Darshan of Prem Rawat
Darshan - being in the physical presence of the living Perfect Master and doing pranam is the peak experience for students of Prem Rawat. It was the most important ritual for Rawat's followers in the 1970's but in the West this has rarely happened anywhere but at Amaroo since the early 1980's. It is now known as The Greeting Line. After proving they are bona fide "People who Have Been Revealed the Techniques of Maharaji's Knowledge" by showing their Smart Cards or being vouched for by a premie with credibility within the organisation they are allowed to line up and file past and either place their foreheads on his feet or kiss them but only gentle kisses are allowed, nothing passionate. This is also one of Prem Rawat's major sources of income as people make direct cash dedications (in envelopes) as they approach Rawat's throne. Most of the DLM films prior to the early 1980s included scenes of lines of premies kissing Rawat's feet with a soundtrack of a devotional ballad. A gaudy and glittering extravaganza of darshan scenes is available here.
However kissing someone's feet is a practice universally frowned up in Western societies and so Prem Rawat with his desire for respectability has had to balance off the odium and mockery of publicly having his feet kissed and the fall in donations that comes from having uninspired followers. In the West, organised darshan lines are secret but do occur regularly at Amaroo since the early 1990's. Since around 2010 this is done in a purpose-built room for secrecy and is called "The Greeting Line".
Click here to see what Prem Rawat, himself, has to say about darshan. Click here to see what Prem Rawat's wife, Durga Ji or Marolyn Rawat, has to say about darshan: "Because, really, as you go to do pranam you're the most fortunate human being in this world.".
Here is a quick teaser from an Amaroo video showing those who have been revealed the "secret techniques" the darshan line at Amaroo. It seems that despite all that de-Indianisation that Élan Vital claims occurred back in the 1980's, Prem Rawat aka Maharaji is still giving 'Holy Breath'. Look at the woman second in line cupping her hand over her right ear. This was the instruction for new initiates to indicate to Rawat that he should blow on them ("Holy Breath"). That section is repeated 3 times in slow motion at the end so you don't miss it while blinking.
In 1980 at a Divine Light Mission religious festival to a song which makes a pretty straightforward statement about Prem Rawat's role on earth, a song called 'You Are My Saviour'. Prem Rawat's wife is shown crowning him with the crown of Krishna whose costume he is wearing and then doing full pranam (lying on the ground in front of him) and kissing his feet in adoration to the ecstatic chants of "Bhole Shri Satguru Dev Maharaj Ki Jai" from the thousands of premies watching her symbolise their devotion.
In the years before Prem Rawat began his public dancing performances, darshan was the holiest and most intense feature of all Divine Light Mission religious festivals. These images of a darshan line are from the Guru Puja festival in Miami in 1979. It was held in a darkened area to enhance the mystery and experience and keep the dwetails of the ceremony, especially the foot kissing, secret from the unitiated. Ushers prevented too much enthusiasm from his followers as they kissed his feet in adoration and hurried them along. In the pictures in the top two rows he is giving "Holy Breath" to a first time darshanee.
Below are images from a video clip of a darshan line during the Guru Puja Festival, London, England in 1973 from the movie 'Who Is Guru Maharaj Ji?' that were also featured in the documentary "Mysterious Miracles, Aliens from Spaceship Earth, A Spiritual Odyssey".
Here are images from a video clip of a darshan line in Montrose, Colorado in July, 1972. Bihari Singh collects the donations as the premies pranam to Maharaji.
In India such huge crowds gather for religious festivals that darshan is sometimes seeing the Master drive past but in the West darshan lines of over 20,000 were known in the late 1970's and early 1980's. Darshan in the West is now only held at Amaroo in Australia where lines of a few thousand have been known in the 1990's.
Scenes of Holi and some privileged Indian premies receiving intimate darshan in the mid 1990's with the camera looking over Maharaji's shoulder.
Here, in the 1998 Élan Vital video The Connection, there is film of a darshan line that is obvious to anyone with any knowledge of Rawat's career but would not be recognised by innocent bystanders. The camera is above and to Rawat's right or left, looking down. We see the followers approaching, single file through the darkened tunnel, begin to bow and go out of the picture or are shown raising themselves and moving on after they've kissed his feet. The portrayal of this ceremony, considered the peak experience, in a student's life is shown to inspire Rawat's followers but in such a way as to prevent understanding and criticism of Rawat's role since his followers have claimed he renounced his divinity in the early 1980's. Click here to see the clip of the darshan line.
When the guru thought the number of premies would grow rapidly in the 70's he devised a system where two people could do pranam at the same time but as this growth did not occur and it looked utterly ridiculous and his followers thought they were missing out on the "Grace", it was only trialled once. NB premie in right lane receiving Holy Breath by holding his cupped hand behind his right ear.
He also tried drive by darshan. At Guru Puja '74 in Amherst, Massachusetts Rawat tried "drive by darshan" where he had a throne attached to the side of a small truck and passed by the line of premies.It didn't have the same effect as slowly walking down a long aisle in semi-darkness and having the guru appear on a pedestal surrounded by beaming members of his trusted and well known (well-known to other premies and considered to be special due to their closeness to the guru) devotees.
Darshan at Montrose, Colorado from the TVTV documentary about Millenium 73. Prem Rawat wrote to his followers that Millenium '73 was going to be "the most Holy and significant event in human history".
Rawat is giving Holy Breath.
People queue past to do pranam in Copenhagen in a mid-70's darshan line. Note photo on left where Maharaji has given Holy Breath.
