Glastonbury Fayre 1971
Glastonbury Fayre is a film made at and about the rock festival/hippie Be-in at Glastonbury in the south-west of England in 1971. Unfortunately it suffers from a lack of good music and an over-reliance on boring scenes of young English people wandering round doing very little and sometimes wearing very little. The are long scenes of talentless non-professional musicians and dancers drumming and being fey and boring. Nearly everyone seems stoned which helps to explain why they're so boring.
Some poseurs waffle on about ley lines and King Arthur and their ability to drive without navigating after having visions. Nearly everyone seems stoned which helps to explain why they're so boring except the vegan ranter who seems under the hynotic control of the chicken on his shoulder and the pants-less screamer who seems to be off his meds.
The organisers seemed to be under the misapprehension that the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who had achieved some fame by briefly attracting the Beatles to his entourage a few years earlier was coming to give a talk. In fact this was the 16 year old Guru Maharaj Ji now know as Maharaji or Prem Rawat.
The crowd was revved up in a loud, wild drumming, Hare Krishna chanting mob awaiting something according to the DVD but not according to the eye-witnesses. The pudgy young guru was driven up, garlanded and flanked by devotees who took the opportunity of kissing his feet as he waited for his chance to speak.
The young guru's followers were full of zeal and worship and made short work of the group playing on stage.
"I played the Glastonbury Fayre with Brinsley Schwarz to about 1,500 people in a field. It's heresy to say this, but I couldn't bear it - it was so cold and muddy. My abiding memory is of Maharaji, the teenage guru, turning up in a flower-bedecked Ford Zephyr, followed by all these weird Americans. He wanted to address his people while we were in the middle of a really good gig. There was no security in those days, and when we wouldn't get off, the flower children became more and more nasty. We'd finish a tune, and they'd say "The Master is here!" Then huge chunks of metal started being dropped on us from the pyramid by his more enthusiastic followers, and eventually they drove us off the stage. He got on, asked the audience for money, got back in his car and cleared off."
The Guru Maharaj Ji then made a speech which is transcribed here directly from the video as accurately as possible:
"Every materialist thing is perishable and after they have perished how you will know the God? You will perish one day. You should know such a thing that is imperishable, never will perish and that is the Holy Word, holy Knowledge of God and that is within you. But if the true, true God is equal for everyone, like we say 'Bhagwan' in Hindi, 'God' in English, 'Kurda' in Urdu, the God is the same thing, that is Knowledge will be also same. If the formula H2O is a formula for water for everywhere that means that the flavour and the taste of water will be the same everywhere. If the God is equal, if the God is one and God is same then this Knowledge will be also equal and it cannot be attained by going into different sects and religions. That is within you and if you want to go you have only can with your bodies go to the different sects and religions not the Knowledge but to go anywhere you need some money, some pounds. To go to the picture hall you need some pounds for the ticket or for anywhere you need some pounds. My pounds are the love and the devotion pounds that can only be attained by your bank. You have a bank in yourselves of which the money of love and devotion.
Because I have got that Word, I have got that Knowledge, I have got that thing and I can say you all that I can help mankind and everybody of you by giving that Knowledge."
Only if he has pure devotion for me, pure love for me and for the true Knowledge will he receive it. If you come with true devotion and true love and ask for true Knowledge of true self which you are seeking in relative forms, I can give it to you.
A version of the speech that translates the young guru's very idiosyncratic Indlish into English was printed in this pamphlet.
The festival was filmed and part of his speech was released in the Elan Vital 'Passages' video. Mick Brown in his book "The Spiritual Tourist" mentions that somewhat inappropriate speech. A clip from that speech is available at YouTube. In it he speaks of the imperishable "Knowledge of God" which he can give that is not available from sects and religions.
The young Rawat's English was barely intelligible, one person commented that he said you cannot have sex ("sects"), Nick Lowe thought he asked for money when he asked for "the money of love and devotion" though naturally enough loving and devoted followers did give money, millions of dollars of it. After 5 minutes the crowd had had enough and started shouting and heckling and the power was cut to the microphone.
Information about his appearance was published in newspaper articles in the Daily Mail and Evening Standard and 30 years later in the Bristol Evening Post after a Bristol appearance by Prem Rawat created some local media attention and in the "alternative press" magazines Creem and Street Life.