THE OXFORD DICTIONARY OF WORLD RELIGIONS
EDITED BY John Bowker
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
Divine Light Mission. Religious movement founded by Sri Hans Ji Maharaj in 1960. When he died in 1966, his son (8 years old) is reported to have said to the mourners, 'You who have been deceived by *maya (illusion): Maharaj Ji is here in your midst: Recognize him, worship him and obey him.' He was acclaimed Guru Maharaj Ji (often Maharaji) and Satguru. The movement was largely run by his mother, Mata Ji, until a schism, with Maharaji renaming his part of the movement Elan Vital. Central to the movement's teachings is a belief that *Buddha, "Krsna, *Christ, *Muhammad, and a number of lesser masters have taught what is termed the Knowledge, which consists essentially of techniques of *meditation. This Knowledge is transmitted from one master to another, each one being the only perfect or true teacher, satguru, during his lifetime. Followers or 'premies' believe that Guru Maharaj Ji is the present satguru.
Admitted to the movement through a secret initiation ceremony conducted by an '*apostle' or '*mahatma' authorized by the Guru, premies are introduced first to satsang, and to discourses on such matters as spiritual realization, and then to the Knowledge, both of which, it is claimed, bring mental peace and tranquillity, and in time God-realization. Some premies live in *asramas, others with their families or a small group of devotees, and all are obliged to renounce *alcohol, drugs, and the eating of meat. The movement is strictly controlled from the top, with little room left for debate or discussion regarding decisions made by the leader.
Elan Vital (name of religious movement): see DIVINE LIGHT MISSION.