Copyrighted 1974 by Bob Larson.
All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews. For information write Bob Larson Ministries Inc., Box 26438, Denver, Colorado, 80226.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bob Larson is one of the foremost youth evangelists and Christian authors in America today. A former rock entertainer, he has known the other side of the spotlight. Working as a disc-jockey he gained a behind the mic perspective of today's music and life-styles. Since his conversion to Christ, Bob has authored seven books that confront the truth behind contemporary events. Several major periodicals and newspapers such as Newsweek, the Miami Herald, the Milwaukee Journal, the Chicago Daily News, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Detroit News have carried feature stories on Mr. Larson's ministry. He has been much sought after for television and radio interviews on network broadcasts.
Bob has three times circled the globe conducting missionary evangelism campaigns and researching people and places of world-wide interest. He has also lectured on over two thousand secular campuses in addition to a schedule of appearances at prominent Christian colleges. Bob's mission is now extended through a one-half hour television series that provides thoughtful insights and searching disclosures to millions each week.
The main thrust of Bob's ministry is an outreach of evangelistic crusades held in America's largest cities and churches. His varied talents as a singer, composer, and
guitarist are an added attraction to these efforts. Bob understands the problems of today and convincingly relates current trends to God's Word. His is an inter-denominational ministry that has reached thousands with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This book shares his concerns over the growth of interest in eastern religions and specifically analyzes the phenomenon of Guru Maharaj Ji.
Guru Maharaj Ji is not just another Hindu mystic. One trip to his Denver headquarters convinced me of that. For three hours the head of Divine Light Mission public relations gave me a V.I.P. tour of the organizational intricacies of what he called, "our small corporation." In every room, bright, young and shining faces beamed forth a radiant devotion to Maharaj Ji. These devotees, friendly and courteous, all labor unsalaried. Divine Light Mission is their lover and mother, providing food, clothing and health care in exchange for their free services.
First stop was the computer room where the addresses and skills of all devotees are cataloged at an IBM monthly rental fee of $5,000. Next we entered the executive office area where eight secretaries work, each with devotional photographs of Guru Maharaj Ji scattered across their desks. A visit to the social services head prompted me to ask why Guru Maharaj Ji's social concern doesn't start with the starving masses of India. "Maharaj Ji knows what he is doing," was the answer. "He is sovereign in his decisions." When I countered with the bloated bodies I had seen in Calcutta, he responded with reference to the seeming waste of precious perfume when Mary anointed Jesus.
The photography department sports $20,000 worth of equipment to visually translate to the masses what the eye of Maharaj Ji's private photographer has captured. Shri Hans Graphics produces the audio-visual tools to promote Divine Light Mission. I wandered through their facilities accompanied by the smell of incense and George Harrison music. Momentarily I stopped by a devotional altar of fruit and flowers erected in front of a large picture of Guru Maharaj Ji's mother. "Isn't it a little stupid to
pay homage to a picture?" I asked. "Guru Maharaj Ji's mother doesn't even know you are honoring her." "She knows, somehow," the artist retorted, hard at work. From there we visited the architectural department where plans for Maharaj Ji's Divine City are being blue-printed. The professional architects in employ seemed unrushed and relaxed, with faith that somehow their city of divine consciousness will eventually emerge, by the grace of Maharaj Ji.
My P.R. guide was joined by a premie and the Assistant Director of Divine Light Mission for an hour interview regarding Guru Maharaj Ji. They were patient, seemingly concerned that each of my questions be thoroughly answered. Carefully and sincerely they defended the various charges against Guru Maharaj Ji.
"Is he God?" I asked point blank.
"The Hindus have a saying," one answered, "that a guru is greater than God because he shows you God."
They seemed constantly frustrated by their inability to communicate to me the essence of their faith - since I had not received the Guru's "knowledge." When I pressed for a rational explanation for devotion to Maharaj Ji, they countered with the statement, "Experience is better to relate to than an idea."
Their conversion experience of receiving Maharaj Ji's "knowledge" was something none would describe for me. Silence on this matter was attributed to a reverence for the grace of Maharaj Ji that comes with this God-encounter. I was impressed with the effect this experience had on their emotional outlook and life styles - changed people from the dopers and radicals they had once been. They were determined to help humanity and seemed impervious to any criticisms coming their way.
More pertinent questions revealed the anti-christ precepts of their faith. The Assistant Director admitted to engaging in occultic out-of-the-body experiences. None could define evil and morality was declared to be a state of consciousness, with no objective basis for right or wrong. The P.R. director, a Jew, was asked if Guru Maharaj Ji left any room for blood sacrifice. Quickly he answered, "No," adding that the more he meditated the closer he felt to Jesus. His comrade declared that he would be willing to loose his right arm for the sake of what Guru Maharaj Ji had given him.
Politely we. parted ways with the Guru's representative feeling I had only prejudiciously scratched the surface of their truth and with me knowing that such zealous dedication on their part was admirable but ultimately a blind street to hell.
Our last stop was a rarely accorded opportunity - a visit to Guru Maharaj Ji's executive office. (Maharaj Ji was not in town. A devotee informed me that the Guru was in Florida playing one of his God-games on his followers - throwing red paint all over them.) My guide requested that I remove my shoes before entering, after all, I was to be trodding upon holy ground. A large, expensive desk was centered in the room and bore a sign reading, "Sant Ji Maharaj - Supreme Executive." Among the items decorating his office were a Sony color TV, a five inch statue of Lord Shiva (a Hindu god), a futuristic water clock, three incense sticks, a plush couch, framed letters of honorary resolutions passed by various state legislatures, and a bookcase empty except for a few volumes on automobiles. "No pictures please," was an additional request in honorific deference to our auspicious surroundings.
Leaving their tranquil spirits and smiling faces behind, I
walked out of their headquarters building into the din and bustle of inner-city life. I stood on the sidewalk for a moment watching businessmen and shoppers scurry to and fro in the pursuit of materialism. Had I not found Truth in Christ, their devotion to Guru Maharaj Ji might well have enticed me at that point.
More than ever I was determined to write The Guru for the sake of my sincere friends and defenders of Guru Maharj Ji and for the benefit of any reading this book who might be tempted to follow him. By the time this book reaches your hands, Guru Maharaj Ji may have passed from the scene, but as Shakespeare said, "The evil that men do lives after them." The groundwork Maharaj Ji has laid by introducing a devotional, anti-christ mentality into western society will last. My prayer is that this book will help you understand the scheme of satan's last-day deceptions. Maranatha.
SPECIAL NOTE - Since this manuscript was completed two occurrences have affected the future of Divine Light Mission. First of all severe financial setbacks followed the Millennium festival. Mission spokesmen now insist that the difficulty has been overcome and that income is rising substantially. Secondly, Guru Maharaj Ji has married his 24year-old secretary. What influence this will have on the devotion of his followers (especially the celibate ones living in the Mission ashrams) is unpredictable. Also I would like to note that since the writing of this book we have had the privilege of winning to Christ several former devotees of Maharaj Ji.
GOD DRIVES A MERCEDES
I was out of breath and panting slightly. It's a long wall from the playing field at "ground level" of the Astrodome to the press box several stories above. For the past twc days, I had been in Houston to observe Millennium, a three day gathering of the followers of Guru Maharaj Ji, the sixteen-year-old boy from India who claims to be God Everywhere I looked there were posters and lapel button, sporting the cheerful smile of this corpulent kid who already is a veteran guru, having brought "enlightment" to million for the last seven years.
"Hi, Bob." It was Carol (fictitious name). No ordinary follower of the Guru, Carol holds the position of Secretary to the President of Divine Light Mission, the Guru's non profit organization through which his funds are channeled
I had met Carol the day before in the press box. We had casually discussed the significance of Millennium, but this time I was determined to know more about her personal feelings. "Do you ready believe he is God?" I asked.
She shot back at me that beguiling smile and hazy countenance that is typical of premies (lovers or devotees of the Guru) who are "blissed out" (their description fa being enchanted with a Perfect Master). She nodded, af- firming her faith in Guru Maharaj Ji as the Almighty.
"How can you accept the luxuriant standard by which the Guru lives?" I inquired.
"You'll remember," she said, "that Jesus was expected
to come as a king but He came as a carpenter. This time it's reversed. They expected Jesus to come as a carpenter but he's come as a king."
"If you really believe that the Guru is perfect, what would you say if he killed somebody? What if he shot someone?" I asked, thinking that this would blow holes in her faith.
"Oh, that would be alright," she calmly answered. "Guru Maharaj Ji is perfect and if he shot someone, it would have to be all right because everything he does is perfect. He can do no wrong."
I was somewhat baffled by this logic and thought I'd make one more attempt to destroy her confidence in the Guru. "But what if he died, tomorrow. Wouldn't that mean everything he said was false?"
"He'll come back," she replied.
"What do you mean by that?"
"He'll rise from the dead," she stated in firm conviction.
"You know, I believe that the Guru is only exploiting people like you. What if you're wrong in everything you say about him?" I pointed out to her.
"If he isn't God, this is the biggest fraud ever perpetrated upon the world," she said, "but if he is God, he has promised to bring us a thousand years of peace. I believe that he will."
Perfect? Even the secular press doubts that. Their cynicism has good grounds. First, there is the wealth. Guru Maharaj Ji has accumulated. Among other things are his London acquisitions of a Rolls Royce, Jaguar, and a one hundred thousand dollar town house permanently staffed with two cooks awaiting his visit. In Denver, he maintains a split-level mansion and a chauffeured Mercedes limousine
costing $12,000. The camera equipment filming Millennium alone cost $500,000. Add to this the television and radio stations that are part of his organization and one can easily see why his $250,000 per month income is necessary.
His followers, however, see nothing wrong with this. When confronted with the Guru's holdings of airplanes, motorcycles, cars, and homes, they simply reply that these are the fruits of the devotees who worship God in a western, materialistic context. The Guru himself answers, "It doesn't make a (profanity) of a difference where I am. It's all the same to me. It's just one big holiday, a lot of fun."' No wonder Newsweek refers to the Guru and his family as the "Rothschilds of the Guru business."2
There are other reasons for doubting the Guru's authenticity. For example, there is the much-publicized smuggling incident when the Guru tried to sneak through the Indian customs an estimated $35,000 to $80,000 (his devotees claim $28,000) worth of jewelry, watches, and foreign currencies. The charge, according to K. R. Ganesh, India's Minister of State for Finances, is so serious that the Guru had to post a $13,300 bond before he was allowed to leave India and come to Millennium. The Guru, however, doen't seem bothered by all of this. In fact, in one of his speeches in the Astrodome he proclaimed, "People think I'm a smuggler. I'm a smuggler alright. I smuggle peace and truth from one country to another. Jesus Christ was a smuggler too. Mohammed was a smuggler and Krishna was a smuggler too because I'm smuggling the same light they smuggled. Maybe I'm a bigger smuggler because I carry it from one part of the world to the other part of the world."
When I confronted Carol about the smuggling incident, I learned that she had an explanation prepared. She said
that before the plane landed the Guru's representatives collected the valuables of everyone to check them all through customs at once. It seems a likely explanation but when I asked Carol how she knew about this story, she told me that it was the explanation the Guru had given her and naturally she believed because after all, don't forget, "He is perfect."
The Guru has other problems too - including a post-bulbar ulcer. The Guru's personal physician says that he may also have gall bladder problems all from stress that is typical of a middle-aged man. In fact, though the Guru claims to be sixteen, estimates on his age run from 20 to 29. The Denver physician who treated him in his $70-a- day private room says he has the body of a 28 year old man! This doesn't seem to effect his followers at all. They answer, "The Guru is perfect but his body isn't."
The major loose brick in the Guru's foundation of divinity results from a one million dollar lawsuit filed by an underground newspaper reporter named Pat Halley.
Mr. Halley was the gentleman who slapped a shaving cream pie in the Guru's face during a Detroit appearance, saying, "I always wanted to throw a pie in God's face." Six days later two agents from the Divine Light Mission in Detroit posed as turncoats from the Guru's organization. They offered to demonstrate to Mr. Halley the meditation process the Guru advocates. Once Halley had closed his eyes, they brutally beat him with a hammer so that he was critically injured and brain surgery was necessary. Halley, who now has a piece of his skull replaced with a four-inch plastic plate, alleges that the two were acting upon orders from the Mission. The Guru and his followers deny this and claim to have been willing to bring the assailants to justice. On the other hand,
rumor has it that the attackers have been sent out of the country to avoid prosecution. In a personal interview, the Guru's representatives compared the Halley beating to Christ's arrest when Peter cut off a soldier's ear. They failed to note the miracle Jesus performed by restoring the ear.
I walked away from Karen shaking my head incred- lously at her blind faith. My eyes caught a poster bearing the ubiquitous visage of Maharaj Ji with the caption: "I declare I will establish peace in this world." I couldn't help but be disturbed by the blind devotion afforded him by his devotees. The political implications of such adoration, in view of his claim to take over the world, were particularly frightening. I find it difficult to believe that a generation so steeped in anti-authoritarianism and rejection of establishment would succumb to someone like the Guru in view of his unreliability. Many youth today have rejected even our government which has the checks and balances afforded a democracy. Yet they seem not at all apprehensive about bowing before one who has no such insurance against fallibility. A premie being interviewed on a PBS television documentary stated with Hitlerian overtones, "Freedom of information confuses people and isn't always a good thing." Could this search for a savior reveal an inherent potential toward submission to a totalitarian regime? If so, today's guru-worshipers would make an easy mark for the religiopolitical demagoguery of the Antichrist.
Nowhere are the political implications more clearly illustrated than in the devotion of one of the Guru's foremost disciples (as well as his personal business and public relations confidant) Rennie Davis. Davis, the reader will •probably recall, is the anti-war militant of Chicago
Seven fame who gained notoriety in the late sixties by organizing demonstrations and traveling to North Viet Nam. Now, Mr. Davis believes that Guru Maharaj Ji is "the Lord of the Universe, the power of creation itself."'
