Words Of Peace Global News Reports, 2009

Virtual Cooperation in South America

A group of more than 230 volunteers in Latin America has developed the project "EHDMI" in order to make DVDs and written material about Prem Rawat's message easily available in Spanish via the Internet for the first time. The volunteers behind the project say that the objective of EHDMI (Equipo Hispano Distribución Materiales Introductorios) is to increase the availability of the message in all Spanish-speaking countries, even in small villages and remote areas.

At the end of 2009, such easy access to Spanish materials had already become a much—appreciated resource all over South America for volunteers wanting to host local introductory events.

On October 26, 2009, the inmates of the Anexo Chorrillos Penitentiary Center in Lima, Peru, were first introduced to Prem Rawat's message. Since then, EHDMI has continued distributing DVDs and materials to the prison, and so far 117 people have been introduced to the message, and 12 inmates have requested the Keys.

Pakistani Refugees Grateful for TPRF Food Aid

The Prem Rawat Foundation gave a grant in August 2009 for food aid to families displaced by the internal conflict in the North West Frontier Province in Pakistan, one of the poorest areas in the country. The grant of US$30,000 provided food for one month to over 2,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who were forced to find a way to survive outside the overcrowded refugee camps.

Most of these were being hosted by strangers who had generously offered to take them in, but did so at the expense of their own family's wellbeing. Soon both the IDPs and their host families had become vulnerable to the competition for severely limited resources. TPRF's grant provided food packages containing rice, three kinds of legumes, tea, oil, and flour to over 700 families. TPRF's partner, the Shirkat Gah Women's Resource Centre handled need assessments, food purchases, and distribution, giving particular care to respect the dignity and special requirements of the recipients, most of whom were women and children.

Sri Lanka Refugees Grateful for TPRF Food Aid

In August 2009, The Prem Rawat Foundation responded to the plight of the growing number of people in Sri Lanka displaced by the civil war in the Northern Province, Bavuniya District. A gift of US$20,000 to the Jeeva Shakthi Society provided food aid to hundreds of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) living in hastily formed camps.

The upheaval is the result of the decades-long Sri Lanka Civil War between the government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), commonly known as the Tamil Tigers, who have fought for an independent homeland for the country's ethnic Tamil minority since 1983.

TPRF Aids Indonesian Earthquake Survivors

After two consecutive earthquakes struck the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, The Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF) is providing immediate food aid to over 2,400 survivors in remote areas. TPRF is working with the Yayasan IDEP, a local non-profit organization, which reports that thousands of survivors in the Padang Pariaman area have not received "help whatsoever to date" and are "homeless and desperate for food and clean water."

According to their reports, IDEP is targeting people in the outer vicinities who have been impacted not only by the earthquakes but also by massive landslides. The report stated: "Helicopters carrying food and medical supplies had been dispatched to the highland, but they are not carrying enough supplies to fulfill needs on the ground. The few that have received help to date have only been provided with some instant noodles, not nearly enough to help people survive. They have not had any proper food for more than a week now, and are getting weak and desperate for immediate assistance."

Report: Event in Mumbai, India

Maharaji concluded his November 2009 tour in India with an event in Mumbai, the state capital of Maharashtra and the commercial capital of India. A teeming port city on the west coast of India, Mumbai is the world's second most populous city with approximately 14 million inhabitants. It is a major center of India's film industry, which is frequently referred to as Bollywood.

By the time word came that Maharaji had accepted their invitation, the people who had invited him had given up hope that he would come to Mumbai on this tour and were already planning for next year. So it was at once a wonderful surprise and an overwhelming challenge when they heard that he was coming within four days' time.

Report: Event in Nagaur, Rajasthan

Historic Merta City in the Nagaur district of the state of Rajasthan was the site of the third event in Maharaji's recent tour in India. Founded in the fourteenth century, Merta is regarded by many as a holy city, the birthplace of Meera Bai, whose devotional songs are still sung today. Though it is a small city (population 40,000 in 2001), the literacy rate is higher than the national average. Yet over 16% of the people living there are under the age of six.

The event with Maharaji was held on open grounds opposite Government College. People from Merta City and nearby villages were surprised and excited that Maharaji was coming to their small city. By 10:00 AM, the area had begun to fill rapidly, men wearing Rajasthani turbans and ladies in colorful chunri saris. Besides local people, others came from adjoining districts: Ajmer, Bhilwara, Pali, Jodhpur, Ganga Nagar, Barmer, Hanumangarh and others. Soon over 3,500 had assembled on the grounds that had been prepared by volunteers in the previous three days.

