From The West to the East and the East To The West
Hans Rawat had wanted his "Knowledge" to be proselytised in the West. He was naive enough to have letters sent to President John F. Kennedy and Bertrand Russell informing them that, using his methods of meditation and under his guidance, world peace could be achieved but "it is absolutely necessary that the politicians of the world be counselled and if necessary obliged to realise Divine Light by personal contacts with living Realised Soul and then the humanity will be saved from ruination without much efforts." Unfortunately he died before any politicians could be obliged to realise Divine Light.
It is inconceivable that the young Rawat could have been the Leader of an international NRM if he had not succeeded to the role of Satguru of a thriving Indian spiritual organisation with thousands of monks and nuns and lacs of followers to provide "spiritual credibility" and considerable infrastructure and wealth in the late 1960's as "hippies" began travelling to India seeking a guru.
The first Westerner whose involvement with Divine Light Mission led to the creation of a viable western organisation was Brian Pitt, who was initiated in India in 1969 and was authorised to initiate people as Mahatma Param Saphlanand, the only Westerner to become a mahatma. Independantly an Indian follower in London, a Mr Sinha, had sponsored Mahatma Gurucharanand to go to England to proselytise amongst the Indian community there. He arrived in England on the 16th August 1969 and Saphlanand followed hitch-hiking home. They were joined by the four British premies that had been introduced to DLM in India by Pitt: Ron Geaves, Sandy Collier, Milky Cole & David Beales. Soon a small coterie of young English hippies gathered around Gurucharanand and this caused cultural problems with the London Indian community. Gurucharanand moved into a tiny flat with Saphalanand in the West End and people began to attend the nightly satsang meetings. It was Saph who met Glen Whitaker and Peter Lee (Whitaker has been Rawat's main English administrator and Lee his chauffeur) and inspired them to start attending meetings with Gurucharanand and through this David Lovejoy, Suzy Whitten and another group of London hippies became converted. In the Prem Rawat Foundation biography of Rawat, Saph is denigrated at every opportunity but without him DLM might have missed their window of opportunity proselytising amongst the disillusioned hippies of the early 1970's.
In Afghanistan, Geaves and Collier met Joan Apter and told her about the young Rawat. However at this time she did not go to Dehra Dun but she went in time to "receive Knowledge" before the November 1970 "Peace Bomb" speech for which she did PR for the English speaking press. Gary Girard and Will Ganz, Beverley Hills hippies, were tasting the stoned sadhu lifestyle and became the next Westerners to become involved. They were initiated in February 1971 by Mahatma Gurucharanand with Janet Wallace. Ganz, who has since achieved minor fame as a Western sadhu and disparages Rawat and everyone associated with him, used his counter-culture connections to finance Guru Maharaj Ji's first trip to the USA. It was rumoured in DLM that Girard, who has remained a long term devotee, also arranged for significant financial backing for Rawat through his drug-smuggling connections. Apter, Ganz and Girard were the main people arranging for Rawat to go to the USA from England in 1971.
Geaves sought out an old friend, Mike Finch, who was living in a Buddhist community and he became the 100th Englishman to be initiated by Guracharanand on 1st June, 1970. Finch journeyed to India in August 1970 to see the Satguru himself and presented him with a tape-recorder and received a "Knowledge Review" surrounded by the 13 year old Guru Maharaj Ji himself, Mahatmas Sampurnanand, Satyanand who was said to have been a follower of Hans Rawat's Satguru Swarupanand and Ramanand who did the actual eye-squeezing. Raja Rawat and Bihari Singh and various mahatmas whose names have been forgotten rounded out the circus.
- In November 1970, 20 - 25 Western premies went to India for the Hans Jayanti Festival and heard the "Peace Bomb" speech.
On June 17th, 1971 the young Guru Maharaj Ji arrived at Heathrow on his first trip out of India after a brief stop at Rome airport where he was impressed by the FIATs. He was on a 3 week school vacation. His first public address was at the Conway Hall in London on the 19th June, 1971 and on the 22nd he spoke at a large rock festival at Glastonbury where he received a decidely mixed reception. However, enough people were intrigued that the ashram in which he was staying was packed with people afterwards.
