Prem Rawat's Second World Tour
A selection of British press cuts dated 1972-73.
Guru Ji Superstar
THE STREETS of Delhi have seen some strange religious processions lately. Some 3,000 Europeans and Americans have been testifying
to their faith in God on earth. He is a fourteen-year-old Indian boy, known to his followers as Guru Maharaj Ji, head of the Divine Light Mission, which has had a startling success in only
six years. It now has follower, in America, Australia, Britain France, Japan and five other European countries.
Unfortunately the Indian festival this month got off to an embarrassing start. When the jet containing the adolescent living God and 350 disciples touched down in India, the Customs discovered a suitcase containing about £27,000 in watches, jewellery and cash. Unimpressed by the disciples' explanations, the Indian Government has ordered a financial investigation into the Mission's affairs.
The suitcase with the cash and jewels, according to the Guru's disciples, was merely a Divine bank, a pool of petty cash put together by the followers for safekeeping. This kind of Divine institution is a commonplace of the Mission's way of life. The Indian festival's encampment included a Divine cooking area, a Divine currency exchange bank, and a Divine shop selling such useful items as toothpaste, food and pictures of the "Holy Family."
Divine Light has boomed since Maharaj Ji took over aged eight. Already it has more than 6,000 British disciples with about 40 "ashrams," spiritual communities. In the US there are now 30,000 Divine Light followers. and the Mission says that next year they will start collecting followers from the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China.
To help spread the Word, the Mission has a very professionally written newspaper, a public meeting every night in London, and a record album made by "the Anand Band of London." The claims made on behalf of the Guru are not modest. A monthly glossy magazine, printed in Denver, Colorado, has a cover picture of the Guru suffused with the light of a rising Sun. Its title is "And It Is Divine," and it kicks off with a familiar quotation from Isaiah's Messianic prophecies.
The Guru promises nothing less than a "Peace Bomb" - peace in our time within one generation. And unlike other religious leaders, his peace promise is peace on earth, not simply peace within. Much of his reported speech has a familiar ring. He is quoted as saying: "Come to me. I will relieve you of your suffering. I am the source of peace in this world." To the Guru's followers this kind of echo is perfectly acceptable; for they believe that their fourteen-year-old master is God in man, just ao Jesus Christ was nearly 2,000 years ago.
But the methods of worship are different. In Delhi the festival lasted three days, after which the Western disciples took off for a provincial ashram. The climax of the three days came on the last evening, when the young Guru led a service from a three-tiered stage decorated with silver tinsel and pink paper lotus flowers. Sparklers were lit up, and the disciples burst into worship. The Divine Times: described the scene: "This very holy expression of devotion went on under a dust-filled sky with Guru Maharaj Ji there, serene and ever-blissful, above everyone, crowning the whole scene. Everything was divine." Apart from the Customs.
Boy Guru in Cash Probe
A FINANCIAL investigation Into the Divine Light Mission of 14-year-old Guru Maharaj Ji has been started by the Indian
Government. The probe was ordered after the Guru, who has 6,000 followers in Britain and about 40,000 in the United States, returned to India a week ago with a suitcase containing about
£45,000 in cash, watches and jewels, including diamond rings and a pearl necklace.
Accompanying the Guru, who was returning from a visit to London and New York earlier this month, were eight Jumbo jet airliner loads of devotees.
The Indian Embassy In London as well as diplomatic missions in other countries where the Guru operates, will be helping in the inquiry.
Ji Whizz Kid!
MEET THE GO-GETTING GURU WHOSE MISSION MEANS MONEY
By Frazer Guild
THE ANSWER had come over the trans-Atlantic heavenly hot-line. Guru Maharaj Ji, The Perfect Master, had given his word.
It was the answer 6,000 British worshippers had been praying for. The Divine One would DEFINITELY turn up at the Alexandra Palace for the Guru Puja, a summer celebration of love and light tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday.
They had prayed before, of course, when the chubby-cheeked 15-year-old Master was in London last year but he had been having a Divine kip and had missed the meetings on misty Parliament Hill Fields.
Than again last month the gifted Guru let them down again when he failed to turn up at a Fulham meeting.
"We hadn't actually said he would be there but perhaps we did not make it clear enough he would not, said "Milky" Cole, an English apostle who is the Guru's devoted travelling companion.
Michael John Cole, 27, pop-group manager and antique dealer before seeing the Divine Light four years ago, had called the Guru in Denver, where he was launching a new printing outfit.
"I might be sticking my neck out, but he promised to be here. Puja means worship and there would be no one to worship if he were not here."
A personal appearance this time would mean more than meditation with the Master for "Milky" Cole. As assistant director of Divine Sales International, an offshoot of the Divine Light Mission which the Guru leads, he knows it could mean money.
Divine Sales just happen to be floating a new line in cosmetics soon after the jet-set saviour Jumboes first class back to India.
Under the brand name "Just Revelation," the range will include pure organic bio - degradable shampoos, soaps, bath oils and other essential oils, all made in Britain to the organisation's own specifications.
Bio-degradable products are so called because they break down after use, leaving no polluting waste products.
