Élan Vital and the Mission of Prem Rawat in the 1980's
- 4 main groups of information
- The number of attendees
- The number of sponsors
- The number of instructors
- The feelings of the premies
Intro: Rawat wants lots of followers, predicts lots of followers, says how he'll get lots of followers
Prem Rawat, the 1970's God boy Guru Maharaj Ji, has been forgotten by the media and ignored by academics of religion for 30 years except for Professor Ron Geaves of Liverpool Hope University who has combined his academic life and his personal life as a devotee 1 of Rawat's in a series of papers and text-book chapters 2 that promote Rawat as a near flawless Master of the Sant tradition singlehandedly going through the "final frontier" - bringing a unique, true experience of "" to the world in way free of cultural influences. 3
Among his many assertions about Rawat, Geaves claimed that "Elan Vital itself was to grow immensely in the last two decades of the twentieth century." 4 I intend to test that statement out for the deacde of the 1980's. This is the period when Rawat made the major changes 5 to his his organisations, his public teachings, even the name by which he was known as he dropped the "Guru" - Revealer of Light and became simply "Maharaji" - the Ultimate Ruler 6.
In 1977, London, he did an event for 10,500 people. A 5 day international event at Rome's Palazzo dello Sport for 14,500 people. Events continued in 1978. The climax was a multi-day "Hans Jayanti" event in November at an outdoor location in Kissimmee, Florida. More than 20,000 people attended from all over the world. http://www.man-of-peace.com/en/bio-06.htm
20,000 in Kissimmee, 1979 - Cagan p223
At the beginning of 1990 there were 3,600 people registered in the North American Sponsorship Program of whom 2350 were honouring their promises.
The idea for the Rejoice '87 series stemmed from Maharaji's realization that many people were practicing the techniques incorrectly. Some were deviating from the way they were originally instructed, while others were confusing Knowledge With cultural habits learned from early instructors. 6,100 people attended the North American Rejoice '87 programs. However there were still 12,857 people on the Elan Vital mailing list. Rejoice '87 was the most important Divine Light Mission / Elan Vital event of the 1980's. Knowledge reviews have been a regular feature for Rawat's students which is strange considering the techniques are so simple* they can be taught to anyone in less than 5 minutes. Only half of the people on themailing list bothered to come to meetings in which relatively small groups would have "the techniques of Knowledge clarified and reviewed directly by Maharaji."
9,000 people who came from 40 countries for the Festival of Knowledge a three-day convention in summer in Miami, 7,200 from North America and 1,800 from other countries. It was the first international festival to he held outside of India in the past 10 years.
The 1985 In View Calendar Of Events mentions only 2 people who would qualify as initiators/instructors.
1986 was a year in which Maharaji worked closely with instructors. Four times he participated in training conferences - in Texas, Florida, Los Angeles, and England. By all accounts, the trainings went exceedingly well, increasing both the quantity and quality of instructors. To date, there are approximately 320 instructors worldwide. Most are now "part-timers," offering their services as volunteers.
The Spring 1987 In View Instructors page gives names 110 of North American instructors
By the beginning of 1988 there were 103 North American instructors
By the beginning of 1989 there were 10 North American instructors, Rawat having fired the rest
HOW TO TALK ABOUT KNOWLEDGE We're here to talk about something very exciting and important: how to be able to talk about Knowledge to other people. We enjoy the experience we have, and it's only natural that we want to communicate it to people interested in what's happening to us. Basically, the instructors are trained to handle the situation. If you turn the ball over to them, it works a lot better. I know you want to talk about it. I don't blame you. But there is a right way to do it, an almost-right way to do it, and there's the wrong way to do it. Now there can be a happy culmination of both by merely having an instructor's phone number on a card that you can give to an interested person. North American Convention, Miami, Florida, July 5 1986 There's a lot of people out there waiting for Knowledge. In fact, the demand for Knowledge has never been as great as it is now. Never. And what's so beautiful is that people are not looking for a religion or a cult. They're looking for something simple and pure. You don't have to go out there and tell people about Knowledge. I know a lot of you think I'm taking something away from you, but I'm not
Birmingham, England, August 17 1986
Beginning of 1988 In February 1987, there were 281 regular contributors to the National Sponsorship Program. By November 1st, 1,833 people were participating. The ongoing financial support for Maharaji's work, is now in its second year. To date, over 1,800 contributors have pledged their support and are sending regular monthly contributions. In 1985, for example, there were only 16 instructors in North America, the United Kingdom, and Europe. Beginning of 1988 there are over 400 worldwide.
