St Petersburg Times November 24, 1973
The light! You just cannot believe the divine light!. At first it is only a phosphorescent glow, a flame that burns within the center of your forehead, glowing with the brilliance of a spinning diamond, burning brighter than 100,000 suns … And suddenly you are flying, flying faster than the speed of light itself, flying through the many facets of the diamond … Oh wow, man, it is so very far, far out …
And then begins the music, if you can just try to believe the divine music! In its origins almost imperceptible, a hummmmm. No, not a hummmmm, a roaarrr, the muted roaarrr of 100,000 waterfalls hurtling over a distant dam and it grows and it builds and it evolves into … A harmony … A harmony of violins … of bells … Oh man! The divine nectar is also beginning to flow sweet, like honey, ambrosia, cherry-tart, custard, pineapple, toffy and hot-buttered toast … oh wowman, itissoveryfarfarout …
And finally comes the word! The primordial vibration!! Man, you are really plugged into it now, plugged into the almighty battery pack, the great recharageable divine and man!!! the shock of it all just about blisses out your mind …
The light, the music, the nectar and the word — collectively — are referred to as The Knowledge, the knowledge that Guru Maharaj Ji, a 15-year-old boy from India, the self-proclaimed Perfect Master of our times, would like to market throughout the world.
Because they have experienced The Knowledge, because they hoped to experience The Knowledge, approximately 20,000 of Maharaj Ji's followers assembled in the Houston Astro- dome for a three-day festival, Millenium '73, advertised as the most profound event in the history of the world, a stunning demonstration that would inaugurate 1,000 years of peace.
BUT THE BLISS apparently busted. Forty thousand of the 60,000 people expected didn't show.
And Maharaj Ji never did deliver the "practical plan to restore world peace on Earth and the tools to carry out the plan," promised in press kit releases churned out by Divine Light Mission (DLM), a sort of church headquarters without a church which says it's a non-profit, non-sectarian, non-denominational, tax-exempt corporation organized in the United States in 1971 under the laws of the state of Colorado for religious, charitable, humanitarian and educational purposes.
Guru Maharaj Ji's Divine Light Mission (DLM) claims to direct the activities of his 6-million worldwide followers in 37 countries (40,000 in the United States). Since Maharaj Ji himself is fond of illustrating his discourses with the stuff of modern life — like most bright adolescents, he is fascinated with cars and cameras and tape recorders — perhaps one can best understand the Divine Light Mission if it is regarded as a successful family business.
Now like all good family businesses, DLM was founded in 1960, by an independent old patriarch, Maharaj Ji's father, Hans Ji Maharaj. Hans Ji was an Indian holy man. Born of a tougher fiber than his son, he forswore materialism to tred the dusty roads of Asian mysticism.
LIKE SON, like father, Hans Ji was also a Perfect Master. And since, Maharaj 31 explains the rules of the game, there can only be one Perfect Master on this Earth at a time, the DLM held monopoly control of The Knowledge.
In 1966, when Hans Ji died, Maharaj J1 assumed perfection and took over the organization's reigns. With the assistance of his holy mother, Meta Ji, he began to franchise mahatmas, spiritual heavies who had sole authorization to pass on the experience of The Knowledge.
Maharaj Ji's three older brothers were awarded positions In the organization. Bal Bmagwan J1, the eldest, was put in charge of the divine intelligence and set up as the house intellectual; Bhole Ji's penchant for divine flash made him the perfect choice to direct Blue Aquarius, the 56-piece big band that tours on behalf of DLM and Raja , the family's elusive, silent member, became commander of the World Peace Corps, the DLM's ever-present security force.
The Divine Light Mission quickly began to diversify. It publishes its own journals, Divine Times and It Is Divine; produces films and tapes under the auspices of Shri Hans Productions recycles goods through Divine Sales, is planning to expand into educational services, Shri Hans Educational and Health Care, Shri Hans Humanitarian Services,
Guru Maharaj Ji is the inspiration behind the 56-piece band called Blue Aquarius, organized and directed by the guru's 20-year-old brother, Bhole Ji. Musicians include former members of the Bee Gees, the Foundations, the Soul Survivors and Dando Shaft. Divine Light Mission predicts their music "will sweep America."