There's a cut-price cash and carry health food shop called Plain Grain about to be opened in Clapham High Street which could do with a plug from the present day Prince of Peace.
"But money," says Milky seriously, "does not matter to us. All we aim to do is to have enough for our devotees to live on and to continue the work of the movement in spreading the message of peace and love."
In Britain the Mission claims to run purely on private subscriptions and sales of literature.
In many areas of London and throughout Britain other groups of followers have formed Ashrams, or communal church-houses.
The devotees send their wages to the organisation's central office and in return receive a living allowance, on which to exist while they pursue the pure life unfettered by thoughts of finance.
Milky said he did not know what the organisation's weekly turnover was.
They run offices in areas of North London including Acton, Belsize Park and Palmers Green, but are hoping eventually to transfer operations to offices over the Odeon Cinema in Dulwich which They recently purchased for meetings.
What Milky did say was that none of the money collected leaves the country. It all went to develop the work of the mission and saving lost soul.
And none of it went to Guru Maharaj Ji.
"He has no money of his own in any bank account anywhere in the world. He is simply the perfect being living the pure life."
What seems incongruous are the perks that this "pure life" brings.
The galloping Guru loves snappy suits, fast cars and first class travel. He rides around London in a Rolls-Royce and crunches cashews while watching TV or listening to tapes in the Divine Residence in Highgate.
Hardly the Spartan existance.
His people in London play down the appearance of wealth. The Rolls, they say, was donated and the modestly furnished house is in East Finchley - not Highgate --and is worth £25,000. (The address on their literature, however, is Highgate, N.6).
And Haringey Council confirmed that Woodside Avenue, N6, was in fact, in Highgate,
At the same time the 20 unpaid workers at Shri Hans Publications, which handles all printing for the Mission, are geared up for Guru Puja 1973.
Thousands of coloured posters, stickers, booklets and even headed note paper will be "available" at Alexandra Palace.
A Shri Hans Productions film crew is preparing to record the three days of worship from the time the first plane-load of followers arrives from the United States.
Thousands of Tee-shirts imported from Portugal and overprinted with a "GURU PUJA 1973" badge will be flogged at 80p each and carrier bags, also screen printed with the symbol, will be snapped up at £1.
For the girls there will be full-length cotton skirts for just £3.
Ideal for sitting, meditating, and worshipping the Guru.
That is if Himself turns up.
Guru, 14, takes all
By Jill Robertson
TONIGHT 350 British disciples of a fourteen-year-old Indian "god," Guru Maharaj Ji, leave London on an astonishing jet age pilgrimage to Delhi.
On Friday a similar load left by BOAC jumbo jet to join the shindig for this fat-faced youth whose followers believe he is an incarnation of God on earth.
I have seen British teenagers prostrate themselves in the wake of the guru and kiss the silk cushion where his feet have rested.
I have found out a lot of other curious things about the Divine Light Mission, which is what the guru's movement is called.
- The guru travels around grandly in Rolls-Royces and private aeroplanes.
- His really devoted followers give all their earnings to the movement and live on bare necessities.
- These followers also renounce all sex - and husbands and wives have been voluntarily parted because of their beliefs.
The Divine Light Mission is registered as a charity in Britain - which gives it considerable income tax benefits.
The guru's followers who have scraped together the £150 fare to go on the pilgrimage, do not appear to question the splendour which their adoration gives him.
He has a Rolls-Royce for his use in Britain and a "divine residence" in Highgate, London, worth £50,000.
He has a cook on duty twenty-four hours a day when in Britain in case he becomes hungry in the middle of the night.
The cooks, like all Guru Maharaj Ji's personal attendants, labour for no wages.
Guru Maharaj Ji, son of an Indian holy man has made only three short visits to Britain since his first call last June.
But it is claimed that in that time his converts have grown from 500 to 6,000.
In America, his devotees are said to number 50,000 and the world total is estimated at more than six million.
The slogan of the child guru is: "Give me your love, and I give you peace."
Those who don't are damned, explained the general secretary of the English mission, 29-year-old Oxford graduate Glen Whittaker.
Mr. Whittaker, the son of a travel agent in Southport, Lancs., runs the mission in Britain with great efficiency.
This cash-hungry mission has already inspired more than 300 followers in Britain to hand over their unopened wage-packets to divine headquarters.
They sever contacts with their past lives and give up sex, meat, money, drinking, smoking, TV, cinema, marriage and worldly activities to live in "ashrams" - residential churches.
Suburban flats and houses have been turned into monastery - like communes in Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Leeds, Leicester, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, Oxford and districts of London.
The ashrams not only propagate "the knowledge" but provide the mission with an estimated regular income of at least £4,000 a week.
All members of the ashrams, except the housemother, who works as full-time unpaid housekeeper have to continue their normal jobs and hand their weekly wages over to the mission.
Glen Whittaker said: "Followers in ashrams must give one hundred per cent service to Guru Maharaj Ji. That's why married couples can't join ashrams."
John Lindus and his wife, Emma, have given up married life to work for Guru Maharaj Ji.
They are still very much in love, but no longer live together or have sexual intercourse.
Emma insists she does not miss the physical relationship with her husband.
