William Ganz aka Sitaram aka Rampuri
Will Ganz aka Sitaram who now calls himself Rampuri is a legend in his own chillum. The author of 'Baba,' and a star of the Ethnobotanical (drugs) "spiritual scene" he has spent decades in India sucking at the sadhu's source of spurious stoned saintliness. He left his early spiritual career in Divine Light Mission with a bhang and doesn't mention those days in his biography. Exactly why he was involved is lost in a hazy mist of marijuana and paranoia but there is no doubt he had a strong initial impact in helping the young Rawat go to the USA and to provide him with an audience once he got there though he did his best to sabotage the movement once he realised Rawat's vision did not include him and any intellectual grooviness in the 'inner circle'. There are copies of two emails he sent in 2002 in which he claims full credit for Divine Light Mission off the ground in the USA, calls everyone else involved stupid, ignorant and low-caste - yes 'low-caste'. He discussses early Divine Light mission and his role within it here and makes intelligent criticisms of Indian Rawatism here.
To set History straight: Richard Friedricks was the first premie in America, in West Virgina, initiated in London. I don't know if I ever met him, he didn't figure into things when I was around.
Alan Watts DID put in the first money. Burt Kleiner, who had originally introduced me to Alan in the sixties, was ultimately behind the donation. I went to see him, first, when I arrived in the States. An old family friend, he had made a considerable fortune in the equities market, and was partner in the firm, Kleiner Bell. He was always giving money to good causes, Free Clinic, Diggers, etc., in the sixties, so I thought he was the man. Since he was ALSO the money behind the Alan Watts Foundation, he put some money in my pocket for expenses, and sent me to see Alan up in Sausalito on his houseboat, and told Alan to give me whatever I asked for. We had a great time, I'll tell you some of those stories later, he loved my stories about India and Boy Gods, and gave me $10,000 to start things off. He never got involved beyond that. He was a brilliant man, one of the most brilliant I've met, and very funny. He had this cutting British sense of humour.
I rented a small house next to the Hollywood Bowl in LA, and acquired a 'following' of 20-30 people for chanting and meditating, Indian food, and satsang, usually twice a week. Monday and Friday. Shiva and Shakti. I put flyers out at Bodhi Tree Bookstore, never using the name Divine Light Mission, which sounded Christian Missionary or Salvation Army to me. In fact, I changed the name I used on every flyer, Shiva Sangha, Temple of Divine Eye, Durga Puja, Shiva Puja, Temple of Goddess, the Akhara.
I sent the money for M's tickets as instructed by his mother. Joan Aptor arrived in LA only days before M. She took over phones and secretarial, stuff that I hated. I just wanted to be a baba in India.
So, if there were others giving the satsang in the beginning, who were they? There were only three of us who had any experience and had been in India. Gary Girard, who's involvement grew after I left and Joan. Charananand spoke, M spoke, and I spoke. The 'inner circle' consisted of us three. And I initiated hundreds of people.