Davis seems completely flipped out on the Guru. He describes his conversion experience in glowing terms. "I heard a bell that made me more blissed out than I've ever been in my life. My mind started hearing loud rock and roll and I just went crazy," or so he told the Christian tabloid Right On. Through the Guru, Davis, who now confesses to be totally "blissed out", foresees a practical way to end racism and imperialism.
Glancing through the stack of materials that had been handed me in the press packet, I noted a pamphlet entitled "Who is Guru Maharaj Ji?" That was a question I had come here to find out. I was reminded that even his own countrymen doubt his God-claim. One Indian swami charges that Guru Maharaj Ji is a twenty-sevenyear-old fraud and "typical Asian phony."4 I surmised that he is either a confused adolescent being exploited by those with a lust for power or an antichrist actually convinced of his own divinity - or both.
HIPPIES AND HINDUS
More than a passing curiosity had brought me to Millennium. My book Hippies, Hindus and Rock & Roll ublished several years ago traced a personal pilgrimage throughout India to find the root and meaning of transcendental meditation as popularized by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Since the original publication of that volume, prophesying the alliance of apostate, western Christianity and eastern mysticism, I have watched various gurus come and go across the land. Guru Maharaj Ji has epecially attracted my attention. First of all, he seems like an unlikely candidate for divine worship and, secondly, his following has surpassed that of other Asian holy men.
I recall on my last trip to India flying one day on an internal flight from Bombay to New Delhi. There happened to be seated next to me an Indian Minister of Parliament. Noting that I was an American and a writer,he quizzed me as to why so many American youth were coming to India. I remember him saying, "I just don't understand why all the hippies come to India to travel across our land. It must be because they are only interested in sex from our girls and the availability of drugs. Frankly, we're tired of them coming over here. We have trouble feeding our own people and yet these hippies sit at the street corners and beg. Why do they do that?
I'm told that most of them come from well-to-do families in America. Isn't that true?"
I nodded in assent. A queried look crossed his face as he pondered what to his culture was an unfathomable irony.
"As a Minister of Parliament, let me tell you that we are going to do everything that we can to keep them out of our country. We don't want them over here and we'll pass whatever laws necessary to see that this influx of malcontents ceases!"
Today that phenomenon has reversed. No longer is it a matter of America being exported to India but today the pagan, heathen religions of the East are being imported to our shores. Instead of hippies embarking on a spiritual search for meaning from Calcutta to Banaras, we face today the problem of Hindu mystics proclaiming their gospel from Denver to Detroit. This all means that we are facing the potential death of western civilization and its Christian heritage as we know it.
The stage for Guru Maharaj Ji has been well set. First of all, in a general, religious sense there is new attraction to an eastern view of the universe and a rejection of historic western spiritual concepts. Democracy which has emphasized individualism suddenly finds itself being subverted by the Hindu doctrine of universality. The eastern idea of a cosmic oneness appeals to the jaded and materialistic-weary western youth who find a new focus in life by identifying with this "deeper" religion. Worst of all, in his rejecton of western Christianity, he indulges in a spiritual commitment that is impervious to western criticism.
The way in which America has become enamored with ecology also provides more fertile ground for implanting
the Pantheism of the East. The oriental concept of God in nature is mirrored in today's environmental mania. Whereas the Christian sees a transcendent God whose power is displayed by the created world, the Hindu sees the spirit of God imminent in nature. This is one reason why eastern countries have no basis for recognizing the dignity and worth of man. I have seen this plainly illustrated throughout India where rats, monkeys, and cows are permitted to eat what starving humans cannot. But the American convert to the East never thinks about this. He only persists in his fascination with the belief that the "self" can be extinguished and therefore, the source of all misery eradicated.
The political climate today is also welcome soil. Young people have become disillusioned with programs, revolutionary attempts and "the system" in general. For those who have not jumped off the deep end by bombing buildings, the Guru has become an alternative solution by supplying a symbol of utopian hope for the future. History has shown that whenever the institutions of society fail or are seriously questioned the potentiality for a saviour lies inherent. Today's insecure and listless generation seems to be looking for a commanding leader who will replace their loneliness by a structured dogma that brings a sense of belonging. The "god of this world" has well manipulated, the "principalities and powers" of this earth to bring on the scene a forerunner declaring peace. All the while, the ultimate harbinger of false peace, the Antichrist, waits in the wings.
Against the backdrop of the present sociological conditions there is a haunting theme that has surfaced for centuries supposing that someone will eventually come to liberate the world, bringing peace and happiness to
all. Such millennialistic predictions are not unique to Christianity and form a significant basis for the presuppositions of Hinduism. Astrologers have been particularly prevalent in making such prophecies and Jean Dixon herself says that a world leader will rise to power some time after 1980. Inherent in all such predictions has been the belief that this leader (whom Christians know to be the Antichrist) will embody the essence of all world religions.
Prompted by the news media announcements regarding Millennium, I sifted through my files to find out what information I already had on Guru Maharaj Ji. My attention was first brought to an August 3, 1971, Newsweek article that I had clipped out of that magazine while traveling in Asia. How ironic that while I was in India conducting overseas outreaches for Christ, the article pointed out Guru Maharaj Ji was about to land at L.A. International Airport to begin his first tour of North America. The magazine estimated his following at three million throughout the world.
Next I noted an article in our own Denver Post Religious Section. It was entitled, "Denverites follow 14year-old Guru." His following in the U.S.A. was estimated at 6,000 in 1971. Among the things mentioned were the fact that Denver might be chosen for his headquarters (this now has become a reality). The reporter also pointed out that the Guru's devotees are vegetarians.
Also in my files was a copy of the Atlanta Journal that I had picked up while conducting a crusade at Marietta Baptist Tabernacle. This article mentioned that as early as the age two and one-half Guru Maharaj Ji would instruct his father's devotees and inspire them
to do meditation (his father is the founder of Divine Light Mission). It said the Guru would awaken the devotees early in the morning and urge them to meditate by threat of beating them with a stick. The ashram (religious retreat) in Atlanta was said to be already stocked with the Guru's own bed, linen, special plates and silverware, even though he had never been there.
Time magazine was my next source of reference. It was dated November 27, 1972. The story was that of a three-day festival in New Delhi, India (the forerunner of the Millennium festival) and told how thousands from around the world had chartered jets to attend the Guru's satsang (religious discourse). Further sources that I consulted indicated that the world-wide following had jumped to 8 or 10 million and that the U.S. following had grown ten times to a total of 60,000 adherents.
To find out more I called the Divine Light Mission offices in Denver and requested to be sent copies of their literature. Promptly I received in the mail a series of copies of their tabloid entitled Divine Times. The issue provided me with some helpful background information. The lead story was about Shri Hans Ji Maharaj, the father of Guru Maharaj Ji and founder of Divine Light Mission. He was said to have been born into a wealthy family but left all to search for truth. The Guru's father came to his enlightmenment only after having his life saved by a hand that reached down from heaven and rescued him from drowning in the river. Subsequently, he read the Bible and Gita (the Hindu sacred scriptures) and concluded that they were all the same and that the knowledge given by Christ was the same given by Lord Krishna (the Hindu god). The remainder of the story :raced the growth and founding of Divine Light Mission and also included the story of another miracle in which Shri
Maharaj Ji's disciples were instantaneously transported across the Ganges River. The article concluded by referring to his death as a time in which "he left."
From there I went on to read an article about the history of Millennium, an extension of the Hans Janyanti Festival commemorating the birthday of Guru Maharaj Ji's father. Supposedly, the plans for the festival had been revealed to the Guru in a dream. Jerry Girard, the assistant general coordinator of Millennium, described his projections as follows: "Astrodome is to be the vehicle of Guru Maharaj Ji. It is like the adobe of Lord Vishnu (another Hindu god) where he's sitting in heaven and all of his devotees would be sitting there. All the prophecies have to be fulfilled and the kingdom of heaven has to come."
Other predictive observations were more dramatic. Some thought that angels might descend upon the Astrodome and others felt that it was possible the entire Dome might be raised to heaven. UFO's were believed to be potential visitors and various speculation was made as to the possible Guru announcements that he is indeed Jesus Christ and his brother or mother (depending upon which rumor you believe) is the Holy Spirit.
The choice of naming the festival Millennium was rather to be expected. The millennium, of course, is a Christian concept referring to the Bible prophecy of the time following the Tribulation period when Christ shall establish His kingdom upon this earth for 1,000 years. In general sense millennial thinking crops up in the desire for world unification of religions, an event which is supposed by many to herald peace on earth. The Bible's prediction of a millennium is a literal event that will actually take place when Christ has put all kingdoms and nations under his authority. On the other hand, satan has often perverted this truth and meta-
phorically injected its utopian claims into various heresies. This expectation of a time of love, peace, and brotherhood is seen in the "Age of Aquarius" astrological concept as well as the divine savior predictions surrounding various false cults.
Even after looking through all of the materials I had collected I was tempted to dismiss the whole affair as merely a public relations ploy (which it was) by the Guru's confidants, particularly Rennie Davis. I reminded myself of the thirteen-year-old Indian mystic in the early twentieth century, Jiddu Krishnamurti who also declared himself to be God. Twenty-one years later he left the whole thing in a mess feeling that godhood was apparently not all it had been cracked up to be. But the Divine Times showed me Guru Maharaj Ji's entourage was capable of greater things. I glanced again at the articles containing political comments, poetry, posters, reports of world-wide worshippers from Helsinki to Tokyo, songs, notices of charter flights, and concluded that Millennium was indeed a fervent anti-christ cult and worthy of my personal investigation.
FLYING SOUTH TO SEE GOD
As the plane pulled out of Denver Stapelton International Airport, I became immediately aware that this was going to be one of the more unusual experiences of my life. Dozens of the Guru's followers had boarded and I suddenly found myself in a distinct minority. One of the Guru's devotees was seated next to me - an eighteen-year-old girl, unwed, 7 months pregnant, wearing blue jeans, a flannel shirt, and hiking boots. Most of the devotees sported lapel buttons with Maharaj Ji's grinning face captioned with the words, "Lord of the Universe." Back and forth they talked, obviously ecstatic in their newly found faith. That isn't all they were high from. I noticed a strange smell but passed it off as possibly just my imagination. Then, other passengers began to sniff the air and look around. I raised in my seat and glanced back over the chair. Two of the Guru's devotees behind me were sharing a marijuana joint. I felt if I spoke sternly enough they might envision me as a sky marshall and stop the matter at that. "You can put that out immediately," I firmly said to them. Rather sheepishly they crushed out the joint as if they were two children caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Settling back in my seat one of them proclaimed, "Can't you just feel the vibes? There's love going to be all over the place down there. This is going to be too much."
When the plane landed I observed more carefully my traveling companions. Most of them were young and freaky,
although their hair was not as long as usual. The Guru, it seems, admonishes his followers to cut their manes to look more respectable and acceptable to society. One exception among the deplaning passengers was the Indian sikh with massive ringlets of hair tucked under his turban (sikhs are not allowed to cut their hair as part of religious vows).
The airport was pregnant with Guru worshipers and tables had been set up to process the arriving faithful. I observed the welcomes given one to another as various of the faithful met. Often throwing their arms around each other and shaking hands vigorously, they greeted each other as "brother and sister." Their pretentious but contagious "love" struck ne as being one of the most vivid counterfeits of Christian brotherhood I had ever witnessed.
I walked to an information table and was handed four lifferent pamphlets. One entitled "Who Is Guru Maharaj Ji?" traced his early life noting that his first spiritual discourse was given to a crowd of thousands at six years of age. The pamphlet declared that at his father's funeral in 1966, Guru Maharaj Ji addressed the weeping devotees by saying, "Dear children of God, why are you weeping? Haven't you learned the lesson that your Master taught you? The Perfect Master never dies. Maharaj Ji is here amongst you now." Another of the pamphlets entitled "Why Now?" suggested that the staging of Millennium was spiritually in conjunction with UFO appearances and astrological predictions. Every promotional tool available had been utilized to promote this gathering.
Early the next morning I arrived at the Astrodome. It was already obvious by the number of cars in the parking of that the much vaunted prediction of 100,000 devotees wads far too optimistic. Mingled among the cars were a various assortment of mobile homes and ramshackled buses.
My cynical mind was reminded that the dilapidated condition of the vehicles was in high contrast to the Guru's accommodations across the street at the Astroworld Hotel's Celestial Suite, costing $2,500 a day.
I had read earlier that the Krishna Consciousness devotees were very much in disfavor of the Guru. Their contention is that Lord Krishna was the ultimate incarnation of God and that the Guru is a fake. I had just stepped out of my car when a contingent of the saffron-robed, head-shaven chanters approached me. With finger symbols tinkling and drums flailling, they feverishly began the Rama Krishna chant. They asked if I would like to have one of their large, hard-backed books.
"Thank you," I said, tucking the book under my arm and starting to walk away.
Angrily one of the chanters ran after me. "The book isn't a gift. We're selling them for a donation," he informed me.
"I don't want it then," I answered. "I thought you were giving it to me. If it's for sale, forget it."
"Don't you want to have the privilege of giving to God? This is a donation to God," he responded with obvious displeasure.
It was apparent to the chanters that I was an antagonist so they proceeded to encircle me, violently chanting "Hare Rama, Rama Krishna" as fast as their tongues could go. I realized, however, there was more to it than that. Krishna Consciousnes devotees are in most instances severely demonized. This is the intent of their marathon sessions of hypnotic chanting. The demons within them had obviously recognized who I was and were indignant that the Holy Spirit within me would treat their "donation to God" so lightly.
