors playing chess with Mata Ji. It was probably one of Mata Ji's favorite parts of the tour. She won most of the games. Boston was a gas, too. The following is an account of one devotee's experience:
"We all received darshan of Mata Ji and Guru Maharaj Ji along with Holy Breath. By his grace, I was able to stand by and help premies off the stage after they got darshan. About half of them couldn't walk. It felt like a river of darshan running over me for two hours. There is no way I could describe how wonderful that was.
The next day, a premie gave Guru Maharaj Ji a Maserati, so instead of flying to New York as scheduled, he and Mata Ji drove down alone. We were driving along in our van when we saw them fly by us at about 85 or 90. We caught up with them and passed them on the right with all the premies pranaming out the windows. Then Maharaj Ji started flashing his lights on and off and he pulled us over like a traffic cop. He got out of his car and we were scared stiff he would yell at us for driving so crazily. Instead, he asked us if we knew the way to the New York residence. We said we did. `OK, you lead and we'll follow, but drive fast!' Maharaj Ji said. So off we went on an hour long joy ride with the Lord.
The whole way Maharaj Ji played with us, flashing his lights on and off, racing right up to within 10 feet of us. At the toll booths, he turned on his inside lights and smiled at us. It was the experience of 20,000 lifetimes.
As it turned out we got lost and took the wrong exit off the freeway. When we stopped at a gas station for directions, Maharaj Ji pulled up next to us and laughed, 'You're lost. Come on, follow me.' Then he drove straight for his residence. When we arrived we were too blown out to hardly even stand up. He thanked us for helping him, then gave us some chocolate candy and sent us off to the satsang program."
The New York program continued in the same lighthearted vein. When Maharaj Ji finished speaking, he said, "And now Mata Ji will give you some satsang." But Mata Ji wouldn't begin speaking and just looked at him. Finally Mata Ji consented to speak with Guru Maharaj Ji acting as translator. Unfortunately, Maharaj Ji seemed to have forgotten how to speak English and would speak only Hindi. At last, both of them began laughing. When one premie asked, "Guru Maharaj Ji, why aren't you translating?" he answered, "I am. I'm translating from Mata Ji to Guru Maharaj Ji."
Later, one premie asked, "Guru Maharaj Ji, will you please take us with you in the Maserati?" He said, "But I only have room for two. Maybe all the rest of the premies can push." But someone else piped up, But Guru Maharaj Ji, there is only two of us." Maharaj Ji smiled.
And so it went.