Produced by video pioneers TVTV, this video won the prestigious Columbia-duPont award for documentaries. It explores the mystery of Guru Maharaj Ji, the sixteen-year-old leader of a cult-like new age group, the Divine Light Mission (DLM), known to his followers as "The Lord of the Universe." The video investigates the Guru's opulent living conditions and the secrecy surrounding his teachings, as well as portraying the dissolution of the 1960s counterculture towards the close of the Vietnam War. It chronicles a gathering of his followers at Houston's Astrodome in 1974 as they wait for its promised levitation, and features interviews with devotee Rennie Davis and skeptic Abbie Hoffman.
0:08: A Thousand Years of Peace For People Who Want Peace. Houston Astrodome 1973.
0:45: Rennie Davis says that one cannot understand anything on this planet until we understand "the central event."
1:35: Footage of Guru Maharaj Ji sitting in throne under the song "Lord of the Universe."
2:10: Title: Lord of the Universe. Guru Maharaj Ji.
3:10: Man named Michael says he is looking for peace.
3:26: People praying.
3:48: Washington DC. Woman tells another woman about a peace event.
4:10: Houston Or Bust In God We Trust. Woman harasses man about coming to the event.
4:35: Boston. Old man talks about the enthusiasm of the youth.
4:55: Woman talks about how she didn’t realize she was searching, but now she has found the thing everyone is searching for.
5:25: Plymouth Rock. Woman tries to convince an old couple that the Maharaj Ji is a god.
6:25: Woman talks about her old bourgeois life.
6:40: Poster for the event. Quote from Maharaj Ji about how a holy event will take place in America.
7:15: The Guru speaks at the event about Knowledge. Text onscreen reveals that meditation techniques were revealed in a secret ceremony.
7:50: Michael and his wife Roz talk about how they can’t afford to get to Houston.
8:45: Premie, lover of god, disciple of the Guru, describes his extreme devotion. "I’d crawl across three continents on my hands and knees to eat the dust off Guru Maharaj Ji’s feet, if necessary."
9:04: Man talks about the widespread conviction on the part of the Guru’s followers that Houston Astrodome is going to fly off into outer space at the end of the gathering.
9:14: Rennie Davis, longtime political radical and Chicago Conspiracy defendant, talks about the Astrodome and his commitment to the Guru.
10:02: Mayday 1971. Clip of Rennie Davis in his more radical days issuing an ultimatum to Nixon to stop the war.
10:30: Davis talks, while holding his child, about his change in thinking and his evolution as an activist. "The vision that we proclaimed on the streets in the ’60s is what we’re going to carry out in the ’70s… I don’t look at the past with any regret at all. I look at it all as a warmup for the greatest transformation in the history of human civilization."
11:15: Abbie Hoffman describes Rennie Davis as a propagandist. He says "Rennie is arrogant about the future… There’s a difference between saying you’ve found god and that you know his address."
12:38: The Guru arrives at the airport, welcomed by his followers. An organizer says that the Guru will be taken by car, and everyone else should wait and meditate. A man onstage passes out flowers worn by the Guru to entranced followers.
15:40: Davis talks about the Guru’s beautiful hotel room, with a "magnificent" chess set (the Guru loves chess) and a fountain in the shape of a swan (the Guru’s symbol is a swan.)
16:20: Millennium ’73′s astrologer talks about energy of the Guru, and rumors that NASA is trying to grab his energy.
16:40: Mahatma, one of the Guru’s priests, talks about his excitement about the event.
16:55: Organizers give tour of Astrodome being set up by followers. Workers talk about their allegiance to the Guru — mainly a dismissal of the materialism of the ’50s and the politics and drugs of the ’60s. They talk about conflicts with parents, who are threatened by their children’s religious fervor.
19:45: Followers worship at the Guru’s feet. Introduction to the Guru’s family, including his mother, who talks to interviewers about whether she feels awkward about being worshiped. "If you love your child and your child kisses you on your face or your feet, you don’t mind it."
22:00: The Divine Residence in Long Island. An interviewer questions the large number of material possessions of the Guru’s family. "I see the Mata Ji has a Mercedes, would not a Chevrolet transport her equally well?" Mata Ji laughs and suggests that divine knowledge brings a knowledge of the New York Stock Market.