I pushed my way through them and walked toward the Astrodome. Just as I got there, the police were evicting a Christian demonstrator who had sought to witness while standing underneath an American flag. It seems that the Guru's followers had rented the Astrodome and thus had the privilege of controlling what went on there, even to the point of disallowing Bibles to be taken into the Astrodome. I had seen other Christian witnesses there but most of them could only remotely be called "Christian." One pamphlet titled "Guru Maharaj Ji: A Poison to American Culture" sounded more politically conservative than it did Christian. Its contention was that the Guru is an "ignoramus" and that his followers are a bunch of "heathens." Their accompanying poster lashed out at Maharaj Ji under the title "Heathenism Invades America" and pointed out (correctly) that our Western Civilization has been founded upon Christian principles which are responsible for all its progress. There were some good points in the pamphlet but its entire tone seemed more tuned to hate literature than an expression of real Christian love.
A particular series of pamphlets disturbed me - those handed out by the false Christian cult of the Children of God. One brochure centered on the Comet Kohoutek and contained a message from the false prophet and head of the organization who calls himself "Moses David." It suggested that the comet was a' sign of the downfall of America and the end of the world. Another pamphlet by him contained a supposed vision given in the gold-domed memorial to Bahaullah the prophet and founder of Bahaism. "With enemies like this," I thought to myself, "the devil sure doesn't need any friends."
There were other fledgling attempts at witnessing carried on but most were rather ineffective. The primary reason is
that there simply is no effective way to witness to one of the "blissed out" followers of the Guru. Sharing Christ with a premie is much like witnessing to someone high on drugs. For example, one guy was standing and holding a sign that said "Jesus is Lord." The devotees asked him to come inside the Dome and listen to the Guru. Smiling and friendly, they all ganged up on him with organized confusion, cheering each other on. One of them advised, "You're running your head up against a brick wall brother. I've had a practical experience with God. Once you find the perfection within you, there is no label to it."
Another devotee added, "For the first time I know what the church has been talking about. Come in and listen to my master talking about God and love." The witnesser insisted that he already knew Christ and did not need to come inside to which the devotee answered, "You'll know him so much better. You'll see him. You'll hear him. You'll feel him if you receive the Guru's knowledge." The conversation eventually degenerated into complete chaos as the outnumbered protagonist for Christ was unable to contend with their enthusiastic "logic".
Just as I was about to step inside of the Astrodome, a representative of the Guru handed me a pamphlet that immediately caught my attention. Entitled "Questions for Real Christians," this piece of literature had obviously been prepared for people just like me. It provided answers for many of the questions I had already intended to raise as to the scriptural authenticity of the Guru's teachings. The first reference was that of Matthew 6:33 and Luke 17:21 indicating that we should "Seek first the Kingdom of God" that is "within you." Disregarding the fact that the King James erroneously gives the latter scripture in translation as "within you" instead of "in the midst of you" this passage
is used by the Guru's followers as a pretext for supposing that God is inside of each person.
Several other scriptural references were even more disturbing. For example, they take First Corinthians 15:19 saying that, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." Paul's words are construed to suggest that one should not have faith in Christ and therefore be miserable.
"Surely," I thought to myself, "they'll not say anything about the possibility of the Guru being an antichrist." I was wrong. Here is how they explain the scriptures of First John 2:18 and First John 4:3; "When John wrote 'it is the last time' was he referring to a time that was still almost twenty centuries in the future? Or was he saying that the antichrists were present at the time he was writing? If he was warning people who were alive at that time, why are we listening to warnings today which were meant for people who have been dead for centuries?"
They certainly put that one to rest with a twisted bit of logic. The last page proclaimed, "Guru Maharaj Ji is quickly bringing the time in which 'the earth shall be filled full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.' " This Biblical prediction was followed by a closing from the author, "Your brother in Christ, Charles Cameron."
A frontal assault upon Christianity is a significant weapon in the Guru's arsenal. His brother is the main spokesman contending with Christianity and among his teachings are more twisted distortions. For example, he refers to the writings of the Apostle John who said, "Every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, this is the spirit of antichrist." If Guru Maharaj Ji is Christ come in the flesh, he contends, then by not testifying that he is Christ, the Guru's detracters are in reality antichrists. In
spite of their using the Bible to defend faith in the Guru, their own ignorance of God's Word shows through plainly. The scriptural reference just cited was taken from the Divine Light Mission's official volume Who is Guru Maharaj Ji? in whch John's statement is said to be in John 4:3 rather than I John 4:3 (there is a big difference between the gospel and the epistle). Also other scriptures from Revelation are referred to as being from Revelations - showing their ignorance of that book by quoting it in the plural.
Ironically, even though they readily use the Bible whenever out-of-context-distortions will suit their aims, at other times they freely mock the validity of God's Word. Consider this statement of Guru Maharaj Ji himself taken from pages 88-89 of his biography: "Did the man who was writing the Bible talk about coming again or did Jesus Christ himself say it?" Jesus Christ has written no Bible. Remember that, but He will come again. The thing is, people make mistakes about the words. It really means that He will come again to this western world and He'll be laughing. He'll again come to this western world with a bright light and He will shower this upon humanity. When we receive the knowledge (the experience the Guru promises), we really know what he gave to those twelve disciples."
I walked toward the Astrodome entrance and was again confronted by another group of raving, Krishna Consciousness chanters. The sight of one of them broke my heart - a small boy hardly four years of age. Flung about his neck was a drum upon which he beat feverishly. His head was shaven, his body draped in a saffron dhotis, and across the center of his forehead a painted stripe indicating his devotion to Krishna. A circle of the chanters had been formed to dance around and around. In the center stood two chanters who held devotional pictures. As I drew nearer, I recoiled in
disgust at one of them, a painting of Lord Krishna riding a white stallion. The picture is identical to the one found inside of George Harrison's album "Living in the Material World."
LIVING IN THE MATERIAL WORLD
"Living in the Material World" - that phrase probably means little to most of you adult readers. Many teenagers could tell you it happens to be the title to a record album by ex-Beatle George Harrison. This record was the top-selling album in the world during its height of popularity. A single off the album, "Give Me Love," was simultaneously the number one record on the top-forty charts. Seldom have I been more disturbed by the popularity of any rock album. "Living in the Material World" is perhaps the most demonically inspired record to have topped the charts in recent years. Why such an accusaton?
George Harrison composed and sings all the songs on the album. What is his background? Those who have read my book Hippies, Hindus and Rock & Roll recognize Harrison as the one who turned the Beatles eastward to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. As early as 1967 Harrison was a practicing Hindu, long before the popularity of today's assorted gurus and Krishna Consciousness chanters. Since the days of the Maharishi, his faith in Hinduism has grown. One witness to this is his composition "My Sweet Lord," the top-selling single in 1971. The song is a prayer of dedication to Lord Krishna, an incarnation of the Hindu godhead and supposedly the god-narrator of the Bhagavad-Gita, the Hindu "Bible." An earlier album, "All Things Must Pass," was Harrison's first solo musical excursion and a record replete with praise of Hinduism.
To those who may wonder as to Harrison's degree of commitment, listen to these words of evangelistic zeal published in a prominent rock periodical: "I realize now that it was the spiritual side of Indian music which attracted me in the first place. Now it is the only reason for living. The only reason for being here is to have full understanding of the spiritual aspects of life. Eastern religion taught me that the ideal is to become one with God through meditation and yogi." (Interestingly enough, he was recently reported as having been found swimming in the nude at a Hollywood party!)
More recently Harrison has journeyed to a place I have visited on several occasions - Kali Temple in Calcutta, India. Harrison prostrated himself before the hideous idol of the Hindu goddess Kali and had a replica shipped to his London mansion to worship daily.
Let's look for a moment at the album "Living in the Material World." The cover pictures a hand holding a symbol taken from the Bhagavad-Gita. The inside cover shows Harrison serving Holy Communion while wearing a clerical collar and sporting a Hindu chant button. An inner sleeve contains another large color picture of Lord Krishna also taken from the Gita. Most disturbing is the message contained in the songs. Here are some examples:
"Give Me Love" - contains the line "keep me free from birth," a reference to the Hindu attempt to circumvent the reincarnation life cycles. Mr. Harrison also sings the Om chant, an utterance that is supposed to be the symbolic expression of the Hindu godhead. In reality, it is an invitation for demon manifestation.
"The Light That Has Lighted the World" - will undoubtedly be interpreted by some as being an anthem to Christ. Remember, Mr. Harrison's faith is in Lord Krishna.
"Living in the Material World" - proclaims "From the Spiritual Sky, Such sweet memories have I, To the Spiritual Sky I pray." The reference to memories supports reincarnation that supposes the ability to sometimes recall former lives. Note that the prayer is not to a definite deity but rather the Hindu concept of an ambiguous, impersonal God that is present in all beings (Pantheism). Harrison concludes with the plea, "I hope to get out of this place by the LORD SRI KRISHNA'S GRACE, my salvation …"
The remainder of the songs contain references to Karma, having rejected drugs in favor of Hinduism, reincarnation, and the declaration to Lord Krishna that, "All I'm living for, To Try to love you more."
"Living in the Material World" is more than a record album - it is an important part of satan's plan of evangelism through contemporary media. I have spent many months in India and can testify that Hinduism is the most debased and demonic of the world's religion. Would George Harrison also have us pray before phallic replicas of human genitals and worship sacred cows, even revering their dung as Hindus do? Would he also have us engage in live human sacrifices and torture and self-mutilation rituals as I have seen Hindus do in devotion to Lord Krishna?
Unfortunately, George Harrison is just one of many rock artists that have recently espoused variations of eastern religion. Following the earlier leadership of the Beatles (refer again to the author's book Hippies, Hindus and Rock & Roll), transcendental meditation has attracted a continuing array of musicians. Mike Love of the Beach-boys is into his seventh year of practicing TM. He claims to have fasted to the extent he attempted communication with nature and birds.' Donovan, an early devotee of the
Maharishi Mahesh. Yogi, still defends the guru even though the Beatles eventually rejected the Hindu mystic with accusations of woman-chasing. With an obvious commitment to Hindu theology, Donovan says, "What the Maharishi laid on us is pretty strong. Truth lies in everybody. If you meditate for years it trains your mind to become one with the source of thought."2
Shawn Phillips, the folk-rock minstrel, advocates self-control through yoga breathing techniques. Felix Cavalare, the main force behind The Rascals (an early 70's rock group) also pursues yoga and meditation as taught by Swami Satchidananda. Cavaliere proclaims his spiritual goal is the attainment of union with the universe. Even John Lennon whose espousal of radical politics has surpassed his love for the East, managed at least one oriental hit, "Instant Karma," based on the Hindu doctrine of cyclical retribution.
One of the most adamant and well-publicized Hindu advocates is John McLaughlin, guitar virtuoso of the Mahavishnu Orchestra (a now disbanded group). The very name Mahavishnu (McLaughlin's "spiritual" name) suggests adoration of Vishnu, one of the trinity of major Hindu deities. McLaughlin, who was once into heavy drugs, now lives a life of submission to his guru, the Hindu spiritual master Sri Chinmoy. Eight years ago, Chinmoy first came to the West and today he professes to serve a following of about one thousand "seekers of Self-Realization."
As the Orchestra performs, McLaughlin introduces each song with an explanation regarding the metaphysical implications of the lyric. His adoration for Chinmoy surpasses most typical guru worship. "I am immersed in him," he explains. "He is a Divine Being. Perfection. Through the grace of Sir Chinmoy I've become more aware of the real
presence of the Supreme Being."3 Such worship is monetary as well and much of Mahavishnu's income is devoted to Chinmoy. As McLaughlin explains, "My guru knows how to spend my money better than I do."
There can be no question in my mind but that such devotion tends to severe demon involvement. McLaughlin admits as much when he describes the inspiration for his music. Often meditating onstage before the beginning of a song, he declares, "When I let the spirit play me, it's an intense delight. My role as a musician is to make everyone aware of his own divinity."5
McLaughlin is responsible for turning on Carlos Santana (leader of the extremely popular latin-rock group Santana) to Chinmoy. Carlos, who used to dig wine and grass, now opts for meditating with candles and a picture of his new guru. He claims to have increased devotion for Christ (whom he believes lives in everybody) but has in contrast adopted a Hindu name. He prefers now to be called Devadip, meaning, "The lamp of the light of the Supreme." Santana says of his new faith, "It was like being born again." He has since gone on tour and recorded an album with John McLaughlin, all to spread their guru's light.
Each Christian should pray for these rock artists and other prominent personalities who adhere to eastern cults that they may yet find the One and Only Lord, Jesus Christ. Meanwhile, no Christian should listen to their music. Just as Christian musicians compose and perform with the anointing of the Holy Spirit (or at least they should), so it is that the devil's disciples perform with the blessing and direction of the unholy spirits of ratan. To open one's mind to their influence is to court spiritual disaster!
PREMIES AND PROMOTION
With both my interest and indignation aroused, I stepped inside the Dome. It was immediately apparent that if this festival were going to bring a thousand years of peace on earth, things were off to a mighty poor start. Police estimates for the maximum crowds ran no more than ten thousand. Other estimates reached a high of only twenty-five thousand.
Part of the crowd had already arrived and were seated in various fashion on the Astrodome floor, some cross-legged, some in lotus positions meditating, and others just lying there sleeping. A massive red carpet had covered the astroturf to make more pleasant accommodations for the premies. The first level of seats was partially filled with a motley group of business men, well-dressed women and other middle-aged types. Apparently they felt lounging on the astroturf a little bit below their dignity.
The main playing field of the Dome was at least two-thirds full but it hardly resembled a spiritual gathering. A rather playful atmosphere pervaded with children running about everywhere. At one end of the field the diadem and throne was constructed. The chair of state itself was elevated fifty feet (some press releases said thirty feet) above the crowd, ascending in the midst of waterfalls, fountains and a series of tiers made of white plastic leading up to the main dias. To the right of and below the Guru's throne was the third tier where about thirty mahatmas (the
discipled teachers of the Guru) were seated. The throne chair was made of purple velvet and a satin pillow for the Guru to cushion his holy feet on lay in front. To either side were two additional yellow chairs for the Holy Family consisting of the Guru's mother and three brothers. Leading to the top of the stage was a tunnel-way with a red canopy. On either side of the throne area were massive floral arrangements saying, "Shri Hans," in reference to the Guru's father.
