The DLM Revisionism in Passages
From the late 1960's when westerners first stumbled, stoned and bedraggled into Dehra Dun, to the early 1980's when Prem Rawat renamed 'Divine Light Mission' to 'Elan Vital', closed the ashrams and terminated all public satsangs where his followers earnestly preached to the public and each other, thousands of young westerners became premies: followers of the Guru Maharaj Ji, the Perfect Master: Prem Rawat. They created a publicity buzz way beyond their numbers, youth and inexperience should have allowed. They published magazines, books and created movies such as "Satguru Has Come", "The Lord of the Universe" and "Who Is Guru Maharaj Ji?" By 1978 groups of over 20,000 would gather for festivals that included the largest darshan lines ever known in the West.
Yet it was not until the late 1980's that it was taught by Prem Rawat and his inner circle of true devotees that during this exciting and blissful period nearly all the premies had misunderstood the Knowledge and had mistaken the Indian religious trappings that his unbelieving, apostate family had promoted for the true experience of Knowledge. Some of the mahatmas were even teaching incorrect techniques of meditation! They had even mistaken the effects of meditation thinking it resulted in a thundering experience of big Divine Light, loud Celestial Music and gushing Nectar and not the quiet, calm experience Rawat now taught that it was. In his Rejoice programs of 1987 Rawat altered the meditation techniques and requirements as his foremost disciple, Charanand, explains.
"Mahatmas came to give Knowledge, it was a way of spreading Knowledge. In the ashrams then I found were um a way of disciplining yourself,
your life, in terms of practising Knowledge. Unfortunately we held on to the Indianess of it instead of the real practise of Knowledge, you know and incorporating that properly into our lives."
Bobby Hendry, Prem Rawat's cook
The "Indianess of it" was emphasised by Prem Rawat himself from the Atlantic City meeting in 1976 through to the sudden closing of the ashrams and the termination of nightly "satsang" meetings circa 1982/3.
"I, I, I probably endowed him lots of uh extra-terrestrial powers that he didn't have. But he must, he had the power to win
my heart and if somebody could do that, for me, that's more powerful than, than, I can't explain but it's more powerful than, than, I can find words for."
No problem, George, I can find the words. You, like millions of people, are worshipping a cult leader. It's no big deal, there are hundreds, if not, thousands of them and they win peoples' hearts with very little effort and no requirement whatsoever to be authentic.
"We brought a lot of Indian attachments with us, you know, we thought that because Knowledge came from India we had to adapt some of the Indian things, that somehow our Western way wasn't quite good enough."
Well I didn't ever see any Divine Light Mission girl in a sari but at least Ms Collier is telling the truth about herself wearing Indian clothes, if nobody else. But, you certainly looked younger in a dhoti, Sandy.
Even some of his closest devotees such as Ms Linda Pascotto, President of the Prem Rawat Foundation had been unable to practise meditation properly, if at all, no matter how much inspiration Prem Rawat gave her and all his premies, until 1987 when the required daily meditation time was cut from 2 hours a day to one hour giving her and doubtless many others a glimmer of hope that she would be able to begin to meditate properly at last.
Isn't it a little late to start being authentic after 15 years of practising this "Knowledge"?
"Maharaji always said right from the very beginnin' he had no intention to create a religion and it seems to me right from day one he's resisted any attempts, oagh, to try and make a religion around him. Whenever anybody, seems to me, throughout his life, whenever we've attempted to build any box around him he's always broken out of it and when he breaks out of it there are some people who prefer to be in the box."
Can a Professor of Religious Studies be this naive? Cult leaders, even young ignorant ones, all say they're not starting a religion and that they have the true knowledge or in this case, Knowledge. Over time, some of his followers will become disenchanted and move on. This is a normal part of involvement in any cult or New Religious Movement. Rawat's "Knowledge" is not unique in any way and disenchantment is natural and not about "conceptual boxes" that Rawat's followers need breaking out of.
"I remember when Maharaji started having these er Rejoice programs and uh giving people Knowledge reviews that was the time he began really talking about the simplicity and that stillness inside. So one person said "Oh Maharaji, I want to thank you so much that today you made something so clear to me. My friend and my brother always used to tell to me they would see big light and they would hear celestial music and taste nectar and this and that but I would feel only that peace, that calmness inside. And I would always feel bad that was wrong with me that I don't have these thundering experiences but today you made it clear that's very calming and quiet experience."
Rawat began to reinvigorate Elan Vital from 1987 with the Rejoice tours where he changed the meditation techniques of Knowledge with most of the remaining Western premies. In this video Charanand explains the new understanding of the experience of Knowledge that Maharaji now began to teach his students. They were now taught that the big thundering of Light and Divine Music and tasting of Nectar they had been told of in the 70's, and that they assumed each other had been experiencing, had been mistaken.
These "Indian ideas" were not projected onto Rawat. He blatantly and publicly shouted them from stages all over the world for nearly 2 decades. The evidence is here in DLM publications and videos, newspaper and magazine articles and a concordance of his teachings.
It was Rawat, himself, who had stressed the Indian cultural artifacts: his dressing as Krishna, the darshan ceremony in which his followers filed past kissing his Lotus Feet, his dancing on stage, the stress on personal devotion to his incarnated Godhood and the bhajans. This was his reaction to his DLM managers' 1975/6 attempt to remove Indian trappings and his central, divine role.