birthdaygift Birthday Gift, India '88

This video, titled "Birthday Gift", was filmed in 1988. It is part of a series that includes "Evolution - 1989", "Windows In Time - 1989", "I Have This Knowledge - 1996", "Remembrance - 1996", Storyteller - 1997" and "Passages - 2001" that attempt to show an extremely upbeat version of Rawat's early career in the West and a coherent evolution of his career and teachings while allowing his devotees watching it to briefly relive their youth during the exciting, overtly divine and devotional, optimistic and successful public phase of his career. It is certainly not an accurate picture of the history of Rawat's life and career but it is an accurate picture of how he wanted that presented in 1989 within the constraints of available archival film.

It contains a significant amount of film of Rawat's Indian trip in 1988. Possibly because it was filmed in India it does not attempt to hide Rawat's 1970's public persona as the Perfect Master and Lord of the Universe and some images of him dressed as Krishna and some of his Holy Lotus Feet are shown that were not in the abovementioned videos.

The video begins with the words Guru Maharaj Ji followed by an animation of an expanding donut of light which opens to reveal the face and shoulders of Prem Rawat, 1988. This would be dismissed as just a cheesy introduction if you weren't aware that the first technique of meditation taught by Rawat is the Divine Light. This was originally taught in the West, in the 1970's, by the mahatma strongly squeezing the eyeballs of the initiate. This produced the effect commonly called the "golden donut" in the youthful Western communities. I presume the same was taught in India though there seems to have been slight variations in the techniques as taught by different mahatmas.

Rawat standardised the techniques in 1987/88 in his 'Rejoice' meetings and taught that only a very gentle pressure should be applied on the eyeballs. The Sound technique remained the same though the use of beragons was prohibited and the Nectar technique was changed from the kechari mudra to rolling your tongue backwards but no longer trying to get the tongue past the uvula.

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It is no exaggeration to say that Prem Rawat is obsessed with owning and flying extremely expensive executive jets. The cost of these and his requirements for luxury have been the major impediments depressing his organisations' finances. Wherever possible, scenes of him flying his latest jet have been a feature of his promotional videos.

The usual Indian chaotic crowd scenes, Rawat driving through the crowds giving "darshan", standing on top of a tower giving satsang, sitting on top of a high stage giving satsang, a group of "mahatmas" sitting at the front of the crowd and something that was no longer being shown in the West, a zoom in on his Holy Lotus Feet. Scenes of crowd shouts of "Bhole Shri" (I guess) and throwing their arms up in synch are a too much like a Leni Riefenstahl film for me but I'm sure it was all good, clean fun.

These scenes of thousands of Indian devotees are important to keep the "western premies", who bankroll the guru's lavish lifestyle and trips to India, inspired by Rawat's apparently countless Indian devotees with their superior spiritual credibility. By 1988 Western premies had been meditating for nearly 20 years and they were well aware of each other's lack of spiritual gifts but the guru's grass is always greener in India.

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Back to the past when he was such a cute little Guru Maharaj Ji and Lord of the Universe.

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Success in the West and the recruiting of Western devotees are very important factors in giving credibility to Indian Godmen. They provide prestige and significant financial support despite their much smaller numbers and so this Indian video starts the historical scenes directly with Rawat's 1971 first trip to England. This is particularly important for Rawat, or Balyogeshwar as he is usually known in India, because his brother gained all of the Indian infrastructure and nearly all the Indian followers in the 1975 family split when their mother disowned, disinherited and deposed her youngest son, Prem, as his father's successor and current Perfect Master.

To highlight his apparent success only large crowd scenes and images of lavishly decorated Rolls Royces and stages are shown. The two pictures on the left side, 3rd row are from the 1975 Hans Jayanti festival in Miami, Florida and the other two from the 1977 Guru Puja festival in Rome, Italy.

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The screen dissolves into scenes of a Holi festival. Throughout his career in the West, Rawat has remained as physically distant from his followers as possible. Not for him the up close and personal interchange of buckets of coloured water that characterises Holi in India. His version of Holi has him on a very high stage with the world's largest and most powerful water pistol spraying the masses far below. It's a pretty good metaphor for the way he plays his role of the Master.

Rawat has played practical jokes with a nasty edge on them throughout his life as the Perfect Master. Sampuranand cowers in the stairwell to avoid the powerful bast of the water gun. Rawat releases a bucket into the jet, hopefully it will be empty when it lands in the crowd. There appears to be an official cheer leader in the crowd, however his attempt at leading an "Indian wave" doesn't seem to be working.

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A scene of Rawat giving satsang ("making a speech") in Hindi. This demonstrates he is still calling himself Guru Maharaj Ji in India in 1988 and that his style of pontification in Hindi retained far more of his 1970's ranting rather than the newer gentler, raconteur style he was moving to in English.

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After some laughter the fat guru and his fatter "chief Mahatma" head off to a music recording session and then Rawat leaves with "a special friend."

The chaotic scenes of thousands of Indian devotees are important to keep the "western premies", who bankroll the guru's lavish lifestyle and trips to India, inspired by Rawat's apparently countless Indian devotees with their superior spiritual credibility. By 1988 Western premies had been meditating for nearly 20 years and they were well aware of each other's lack of spiritual gifts but the guru's grass is always greener in India.

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Rawat and Sampuranand
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Full moon satsang ends with the Lord dancing (only just) while many of his devotees, especially up front near the stage, dance deliriously and then it ends with Rawat's head dissolving into the Divine Light on stage. Now that's not something you see every day.

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