So when the DLM's annual Hans Jayanti Festival drew near, although it has been traditionally held in India, the decision was made to move the show to America. America was where it's happening.
WITH A MINIMUM of fanfare, a phalanx of World Peace Corps men ushered Guru Maharaj Ji into a room in the Astroworld Hotel, where be took his place in a gold-brocaded chair surrounded by a hedge of flowers. A table full of tape recorders and microphones sat before him, like gifts that had been laid at the feet of a lord.
"The aim of this Mission is to establish peace on this Earth. Here I am. I say I can establish peace in this world. It is quite possible. I would very much like all the press to cooperate with me in doing this."
Maharaj Ji carried himself formally, gestured magnanimously, occasionally exhibited a tense and impudent smile. His voice coasted up and down a narrow, high-pitched register, cracking each time it rolled over a crest. Patiently, he once again explained that he did not come to establish a religion, but simply to distribute The Knowledge. Everyone is welcome — Catholic, Jew or Buddhist.
Does he have a plan to feed the poor? Well, he says, there are many ways to feed the poor and he hasn't yet decided which way is the best. Does he have a plan for world peace? Well, there will be peace in the world when all receive The Knowledge.
What is The Knowledge; what is his definition of peace?
His answers are circular, relying heavily on words appealing to the young, the undefined, those searching after 'Truth' and selves. If his followers called 'premies' because they have received The Knowledge — share a common background, it is that they have been to the very edges of existence. Unkempt, undisciplined, they have done graduate school and they have done drugs, they have wandered from Halght-Ashbury to the. wilderness and back. They have been searching, endlessly searching for that one irrefutable answer that would set their lives at rest …
"See, peace is not a bird, peace is not an apple that grows on a tree, neither is peace two fingers," the guru says. "Peace is within, inside of us. Maybe you don't call it Knowledge. Maybe you call it peace; maybe you don't call it peace, maybe you call it the Word; maybe you don't call it the Word, maybe you call it something else. But it is one thing and it is within you."
Or try "God is energy, God is perfect and pure energy. And that's why scientists say that energy cannot be destroyed and cannot be created. This is Knowledge. This is the Word of God."
Rather simple definitions, or non-definitions, depending on your point of view. Some people demand a bit more knowledge about the Guru's 'Knowledge.'
On the final day of Millenium '71, a special knowledge session was arranged for interested reporters. Mahatma Saphlanand JI, Maharaj Ji's only Western apostle, drew the circle close around him.
Speaking softly, smiling, charming in his own contentment, sometimes shaking his head in inexpressible bliss, sometimes clasping the hands of premies present, really getting off, the Mahatma resembled Kathryn Kuhlman, ever - so - transported when contemplating the wondrous ways of the Lord,
The media, the mahatma said, really was capable of marvelous things. The media had the power to spread the name of Maharaj Ji.
He talked like an understanding father, always comforting, always supportive.
But would he explain the four techniques of meditation, please? Because, really now, they were fast becoming an open secret.
Wasn't it true that to see the light you merely closed your eyes and pressed upon the eyelids? That to hear the music you stuck your thumbs into your ears? That to taste the nectar you curled your tongue back toward your throat and savored your own saliva?
THE MAHATMA would not comment. For the techniques are empty ritual unless you are ready to experience the knowledge and only the mahatma can determine when that time has come.
"Can't we have a knowledge session, now?" a woman pleaded, sincere in her desire to go on to receive The Knowledge.
The mahatma's calming smile momentarily froze. We must not rush, he insisted. There will be time tomorrow, you will be asked to fill out forms, everything must pass through proper channels.
One who has already passed through the 'proper channels' is Rennie Davis, former anti-war activist and Maharaj Hs star convert.
Says Davis, "This is an Incredible time for America. We are very fortunate to belong to this generation, which will see the beginning of 1,000 years of peace, now that the lord of the universe is walking on the face of the Earth." As general coordinator of Millenlum '73, Davis announced Ji's plan to build a divine city, possibly in California. A city greater than Disneyworld, a completely harmonious community, its medium of exchange would not be money but service to Maharaj J1 — ushers circulate to collect seed money for the city — a city that could only be described as a little bit of heaven on earth.
Time will tell.