"You have to decide whether you want babies or truth", she says.
In two ashrams I visited I saw dormitories where followers sleep on the floor.
One was the Achnacloich ashram, Inverness-shire, an isolated farmhouse which has been handed over to the Divine Light Mission by jute heir Andy Cox, 27, an Old Etonian.
The financial set-up of the Achnacloich ashram was explained by the secretary at that time, Mr. John Dewhurst.
"Eight of us are working," he said. "Jobs are hard to come by here, so most of us do timber contracting work. The two housemothers don't have jobs.
"I suppose we send between £150 and £200 a week to headquarters in London.
"They send us back £40 a week for the ten of us to live on."
I told Glen Whittaker that I thought it paradoxical that a boy should not only live in such style, but should be exempt from the structures that are imposed on followers.
Whittaker replied: "They have the wages of happiness and peace."
Luxuries are lavished on the boy guru.
The 1970 model Silver Shadow Rolls-Royce bought for him on September 9 for nearly £10,000, isn't good enough. Next August Divine Light Mission in London will take delivery of a gold-coloured £13,000 1973 Rolls-Royce.
"We like to get him the very best," Glen Whittaker explained. "We understand that he is our Lord.
"It's the same as Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the donkey."
There were plans to buy the guru a Piper Comanche out of charity funds. But he didn't like it.
"He found it a bit noisy." I was told.
Now plans have been changed to buy him a twenty-seater jetliner.
Money is what Divine Light needs.
At a meeting at Chelsea town hall I heard one of the guru's mahatmas plead with an audience of over a thousand: "Spend money and you become attached to earthly things - give it to Divine Light and he will spread the word."
Guru's flower power
FLOWER power came to London yesterday when 15-year-old Guru Maharaj Ji arrived at Heathrow Airport.
Devoted followers of the Indian boy carried flowers … and there waiting at the airport terminal was a flower covered Rolls-Royce.
And the welcomers brought drums and guitars and banners. One read: "Please, please, come to Manchester."
But the Guru known to his devotees as "Lord of tile Universe," "Prince of Peace," and "The Perfect Master" would not say if he would visit Manchester.
He said he would be in Britain for two weeks, but he didn't know his precise plans.
The darkness of Divine Light
Last July he drew 6,000 ecstatic young disciples to Alexandra Palace in London for a 'Festival of Love and Light'. This month 80,000 are expected to fill the Houston Astrodome in Texas to hear and meet him at a 3-day programme called 'Millenium '73'. He is the 15-year-old Guru Maharaj Ji - 'guru' meaning one who leads out of darkness into light. He is 'the perfect master'.
At Alexandra Palace his followers exultantly shouted 'Bolie Shri Satgurudev Maharaj ki Jai' - 'Praise the name of the Lord, the true revealer of light and great king'. In many student centres in Britain his followers have been active. Some were handing out their leaflets to folk attending Spree '73.
In the USA he has branches in 30 cities many publications, records and promotional films. He claims a world following of 6 million. In America his disciples have already grown from a mere handful two years ago to over 50,000.
So the 'Divine Light Mission' has been coming to the fore. Although the Guru's adherents make the most exalted claims for him, he himself does not expressly claim to be God. They say he is Christ for our day; he says, 'I am not Jesus, I am not Krishna, I am not Buddha. I am nothing. I am just a humble servant of God, come to reveal the Light.'
Eager to testify
Despite these disclaimers, he and his believers agree that through him people may come to a deep, personal knowledge of God. Many are eager to testify that their lives have been transformed as a result of hearing the Guru. His invitation and promises may seem not only extravagant but blasphemous; nevertheless many accept them as genuine.
In Delhi in 1970, addressing a crowd estimated at nearly a million, he said what he has repeated in various places since: 'Give me your love. I will give you eternal peace. Surrender … your life to me; I will give you salvation. I am the source of peace in this world … .'
He has made such claims since the age of eight in 1966, when his father died. His father, Shri Hans Ji Maharaj, founded the Divine Light Mission. At his funeral, his son said to the mourners: 'Children of God, why are you weeping? … the perfect master never dies. Guru Maharaj Ji is here among you. Recognise him, obey him and adore him'.
What then is the peace which these adoring souls claim to have found? The answer is elusive. This peace, they say, has an infinite quality and so cannot be explained.
'Drop out society'
On the surface it seems to be connected with all the trappings of one of the Guru's festivals. At the Alexandra Palace the scene in the Great Hall was one of thousands of people, mostly young and mostly from the 'drop-out society', quietly milling around or meditating in the traditional eastern cross-legged pose. The smoke of burning joss sticks hung heavily in the air. The platform was half filled with the 42-piece Blue Aquarius Band. Twenty-five feet above the speakers' platform was a white throne surrounded and canopied by flowers. Above that a striking rainbow had been painted. Here sat the 'Perfect Master' clothed entirely in white. His mahatmas, or apostles, sat nearby. The great crowd hung on his every word, even though the acoustics were less than perfect. In fact the teaching from the platform was contradictory, vague and often trivial - though this did not seem to concern the followers.
