Pranam To Prem Rawat
In a touching end to his wedding ceremony, Prem Rawat (Maharaji) after walking back up the aisle stopped and allowed Marolyn, his new wife, and a few other premies who were guests to pranam and kiss His feet. Prem Rawat's wife demonstrates the approved method of 'pranammimg' ie kissing his feet. Mike Donner was quoted by Associated Press discussing the newly-wed Marolyn Rawat and standard premie behaviour:
"She is still not accustomed to her changed role, Donner said, "When she enters a room, the Maharaj Ji is in, she touches his feet like any devotee," he said. "And when he enters, she rises."
By modern standards there can be little as disgusting (that doesn't actually cause pain or physical harm) than teaching your daughter to come out on stage to bow down to you and kiss your feet but, hey, its a Rawat family tradition.
In common useage a pranam varies from a bow and greeting others with respect to touching the feet of elders, saints and others of high status. For a follower of Prem Rawat it has far more importance because Prem Rawat teaches that a pranam to Prem destroys a year's karma. It involves full prostration on the ground or the kissing of Rawat's feet or touching his feet with your forehead.
"I think the best thing to do is to have everyone come up and have the darshan of Guru Maharaj Ji, and 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." – Durga Ji, wife of Prem Rawat
In Divine Light Mission a full pranam was done only to pictures of Prem Rawat, to chairs that he had sat in or that he might one day sit in and the members of the "Holy Family". This stopped once the family split become common knowledge and Prem Rawat's mother disowned, disinherited and deposed him. Prem Rawat has since taught that "he was never properly accepted as the Master by his own family" (except for his brother Raja). So the outpourings of bliss, devotion and spiritual inspiration that premies reported when pranamming to members of the Holy Family before 9th May 1974 could not have been real but were created by the pranamers' minds based on mistaken faith and beliefs rather than being the true bliss and devotion that they believe they experience when they pranam to Prem Rawat. Unless it was all His Lila or a figment of their imagination.
In Indian culture one can even pranam to the ashes of a dead relative as the young Prem Rawat did to his father's ashes: "Thirteen days later, I was doing pranam to my Father's ashes and bones. You know, in India they burn the bodies and thirteen days later you go and collect the ashes. I bent down to touch the ashes, the voice came: 'You are he. You are the one to go and give this to the world."' It is unlikely that ashes often speak to a pranamee. The young Prem Rawat may have heard the voice inside his head because he believed they were the ashes of the dead Perfect Master. This was a story he told many times.
The young Bal Bhagwan Ji, Prem Rawat's eldest brother and claimant to be the real Master and successor to their father receives their Holy Mother's blessing and anointing as Satpal Maharaj the Guru Maharaj Ji of Manav Dharam. He quickly received the pranams of his grateful and devoted followers at Prem Nagar and has gone on to a successful career as a Godman and Congress Party politician.
In 1981 premies were still allowed to crouch down to do full pranam and kiss the ground upon which Prem Rawat's Holy Lotus Feet are nearly walking as long as only his followers were present and you didn't trip him and enrage the Lord of the Universe.
Followers of Prem Rawat, to this day do not say "Hi Prem" or even "Hello Mr Rawat" or even "Good morning Maharaji" but they say "Pranam Maharaji" or "Pranam Lord, good morning". They even end magazine articles with a "Pranam, Maharaji." According to Divine Light Mission publications even his elder brothers, as well as everybody else, used to pranam to him: "Although Shri Bal Bhagwan Ji, Shri Bhole Nathe Ji and Shri Raja Ji are the elder brothers of Guru Maharaj Ji, they used to pranam to him. Although in the Indian culture the younger brother salutes the elder, all the three elder brothers used to salute the youngest."
The young Prem Rawat taught, in a speech before a million people in India, a special prayer to say when doing pranam to himself or to his picture: "Shiva Ji left that place, doing his pranam to Guru Maharaj Ji and saying in his heart, "O Guru Maharaj Ji, you are all powerful. What can you not do? You can do anything. I surrender myself at your Lotus Feet. Protect me, please," as you should pray in your heart when you do pranam before Guru Maharaj Ji or His picture." Rawat's father ended his prayer to his Perfect Master Swarupanand Ji Maharaj with a pranam.
Prem Rawat is so kind and merciful that he allows his premies and even his children to kiss his feet in public on a stage before thousands of his followers. As a matter of fact he enjoys it - note his benign and delighted smile!