To go or not to go
Midsummer 1971: The Glastonbury festival, the English "Woodstock", was a very important event in the alternative calendar of that summer. People were really urging Maharaji to go in. But he stood aloof from it all. Then at the very last minute he decided to go.
Many recall his short address and the film Glastonbury Fayre somehow captures the serenity and calm that Maharaji instilled into those wild proceedings. On the pyramid stage premies hastily erected a small podium amid the amplifiers and drum kits and then Maharaji told the crowd that they could receive Knowledge. From the very next day, the London residence was crowded with those who had heard him speak on that summer solstice.
Andrew Kerr (see story facing page) also recalled Maharaji's amusement when the car got stuck, as he was trying to leave. Premies heaved to release the vehicle from the rock festival mud.
On asking photographer Andrew Tweedie, who later received Knowledge, if he had a "Glastonbury experience," he replied, "Yes, but I don't know what it was.
That, as they say, was a sign of the times.
I went to Glastonbury Fayre in the summer of 1971 with a great sense of excitement. The general feeling of was that it would be a very special event and for me it certainly was. There was an extraordinary, beautiful and magical atmosphere and I had some of the best experiences I had ever had. I felt happy and free and sometimes even danced with pure joy.
One day, I was down by the pyramid stage when a young man walked on and started to speak. I didn't know who he was but I could hear the clarity and power and peace in this voice and knew he was "there" where I wanted to be for ever. He said something like - come to me and will give you peace" and when he left the stage I started to walk towards him but some people were shouting and heckling so I turned and went the other way. I
I didn't meet any of his followers while I was there but one day someone handed me a poem that really touched my heart and sent shivers down my spine, but I didn't understand the last line: "Shri Sant Ji Maharaj is peace."
After the festival was over I copied the poem into my address book and set off overland to India to find a Master! On the way I had a chance encounter with a young man in a tearoom in Afghanistan who had a look in his eyes that fascinated me and he told me of a 13-year-old holy boy called Maharaji. Could that be the same young man had seen at Glastonbury?
Later in India, when I was feeling very low and desperate and praying for help I met someone with the same look in his eyes. He lent me a booklet written by Shri Maharaj Ji called "Read Think And Know" and everything clicked into place. I asked him where I could find out more and he told me that Maharaji and a jumbo jet full of his people from the West would be attending an event in Delhi the next day
I walked into the Hans Jayanti Festival through a sea of smiling faces and I knew I was home. I recognized Maharaji, I fell in love and finally understood the last line of the poem. Thank you Maharaji for giving me peace.
'My age is so little, my body is so small,
I can't serve you as a military officer,
I can't serve you as a police constable.
The only service I can do is to help you
by giving that perfect Knowledge'
Adventures in Devon
The day that Maharaji first arrived in the West was also the final day of my exams at Exeter University. So I missed the arrival at the airport, but in the afternoon I went up to London to see Maharaji. By the time I arrived he was asleep, but Charnanand insisted I poke my head round the bedroom door. That was my first glimpse of Maharaji in the West. During the next few days there was much discussion about whether Maharaji should go down to Glastonbury for the Summer Solstice festival.
Everybody was in favor of him going, but I was against it, pointing out the drug and hippie culture of the event. It seemed he was taking my advice, and I was not very popular. Everyone else felt I was a spoilsport. Then Maharaji said he would like to do a programme at Exeter, and asked me to go down and prepare. I did but as soon as I had left for Exeter, Maharaji went with everyone else to Glastonbury!
Three days later he came down to Exeter. I drove him around in the Exeter University Students' Union minibus and we toured Devon. Then Maharaji asked me to drive to London, and for the rest of his stay in England that was his vehicle. We spent three or four days at the US Embassy trying to get Maharaji a visa to go to America. We sat in the smoke-filled waiting room, then we sat in the van, then we sat in the waiting room again. At one point it looked like Maharaji was definitely not going to get a US visa. That meant he would have to do his work in the West from here. Although Maharaji was upset at this, I don't remember being too unhappy at hosting him for the foreseeable future!