Guru sect told to show accounts Guru sect told to show accounts

By David Woodhead

THE Charity Commissioners are to study the financial affairs of the Divine Light Mission, the organisation sponsoring the £45,000 three-day festival for the boy Guru Maharaj Ji at Alexandra Palace, London, this weekend.

The mission was registered as a charity last autumn. It would not normally be required to submit its accounts until a year later but it has been asked to supply detailed accounts as soon as possible.

When asked about its financial resources, mission officials said: "We are registered with the Charity Commission and our books are open to inspection."

Mr. Peter Potter, mission treasurer, said: "We prepare accounts every six months. Our latest accounts are being audited now and the previous ones, up to last October, do not give an accurate picture of our present position."

Newspaper Article re Prem Rawat aka Guru Maharaj Ji The mission's spiritual head is the 15-year-old Guru Maharaj Ji, "the Perfect Master," whose disciples believe he is the living incarnation of God and whose followers claim he has, given them direct experience of God.

The mission says its four main sources of income are: sales of products marketed by Divine Sales International, contributions from followers of the Guru, donations from other well wishers and sales of literature.

It has bought a disused cinema in East Dulwich for £65,000 which it hopes will be its main meeting place - a "Palace of Peace." Last year it bought a house, which it calls the "Divine Residence," in Highgate for £25,500.

Divine Sales has 65 shops throughout the world, including eight in Britain, selling clothes, shops, souvenirs and jumble. The mission claims to be the fastest growing spiritual movement in the world. Disciples in India are said to number six million and in the west 100,000, of whom 6,000 are in Britain.

Lavish living

No expense is spared to provide the Guru with costly accommodation, lavish transport and good food. But, mission officials say, he does not ask for this treatment. "We do it because we love him."

One follower explained: "When Jesus came people were expecting the saviour to come as a king and he came as a pauper. Now is he expected to come as a pauper and he comes as a king. People never recognise the saviour."