Religious Bodies in Australia
Rowland Ward and Robert Humphreys

3. Elan Vital (formerly the Divine Light Mission)

Founded in 1960 in Patna, India by Shri Hans Ji Maharaj, the father and teacher of Guru Maharaj Ji, the present leader. Elan Vital teaches that each person has God within him - variously described as the 'Word', 'inner light', etc. The 'Word' cannot be spoken or thought; it can only be felt - the purest and fundamental 'vibration'. Scientists call it energy, but do not know what it is. To experience harmony with the indwelling God, a person needs the assistance of the living Perfect Master - the purest incarnation of the 'Word'. To the members of Elan Vital, Hans Ji Maharaj was the Perfect Master in his lifetime. Guru Maharaj Ji became the contemporary Perfect Master when his


Nature Traditional Religions: Indian Religions

father died in 1966. Guru Maharaj Ji went to the USA in 1971. In 1973, about 20,000 devotees attended 'Millennium 73' in the Houston Astrodome. In 1974 the organisation, then known as the Divine Light Mission was rent by a division. Mata Ji, the mother of Maharaj Ji, denounced her son and established another group known as the Spiritual Life Society, with her older son, Shri Satyapal Ji as the new leader. Membership of the original group, subsequently declined from over 50,000 to less than 7,000. In the late 1980s Elan Vital was said to have about 100 centres worldwide with about 4-5,000 members and adherents. Members gather for regular meetings in private homes or in Divine Light Mission Centres for meditation, sharing experiences, and group discussion. A Divine Light Mission Centre was established in Melbourne in 1972, and at one stage there were another 12 Australian centres with an active membership of 1,200. At the 1991 census about 30 persons identified themselves as adherents of the Divine Light Mission in Australia.

This book is the only comprehensive guide to the religious beliefs of Australians.

Previous editions were well received by social and religious authorities alike. In this fully revised and greatly expanded edition, many new groups are described for the first time. The impact of changes in Eastern Europe has been taken account, and careful analysis of attendance data and census figures has been made, particularly in reference to ethnic communities.

Robert Humphreys has been the editor of 'APL Today', the national magazine of the Presbyterian Church of Australia (PCA) since 1991 He was ordained as an Anglican minister in 1974 and has been a minister of the PCA since 1980. He holds theological qualifications from Moore Theological College Sydney, and Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi, USA.

Rowland Ward, a former insurance executive, has been a minister of the Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia since 1976. He holds a doctorate in Australian church history from the Australian College of Theology and is the author of a number of books in the areas of history, theology and worship including The Complete Book of Psalms for Singing with Study Notes.

ISBN 0-646-24552-X

Cover by Chris Morgan

New Melbourne Press