The Fall Out From the Wedding of Prem Rawat (Guru Maharaj Ji)
On May 20th 1974, at 8 pm, Guru Maharaj Ji (Prem Rawat) was wed to Marolyn Lois Johnson in a small chapel in the Colorado Rockies. To the outside world, this was a minor event that was nothing but another nail in the cross of ridicule with which to crucify the young Lord of the Universe, the Revealer of Truth who reveals that His dedicated followers must forswear, sex, drinking, drugs, family, movies, TV, entertainment of any sort. He was obviously a "Do what I say, not what I do" type of teacher.
The wedding, scandalous as it was back in 1974, and even more scandalous as it would have been in 2023 had little impact in the outside world. How more ridiculous could the young guru and his slightly older premies be in the eyes of the straight world and in the "Counter-Culture" the premies were seen as burn-out drop-outs who followed "the most garish, the most mockable, the most virtually self-caricatured of those paths." Their public figurehead, Rennie Davis, even suffered the indignity of being pelted with tomatoes and other trash when he appeared in Berkeley shilling for the Fatboy guru.
Ashram Celibacy Replaced by Marital Connubiality and Parenthood
Prem Rawat had been preaching the desirability, even necessity, of celibacy for his true believers for years so this wedding was a complete surprise and shock to his followers. All DLM publications claimed that there was total joy among his followers with the marriage but 25 years later some of Maharaji's inner circle admitted the truth, they had been dismayed: "Well I was quite shocked with everybody, ergh, I think, the feeling was, we still had that residual feeling that the Master didn't need worldly things, you know, didn't need to get married, would always be the Master."
Financial Dismay for Divine Light Mission
It was completely obvious that when 40 to 80% of ashram residents left the ashram shortly thereafter the main cause was Rawat, Himself, getting married. This reason was even given a positive spin by claiming that those leaving the ashram and getting married were doing it to imitate their Divine Master's actions.???? It seemed that they either married other premies of the opposite sex who also left the ashram or they "married out" and were never seen again at Divine LIght Mission satsangs and festivals. This was a double financial and administrative blow to DLM following on to the reaction to the failure of Millenium '73 and the debt it created. Not only was the money from the ashrams which constituted the major source of Divine Light Mission income halved those who remained would take decades before they had the finances to make substantial contributions to Rawat and most had children who would be expected to inherit their parents' estates. Relationships made in the ashram could hardly be expected to be on safe footings and Prem Rawat's followers have a higher than average divorce rate. The children of the ashram exodus, like all premie children, unfailingly refused to become the next generation of Prem Rawat's true believers.
Was It a Jezebel Tempting a Holy Man or the Abuse of Power by the Lord of the Universe
The shock wedding raised a lot of questions which were never asked, at least not in public, amongst his followers. As social attitudes have evolved their are 2 questions that this bizarre marriage would raise:
- Did a 22 year old former air hostess seduce a 14 year old boy to advance her financial and social position?
- Did a 14 year old boy seduce a 22 year old woman by using his Power as the Divine Incarnation of the Lord of the Universe? ?
Only a few years later these question would have raised significant legal proceedings and possible criminal charges and they might have then if his family weren't Indian and back in India and no longer held legal parental power over him.
Wedding Reveals Another Strange Twist in Rawatism
The people who became Prem Rawat's 1970s followers were Westerners looking for an Eastern Religion and Trappings. Many of them had gone to India "Searching." For the first years of Prem Rawat's career in the West the devotees flew to India to attend spiritual boot camps and learn how to practise the Knowledge amongst Indians by Indians. This was not always a success as reported in the Los Angeles Times.
Prem Rawat wanted to be a very rich and shamelessly opulent Californian surrounded by gadgets, electronics, fast cars, planes, etc. This was his dream wedding in a non-denominational chapel, dressed in a bespoke Wedding Suit and Bow Tie. He wanted to escape his Indian roots and become what he saw as a hip and modern WOG (Western Oriental Gentleman) with an English valet, European servants and rich American friends who would admire and respect him as a self-made man. As soon as he could without alienating his new ex-hippie wannabe elightened clueless followers he ditched the dhotis, the Indian parables and got them into short haircuts and second-hand ill-fitting suits. He only returned to the Indian trappings when his mistakes nearly lost him his following. He didn't have the 19th century dream of Indian gentility, Oxford or Cambridge Law degree as did Ganshi or Nehru. He aspired to a B-Movie Hollywood dream and studied at the Hanna-Barbera School of Western Civilisation.
The Wedding got considerable Press
- Perfect Master gets married to US woman THE TIMES Wednesday May 22 1974
- Perfect Master gets married to US woman THE TIMES Wednesday May 22 1974 - external link
- People in the News: Boy Guru takes a bride INDEPENDENT (AM) * PRESS-TELEGRAM (PM) Long Beach, Calif., Wed., May 22, 1974
- People in the News: Boy Guru takes a bride INDEPENDENT (AM) * PRESS-TELEGRAM (PM) Long Beach, Calif., Wed., May 22, 1974 - external link
- The plumpish spiritual Leader has married his secretary The New York Times, May 22, 1974
- The plumpish spiritual Leader has married his secretary The New York Times, May 22, 1974 - external link
- She's Tried Everything Else And Now She's Mrs. Guru Thursday, May 23, 1974 FLORENCE MORNING NEWS
- She's Tried Everything Else And Now She's Mrs. Guru Thursday, May 23, 1974 FLORENCE MORNING NEWS - external link
The Press seemed to enjoy publishing stories about Prem Rawat with a twist
- Guru Performs First Wedding CHARLESTON DAILY MAIL THURS., May 23, 1974
- Guru Performs First Wedding CHARLESTON DAILY MAIL THURS., May 23, 1974 - external link
- Just-Married Guru Performs First Wedding Sheboygan Press, Thursday, May 23, 1974
- Just-Married Guru Performs First Wedding Sheboygan Press, Thursday, May 23, 1974 -external link
- Follow INDEPENDENT (AM) PRESS-TELEGRAM (PM) Long Beach, Calif., Fri., May 10, 1974
- Follow INDEPENDENT (AM) PRESS-TELEGRAM (PM) Long Beach, Calif., Fri., May 10, 1974 - external link
- Follows guru's lead, weds secretary INDEPENDENT (AM) *** PRESS-TELEGRAM (PM) Long Beach, Calif., Fri., May 20, 1974
- Follows guru's lead, weds secretary INDEPENDENT (AM) *** PRESS-TELEGRAM (PM) Long Beach, Calif., Fri., May 20, 1974 - external link
- A Divine Union: Guru Maharaj Ji Weds The Golden Age, Saturday, June 8, 1974