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THANK YOU FOR 25 INCREDIBLE YEARS

Prem Rawat (Maharaji) arrives at Heathrow Airport, 1971
The historic arrival: Maharaji arrives at London's Heathrow Airport
at 8.15am,17 June 1971, on board Qantas Flight Number 755.
The beginning of an amazing story

At first it was just India. Then, so briefly, Italy. Then England and within two short weeks, Germany and France. Before the summer was out, North America, Back in England in November, you filled the massive Central Hall in Westminster, the first time anyone so young had addressed a meeting there, let alone filled it to overflowing. All this before your 14th birthday.

People flocked to see you wherever you went, and not once did you falter. You touched thousand of hearts, you changed countless lives. Every year after that momentous summer of your first arrival, you did more, far more: your world tours reached farther and farther - many

Every year after that momentous summer of your first arrival, you did more, far more: your world tours reached farther and farther - many other European countries. South America, Canada, Australia and N. Zealand. Even when you were at play, you were preparing for the work ahead, becoming a proficient pilot before most people have got their first driving license.

You never failed to surprise us, to lead us to heights of inspiration. When we thought it could get no better, it always did.

'You touched thousand of hearts, you changed countless lives'

Now the world is like your garden. Working one on a newly visited patch, planting seeds you know will grow beautifully, the next you are again tending the earliest shoots. You never forget. You are everywhere. Your itinerary rivals that of any world traveller. Africa has opened its doors. Japan's inscrutability is turning into a smile of love. Mauritius. Malaysia and Taiwan are blooming. Eastern Europe is beginning to feel the warmth of your love.

For those who were there at the beginning. for all those in between, and for those who are now awaiting your gift, it has been and is the most wonderful journey - the voyage of life itself.

Sometimes it was not easy for you. But your constant dedication, your endless vitality, your unfailing sense of purpose, your inner determination to see the task through has been our greatest inspiration.

WELCOME TO LONDON

Sue Ratcliffe Beauquier

I remember endless airport corridors and finally the incredibly impressive moment of welcoming Maharaji onto western soil. A feeling of awe mixed with love: I felt so proud of him, so humbly proud.

As we emerged into the terminal along a specially arranged exit route, I was amazed to see hundreds of people with flowers and garlands and petals. Sandy Collier put a huge bouquet into his arms and he gave her such a beautiful smile and said "Thank you." We eventually arrived at the old-style Rolls-Royce rented by Milky Cole - dark green and complete with a huge dark-green liveried chauffeur. The premies had decorated it with garlands of flowers in record time. Charnanand told me to get in. So we drove into London.

I was overwhelmed by the enormity of the situation and I felt like a tiny creature who shouldn't really be there. There was just nothing appropriate to say, "Welcome Maharaji, welcome," and "Thank you for being here, Maharaji." Charnanand just sat and grinned.

At the first, hastily rented residence, 5 Lincoln Street in Chelsea, Maharaji rushed up the stairs and seemed really pleased with his room and the neon rainbow and the intercom system. One day we put a little bucket of water on top of his door, to spill over him as he entered no room. He stopped and said "After you." I got soaked. He said, "You can never surprise Maharaji - except by your love!' He would often come downstairs and sit talking to us for hours in the big armchair, with us all sitting around him, at his feet. And always just teaching and teaching. The first time he wanted to go out, he said "Where's the Rolls-Royce?" A bit embarrassed, Glen Whittaker said "We only rented it for a few hours, Maharaji." So he was chauffeured by Carol Watters in an old Ford Cortina, then later by Mike Finch in an Exeter University minibus. There was so little money.

On Saturday, 19 June, Maharaji gave his first public programme at Conway Hall in Holborn (we hadn't even thought that an afternoon programme plus jetlag might not be ideal conditions for him.) He had already announced that he was going to America "and all those places, to bestow Knowledge." His mother didn't seem to know about this: she was already phoning to make sure we had confirmed his return flight to India.

A team of noisy TV reporters invaded the house, making heavy jokes about "the boy guru" and having to leave their shoes outside his bedroom door. They absolutely wanted to film him as a "normal 11-year-old' and at the same present him as a phenomenon. So after some discussion he put on headphones to listen to a tape while looking at a big book about astronomy.

Then they asked him silly questions. "Do you like football and cricket?" They started out with an attitude of cynical derision, but gradually their attitude changed - so naturally that I don't think they were even aware of it. They ended up sitting on the floor around Maharaji, listening respectfully to him speak about Knowledge.

Maharaji gave a lot of programmes in June, and people came to the house for information and Knowledge sessions in the basement. There was to be a big pop festival in Glastonbury at the time of the Summer Solstice, and lots of predictions had been made about what would happen. Premies were there, preparing and hoping Maharaji would come. Maybe he knew he would go, but in the residence all day he kept saying, "Yes, I'll go. No I won't." And finally he left at the last minute to drive fast to Glastonbury, arriving in a muddy field amid loud rock music and wet, bedraggled people. However, he gave a beautiful introduction to Knowledge then drove late in the night back to London leaving the next day for Germany where preparations for a programme were under way.

He gave programmes in Indian temples, church halls and other places in London. We kept getting phone calls from India, people were pleading for him to return for a festival which was probably important for hundreds of thousands of Indians.

But Maharaji stayed. He did aprogramme on 5 July in Leicester for the Indian premies. I had been asking him to do a programme for the British premies saying, "If you don't teach us, who can?" Everyone really wanted that programme, we felt so little compared with the huge, intense Indian pull for Maharaji.

He went out and a little later I received a phone call from someone with a very thick Indian accent asking if "Bal Yogi Ji" (the Indian name for Maharaji) would be doing a programme in London. Very crossly I said, "I don't know, he won't tell us." Peals of laughter came down the phone, and the voice said, "Yes, I will be doing an event in London."

Divine Light Mission Meeting, Alexandra Palace, Summer 1973



FIRST IMPRESSIONS - LONDON: THE EARLY YEARS - GLASTONBURY - INTO THE AIR - FIRST US ARRIVAL