His mother was determined he return to Indian and school and the 6 US premies were desperate he go to Los angeles. There was considerable long-distance, angry shouting between Rawat and his mother and apparently none of the premies hearing these thought it was strange for the God-Realized "Holy Family" who were bringing peace and bliss to world to have furious arguments. He flew to the USA courtesy of a $10,000 grant from the Alan Watts' Foundation arranged by William Ganz (aka Sitaram aka Rampuri) which Watts no doubt approved in a spirit of ironic mischief. How a minor could enter the USA without his parent's consent has not been explained. Ganz' reminiscences of those days are interesting though they must be taken with at least a grain, if not a pound, of salt. Ganz believes Rawat coming to the West was part of an evil conspiracy by his mother but I think Finch's more pragmatic viewpoint of it being chaotic and opportunist is far closer to the truth than Ganz's paranoid ideas especially as everyone agrees that Mata Ji was insistent on his returning to school.
It is undeniable that two seminal figures in the creation of Divine Light Mission were Brian Pitt and Will Ganz and both of these have disavowed and disparaged Rawat in later life. Of course they are certainly not alone in doing that. A significant number of "high-ranking" followers have apostasised and some have publicly spoken out about him.
- September 14, 1971 - The Washington Post: DLM claimed 1,000 American followers.
- October 22, 1971 - County Times and Gazette: Michael Finch claimed 2,000 in England and about two million in India
- November, 1971: 350 Western premies flew to India for the Hans Jayanti Festival.
Amongst these people were Reto Salvedelli and Jacques Sandoz two young Swiss alternative film-makers and there they filmed the footage that would be featured in The Lord Of The Universe and Satguru Has Come. These films were shown around the world by DLM centers and were one of DLM's main early tools of propagation.
In early 1972 Mata Ji with Raja Ji, Bhole Ji and a court of servants, mahatmas and hangers-on flew to Europe and joined DLM's international activities. Mata Ji and her eldest son, Bal Bhagwan Ji, still had significant input into DLM administration and Rawat's lifestyle. In June 1972 the "The Lord of the Universe" was shown in 12 universities around the country and students were invited to come to Montrose, Colorado for Guru Puja in July 25-27. Six thousand people attended and many were initiated. Parts of this event, which was a tremendous boost to DLM membership, were included in Sandoz' next film, Satguru Has Come.
- July 25-27, 1972 - Montrose Guru Puja Festival, 6,000 people attended
- October 23 1972 The Times: over 6,000 followers in Britain
- October 23, 1972 - Bennington Banner: 30,000 followers in the United States
- November 1, 1972 - Harvard Crimson: Carol Greenberg, acting general secretary of the Concord regional headquarters claimed 30,000 adherents in the U.S
- November 1, 1972 - Associated Press: The mission claims a following of five million in India, nearly 40,000 in the US, 10,000 in continental Europe, 6,000 in Britain and 600 in Japan.
- November, 1972: 3,600 Western premies went to India for the Hans Jayanti Festival and to camp a month at Prem Nagar.
The month long stay in India was not a success as the facilities were stretched past the point that Westerners could tolerate. Sandoz called it a prison camp. Dupertuis listed her friends sick and moaning all month, hashish confiscations, poor water supply, hours waiting for the 2 meals a day, dust, freezing nights and roasting days amongst other "disconfirming events." Dr Edd Hanzelik reported that there was a lot of dysentry and colds and emotional problems that occurred "mostly in people who want to get closer to the perfect knowledge. When they are not close to the knowledge, they get depressed and unhappy." That is certainly a huge Catch 22 as getting close to perfect knowledge is never easy. But despite that estimates of the number of people involved continued to grow.
- In July, 1973 15,000 people attended that Guru Puja Festival of Love in London, England
- July 28, 1973 - New York Times: claimed following of 50,000 in the United States
- In November, 1973 15,000 - 20,000 premies went to Houston Astrodome for "Millenium '73".
And then a reality check. The Perfect Master and Lord of the Universe called this convention "the most holy and significant event in human history" and that all his devotees should attend, it seemed that the maximum number of people with any significant involvement with Prem Rawat and his Knowledge in the "West" was 25,000 of the 75,000 plus that had been initiated. Millenium '73 was a human, divine and financial failure and many premies probably dropped off the bandwagon afterwards.
* "The Company Of Truth" - Lucy Gwynn Dupertuis Ph.D Thesis
The following Videos contain scenes of the young Rawat's career in Indian and his relocation to the West mostly portrayed in a hagiographic manner.
- Lord Of The Universe 1971
- Satguru Has Come 1972
- Who Is Guru Maharaj Ji? 1973
- Evolution 1989
- Windows In Time 1989
- I Have This Knowledge
- Passages: A Master's Journey 2001