For Christ's Sake: Pressing the Refresh Button on the Life of Jesus
Glenville Whittaker and Prem Rawat aka Maharaji aka Guru Maharaj Ji
I believe the 'techniques of meditation' practised by Whittaker are central both to Rawatism and the void in the book's argument. If a person was approached in the street and told that by using those methods they would achieve the wonderful experience of life that Maharaji (Prem Rawat or Guru Maharaj Ji) promises they would think Whittaker were crazy or stupid. If Whittaker told them that's what Jesus did but in 2,000 years no-one else has known it they'd call for the straight-jacket. Forty years ago Whittaker and Maharaji asserted that Maharaji had the authority to provide the Grace to power this extraordinary change in a life because he was the current incarnation or manifestation of God on the planet and he had "sort of inherited" it from his father, who was the prior Satguru, after his father's death and that this inheritance was a miraculous and divine event. Now that argument had a certain logic even if a person considered it specious or even impious.
Circa 1983 this conceptual basis was jettisoned and not really replaced. Maharaji straddles the line sometimes making references to divinity and God the Creator and other times sounding wholly 'secular.' In the book Whittaker has come down completely on non-miraculous and created a totally human Jesus Christ. I'll ignore for the moment the outrageous idea that Rawat can retire from being God incarnate and continue on exactly as before with only a name change from Guru Maharaj Ji "the Honourable Revealer of Light and Ultimate Ruler" to Maharaj Ji "The Honourable Ultimate Ruler" - his translation.
Whittaker has written about the supposed initiation by Jesus to his disciples:
a practical process where Jesus shows or teaches them how to access something utterly life-changing within themselves by giving them the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Jesus were able, by some power unique to himself, to physically initiate a person so that a 'eureka' moment of inner illumination was granted,
Jesus … was able to lead his followers into an actual inner experience of this source, this inner heaven, and conclude that it was this special ability that made him so unique.
In Jesus a master had arrived on the scene with the authority to represent the divine, someone with the ability to connect people to the life-source within themselves.
Jesus was able to draw people into a direct experience of God
There's no doubt in my mind that Whittaker would apply these words to Maharaji. He mentions the possibility that during his "missing years" Jesus encountered a Master but he also attributes the Mastership to an initiation with John the Baptist. In Maharaji's case he received his Mastership from his dead father. Rawat claims Jesus taught the same Knowledge that he does.
In cultures where some kind of revelatory activity from people deemed to have an inner connection with the divine appears to have been present — and India is one of these — the skill, the understanding, the 'gift', is passed from a teacher to a student, who might then became a master himself. Possibly, during his missing years, Jesus encountered and attached himself to such a teacher, and either had the torch of 'mastership' passed on to him, or experienced during this time such a connection within himself with the source of life, God or 'the father', that he felt himself ready and able to deliver the message to his own people.
These are all astounding claims to someone who hasn't been living with them for 40 or more years and Whittaker makes it plain that there are very few people who've been able to do this and religions have formed around all of them. In all cases including Maharaji's father and Maharaji in his early career there was a divinity and miracles attributed to the Master. Even Maharaji and premies such as Ron Geaves quite late in his career spoke of the parampara. There are copies of a satsang in which Maharaji attributed a bilocation miracle to Hans and Swarup and he spoke of seeing and talking to his dead father not in a vision but in a real sense before he was empowered as Satguru. There is a WOPG video in which Swarupanand and Totapuri are included as Masters preceding Maharaji.
Even though references to the techniques of Knowledge are made earlier than 1700, this is the traceable history thus far.
But Prem Rawat (Maharaji) has many, many times given satsang that Jesus Christ, Krishna, Ram, Buddha, Mohammed, Kabir, Guru Nanak and many others were also Perfect Masters in the lineage of Perfect Masters who revealed the same Knowledge as he does. He has also given satsang about Sri Ramakrishna being a Perfect Master and he doesn't fit in at all
Whittaker is trying to straddle the fence stating there is nothing miraculous about Jesus and by implication any other Master but also that this person somehow uniquely leads an initiate into an experience of God and though Whittaker doesn't explicitly state it he makes it plain that he is writing about the 4 techniques of meditation that Maharaji teaches. So unless Whittaker can explain how these techniques and Jesus can produce this non-miraculous miracle then I consider that publicising the techniques and demanding an explanation is appropriate not gratuitous. In the case of Maharaji the situation is far more complex. At first he claimed that the techniques required a physical transmission by a Master or a Mahatma or "Great Soul" and then we discovered that these men were not really great souls at all. Some were scalliwags and some were evil and others were just normal. Then initiators and later instructors were granted the power. Some of these were also scalliwags though I haven't heard that any were evil. Then the techniques were changed in circa 1987 or at least we were told we had been taught incorrect techniques before that and yet this did not affect the transmission, in fact, the experiences were far more dramatic and revelatory in the early 1970s than later. Somehow Maharaji has the power to continue this unique transmission despite all of that and now his virtual image on a television screen is supposed to be adequate.
Whittaker writes that Jesus and by extension other unique Masters had this amazing power but it had a severe limitation:
the essence of his initiation was that to be fully effective, it required devotion to the messenger.
