The Mini Guru
WIESBADEN (S&S) -- What does India's latest religious export to the West have to offer?
Why do followers of this 15year- old boy revere him as the "Lord of the Universe" and the "Perfect Master"?
On Monday, Americans in the Wiesbaden area are invited to a "satsang," or holy discourse, where they may find out all they always wanted to know about Guru Maharaj Ji, but never had the opportunity to ask.
The discourse, especially intended for Americans, will be conducted by Mahatma Bai Ji, a priestess in the mini-guru's movement. It will be held in the Wiesbaden Museum, opposite the Rhein-Main Halle, at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free.
Maharaj Ji will not be on hand for the Wiesbaden discourse.
Maharaj Ji, the teen-age guru who heads the Divine Light Mission, is billed by his followers as "a fully realized soul of our time - a born saint." They say he is God in man, just as Jesus Christ was nearly 2,000 years ago. The Divine Light movement claims five million followers in India. In a little over a year, his mostly youthful followers in the United States mushroomed from a small coterie to 30,000 faithful who man 60 Divine Light centers, or "ashrams," in 45 states.
In November, Maharaj. Ji wrapped up a tour of the United States and, accompanied by seven jumbo jets full of his American and British "premies" (loved ones), flew to New Delhi to celebrate a three-day festival in honor of his late guru father.
The airport arrival of the religious, leader - who reportedly gets his kicks from squirting water pistols, eating mounds of ice cream, watching triple-feature horror movies and wearing Frankenstein masks - was marred when Indian customs officials discovered and impounded a suitcase containing $65,000 in cash, jewelry and watches.
According to the guru's disciples, the stash was a Divine Bank that had been put together to support the pilgrims during their month-long sojourn in India.
Refusing to buy that story, the Indian government ordered an investigation into the movement's finances and seized the passport of the "prince of peace."
His followers in Germany report that the matter has now been resolved in favor of the kid guru and he will soon fly to London to join his mother and brothers - "The Holy Family." They also expect him to visit Germany soon.
Maharaj Ji is said to have begun dellivering inspired sermons at the age of 2. Upon the death of his father, the guru, then 8, took over the Divine Light movement. It expanded so rapidly that by 1970 Maharaj Ji was able to kick off his international mission with a "triumphal ride through Delhi in a golden chariot, trailed by miles of elephants, camels, and loyal followers."
His movement has no commandments, although disciples are asked to abstain from drugs, tobacco and alcohol.
The Divine Light has 12 centers throughout Germany. The newest is at 23 Taunusstrasse in Wiesbaden. Another is located in Frankfurt at 30 Cronstettenstrasse.