Élan Vital and Prem Rawat
In a short period in September/October 1982* Prem Rawat made sudden and drastic changes to his organisations and in the lives of his loyal premies who believed and had publicly promoted Him as God Incarnate, the Lord of the Universe. He knew he had been an object of public ridicule and contempt and the media was a sleeping tiger (or lion) ever-ready to despise him. He had tried to keep them away from him since the Millenium '73 festival press-conference nd had deliberately sought to prevent any publicity while his premies led a frantic life of nightly meetings and constnt travelling to worship him at festivals. We can understand his motives by examining these changes.
- Prem Rawat Disbanded The Divine Light Mission Ashrams
- Prem Rawat Changed the Name and Title by Which He Had Been Known
- Prem Rawat Changed the Name of His Organisation from Divine Light Mission to Elan Vital
- Prem Rawat Closed the Nightly Satsang Meetings That His Premies Had Been Commanded To Attend
- Prem Rawat Ordered His Premies To Stop Telling Anyone About Him
- Prem Rawat No Longer Presented Himself As A Guru Bringing Peace to the World
- Guru Maharaj Ji became Prem Rawat "humanitarian giver of a practical way to peace"
As Prem Rawat grew to adulthood he looked to fashion an image for himself that was more to his liking. He knew he had been an object of public ridicule and contempt and the media was a snake ever-ready to despise him. Although it did not become obvious for some years he desperately wanted respect from society and not just adoration from his devotees who in many ways were the cause of the ridicule. The reputation attached to Divine Light Mission became an encumbrance for Rawat and he sought the creation of an organisation that could deliver him as a differently 'branded' product. After nearly a decade trying to hide from the media he and his close associates decided to change his image. Spiritual teacher Guru Maharaj Ji became Maharaji "humanitarian giver of a practical way to peace", this image served Rawat from the late 1970s through to the early 1990s when the "inspirational speaker" label was subtly introduced.
Prem Rawat Disbands The Divine Light Mission Ashrams
Although it exists to this day in India as part of the Raj Vidya Kender organisation, at Maharaji's (Prem Rawat's) instruction the Divine Light Mission ashram structure in western countries was dissolved during 1982 and 1983. According to former DLM administrators, Maharaji was becoming concerned about the financial liabilities that loomed as ashram residents aged, became unemployed, and required increasing medical and dental care.
The closures caused considerable dislocation to many ashram premies, who had abandoned university, employment training and families to serve Prem Rawat. In one address, Maharaji complained angrily of learning that a US ashram had handed each of its former residents US$ 100, with which to start new lives. A few ashram residents got subsistence wage jobs as Rawat's personal servants - valets, cleaners, gardeners and the like. A few others were kept on as administrators, or as instructors (formerly 'initiators' formerly 'mahatmas'). But most began new lives in 'the world' - something which few were psychologically or practically prepared.
Prem Rawat Updates His Public Persona and Changes His Vocabulary
During the 1980s, Maharaji effected other transitions. The term mahatma had already been largely replaced with the term 'initiator' - referring to the task of 'initiating' new followers into the meditational practice that Maharaji calls 'Knowledge' in a ritualised Knowledge Session. All the 'mahatmas' had been Indian nationals except one British national, Mahatma Param Saphlanand but except for a handful these left Rawat and returned to the more familiar environment of the Indian ashrams, now controlled by the replacement Perfect Master, Satpal Maharaj. Rawat appointed increasing numbers of Americans and Europeans as initiators. The title 'initiator' was then dropped in favour of 'instructor'.
The closing of the ashrams and the other changes Rawat had made had halved the number of Westerners involved in Rawat's knowledge. Without enough funds to maintain full time initiators and with no ashrams to use as their bases Rawat decided he must heve been completely mistaken when he proclaimed that to be an initiator was a full-time job and it could not be done by part-timers. In 1986 he began a series of part-time instructors training conference in San Antonio, Texas in 1986. These conferences, like all of Rawat's meetings, were mainly Rawat talking and everyone listening. Hundreds of instructors were soon appointed and were on hand for the Rejoice events that began in 1987 and continued up to 1993 in which Rawat taught an altered form of the meditation techniques and tried to restart his following. While these were relatively successful he has never been able to restore his pre-1983 number of followers.
