We were in the concrete jungle giving each other support
Then, the world changed
Prem Rawat aka Guru Maharaj Ji in USA

There were hundreds of people at the airport. Hundreds at a house Maharaji was to stay at. There were hundreds at a reception. And there were hundreds at Gary Girard's house in the Hollywood Hills

Gary Girard

Having left India in the spring of 1971 to return to the States was difficult enough. Spending my days and nights in the magical land of Rudyard Kipling with Maharaji was beyond compare. And I missed it, and him.

I was living in a small two-bedroom house in the Hollywood Hills with Joan Apter and Will Ganz. We were in the concrete jungle giving each other support. We were clearly uncomfortable with city life and the surroundings. Then, to hear that Maharaji was coming to England on 17 June gave hope that I might see him again. But as money was almost non-existent, the thoughts of making another trek (even though only to London) were fading away. When I got the news that Maharaji had actually arrived in London. I thought my heart would stop. How to get here! What to do, Joan answered the phone that day and Maharaji was on the line. The big question was asked "When are you coming to England?"

My most desperate thoughts came out without hesitation. "When are you coming to Los Angeles?" With three of us in LA it was clear that Maharaji should come here. After all, it was one ticket versus three! He said yes!

Looking back on it now, so many things had to be accomplished in such a short time. Too many things for just three people. In less than a month arrangements like visas, housing, transportation, receptions and promotions had to be made. Posters being printed up and put on telephone posts throughout Los Angeles. Finding a house for Maharaji to stay in.

I remember spending several

Maharaji was tired but he made every appointment

all-day sessions in downtown LA with Joan just trying to organize a visa. What did we know about these things?

One day there were three of us sitting in a house talking about Maharaji in India to people who really thought we went over the deep end. Then, the world changed. Not just for me but for so many people. On 17 July 1971, there were hundreds of people at Los Angeles International Airport. There were hundreds of people at a house that Maharaji was to stay at. There were hundreds of people at a reception held in a health food restaurant in Maharaj's honor.

And there were hundreds of people in my home!

All of them waiting to hear his words. Where did they all come from? How did they find out? And this was all on 17 July. The crowds grew bigger as every day passed. I was embarrassed to bring Maharaji to our house, but he insisted. He also insisted on staying. From that moment on, my life, my world, changed forever. Maharaji was so excited about every detail and every experience. I never thought that simple things like driving around a neighborhood, having an ice-cream cone, watching the Pacific Ocean or just sitting in traffic could bring such pleasure. But the magic of his presence was indescribable.

In our zealous efforts to spread the word and expose Maharaji to the masses, we were relentless with his schedule. There were so many programmes, so many many events planned, so many people. Maharaji was tired but be made every appointment.

We were so young and wouldn't take no for an answer. And Maharaji never said no, although he played with us a lot before saying yes.

Looking back on Maharaji's arrival in the United States, it was an innocent time of pure love and devotion, an intoxicating elixir that still tastes sweet, some 25 years later. Thank you Maharaji for everything.

Prem Rawat aka Guru Maharaj Ji in USA, 1971 Tomorrow there is a programme; come and attend so that you may listen to what I want to teach you. That is why I left my country so many thousand miles away
Maharaji, Los Angeles, California