Prem Rawat, Indian Godman
Balyogeshwar's Divine Light Mission is only one of the innumerable religious organizations that proliferate in the country. There are many other self-styled bhagwans (gods), swamis (lords), rishis (sages), maharishis (great sages), acharyas (teachers) and sants (saints) and gurus who have larger followings. It is not possible to make an estimate of the number of their followers because wildly exaggerated claims are made by each holy man. But it can be assumed that most religious Hindus and Sikhs (together making 85 per cent of the population of India) and some Moslems, Christians and Parsis as well, pay homage to one live saint or the other whom they regard as God incarnate. - NY Times article 1973
In today's profane world the Indian gurus - who are often referred as "Godmen" - have a celebrity image and are savvy, powerful figures who can control vast business empires and own enormous wealth. They also dabble in politics, manipulate the media and have their own TV shows. Some prominent ones like Sathya Sai Baba have died. He could count more followers than any other Indian Godman and the financial worth of his spiritual empire was reportedly more than Rs 40,000 crore (Rs 40000000000 = $US625,000,000). Those gurus, who like Prem Rawat seek public respect, would prefer not to be known as a 'Godman' as the term is often used sarcastically.
Where does Prem Rawat, Godman, fit into the list of the most rich and successful Indian Godmen? Actually he doesn't but because this web-site is about him we'll fit him in at the bottom though it's difficult to know how many other gurus should fit in ahead of him. We could include his more successful and respected eldest brother, Shri Satpal Maharaj, who inherited his father's business, land and wealth and is a "Big Man" in Uttar Pradesh or even his other elder brother, Shri Bhole Ji Maharaj of Hanslok Ashram and the Hans Foundation though it is uncertain how much of Manoj Bhargava's 5-Hour Energy drink billions he can access. Another who deserves a mention is Shri Ashutosh Maharaj, the former "Mahatma" Vedapravaktanand who shows how easily it is for a disgraced minion to become a respected Godman in India. Some of the major Godmen are discussed in this article "The God Market": Meet the gurus of karma capitalism.
Prem Rawat had been a very successful Godboy though this category is more often filled with children with birth defects, especially extra limbs, than boys posing as Realised Souls. Children of successful gurus usually inherit the mantles and followers of their fathers as adults. As the juvenile inheritor of Shri Hans Rawat's titles and spiritual credibility Prem (as Guru Maharaj Ji) was able to attract enormous crowds in India. After his disinheritance by his Mother it was unsafe for him to return to India for some years and it took decades to rebuild his following using "Western" money but he has never been able to attract the number of followers he had as a child which he confidently stated at the holiest event in human history was 8 million people. In fact, it may be impossible as the investment in the the computers and the "Keys" required to initiate millions using "Key 6" is unattainable with his current following while he insists he must fly the latest personal jets, stay in the most expensive hotels and refuses to face the media.
Where does Prem Rawat, Godman, fit into the list of the most rich and successful Indian Godmen?
Estimated net worth: Unknown, assets include multi-million dollar mansion in Malibu, various expensive homes around the world, luxury car collection, cult compounds in Delhi, Peak Crossing Australia and Chile. Perks include free travel in executive jet, staying in 5 star hotels, obsequious servants and unwarranted applause for vacuous speeches
Occupation: Formerly: self-proclaimed God, Perfect Master and Satguru, only living revealer of source of true happiness. Currently: inspirational speaker and head of various organizations such as Raj Vidya Kender, Words Of Peace Global, Prem Rawat Foundation and formerly Élan Vital, Divine Light Mission.
Philosophy: Empty. Do what I say, not what I do.
Life Mission: Formerly: Peace on Earth through the practice of Satsang, Service and Meditation and Total Obedience to the Ultimate Ruler and World Domination by the Lord of the Universe. Currently: some respect … please.
Interesting Fact: Claimed to have resigned from Godhood in early 1980's.