Prem Rawat's Lilas
Lila in Sanskrit refers to creative play by the divine in both non-dualistic and dualistic Hindu schools of thought. Prem Rawat, who claims to be God in human form, said his divine lilas are required to bring man into perfection.
Whatever you pick up, so you become. Because it's all the little lila, or play, of mind that brings you into all the confusion and everything of this world. And that's why a man needs the lila of the Perfect Master. Because that brings him into something that is completely perfect. - San Francisco, California, February 10, 1974
Prem Rawat was blunt when speaking in front of his devotees. He could, if he wanted, perform divine lilas so mind-boggling and magical that everyone in the world would practise his Knowledge:
When we say Perfect Master, when we say this, this person who is infinite, call him Guru Maharaj Ji, call him Perfect Master, call him Lord, call him anything you want, he doesn't need to come into this world. You see? He doesn't. Because he is perfect. All he has to do is one day get up and just scream through the blue skies, and say, "You! Everybody! Realize Knowledge. Otherwise I am going to do something to you guys you never dreamed of." And then he could do something that would sort out every person who realized Knowledge and is meditating, and every person who has not realized Knowledge.
And so premies, the Perfect Master comes, and he comes in the human body. I mean, he doesn't have to. All he has to do is have a body that's as huge as the world – and even bigger, as the universe – and then pick up the whole world on his little finger and say, "You guys want to live, or should I blow you away?" He could do that, because we call him Almighty. And if we call him Almighty, it's a jazz for him to do this. It wouldn't take him anything. Because he's perfect. And he could just very well do that and say, "Look. If you don't realize this Knowledge, all I am going to do is -- boomp! -- and you are never going to know what hit you." But he doesn't do that. - Guru Puja Festival Caracas, Venezuela, July 23, 1975
The concept of Guru Maharaj Ji's lilas were commonly used to explain just about anything that occurred in a premie's life in the 1970's Divine Light Mission but when referring to His actions they were also often used to "explain" or at least excuse his wealth, his materialism, his unreliability, his poor behaviour. I never heard lila being used to explain something charitable that Guru Maharj Ji did, like donating his excess wealth to the poor or opening his unused houses to the homeless, or even picking up cold and wet hitch-hikers because he never did anything like that.
Prem Rawat's lilas were even written about in Penthouse magazine in connection with the near-fatal hammer attack on Pat Halley who had dared to throw a shaving-cream pie into Rawat's face. Rawat's spokesman and No. 1 premie at the time, Rennie Davis, was quoted as saying:
Davis admitted that Misra was Mahatma Fakiranand, that Fletcher was St. Peter, and that both were back in the guru's good graces. Fletcher was in Denver and Fakiranand had not even been demoted from mahatmadom. He was, in Davis's words, "shipped off to Germany, where he's still giving Knowledge." When asked to explain the incident, Davis giggled in the peculiar manner common to most premies when in a state of divine bliss. "I really feel Guru Maharaj Ji is doing everything," said Davis. "He had the pie thrown in his face, and he had Fakiranand do that -the whole thing is just one gigantic lila that operates on so many levels. I saw it more as a test for the premies than anything else. Lila, in guruspeak, means "divine game."
As Parke and Stoner wrote after spending considerable time with premies whom they liked and respected in 1976: "There is always a hubbub of anxiety when the guru is scheduled to appear, since he has often failed to show up at celebrations and festivals in his honor."
To deflect these criticisms DLM spokespersons affected an air of insouciance and acceptance of anything and everything the guru did no matter their real feelings.
"He comes when he wants," the spokesman explained. "If he does not come, he does not come." - The New York Times, December 21 1976
"I think Guru Maharaj Ji is going to completely blow our minds about everything. Nothing would surprise me about what he might do." - The Living Daylights: November 20-26, 1973
Glen Whittaker commented: "The two most unpredictable things, are the weather and the Guru." - British Press Story, July 1973
Whittaker denied reports that the Guru ate a lot of ice cream. "His diet is very frugal and healthy", he said. He added that he had not heard about the boy god's ulcer but it did not surprise him. "Nothing about the Guru surprises me", he said. - The Times, September 4 1973
Foss & Larkin highlighted the paradoxical and magical thinking of premies in their discussion of Millenium 73:
A Mission fiasco to which Guru Maharaj Ji lent his name could be susceptible to post-facto classification as lila: after the Millennium festival, at which Mission officials predicted an attendance upwards of 100,000 plus extra-terrestrial beings, was in fact attended by a maximum of 35,000 and incurred a debt of over $1 million, some premies professed to believe that the prophecies had indeed been fulfilled and that l,000 years of peace had in fact been inaugurated. Others, however, contended that the festival had in fact been lila, a stupendous trick played by Guru Maharaj Ji to teach the premies to avoid having "expectations" even if they derived from Guru Maharaj Ji's own pronouncement; to eschew "attachments" to grandiose organizational manifestations and colossal objects in the material world such as the Astrodome; and to remain exclusively centered upon the only Truth, which lies within.
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