Report: Event in Chandrapur, Maharashtra, India

On November 22, 2009, Maharaji spoke in a village near Chandrapur, Maharashtra, for the first time. Situated in central India in eastern Maharashtra state, Chandrapur is known as the "City of Black Gold," due to the large number of coalmines in the vicinity, and the Chandrapur Super-Thermal Power Station is the largest of its kind in India. The event was held at the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation grounds, about 8 kilometers outside the city of Chandrapur.

Unsuspecting villagers woke up on the day of the event to the surprise of a huge influx of people coming to hear Maharaji. One local man simply said, "I don't know who is coming, but he must be great man." By noon that day, over 30,000 people had arrived from all walks of life, dressed in all possible colors. Several of them had attended the Nagpur event the previous day and had come to this one, too. Others came from the neighboring states of Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, and Andhra Pradesh, and as far north as Uttarakhand, besides several districts of Maharashtra.

Report: Event in Narkher, Nagpur District, Maharashtra

This event was held in Narkher, a city in the Nagpur District of the state of Maharashtra in western India. People came from all over India—from as far north as Jammu and Kashmir (the most northern state in India) to south India and throughout Maharashtra in the west. The last time Maharaji visited Nagpur was almost seven years ago.

The program area was huge, and fortunately, it was free of any kind of pollution. Many who could not get in watched from outside the event grounds, hoping to hear what was said.

All in all, over 10,000 people were able to enjoy the event, which had only been announced a few days before. It was due to the hard work and effort of many people in this area that the event ran smoothly.

Taiwan Police Welcome Message of Peace

Recently, more than 5,000 police officers have been introduced to the message of Prem Rawat in Taiwan. It all started in Kaohsiung, where officers in every police station (over 4,000) came to an event where a Words of Peace video with Chinese subtitles was shown. About a third of them picked up materials to bring home, and several have shown their interest in receiving the Knowledge that Prem Rawat offers by beginning the Keys preparation. Since then, four of the city's police stations have requested materials from WOPG for their libraries, and one station held another presentation for its 200 volunteers in November.

Little effort — big impact

How did this happen? In the last few years, a couple from Hualien, Taiwan's largest county, have been telling their friends that they discovered something permanent in their lives that they could enjoy. In 2007, they invited Belkis Shah, who works internationally to help make Prem Rawat's message available to more and more people, to visit Taiwan and help the local teams in their efforts.

Report: Event in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India

Maharaji first spoke at an event in Kanpur in 1966. In 1970 he spoke to a crowd of several thousand people over the course of three days. He was just twelve years old, and some found it hard to believe that a child could inspire people to experience the self within. Yet that is what many said happened. Four years ago, in April of 2005, he came again, this time to address over 250,000.

When he returned this year, people came early to be ready for the event, which was to begin at 9:30 a.m. Another huge crowd of people had come to listen to Maharaji. Every moment, the number of people was increasing because, once again, the Ambassador of Peace was coming to Kanpur. Before the event began, over 185,000 people had gathered on the event grounds, having first heard that Maharaji was coming less than two weeks earlier.

The venue was the Kanpur Development Authority (KDA) grounds, approximately 10 kilometers from Grant Truck Road. Many people had come from as far away as 200 kilometers, but they were all exhibiting a spirit of enthusiasm. The volunteer staff did a wonderful job maintaining an atmosphere of calm and order so people could listen peacefully to Maharaji without distraction.

Report: Event in Jaipur, India

Maharaji's event in Jaipur on November 14th was scheduled to be the fifth on his fall tour in India, but heavy rain in the entire Rajasthan region flooded the venue for the fourth event (Sawai Madhopur) so it had to be canceled. For a while, it seemed likely that bad weather would threaten the Jaipur event as well, a disheartening possibility for all those who were looking forward to seeing Maharaji, many for the first time. But even though the prospects of holding the event looked bleak at times, all those who had volunteered to help with preparations remained confidently optimistic, and as a result, they were fully prepared.

Amazingly, on the afternoon of November 14, a bright, shining sun emerged from the dark clouds, bringing a ray of hope and happiness for all the volunteers and people who were waiting to be part of this event. Everyone was rejoicing, and the atmosphere was euphoric. The venue was decorated with colorful Rangoli (one of the most popular art forms in India) and given a Rajasthani look to reflect the local culture. Women were dressed in multicolored clothes and men wore turbans.

Report: Event in Alwar, Rajasthan, India

To the great delight of many people who had long hoped to see Maharaji in their city, he spoke at a surprise event in Alwar, India, on November 19. He had not been there since 1970, just over a year before he first traveled to Europe and the Americas. Before that, Maharaji had visited this city several times as a boy with his father and teacher, Shri Hans Ji Maharaj.

Alwar is the administrative headquarters of the Alwar district of Rajasthan in northwestern India. Famous for the world-renowned Sariska Tiger Reserve, Alwar sprawls below the Aravali mountain range and is home to over 200,000 people.