This religion is strictly syncretistic, that is, it tries to combine elements from all religions and bind them into one. It claims that all religions basically worship the same God; that all the great religious leaders of the world have been possessed with the same divine spirit. So there is no essential difference between Christ, Socrates, Confucius, Krishna, Shiva, Moses, Francis of Assisi, or Vedvayasa. They all alike have been filled with the same spirit of God. In their time they have all been Perfect Masters. Now it is the turn of the 15 year old Guru. If a Christian asserts that Jesus said, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me,' a follower of the Divine Light Mission will agree - only to add that Jesus has come again in the Guru.
Mystical or emotional
I spent time with the man who had designed the ornate posters and colourful literature for the Alexandra Palace festival. He explained how people may come to know God. According to him, a person listens to the Guru speak; if he feels a longing to enter into deep communion or knowledge of God, he then finds a Mahatma to help him with his quest. The Mahatma takes a group of enquirers and deals with them in a counselling session that may last six or eight hours. The individual may or may not come into communion with God as a result. Many claim to do so. I was told that a great many of the young people there (perhaps as many as 90%) had been drug addicts before they came to the Divine Light Mission. They had found 'peace' with God.
I asked why it was that the young Guru rode around in the luxury of a Rolls Royce, when Christ had had nowhere to lay His head. (In America he is said to have a $50,000 Mercedes 600, plus three airplanes, TV and radio stations, mansions, etc.) He replied that the car had been given to him by his admirers and anyway, had not Jesus accepted the lavish gift of the woman who poured expensive ointment over His feet? He further explained that their much publicised 'Divine Jumble Sales' were far from being fund-raising stunts; they were just a means of serving the poorer members of society. It was strictly humanitarian!
How then are these experiences and beliefs to be explained? The boy Guru invites his adherents to engage in four practices: meditation, holy discourse ('satsang'), practical service in the Guru's cause, and being in his physical presence. Perhaps the most significant of these is the meditation.
Find a Mahatma
This certainly seems to appeal to those who are naturally attracted by the mystical or emotional aspects of religion.
It is well known that a person who has been in a light trance will generally emerge from it relaxed and refreshed, feeling happy and at ease for the time being. He himself has been passive. He has had a blissful but empty experience, with nothing divine about it at all.
The type of person for whom feelings are an important guide to 'truth' may well then ponder the great mysteries of life, and stand in awe before the great abyss of eternity. Depending upon the way in which he has been taught to think, he may interpret his 'experience' as having been a vision of 'God'. If such a person is caught up in the mystique of a religious movement and absorbs the simple techniques of 'meditation' - the shallow, self-induced trance - he will be convinced that he has experienced God. It will be irrational; he will not be able to explain it; but he will believe he has met with God. In fact it has been no more than an adventure in mysticism.
Nevertheless such experiences can be very powerful in their effects. Psychiatrists have acknowledged that these are quite capable of producing sufficient resolution and mental energy to shake off such habits as smoking, drinking and even drug addiction. These 'deliverances' are then claimed as evidence of the power of God and a true experience of Him. Small wonder that thousands from the drop-out society, disillusioned by this materialistic, mechanical age and longing for reality, are first-rate candidates for eastern mysticism.
This may explain the claims to religious experience of the followers of the Guru Maharaj Ji. Yet it is a man-made self deception, made plausible by two factors. One factor is the spiritual hunger of many today. Institutional, established Christianity has failed them. Its liberalism has eaten away the spiritual food of the gospel without which men and women starve. Perhaps 'Divine Light' with its definite claims seems to some to offer more than the indefinite message of a confused Christendom. The other factor is that now the existence of thousands of devotees convinces the enquirer that so many cannot be wrong.
All this has something to say to the Christian. Negatively, he needs to beware of an overemphasis on 'experience'. If ever an experience is taught or sought for its own sake, if ever it is not based firmly on the teaching of the whole Scripture then there is spiritual danger. Truth is the spiritual touchstone of experience, not vice versa.
Positively, a true experience of God must be sought - and may be known. Few things distort Christianity more than truth which is held in the head but withheld from the heart. A true experience of God means a renewed mind, an awakened conscience, a repentant will and a trust in Christ to save. Such experience affects - and goes on affecting - the whole person.
'Nothing tatty' for boy Guru
THE 'boy god' leader of the Divine Light Mission in Britain bought a £20,000 new car yesterday but was shy about being photographed in it.
First 15-year-old Guru Maharaj Ji Ji switched the time at which he planned to pick up the 6-3 litre Mercedes Benz Pullman 600 at a garage at Hersham, Surrey.
Then, as he was helped into the metallic blue car by two bodyguards, 40 followers -dressed in a 'uniform' of black suits with white carnation buttonholes-crowded forward and jostled photographers out of the way.
The Guru, in Britain to spread the word of peace, was whisked away to the London headquarters.
A follower said : 'We stopped photographers because we have been receiving bad publicity recently.'
The Divine Light Mission is a registered charity. The Charity Commissioners have asked the organisation to produce its accounts for examination after complaints by members of the public.
Mr Jonathan Minton, the Mission's public relations officer, said of the new car
'We don't like our Guru to ride around in anything tatty.
