An Extravaganza of Darshan of Prem Rawat
Darshan - being in the physical presence of the living Perfect Master and doing pranam, i.e. kissing his feet, is the peak experience of worship for students of Prem Rawat. However it is one universally frowned up in Western societies and so Prem Rawat with his desire for respectability has had to balance off the odium and mockery of publicly having his feet kissed and the fall in donations that comes from having uninspired followers. In the West, organised darshan lines are secret but do occur regularly at Amaroo since the early 1990's. After proving they are bona fide "People who Have Been Revealed the Techniques of Maharaji's Knowledge" by showing their Smart Cards they are allowed to file past and either place their foreheads on his feet or kiss them but only gentle kisses are allowed, nothing passionate, no french. Since around 2010 this is done in a purpose-built room for privacy and is called "The Greeting Line".
Scene of Darshan Line November 1980 from Eyes Of Faith.
… the Creator is something incredible to experience, is something incredible to see. The peace is incredible to enjoy,
it's so satisfying, the truth and the consciousness that keeps us alive. Sure, it can be seen and I can show it and here we are in show me
state (applause) and it can all be done.
And just, just today seeing every premie come by and there I was and uh one after another, one after another and all of a sudden there was such a beautiful feeling to see, just to be able to recognise every single premie coming by and really I was wondering about this, I said to myself, I said "I really wonder if seventh heaven is any better than this?" You know (applause) cause somehow you get a very content feeling that this is it, it doesn't get any better than this. (more applause) This is the way I feel now because I know I have been saved, it doesn't get any better than this. Note: second image, new premie asking for Holy Breath. Images 4, 5 & 6: Prem Rawat giving his Holy Breath
Scene of Darshan Line Note: second image, new premie asking for Holy Breath. Images 4, 5 & 6: Prem Rawat giving his Holy Breath
Secret Darshan: World Of Knowledge, 1997
Prem Rawat desperate desire for middle-class respectability and public recognition meant that darshan lines had to be held secretly and could no longer be glorified on videos as they had in the 1970s but to tittilate his followers short segments of darshan lines were shown in later videos but disguised so they would appear non-controversial to any "new people" cajoled into watching a video of Rawat. These scenes from the World Of Knowledge, 1997.
… maybe there is a little hope for all of us and that's what we need to have. So, thank you very much and there's tomorrow there'll be darshan, hopefully. (applause) So thank you very much and good night (disorganized chant of "Bolie Shri Satgurudev Maharaj Ki Jai")
The video "You Are My Saviour" opens with a pretty straightforward statement about Prem Rawat's role on earth, a song called "You Are My Saviour". The song is played over scenes of Prem Rawat driving one of his many expensive cars and flying in one of his helicopters.
During the playing of that song Prem Rawat's wife is shown crowning him with the crown of Krishna whose costume he is wearing and then doing full pranam (lying on the ground in front of him) and kissing his feet in adoration. A rather unusal husband-wife relationship.
Cause Guru Maharaj Ji can show that to us now in this lifetime while we are still alive. Guru Maharaj Ji can give us that love, Guru Maharaj Ji can give us that realization now. We have to just let go to Guru Maharaj Ji, let go to Guru Maharaj Ji, not in a theory, not in a song, not in an Arti that we sing every night. I give you my heart, for in you it'll mellow, Maharaji my Lord, my life is your play. I mean those are pretty heavy duty statements, you know. You are my mother, you are my father. What, what, what, what are we saying? And yet do we even have an essence of meaning to it? What we sing is right, it's true, it is an expression of a devotee. This is what a devotee would understand of his Guru Maharaj Ji. That you are my all, he doesn't have to go into specifics about your brother, sister, mother, father, cousin, uncle, aunt. And yet in a very humble and beautiful way we are trying to express that you are my all, every relations, you are my all, you are above and beyond. You know, and really the whole essence of prayer is let me really give myself to you, (the song "Always There" joins in the soundtrack) let me surrender to you, you have come, it's singing the glories of Guru Maharaj Ji is what Arti is all about. Oh Guru Maharaj Ji you are my father, you are my mother, you are my friend. I see you in those respects, you need to teach me a lesson, you need to give me that fathering, you need to give me that mothering, you need to give me that support and yet you are my all, my Lord to me.
Darshan Line: Guru Puja, Miami, 1979
Guru Puja, Miami Beach, Florida, on Saturday, 21st July, 1979.
