Maharaji's 1970s Knowledge Sessions
In the 13 year old guru's first chaotic days in the West with only one Mahatma by his side Maharaji could not afford to be choosy about who was allowed to receive Knowledge. The defined outcome of his journeys was to save the world by bringing peace to it one person at a time or 20 or 30 if that was how many you could get into a "Knowledge Session." It made no difference what the real desired outcome was - money, power, sex or world peace and happiness - it would require a large group of dedicated followers and the sooner the better. Large scale finance from India was not available despite the well-publicised 6 million Indian devotees though a relatively large group of supposedly celibate, supposedly "realised" males were available and this gave Divine Light Mission a competitive advantage over the growing competition from other Indians out to take advantage of the new free market in spirituality.
In Guru Maharaj Ji's early days in the West, Prem Rawat's mahatmas conducted "Knowledge Sessions" face-to-face in small groups (usually no more than 30) that lasted 8 hours. At least the one I was in did. These were intense "spiritual" occasions in which it was asserted that a mystical grace would empower the meditation techniques if the persons involved were sincere. A flow of divine grace from Maharaji would be transmitted through the saintly mahatma ("great soul") like water down a hose and this would begin the transformation of consciousness the Knowledge empowers. They had to profess a strong desire for the Knowledge and convince the initiator that this was heartfelt and to repeat certain vows of homage and worship of Prem Rawat in his guise of the Guru Maharaj Ji. You were not taught the techniques, you were initiated into them. The Knowledge Session ritual began the process and admitted you into a society with secret methods of meditation. Until the mid-1980's everyone had to repeat the following vows, out loud, before they were initiated:
Oh my Guru Maharaj Ji, I dedicate myself to your lotus feet. I am weak and ignorant and am filled with the impurities of this world
Oh Guru Maharaj Ji, please take my mind and purge me of the impurities I possess. Reveal to me the knowledge of all knowledge
Strengthen me, uplift me and reveal the kingdom of heaven within inside of me
Bring me from hate to love, from darkness to light, death to immortality
I will OBEY you implicitly and will never reveal this knowledge to anyone for any reason
I will keep in contact with you through my DEVOTIONAL LOVE, satsang, meditation and service
Thank you my LORD for everything
And they really had to bow down too … These vows could be considered controversial so they were toned down considerably during the 1980s.
From 2001 the techniques were taught via a multimedia presentation made by Rawat. It was a far cry from the early 1970's when people heard about the Knowledge, went into the Knowledge Session and out with barely any preparation. Now it might have been the times or it may have been the young people of the day but those chaotic sessions were as successful in producing long term dedicated followers of Rawat's as any other period and in far greater numbers and for far less cost. Rawat is a person who instinctively prefers technology to humanity which is particularly ironic in light of his 21st century preaching about the heart.
Prem Rawat's Personal Preference For Technology Over Humanity Is Why He Has Failed To Attract Followers
This is at the heart of his failure to attract followers despite the incredible financial resources and talent those people who were initiated in the early 1970's have given him. From the early 1990's there was multimedia, huge HD screens, high quality sound systems and even custom built chairs and still the numbers of premies in the West slowly fell and now (2010) the long-timers are starting to die of old age. No matter how long you've taken to convince people beforehand, learning these techniques from watching a movie of an absurd little fat guy who resembles a toad will not have the same emotional impact as learning them in a dimly lit room from a shaven-headed Indian "saint" sitting cross-legged in front of you, dressed in saffron robes and bringing the mystic East directly into your young life in the early 1970's when this possibility was still pretty far out. Of course, even then, the drop-outs far outnumbered the people who stayed for the long haul.
In the late 1990's premies became far more organised and standards, protocols, rules and regulations proliferated and service became integrated via an internet system called ©FirstClass, an Elan Vital private communication system. Prem Rawat's personal presence at sessions was hopelessly inefficient and the possibility of recruiting thousands of new followers in the West under this sytem was non-existent. Rawat was and is an ardent technophile and so a machine driven system was devEloped. Knowledge Sessions became highly formalised and a Knowledge Session Event Guide was produced. This system requires numerous teams of people: Event Management, Aspirant Team (aspirant contact), Hall Liaison (venue research & facilities coordination), Production Team (audio, video & lighting), Event Set-up Team (KS venue & reception area setup), Assistance Team (security, ushering & special needs), Catering Team, Translation, Finance (resource contact). The members of this team, who often outnumbered the "people receiving the techniques of Knowledge," were not there for personal contact which was frowned upon. Even under this inefficient, impersonal system the actual teaching of the techniques only takes about 5 minutes each technique less time than the "de-briefing" of the premies involved after the session is over. The possibility of "receiving the possibility of peace" in the simple surroundings of someone's home in a person to person transmission is impossible. Rawat's world is a world with diminishing numbers and proliferating bureaucracy.
In 2005, Prem Rawat introduced "The Keys", a program of five topics explained in 70 hours of speeches by Rawat on 25 DVDs which attempt to prepare the student for receiving Knowledge in an unquestioning manner. In the main these are just sections of the numerous speeches he has made in front of his devotees. Those in which he can't wing it are noticeable for his poor communication skills and speech. The techniques are taught in Key Six. A request from a practitioner who feels they are ready to view Key Six will result in an invitation to a Knowledge Session.
This was apparently too much to expect of people and so in 2014 the amount of brain-washing required by Prem Rawat before he would "reveal" the techniques of meditation has been dropped down to less than 7 hours presumably because so few people were prepared to watch the required minimum of 60 hours.
Click Here to see a selection of the accounts I have of people talking about "Receiving Knowledge" ie being initiated and being taught/shown the meditation techniques that Prem Rawat teaches. These initiations were first done in the West by Indian "mahatmas" and then by Western devotees and finally by the use of videos of Rawat. There is not a large number of published texts from which to choose. These are all describing events from the 1970's and it's interesting that the two who write about the most exotic and intense experiences in the Knowledge Session are also the most "out there" and neither became followers of Rawat's.