'If Christ arrived in England today the Archibishop of Canterbury wouldn't ask him to ride on a donkey'.
The Mercedes has a refrigerated cocktail cabinet behind the front seats, a power-operated sliding roof so the Guru can wave to his followers, and a stereo tape-recorder on which he can record good will speeches.
The car the Guru traded in - a £9,000 Rolls-Royce.
A little earthly problem for the Divine Guru
THE DIVINE LIGHT Mission of Guru Maharaj Ji, 15-year-old Perfect Master and Revealer of Truth, is encountering some earthly difficulties. It faces a bill of £45,000 for last weekend's three-day festival of peace (and occasional rock music) at London's Alexandra Palace. Only £90, however, was received in donations from the thousands who attended.
The cult has also attracted the attention of the Charity Commissioners, who this week begin an inquiry into the Mission's general finances in Britain. And in India, birthplace of the Guru, officialdom is equally unfriendly: the Government is investigating the Mission and is keeping a "close watch" on its expensive way of life.
The Alexandra Palace festival, with the Guru perched high amid the organ pipes of the Great Hall, was the culmination of a remarkable year for the Guru. His followers have turned out in their thousands; and his own life-style, with his fondness for life's little luxuries such as the new £20,000 Mercedes car bought for him last week by British devotees, private planes, "Divine Residences" and motorbikes, has made him one of the summer's celebrities for the unbelievers, too.
In its Trust Deed, when it registered as a charity last year in order to gain considerable tax exemption, the Divine Light Mission
gave its aims as:
"To advance religion in accordance with the principles of Sri Hans Ji Maharaja and Sri Santa Ji Guru Maharaj by promoting the knowledge that God is the supreme creator of the Universe; the realisation of God without nominational bias; the relief and prevention of suffering, both mental and physical, occasioned by poverty, ill-health and the abuse of drugs."
In the year or so that it has been operating in this country the Mission has acquired a "Divine Residence" in London costing £25,000, for the sole use of the Guru and his "Holy Family" on their occasional visits; an Odeon cinema in Southeast London for £65,000, in which to hold prayer meetings; and the Mercedes, which has replaced a Rolls. There is also the outlay on the Peace Festival.
According to Peter Potter, the accountant for the Mission, and Glen Whittaker, general secretary and trustee, the money has mostly been provided by donations - "dedications" - by Britain's 7,000 followers of the Guru. Apart from the 300 followers who live in community homes (Ashrams) and turn over their pay packets, it is said that only 10 per cent send regular contributions. Mr Potter says: "We have been saving hard for more than a year and it is not difficult to get this amount of money if you scrimp and save." But they had to have a £30,000 short-term loan in order to buy the cinema.
The Mission also receives a regular income from Divine Sales - mainly of second-hand goods given by the faithful - and from the sale of its Divine publications.
Followers are urged to show their love for the Guru by giving money. In asking devotees to provide the "Divine Residence," an article in a Mission publication said:
"As much you surrender of what you are holding, as much is returned to you in richer currency …. Everything in excess after you have provided yourself and your dependants with what is needed to maintain your and their usefulness to Maharaj Ji, dedicate it each week to the Centre Ashram of your country … Hold a lot back and He must hold a lot back."
Followers were also told: "Do not fall into the maya [illusion] of ego thoughts, thinking, 'I want to have some say in how my money is being spent,' or doing something else with your money … both these thoughts are terrible traps."
A spokesman for the Charity Commission said last week: "Just because they are registered, that does not mean that we approve. It does not indicate that the Commissioners have checked them as a bona fide charitable organisation." In fact, any person or organisation presenting an acceptable Trust Deed may become registered as a charity. And there is no duty to provide accounts to the Commissioners unless they are specifically requested.
Although the Guru had been expected to leave Britain early last week, both he and his entourage were still in London yesterday. Glen Whittaker commented: "The two most unpredictable things, are the weather and the Guru."
He believes in the trendiest gear, the fastest cars.
He watches 'Man from Uncle' on TV.
And six million worship him as the Divine Light.
By Andrew Fyall
THE Guru Mahariji, dispeller of evil, possessor of all knowledge, gifted inventor, and "The Divine Light" himself, was suffering like an ordinary mortal yesterday.
He was " thoroughly exhausted" after a first-class jet flight from his home in Northern India.
Not surprising, perhaps, for this latest Guru to arrive on our scene is only 15, although his followers claim he makes up for his lack of years with a wealth of experience.
He has been broadcasting his message of eternal love since he was three, by which time his father, the Guru before him, was proclaiming a bright future for his gifted lad.
But if the young leader was indisposed, two of his most dedicated disciples were ready to do the talking for him and to reveal something of the life style of this teenager, whose worldly interests range from extensive appreciation of electronic gadgetry to "The Three Stooges", and "Man From U.N.C.L.E." on TV.
Jonathan Mills, 23-year-old son of actor John Mills, is deeply committed to the Guru and his movement. "I am at peace with myself and the world," he says.
And he hopes to arrange an introduction for his father and mother soon, in the interest of similar results.
Whether or not the young Guru can persuade John Mills to fall in behind him and convince him me is Jesus Christ returned is something else, but already he claims to have six million followers all over the world.