When you become a devotee, when you unconditionally surrender to Guru Maharaj Ji, when if, buts and doubts go away, when that for one change when you say I give you my heart, for when you really mean when you say you are my all, my Lord to me, that's when Guru Maharaj Ji becomes happy. The formula for it is very simple, it's all been said and yet it's still your feet and your steps. So fortunately we still have another day of satsang (someone in crowd shouts Bhole Shri Satguru Dev Maharaj Ki Jai) and, so, I'll see you tomorrow. Thank you and good night. (crowd shouts Bhole Shri Satguru Dev Maharaj Ki Jai, someone shouts Thank You Maharaji, crowd chants Bhole Shri Satguru Dev Maharaj Ki Jai)
Prem Rawat: The Greatest Magician (1977/78) Having his Feet Kissed (Darshan)
The Darshan line that surprised and shocked the investigative reporters Stoner & Parke from the 1976 Birthday film.
First the bow, then the kiss, then the digging deeper.
A quick Holy Breath in the first image below.
Prem Rawat (Maharaji) sits on stage dressed as Krishna so he can be adored by the 3,000 excited premies.
Later, when this becomes passé, he will dance on stage.
Darshan scenes from Keep On Truckin, 1975
Darshan in Essen appears to have been just walking past Rawat rather than bowing and kissing his feet. I recall reading somewhere that he called them back for a real darshan line.
Darshan scenes from The Family of Love, 1975
At this time the Indian Mahatmas had not yet repudiated Guru Maharaj Ji (Prem Rawat) as his mother and elder brothers were still hoping he would end his playboy lifestyle of alcohol abuse, dope smoking, meat eating and inappropriate craving for sex (inappropriate for a Satguru that is) and return to the spiritual path. When this did not happen he was disowned by his Mother and all but a handful of the Mahatmas returned to India to devote their lives to Rawat's eldest brother, Satpal Maharaj MP.
Video: In this film of the darshan line (below), we see the young Rawat giving "Holy Breath" to those people "receiving darshan" for the first time. They cup their right hands behind their ear to show this is the first time they have pranamed and kissed his feet and to be accepted as his devotee. The crowd of mahatmas and inner circle premies around Rawat provide extra emotional intensity and group reinforcement and bonding to the premies in the darshan line who may only see their guru and Perfect Master once or a few times a year or there may be years between these events.
Rawat went to India in 1975 to try to get control of his father's Indian organisation, wealth and followers through the courts.
He failed on all counts, suffered some personal danger - or at least thought he did - and on his return to the USA ordered his followers to lie about the events and produce upbeat reporting in the DLM publications (such as this).
Darshan scenes from The Power of Love, Australia 1974
In October 1974 very few Australian premies had seen Rawat in person. "Mahatma" Padarthanand had been the driving force behind attracting new followers in Australia. So in the darshan line Rawat had to constantly give "Holy Breath." Here we see details of his technique in stop motion images. A series of photos of this magical interaction between the Master and his students with indepth expert commentary is available here.
From another angle more details of this incredible process are revealed. The Master recognises the call of the devotee for "Holy Breath." Does the position of the tongue matter? Only one being can know. He prepares the Holy Breath trumpet shape of his right hand perfectly pointing at the perfect place and then speeds His Grace on the way with an elegant follow through.
Marolyn Rawat's role was important. In 1974 Rawat had designated her as Durga Mata Ji, the surrogate mother to premies replacing Rawat's real mother, Mata Ji who had become disillusioned with her youngest son's decadent lifestyle and deposed him. Marolyn was also considered the perfect devotee and was much more attractive than Rawat himself. She sat below but at his side so the premies' feelings could be inspired and reinforced by her example. She was obviously sincere in her worship of Rawat.
And now abideth Satsang, Service, Meditation and Darshan but the greatest of these is Darshan. Darshan never faileth: but where there be Satsangs, they shall fail; where there be Service Area Management positions, they shall cease; where there be Knowledge, it shall vanish away." - Corinthians 13
Most of these people have probably ceased following Rawat sometime over the last 35 years. Certainly the elderly gentleman below who was a Sydney satsang regular in the 1970's is unlikely to be alive.
There was a lot of work involved in a darshan line. The ushers whose role it was to look devoted and keep the line flowing and pull premies up off Rawat's feet quickly with a minimum of fuss - a bespectacled Vic Marsh ushers. John Perry's head can often be seen bobbing about behind Durga Ji as he collects the donations.