23:14: Bal Bhagwan Ji, the Guru’s brother, claims that America is in a unique position to need the knowledge of the Maharaj Ji. "Houston is god’s country, and this is god’s work." He says that the main resistance to the Guru is ignorance, and that anyone who follows the Guru will be at peace for 1000 years.
28:20: Bhole Ji, another brother of the Guru, conducts his band, The Blue Aquarius, in a cover of the song "Satisfaction" at the Astrodome. Rennie Davis comments on the Blue Aquarius band. "To me, it’s sorta like all the music of the 60′s and early 70′s is being given back to us. You wouldn’t ever expect—at first you think, this is not a bad group, given that they’re only five months old. Then you come out to realize that it’s been organized and conducted by the Lord of Music. Wait till people find out who Bhole Ji is!" Mahatma says that the music playing is not just music, it is "the Celestial Music." The band plays "Peace, Peace Now / Love, Love Now" while the Guru sits onstage.
32:30: The Guru arrives in a press room and sits for photographers. He gives a short speech before the beginning of the press conference. A security guard claims that if the Guru didn’t have so many expensive possessions, no one would have heard of him . He calls him The supreme joker… and everything is his play." The guard reveals that the Guru drinks fruit punch at every meal.
36:00: Pat Halley, a journalist who threw a pie at the Guru, talks about about being immediately beaten by a security guard and followers in Detroit, August 1973. Another security guard says if he had been there he would have shot Halley on the spot. The interviewer says "I think that’s a fanatical statement. You’d kill a man for throwing a pie?" Halley needed serious medical attention, since his head was split open.
38:32: A journalist from Newsweek confronts the Guru for answering questions flippantly.
39:30: A woman confronts a group of followers for "following the devil" and suggests they read the Bible. The interviewer confronts her for talking too cruelly to the followers, but the woman says that these people have been "trained to slip into meditation if they’re spoken to nicely."
41:00: Hare Krishnas dance at the airport. Hare Krishnas argue with a follower, saying that the Guru is a fake, and not the Golden Avatar. Some crazy man implies Indian religion is about men getting rich and fat while everyone else suffers.
42:20: A security guard says, "I don’t have to think, I know, I have Guru Maharaj Ji’s knowledge." He says they don’t want Christians coming in because they will have a fixed, rigid attitude. Followers sing and enter the stadium.
43:55: The Guru relates a nonsensical metaphor involving a Superman comic and a small child. Michael talks about his quest to find knowledge. He talks to women at a booth about getting on a mailing list for people who want to receive knowledge. "Finally, something concrete!" A restless crowd insists on getting knowledge now, rather than later.
48:34: Michael says to his wife, "There is absolutely nothing to be frightened about… there was no hypnotism, there was no chance I was hypnotized." Several ex-Premies talk about joining the Guru and being hypnotized by the pride of receiving attention from the Guru. Michael says that releasing the secret of the knowledge publicly wouldn’t be good, because people might hurt themselves by turning away from incomplete information. "The techniques are so simple that they wouldn’t possibly work without the Guru’s guidance."
51:20: A man explains four meditation techniques: "The Light," pressing on your eyes; "The Music," concentrating on the inner sound; "The Nectar," rolling the tongue backwards down the throat; and "The Word," a breathing exercise. Different people talk about meditation practices while learning the knowledge. Ex-Premies talk about weirdness of learning knowledge and then immediately being expected to serve the Guru forever. One man talks about a request in the mail for appliances for the Guru.
55:48: Abbie Hoffman, sitting in a room at the Chelsea Hotel, says "If this guy is God, this is the god the United States deserves."
56:00: Informational text on the huge industry surrounding the Divine Light Mission. "Guru Maharaj Ji claims six million followers in the world and 40,000 in America. His organization, the Divine Light Mission (DLM) has 154 branches in the U.S. which are connected by telex and wats lines. The DLM owns a film production company, three airplanes, and an IBM computer which keeps a record of every premie’s skills and background. The DLM is supported by donations. The budget for "The most significant event in human history" was $1,000,000. Attendance was less than 20,000.
57:35: End credits.
59:02: End of tape.