Six thousand of them are here, and in the next two weeks the aim is to multiply this figure several times.
Jonathan Mills said: "My parents have supported my beliefs. They have seen how I have changed."
This Guru is not a tub-thumping religionist. His "message" is directed at all denominations and is designed to promote international peace and harmony on earth.
Noble principles projected with the aid of a highly efficient business network, sophisticated computers - and money.
The Guru, even at 15, believes in the trendiest gear, the fastest cars, the best plane seats and all forms of earthly luxury; yet he claims he owns nothing himself and his bank book is empty.
Michael John Cole, the English disciple known as "Milky," has been a constant travelling companion. He has no money either, receiving only cash for food and clothes when the need arises.
" We are not in need of "worldly goods," he said. "All we require is peace".
"Our organisation relies on private subscriptions alone, plus the sale of our literature. There are no fees demanded and we exist to spread the message of peace and love, just as Christ did. The Guru is Christ."
At the same time he admitted that the Guru, whose well-nourished appearance indicates he is suffering none of the deprivations experienced by Jesus, has the use of scores of homes all over the world, including the one he is presently using in the wealthy London suburb of Highgate.
He also has three planes, principally based in the United States which is the fastest expanding area of his influence, several cars (only the best like Rolls-Royce), TV and radio studios, a complex office organisation and an IBM computer to ensure that it all runs well.
"The Guru believes in utilising modern technology to the full," explained Michael Cole.
He is too young to have a pilot's licence but his disciple says he has already logged 52 hours of instruction. And while he is still unable to drive on the roads he is, by all accounts, pretty nifty behind the wheel of a Rolls-Royce on private roads and runways.
"All things are possible for the Guru", said Mr. Cole.
The juvenile Guru is here with Mum and his two brothers (Dad died several years ago), and his big dates, and a bid for new member, will come at a summer celebration of love and light at London's Alexandra Palace on July 13, 14 and 15.
This remarkable boy will be able to show us all then the kind of magic that attracts millions.
"Give me your love," he says, "and I will give you eternal peace."
He believes in the trendiest gear, the fastest cars. He watches 'Man from Uncle' on TV. And six million worship him as the Divine Light.
Why a God kept me waiting
Vicar of Cuffley, Herts.
WHEN THIS poor parson went to meet God he tried to bunk out of the back door. The Rolls-Royce was ready, complete with disciple
and a blanket to shroud his head. The Guru Maharaj Ji was not pleased to see the parson and only stopped to talk to me because I barred the way to his gleaming car.
He hard the sense to see that knocking down a Rev. gent in his own parish would not be good for his image as the Perfect Master.
All this took place in his caravan in Tolmers Park Scout Camp at Cuffley, Herts, where nearly 3,000 devotees waited patiently for his wisdom before going to Alexandra Palace to attend his Festival of Love and Wisdom.
But he would have run out on them to escape meeting me if he could.
All his promises, and he did make them, would have gone by the board because I can only conclude he was afraid.
Questions from a journalist and in this case a seriously interested and sympathetic member, were not welcomed.
Which was a pity because what he and his movement teaches has something to say to our world and is something the majority of churches are afraid to face.
The young people who follow him are gentle, considerate and well behaved. As I write, hundreds are passing my front door, yet there is no litter or unnecessary noise. The scouts and ramblers make far more mess !
Their camp is disciplined, clean and moral. Babies are there. I took one couple with a five week-old child to the camp in my car.
Americans, Frenchmen, Jews and Arabs mingle in the same tents, bound by a love of the Master and the search for truth.
Ex-drug addicts are thick among them as well as the people who have freaked out of the rat race. Many had come through the churches but were disillusioned by what they found.
Mary, Arthur, John and Hamish were people I would be glad to count as friends. This article will hurt them because they believe so much in The Man. He is their Messiah, their god, their saviour.
I feel a rat trying to say to them, and the countless other young people who may come to think likewise, that in my opinion he is a fraud. Ten minutes talking to a man who has tried to dodge you is not long.
But my confrontation left me frightened and depressed.
It began loaded with apprehension. The small group of the faithful held their breath and the guru was ill at ease.
Gradually his confidence grew as he realised I was not going to verbally maul him and the answers became slicker and more packed. There was little logic and constant evasion.
The anomaly of a Rolls-Royce for the Perfect Master did not trouble him.
"It is the gift of love from my disciples and I will not offend them."
The suggestion of giving it away to help the poor who were around him did not register or impress.
To be fair, many a bishop and a Pope has made the same mistake and lived the same lie. I asked him about this.
He replied: "It is one's attitude to them that is all important. My car and my clothes are not attached to me by safety pins."
I asked him if he was really 15 - or 19 as some people allege. "My passport records that I was born in 1957, so I really cannot understand all the fuss."
Was he embarrassed by the presents and the wealth he displayed?
"It is as loving to receive as it is to give."
Five minutes after my interview he appeared to his followers - with all ideas of premature departure presumably forgotten. As he addressed them he said how he was criticised for the Rolls-Royce which, anyway, was falling to pieces. The faithful laughed.