Attendees came from all over Rajasthan by every possible mode of transportation—car, bus, train, motorcycle, bicycle, cycle, rickshaw, and by foot. Over an hour before Maharaji's arrival on stage, more than 4,000 people had gathered, eagerly waiting for the event to begin. Scores of local volunteers had come together quickly to help make the event run smoothly. A number of enthusiastic young people helping with the event were scattered throughout the audience wearing black pants and sky blue shirts so people needing help could find them easily. One of the older volunteers expressed, "Helping with this event has been a wonderful opportunity for me. I have enjoyed it fully, and I hope to be able to have this chance again and again."

Report: Event in Greater Noida, near Delhi, India

All the roads are packed for a few miles outside Noida, where an event with Maharaji is about to take place. People are everywhere, some wearing kurtas and dhotis, some in bright shirts, some with turbans, women in beautiful saris of every color. A local resident asks, "Who is coming?" and is told, "Maharaji, the Ambassador of Peace."

The venue for the event is in a remote rural area a few miles from the Delhi-Noida road. There are no shops, nowhere to find anything to eat or drink. Yet everywhere, crowds of people are gathering, almost like a huge fair. People from different cities and villages, near and far, who have traveled there by train, bus, car, truck, jeep, tractor, trolley, and bicycle are packed together, but the feeling is one of exhilaration.

As Mr. Udaybhan, who came from Sarita Vihar by bicycle, explained, "I have been listening to Maharaji for seven years. Whenever I come to see him, I feel peace and tranquility in my heart."

Message of Peace at All-India Farmers Fair

India is a land of farmers, with about 75 percent of the 1.1 billion people in the country connected to agriculture.

Govind Ballabh Pant University, in the Pant Nagar town of Udham Singh Nagar, is the first university in India to blend technology with agriculture and has been praised by Nobel Laureate Dr. Norman E. Borlaug as the "Harbinger of the Green Revolution" in India. Established in 1960, the university is situated in the lush green foothills of the Kumaon range of the Himalayas. Since 1966, it has held an All-India Farmers Fair (Kisaan Mela) twice a year, a forum for scientists, farmers, and industry-related people. Of mutual benefit to both the farmers who attend and the exhibitors, it also attracts a large number of agro-industrial firms.

In March 2009, over 15,000 people from all over India participated in the Farmers Fair in Pantnager in the state of Udham Singh Nagar. This is an industrial district, and many industry-related professions are prevalent here. It is the perfect example of a harmonious culture, for which India is so widely known. Various religions and lifestyles blend there harmoniously.

TPRF Ranks Fourth in America's Giving Challenge

America's Giving Challenge, sponsored by Facebook Causes, the Case Foundation, and Parade Magazine, began a cause-oriented contest on Facebook, which began on October 7th and runs through November 6th.

The Challenge was created to empower individuals to join together and make a difference for the issues and organization they care about the most, whether or not they have large sums to contribute.

The contest is simple: Each day the Cause that gets the most donations of $10 or more wins $1,000. At the end of the contest, $50,000 is awarded to the Cause that has received the most donations over the entire Challenge, with smaller awards for second through 7th place. Each person can make multiple contributions toward the challenge, but only one contribution per day. It is not the amount of the contributions, but the number of them that determines the winners.

Young People Take Initiative in Mumbai

Mumbai is a city that is known to never stop for anyone or anything. The economic capital of India, Mumbai is famous for its seashore, incredible lifestyle, and festivities. The city has a tremendous amount of dynamic energy, which makes people fall in love with it. There's a saying that "if you work hard in Mumbai, this city will always pay you back for your work." That's why it is home to so many of India's creative people, whether they are in film, theater, television, or advertising. It has all the noise, music, and loudness of a big city, but it is also filled with restless souls searching for peace.

With enthusiasm, energy, and optimism, the young people in Mumbai who are promoting Maharaji's message of peace make an impact wherever they go. A group of them initiated a peace parade to bring this message to the masses, especially to young adults. They did this apart from their school, college, or work and have a very unusual way of attracting people, especially a younger audience. They hold "canopy events" in malls, beaches, gardens, fairs, and railway stations. More than 260 people attended one of the events in the Andheri area of west Mumbai, which was held in the Infinity Mall. The young volunteers first attracted the audience through music and games. Then they showed a 3-min. presentation of Maharaji's message to those who were interested. More than 35 people attended and expressed an interest in listening more about the message of hope and peace.

Waves of Hope in Côte d'Ivoire

The blue Atlantic waves off the beaches of Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) have always been a welcome sight for those visiting this part of Africa's tropical region. Consequently, it has remained an attractive holiday destination for tourists, many of whom make the long journey from France, its former colonial ruler.

