The Greedy Guru, TV Investigation
In an act of breathtaking hypocrisy Ivory's Rock Foundation, acting for their divine Master Prem Rawat, made a formal complaint to the ACMA claiming that the program made clear and false implications about themselves and Prem Rawat. This was probably after they kissed the Feet of the Living Lord.
Their complaints were rejected.
Transcript of 'Greedy Guru' segment broadcast on Channel Nine on 24 September 2015
Tracy Grimshaw: Now the jet-setting Indian guru who has followers lining up to kiss his feet [background graphic of Prem Rawat's face, in front of indistinct image of followers kissing unidentified man's feet. A graphic reading SECRET GURU followed by SECRET SECT is shown]. And disciples want to expand their operation in Australia. Chris Allen's been following the story and joins me live. Chris.
Chris Allen: Tracey, Prem Rawat has been a controversial figure for the last 40 years. True believers say he preaches peace and it clearly appears that he's made a lot of money while doing that. Now some of his former followers say they feel deceived and they want authorities to investigate the charity which runs his events here in Australia.
Interviewee A: The people line up and kiss his feet.
[Footage of Prem Rawat over the years, including video of him having his feet kissed]
Interviewee B: And he would do blessings from the stage and his dance and all the rest of it. Now why would he do that, you know, if he wasn't portraying this godly figure.
Chris Allen: It's the vision his supporters don't want you to see. The craziness that makes this man look like the leader of some weird cult.
Interviewee B: I think there's two faces to Maharaji. He's had more makeovers than the Kardashians. You know, seriously.
Chris Allen: For 30 years [Interviewee B] says she was devoted to the man she knew as Maharaji.
Interviewee B: First of all he was Guru Maharaji. Then he became Maharaji. It was Divine Light Mission and then it became Elan Vital and now it's Words of Peace or something. And now he's supposed to be a motivational speaker. So there's a deception going on that's what I object to.
[Footage of a man with a camera on a rural property]
Chris Allen: We filmed this man photographing us interviewing a neighbour of the conference centre where the Maharaji or Prem Rawat as he now calls himself is speaking.
Neighbour 1: They've been following us. I've been followed home from dropping my son off at school.
Chris Allen: [Neighbour 1] also lives nearby. He claims since asking questions about the organisation staging these events for Prem Rawat, he's been photographed and followed.
Neighbour 1: And I've also been followed through the whole week with cars pulling up, stopping, looking up on my property, taking photographs. I've also been photographed while I was working on my property over the last couple of days.
Chris Allen: And you're convinced that its people coming from next door?
Neighbour 1: Oh definitely, yeah, because they all drive back in that direction, they don't drive out and they got no reason to pull up and just take photographs of people working on their own property.
Chris Allen: When they stage these events this becomes the most expensive camping ground in the country. According to organisers, more than 4000 people fly in from 70 countries around the world. They call them premies because they're followers of Prem Rawat and these premies spend up to three and a half thousand dollars hiring a tent. There are those who have derided this as a cult, or a sect. Do you see it that way?
Interviewee C: Absolutely not. No, I wouldn't be involved in anything like that.
Chris Allen: At this latest gathering disciples dismiss any suggestion of a cult.
Interviewee D: It's certainly not that.
Chris Allen: And you're convinced of that?
Interviewee D: Yeah, no it's obvious, if anyone… if anyone looks at it for 10 minutes they would… they would see that.
Horton (Interviewee D): is the man who claimed:
"Man's most basic drive is the transcendence of his ego; the sex drive is nothing more than one form of ego transcendence; and the transcendence offered him by the Master's twenty-four-hour meditation technique is infinitely more blissful than sex - New York Review of Books.
When we receive the Knowledge which Guru Maharaj Ji gives, our pineal gland is activated by the experience of inner light. This experience tunes us in to subtle vibrations of energy which cannot be perceived by our sense organs or by any machine we have built. And by experiencing this perfect energy of creation, the entire bodily system begins to undergo a gentle set of hormonal changes which re-direct our desires, perceptions and behavior, into the most natural and flowing directions.
By meditating upon inner light, we begin to experience first hand the source of all life - of our life. We feel immense joy and a true understanding of the unity of all living things. Just as a bulb will light only when an electrical current passes through the connecting wires. so when the current of real life is turned on within us, we begin to glow with the perfectness of our Creator. Those who meditate upon the light experience profound changes in behavior: most of them find no more need for drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, and begin to rise above the drive for ego-fulfillment. They find peace in this experience of light.
The Knowledge of Guru Maharaj Ji not only takes man further in his evolution towards complete self-awareness, it also serves to erase destructive elements in his biological history.