The encircled hallways of the Astrodome contained a variety of Divine Light vendors operating twenty-seven concession stands. Among the items being hawked were T-shirts, shoulder bags, imported clothing from India, pictures of the Holy Family, peanuts, buttons, and cowboy hats "for those who have never been to Texas before." Other items offered were incense, copies of the Divine Times and record albums produced by the Blue Aquarius Devotional Rock Group. A wide range of publications including the book Who Is Guru Maharaj Ji? were also available for purchase. Clearly the devotees meant to make back at least part of their one-half million dollar investment for the festival. (The rental of the Astrodome itself cost $25,000 per day.)
When considering the financial outlay necessary to produce this extravaganza one would at first be staggered by its cost. But money seems to be no problem to the Guru. He maintains, according to Newsweek, a $3,500 monthly headquarters rent, $20,000 in annual leasing fees for an IBM computer designed to keep track of his converts, upkeep of two spiritual rock bands, a movie production company, a slick monthly magazine and telex machines that link Divine Light with 280 regional offices.
The fact that Millennium actually existed at all was used
by the Guru's followers as a means of validifying Maharaj Ji's claims. The followers with whom I spoke, constantly referred to the obvious organizational success of the whole thing as somehow having miraculously occurred from the Guru's personal inspiration. What many of them blindly forgot was the fact that one hundred and twenty unsalaried staffers with unlimited funds available had brought the affair into being. The Guru appeals to his followers to become involved in four practices: meditation, satsang (holy discourse), Darshan (abiding in the love of his physical prescence) and service. The latter is an encouragement for them to engage in fund raising and literature distribution. Obviously, service is the most important of all. Without it the Guru's financial kingdom as well as his spiritual one could not exist.
Wandering by one of the vendor's tables I picked up a special Millennium edition of Divine Times. Opening it up I was confronted with a huge picture of the Guru, finger pointing forward, and a caption reading: "Peace Wants You In Houston." I read the editorial glorifying the Guru's form of meditation supposedly designed to purify one's thoughts. The antichrist overtones were obvious with statements such as, "What will it be like to live on this planet in peace? What will the United Nations do next once the nations become united. People will work for sheer joy in serving others. Passports will decorate the walls of museums." They went an to contend that when Christ stated the meek would inherit the earth he was actually referring, literally, to this very gathering. Among the articles contained there was a warning directed to those who might become so highly charged by the environment of love and brotherhood that they would not be able to handle it and thus need medical attention. The devotees were assured
that "herbalists, masseurs, and physical therapists as well as doctors of traditional medicine would be on hand throughout the entire gathering." It seems the experience known as Darshan literally freaks some people out.
Glancing over the materials that lay there, I searched to see what would help me best understand the whole thing and picked up a copy of the book Who Is Guru Maharaj Ji? Quickly glancing through it I noted one of the advertisements, taking up a full page, was for the occult journal, Psychic World. I had seen the magazine before and knew it to be one of the most diabolical pieces of literature in America, perhaps doing more to promote satanic occultism than any other periodical. The correlation was obvious and was one of my first indications as to the extremely demonic overtones of the Guru's teachings.
I observed the crowd to see if there was any way I could typify or stereotype the Guru's followers. I couldn't. They came in all sizes and descriptions, fornicators turned celibates, dopers turned devotees (former freaks having exchanged crashpad for ashram), long and short hairs alike. They comprised a sincerely turned-on aggregate, the most of whom were well-groomed and courteous, with that ever-present smile and exhuberance bubbling out of hearts full of love for the Guru. One was tempted to think that this was just another trip for the Woodstock generation burned out on drugs and radical politics. For many of them that description would have been callous and incorrect. Coming from fifty American ashrams, most premies practice chastity, vegetarianism and abstinence from cigarettes, drugs and liquor. Some of them appeared to be barely beyond puberty. The girls looked more like the type at a Grand Funk concert and one could imagine that the Guru was only their latest rock hero. Though austerity
was evident among most of the followers, some were apparently affluent, especially those overseas visitors who had to be rich enough to get there. In all of it one could not help but be cynical in the constant reminder that the asceticism of the devotees was far removed from the pomp of the Guru. Among those I saw were Arabs, Jews and even a Catholic priest who prostrated himself before the Guru's throne. Parents had brought their children, many of them mere babies who wandered about aimlessly. My general conclusion was that for most of them this was something more than a rock fest style of fling. The price was simply too high. Newsweek points out clearly that before joining the Guru's entourage the devotee is handed a "four page questionnaire which concentrates on the cash value of the applicant's insurance policies, mortgages and trust funds. Inheritances are routinely signed over to Divine Light as are paychecks."'
Wanting to know more about the Guru's followers, I opened the book Who Is Guru Maharaj Ji? and began to read the chapter entitled "The People." Included were a series of conversion testimonies by those who had been turned on to Maharaj Ji. The General Secretary of the Swiss Bible Society and pastor of a Swiss church told how he had gone through a "new birth." Even though he spent years as a missionary in Africa, he testified, "I can only say that I have never been as close to Christ as now and that the Bible has become so much clearer to me."3 A premie 86 years of age spoke of her journey through New Thought and the Theosophical Society before finding truth in the Guru. Apparent here was an obviously occultic background. The same strain was found in the testimony of another convert who had been into self-hypnosis and read extensively Castanada's account of the Yaqui Indian sorc-
erer Don Juan (a book filled with drug fantasies and demonic hallucinations). He also searched into parapsychology and Edgar Cayce before finding reality in Maharaj Ji.
Other testimonies included that of a blind man who now has seen "light," a store clerk who was stabbed and had his life saved through faith in the Guru, and the mother of a baby whose birth was foretold by a so-called Christian mystic. The child was said to be a reincarnated ancient devotee of the Lord. This story was particularly frightening and reminded me of the Biblical account of one who had been demon possessed since he was a child.4 A former criminal told of lying in his prison cell and reading the Tibetan Book of the Dead and hearing a voice telling him to seek the Guru.
The festivities down on the main stage just below the throne were about to start. Deciding that I had better find a convenient point of observation, I made my way to an upper mezzanine level. Two of the Guru's representatives were at the door. "Are you with the press?" they asked.
I answered that I was there to write a book so they let me inside. After applying for a press and photography pass, I presently walked to the press room to pick up a copy of my press packet. In it were materials designed to orient the journalists.
I turned first to the introductory sheet. "The wolf shall also dwell with the lamb," it said, "and the leopard shall lie down with the kid and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. - the book of Isaiah"
An official letter of invitation cordially extended the normal courtesies to those from the media. The "press orientation" letter reminded people such as me that this
event, Millennium, was to be one that would be "changing the course of human history." It was modestly proclaimed to be a "world assembly to save humanity" with a promise of liberation compared to that of our United States Declaration of Independence.
Further information was given on the history of the Divine Light Mission, and a detailed biography of each member of the Holy Family. Reading a little more about the Guru, I learned that his first knowledge of divinity came thirteen days after his father's death when he was praying to his departed father's cremated ashes. At this time he heard a voice telling him that he would be the saviour of humanity. One entire sheet was devoted to illustrating the various resolutions and proclamations from American legislative bodies honoring the Guru. In spite of the fact that Christ did not receive honor from men, Maharaj Ji has accepted the keys to major American cities (including New York) and honors from Los Angeles to Rhode Island.
After sifting through the packet I reached the last page, a plain white sheet with one statement in the middle, the words of Guru Maharaj Ji: "I declare I will establish peace in this world."
Suddenly, the massive Astrodome was filled with the ear-shattering sounds of a rock ensemble churning out some heavy music. It was the Guru's devotional rock band called, of all things, The 'Apostles. The band was basically a rock group with horn section, two guitars, two keyboards, bass, drums, percussion/congos, six horns and two female singers.
After the audience had been musically warmed up a man stepped out to deliver the official greetings. His name was Charles Cameron - I immediately recognized his name as being the one who had written the pamphlet for "Real
Christians." Glancing at his biography in my packet I saw that he was no dummy, having studied religion at Oxford University. He began by explaining the history of the festival and then gave his pitch for the day. "From this festival will go out the messengers with the peace which Guru Maharaj Ji is giving and that peace will spread from every heart until the whole planet is in peace. No more wars and no more want of wars." He went on to welcome the more than six countries represented, expressing special thankfulness that all of the Holy Family had come to "grace us with their presence." His introductory remarks concluded with the challenge, "We must show America our host country we have trust in God."
Cameron himself had failed to stir up much trust or interest. In fact, the crowd continued to diminish throughout the afternoon, possibly disappointed that the individual experience of receiving knowledge could not be received from the mahatmas who were too busy sitting in their own royal splendor on the upper tiers of the diadem.
Mr. Cameron went on to tell a series of lengthy parables as the crowd grew more and more bored. To the sound of polite applause, he turned the microphone over to the next speaker, Joan Apter. Her background, I learned, was one of rejecting American affluency for a trek across India before finding truth at the feet of Guru Maharaj Ji. As she began to speak, I looked toward the throne where one of the Guru's brothers had walked out to take his seat. Suddenly the crowd shouted in unison, "Bolie Shri Satgurudev Maharaj Ji Ki Jai." Joan quickly explained the meaning of the cry: "If we try to roughly translate this it would mean, 'speak from the heart the praises of the Perfect Master of the times who has come on this earth to take away the darkness of our ignorance by revealing the name
and the light of God within every human heart.' " Personally I was thankful that the devotees were content to shout the shorter, Hindu version of the praise.
Miss Apter's main pitch was emphasizing that Guru Maharaj Ji is indeed the Perfect Master for our times. She stated: "Guru Maharaj Ji has come to reveal to us that love and peace that lies within us. If a Perfect Master exists on earth, can we find him? And if we find him, what will he give us? In every age the Perfect Master must manifest to remind us of why we are here." At this point she was again interrupted as the Guru's mother came out to take her spot on one of the throne chairs.
"None of us can stand to say, 'I am perfect,' Apter went on. "Our duty is to find that perfection and merge with it. Only by knowing God can we be happy because happiness is an attribute of God. When man learns the secret of the kingdom of heaven, peace will be established immediately."
A nice speech if you're looking for a nice speech about peace. I felt no guilt at being bored. Even the premies on the main floor seemed more bored than blissed out. Thankfully, her speech was followed by more music. At least that would be entertaining. The Apostles accompanied the entire twenty thousand worshippers as they stood on their feet to sing "Arti" - supposedly an ancient devotional song of praise taken from Hinduism. The song lasted almost fifteen minutes and would have been another feat of boredom if it had not been for the fact that the words were flashed on the massive Astrodome scoreboard. Among the lyrics were these: "Nectar from satguru's feet is so holy it cleanses us from our sins. When he speaks darkness flies away, when he speaks darkness cannot stay. Bible, Gita, the Koran sing the glory of your name. Angels sing your glory, heavenly hosts sing your praises. Many past forms
you have taken. Now we have come in your control and again you have come to save the soul." I looked about me and abruptly realized that I was the only person, including those in the press box, who was sitting down.
I thought when that song was finished I would again be joined in my seated position. I was wrong. Immediately, the Apostles went into a flowing version of the beloved song "Amazing Grace." The scoreboard lit up with the words, "All the earth shall worship thee and sing of thee, they shall sing to thy name. - The Psalms." About me sat scores of devotees meditating in yoga positions. They added a new twist to the last verse of the song. "When we've been here ten thousand years," they sang, "bright shining as the sun, we'll spend our days to sing his (the Guru's) praise and now we have begun." After this blasphemous version the board lit up with, "Receive the fruits of Guru Maharaj Ji for by them ye shall know him." A few cheers followed and everybody sat down again.
It was time for a speech by Charnanand Ji, Guru Maharj Ji's first apostle to come to the western world. He began by singing a Hindu song in a minor key intonation. The lyrics praised various Hindu gods including Lord Vishnu. Ironically, his speech, full of Hindu overtones, was followed by a pantomimed production entitled "Lord Christ." (The term Jesus meaning Saviour-Messiah was not used.)
"Lord Christ" was conceived by a professional playright and acted out by a troupe that used body language to communicate the drama to crowds in the massive Astrodome. A pre-recorded tape contained music, sound effects and dialogue. It began with the babe in the manger and proceeded from there to a scene describing Herod's command to kill the male children in the kingdom.
Various scriptural distortions were obvious. For example,
Jesus as a child in the temple was not seen amazing the priests with his knowledge of God. Instead, this Christ was observed asking, "Where is God? How can I find Him?" When the line regarding raising up stones to build a temple was quoted, John the Baptist spoke the words rather than Jesus.
At one point Jesus stood center-stage while a moog synthesizer played an ethereal type of disorganized music. Next to me a man in a business suit lapsed into a demon trance. Glancing off to my right about forty feet above the crowd where the large spotlights were located, I saw one of the operators sitting in a lotus position meditating in a trance state. All the while, Jesus spoke.
Most of the dialogue was taken from the King James version although the blasphemous Aquarian Gospel was also frequently used. At one point the disciples square-danced to a banjo song (the significance of which completely lost me). Jesus appeared in the final scene, not resurrected or crucified, but spouting the Sermon on the Mount. The statement of Matthew 5:16 concluded the production. A black, soul artist followed, knocking out such old Gospel standards as "I Shall Not be Moved."
THE PENTECOSTAL GURU
Knowing that the festivities for the afternoon were nearly ended I decided it was time to catch a bite to eat. Just before I got up from my seat I happened to glance at the person who minutes before had sat down right next to me. As I looked, my eyes did a double-take, for there sitting at my left elbow was Marjoe! Dumb-struck for a moment, I regained my composure enough to ask, "You aren't who I think you are, are you?"
"I guess so," was the answer.