between 1984 and 2006 2 Lear jets, a Challenger, a Hawker-Siddley, a Citation, 2 Gulfstreams - p255 Cagan Starting in 1984, a Lear 35-one of the world's finest business jets-was leased to facilitate Maharaji's world tour. Despite its fine performance, this plane proved not to be the ideal aircraft for international travel.
Elan Vital continued the task of raising $1.5 million and borrowing another $2.5 million to meet projected aircraft costs ($3.6 million) and necessary aircraft modifications ($400,000).
In December 1986, at an International Organizers Conference, representatives from 49 countries made pledges towards the initial down payment and the ongoing operating costs of the aircraft. At the same time, a $2.5 million loan was pursued, and with the help of substantial private collateral, the loan was soon secured. When the Lear 55 became available at the end of January 1987, a down payment was made. On March 6, after a second test flight, Maharaji took delivery of the aircraft on behalf of Elan Vital. What are the future implications of the Lear 55 purchase? To begin with, there will be fixed monthly commitments. Operatng the new aircraft will cost about $1.85 million per year (including payments on the loan, insurance, fuel, handling, and hiring a co-pilot and mechanic-just to name a few). The Lear 55 will cost about 25 percent more to operate than the Lear 35 -a commitment that is definitely possible to meet, given the ongoing participation of the thousands of people worldwide who pledged their financial commitment during last year's aviation fundraising drive.
Reasons a part from Rawat's bungles - use quotes
It is paramount that we start understanding what a gift we have been given and how important it is to practice it deliberately rather than haphazardly. - Excerpts from Maharaji's presentation at one of the six Rejoice '87 gatherings, Snowmass, Colorado, July 6, 1987
For Festival of Knowledge guest Alan Aaronson, formerly of Manchester, England, and now living in Miami, the Festival was the first program he had attended in years. "I didn't know how dry and far away I was. I was deeply touched. I know this sounds like a cliche, but it's like everything was being directed just for me. And to see many shiny faces from back in Europe and other countries was like seeing old friends again."
On Sunday evening, as the Festival drew to a close, Maharaji spoke specifically to people who say they are having difficulty practicing Knowledge.
"It's a struggle that's not even needed. Just remember," Maharaji said, "how good you feel after you've done it. Practice this Knowledge for yourself. Don't do it for me, don't do it for your wife, for your husband or for anyone else. Enjoy it. Run with it." IV 1989
People say to me, "Well, Maharaji, it's so difficult to practice." Just remember how good you feel after you've done it. If somehow you can remind yourself before you do it - how good it actually feels afterwards- it's a lot easier.
EXCERPTS FROM MAHARAJI'S PRESENTATIONS AT A FESTIVAL OF KNOWLEDGE, MIAMI, FLORIDA, JULY 7, 8, 9
Reflections on the Festival
"The program was a new beginning, the launch of a journey."
"I've been going through a difficult time and almost didn't come to this program."
"My practice of Knowledge had subsided to almost nothing since I attended one of the Rejoice programs last year. I had been abusing the gift. I was like a car running on one cylinder. That lonesome feeling within me drastically changed at this program. Twice I was reduced to tears unexpectedly. My heart. which had become so hardened from not practicing Knowledge, was cracked open by Maharaji's inexplicable and oh so profound love and presence."
1. Passages, DT25th year, etc
2. All of Geaves papers, etc
3. "One of the things you have to appreciate is that the challenges I have to meet nobody else has had to meet. I am in totally unexplored territory. The frontier. The final frontier, so to say. I'm taking this Knowledge and making it available. I'm taking it to the Muslims, to the Hindus, to the Christians, to the Jews, to all human beings. I'm breaking the barriers that people think we can't get across. And everyone can be a part of it. Everyone." Prem Rawat's Speech, Birmingham, England, August 17 1986, IN VIEW magazine, Spring 1987
5. Passages, DT25th year, etc
6. Passages, DT25th year, etc