Someone who suggested that Hare Krishna was a guru of equal standing was unceremoniously thrown out.
So what is the secret of this phenomena? Why has it happened? Two events that lie outside the movement have contributed. One is growing disillusionment with the materialistic world.
But oddly enough his followers have got to have a materialistic god which they can see, touch and handle.
Probably what is more damning is that the church is failing these young people. Many came to it for love, but found only ethics, dogma and taboos.
The compassion of Jesus was seldom present in the so-called houses of God.
We who are Christians, whatever our denominations, ought this weekend to go down on our knees in an act of penitence for the way we have betrayed these people and exposed them to such spiritual danger.
In the second instance it is possible these days to make "a silk purse out of a sow's ear."
Good management and publicity, have made pop stars from deformed tonsils.
This man is cleverly managed. The secrecy around him is part of his greatest appeal. Though he denies being God, he is aware he is allowing a cult to be built up around him as a deity.
Brick by brick he fashions the pedestal that sets him above mortal man.
How strong this is can be seen from the fact that because I have actually spoken with the Master some of his disciples - who have never got close to him and will not be allowed to - want to touch me and called me blessed.
Much of his teaching is modelled on Christ and only an expert would detect the subtle differences.
All heresies, and this is a heresy, have been distortions of the truth. Fortunately, some good can come out of evil and there is charisma … this magnetic appeal that draws. It is manufactured, the man has not got it in himself.
It is where this well end that the real test will lie and for people like Mary, Arthur, John and Hamish it will end in disillusionment and pain.
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."
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.
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."
Disciples plead 'release cash'
By our Staff Correspondent in New Delhi
Disciples of Guru Maharaj Ji, the 15-year-old Indian boy-saint, are to press Indian customs officers to release £13,600 in
currency and valuables, the contents of a "divine bank" confiscated last year.
Official assessments of the contents - currency notes, travellers cheques, watches and jewellery - earlier varied between £50,000 and £60,000. The "bank" was confiscated at New Delhi airport last November when the young Guru led hundreds of Western disciples in nine Jumbo jets to India to hear his teachings.
Lawyers representing the Divine Light Mission say they will tell Indian customs officials that Miss Joan Apter, a leading American disciple, was not trying to smuggle the "divine bank" into India. In the excitement of the Guru's return she forgot to declare the currency and valuables.
Daily Mail, Thursday, July 12, 1973 - Page 21
The 'boy god' with a taste for ice cream…
and the good things of life
By Richard Herd
Balyogeshwar Param Hans Satgurudey Shri Sant Ji Maharaj - the 15-year-old so-called boy god arrived in Britain yesterday to a welcome from 800 devotees who thronged London Airport.
Ten thousand more - from Britain, Europe and the U.S. - are expected to gather tomorrow in a 'Divine City' under canvas at Alexandra Palace, North London, for a three-day rally at which they will hope for a chance to prostrate themselves before their 'perfect master.'
For his part, the luxury-loving holy boy, Guru Maharaj Ji, for short, hopes to double his British following of 6,000 - doubtless boosting the amount they pay for the privilege of seeing the Divine Light.
His Divine Light Mission, which claims a world-wide following of six million and the fastest growth of any religion today, already has a capital of £100,000 in Britain, including a luxurious £40,000 London HQ and a fleet of 36 vehicles, one of them a £9,800 Rolls used only by the boy god.
Critics ask how he can require his worshippers to exist on basic essentials while he lives in high style on his jet trips round the world.
There is a bland stock reply: 'I do not ask them for a penny. They give because they love.' The mission is currently planning to buy a £65,000 meeting hall in East Dulwich and a country mansion with 40 acres of grounds fit for a god to live in.
What the generous worshippers may not know is that the Indian Government is still determinedly investigating the mission's finances and allegations of smuggling £10,000 worth of jewels, currency and travellers' cheques from the U.S. last year.
Maharaj Ji, 5ft. tall and a waddling 13st., grows fat on his good life. He eats elegantly prepared vegetarian food, followed by
liberal portions of ice cream. Exercise is rare, and his chauffeur-driven limousines turn out for even the shortest journeys.
His only boyish traits seem to be passions for water pistols, horror movies - and those fattening mounds of ice cream.
The guru's glossy publicity brochure refers to Him and His Holy Family, always with a capital initial. Followers call his possessions 'divine' - he lives in divine residences, has his food cooked in the divine kitchens and rides in a divine Rolls-Royce.
Maharaj Ji has already dodged a grilling by India's revenue investigators on three occasions. But when he returns to Delhi this month he must face close questioning - or forfeit a £5,000 bond, the 'smuggled' goods and his passport.
The top level investigation, in which Premier Mrs Indira Gandhi, as head of India's intelligence services, is taking a personal
interest, began last November when Customs men at Delhi Airport had a tip from America that one of the divine bags was stuffed with jewels for the guru's mother plus sterling, dollars and
The boy said they were nothing to do with him. Top executives in his mission team claimed that the money was to feed and house 350 American converts-in-the-making, who had flown in with him in the chartered jumbo jet he called his silver steed and were going on a three-week course at the imposing training academy on the banks of the Ganges.
