Vic Marsh, flamboyant student of Prem Rawat
Vic Marsh is a long term Australian premie, former community co-ordinator, various Divine Light Mission administration roles, an initiator, an actor, a poet and a robust defender of Prem Rawat's status and credibility. I remember him as a friendly and competent State Secretary in Brisbane in 1974 and an arrogant and fussy initiator circa 1978.
He was appointed Queensland State Secretary in 1973 an appointment recorded in the first Australian Divine Light Mission magazine, Divine News, volume 1, number 1, August 1973. In 1974 he was the national director of World Welfare Association and completed a tour of Australian communities. In an interview in the Golden Age of January 1975 he reported that "DUO was waking up in austrlia … that Project Love is going through … premies are waking up to the incredible gift of living in the divine community. That it is actually going to provide for all our needs, that it is actually going to be a beacon for the rest of the community. That we are already living in the kingdom of heaven." It was shortly after this that the the ashrams closed and the community imploded. By June WWA was no more and he was demoted to South Australian DUO Director once "in office, the South Australian community could reach heights in 1975 untouched since that first gay frolic (Guru Puja) in 1973." By March 1976 he was stll in Adelaide where he introduced the Aspirant program, and outlined the steps leading up to an aspirant becoming an initiated premie.
In June 1976 he reported on his feelings about the DLM Autumn Conference:
"I've had a really good time. There really is a way, a process that this Knowledge seems to be able to put us through, where if we put our heads together long enough it turns into one head, into one heart. The more we mix with other people within the environment of Knowledge, within that process of discovering what is true and real about oneself, and what is false or just learned, then the more really beautifully we emerge with a common understanding that each person's particular qualities, each person's individuality has something to contribute. Our individuality doesn't have to completely dissolve itself - we don't have to merge with each other, we have to merge with what is real within us, which is the same in everybody. It's like our differences are illuminated from within. And then when the whole thing is put together that's when we have a real group strength. It's when I have confidence in what is stable and secure within myself, and have confidence in the process of my own growth and in my ability to contribute that I'm really open to the group needs. This conference has been a fantastic experience of being in the one family, just waking up to my own life and watching everyone else wake up to theirs. "
- Vic Marsh, Adelaide Community Director.
In January 1979 his article, "The Secret and Open Pictures of God", was printed in the US Divine Times magazine. It is a very personal review of the November, 1978 Hans Jayanti Festival at Kissimmee, Florida. He recalls the sky pranaming to Rawat (or Guru Maharaj Ji as Rawat then called himself) and the "measured, full majesty of his dance, the power and authority in his every movement," which "lifted us higher and held us there as he continued to dance." He really admired the way Maharaji used his jeep to push over some initiators' tents, "He is so free."
The high point of his premie career was probably when he was the M. C. at Maharaj Ji's birthday party held on the 10th December, 1979 at the Miami Beach Convention Centre. His article about this event was titled: "Birthday Party of the Yuga." His prose could hardly get any more purple if he was Dame Barbara Cartland: "When he left the stage it was like my life was leaving me, and I could feel that the reason why we love Maharaj Ji is because he is our heart. We aren't made complete and perfect, and all the emotions and feelings we try to put in place of that perfect love are futile and stop-gap measures, hopelessly inadequate to fill that emptiness of separation from him." Mahatma Jagdeo was the thespian hit of the night playing a nasty king in a handle-bar moustache. It wasn't reported if he played the King of Paedophilia with a harem of cute children.
However, like most of his premie peers, Vic actually finds practising Rawat's "Knowledge" a bore. As he wrote in his article "From Sydney To Miami" in the In View magazine of the Summer of 1989: "I couldn't deny, however, that I had reached a point - a familiar point in my life - where I was feeling that something more had to happen.." Realistically though Marsh knows that he'll soon lose the brief high of seeing his Master: "I trust that, should I start to lose consciousness again. Should that smoky, amnesiac pall re-capture my brain for the nth time, I might hear his call."…
On Wednesday, April 21, 2004 Queensland's major newspaper, The Courier-Mail published a story titled "Maharaji's inner peace in a tent doesn't come cheap" by Hedley Thomas. In it "Devotee Victor Marsh, of Ocean Shores near Byron Bay, said he discovered inner peace by appreciating Maharaji's message and techniques." He was quoted more extensively in the Saturday, 24 April story, "Peace At A Price": "He knows how to tune us in and help us connect with the experience that's in our heart." That's certainly pretty dull and boring compared to Vic's description of the sky bowing down and kissing Rawat's feet in 1979. "He helps me find my way back to a place inside that nourishes me and makes me feel taken care of," Marsh says.
