Guru's Peace Talk Called 'Fantastic' By Disciples, 'Unconvincing' by Others
By ELEANOR BLAU
Guru Maharaj Ji, the Indian youth whose followers say he is the incarnation of God, relaxed with his disciples at his house in Old Westbury, L. I. yesterday after a well-publicized appearance that got a mixed reception.
Addressing several thousand people on Saturday night from a red velvet throne at the Louis Armstrong Stadium in Flushing Meadows Park, Queens, the 15 year-old spiritual leader delivered a rambling, sometimes humorous discourse about peace that appeared to delight his followers but not those who had come to hear him out of curiosity.
"I can promise you satisfaction of mind," he said. "You can experience bliss within."
"I don't think he said anything," one young man, who declined to give his name, asserted after the talk.
Robert Ashby, of Manhattan a 21-year-old pianist, complained that the guru "doesn't give any reason - he just says 'Follow us and you'll see.' "
And Jose Vazquez, a Columbia University student, called the program an unconvincing "orchestrated performance."
But followers - who predominated at the free program - called the talk "fantastic." They chanted his praise as the guru, his 45-minute talk over, left quickly in the brown Mercedes Benz that awaited him at the rear of the stage.
The talk marked the opening of the American leg of the young man's third world-peace tour, which is to take him to Boston next Saturday and is to culminate in November at Houston's Astrodome. There, the guru, who says he has a worldwide following of six million people, including 50,000 in the United States, is to announce a "practical" program for world peace.
He was introduced at Louis Armstrong Stadium by Rennie Davis, the former political activist, who called the planned Houston session "the most important gathering of humanity in the history of the world."
The plump youth, who wore a white Nehru-style suit, began his talk by saying that "the whole world wants to have peace of mind, whether they call it 'Knowledge, "God," the 'Word' or 'primordial vibration.' "
Seated on a stage decked with white satin, silver vases of roses and a wire arc dangling strings of rhinestones, Maharaj Ji said that this peace, or "energy," was inside everybody, and that people's search for it was "like a watch tied to our wrist and we are looking all over for it."
The guru said that as a "perfect master" - of which there is said to be only one on earth at any time - he could reveal this peace. "I have a method," he said, without elaboration.
To illustrate one point, the guru supposed that he yearned for Batman comics, had searched everywhere in New York for them and, after giving up, was approached by a boy who asked, "Hey, you want Batman comic?" Maharaj Ji said his reaction would be, "What? Come on, don't make a fool of me, you don't have Batman comic. I search everywhere and there is none."
This, he said, is how some people react to his announcement that he can bring peace. If Jesus returned to earth, people would reject him, not realizing who he was, the guru continued.
Maharaj Ji spoke with animation and assurance, but when he finished he sat impassively as the audience - estimated at 4,000 by the police, and at twice that number by followers - began to chant in tribute. Then he walked quickly down a ramp to the car as followers began singing songs with lines such as "Oh my brothers, our savior's come," and "He'll lead us from suffering and misery."
A girl near the stage alternately wept and smiled and some followers held up flowers as they sang. Many stayed for a half hour or so, until about 11:30, to sing and hear additional music by a group called the Soul Survivors.