EL PASO HERALD-POST    Thursday Oct. 20, 1977    C7

Guru is now U.S. citizen

DENVER (UPI) – Guru Maharaj Ji, the chubby 19-year-old leader of a religious movement which claims 3 million followers worldwide, is now a citizen of the United States. He says the feeling is "beautiful."

In unnanounced ceremonies Tuesday, the leader of the Divine Light Mission appeared before a federal court judge and swore allegiance to the U.S.

It was the latest incident in his Americanization, which already has resulted in a dispute with his mother about his growing tastes for fast cars, pizza and gold watches.

THE GURU'S mother, Rajeshwari Devi, and his brother, Bal Bhagwan Ji, controlled the religious movement until the guru's 16th birthday. Shortly after that the disputes started.

"He has adopted a despicable, nonspiritual way of life," the guru's mother once said. "And his followers in America are spoiling him."

The short, stocky guru was dressed in a dark, three-piece, pin-striped suit when he appeared to be sworn in. He decided to keep the name he had in his native Hardwar, Prem Pal Singh Rawat

"IT SEEMED that now was as good a time as any," the guru said, when asked why he became a U.S. citizen. He described his new citizenship as "beautiful."

The guru refused to make any other statements on the citizenship ceremonies, which were attended by his American wife, Marolyn; his brother, Raja Ji; his sister-in-law, Claudia, and about a dozen Divine Light associates who protected him from onlookers.

The oath of citizenship did not include the usual sections involving the bearing of arms and noncombative service in the armed forces. Those were deleted due to the guru's religious beliefs.

THE GURU, who has a permanent $100,000 home in Denver as well as a $550,000 estate in Malibu, Calif., filed for citizenship under a law permitting persons married to U.S. citizens to be naturalized after three years.

Maharaj Ji has been a permanent resident for four years and has lived in the United States periodically since 1972.