On March 25, Maharaji visited Malaysia. Speaking to an audience of approximately 1,800 people, he gave an inspiring address ending with a brief review of Knowledge and a practice session. Connect went along to find out what it takes to put on an event like this.
It's hard to tell that Kuala Lumpur is an ancient city. It has a modern, western skyline, dominated by the two tallest towers on Earth. These shiny glass and chrome structures declare that "Malaysia means business", but prosperity, like the rain in this tropical land, comes and goes with disturbing drama. Right now, there's an economic recession. Every street corner contains an abandoned building site and an empty crane.
Happily, growth of another kind continues uninterrupted. Maharaji first visited the region in 1981, addressing an audience of about 1,500 people. This year, he spoke to 1,800.
This doesn't sound like a vast expansion until you realise that in 1981, most of the audience were just 'interested'. They had come to listen but not necessarily to take up his offer of a joyous, inner discovery.
This year, every seat contained someone who had already received the techniques of Knowledge. On the second day of the event, when Maharaji spoke to a wider audience, a further 500 people turned up. Even these were not newcomers. They were people who had seen his videos many times and were ready to take their enthusiasm a stage further.
Due to complications elsewhere in the international tour schedule, the program in Malaysia had to be pulled together with little more than two weeks' notice. Fortunately, the venue was available and so, too, were a pool of people willing to drop everything to make the event a success. One of these was Wendy Yap, an accounts clerk who received Knowledge in 1978. She explained: "We take leave from work to do this, which isn't always easy to arrange, but we really enjoy doing it. We just can't wait for the chance."
In this part of the world, it is relatively easy to let people know that an event is about to take place. Most people attend regular video events. In Kuala Lumpur, videos can be seen every night and in up to 80 towns or villages across the land, they are shown on a weekly or twice weekly basis. These local events are organised by ordinary people who simply wish to make an active contribution to
After the event on the second day, we invited some of the audience to pose, just outside the hall, for this photograph. They delighted in the chance to send a smile around the world.
26 Connect 1998
From small beginnings…
Today, there are over 2,000 people with Knowledge in Malaysia but it was once a different story. In 1973, a teenager called G. M. Subramaniam, known to his friends as "Subra", won a coveted place on a youth study program. Part of the course involved a visit to Tokyo and, while there, he attended a talk on Knowledge. This inspired him so much that he scraped together a fare to Houston, Texas, where he received Knowledge."I felt I should return to Malaysia and let local people know about Knowledge, so eventually I wound a convoluted passage around the globe home to Telok Anson.
"Maharaji came to visit the first time in 1981 and, apart from one year when his schedule would not allow it, he has been back at least once a year ever since."
Ramakrishnan Ambalam is another person who has played a large part in helping to bring Knowledge to Malaysia. A former civil servant who received Knowledge in 1981, he now helps to organise local and national events. He points out that it is not just in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur that videos are being shown. "Seventy people with Knowledge live in the city of Telok Intan where events take place every week. In Kuala Lumpur, events take place almost every day and up to 40 people will turn out on Friday nights when aspirant videos are shown."
Meanwhile, Subra, who now runs an oil distribution agency, has a dream: "I hope to help take videos of Maharaji to nearby countries like Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam. I feel sure there must be many people there who would love to hear about Knowledge."
Maharaji's work - as, too, are the larger events when they occur.
Larger events take a lot of planning. Everything from the choice of venue to the layout of the seating must be carefully considered. Will people be able to get there ? Can the hall be made to seem welcoming and inviting? Is there room for a proper reception area? Might it be too big, too small, too hot, too dark, or too noisy? Nobody wants an environment where concentration is distracted.
For this event, the Malaysian community had the advantage of a tried and tested venue. Invitations were sent out and more detailed preparations started. When we arrived, the day before the first event, the hall was swarming with friendly people, eager to lend a hand. One such volunteer, a hotel receptionist called Sivamalar, who received Knowledge in 1992, looked up from her task of diligently checking seat numbers against ticket numbers long enough to say: "I have done ushering before and many other things. I do whatever is needed. I am happy to do it as long as I can feel something inside."
Maharaji placed particular emphasis, in his address on the importance of participation: "I hope that this year brings a tremendous number of opportunities for people to participate. I really hope.
"A lot of people say: 'What can I do?' If that's what you think, then you missed the point. Participation is the expression of gratitude… So, come from that place. When the opportunity knocks, take it.
"We have to go forward. There's a tremendous amount that has to be done, and a tremendous amount that needs to be done.
"Now we need to go forward. We have just completed phase one. Now, there is phase two. There are so many people hungry for this gift."
After the event, we spoke to Wawa Binji Atang Hasan, an Indonesian housekeeper working in Singapore. Through a translator, she told us that she received Knowledge last year and that she participates by preparing food for people who have had to travel a long way to reach local events.
When we asked her how she enjoyed seeing Maharaji, she suddenly found the courage to speak to us directly. "I feel very nice. Very happy. I was sick and sad in my heart but now I'm better. This has made my life so much better."
1. At the event registration table, new arrivals are warmly greeted and presented with their seat allocations.
2. A special place in the foyer of the hall is set aside to greet any visitors with special medical needs. Making this ready is Josephine Gomez, a staff nurse who received Knowledge in 1976 whilst training in the UK. She now lives and works in Kuala Lumpur.
3. Tidying up the sound and lighting cables is Rajen Daran Periasamy, a freelance souvenir salesman, who has had Knowledge since 1976.
4. A spotlight on the ceiling had to be repositioned so that it would not shine on the wrong part of the hall. It was all hands on deck to ensure that this tricky task was carried out safely.
5. Helping to check that the seats are numbered correctly is Anbasaran, a scrap dealer from Kuala Lumpur, who received Knowledge in 1983.
6. The loudspeaker in this picture was placed by Kunase Karan, a factory manager from Ipoh, Malaysia. Here it is being angled for maximum clarity.
7. Laying out the hall in preparation for the event are Mutthu, Rani, Maliga, and Vasanthi, all of whom live in or around Kuala Lumpur.