Who Is Guru Maharaj Ji?
This film, produced in the early '70s chronicles the genesis of Prem Rawat (previously known as Guru Maharaj Ji as well as 'The Lord of the Universe') as seen by his fervent followers at the time. Rawat is presented here as the pinnacle of all existence. This film (now in five parts) is a highly educational piece of evidence of how tens of thousands of people in the "1960's Hippie" movement ended up joining this cult (or New Religious movement) for a few months or for 40 years.
Thanks for the fantastic cooperation of so many people of getting this rare footage up in the public domain.
Who Is Guru Maharaj Ji? has a long introductory section that consists of the credits, a "light show" that supposedly depicts the "Divine Light" and "Divine Music" seen and heard in meditation. It demonstrates why no-one would practice these techniques more that once or twice if they didn't believe they had some spiritual value as, quite simply, it's boring even though it's much more colourful and tuneful than the meditation in real life. this part fades into pretty poor quality documentary scenes of animal and bird life. I am unsure whether the poor quality of the nature scenes is due to the film fading over the last 30 years sitting in cans in an attic or whether our standards have risen dramatically because of the wonderful quality of television nature documentaries available over the last 30 years. The connections that Divine Light Mission and Elan Vital films try to make between Rawatism and the beauties of natural world are completely spurious. All the specific activities of followers of Rawat's have no connnection with "nature". They include sitting in halls watching DVDs of Rawat's speeches, sitting under blankets meditating and clerical, administrative and money-raising activities.
The second Youtube section of Who Is Guru Maharaj Ji? contains a cartoon introduction to the Rawat religion, a brief apocalytpic "satsang" (sermon) by the young Rawat in Los Angeles 1972:
"Man, we can finally understand that what man has got in his brain is to destroy the whole world. He does not understand that if he tries to cut the same branch he is sitting on he will also fall down. He doesn't understand that so he is trying to cut the same branch on which he is sitting. He is trying to cut away the same world he is sitting on he is on. Now if this will be destroyed then where the man will live?"
and scenes purporting to demonstrate the horrors of life: refugee camps, Hong Kong water dwellers, city night-life and congestion, North Vietnamese anti-aircraft batteries, shooting at B-52's, a scene from a Kung Fu movie, repression of anti-war demonstrations in the USA, natural disasters and a New York cityscape which fades into a swan moving over the water. The swan or Hansa (or Hamsa) was an important spiritual symbol of truth and purity in Hinduism and especially so in Divine Light Mission as Prem Rawat's father and predecessor as Perfect Master was called 'Hans.' A Blue Aquarius instrumental, Foxfire, plays in the background from about 2/3s through this section.
This section beings with scenes of the 15 year old Rawat giving a speech in Tokyo in 1972. It contains historical footage from India of Rawat's father and of the the young Satguru on stage and fully dressed as a miniature Krishna exhorting his followers at a time that appears to be shortly after he inherited the title from his father. It shows him in India up unto the Peace Bomb speech in 1969. There is a scene of his elder brother Bhole Ji who later joined other family members and the administration, mahatmas and rank and file members of Divine Light Mission, India in denouncing, deposing and disinheriting Prem Rawat for his meat-eating, drunkenness, drug taking and general playboy lifestyle. It continues as he travels to the West and has part of a speech in Los Angeles in 1973:
But Perfect Master is always with us. If Perfect Master is God. See, it says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and the Word was made flesh. And the flesh was Jesus." And if it was the Word that always had existed, how could Jesus come, and how could Jesus go? He was there with them before, and He is with us now. Why are we waiting for Him? Otherwise, He is not Perfect Master; He is not God. He cannot do anything to us, or if He does, and if He is perfect, He is with us, now, in our hearts. Because He's the Word.
It ends with premies (Dr Robert Hallowitz and the former Mahatma Saphlanand) "giving satsang" ie extolling the virtues of the Knowledge looking and sounding as thoroughly middle-class as possible though with extravagant claims such as "a place of perfect peace within" and "another dimension of consciousness" and "a pure and perfect life."
Part 4 begins with W. Timothy Gallwey, tennis professional, extolling the virtues of the meditation and then a young air hostess, who attracted the attention of the pudgy teenage guru and became his wife and a minor artist and a house painter doing the same. After a scene of the guru and bodyguard driving through India we see Rawat at the 1973 Guru Puja Festival in London where as many as 20,000 had gathered.
This section ends with scenes of a darshan line during the 1973 Guru Puja Festival in London.
"always a Perfect Master has come into this world to reveal this Knowledge, to reveal this peace. I'm not talking about one saint, all the pictures you see. I think even more have come into this world to reveal this spiritual Knowledge, to reveal this peace that we have forgotten. And if we want to today receive and achieve this point of peace, we have to go to him who is known as Perfect Master."
Part 5 continues with scenes of a darshan line during the 1973 Guru Puja and then a program at the Louis Armstrong Stadium, New York on July 28, 1973 during Rawat began his "Third World Peace Tour" ande 8,000 people came to see and listen to him make extravagant promises about how wonderful and easy to practise his Knowledge is:
The film ends with a section where Rawat drives a tractor around a muddy field in India and holds a lamb.
"Now I personally I don't I don't have to say anything see I can't promise anything to you except one thing. I can't say I will do this I can't say I will I will stop stop the war in Viet Nam; I, I can't promise all these things. But I can promise you one thing. I can promise you satisfaction of mind, I can promise you peace. Cause I have a method."
"Now this thing that is within inside of us, it does not mean a change of religion. You can be a Christian, still follow it; you can be a Hindu, still follow it; you can be anybody following any religion of any caste, creed, color, nationality, coming from the north or south pole, coming from underwater, overwater, underland, overland, anywhere. If you are human being, if you are human being, that's it. That's good enough for you to realize this Knowledge, for you to experience the bliss within inside of us, it's beautiful, it's fantastic."