Films and Videos of Divine Light Mission, Elan Vital, TPRF & WOPG from the mid-1980's on
Prem Pal Singh Rawat, who claims to be a descendant of Indian Royalty, arrived in West as the 13 year old, "Guru Maharaj Ji", the Lord of the Universe, Perfect Master and Satguru whose titles included Balyogeshwar Param Sant Ji Maharaj. From the beginning his organisations have used visual media as a major tool of proselytisation for new followers and for the teaching of his devotees. His teachings have never been regularised in print. His main, almost sole, teaching method is the thousands of extemperaneous speeches he has made since being enthroned as the Perfect Master in 1966. Many of these are available on CD and DVD though printed materials have been very few since the early 1980's. While copies are kept of all his speeches, only later ones are available for purchase. In 1982 in one of the most audacious and naive attempts at controlling his image ever attempted by a NRM leader he ordered his followers to destroy all copies of the printed, audio, video, and film publications about him in the West available up until that time.
He closed the ashrams in which many of his followers lived, terminated the nightly public meetings ("satsangs") they held and then disappeared from public view for many years years while his followers maintained a low-key organisation. No public advertising of public meetings was allowed for nearly two decades. He reinvigorated his organisations in the late 1980's with an increased number of worldwide meetings for his followers calling himself Prem Rawat or 'Maharaji' having dropped the 'Guru' from his self-created title. His close followers gave a revisionist explanation for his earlier persona and actions blaming all controversial aspects of his "Knowledge" on his followers and exonerating him. Since then he has been trying, in a very low key way, to change his public image from boy guru to respected, philanthropist, international teacher of Inner Peace living off his investments. These videos begin during the early years of his second incarnation.
Windows In Time, an ILC (International Learning Center) production and a Visions International (a division of Elan Vital Inc) release, was premiered at the 'Festival of Knowledge' in Miami, July 1989. It contains historical footage from India and a ridiculously upbeat view of Rawat's early career in the West. In the 1970's the press had been nearly 100% critical and derisive of the 'fat boy guru'.
There is extensive footage of an "interview" with Prem Rawat in the back seat of a car from the late 80's and some of his 'students' providing revisionist spin on his early days in the West and rare footage of his childhood in India. It ends with an inspirational series of clips of his life over 'Teach Me Devotion' with late 1980's lyrics.
Don't miss the super clear explanation of the commitment required to practise Knowledge, at least, that's what I think it's about.
Evolution, an ILC (International Learning Center) production was produced in 1989. It is part of a series that includes "Windows In Time", "I Have This Knowledge" and "Passages" that attempt to show an extremely upbeat version of Rawat's early career in the West and a coherent evolution of his career and teachings while allowing his devotees watching it to briefly relive their youth during the exciting, overtly divine and devotional, optimistic and successful public phase of his career. It is certainly not an accurate picture of the history of Rawat's life and career but it is an accurate picture of how he wanted that presented in 1989 within the constraints of available archival film. It contains more extensive footage of his father and his early life in India than the others in this series but is amateurish by comparison with an intrusive, mediocre soundtrack.
I Have This Knowledge, a Visions International, 1996 11 minute long video, allows premies to reminisce watching small clips and still photos from the early 70's Divine Light Mission archives. The soundtrack is an upbeat, edited "satsang" of Prem Rawat's talking about his early life in the West, some "interviews" with members of his inner circle and pointed comments about "Indian cultural" artifacts mistakenly taken up by young Westerners of the time that Prem Rawat has "removed" from Elan Vital doctrines.
Fulfillment, a Visions International (a division of Elan Vital Inc) short (15 minutes) introductory video, was released in 1998. It combines professional sounding voice-over explanations of Prem Rawat's claims about his life, philosophy and teachings with snippets of Rawat's "satsangs". Though intended to be shown as an introduction to "Maharaji" (Great King) as he calls himself, it still contains those central dogmas of his religion that have remained constant through the decades.
A full transcript of the video is available here
Passages - A Masters Journey, a Visions International (a division of Elan Vital Inc) video, was published during 2001 to mark the 30th anniversary of the arrival of Prem Rawat (aka Maharaji) to the West in 1971 and to provide a coherent story for Rawat's followers to counter the criticisms of him being published on the Internet some of them by his former closest associates. It contains a potted history of Maharaji's life, his family, his organizations and his "message". Several prominent followers of Maharaji were interviewed for the video giving their very similar thoughts on these criticised aspects of Rawat and his career.
It was first shown at an Elan Vital program held in Nottingham UK in 2001, then sold for a period of time and broadcast via Satellite. The video is now no longer available for purchase or distribution via Elan Vital or their sister organizations. It contains some early footage of Prem Rawat in the West, some even earlier footage of his father but definitely not of his "Holy Family" in India, interviews with about a dozen of his most trusted followers and some background material with a professional doing the voice-overs explaining the new interpretation of his past and his Knowledge in an attempt to counter accusations against him on the internet. A complete transcript is available here.
- Maharaji Remembers Shri Hans Ji Maharaji a short Words Of Peace Global video posted on Youtube, in which Maharaji reminisces about his father
These video clips have been obtained from miscellaneous sources.