The Tokyo ashram. 1.00am. Sunday, March 9. The telephone rings. The call is from the United States.
Mahatma Rajeshwar is called to the phone. An American voice says Guru Maharaj Ji wants to "notify the world" that Durga Ji is in labour.
Five thousand miles away in Los Angeles, California, where it is 9.00 in the morning, a quiet household has gahered around Durga Ji and Guru Maharaj Ji, to wait for the birth of their first child. The Japanese premies are asked to join them in meditation and - in Guru Maharaj Ji's words - "be in a place of consciousness where they can participate in the birth."
The Tokyo premie community is called; soon the ashram is full. They will meditate together through the night until the next call comes.
In South Africa Bobby from England is the only premie home when the call comes. It is early evening. Within a few minutes the entire Indian and European communities are notified of the coming birth, and soon premies are crowding together into the ashram to sit in meditation.
Twenty-four ashrams and 111 centres around the United States are called. Premies, just rousing themselves from leisurely Sunday morning meditation, are told to forget about everything and get back into meditation for the rest of the day. In Europe, a similar "phone tree" system has been worked out. France is told to call Belgium. Germany contacts Greece, Rumania, Yugoslavia contacted Austria. England informs Ireland; Scotland; Spain takes care of Portugal; and Denmark calls the Scandinavian countries. Each capital phones the other ashrams in that country, and each ashram notifies the surrounding premie community. In every household in every country, no matter what language, the message is the same: meditate until further notice.
Sleepy John Chan, former head of Shri Hans Photography in Denver, answers the call in Hong Kong.
Within minutes of each other, Australia, India and Canada are called, ??? Francisco Arce in Peru is instructed to relay the message to all the other South and Central American countries.
Two hours after the first call from Los Angeles to Denver, the world knows: message has travelled to the tiniest parts of the worldwide DLM phone tree: in ashrams, premie centres and private homes in forty-two countries around the world, premies are sitting together in meditation.
A couple of weeks earlier, Guru Maharaj had requested that either Dr. Ron Meiers or Dr. Ed Hanzelik of the premie health clinic in Denver - it didn't matter which one - should assist with the birth. Neither of them could decide who would go, so they waited - until 6.30 on Sunday morning, when Dr. Ron answered the phone and learned that Durga Ji was in labour. He called Dr. Ed. They crammed clothes into their respective suitcases, rushed to the airport along with Ellen Saxl - a mid-wife's assistant requested by Guru Maharaj Ji - and bought two tickets for Los Angeles. The three of them hurried to the gate. Still they hadn't decided who should go: Dr. Ron or Dr. Ed. At the last possible moment, when all the other passengers had already boarded, flipped a coin. Dr. Ron won. "It's strange," Dr. Ron remembers, "because I didn't think I would go, and suddenly I won the toss. It was very exciting for me - really unexpected. They called my employer and said I wouldn't be in, and by 10.30 we were at the residence in Malibu."
In Malibu, California, just north of Los Angeles, a giant range of green mountains rises right up from the sea. On top of one of those mountains is Guru Maharaj Ji's home.
Inside the house, meditation deepens. The household gathers in the master bedroom to prepare for the birth. Raja Ji and Claudia are there, Mahabir, and several premies currently serving Guru Maharaj Ji and Durga Ji.
Judy Osborne, a registered nurse from London and a highly experienced midwife, has flown in from London, England, a couple of weeks earlier. She is in charge, assisted by Guru Maharaj Ji and Ellen Saxl. Dr. Ron stands by in case complications should arise.
Guru Maharaj Ji and Durga Ji have been practising the Bradley method of natural childbirth, which allows the husband to participate in the delivery, by instructing and calming his wife. As the Rocky Mountain News of Denver put it the next day, Maharaj Ji stood "coaching her breathing".
Just about the time the baby comes, Durga Ji's parents arrive at the residence, very happy. They wait for news in a guest room with several premies. The morning was rainy, but now the sun has broken through the clouds, and a soft breeze blows in from the sea.
Durga Ji is awake and aware, with no sedation. The lights are dim, so they won't burn the baby's eyes.
At 12.47 pm, Los Angeles time, the baby is born. It's a girl. Guru Maharaj Ji watches her take her first breath.
After the baby is breathing steadily, she is placed in a basin of warm water, the element she was accustomed to in the womb. Her introduction to the world of external sight and sound, of air and space is made gently and gradually, according to the LeBoyer technique of post-natal care.
The baby is brown-eyed and brown-haired, and looks very much like Guru Maharaj Ji. She weighs eight pounds and eight ounces. (3.9 kilograms)
A few minutes later, she is named Premlata (accent on the second syllable, rhymes with "sonata"). Her name means "Vine of Love," or branch of love, or part of love, or extension of love.
Dawn is about to break in Tokyo. Another phone call comes from the United States, this time announcing that the child has come. In a moment the quiet atmosphere has exploded with cheering. The Japanese premies send their pranams to Guru Maharaj Ji and their "Jai Satchitanands!" to the American premies.
Again the phone tree springs to life. This time even the places which take hours to reach by phone - like Ceylon and several African countries - are informed. In all, 60 countries are telephoned or telexed. Ole Grunbaum in Copenhagen drops the phone and runs through the ashram shouting the news. A few moments later a chorus of "Bhole Shri's" burst out, and then Ole is on the phone again saying that he got so excited he had to tell everybody right away. In South Africa Bhoolabhai calls out "girl", and "girl, girl, girl, girl, girl," echoes about the room. Lyle Groome from England calls Denver from London moments before Mike Donner was going to dial him, saying he just had to call because he was sure the child had come. All over the world, premies are dropping the phone and shouting and calling out "Bhole Shri". When the first wave of excitement passes, many gather before their altars to sing Arti to Guru Maharaj Ji.
Shortly after the birth, Durga Ji is up and around. She and Premlata are both in excellent health. They pose with Guru Maharaj Ji for pictures.
Guru Maharaj Ji is asked the significance of the birth. "The significance of the birth," he replies, "is that she's here and she's alive … another person. She'll be able to help me with my work."