Friday, September 3, 1971 News Journal, Mansfield, 0.
Teen-Age Guru …
Maharaj Looks for Followers on World Tour
By PETER GREENBERG Newsweek Feature Service
Few Westerners have ever known quite what a guru is. As they understand it, a guru is supposed to be a person who is somehow religious, vaguely benign, mystical in some way and probably comes from India.
Even this fumbling definition, however, leaves no room for a guru who announces his coming on a Trans World Airlines flight he calls his "silver steed," keeps a body-guard and an appointments secretary, marks his papers "Top Sacred" and is only 13-years-old.
Yet Balyogeshwar Sri Sant Ji Maharaj fills that description exactly. And on top of it, he claims to have three million followers around the world, including 2,000 mahatmas in India who call him master. In fact, he is now seeking more adherents on a three month international tour which began in Hollywood and is taking him to New York, Washington, Canada and South Africa before winding up with a large rally in London on Nov. 5.
As for Guru Maharaj Ji's approach, it can best be described as giving a whole new meaning to the phrase "no-nonsense." He recently sat barefoot in Hollywood's Divine Light Mission, which overlooks the Hollywood Bowl, in a room decorated with dozens of poster-size photographs and color drawings of himself. At his feet sat 40 or 50 shoeless visitors, two mahatmas and his bodyguard, all wrapt in somewhat puzzled concentration on his answers to their questions:
Maharaj (beginning): "The aim and purpose of my life is to spread the knowledge of the true nature of the soul to humanity as a whole."
Old gentleman (sitting cross-legged on the green carpet): "Then am I to regard you as the supreme mind of God and knowledge in this room?"
Maharaj (innocently) "Me? Judge it in your own way."
Second visitor (throwing himself on the carpet): "Give me the knowledge!"
Maharaj: "I can't answer materialistic requests. Man has reached the apex of material prosperity while grossly neglecting spiritual evolution!"
Short - haired young man (yelling): "I'm tired of hearing theories! I want you to give me the knowledge, and I want it now!"
Maharaj: "Why? Are you going someplace?"
Unidentified man: "Any-one got a green Toyota? They're towing it away."
Maharaj (beckoning): "Gary, Gary, green Toyota."
To most of his Hollywood listeners, the 13-year-old gurus answers proved frustratingly difficult.
But it is not even clear just how the guru regards himself. He says he is spending his spare time writing a book which "will have the essence of all the scriptures," but he disclaims, somewhat ambiguously, that he is a god.
"You'll give your devotion to God through me," he says. "I multiply it many times and then send it to Him."
When he is specifically asked whether or not he considers himself a human, however, he pauses, as though figuring out the answer. "Yes, I am a human," he says,. finally. "Hands bone, lungs. But guru is greater than God because if you go to guru, guru will show you God."
Maharaj Ji's history has been largely supplied by himself. He says he is the son of an Indian holy man who died when the boy was eight. He claims he began meditating with his father at two and at six delivered entire spiritual discourses in English in his native town of Dehra Dun in northern India.