Religious Requirements and Practices By U. S. Department of the Army
Elan Vital (Divine Light Mission)
P. O. Box 532
Denver. Colorado 80201
Public Information Department
HISTORICAL ROOTS: Divine Light Mission was first founded in India in 1960 by Shri Hans Ji Maharaj. Following his death, Shri Hans Ji appointed the youngest of his four sons, Sant Ji, as the next Perfect Master and thereby he assumed head of Divine Light Mission as decreed by his father. Since that time, Guru Maharaj Ji has inspired a worldwide movement and the Mission is active In approximately 55 countries.
CURRENT WORLD LEADER: Spiritual Master of the Divine Light Mission is Guru Maharaj Ji.
ORIGINS IN THE U.S.: On November 8, 1970, Maharaj Ji proclaimed his Mission to the western part of the world, and early the following year he departed India for a tour that brought him to the United states. Divine Light Mission was formally established in the United States in 1971 as a religious organization and later was recognized as a church by the United States Government in 1974.
NUMBER OF ADHERENTS IN THE U.S.: 50,000 involved; 10,000 to 12,000 very active.
ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE: The Spiritual Head of the International movement Is Guru Maharaj Ji. The U.S. Mission, which is incorporated and headquartered in the State of Colorado, is managed by a Board of Directors which supervises the activities of its twenty-three branches located throughout the U.S.
LEADERSHIP AND ROLE OF MINISTERS: The Ministers of Divine Light Mission
(often called Initiators or Mahatmas) are spiritual heads of Divine Light Mission Communities throughout the world. A large number of the
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LEADERSHIP (continued): Ministers are missionaries who travel continuously around the world. All of the Ministers conduct their church duties, which, being consistent with the spiritual teachings of Guru Maharaj Ji, include the initiation of interested persons into the experience, the teaching of meditation as a means of self-realization and the giving of spiritual discourses.
WHO MAY CONDUCT SERVICES?: Spiritual discourses or services (hereafter called satsang), meditation and service are the fundamental activities of the church. Ministers are the only members authorized to teach meditation. However, any Community Coordinator formally appointed by Divine Light Mission in any given city or township is authorized to conduct formal satsang programs nightly. In extreme situations where there is no formal community, two or more members are encouraged to hold nightly discourse, as this activity is a prerequisite of the church. Any member of Divine Light Mission while serving in the Armed Forces may receive special permission from National Headquarters or the nearest Community Coordinator to conduct and coordinate the services required by the church on Military Installation.
IS GROUP WORSHIP REQUIRED? Daily meditation and nightly satsang are required activities for each member.
WORSHIP REQUIREMENTS: Each member is required to meditate formally twice daily and to attend spiritual discourses (satsang) nightly.
MIUIMUM EQUIPMENT FOR WORSHIP: Though not required, many meditators use a blanket to cover themselves while meditating, to shut out disturbances
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MINIMUM EQUIPMENT (continued): and to conceal secret meditation techniques. They might also use a baragon, a "T" shaped tool to aid in technique.
FACILITIES FOR WORSHIP: Each of the branches maintains a center for this purpose and frequently services are held within members' homes. A private quiet room is necessary for meditation.
OTHER SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS FOR WORSHIP: Each member is encouraged to do Service, which means to perform activities from an experience of devotion and meditation for Divine Light Mission, such as tithing 10 percent of his or her income.
DIETARY LAWS OR RESTRICTIONS: Most members are encouraged to be vegetarians, but this is a personal choice. If a member is in the Monastic Order or a Minister, then he or she must refrain from eating meat, fish or eggs.
SPECIAL RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS: There are three special religious holidays which are observed by all members of Divine Light Mission and last for one full week or seven days duration. All members must attend these holidays if it is at all possible. They are of great significance in an individual's spiritual growth and for an active member they are mandatory. These are in March (Holi Festival), in July (Guru Puja), and in November (Hans Jayanti). There are some unscheduled programs from time to time that are decided upon by Guru Maharaj Ji and members are expected to attend. Members of Divine Light Mission also partake in the religious programs of their families' faith at their own discretion.
FUNERAL AND BURIAL REQUIREMENTS: None.
AUTOPSY: No restrictions.
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Position on Service, Basic Beliefs, Literature, Ethics, Recruiting
MEDICAL TREATMENT: No restrictions.
UNIFORM APPEARANCE REQUIREMENTS: None.
POSITION ON SERVICE IN THE ARMED FORCES: A matter of individual preference.
IS A PRIEST OR CLERGY PERSON REQUIRED AT TIME OF DEATH? No.
ANY OTHER PRACTICES OR TEACHINGS WHICH MAY CONFLICT WITH MILITARY DIRECTIVES OR PRACTICES: None.
BASIC TEACHINGS OR BELIEFS: Divine Light Mission was organized to facilitate the teachings of Guru Maharaj Ji. Guru Maharaj Ji reveals Knowledge, which itself cannot be adequately described in words but which can be experienced deeply through satsang, service and meditation, the fundamental practices of this worship.
CREEDAL STATEMENTS AND/OR AUTHORITATIVE LITERATURE: The teachings of Guru Maharaj Ji given in satsang programs have special authority and meaning to all members and are circulated and read throughout the membership. The two periodicals Elan Vital and Divine Times and films and tapes are the major organs for publishing His teachings.
ETHICAL PRACTICES: There are no ethical practices in terms of rules and norms. Members believe that involvement in satsang, service and meditation is a living code which dispells inner conflict and leaves the individual at peace.
HOW DOES DIVINE LIGHT MISSION RECRUIT MEMBERS? The Mission holds introductory programs but most persons come to the Mission through their acquaintances with other members.
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RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHER RELIGIONS: There is no conflict between the Divine Light Mission and other faiths. The teachings of Guru Maharaj Ji involve the member in an experience, not a belief, according to the Mission.