But Jesus' initiations, although apparently similar in form, seem to be much more than this. Not only was the experience, from the examples we are given, life changing but recognition of the teacher as an actual bridge to an inner divine is a requisite. We are reminded of Jesus' stirring declaration: "I am the way". It is not a claim made by modern day teachers of meditation.
Actually it's a claim made by an extraordinary number of teachers of meditation, gurus, Masters, etc, etc. It is a claim made by other Masters who claim descent from Maharaji's parampara and Maharaji as well though he no longer couches it in overt language.
Whittaker explicitly states that this devotion and loyalty is required before the initiation.
Take this a step further and we can see that the secret initiation itself is the bond that binds them. One would think that the opening of an inner door, if this indeed were what took place, would be the greatest of gifts. But compared to the fact of Jesus' living presence, love and companionship, it was not of great significance. It might be that its value lay, besides providing an inner experience of the divine, in the fact that it allowed them to recognize who he was — their special one, their master. It would almost be blasphemous to try and divulge the details of the initiation and the resulting experience he was able to bring about. It was something else, a personal recognition, which was at the heart of true devotion to this Jesus. And, as a corollary to this unbreakable loyalty was the promise he extracted from them at the time of initiation: "tell no one". Was he protecting himself from attacks and accusations that he was claiming divine provenance from the Jewish thought-police of the day, the Scribes and Pharisees? Or was he simply acknowledging that the initiation could only be effective if conducted by a bona fide master — himself? Without his guidance the 'baptism' didn't work: it was the personal element that brought it to life.
an inner group of totally committed members of both sexes who had given their all to Jesus and regarded him as having a direct pipeline to an inner truth — a veritable master worthy of the utmost dedication and loyalty
she would have known that the great game that had been played out was one of devotion to a living master, and now that he was gone, the game was over.
In the second half of the twentieth century, a great surge in interest amongst the Whittakernger generation in alternative paths to 'God-realization' led to various 'gurus' coming to the west, but for the most part they taught a combination of mantra meditation and the usual array of religious practices, nevertheless providing some degree of internal satisfaction amongst their followers. They have become a small, but significant, fringe activity in the field of western spirituality, alongside a return to pagan religions, and for many these pathways suffice.
This seems an accurate and concise description of DLM/EV/WOPGlobalites. It's been 45 years and I am afraid that there appears to be nothing that sets followers of Rawat apart from any other group involved in this fringe activity. There was an early burst of enthusiasm and success amongst the remnants of the counter-culture and in the late 1970's there were extreme outbursts of devotion and worship of Maharaji amongst premies but all that quietened down into another minor religious group. The early devotees are starting to die of old age and success in Africa, South America or India is dwarfed by that of religious and spiritual competitors. The only thing that sets Whittaker and his fellow devotees of Rawat apart is that their devotion is to Maharaji, not to Satpal, not to Ashotosh, not to Amma, not to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, not to Gurinder Singh or one of thousands of other self-styled Masters or cult leaders.
There is unfortunately also the concern over Whittaker's integrity when it comes to discussing Maharaji. He was prominent in the video "Passages: A Master's Journey" in which the outrageous argument was made that Maharaji, when he was Guru Maharaj Ji, made no claim to divinity or anything similar and that it was all the fault of his family and the premies who proclaimed him to be The Lord of the Universe against his wishes and that pranam, darshan, arti, charanamrit, etc weren't meant to be taken seriously and it was all a bit of a jape. The video shows Rawat in 1974 while the voice-over says "But he was becoming increasingly aware of the need to separate Knowledge from it's Indian cultural packaging. Too many things that were simply a part of Indian culture had been considered incorrectly by Westerners to be an integral part of what Maharaji was offering." Has Whittaker forgotten everything that happened in the 1970's? The only salient parts of Indian culture considered to be integral parts were those that Rawat, himself, ordered and ordained. These included agya, arti, ashram, bhajans, charanamrit, his divine dancing wearing little else but a mala, darshan, pranam, holi, holy breath, lila, his Holy Family, his Divine Incarnation, his Lotus Feet, that Jesus and Kishna and many others were Perfect Masters and that Rawat was the current Perfect Master, his father had been the prior Perfect Master. He was our Father and our Mother and the Supreme Power in Person, etc. In 1974/5 there were attempts by Bob Mishler, and maybe Whittaker for all I know, to downplay Rawat's central divine role but he soon put an end to that once the ashrams imploded and Divine Light Mission and his income nearly went down the gurgler. The Indian stuff was not stopped until 1983 when the ashrams were summarily closed. In that video Whittaker stated that he knew and Prem knew that the family didn't really think Prem was the Perfect Master but for them it was all a money-making scam and Whittaker did nothing about it when they were worshipped and venerated as the Holy family, in fact, as the chief honcho in England I'm sure Whittaker promoted them.
Newspaper references to Glen Whittaker as General Secretary, United Kingdom Divine Light Mission
- A little earthly problem for the Divine Guru
- Guru, 14, takes all Sunday Mirror, November 1972
- Prem Rawat's Second World Tour various British newspapers
- Letter to the Editor From Mr Glen Whittaker THE TIMES FRIDAY OCTOBER 12 1973
- The Times Diary: Perfect ulcer THE TIMES FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 4 1973
- CONTROVERSY OVER COLSTON HALL DATES BY EX-GURU Bristol Post, 06 June 2003