Rival gurus scolded by judge

Newspaper Article re Prem Rawat aka Guru Maharaj Ji Delhi, May 23. - Two rival gurus called off a legal confrontation today but kept up their feud over who is " Perfect Master" of their sect.

Maharaj Ji, aged 17, and his brother Bal Bhagwan Ji, aged 24, promised an Indian judge that they would try to settle their competing claims to leadership of the Divine Light Mission out of court. They dropped their defamation suits against each other after being scolded by judge Prithan Singh Safeer during a court hearing.

"Courts should not be utilized for washing this dirty linen," the judge declared. "You say you are men of religion. Well, there is going to be bloodshed in your family unless you settle your disputes. If you want bloodshed, continue with this litigation. But why not come to terms?"

Maharaj Ji then stepped forward and unconditionally withdrew his defamation suit against his brother, After some coaxing from the judge, Bhagwan Ji withdrew his suit.

But later it became clear that the brothers were still reluctant to work out a compromise over who should lead the international religoius movement founded by their late father in 1961.

"He can't be a guru any more, that's for certain," Bhagwan Ji said of his brother shortly after the hearing. "But we are prepared to accept him as a member of our family."

In a separate statement, Maharaj Ji said he had no intention of giving up leadership of the Divine Light Mission despite his mother's renunciation of him in favour of Bhagwan Ji last month. His mother had accused Maharaj Ji of becoming a playboy after moving to the United States in 1973. The effect of the court hearing was to extract Maharaj Ji from a series of suits filed by his brother and mother. - AP