The 1985 In View Calendar Of Events mentions only 2 people who would qualify as initiators/instructors.
1986 was a year in which Maharaji worked closely with instructors. Four times he participated in training conferences - in Texas, Florida, Los Angeles, and England. By all accounts, the trainings went exceedingly well, increasing both the quantity and quality of instructors. To date, there are approximately 320 instructors worldwide. Most are now "part-timers," offering their services as volunteers. - In View 1987 Spring
The Spring 1987 In View Instructors page gives names 110 of North American instructors. By the beginning of 1988 there were 103 North American instructors. By the beginning of 1989 there were 10 North American instructors, Rawat having fired the rest.
Rejoice 87: Prem Rawat Gathers His True Believers & Changes "His" Meditation Techniques
The rationale given for the Rejoice 87 series of premie "knowledge reviews" was given as:
The idea for the Rejoice '87 series stemmed from Maharaji's realization that many people were practicing the techniques incorrectly. Some were deviating from the way they were originally instructed, while others were confusing Knowledge With cultural habits learned from early instructors.
6,100 people attended the North American Rejoice '87 programs. However there were still 12,857 people on the Elan Vital mailing list. Only those people who attended one of these events could be considered committed members. Rejoice '87 was the most important Divine Light Mission / Elan Vital event of the 1980's since the major shakeup of 1982. Knowledge reviews have been a regular feature for Rawat's students which is strange considering the techniques are so simple* they can be taught to anyone in less than 5 minutes. Only half of the people on the mailing list bothered to come to meetings in which relatively small groups would have "the techniques of Knowledge clarified and reviewed directly by Maharaji."
9,000 people who came from 40 countries for the 1989 "Festival of Knowledge" - Guru Puja dates - a three-day convention in summer in Miami, 7,200 from North America and 1,800 from other countries. It was the first international festival to he held outside of India in the past 10 years.
Number of Financial Supporters 1990
At the beginning of 1990 there were 3,600 people registered in the North American Sponsorship Program of whom 2350 were honouring their promises.
HOW TO TALK ABOUT KNOWLEDGE
We're here to talk about something very exciting and important: how to be able to talk about Knowledge to other people. We enjoy the experience we have, and it's only natural that we want to communicate it to people interested in what's happening to us. Basically, the instructors are trained to handle the situation. If you turn the ball over to them, it works a lot better. I know you want to talk about it. I don't blame you. But there is a right way to do it, an almost-right way to do it, and there's the wrong way to do it. Now there can be a happy culmination of both by merely having an instructor's phone number on a card that you can give to an interested person. North American Convention, Miami, Florida, July 5 1986 There's a lot of people out there waiting for Knowledge. In fact, the demand for Knowledge has never been as great as it is now. Never. And what's so beautiful is that people are not looking for a religion or a cult. They're looking for something simple and pure. You don't have to go out there and tell people about Knowledge. I know a lot of you think I'm taking something away from you, but I'm not
Birmingham, England, August 17 1986
Beginning of 1988
In February 1987, there were 281 regular contributors to the National Sponsorship Program. By November 1st, 1,833 people were participating. The ongoing financial support for Maharaji's work, is now in its second year. To date, over 1,800 contributors have pledged their support and are sending regular monthly contributions. In 1985, for example, there were only 16 instructors in North America, the United Kingdom, and Europe. Beginning of 1988 there are over 400 worldwide.
between 1984 and 2006
2 Lear jets, a Challenger, a Hawker-Siddley, a Citation, 2 Gulfstreams - p255 Cagan Starting in 1984, a Lear 35-one of the world's finest business jets-was leased to facilitate Maharaji's world tour. Despite its fine performance, this plane proved not to be the ideal aircraft for international travel.
Elan Vital continued the task of raising $1.5 million and borrowing another $2.5 million to meet projected aircraft costs ($3.6 million) and necessary aircraft modifications ($400,000).