"Marjoe, I can't believe it's really you." I extended my hand. "Hi, my name is Bob Larson. Does that name mean anything to you?"
"Yeh," he answered, "you're a preacher. I've seen your books."
For the benefit of those readers who may not know, Marjoe is today's modern Elmer Gantry and star of the Academy-award-winning documentary, "Marjoe." Out of twenty thousand people in the Astrodome, he had sat down next to me - not only one of the few Christians in the Dome but also one who knows mutual acquaintances that made for interesting discussion in the hours that followed.
"What are you doing here?" I asked.
"Hugh Hefner and Playboy magazine sent me down here to do a story for his new magazine, Oui, you know, the one that shows complete frontal nudity," he replied. "I'm supposed to write about how the audiences I preached to
compare with the crowd here to worship the Maharaj Ji."
Let me share with you, my readers, some background information regarding the significance of this encounter. Marjoe (his name he claims came from a combination of Mary and Joseph), now 29, was a child evangelist who was ordained at age four. As he tells it in the movie "Marjoe," his Gospel-preaching parents took him on the hallelujah trail of independent, Pentecostal churches primarily in the South and Midwest. The point to the movie is Marjoe's contention that his parents choreographed and manipulated him from the beginning. His sermons (which as a child he claimed to receive in visions) were actually, as he tells it now, brainwashed into him under threat of being smothered with a pillow or having his head stuck under water. Offerings were cued by a "Praise God" from his parents in the audience to the extent that Marjoe claims $3 million was taken in during the ten years he was led down the revival trail (a ridiculous assertion that demands an income of nearly $1,000 a day, an impossibility considering the class of churches he ripped-off).
At the age of fourteen Marjoe called it quits and abandoned his parents to move in with an older woman who became both mother and lover. By age twenty he was back preaching again, prompted by financial need alone (he says). The fakery continued as Marjoe railed against lust and short skirts, a message designed to return him to evangelistic good graces. He made sure to preach plenty about the blood and to sensuously lay hands on the female adherents who came forward for the prayer of faith.
Then, it all went sour again and he decided to get out - but not before a New York columnist for the Village Voice, Howard Smith, had heard about him and contracted to do an expose on Pentecostal evangelism. Smith and his camera
crew followed Marjoe on the remaining months of his circuit of charlatanism. Preaching like an evangelical Mick Jagger, Marjoe is seen inciting his audience to worship while he in pseudo-mockery speaks in tongues and hands our prayer handkerchiefs. He is also shown counting the offerings with greed and lighting up a joint back in the motel room while advising the camera crew to avoid their girl-chasing so as not to give them away.
I shall not comment on the film itself or the dubious authenticity of Marjoe's claims. Time labeled "Marjoe" as "the most concentrated attack on this brand of religious Americana that has ever been filmed." The review went on to observe that Marjoe's supposed public confession via Hollywood was a repentance "… hardly well served by a film that is itself a rip-off."'
Today, Marjoe is the darling of the counter-cultural set and has plans to become a rock singer (even though his first album, "Bad But Not Evil," was a financial bomb). He has done a few television roles and is attempting to become a credible actor. With evangelism behind him and cinematic uncertainty before him, he tours the country spewing out his tirades against the Gospel to hungry media wolves, anxious to destroy Christianity with the help of Marjoe's sensationalized allegations.
How did Marjoe so readily know me? Howard Smith, the producer of "Marjoe," had (before the movie) a radio show over WPLJ, the top underground rock station in New York. Before the movie "Marjoe" was released, Smith invited me to appear on his program for an interview. I was flown to New York and for three and one-half hours shared my faith in Christ. Mr. Smith had somehow gotten hold of my books and asked to interview me on the pretense of discussing the issue of rock music. (The week before he
had on John Lennon and the week afterward Frank Zappa, an "illustrious" crowd to be sandwiched in between.) It turned out, however, that his intentions were far from honorable.
Howard Smith is Jewish and for some years has had a fascination with the fanatical side of American revivalism. In his travels across the land he constantly sought out the wildest, most divergent brand of evangelism he could find. His hobby was attending revival centers for the purposes of mocking their excesses. Consequently, after making the rounds of the A. A. Allen crowd he had become convinced that the only honest evangelist was a destitute one. He soon established the goal of exposing what he considered to be the norm of American Evangelicalism. I was his first victim!
Upon arrival in the studio he greeted me cordially enough, but the moment the broadcast began (aired nationwide over the ABC network) the assault was deceptively launched.
"We're happy to have Bob Larson with us tonight, an author and evangelist," he started out. "We have Bob's books with us here in the studio. Mr. Larson you certainly have written a lot of books for being so young. I imagine they bring in lots of money."
His purpose was to portray me as a mercenary minister, preying on the gullibility of my audiences. Smith was most amazed to hear that only one offering is received in our crusade services. He was accustomed to three or four in the churches he had haunted. Even more was his shock to hear that I had never seen anyone roll in the aisles. Apparently he had seen some literal Holy Rollers.
Before the evening's interview was over he was moved to comment to his radical, pro-dope, rock-oriented audi-
ence, "Bob Larson is the first honest evangelist I've ever met." I was flattered to receive the compliment but I wondered who Howard had met to give him such a grossly erroneous opinion of American evangelism. As I reminisced upon the Smith interview while talking with Marjoe it became clear that Howard's view of the Gospel had been perverted by my Millennium companion.
With Mr. Smith's interview intentions circumvented by his inabilty to defrock me before his audience, the conversation continued somewhat more amiably. The one hour alloted for the interview stretched out to nearly four hours as I knocked rock and preached Jesus until the wee hours of the morning. Toward the end Howard shook his head and commented, "I can just hear all the freaks out there turning us off, getting sick of all this Jesus-talk." Several weeks later he wrote me to express his thanks for my appearing on his show and added, "The show was very popular. Let's do it again in the future."
"Let's get something to eat," I suggested to Marjoe.
Together we left the Astrodome to share several more hours together talking about Millennium and his days of apostasy. Marjoe is particularly sensitive toward any Christian using him for name-dropping purposes. That certainly is not the purpose of my including our encounter in this book. Likewise, Marjoe avoids interviews and discussions with evangelists and preachers whom he feels might only want to use the meeting for propoganda to their constituency, claiming that they were able to really put him in his place. I understand Marjoe's apprehensions in this regard and I too find offensive any attempt to treat him as a phenomenon rather than a lost soul desperately in need of seeing the true reality of Christ.
My reader will doubtless be anxious to know what Mar-
joe and I discussed during those long hours of conversation. I assured him that I would not use his name for any self-aggrandizing purposes. In fact, until this book, this story has not been printed in any form. (Oui magazine has published Marjoe's story of Millennium including his version of our encounter. Unfortunately, Marjoe viciously attacks our ministry by deliberately falsifying the content of our conversation.) My intentions in relating this incident are first to show the obvious similarity between the ripped-off and deluded followers of Marjoe and the Hindu complement seen by the extravagant life-style of Maharaj Ji who too leeches off his devotees. Secondly, as a result of this encounter I am convinced that Marjoe is not demon-possessed. He has simply seen so much phoniness that for him the line between error and truth has become indistinguishable. A confused man, he has become caught in a self-created, vicious cycle of absurd allegations and insincere reformations. He has only changed his con-game from the tent meeting to the movie theater to please the mock-sophisticates who flock to hear his confessions. Instead of exploiting others, he himself is now being exploited by satan. When his usefulness as an expose is gone, he'll be dropped for the next sensational preacher gone astray. Marjoe needs prayer. He is not beyond redemption. Far worse prodigals have come home and nothing is impossible with God. That is my purpose for telling this encounter - Marjoe does not need our pity or disgust. This Pentecostal guru needs our sincere, burdened prayer. And for that matter so does Guru Maharaj Ji.
THE PERFECT MASTER
That evening Millennium resumed. The warm-up band this time was a fifty-six piece rock ensemble called Blue Aquarius featuring musicians from a literal rock diaspora. The band includes veterans of Bee-Gees, the Foundation, the Soul Survivors, Dando Shaft and other trend making bands. A sixty piece choir and full rhythm section drove home the heavy rhythms of the Guru's boogie band. The group has been organized and directed by. Maharaj Ji's twenty-year-old (at least that's what they say) brother, Bhole Ji. All of the members are disciples of the Guru and playing is part of their devotion. They claim to be nothing without Bhole Ji. As one member put it, "Without his presence, without his energy there, it's just a big jam session. If we meditate and let him play through us, it's all right." While the group played, spotlights reflected back off a huge forty foot mirror hanging above the stage, the same type of light show that was used by the Rolling Stones on their last American tour. Even in the press box the music was shattering in its intensity, typical of the overwhelming electronic stimulus of most heavy rock bands. In this instance the excitation was not to drugs or lust but worship of the Guru as evidenced by a song entitled "Oh Maharaj Ji," proclaiming, "My life without you is incomplete."
Suddenly, without warning, out from the canopy and onto the stage to sit in his throne chair came Guru Maharaj Ji. Immediately the scoreboard lit up with fireworks usual-
ly seen only when the Astros hit a home run. The praise, 'Bolie Shri Satgurudev, Maharaj Ji Ki Jai," rang over and
wer throughout the Astrodome. Next, the scoreboard
lashed the Lord's Prayer, prompting Blue Aquarius to render a medley of heavy rock numbers. All over the floor,
renzied dancing was taking place. Even children had ormed circles with adults who were twirling, hopping and pounding about. After really getting them off, Blue Aquarus went into a more sedate song entitled, "The Lord is Here." The technique was an old one, typical of nightclub outines that have a warm-up act preceding the main show. For a moment I peered through my binoculars at the nraptured crowd. They sat motionless in an almost hypnot state, "blissed out." There was no doubt in my mind at this is one of the devil's counterfeits to what the Bible alls, "… the peace that passes understanding." In fact, he book Who Is Guru Mahara Ji? quotes Philippians 4:7 to explain "blissing out."
Maharaj Ji hardly looked the part of God. He appeared lore suited to an ice cream cone (double decker) than a royal scepter. But there he sat, impassively staring at the arong and flanked by followers and flowers (including vo towering floral arrangements at either side). Maharaj did not so much as acknowledge the adoration of his devotees as he began speaking with indifferent nonchalance. uge screens flashed pictures of him for the audience to e. The sound over the loud speakers was horrible, turning s confused sermon into gibberish most of the time. All the while, blue and green spotlights revolved as he told his Tables of toads, owls and snakes. The stories were at just boring, marked with poor illustrations and atrocious English. His irrational claims of perfection sounded more :e one overcome with verbal dysentery than one directed
by the wisdom of God's spirit. Yet, somehow the audience took it all in, applauding his pet lines like worshippers
shouting "Amen." Satan had managed to blind their eyes to the stupidity of his own methods. As he spoke I sought to synthesize his declarations into their basic theological categories. In spite of the rambling nature of the discourse, there were five central themes that were eminently important. Let me analyze each of these in the light of Guru Maharaj Ji's speeches.
He began with the statement, "We have gathered here today not to discuss the problems of Watergate but to try and find a solution to it." Finding that solution necessitated that he establish the basic concepts upon which his entire world-view is contingent, beginning with a belief in the unity of all religions. It is this teaching which forms the precept that he is the fulfillment of the essence found in all faiths. Guru Maharaj Ji went on: "When I came to Houston I wanted to see the Astrodome. Finally I saw it. I didn't need any of the preconceptions in my head. All I had to do was see it, feel it, touch it and I understood it. It is the same with God. I'm not asking you to leave your religions … Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, go ahead but go in peace." This all sounded nice but my starving stomach reminded me that the concessions inside the Astrodome sold only vegetarian food, underscoring the preeminence give Hindu injunctions regarding the meating of meat. Appealing to an apocalyptic mentality, the Guru went on to say, "If we don't get my knowledge, you know what will happen." The assumption was that all world religions are being given one final chance at truth and if people do not surrender to the Guru, the embodiment of all truth, a cataclysm is certain.
The book Who Is Guru Maharaj Ji? points out very
definitely this unification attitude in terms of world religions. The very first chapter begins by comparing messianic quotes from the book of Isaiah, a Tibetan sage, and the prophet of the Iroquois Indians. Buddha is quoted as saying, "I am not the first Buddha nor will I be the last. Another will arise. He will reveal to you the same eternal truth which I have taught you." The author states, "In other words, we would do better to look for the first coming of the father than the second coming of the son." The chapter ends with the conclusion, "Isn't it strange how many prophecies speak about a child." One can easily see the assumptions necessary to place Guru Maharaj Ji into this context.
Later in the book another chapter begins with a comparison of various so-called sacred scriptures, attempting to show they all say basically the same thing. The statement in the book of Acts that the Holy Ghost was given through the laying on of hands' is twisted to find a correlation with a Hindu scripture indicating that Knowledge is transmitted by Lord Krishna. The experience the Guru gives his followers is also traced to be rooted in Sufism as well as among the followers of Lao Tsu. (I have no doubt about this since these demonic religions are of satanic origin and it is reasonable to assume that the devil would have similar tactics in all of them.) Other religions consulted in this unity argument include such diverse faiths as that of the Uitoto Indians of Columbia and the Sikh faith. In an ensuing chapter I will discuss the matter of how the knowledge of the Guru is received and give attention to the tasting of a substance called nectar. The book Who Is Guru
Maharaj goes so far as to suggest again that a unity is found by relating the supposed taste of this substance to the Biblical promise of a land "flowing with milk and honey."
Any such argument supposing an underlying generality in all religions that points to the Guru falls apart when this chubby cherub is compared to the person of Jesus Christ. While followers of the Guru claim the Holy Spirit that Christ promised to send is the same as the Knowledge the Guru gives they carefully overlook the fact that the ministry of the Holy Spirit, according to the words of Jesus in John 16:8, is to "convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment." The height of egotism is found in the Guru's teaching that he is greater than God because he promises to reveal God. Philippians 2:9, 10, on the other hand, points out that there is no name above that of Jesus and that angels of heaven, demons of hell and everyone on this earth will some day ultimately have to bow in acquiescene to Christ. The premies of the Guru fall at his feet, kissing them. Jesus, in contrast, said very plainly, "Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant."2 Clearly, the personalities and teachings of Jesus Christ and Guru Maharaj Ji are diametrically opposed.
