Prem Rawat's career in the West began 50 years ago (2022). He has maintained a dedicated relatively small cohort of ex-hippies from the early 1970s, probably at least 10,000, possibly as many as 20,000. As he does not publish meaningful statistics on those people prepared to finance him (all his income has come from gifts) it is reasonable to presume there are not that many. Since the early 2000s he has had his followers finance a long-term, phony public relations campaign to try and give him an aura of respectability and legitimacy. For a fuller, more coherent, though dated, exposition on Rawat's deceitful campaign to gain respectability and legitimacy see the Prem Rawat Critique Website.
No falsehood too demeaning, no photo opportunity too meaningless, no vanity publishing too phony, no television program with a rating too small in a town too minor would be excluded from this "project" to "both present his message to new audiences and to receive public recognition for his efforts." Ordinarily public recognition and respect is gained by actually doing meaningful public work. This is the path his eldest brother Satpal Maharaj took by combining his position as Godman and successor to their father with political and social work in the area in which they were born and raised and so Satpal's public recognition, while controversial, is not spurious.
Prem Rawat "interviewed" by Sara Sidner on the Amanpour program on CNN
After 15 years of leadup work by his staff, financed by those who still secretly worship him, Prem Rawat finally achieved the zenith of his public career. He was "interviewed" by Sara Sidner on the Amanpour program on CNN. Sidner, whose career is underpinned by her ethnicity, has failed anchoring CNN+ which lasted 2 weeks and is now in Los Angeles on the struggling "CNN News Central." How was it possible that Rawat could be on CNN doing a prescripted talk show diguised as an interview? How could any respected Cable Network program interview this posturing phony withough hard questioning? No due diligence! Family relationships. Ms Sidner's mother is a long-term devotee of Prem Rawat's and was undoubtedly the reason that Rawat finally got a spot, minor though it was, on a real though struggling in prime time medium, CNN. Her mother is one of those who secretly worship Prem Rawat and openly did it to his former public identity as Guru Maharaj Ji, the Lord of the Universe. Her father, whose identity is unknown, is black and therefore was nearly certainly not a follower of Prem Rawat's whose followers in the USA were 99.9% lily-white.
SIDNER (voiceover): Prem Rawat is one of the most famous speakers in the world that you may never have heard of. The New York Times bestselling author travels the world all year long. Teaching people how to access inner peace and contentment.
Prem Rawat is not a famous person even if you have not heard of him. He is a minor cult leader whose followers are only a fraction of the people who have at one time or other heard of him. He attained brief public notoriety and ridicule as the "Guru Maharaj Ji", the teenage Godboy ice-cream guzzling guru who had a youthful following in the early 1970's.
He is not a best-selling author. Books, supposedly authored by him, have briefly appeared on the best seller list as his organisations do bulk purchases and followers are encouraged to do simultaneous purchases. His latest book, Hear Yourself, is ranked by Amazon #237,769 in sales, his prior book, Peace is Possible, is ranked #523,309, Splitting the Arrow is ranked #1,260,492.
He does not teach inner peace and contentment but he does teach 4 meditation techniques that he claims will produce inner peace and contentment if his instructions are adhered to. Close associates of his have given evidence that he does not manifest inner peace and contentment in his own life and that he is a heavy smoker and drinker with a sybaritic lifestyle. His appearance gives credibiity to those facts.
SIDNER (on camera): When did you start speaking about peace? How old were you?
RAWAT: I was four years old.
SIDNER (on camera): Four?
The earliest record of Rawat's speeches is from July 29 1966: "When you are in the presence of Guru Maharaj Ji, time, stops, death does not exist. Guru Maharaj Ji is the creator of the whole universe. I will unite all religions. I only need the grace of Guru Maharaj Ji. We will become such a multitude that we will fill every hall and every temple. Guru Maharaj Ji is in front of us. I have got in me the God who is omnipresent God. Guru Maharaj Ji is within my heart and is everywhere."
SIDNER (on camera): And would people listen to a four-year-old?
RAWAT: Actually, they, did. They did because they couldn't believe a four- year-old was talking about peace. So, they will hear this little child talking, and they would just come running to see what was going on. And I could get peace, get a few words in. I didn't have any idea of what this huge audience was or what these people were really there for. But I knew I wanted to talk about peace.
the young Rawat was used as a shill by his father to attract crowds. He was dressed as the God Krishna and would repeat what he had been taught to say.
