Revered Guru, 15, Brings His Mission Here
By ELEANOR BLAU
Guru Maharaj Ji, the boy his followers call Lord of the Universe, King of Kings, the one perfect master on earth at this time - who has inspired one of the fastest-growing religious movements in this country today - sat on a gold velvet sofa and told a visitor, "I'm just a 15-year-old kid."
The answer delighted the dozen or so disciples who sat, respectfully shoeless, some distance from his feet on the purple living room carpet of his ranch-style house in Old Westbury L. I.
Wearing a White Nehru suit, his black hair slicked down and a hint of a moustache on his dark plump face, the Indian guru spoke with assurance during a rare, more than hour long interview, his booted feet crossed at the ankles, hands resting on his sofa and gesturing with poise.
Maharaj Ji was in town on his third global tour aimed at bringing world peace by bringing "inner peace through spiritual knowledge."
The United States leg of the tour begins tonight with an appearance at Louis Armstrong Stadium in Flushing Meadow Park.
It is to culminate in "Millennium '73," a mammoth, three day celebration in Houston's Astrodome in November being coordinated by Rennie Davis, the former political activist and recent convert to the guru. Leaders predict it will attract an overflow audience of up to 80,000 including thousands from abroad.
With a claimed following of 50,000 in the United States -- there were six in 1971 -- and six-million worldwide (of which five million are in India) the guru and his Divine Light Mission have set up a nonprofit Denver-based organization that coordinates activities including a monthly magazine, a bi-weekly newspaper, film and other media promotion, 11 second-hand stores, handyman services and a New York clinic.
It also handles living expenses for residents of 54 ashrams. These are centers where followers, or "premies," wbo have dedicated their lives to Maharaj Ji and their income to the mission, live, work and listen to "satsang," discourses on the "inner knowledge" that is said to be revealed by the guru.
Their donations account for about half of the organization's income, which now totals $250,000 a month, according to spokesmen in Denver. Other funds come from non-resident donors, the mission thrift shops and its magazine.
'A Perfect Master'
Reminded that many followers believe he is the incarnation of God, Maharaj Ji said, "They might say that, but I don't."
"I just call myself a perfect master" the guru said, explaining that there was only one such human on earth at a time -- his own late father and Jesus were perfect masters and that the term referred to an ability to teach that which is perfect - knowledge of God, of the life force or primordial energy within everybody.
This knowledge is revealed to premies deemed "ready" for it by mahatmas, particularly enlightened followers of the guru, who teach meditation techniques for four inner experiences, including seeing - literally, they say - a divine light.
Asked why the premies were not supposed to reveal these techniques, Maharaj Ji said, "Because, it's like this. That Timothy goes to school and he is taught 'a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h,' you know? And then he comes home and starts to teach his younger brother and says "a, d, e, f, g, c, c, k.' That's the reason we tell him, 'Please don't do that."
The guru complained that "the press does not realize it is the work of God that we are doing," and that numerous false stories about him had been circulated.
One involves his "high style" of living. The mission acknowledges that it owns houses in Old Westbury, Denver, Los Angeles, London and India - including the guru's family residence, for his mother and three brothers, in Dehra Dun, north of New Delhi.
And, it reports, it has a Rolls-Royce in Los Angeles and Mercedes Benzes in Denver and in New York.
But it is the mission, not, technically, the guru, that owns these, and, Maharaj Ji stressed, the cars and other goods are donated. "What should I do with it? Throw it into pool or something?" he asked, adding, "I'm not attached to all this. I don't hate it, I don't like it. It's there, it's there."
When Maharaj Ji arrived at Kennedy International Airport from London on Sunday, he made a silent appearance of perhaps 60 seconds before some 500 young men and women who sat an the floor of the Pan American terminal waiting for a glimpse of him.
After he had gone, scores of followers prostrated themselves before the empty throne, and strewed flowers where he had walked. They formed a giant circle, arms around each other, singing about Maharaj Ji, then huddling to throw flowers in the air with what sounded like football cheers while a young woman in a white eyelet maxi dress, hands as if in prayer, wandered smiling at anybody, "I feel .. , complete," she told a bystander, "There's nothing missing."
Asked at his interview what went through his rnind when he saw masses of followers paying fervent homage, MaharaJ Ji Said: "Simple. They love me, I love them."
Copyright The New York Times
Originally published July 28, 1973