But Vic didn't take kindly to press articles criticising his Supreme Master and sent Thomas an extremely snide and nasty email which was distributed throughout the premie community. It was water off a duck's back to Thomas who went on to write a Walkley Award story about problems in the State Hospital system and will probably never have to write minor stories about small-time gurus like Rawat ever again.
You can never tell how people will develop. Here are some photos from the 1970's Golden Age magazines that include devotees Vic Marsh and Neville Ackland. Marsh is a public defender of Rawat and Ackland is the only person in Australia to have made public protests about Rawat.
"Guru goes to ground after security scare" Mr Arlidge said fears for the Maharaji's safety were "real" in the wake of allegations of fraud and other criminal activity and a protest outside the convention compound by former followers John Macgregor and Neville Ackland. Ackland on Wednesday staged a failed bid to use his rented truck to batter his way into a convention to denounce the spiritual leader. "I am one of hundreds of ex-premies of the Maharaji who came to realise he is nothing more than a fraud and fat cat who is living in the lap of luxury at the expense of his followers," Mr Ackland said. "It's all about surrender," he said of the Maharaji's teachings. "Unfortunately that includes surrendering your money." The Maharaji, who has refused to give media interviews for 18 years, was yesterday unavailable for comment.
Vic Marsh is more than just a gay premie with a chip on his shoulder and a Ph.D. He is also a POET and his poetry certainly bears comparison with the poetry of his Master Prem Pal Singh Rawat. His poems can only be truly appreciated in all their awfulness when spoken by the author who is also a trained actor. Fortunately there is a short Windows Video file of just such a reading available here. Enjoy! Here are transcripts of three of those poems written in honour of Vic's Master and Beloved, Prem Rawat or Maharaji - the Ultimate Ruler - as he prefers to be called:
I hear of those who go on pilgrimage
To see God's birthplace
A promised land
A Buddha's tomb
I don't travel far to meet my Maker
Look behind your eyes to find the eye
gone missing for 2,000 years or more
And then you'll know that monks
And priests and pontiffs
Are no closer to the truth than you are.
We draw our breath from the same source
What causes that gives life
For all our arrogance.
If you would seek to know
Your own true home
Find the place where breath is born.
My teacher is kind
He sweeps the pathway clear
Of all obstructions to that door
And all I have to do
Is enter there
They're arguing about the sex of God
Or should I say the gender
Damn fools question that
I reckon God/Goddess makes love
In the rise and fall of breath
And I'm the fruit of that perfect union
Your smile blooms
A silent sun
My tight heart's bud
To intermingle with infinity.
- The Secret And Open Pictures of God by Vic Marsh published in Divine Times - January/February, 1979 Volume 8, Number 1
- Birthday Party of the Yuga by Vic Marsh published in Golden Age - May, 1980 Volume 8, Number 56
- From Sydney To Miami by Vic Marsh published in In View magazine - Summer 1989
- Guru goes to ground after security scare published in The Courier-Mail September 7, 2002
- Maharaji's inner peace in a tent doesn't come cheap by Hedley Thomas published in The Courier-Mail April 21, 2004
- Peace at a price by Hedley Thomas published in The Courier-Mail April 24, 2004
- DUO is waking up The Golden Age No. 17 January, 1975
- State Roundup The Golden Age No. 21 June, 1975
- State News The Golden Age No. 27
- Community Directors change places The Golden Age No. 29, May 1976
- Welcome to the Autumn Conference. The Golden Age No. 30, June 1976
- Adelaide The Golden Age No. 32, August 1976