SIDNER (on camera): A four-year-old has, oftentimes, difficulty forming a sentence. Never mind, sitting in front of a crowd of hundreds and thousands of people talking about peace. Where did the words come from?
RAWAT: The word came from an inspiration that's inside. It really says, you know, there is a possibility that is above and beyond all our things that are going on in this world. We are so wrapped up in all the goods and bads of every single day that we forget there is another possibility. And that possibility is the possibility to be fulfilled.
SIDNER (voiceover): Rawat did not come from humble beginnings. His early life looked like almost none other. His father was a guru in India and Rawat followed in his father's footsteps. Controversy, eventually followed. Initially due to labels, Rawat was given.
SIDNER (on camera): So, when you first started this journey as a young boy, people would call you things like the Perfect Master. And what that conjures up in my mind, in many people's minds, is this a cult? So, is it, what you are doing and spreading and the people who follow your message?
RAWAT: I will tell you something that I can say. I cannot tell you why they say what they said. All I can tell you is what I can say.
Prem Rawat often discussed himself as the Perfect Master. "And as a matter of fact, I am the Perfect Master because I can reveal them this peace. I'm not saying that I am bodily perfect, I am not perfect because of this reason or that reason, but because I can reveal them this Knowledge, which is perfect." - Prem Rawat then calling himself Guru Maharaj Ji, Alexandra Palace, London, July 13 1973
RAWAT: (continues) What I see. What I have always felt. And what I have always felt is this is not about me. This is about them. This is about them finding themselves. That's the journey I am on. Helping people find themselves. And I want to be on that journey, too. Finding myself.
SIDNER (voiceover): In 1972, he left India to take his message to the west, arriving in London at just 13 years old. Back then, he was called Guru Maharaj.
His following exploded. And decades later, so again, did controversy. A small group of former followers began questioning how he can afford to live a lavish lifestyle. Like having a private jet, that he pilots himself. And a mansion in Malibu. A representative for Rawat says he is not living a lavish lifestyle. His Malibu property was purchased when land was cheap in the '70s. And Rawat spends at least nine months of the year on commercial and lease planes traveling to speak with hundreds of thousands of people all over the globe.
With the simple goal of offering a way to find peace. His charitable foundation spending is transparent at an independent organization that rates charity spending has consistently given the foundation a high rating.
Over the past half-century, Rawat has traveled to every continent. Speaking about finding personal peace. His foundation has provided millions of meals to the hungry. In recognition that peace is not possible if you don't have the necessities of life. His peace program is also being used in schools, and more recently, for inmates in prisons in Africa and the United States. With the sole goal of giving people a way to feel peaceful inside.
He's been given keys to multiple cities across the globe for his work to bring people peace. And he's received numerous awards, including the BrandLaureate International Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award.
RAWAT: Thank you so much. I'm very touched by the whole ceremony today.
SIDNER (voiceover): An award given to the likes of Nelson Mandela.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have so sacrificially given your life and your all in promoting peace to the world.
SIDNER (voiceover): But Rawat insists this is not about him. It's about you. It's about peace.
SIDNER (on camera): We are seeing right on the doorstep of Europe a war has started again. And it seems that we go back to this every time there's a conflict. It is a direct line to fight or flight. And we tend to pick fight. So, how is it possible to have peace in this world?
RAWAT: The idea of peace has coexisted along the side with wars and all the controversies that we have had in this world. Peace, we have to find it within ourselves. Only then will it manifest outside. Just as with wars, it first begins in the minds of human beings, and then, it goes and manifests outside. The dissatisfaction that we feel in us, we see it projected all around us. This is not something that the buildings put up. This is not something that the roads put up. This is human beings putting it up.
SIDNER (on camera): So, are you saying that the internal conflict that we have has to be dealt with before we're able to have so-called world peace? I mean, how do you do that?
RAWAT: Well, you have to just get in touch with yourself. You have a phone. It communicates with everybody else. How do you communicate with you? Know thyself -
SIDNER (on camera): Know thyself.
RAWAT: - was no mistake. It echoes even today. With all the technology, if we don't have the technology of getting in touch with ourselves.
SIDNER (on camera): And I think that is where we will live it. That's hard to do to make that choice, but I suppose it is necessary to find that peace, especially the inner peace.
SIDNER (on camera): Prem Rawat, thank so much for joining our show.
RAWAT: Thank you so much for having me. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
- Prem Rawat Critique - Legitimacy
- Connect North America, October 2004, Newsletter
- Educating the Heart Pamphlet
- Connect North America, October 2004, Newsletter