Chris Allen: Well known Aussie comedian, Tracey Harvey, is also a devoted follower.
Tracey Harvey: It is a cult. I am actually going back to have virgin soup for lunch and I'm the old virgin they're sacrificing today. No, no no, that's one of the jokes I'm trying to work up, but, no, no it's a good thing.
Kaye McKinnon: Prem Rawat is an international ambassador of peace and he talks about peace and fulfilment and wellbeing.
Chris Allen: Kaye McKinnon is publicity manager for this event.
Chris Allen: Would we be able to meet Mr Rawat?
Kaye McKinnon: Well, what I suggest is that next time, if we can talk well in advance, we might be able to arrange something for you.
Chris Allen: We'll take that as a no. And while they tell us they have nothing to hide, they certainly are paranoid.
Neighbour 1: We crunched the numbers and it's over five million dollars easy for just this one event alone.
Chris Allen: What angers locals is that the company staging these events operates as a charity and doesn't pay a range of taxes.
Neighbour 1: Yeah I believe they're not a charity, they're just hiding behind the charity banner, so they're using the charity banner to run these businesses to prop up their cult, or religion, down there.
Chris Allen: Critics of Prem have said he makes money out of all this. Do you think he does?
Dr John: This event? No, No. I give money to the organisation to be here and I know they use it well, I trust that, yeah.
Chris Allen: Now this operates as a charity but how does this benefit Australians?
Kaye McKinnon: Oh, in so many different ways. The major benefit would be for the delegates that come because I know when I leave here, I feel like I'm refocused and clear about what my priorities are.
Neighbour 2: They might have peace up there but none down here on the flats.
Chris Allen: [Neighbour 2] is another neighbour who believes this place operates more like a business than a charity because when Prem Rawat isn't spreading peace the conference centre is rented out for sporting events and rock concerts like this earth light festival.
Neighbour 2: I had to listen to music blasting from that place 24 hours a day for four solid days and three nights.
Neighbour 1: The traffic going in and out. They even urinate, they pull up and urinating on the side of the road and even on people's properties and even defecating as well. This is not human behaviour.
Chris Allen: According to figures they give the charities commission last year they grossed 1.4 million dollars but after expenses they had a loss of half a million.
Kaye McKinnon: And it's very clear and very transparent what the purpose is here and how things operate so it's fine.
Chris Allen: And as I say its just …
Kaye McKinnon: I think I'll just have to pull away, I'm dry.
Chris Allen: Alright have a drink. How much they make and where it goes is clearly a sensitive subject but what really upsets the neighbours is that the charity is applying to the local council to hold more events.
Neighbour 2: It's listed as a charity and they promote it as a charity but you have to ask a question with so many different types of events going on up there is it really a charity? Who's charity? Prem Rawat's?
Interviewee A: We called him lots of names, Perfect Master, Lord of the Universe, he was god in a bod to us, he was the ultimate.
Chris Allen: For 30 years [Interviewee A] was convinced this Indian born guru was the real deal. Now he says he feels deceived.
Interviewee A: I sacrificed pretty much my life for 30 years. As I say I gave away not just all my money and inheritances, two inheritances, quite substantial ones. Work, my actual job, day to day work, but more important than that was just my time, my, my love even. I gave him all my love.
Interviewee B: Any group like this should not have charity status. That's my personal opinion.
Chris Allen: [Interviewee B] is [Interviewee A's] partner. She says no amount of PR spin can rewrite history when it comes to Prem Rawat.
Interviewee B: [Footage of people kissing an unidentified person's feet] All of the original films were confiscated which showed all the foot kissing and a lot of the associations with the past perfect masters. They do still exist. [Footage of people lining up to kiss Prem Rawat's feet] We have them online.
Interviewee A: People should be free to do what they like. If they want to give all their money well what are you going to do about it?
Tracy Grimshaw: [Graphic: GREEDY GURU, with indistinct image of a person kissing an unidentified person's feet] ] A spokesman for the charities commission said they assess any concerns people have about an organisation's charity status and Ipswich City Council said it will take a close look at the application for more events before making a decision
Transcript of program promotion for 'Greedy Guru' segment broadcast on Channel Nine on 24 September 2015
Voice over: [Footage of a camping ground which appears to be taken from a passing car with graphic SECRET SECT IN IPSWICH]. The secret sect that's set up camp in Ipswich. [Footage of three people around a table with graphic reading ANGRY LOCALS v GURU LEADER]. Tempers boil as locals take on the guru leader [footage of Prem Rawat] charging followers thousands [image of a man kissing an unidentifiable person's foot] to kiss his feet. A Current Affair next.