UK Elan Vital 1980s Background
Rawat's changes of 1982 had the same decimating effect on premies in England (the 2nd largest group in the West) as in North America. Much of the information here comes from the 1980s Newsline newsletters.
In an ironic twist Prem Rawat's followers in the UK were still legally organised as the Divine Light Mission registered charity 264682 and merely claimed the name "Elan Vital" to be the property of said charity though how ownership of a phrase in common usage for nearly a century can be owned eludes me.
In 1986 Elan Vital UK received about £100,000 in voluntary donations, and about £90,000 for registration fees for the National Convention in Birmingham. The actual programme costs for the tour came to £80,000. £50,000 was donated to the Swiss Elan Vital Foundation to help aviation and other international costs, and the remaining £60,000 was spent on basic administration costs throughout the year (office rent, computer, staff wages, including full-time instructors, the news-letters, fees for professional services, and so on). There were 46 part-time instructors including Michael Finch and Gail Benton.
There were still 9,000 people on the mailing list left over from the 1970s though less than 10% actually made a donation during 1986, and only 5% (about 450) were regular financial contributors. The 3 person administration staff from their shared office were doing their best to clean the list up and remove the dead wood. In 1987 Glen Whittaker and staff were able to move to a four roomed office in Hove. In 1986 he spoke to a total of 617,000 people at 106 public meetings in 34 countries. However these figures do not give an accurate reflection of Rawat's standing in the West as any two bit Godman can attract hundreds of thousands of people in India and Elan Vital practice was not to count individual people but merely the sum of bums on seats overall.
In 1986 Rawat spoke to a total of 617,000 people at 106 public meetings in 34 countries - Newsline April 1987.
On December 13, 1986 Rawat said he had visited 36 countries. There were 209 "events" in 94 cities - this means he averaged 2¼ speeches in each city (I think). He had appointed 320 instructors and approximately 21,000 people received the Knowledge - virtually all of them in India. He had "touched" 959,121 people which means he held some large speeches in India. To keep that in proportion in 1971 over 1,000,000 individual people had come to one of the Godboy Guru Maharaj Ji's speeches in Delhi and even more to one in Bihar.
In March and April, 1988 more than 5,000 heard him speak in two programmes at the Wembley Conference Centre, one of them attended by about 1,100 guests. Rawat personally held a Knowledge session for 9 people. Four Rejoices were held in Birmingham and 4,000 PWiKs (People With Knowledge) attended. Rejoices were held in Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Israel & Greece. There was a Knowledge session for 5 people in Oxnard, California. In the week, starting 17 October, he participated in a session for 18 people in Brighton. There appeared to be much ado with Rejoices, Organiser Conferences, Contacts, traditional festivals in India and a lot of flying backwards and forwards but not a lot of new PWiKs, 32 in the West apparently.
PWiKs were learning about this new Knowledge from Rawat directly. The Master can teach it any time in a completely different way. The Master changes the rules, creates the rules, disposes of these rules as the Master wishes. The key was to practise without expectation but he uncompromisinginly recommended an uninterrupted daily period which was an hour a day, preferably in the morning. Rawat spoke at length about "the greatest love in our lives" – that between ourselves, the Knowledge, and Himself.
Rawat also signalled a new phase in his own life. He was now a culture vulture, a true Medici. He not only extolled Michelangelo's David, mentioned Socrates and "Know Thyself" but he spoke about Lucifer as if had read Milton. Now that I can believe that he's been to Florence but I cannot believe he's read Paradise Lost. A man who had never read a book doesn't start with thousands of lines of 17th century English iambic pentameter blank verse.
Rawat had refused to answer questions since the early 1970s but his new persona created a lot of new questions. He hadn't lost his knack for deflection, disingenuousness, dodging, questioning the questioner and all the other methods he'd demonstrated so effectively pre 1983 including straight-out lying.
What I would like to know is, if I obtained Knowledge, what would I have to do to sustain it, to continue it on in my life?
Maharaji: You would have to practise it by giving it a few minutes of your time. - Minimum of 60 minutes a day, every day of your life.
Is it meditation?
Maharaji: If you want to call it meditation, you may. But it's not particularly like that. It doesn't really follow your typical meditation where you sit in a room and think of something nice or focus on something. - It is exactly like that!
At the 1986 National English Convention the English premies earned that, like the Americans, they were too untrustworthy to tell people about the new version of Rawat and his Knowledge and they certainly weren't allowed to mention the old version - Lord of the Universe, Perfect Master, God-in-a-bod.
Remember the video "Tony and Pete", about an enthusiastic "old-timer" thoroughly confusing his pal and filling him with over-expectations about the Knowledge? … So Maharaji's message was a simple one – don't set yourself up as a spreader of the Knowledge. Just let the experience Knowledge brings work for you in your life. And if someone we know expresses an interest, merely set them on the path towards discovering that experience for themselves by putting them in touch with an instructor.
Much the paperwork distributed by Elan Vital was for fund-raising.
- Sponsorship Brochure
- Sponsorship Form
- Sponsorship Letter
- Sponsorship Letter to Mike Finch
- Sponsorship Card