Altars for Prem Rawat's Worship

There's no disputing that Prem Rawat's 1970s and later followers and organisations were rife with altars in every home, ashram and office. Often in every room. This traditional Hindu ritual object and these traditional Indian practices came with the young Guru Maharaj Ji but what did he think about them? Was he trying to clear his followers of all these Indian accretions and have them practice a path free of Indian and countercultural concepts? Prem Rawat's followers continually bowed down to the ground on their hands and knees in front of altars holding photos and prayed to them and these photos were of Prem Rawat at different ages.


Many articles written about Prem Rawat in the 1970s mentioned the ubiquity of these altars in all Divine Light Mission offices and meeting rooms and the private homes of Rawat's followers. These altars invariably had photos of Rawat on them and these photos were sold by DLM specifically for this purpose. When DLM became more organised a Knowledgekit was given to each person being initiated containing, among other Knowledge related articles were an Arti lyric sheet and a photo for an altar.

In Prem Rawat's Own Words

I have no records of Rawat giving directions about the use of altars but in his speeches he spoke matter-of-factly about the everyday use of altars and the singing of arti in a follower's life.

And it's not the matter of one day sitting down in front of the altar. You're feeling high: you've just done Arti. You feel incredible. You don't want to retire. And you go. "Okay. Today is the day. Today I'm going to dedicate my life. Today I'm going to surrender my life." - Philadelphia, August 25, 1978

And I drove and I parked the car and all the premies who were working on the stage were singing Arti. And they were facing the stage. I guess there was an altar there or something. And slowly they turned around and sang Arti toward me. - Kissimmee, November 11, 1978

Instead of living your life, I am a premie, I am a premie and that you are a premie's in a front, front of an altar, to a darshan line, to a hall, you know, and under a meditation blanket and inside the ashram you're a premie - Malibu 1979 Ashram Satsang, 7th January 1979


He spoke about how altars were used by past Perfect Masters:

And when you were twenty-seven years old, you were brought in front of this altar, in front of this stone, and there would be Guru Maharaj Ji sitting. And He would say, "Now, would you like to dedicate your life to Me, so that you can understand what Knowledge is? Would you like to dedicate yourself to Me, so that I can reveal you Knowledge?"

And to say "Yes" or "No" wasn't verbal, but there was a hatchet sitting right next to the stone; and if you wanted to say "Yes", you just had to put your hand on this stone, and take this knife, and chop it off (Guru Maharaj Ji laughs). - Dortmund, October 1, 1978

Rawat spoke of a time his mansion was nearly burnt down and people seeking shelter were shocked to see how his followers just sat in front of an altar dedicated to him while fire raged all around and just shared satsang:

And they were quite blown out because some of these guys thought, "Man, this is it!" I mean, they could see out the windows and it was all red outside. And they were crying and didn't know what to think about the whole thing. And there were all these premies sitting in front of the altar having satsang. And these guys were just lying there. "What's going on?" If you can just imagine it. - Kissimmee, November 4, 1978

He said that the altar was so important that an accountant should build a calculator into his altar

I'm sitting in front of the altar and I am sitting in front of Guru Maharaj Ji. And yet I know that I have to do this service of accounting. So how can I build my calculator inside the altar so that when I want I can pull it out and make it accessible to me. - Malibu 1979 Ashram Satsang, 7th January 1979

Rawat taught that when a wonderful thing occurred in a premie's life then naturally he/she would pranam before an altar to him and thank him:

Probably the day somebody found eggless mayonnaise, he came barging into the ashram and said, "Look! Look what I found. You know what? This doesn't have eggs in it. We can finally have this in our lives." And probably they even knelt down in front of the altar and said, "Thank you, Guru Maharaj Ji." - Kissimmee, November 11, 1978