From the Divine Times of December 1977: "The only night that Maharaj Ji didn't appear on the shining white stage was on Darshan Day, when he sat majestically without a break for ten hours in a basement area as 13,300 premies filed past him in an awesome, holy procession. The next night he told us it was the longest darshan line of his whole life."
The students' devotion sometimes doesn't even require the physical presence.
These pictures below from the video Have you ever seen how a river starts? show a "darshan line" at the Guru Puja festival in Montrose, Colorado in 1972 and one at Ivory's Rock Conference Centre, Rawat's cult compound in Australia in the mid 1990's. Bowing before and kissing the Feet of the Master is something that has remained a constant amongst Rawat's followers though, these days, only occasionally where the public and the media cannot see it.
Prem Rawat being drawn through the crowd at the Hans Jayanti Festival in Kissimmee, Florida in 1978 or 1979.
Here Prem Rawat is carried through the crowd at an early Western festival.
Durga Ji aka Marolyn Rawat speaking about darshan:
- By his Grace he's still here for us. These days he still says, "I still want you, I still need you, please: give me your love." And not like give me your love and you won't get anything back; but you get everything. Give me your love and I'll give you peace. Give me your love and I'll give you peace. Give me your love and I'll give you myself. I am the source of peace in this world. What more can our ears hear? What more could we ask for? For every human being in this world, Guru Maharaj Ji is. But we, right now, all of us who are hearing this satsang, who have come together, who have come to see Guru Maharaj Ji, to hear his satsang, to have his darshan, we are his lovers. Right now. However many of us there are, we are his lovers. When he says Dear Premies, we can't take that lightly. Because what's he saying? Dear lovers! He's calling us lovers! And in our hearts can we really say Oh yes Guru Maharaj Ji, I'm such a good lover to you. No. We can't. None of us. Not any of us. And yet, he still has faith in us. - Orlando Florida, Saturday llth October, 1978
- Premies, today in the darshan line it was just so, so beautiful to see all of you having the holy darshan of our Lord. And I want you to know that every day, when I am with Maharaj Ji and I do pranam, it's for all of you. It's for every one of you. Because you and I are one. Thank you. - Amherst Massachusetts, July 7 1974
- And now, having Maharaj Ji's darshan here, it's like no one can even understand what darshan is. You know, living with Maharaj Ji every day, it's just I can't even begin to tell you; I can't even begin to understand it. It's just way above anything. I know that we are the most fortunate, the most lucky people in this world, in this universe. And we can't understand that … There's a lot to say, but there is really nothing else to say. So now I think the best thing to do is to have everyone come up and have the darshan of Guru Maharaj Ji, to do pranam at his feet, and realize what he's truly giving us in this moment. Because, really, as you go to do pranam you're the most fortunate human being in this world. - Sydney Australia, October 26 1974
- As soon as I stepped into this hall, it's like, there's so much love. If we unite ourselves in that love, there is nothing that can tear us apart, there is nothing that can separate us from our Lord. It doesn't matter if we're from India, or from America, or from Europe, or South America, anywhere. We're all really the same. We're all devotees of Guru Maharaj Ji. This is the one-pointedness that we must keep all the time. Now I think we will have darshan of our Guru Maharaj Ji, which I know you've waited for so long. - Jhumri Talanja, Bihar India, April 19 1975
- And so now I think the most beautiful thing is to just have the darshan of Guru Maharaj Ji. I think we are going to have a darshan line, so everyone can receive darshan. - Tokyo Japan, June 5 1975
- Today, we had darshan, and every time I see a darshan line like this, it's just so incredible. It's so beautiful, because Guru Maharaj Ji is here, and we're realizing who Guru Maharaj Ji is. Then to be able to touch his feet is such a gift. I know so many of you really experienced what a gift this is. We have this Guru Puja Festival, and there is Guru Maharaj Ji, there is our Guru. - Guru Puja Festival, Caracas Venezuela, July 25 1975
- You know, it's like, I am so blissed out looking at Guru Maharaj Ji's Feet. And yet, to each one of us, we know how beautiful those Lotus Feet are, because he gives them to us to hang on to, you know. And that's like the gateway to his heart: his Feet. And they're so beautiful. They're so perfect. They're so lovely. Physically, even. I mean, they're just so beautiful. And so, you know, he was just sitting there, and they were on the carpet, so I went and I got a small pillow, and I put the pillow there, and I put his Feet on the pillow. And then, in a little while, you know, I was looking around or something, and I looked back, and his Feet were under the pillow. And I just didn't really know what to even think. It's like - oh! Who am I to even take his Feet and put them like that, you know? It's like, he's so precious. He's so, he's so wonderful, and yet he's so, he's so giving of himself to us, you know. At a program, you know, when we have darshan, I just - he opens himself completely and lets each one of us come and touch him, and kiss his Lotus Feet. And it's like, after the darshan of like, you know, six, seven, eight hours or whatever, Maharaj Ji's completely exhausted. And he just goes, "You just don't know what that's like." And everyone goes, "Maharaj Ji, I guess we could never know!" And he goes, "It's so beautiful, and yet …" and then he just doesn't say anything. And it's like - what must it be like? He's just giving so much all the time. And yet, you know, it's just his Grace that we are able to accept it. And sometimes I feel like, "Oh, it's just too beautiful. Maharaj Ji, you've just given me too much. I can't take any more." - Denver Colorado, September 3 1977