What began as a present for Maharaji to commemorate his 25 years of teaching in the West has grown into a 24-page newspaper celebrating the love and joy he has injected into so many of our lives. Put together by four veterans (literally) from the original Divine Times of the early '70s and my wife, Josie. This special edition began as a glimmer of an idea in my head, was nursed into fruition by David Passes and completed with the editorial skills of Douglas Hetherington and the design skills of Colette Donlan.
Most remarkable of all was the way the paper seemed to take on a life of its own. As soon as we started to contact people for words and memorabilia, the response was immediately overwhelming. Faxes came tumbling in, photographs appeared. After Rome. we were asked to add more stories. The response from around the world was immediate and the paper started to grow. Each and every piece has its own style. There is a marvellous diversity of experience, so many different modes of impression, but above all a core of love that flows through it all.
Publishing has suddenly become so significant for me again. I have so many memories of working on the newspaper over 20 years ago. I would always try to interview Maharaji at Woodside Avenue, Once I nearly succeeded. Tape-recorder at the ready. I asked a question and he replied but in a language I could not understand. Now things have come full circle and we have his wonderful interview. And what was just great then, is somehow, so magically. just so much better.
Times have changed and Maharaji's work has evolved in a way that was inconceivable 25 years ago. But the joy, as you will read remains as ever.
We would like to acknowledge the assistance of Jeff Allen, Michal Bagwell, Angela Bunting, Mehau Kulyk, Jo Lelsie, Bjorn Olsen, Henry Reif, Annie Saw, Jeff Stubley, Andrew Tweedie, Bob Warburton, Claire Winter, Eva Winter
Glastonbury Faire stills courtsey of Visual Programme Systems
I was one of those people on that first bus to India in 1970. In February 1971, there was a feeling that we should move on. David Lovejoy went to Australia. Venetia Stanley-Smith (who had caused a stir because she was related to Lord Curzon, the ruler of India in the old days) went to Japan. Myself and Peter Lee returned to England. Venetia cried at our farewell meeting with Maharaji. "We are not strong enough to leave you," she said. He replied, "When you go home you will find you have the strength." The old bus clanked its way up the Khyber Pass to Kabul, where we sold it for enough to buy tickets on the Magic Bus - 9 days non-stop to Ostend except for an overnight stop in Istanbul where we had a Turkish bath.
Back in England we found we did have the strength, as he had promised. Spreading Knowledge was so easy. People were still innocent and waiting for the truth to arrive in their lives - the atmosphere had not yet been polluted by so many strange alternative spiritual trips. Only left-wing politicos were cynical.
Against our better judgment because of the seeming lifestyle restrictions, we moved into the ashram as it needed people who could work and provide financial support. But what a hub of activity it became, people pouring in for nightly satsang, stragglers from India arriving back to reclimatize en route for America. David Thorp inherited some money and bought a typewriter and duplicating machine. We produced countless little slips with quotes from Maharaji and the ashram address. One Scottish boy arrived breathless clasping one with the "If I say an elephant is two inches high" quote. "Is this true. I just want to know is this true?" "Yes." Five minutes later somebody else from somewhere else.
A tape arrived from Maharaji "Blessings, blessings, blessings to all the premies: soon I will be on the stage in London." When we heard he was coming there were just four or five days to prepare. There was a great search for a suitable house. Carol and Patrick Wavers found Lincoln Street.
Hours waiting at Heathrow for his arrival. He stepped lightly between hundreds of reaching hands. The atmosphere was strong and intensely beautiful. After he left people hugged each other in tears, flowers strewn on the ground like a battlefield. I was offered the opportunity to garland his golden, serene face, so many garlands, he could hardly see. Then I walked behind, tossing petals over his head. A great auspicious occasion.
When we moved from Lincoln Street to the Alba Gardens ashram most of us slept in the garden. It was a hot summer. He was extremely playful. I was the serious busy worker trying to keep everything going in the background, for which I was mercilessly teased. I asked him not to get the house too wet with his water gun. He called me. I knew what to expect and donned raincoat and hat. "Take your hat off Mr Glen," he said in a teasing voice. "Take your coat off, Mr Glen." Bucketful of water over my head, much to his and the premies' amusement.
One night as he ran in the house after a trip out to buy Indian sweets, dodging hands as he ran along the hall and up the stairs, I felt very playful towards him and tipped a bucket of petals over his head. A reckless impulse made me follow through with the whole bucket. He tore it off and, beaming, tore at me. We fell and rolled on the floor, him pummeling me, not very hard. I wrestled back. I daren't punch him back. Suddenly he stood up, breathless and excited, and ran into his room. I really enjoy my little memory of the time I wrestled with Maharaji.
David Thorp argued with Maharaji over his use of the imperative as in "You must receive Knowledge." You should say should insisted David. Maharaji couldn't see why, but coined the compromise phrase should-must, which he used regularly. People never left his room, even when he wanted to eat. He seemed to get no privacy, but always joked about it. "I will get a couple of those apes from the zoo to protect me," he said. I said, "You can call them guru-lilas." This absolutely tickled him. He could not stop laughing, rolling on the bed, holding his sides. Later he gave me the honor of asking me to make things legal in the UK and be the first "general secretary". I was the only premie with a suit and was already acting as general co- ordinator, but I think the reason Maharaji asked me was because of the guru-lila joke.