India investigates guru's finances

Delhi, Nov 13. - The Indian Government is investigating a religious movement headed by a 14-year-old guru who is India's latest spiritual export to the West, authoritative sources said today.

The sources said Mrs Gandhi, the Indian Prime Minister, has taken a personal interest, in her capacity as head of all intelligence agencies, in the controversy over Guru Maharaj Ji, known to his devotees as “Lord of the Universe”, "Prince of Peace" and "The Perfect Master."

One senior member of the Government said that Indian diplomatic missions in countries where the guru's Divine Light Mission operates, including the United States and Britain, have been asked to investigate financial aspects of the movement.

The Government, he said, wants to determine whether the mission is violating Indian law, particularly regarding restrictions on Indian nationals having bank accounts and capital assets abroad.

The controversy began when the guru returned to India last Tuesday in a jumbo jet filled with 350 American disciples, and a suitcase containing an officially estimated $65,000 (about £27,000) in money, watches and jewels.

The customs impounded the suitcase while the investigation was going on.

Mr Arthur Brigham, from Denver, Colorado, director of the movement's large public relations division, said the money was to be used for meeting the local travel and food expenses of about 3,000 Western devotees, mostly from the United States, who came to India in seven chartered Boeing 747s to meditate.

In an interview, the guru denied any personal connexion with the suitcase. When he went through the customs at Delhi airport he told the inspectors He had nothing to declare.

"It was nothing to do with me", he said of the controversy. "It is an attempt to harm the Divine Light Mission. When someone grows, others get jealous of him, and the Divine Light Mission has just blasted like an atomic bomb all over the world.”

The mission claims a following of five million in India and nearly 40,000 in the United States, 10,000 in Europe, 6,000 in Britain and 600 in Japan.

A high Government source said it was unlikely there would be any prosecution of the guru.

But he said the Government was concerned about the growing financial resources of the Divine Light Mission abroad.

Mr Brigham, however, said all money received by the mission had come from private donations. - AP.