Special investigators from the revenue department have been trying to find out just how much he is worth and how much wealth the mission has accumulated in other countries.
It is an offence in Indian law to have a bank account abroad without permission from the Treasury, but the guru set up in Britain as a charitable trust which banks all the income.
Now the Indian Government will decide whether or not a charity abroad benefiting Indian nationals is contravening the law.
The Indian Special Branch has its own interest in the guru. It fears that with or without the knowledge of the mission's hierarchy, spies or CIA agents might use the security of the mission as a cover.
The Indian Home Office is also watching the boy. A spokesman said: 'We find it hard to believe that he's only 15. We think he's nearer 18 or 19.
'If he is older than 15, we will want to know why he's living a lie and what difference a delayed coming of age might mean to the finances of the mission.'
The boy is just one of thousands of gurus in India - some genuine, some quacks, all out to make a living from the millions who believe in them.
The difference between this boy and most others is that two years ago he realised the big money wasn't to be made in India but in the West.
The boy's method involves a three-week course during which devotees-to-be are allowed to work in the mission in the daytime and attend satsangs - spiritual meetings - in the evenings.
Then one of the mahatmas - holy men -- gives a private lecture at the end of which the worshippers, full of peace, can say they have 'taken knowledge.'
There are about 2,000 mahatmas on the mission's books, three or four of them at present in Britain.
The headquarters is a walled fortress in Delhi. There, as in all his missions, the guru has his own private padlocked suite.
A 21-year-old American at the HQ, Gary Cashin, explained that the guru was 'completely unattached' to his Rolls and Mercedes. 'He really is. He wouldn't mind at all if he had nothing.'
Fellow American Frank Donado, 20, who is collaborating with Gary to produce a book on the boy god, added:
'One day a devotee's Volkswagen ran backwards and crashed in Maharaj Ji's Mercedes. It was terribly damaged. The devotee was prostrate with anguish at having damaged the car. But the guru smiled. "Please do not worry about it. I don't mind in the least being without it," he said.'
Of course there was another Mercedes on order next day.
Just above their sparse, Spartan room, completely devoid of any simple comfort, where they sleep on blankets on the stone floor, is the guru's luxurious suite.
They're not in the least envious. They believe that the guru himself would live in their room if it were ever necessary.
But of course it never has been, nor is it likely to be.
They talk of bliss … and ban sex
THE boy god's father was a much-loved guru who for years had taught the Divine Light 'knowledge' to millions of people in
He died seven years ago and the boy took over, claiming: My father's soul has passed into my body.' If the guru is 15 now, he would have been only eight then. Indian Government officials believe he is nearer 19.
What is the Divine Light? It seems that only the premies - those who have 'taken the knowledge' - know. They describe the process as the mind slipping into another level of consciousness, producing a sensation of light.
One of them said: 'When I saw knowledge I saw pure white light. It started off like spirals which exploded into light in my third eye you know, the psychic eye in the middle of your forehead.'
The guru first brought the Divine Light Mission to Britain, where it is registered as a charity, in June 1971.
The mission's solicitor, Mr Clive Sell, says: 'I was suspicious at first, but I am convinced now that the movement does a great deal of good. The guru has taken a lot of young people off drugs. I would estimate the movement in this country is now worth about £100,000 - there is an awful lot of money coming in.'
There are 29 ashrams - communes - in Britain, covering the whole of the country. Daily Mail reporters visited a random cross section and found an atmosphere of peace in all of them.
Bliss is a word they often use. They seem happy to have detached themselves from material things.
There was a high percentage of young people who had kicked the drug habit. There is no sex, no smoking, no drinking, no meat. Husbands and wives have to live in separate ashrams.
Devotee who live outside are allowed normal lives but are expected to make contributions and recruit followers.
The mission's headquarters at Woodside Avenue, Highgate, London, N, has two chefs ready 24 hours a day to cook for the guru and his family.
ANGUISH OF A FATHER WHO LOST THREE SONS
By Peter Cliff
IT took just nine months for the Kemp family to split up under the influence of the boy guru.
Groundsman Mr Raymond Kemp, of Bank Lane, Roehampton, Surrey, said : 'One minute we seemed to have a reasonably happy family with four loving sons. Now three of them have been taken away from us - they just laugh in our faces.'
First Chris, 22, came in contact with the mission. Within weeks he introduced his brothers, 18-year-old Peter and Bernard, 17. (The fourth brother, Anthony, 20, is a mentally handicapped epileptic.)
'Suddenly they were no longer part of our family,' says Mrs Mary Kemp. 'They could only talk to us about the Divine Light Mission.
'They became very withdrawn, like zombies. All their Interests went by the board.'
Mr and Mrs Kemp's concern has not shaken their sons' beliefs.
Bernard said: 'I am truly very sorry about the way my parents feel. I only hope they can eventually take knowledge themselves and see what I see.'
Peter, a trainee operating theatre technician, explained: 'I was looking for an explanation to life. Then Chris introduced me to the teachings of the Guru Maharaj. Now all that is important is spreading his word to others.'
Chris, who is living at an ashram in Oxford, said: 'This Is the first time I've heard of any family upheaval. I still love and respect my parents.'