SELF-HELP

Whatever Happened to Maharaji?

For those who have no clue about Maharaji of the late sixties and seventies--first a little history. In 1960, Shri Han Ji Maharaj formed the Divine Light Mission (DLM) in Delhi. An initiate in the Sikh-Hindu Rhadasoami Sant Mat tradition, he taught age-old yoga kriya techniques of listening to inner sound, focusing on inner light and the supremacy of the Satguru. He was succeeded by his eight-year-old son, Prem Rawat, popularly known as "Guru Maharaji." At a 1971 Delhi event, which the then 13-year-old called the "Peace Bomb, " Maharaji declared to an audience of one million that he was greater than Rama or Krishna.

A turbulent two decades followed with global expansion, accumulation of great wealth, an eye-raising opulent lifestyle and a schism between Prem and the Indian DLM mission. His following decreased from millions to thousands. Prem married his American secretary and formed his own organizations, Elan Vital and the Prem Rawat Foundation.

Articulate and charismatic, Prem Rawat has transformed himself from young-avatar-guru into a suave California-based inspirational speaker. His finances and mode of operation remain controversial. His presentations carry no mention of its Hindu roots and no religious overtones other than occasional references to the "Divine within." But despite its secular wrapper, his message is essentially Vedanta, that God is within us, and the way to peace is through sadhana and the raja yoga practices inherited from our Hindu rishis of old.