The second teaching of Guru Maharaj Ji is another basic Hindu concept - God is seen as merely a source of energy. He says, "Inside of us there is that constantly vibrating energy that is sustaining us at every moment." Maharaj Ji continued that theme by saying, "The light that shines without the sun, that primordial vibration that is sustaining us in this human body, I challenge all the people of the world to comprehend it, except premies because they have understood it."
Hinduism holds that God is an impersonal force, the source of evil and good, an energy vibration that pervades all living things. All of creation is merely an extension of this elementary energy vibration and thus man is really a part of God and all is one. Man's problem is seen as being
ignorant that he is a part of God. One can only understand this when he becomes in tune with and at one with God. This is the state of perfect peace that Guru Maharaj Ji has supposedly attained and it is the state of being which he coaxes his followers to pursue.
To justify this "God equals energy" assumption, science is called into testimony by references to Einstein's theory of relativity which teaches that matter and energy are interchangeable but neither can be destroyed. Thus, all matter is reducible to energy. The soul, the supposed primordial vibration, was once a part of God and has now merely become an extension of God. Our bodies are seen as being only energy (which in turn is reducible to light) locked up in visible form. It should be obvious that reincarnation is an inescapable outgrowth of such a teaching. In fact, despite the Guru's protestations that his teachings are not distinctly related to any religious form, comments regarding reincarnation cropped up again and again.
Guru Maharaj Ji preached his espousal of reincarnation the first night when he said, "Peace is always infinite. Not only in this lifetime but in any amount of lifetimes." The second night his speech was more heavily weighted in favor of recurring life cycles. He said, "In this lifetime no one knows what we are going to be in the next, maybe a pig, or maybe a donkey, or maybe a dog, or maybe a snake. You don't know when you will die. One minute you're alive and the next out of your body. So you've got to realize that Knowledge in this lifetime." The implication is that to avoid the succession of animal reincarnations you should turn to the Guru and immediately experience perfection and at-oneness with God. How different all of this is from the Christian concept that energy is a part of the created world. Certainly the Hindu god is much less a god
for he is part of the same energy that we are. The Bible picture of God as the Creator of all matter and energy out of nothing, while being incomprehensible to our finite minds, elevates His majesty to a level far beyond that of the Guru's. Rather than being a vibratory experience of energy the believer in Christ sees God as a person who has personally wrought redemption and to whom we are personally responsible.
The third teaching of Maharaj Ji is based upon the concept of inner divinity. His speech declared, "Inside of you the solution is right there to all the miseries of this world. Eight million people have practically felt and realized truth. They have felt perfect harmony. No matter what you have done 'til now, even the greatest sin will be taken away because you will be one with your Lord and Christ. You'll be one with your Lord Krishna. Try it just once, try it."
The book Who Is Guru Maharaj Ji? contains a quotation' that clearly delineates the Guru's philosophy of sin. In response to the question as to whether or not evil comes from the mind he answered, "Exactly. The devil is the son of man that comes to mind, through mind, from mind. The only limit to our spiritual development is when we become perfect." The Astrodome speeches contended that God does not have a body and He is not a person. Maharaj Ji mentioned the story of a man who talked to him about a relationship with God (it sounded as if someone had been witnessing to him about accepting Christ as his personal Saviour). He told the man he was not interested in a relationship with God because that would mean God is a separate person to relate to and, in his words, "We need to be at one with Him, completely one." It should be obvious that the Hindu concept of inner divinity denies Guru Maharaj Ji the possibility of sin and repentance. This is the
reason he could shoot somebody and still be perfect. Because he has realized his divine-within he cannot sin. At the same time, human guilt is totally eradicated in a direct conflict with the scriptural admonition of Romans 3:23. The Guru's own subjective consciousness becomes the only standard by which he is judged because God is inside of him. No external principles of absolute values matter because he spontaneously acts in response to his own divinity. This, of course, is a denial of the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark, chapter seven, verses twenty-one through twenty-three. There, Jesus listed a catalog of sins proclaiming that all of them come "from within" out of the hearts of men. The Guru's teaching of inner divinity is a blasphemous insult to the holy attributes of Almighty God. God is righteous, so much so that to satisfy His holiness the death of His only begotten Son was required.
No teaching of Maharaj Ji is more closely aligned with the eastern traditions of Hinduism than is his claim to be a Perfect Master. His Astrodome discourses explained it this way: "There must be something perfect and if we can put ourselves in complete harmony with that perfect thing, then undoubtedly we'll be in perfect harmony. I'm not a doctor. I'm not an M.D. I've got a greater degree. For example, John the Baptist was baptizing but there was still one baptism left. John got baptized with that Holy Spirit, that Holy Knowledge, and this Knowledge was revealed to him and everything was perfect. That's why we have to go to a Perfect Master. I'm not telling you who he is. I'm just telling you if you want that Knowledge, come to me and I can give it to you. If you have a toothache you don't go to an electrician. You go to a dentist. If you want to be perfect, you go to one who has that perfection."
The press packet that was handed me contained a sec-
tion supposedly defining a Perfect Master. It did not. It only suggested that Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Krishna and other spiritual leaders were keepers of a perfect experience that is like the one the Guru gives. The press release stated, "These lives, though outwardly different, all serve the same purpose. They show human beings the path to freedom. Today there is a Perfect Master for our time, Guru Maharaj Ji."
The tabloid Divine Times in its special Millennium edition contained an article that was supposed to clarify the matter. The article was excerpted from a discourse given by the Guru and said, "There is a test for a spiritual master. This is not by asking me questions and getting answers. No. First of all by listening to him, he will tell you about this Knowledge. God is one. Yet, there are so many Christian religions. I am floating much higher than any religious imagination. I have seen God and I know God."
Such an egotistical claim can only be supported if one again yields to the supremacy of Hindu theology. Hinduism holds the doctrine of avatars, saviours of mankind who embody progressive revelations of truth for each age. This variant of Hinduism is based on the theory that an avatar is the human expression of the Divine God-energy. The doctrine purports that an avatar will always exist in the world, that he is eternal and always returns to God. Because only one avatar can exist on earth at one time, there is much fierce competition in India among the holy men there, since many of them claim to be the avatar. I would not be surprised it Guru Maharaj Ji were to be assassinated by one of the followers of some other Hindu mystic who lays claim to the same title.
The Bhagavad Gita delineates more than a dozen avatars. The avatar is not, in a strict sense, a true saviour although
some traditions hold that there will be an ultimate expression of God who will bring an end to the successive incarnations. The Judeo-Christian faith has no room for such successive revelations of God through a progression of eras. Throughout the Old Testament a Messiah was prophecied but there was to be only one such Saviour. The Christian position is one of proclaiming that Christ fulfilled this prediction as the God-man. Hebrews4 declares that there remains no more sacrifice for sin other than that of Christ's life given on the cross. It should be further noted that this particular doctrine of avatars did not enter Hindu theology until after Christ was crucified. Then, the teaching was at that point in history necessary to serve satan's plan of duplicating and counterfeiting the Incarnation.
As so his own claims of divine perfection, the Guru is deliberately ambiguous. All of his accomplices time and again say that he. is God, obviously at his prompting and direction. His brothers, mother, mahatmas, apostles and disciples all proclaim his divinity as well as do all but a minority of his followers. Cleverly, he answers questions regarding his god-status with rhetoric. In response to the questions as to whether or not he is God, he replies, "A rose does not say, 'I am a rose.' People who see it say it is a rose. You need a living master for the circumstances of today. When Jesus was here there were no nuclear bombs. Now there are and the Perfect Master has come to save you from the nuclear bomb."'5
"TRY IT, YOU'LL LIKE IT"
All of the basic suppositions discussed in the last chapter are essential to having faith in Guru Maharaj Ji as the Perfect Master, or avatar for our age. But they merely form the foundation and framework through which the ultimate attachment to the Guru is attained. This is accomplished through the dynamic, subjective experience of receiving Knowledge. Everywhere I had walked that day when confronting the Guru's premies, they consistently gave glowing testimonials of this Knowledge experience. I could see it was something which brought them a great deal of personal, sensual satisfaction. I listened carefully to the words of Guru Maharaj Ji to see whether or not he would explain exactly what this Knowledge is all about. All he said was this: "Until a person has had the individual experience of Knowledge he can't understand it. It's what is inside of us and we're searching externally. You have to go to someone who can reveal this Knowledge inside of you. This Knowledge is going to make you rich. Even more than you can comprehend. What we need is the practical realization of that perfect Knowledge and to be one with God."
Nothing he said really told me what Knowledge is so I began to leaf through some of my materials to see what I could come up with. First I consulted my press packet information sheet entitled, "What is Knowledge?" All it added to my understanding were quotes such as these: "This gift is powerful enough to transform the world. The Knowl-
edge is transmitted to those who ask with a sincere heart. It is an experience of light. By continual return to the source of peace, to the soul, one's selfish habits fall away and spiritual growth begins."
By looking at the other materials I had been given I learned that the experience of receiving Knowledge is a four-fold process. It consists of seeing a blinding light (seeing with the so-called third eye), hearing a celestial music (divine music such as that in Revelation 22), tasting a sweet substance called nectar (that supposedly heals the body) and sensing a primordial vibration that represents the Word of God. The Guru's official biography states, "Knowledge is not a religion. It is the direct experience of God or eternal energy that all religions talk about. It establishes beyond any doubt the intrinsic unity between all living things. The Christian counterpart is supposedly the experience of revealing the inner soul."'
Just as to how the Knowledge is transmitted and received is a difficult matter to discern. It involves a lengthy ritual lasting anywhere from eight to twenty-four hours. In fact, I spoke with a girl who spent twenty hours fasting and meditating before she received Knowledge. One or more of the four experiences may be received during this session although usually not all four, nectar being the hardest to accomplish the first time around. Because the rite is secret, outsiders never really find out the exact process. Premies who do describe it to others may be threatened with a demotion in future reincarnations. This much is certain - only a mahatma may instruct a Knowledge session. Each
follower has to fill out a card and after much contemplation a number are chosen to be initiated into the Mission. They are given the honor of receiving this experience and thus worshipping at the Guru's feet. The initiates prove their
devotion by bowing (pranaming) before a picture of the Guru. Though the Bible teaches we walk by faith, not by sight, and that "… without faith it is impossible to please God,"2 the Guru exhorts devotees to first experience the Knowledge and then believe. As the Astrodome scoreboard put it on many occasions, "Receive the fruits of Guru Maharaj Ji for by them shall you know him." The impact of the Knowledge experience is so strong that Rennie Davis has declared it makes alcohol, sex and drugs seem drab. More foreboding is the fact that receiving Knowledge necessitates a complete surrender of life, mental capacities and financial status in service to Guru Maharaj Ji.
Sitting there and listening to the Guru pontificate, it all remained a little vague. In retrospect I have been able to more carefully analyze the four techniques involved. This analysis comes from my personal conversations with the Guru's devotees as well as the official pronouncements from his publications.
The first stage of initiation in the secret ritual is to see divine light. Optically this is viewed by the so-called "third eye" which is opened up to the blinding light of God. Premies will only tell you that after several hours of instruction the mahatma approaches the devotees and somehow presses his hands upon their foreheads. This may be a trick that involves a manipulation of the optic nerve. Another naturalistic explanation is supplied by the Guru's followers themselves. They believe that meditation on the light stimulates the pineal gland which they consider to be responsible for wholesomeness of the entire human organization. This so-called master control of the brain supposedly transforms the entire character of the devotee. One premie explained that the thumb is placed in the right eye, the second finger in the left eye and the index finger on the forehead. An-
other explained to me that when he did this to himself and applied the necessary pressure it became quite painful. When the mahatma did so it amazingly became a peaceful (hypnotic?) experience. More than likely the light seen by the devotees is purely a neurological light caused by a reaction of the retina. At any rate, the meditators after a while become so proficient that they can close their eyes at most any time and see this inner light. While there may be purely physiological explanations for this and the other three phenomena of the Knowledge techniques, one certainly cannot dismiss the possibility of demon spirits that would induce such reactions for the sake of spiritistic subjection. On the other hand, the Guru's teachers may have merely learned oriental yoga techniques that can be physically induced without the aid of demons.
After divine light is seen, the next step is to introduce the initiate to divine music, the so-called tuning of the heart with God. This experience of hearing with the "third ear" is described by a variety of sounds, each being highly pleasurable. Some relate the tones as being celestial in nature like the voices of millions in an angelic choir. One said that his divine music was the loudest rock and roll he had ever heard. Another premie told me it was an indescribable sound, something she knew she had heard before in the womb of her mother as a fetus. Once again the mahatma is directly involved in a physical manipulation of the ears. It may well be that the sounds heard are only the internal functions of the body such as the pulse of the circulatory system.
The third technique, and most seldom received, is that of tasting nectar, said to be a purifying fluid which flows
from the brain to the throat. It is testified to as being intoxicating in nature and the source of all bodily strength.
Once again a physiological manipulation is required. It seems that somehow the tongue is deflected into the back of the throat for several minutes, probably resting on the uvula. The outrageous claims made for the taste of nectar should not really be considered so surprising. After the subject has been properly brainwashed before the ritual even begins, and after he has undergone the emotionally subjective and electrifying experience of seeing divine light and hearing divine music, it is entirely possible by then that his powers of awareness could be so manipulated and his sensory facilities so confused that post-nasal mucous would be interpreted as being "sweeter than honey."
