The Detroit Free Press Published: August, 1973
No Way To Treat A Guru
Child God Remains Humble in Face of a Pie
BY JIM NEUBACHER
Free Press Staff Writer
The Guru Maharaj Ji, appearing before the Detroit Common Council Tuesday afternoon was greeted with a pie in the face from a disgruntled citizen and the first split vote on a testimonial resolution by the council in recent history.
The guru, who says he is 15 years old and a child god, was quietly waiting at the side of the council chambers in the City-County Building when a young man ran forward from the audience and slapped a shaving cream pie in his face and down the front of his beige dress suit.
The menthol-flavored cream filled a small paper plate. On the back was the inscription: "Council for the Eruptive Anticipation of the Marvellous, the Fifth Estate."
The guru immediately retreated to an inner hallway where quietly panicked aides wiped off the cream and tried to think what to say.
The aides tried to bar reporters, but the guru held an impromptu press conference where he said:
"This was probably nothing like the nails through Jesus Christ."
How do you like Detroit he was asked.
"Well, it sure is fine," said the guru whose followers are said to number in the millions worldwide.
THE ASSAILANT fled on foot from the auditorium, shaking off half-hearted attempts of members of the audience to stop him. Two policemen decided to remain in the council chambers.
Later, the guru said: "I just want to apologise to that person who did that to me. I don't want him arrested or hurt. If someone doesn't understand something, he cannot be held responsible for what he does."
At the Fifth Estate, a radical newspaper in Detroit, a
Please turn to Page 2A, Col. 1
Pie Thrown in Indian Guru's Face on Detroit Visit
Continued from Page IA
young man identifying himself as Pat Halley, 22, of Detroit said he was the pie-thrower. Halley says he is a reporter for the Fifth Estate.
"I do not like authority," Halley said. "I do not like God because He is an authority." Halley said he hid the shaving cream pie underneath a box of flowers as he sat in the auditorium.
The guru, who was born in India as Pratap Singh Rawat, has traveled worldwide preaching his message of unity, love and brotherhood. He claims to be able to dispense "perfect knowledge" and to be a key to a greater spiritual entity. Called Balyogeshwar (Child God), the young man says there will be one religion worldwide someday. He described himself as "a key to a great hall. Without the key you cannot get in."
He was asked if he considers himself greater than God.
Speaking English with an American accent, although imperfectly, he answered: "In one importance, the key is greater than the hall."
After the pie-throwing, council-president Mel Ravitz said he felt "disgust for the incident. I felt it was the kind of thing that was absolutely juvenile, and could have been dangerous."
Ravitz said he would talk with police about whether to seek prosecution of the pie-thrower for disrupting the Common Council session.
Councilman Nicholas Hood said of the pie incident: "It's frightening, it could just as well have been a machine gun."
EARLIER, VOTING on a testimonial resolution welcoming the guru to Detroit, Councilman David Eberhard cast a "no" vote.
Ravitz said it was the first time in his 11 years on the Common Council that he could remember an objection, to a testimonial resolution. Eberhard said he voted no for "personal reasons," but then elaborated, saying: "As I have traveled around the country talking to people, the implication I get is that (the guru) is a fake.
"I can't be a part of supporting a fake," he added. Eberhard, a Lutheran minister, said he felt there was a basic conflict of interest between his religion and the testimonial to the Indian boy.
The council's other minister, Rev. Nicholas Hood, said he did not object to the resolution. "Heck, we dig love, too," said Hood.
Councilwoman Erma Henderson, who drafted the resolution, welcomed the guru after the shaving cream was cleaned off and said: "I am deeply moved by the wonderful feeling of warmth and attention by young people of the city who are responding in this time of violence to this young man.
"Anybody who's talking about love in the city of Detroit ought to be welcome," Mrs. Henderson said. "That's a nice vague statement" said Eberhard later. "While we apologize for something about which we know nothing," Mrs. Henderson continued, referring to the pie incident, "we say love is more important than anything else, and as it shines out from you to all of us, we say thank you."
The guru, a plump, short individual, peered over the edge of the speaker's podium as he thanked Mrs. Henderson, and told the audience of 250 mostly young people: "Love is the major thing between us all." Shri Guru Maharaj ji will speak formally at Cobo Hall at 8 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free, on a first-come, first-served basis.
The guru was scheduled to leave Detroit Tuesday night and fly to New York where he will tape a Dick Cavett Show. He is to return to Detroit Wednesday night or Thursday morning.