In December 1986, at an International Organizers Conference, representatives from 49 countries made pledges towards the initial down payment and the ongoing operating costs of the aircraft. At the same time, a $2.5 million loan was pursued, and with the help of substantial private collateral, the loan was soon secured. When the Lear 55 became available at the end of January 1987, a down payment was made. On March 6, after a second test flight, Maharaji took delivery of the aircraft on behalf of Elan Vital. What are the future implications of the Lear 55 purchase? To begin with, there will be fixed monthly commitments. Operatng the new aircraft will cost about $1.85 million per year (including payments on the loan, insurance, fuel, handling, and hiring a co-pilot and mechanic-just to name a few). The Lear 55 will cost about 25 percent more to operate than the Lear 35 -a commitment that is definitely possible to meet, given the ongoing participation of the thousands of people worldwide who pledged their financial commitment during last year's aviation fundraising drive. - inview/1987autumn/planetalk.html
Reasons a part from Rawat's bungles - use quotes
It is paramount that we start understanding what a gift we have been given and how important it is to practice it deliberately rather than haphazardly. - file:///C:/resources/bio/dlm_pubs/inview/1987autumn/unjoy.html Excerpts from Maharaji's presentation at one of the six Rejoice '87 gatherings, Snowmass, Colorado, July 6, 1987
For Festival of Knowledge guest Alan Aaronson, formerly of Manchester, England, and now living in Miami, the Festival was the first program he had attended in years. "I didn't know how dry and far away I was. I was deeply touched. I know this sounds like a cliche, but it's like everything was being directed just for me. And to see many shiny faces from back in Europe and other countries was like seeing old friends again."
On Sunday evening, as the Festival drew to a close, Maharaji spoke specifically to people who say they are having difficulty practicing Knowledge.
"It's a struggle that's not even needed. Just remember," Maharaji said, "how good you feel after you've done it. Practice this Knowledge for yourself. Don't do it for me, don't do it for your wife, for your husband or for anyone else. Enjoy it. Run with it." IV 1989
People say to me, "Well, Maharaji, it's so difficult to practice." Just remember how good you feel after you've done it. If somehow you can remind yourself before you do it - how good it actually feels afterwards- it's a lot easier.
EXCERPTS FROM MAHARAJI'S PRESENTATIONS AT A FESTIVAL OF KNOWLEDGE, MIAMI, FLORIDA, JULY 7, 8, 9
Reflections on the Festival
"The program was a new beginning, the launch of a journey."
"I've been going through a difficult time and almost didn't come to this program."
"My practice of Knowledge had subsided to almost nothing since I attended one of the Rejoice programs last year. I had been abusing the gift. I was like a car running on one cylinder. That lonesome feeling within me drastically changed at this program. Twice I was reduced to tears unexpectedly. My heart. which had become so hardened from not practicing Knowledge, was cracked open by Maharaji's inexplicable and oh so profound love and presence."
ÉUS Elan Vital through the 1980s
ÉUK Elan Vital through the 1980s
ÉHow To Speak About the Knowledge (1998)
1. Passages, DT25th year, etc
2. All of Geaves papers, etc
3. "One of the things you have to appreciate is that the challenges I have to meet nobody else has had to meet. I am in totally unexplored territory. The frontier. The final frontier, so to say. I'm taking this Knowledge and making it available. I'm taking it to the Muslims, to the Hindus, to the Christians, to the Jews, to all human beings. I'm breaking the barriers that people think we can't get across. And everyone can be a part of it. Everyone." Prem Rawat's Speech, Birmingham, England, August 17 1986, IN VIEW magazine, Spring 1987
4. Passages, DT25th year, etc
5. Passages, DT25th year, etc
6. Passages, DT25th year, etc
* I can date this accurately though I have never seen any documentation referring to the date. I innocently went to satsang in Brisbane one night not knowing there were any changes occurring in Divine Light Mission. The building, which was owned by a rather unusual ashram premie was closed and locked. There was a sign on the door. I cannot remember exactly what it said but it stated there would be no satsang there that night - at least. I'd caught the train into town so I thought "Why don't I see a movie?" This was something I had very rarely done in the previous 10 years. I saw a movie titled "The Secret Policeman's Other Ball" which was released in Australia on September 23, 1982. Its unlikely that it was released in Brisbane on the same day as in Sydney but it sets the date to late September or October 1982. It was very funny. Peter Cook and Alexei Sayle were amazing.