The final technique and culmination of the entire process is one of experiencing the "primordial vibration" that underlies existence, the word. This is supposed to be the happiest moment in the life of a premie. While the Bible speaks in John 1:14 of "the word made flesh" in reference to the Son of God, the Guru's followers jerk this scripture out of context to call this ultimate experience a fulfillment of this Biblical passage. In conversing with converts to the Guru, I became convinced that experiencing this inner vibration had a definite effect upon their state of mentality and consciousness. They obviously were high, almost like on drugs. The difference being, that this experience was not derived from the introduction of a foreign substance into the body. In fact, one observing those at Millennium could periodically see individuals freaking out on this vibration, their eyes rolling back as they lapsed into a trance state, meditating all the while upon this inner frequency. They claim that experiencing the word brings peace and clarity while suppressing the conscious mind and elevating them to a place where constructive thought and activity become pointless. The ultimate effect is that they become so over-
whelmed by this vibration that a deceptive sense of infiniteness sets into their entire thought processes. Somehow it gives them a counterfeit glow and sort of love that motivates them to share this experience with others. One premie explains the dynamic growth of Divine Light Mission by saying, "You know how it is when kids get turned on to a groovy new drug? The word passes fast and everybody wants to experience it. Receiving the Knowledge of Guru Maharaj Ji is just like that. It's so wonderful you'll want to tell everybody else and the news passes quickly."
The entire process of receiving Knowledge seems easily explained on a purely naturalistic basis. While the Guru's devotees claim that secrecy prevents adulteration of the teachings, such shrouding definitely creates an aura of mystery which inspires awe and curiosity. Furthermore, not just anyone can receive Knowledge. A lengthy indoctrination (brainwashing) period is required and only those being suited who have totally surrendered to the Guru are allowed to undergo the experience. By demanding secrecy the knowledge transmitters invoke one of the most ancient and worn-out tools of cults, the esoteric brotherhood of
mysticism. Because the mahatma carefully tells the initiate what he is going to experience and predefines it for him
the meditator easily becomes manipulated by suggestion. By that time he is so yielded he readily defines his own internal, subjective experiences in harmony with what he has already been told.
Most important to our concern in this book is an understanding of Maharaj Ji's teaching regarding Knowledge.
The first century heretical sect of gnosticism was an earlier satanic attempt to promote such a concept. Gnostics also believed that salvation could come through knowledge (gnosis in the Greek). The epistle to the Colossians was
written by Paul to counteract in part this false teaching. In addition the Lord Jesus himself stated in Revelation 2:15 that He hated gnosticism, as taught by the heretic Nicolaus.
Gnosticism originated in oriental mysticism as well as Hinduism. Its post-Christan founder is reputed to be Simon Magus of Acts, chapter eight. Gnostics preached a Platonic duelism, supposing that all matter is evil. Occultic and secretive in their attempts to understand the nature of divine existence, they sought a world religion theorized upon a cosmic philosophy through which redemption is possible by union with the Supreme Infinite. Colossians 2:18 refers to gnostic worship of angelic beings supposedly emmanating from the Supreme. Paul also attacks their vanity in laying claim to mystical knowledge supposedly denied the rest of the world. One of the most profound truths in Scripture is Paul's statement of Colossians 2:8-10. By saying that "In Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily," Paul laid to rest the gnostic claims that angels could be intermediaries between God and man. In verse eight their secretive and mystical experiences were warned about as being the kind that would "spoil" the true followers of Jesus Christ. In addition, Paul states in I Timothy 6:20 that we are to avoid "… vain babblings and oppositions of science falsely so-called." The word translated "science" here is again the Greek work gnosis, or knowledge. No statement in God's Word could be clearer in refuting the teachings of Guru Maharaj Ji.
This claim to secretive knowledge is nothing new. In fact, all four of the techniques previously described have been known to occultists for centuries and are as old as Eden. It's interesting to note in Genesis 2:17 that the forbidden tree of which Adam and Eve tasted, causing them
to fall into sin, was called the "tree of knowledge." The lie of Guru Maharaj Ji is the lie of the Garden serpent. The prophet Hosea declared, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."' Clearly, knowledge is an important acquisition. What is Knowledge - true knowledge? The Bible plainly tells us, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge."4 Christians are instructed to, "… grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."5
After nearly an hour and a half of boring recitations the Guru's address finally came to an end. "Try it, you'll like it," he said of his knowledge. "God bless you." Immediately, twenty thousand devotees reverently stood to their feet and praised the name of Guru Maharaj Ji. The choir and orchestra struck up a number entitled, "I Love You My Lord" followed by the devotional song, "Arti." Next, the band belted out a heavy rock version of the Rolling Stones' song, "Satisfaction," which speaks of fornication and menstruation. What an incongruity in view of the supposed presence of God himself! Everywhere I looked premies were gyrating to the throbbing rhythms while onstage an ameoba-like projection pulsated on large screens, typical of a rock concert. After "Satisfaction," the band played "When The Saints Go Marching In." The place really began rocking as with hands raised into the air they bounced, jigged and flopped, all the while praising the Guru. The subsequent musical transition became even more absurd. From "When The Saints Go Marching In" the band went into the occultic hit song of the rock group Santana, entitled, "Black Magic Woman."
Reflecting back upon the speech I had just heard, I was struck by the naive simplicity necessary to accept such hog-wash. Nevertheless, it had all been genuine enough to
elicit the worship taking place below me in the Astrodome. To me, Maharaj Ji's presentation was only warmed-over Hinduism, but to the spiritually hungry vagabonds attending Millennium it had been the gospel of life.
MILLENNIUM - AFTERMATH & AFTERTHOUGHTS
The events of the next two days were similar in rhetoric and general boredom. Day number two started with the Apostles singing, "You know you like to rock and roll, here's a way you can use it to bring peace. The Guru Maharaj Ji he's so funky, he's the Lord of humanity." Like the "special" in a Gospel revival service, the Apostles were followed by a girl on solo guitar who sang about the grace and love of the Guru. She proceeded a mahatma who gave yet another glowing testimonial of the grace of Maharaj Ji. Finally, Maharaj Ji's mother spoke, blissing out the devotees with more of the same trivia that had characterized the whole event.
The Holy Mother, as they refer to her, was introduced by an Indian Hindu lady who said, "We are here to honor God on earth and the Mother of God. We must declare Almighty God has come to save us. God himself. We must declare Guru Maharaj Ji is God!"
When the introduction was finished she called on to the stage her ten-year-old daughter who prostrated herself before Maharaj Ji's throne. Quickly, the camera crew zeroed in to preserve the scene on film for posterity.
The Mother of Creation, wearing a white sari and a huge diamond in one nostril, started with a Hindu song of praise intoned in a minor key complete with a choir response from the sixty voices standing two tiers below her.
An interpreter stood at her side to share with the audience the English meaning of her pronouncements. "Why should we make religion a battleground? Let us come together," she said, "and start a world in which peace can be established. I want you to make a pledge while sitting in this hall that you will plant this Knowledge in the whole universe." Anyone who listened intently would have had to have been high on the Guru or otherwise they would have fallen asleep.
"Krishna Lila" followed, a pantomimed production similar to that on the previous day entitled, "Lord Christ." Krishna, the ancient Hindu diety, came off decidedly better than Jesus. Instead of a handful of actors in an acceptably designed setting, a cast of more than forty with elaborate costuming acted out the dance of devotion to Krishna. The play opened with a scene of thirty-six gopies (milk maids) preparing for the day. Up on the stage popped Krishna tooting on a flute. Unanimously, the gopies began dancing. With extravagant staging, one scene followed another accompanied by the rhythm and tune of a blend of eastern and western music with heavy emphasis upon the Indian sitar and tabla. The play, supposedly conceived by the Guru himself, expresses the love gopies have for Krishna.
While watching "Krishna Lila," I turned to Carol who was seated next to me in the press box and asked, "Aren't gopies the Hindu equivalents of consorts (prostituted whores) to Krishna?"
She shrugged her shoulders slightly and answered, "Yes, I guess that's really what they are."
I looked at her somewhat bewildered and retorted, "Those Hindu gods didn't have it too badly, did they." Carol noted my sarcasm but only shrugged her shoulders
as if the irony of portraying a spiritual drama based upon fornication was inconsequential.
At the end of the play, Lord Krishna supposedly manifests himself so strongly that he becomes three people. At this the whole scoreboard lit up, this time with the Astrodome neon bull galloping across. The bovine had not been used before in previous instances when the board was lit. The significance this time was underscored by the Hindu theology of "Krishna Lila" and the Hindu veneration of sacred brahmas.
The term "lila" in "Krishna Lila" is also of Hindu origin and is best defined as "the game playing of God." It seems that the tradition of God playing games with His devotees carries on to Guru Maharaj Ji. The story is told of the time he jumped on his motorcycle and zipped past his protrated devotees, spewing dust all over them. A second pass nearly resulted in his running over them as he ended up in a mud patch. After pushing and pulling the Guru and his cycle out of the slime, the devotees became covered with muck in the process. They marveled at the wonderful grace that had allowed them this opportunity of indulging in being victimized by Maharaj Ji's childish immaturity. On another occasion a lila took place when he doused his followers with a bucket of red paint. This too was received by them as an act of the Guru's love for them.
Following the events of each day, I wandered about the outside of the Astrodome surveying the crowd and happenings. The Krishna Consciousness people were constantly chanting and demonstrating against the Guru. They danced as long as two hours at a time, their faces red from jumping up and down. At times they were surrounded by followers of the Guru who yelled mockingly at them. Though an outsider might suppose that the Krishna advocates would
have had their devotion accelerated by "Krishna Lila" they were decidedly antagonistic toward Maharaj Ji and his followers. It seems as though the devil is divided against himself for the purposes of confusion. As a matter of fact, Krishna Consciousness chanters were not allowed inside of the Astrodome. On the outside they chanted over and over again, "The Guru is a liar." As one of them explained to me, "The followers of Guru Maharaj Ji are thinking that Krishna had a material body when he was on this planet even though Krishna says in the Gita in several places that he never comes under the influence of the material body, that his body is transcendental. Krishna's body is spiritual."
It all seemed like nit-picking to me but the theological difference was enough to conjure up a violent protest that brought in police to disburse the chanters.
The Krishna Consciousness leaders are responsible for this organized opposition to the Guru. One spokesman said, "Guru Maharaj Ji cuts the image of a crafty businessman, not of God." Their spiritual master A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami sent cassette recordings from India to all of their ashrams denouncing the Guru as a fraud. He claims that the devotees of Maharaj Ji are hypnotized into believing he is God. "What kind of God is it that is controlled by insult, criminal court or disease?" he asks. "There's a sucker born every minute."
I had the opportunity to speak with scores of people. Particularly interesting were interviews I recorded. The following are two such conversations with foreign devotees of Guru Maharaj Ji.
INTERVIEW WITH THE ARGENTINIAN LADY
Q. You came a long way didn't you?
A. Yes. Q. Why?
A. Because I wanted to meet him, Guru Maharaj Ji.
Q. Do you believe in him?
A. I wanted to find out.
Q. What did you find out?
A. I like him.
Q. Is he God?
A. He might have the energy of God. I didn't take the Knowledge yet. How do you feel?
Q. I think its an exploitive rip-off and I'm going to write a book about it.
INTERVIEW WITH MAN FROM COLUMBIA, S. A.
Q. Are you a follower of Guru Maharaj Ji?
A. Yes, for six months.
Q. Is he God?
A. You have to receive the Knowledge and then you will know who he is.
Q. What have you found out?
A. I know he is God. I received Knowledge.
Q. Have you received nectar?
A. Yes, and it is more sweet than honey. Why don't you
take it, try it you'll like it.
Q. What has belief in the Guru done for you?
A. He has done everything for me. He made me the happiest person in the world. He gave me everything
I was looking for.
Q. Were you a Catholic?
A. I'm still CatholiC: I'm still a Christian but now I know who Jesus really is.
Q. And who is Jesus?
A. Jesus is light, love, peace, as it says, "… the word made flesh." The Bible says God is light and when you receive Knowledge you receive light. It is all around.
Q. Will you hear divine music tonight?
A. Yes, I will and I'll hear the most beautiful music in the world.
I'd like to note in passing one incident about which there may be future repercussions. Anyone could tell I was not particularly in harmony with the Guru. Skeptics and cynics were prevalent but with my tape recorder, cameras and lenses I perhaps looked more professional. At one point just following the above interview, I was turning to walk into the Astrodome when I happened to glance over my shoulder. Standing about thirty feet away on another ramp, one of the Guru's confidants had just snapped my picture and was lowering the camera from his eye. I stared directly at him for a moment wondering why he had secretly taken my picture. He looked at me suspectingly as we stared each other down. Almost frightened that I had caught him, he briskly turned and walked away. Why the picture was taken I don't know, except to say I am certain the Guru's security force suspicioned that I might have malicious intent. On the other hand he may have been motivated by satan to catalog who I was for future purposes. Whatever the reason, I do not fear knowing that the blood of Jesus Christ protects and preserves my life.
The second and third speeches of Guru Maharaj Ji were similar to the first, except that on the second night he alluded at length to the charges that he is an antichrist. "People say that I am the Antichrist and that I am just a robber and the police do not know," he said. "They say I am a fake. Maybe I am a fake. Just follow the Knowledge. It's the things I am saying that matters. What everybody else says about me doesn't matter. If you want to know truth, come to me and I can show you truth. You'd better treat me as a human and not as an antichrist. If you're
human, love me and consider me as a brother. People who say that I am an antichrist are antichrist themselves. If I am a man, and if God is omnipresent, and God is within me, how can I be the Antichrist. If I am an antichrist and God is within me, then don't call God omnipresent." The whole point was based upon the supposition that God is within one. Therefore God could not be in someone and that person still be an antichrist. As he went on to point out (provided that one accepts the presupposition that God is within everyone), for him to be the Antichrist would negate the omnipresent attribute of God.