Darshan scenes from TVTV Lord of the Universe documentary 1973
Guru Maharaj Ji is offering something more than they can offer and this is the love that never stops, that never ceases.
Blue Aquarius Song: Rock Me Maharaji
I was just a little child
Maya made my mind run wild
Then Guru Maharaj Ji smiled
And night time turned to day
I will give you peace he said
So at his feet I laid my head
So rock me Maharaji and roll me tonight
Rock me Maharaji and say it's all right
It's all right
Reporter: Some of the customs seem strange to us like darshan and people kissing Mata Ji's feet and we're wondering what it's like to have your feet kissed and what you think about during that?
Darshan in the Divine Light Mission (Shri Hans Productions) Who Is Guru Maharaj Ji? film of 1973
In late 2009 a former community audio/visual co-ordinator for Divine Light Mission was cleaning out his attic and contacted the Ex-Premie Forum to see if anyone might want the boxes of tapes, magazines and some 35mm films that he hadn't destroyed when ordered to in the early 1980's. The film quality had deteriorated during the 30 years but the films were professionally converted to DVDs.
The film has a 4 ½ minute section showing the darshan line at the Guru Puja (Guru Worship) Festival in England in 1973. Even in those days this was not done in London but in the country. It is the emotional highlight of the film and one of the most popular Divine Light Mission songs, At The Feet Of The Master, based on a poem by another former boy who was declared to be the return of Jesus Christ, Jiddu Krishnamurti.
The young Australian man in the middle of the middle picture is now an old Australian man who has long ago given up on Rawat and his "Knowledge."
The darshan line is stressful. In the above right hand picture we see the young man in the brown coat bending over to make his donation. He has longish hair and has not had Holy Breath so this is his first time in the darshan line and he has to both pranam, kiss Rawat's feet and ask for Holy Breath by cupping his right hand behind his ear. Should this be before he bows and kisses the Lotus Feet of the Master, during or after or both, will he need both hands to steady his bow and hold himself while he kisses his feet, what if he stumbles and falls on the holy Lotus Feet and there are ushers, true devotees, pushing and pulling him as well. It might well take a miracle for him to become a true believer after all that.
It's go go go around the Feet of the Master. On Rawat's left Mahatma Param Saphlanand and his henchpremies feverishly separate the three tons of fruit and veges being offered to the Lord Of the Universe that will be given back to the devotees as prasad from the valuable donations (especially money) that will go to Rawat Himself. Meanwhile on the right, Bob Mishler, President of Divine Light Mission and future Apostate Extraordinaire, helps out, chats with the Perfect Master and ensures everything runs smoothly.
Even the Perfect Master deserves a break and if someone doesn't get Holy Breath while Rawat chats, well it's just a lila.
And after the tension comes the release and ecstatic bliss, or something reasonably close, for some and serious tears for others.
Waiting the word of the Master
Watching the Hidden Light
Listening to catch His Orders
In the very midst of the fight
I'm listening to catch His Orders
In the very midst of the fight
Seeing His slightest signal
Across the head of the throng
Hearing His faintest whisper
Above earth's loudest song.
I'm hearing His faintest whisper
Above earth's loudest song.
At the Feet of the master
Well you can really let it go
Let it flow
Cause we're all love
We're all love
We're all love, love, love
By His grace
Here is a video clip of a darshan line in Montrose, Colorado in July, 1972 from the film "Mysterious Miracles".
Bihari Singh collects the donations as the premies come to pranam to Maharaji.
Premies pranam to Maharaji's chair from Satguru Has Come, 1972
Darshan scenes from the DLM 1971 movie "Lord of the Universe."
On his 14th birthday the young Rawat is crowned with the regalia of Krishna and Arti is sung by Western and Indian premies
Raja Rawat cannot swing an arti tray and sing at the same time
We wish you the Happiest Birthday: Oh Lord we are not here to wish that we may be happy but that you may be; And we know that your happiness is that we remember you constantly. Forgive me.
The movie ends on an upbeat note with a fancy dress party, a darshan line, hippie dancing (as bad as it gets) and a slomo stroll in the woods, with the young Lord of the Universe followed by some worshipping premies all to the strident and inappropriate accompaniment of 'Bolero' by Ravel