Though I am convinced that Guru Maharaj Ji is not the Antichrist, he is an antichrist. An antichrist is constituted by more than a denial that Jesus Christ as the Son came in the flesh. The term "antichrist" connotates opposition to the sacrificial, blood atonement of Jesus Christ by substituting in its place another intermediary (Perfect Master) who becomes the sole access to harmony with God. On both of these accounts Guru Maharaj Ji comes up guilty and thus falls within the defined category of being an antichrist.
The final night was expected to be heralded by some dramatic gesture from the Guru, such as the possibility of an angelic visitation or a levitation. Some even suspected that inner-planetary visitors might come to bow before his feet. A portion of the Astrodome parking lot had been roped off to serve as a landing strip. Disappointingly to the premies, the best he could come up with was the announcement of plans to build a Divine City at an undetermined site. The projected, self-supporting community would be one where food and clothing would be free and non-polluting factories would run on solar energy. The predetermined population would be based upon Revelation 144,000 citizens. The city would be modular in design
with a basic living unit in the form of a six by twelve foot hexagon, sounding more like Folsom than futuristic. The design of the modules is based upon measurements that are multiples of seven, another concept taken from Revelation. The so-called satsang hall would have to be large enough to seat the entire 144,000 residents. Appropriately enough, the City is to be built in Texas with backing by an anonymous but wealthy contractor and developer. (What Maharaj Ji didn't tell the premies that night was later reported in the papers. The extravagant plans for the Divine City are possible because of the Guru's intentions to have his devotees donate their labors for the pay of two dollars per day.)
I collected my cassette recorder, cameras and notes. Walking out into the muggy Houston air, I thought back upon what those three days in Houston had taught me. Certainly the Biblical prediction and warning regarding false prophets seemed more serious than ever. Now as I read the words of Paul in II Corinthians 11:13-15 they seem to leap off the page at me: "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."
Even more direct are the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:23-24: "If any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets." Matthew 24, verse 27, continues with the words of Jesus describing His coming "as the lightning cometh out of the east and shineth even unto the west." Certainly, there will be no doubt when Christ
returns to judge men. It won't be necessary to herald His coming with peace proclamations and posters for "every eye shall behold Him." The coming of Christ will be unmistakable. The angels declared in Acts 1:11, "This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven." How absurd to correlate this scriptural passage (as some premies do) with the descending of Guru Maharaj Ji into an international airport on a 747.
The Millennium episode was in some ways a frustrating experience. First of all, during those three days I underwent perhaps the most severe attack of satanic oppression I have ever been emotionally and spiritually subjected to. Those of you who have read my book Hell On Earth know of a similar instance of physical oppression that satan attacked me with while attending a Hindu festival to expose his workings. As God marvelously protected me then, so did He in Houston. The manner of the oppression and the severity of its nature is not appropriate to discuss at this time. Sufficient to say is my personal testimony that even though I have attended various forms of heathen, demonic rituals all over the world, I have never sensed to any greater degree the working of hell itself through demon powers afflicting my own mind and body.
Secondly, my frustration was in part born out of the futility of trying to witness to representatives of the Guru. Without a doubt, satan, "the god of this world, hath blinded the minds of them which believe not."1 It is unwise to wit-ness of Christ to a premie on the basis of an experience alone. They too have an experience that provides them with an artificial sense of momentary joy and peace. Though Christian testimonies are often laced with glorious accounts of the burden of sin being lifted we must always keep in
mind that the essence of faith in Christ is based upon knowing Him as a personal Lord with whom we communicate on an intimate, personal basis. In my early ministry I often quoted that statement I had heard from others: "The man who has an experience is never at the mercy of the man who has only an argument." After Houston I have a reinforced aversion to relating my Christian commitment in terms of subjectivity. Christians need more than an experience - they need a depth in the Word of God that intellectualizes and objectifies their faith so that they understand God as a reasonable Creator who forgives sin rather than just blocking the cognizance of it. Our faith must be one of content as well as form. While the followers of Guru Maharaj Ji Ji interpret everything they say within the frame of reference of their Knowledge experience, true Believers in Jesus Christ subject all feelings and emotions to the authority of God's written Word. Premies often make deliberately contradictory statements such as supposing the Guru could be perfect and yet kill. Christians who study the Bible find the flow of Scripture presents a God of harmony who is totally consistent in all that He does.
In these last days a blazing wildfire of false prophets has appeared upon the religious scene. How is one to know and discern that which is of God? More than ever the wisdom and direction of the Holy Spirit is necessary. For example, the term "guru" is of Sanskrit origin. (Sanskrit is the ancient Hindu scriptural language.) The prefix "gu" means darkness and "ru" means light. Hence, the term denotes a compound of darkness and light. Followers of Maharaj Ji say that he is the one who leads from darkness into light (the light being one of the techniques of receiving Knowledge). In defense they quote Matthew 6:22: "The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye
be single, thy whole body shall be full of light." Convenently, they avoid the very next verse that contains Christ's yarning, "If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, Low great is that darkness!" Maharaj Ji is a "guru" but ather than leading from darkness to light his pathway progresses from light to darkness and, indeed, "How great that darkness is!"
It is also worth noting that the appeal to take Knowledge based upon the "Try it, you'll like it," philosophy of receiving the fruits of Guru Maharaj Ji and knowing him by them. In defense they quote Matthew 7:16: "Ye shall now them by their fruits." Interestingly enough they avoid mentioning that this passage of Scripture in proper connotation begins with verse fifteen and is a warning from Jesus to, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are raving wolves." In that context one cannot help but pathetically muse at the prediction of Maharaj Ji found in his biography Who Is Guru Maharaj Ji?: "We can save everyone in this world very soon."
Heading toward my motel, the glittering dome of the Houston sports complex faded into the lights of the city. A quiet sense of awe hushed my heart in thankfulness for the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ that had allowed me to be a partaker of His divine forgiveness. I saw the premies leaving too, their three-day binge of boredom concluded with only the promise of a sixteen-year-old guru to go on. Millennium, a thousand years of peace? My heart wept knowing that for them there lay ahead only endless days of blinded devotion and the ultimate judgment of bowing before the true Christ, Jesus, the Lord of Glory.
"While Guru Maharaj Ji claims to be the Perfect Master come in the flesh," I thought to myself, "I wait with other
Believers for the return of Christ, the Perfect Mediator who will come in the clouds of heaven." With true eternal peace in my heart I rejoiced knowing that His arrival would not be heralded with the style of a cleverly orchestrated scenario such as I had seen for the last three days but rather, "… with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God."2
A SPECIAL ONE HOUR CASSETTE ANALYZING GURU MAHARAJ J1 AND DIVINE LIGHT MISSION IS AVAILABLE FOR A $10 TAX-DEDUCTIBLE GIFT TOWARD THE EVANGELISTIC OUTREACH OF BOB LARSON MINISTRIES. ORDER FROM BOX 26438, DENVER, CO. 80226
- Time, Aug. 6, 1973, p. 45.
- Newsweek, Nov. 19, 1973, p. 157.
- Rolling Stone, Nov. 11, 1971, p. 52.
- ibid., Nov. 25, 1971.
- ibid., March 20, 1972, p. 26.
- ibid., Oct. 11, 1973, p. 70.
- Newsweek, March 27, 1972, p. 77.
- Rolling Stone, Oct. 11, 1973, p. 20.
- Newsweek, Nov. 19, 1973, p. 157.
- Who is Guru Maharaj Ji?, Bantam Books 1973), p. 105.
- The Bible, K.J.V., Mark 9:21.
- The Bible, K.J.V., The Acts 8:17
- ibid., Matthew 20:27
- Who is Guru Maharaj Ji?, Bantam Books 1973), p. 91.
- The Bible, K.J.V., Hebrews 10:26
- Who is Guru Maharaj Ji?, Bantam Books 1973), p. 84
- Who is Guru Maharaj Ji?, Bantam Books (N.Y., N.Y.,1973), p. 18
- The Bible, K.J.V., Hebrews 11:6
- ibid., Hosea 4:6.
- ibid., Proverbs 1:7.
- ibid., 11 Peter 3:18.
- The Bible, K.J.V., II Corinthians 4:4
- ibid., I Thessalonians 4:16.
Cover photo and photographs on pages 1 and 2 courtesy Sri Hans Production, used by permission. All photos in pictorial appendix taken by Bob Larson.
The followers of Guru Maharaj Ji came to Millenium by a variety of means. Few arrived individually as the pictures below illustrate. Vans and mobile homes of all types were used to bring groups who lived in them for the entire three days, while Maharaj Ji lounged in his $2,500 per day hotel suite. Some of the vehicles were old and dilapidated but many such as those in the photos were expensive, indi- cating the middle to upper-middle class socio-economic standing of the Guru's devotees. Each van was festooned with painted slogans and/or posters of Maharaj Ji such as the one at upper left quoting him as saying: "I declare I will establish peace in this world." The camper on the pick-up bed was entirely handmade and fashioned as an ad of devotion in service to their Lord, the Guru.
Hare Krishna chanters were vocally evident each day in front of the main entrance to the Astrodome. Even though also Hindu in origin, they opposed the Guru by saying that Lord Krishna would not manifest himself in a body as the Guru claims. At lower left the chanters are seen holding a devotional painting of Krishna, the same one seen in George Harrison's rock album "Living in the Materia World." How tragic to see the indoctrination of their children who are forced to join them in marathon dancing and chant ing sessions.
The strata of followers of Guru Maharaj Ji is divided into apostles (especially chosen confidants), mahatmas (disciples who teach the technique of receiving Knowledge) and premies (literally, lovers of the Guru). They come in all ages and categories, though most are young fugitives of various radical and protest causes. More than two dozen 747's (NB DLM themselves only claimed 7 international flights and a specially chartered 747 carried a maximum of 660 one class passengers, 24 474s would have carried minimum 10,000 passengers as many as Larson estimated attended the event) jetted in a multitude of foreign visitors. Maharaj Ji's appeal for spiritual unity drew a variety of religions, typified by the young Catholic priest at lower left who reverently clasped his hands and then prostrated himself before the Guru's throne.
At upper left is a scene from the production "Lord Christ." Mary, holding the baby Jesus, is seen surrounded by the Magi. The dance scene at lower left is from "Krishna Lila," another pantomimed extravaganza decidedly better performed than its so-called Christian counterpart. Both dramas were intended to show that the Guru is but another in the succession of Perfect Masters, or avatars as they are called in Hinduism. The camera crew above cost Divine Light Mission $500,000 to preserve on film the supposed beginning of one thousand years of peace.
Charanand Ji, Maharaj Ji's first apostle to journey to the west, is seen at the upper left as he exhorted the premies regarding the importance of Perfect Masters. Shri Mata Ji, the mother of the Guru, also addressed her son's followers. The picture above right shows how the computerized Astrodome scoreboard projected her face with a composite of lights. At lower left, she is seated next to the throne chair occupied each evening by Maharaj Ji.
Each night as Guru Maharaj Ji ascended the throne, the Astrodome scoreboard dazzled with an electronic light display normally reserved for touchdowns and home runs. Ironically, the Guru's diadem was constructed directly beneath the huge American flag, underscoring the hypocrisy of a nation that proclaims, In God we trust," and yet allows such paganization of its youth. The premies pictured below sit enraptured as the Guru delivers his satsang (religious discourse). They listened for hours to boring recitations of irrational claims for peace.
I BELIEVE IN ONE REALITY
AND THAT IS PURE RELIGION.
RELIGION IS A WORD STARTED
FROM THE WORD REALIZATION,
AND THE REALIZATION OF GOO IS
THE PURE AND PERFECT RELIGION
As the festivities progressed, the Astrodome scoreboard spelled out a variety of messages to the faithful. Above, is seen one of the many religious platitudes beamed forth. The statement is one taken from Hinduism. In fact, all of Guru Maharaj Ji's theological concepts are based on Hindu presuppositions, as shown by the picture below. Few devotees realized the significance of the message which is a Hindu trinitarian creed. Brahma (creator), Vishnu (preserver) and Shiva (destoyer) represent the pagan (satanic) equivalent of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The message belies the Guru's contentions that all religions are equally acceptable to him.
CREATOR PRESERVER DESTROYER
BOW THEIR HEADS AND PRAY TO YOU ALL BOW
AND PRAY TO YOU
GURU MAHARAJ JI
As Guru Maharaj Ji concluded his speech (above), thousands stood, hands raised, to praise his name. His face is projected from the massive Astrodome scoreboard. A large reflecting mirror, to the left of the neon face, partially obscures the Bible quotations from St. Matthew. To the right, the title of "God" can be seen proclaiming the Guru's supposed divinity. The close-up photo below shows Maharaj Ji seated in his royal splendor. The spotlights reflect off the forty-foot mirror to illuminate the fifty-six piece orchestra and sixty voice choir seen on the lower tiers. Also visible, are the other four chairs, two on either side of the Guru, where the Holy Family are seated.
The offices of Divine Light Mission are spacious and well-staffed. Each employee works unsalaried as part of his service to Maharaj Ji. The Guru's visage is ubiquitous, staring forth at every turn. Each desk has one or more of his photographs prominently displayed as a constant reminder that everything they do is by his grace.
The devotion of Divine Light Mission employees is depicted here in three ways. The photo at upper left shows one of the many office altars with offerings of fruit and flowers placed before pictures of the Holy Family. At lower left Bob is seen about to enter the lavish, personal, executive office of Guru Maharaj Ji, built and furnished by Mission employees. Above, the workers are seen meditating in worship before the vacant chair where Maharaj Ji has sat. This ritual is performed one-half hour each lunch period in the headquarters satsang hall.
The Divine Light Mission organizational complexities are monitored by IBM computers supplied by a $5,000 monthly rental fee. As shown above, even these technological marvels are festooned with Maharaj Ji's image, evidencing the irony of wedding irrational paganism with modern scientific genius. At lower left the computer department head explains her highly skilled qualifications while simultaneously closing her eyes to meditate on Maharaj Ji's "knowledge."