More than half of the population is currently employed in agriculture, making the country one of the world's leading pineapple, coffee, and cocoa producers. Despite the ongoing political instability and wars that continue to hinder its growth, the country's 20 million citizens remain true to a culture that emphasizes the enjoyment of life. Ready smiles and brightly-colored clothing are evident everywhere.

Report: Event in Miami Beach, Florida

For many in the audience, the trip to hear Maharaji speak in Miami Beach was as simple as driving across the causeway and as familiar an opportunity for joy as celebrating a birthday. For many others, the event prompted transcontinental flights and day-and-night-long drives. Isabel McCormick, an immigration lawyer from Miami, attended out of curiosity. A friend had told her about Maharaji, and she was interested to know how his message differed from that of others who profess that fulfillment lies within.

From the opening moments of his appearance in the capacity-filled auditorium, Maharaji made it clear what he wasn't going to talk about. "I am not here to change your religion, throw a philosophy your way, dazzle you with brilliant quotes, or tell you what is going to happen tomorrow." For the next hour and more, he described the simplicity and beauty of being connected to that which is unchanging. "We are caught in this incredible tornado of change," he explained. "Everything around us—thoughts, ideas, and perceptions—change. And you change even while you are trying to fight the changes. In the middle of all these changes, I'm trying to find something that doesn't change. And there is something like that. That's the good news."

Report: Event in Asheville, North Carolina

Can you picture a public program for 1,200 people planned and executed entirely by volunteers? That's what took place in Asheville, North Carolina, on September 23, 2009. A town of less than 75,000, Asheville is home to many people who wanted to host an event featuring Prem Rawat (Maharaji) for their friends, associates, and the public at large.

Once Maharaji accepted the invitation, volunteer organizers launched a "communications blitz," with flyers, a spot on Words of Peace radio, and computerized contact with people who had received the gift of Knowledge or had expressed interest in the message over the years. For an estimated 400 people out of the 1,200 attendees, it was their first experience hearing Maharaji speak in person.

TPRF Gives US$25,000 to Help Provide Eye Care for Children in Palestinian Territories

A $25,000 grant by The Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF) is helping St. John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital (SJJEH) to provide eye care for 30,000 children in an area of the world where blindness is ten times higher than in the West. Over 50% of the people in the Palestinian Territories, one of the world's fastest growing populations, are now under the age of 18, and almost that many live below the poverty level.

This is the second grant that TPRF has made to St. John Eye Hospital. Chairman John Talbot expressed his appreciation: "The continued, generous support of The Prem Rawat Foundation this year will permit the St. John Eye Hospital Group to expand and improve our much-needed services for the children of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. Congenital eye disease and disfigurement are rife amongst the younger generation in the Holy Land, and our work ensures that many young people grow up with more opportunity to learn and become productive adults in an already difficult environment."

Peace is on the Air in Caracas, Venezuela

All over the world, local TV and radio stations are broadcasting Prem Rawat's message of peace. In Caracas, Venezuela, 84-year-old Dominga Navarro, her son Alcides, and a number of friends have broadcast this message from a local radio station in San Bernardino Parish since August 2002. Broadcasting from this radio station, which is only five blocks from Dominga's home, has become a heartfelt project for the former teacher, who became a student of Prem Rawat 25 years ago. Since Alcides is part of the radio station's management, the station is open to air Dominga's programs, which consist of excerpts and stories from Prem Rawat's international addresses. The community radio station broadcasts at 91.7 FM, where Dominga plays Prem Rawat's audios from Tuesday to Friday at 9:00 am.

Report: Event in Las Vegas, Nevada

More than 37 million people pour into Las Vegas every year to test their luck at casinos or lose themselves in the razzle-dazzle of elaborately staged floor shows. Maharaji reminded the 750 people who gathered there to hear him one blazing hot Saturday at the end of summer that the most amazing luck is to be alive.

Las Vegas was one of several stops on a cross-country tour organized for Maharaji by groups of volunteers eager to invite him to the areas where they live. In this case, Las Vegans coordinated with people from three other cities—Albuquerque, Denver and Phoenix—in hopes of bringing Maharaji to the Southwest, said Kristin Carlander, who serves as the local contact for people in the Las Vegas community interested in Maharaji's message. When this regional group heard that Maharaji was particularly interested in visiting places he hadn't been to before, Las Vegas and Albuquerque moved to center stage.

"We are a small community," Carlander said, "but working together with other communities on planning strengthened us and gave us the reassurance that we could do this."

Words of Peace in Lebanon

The countries of the Middle East have had a long history of conflict and war. Almost daily, the news is filled with accounts of violence. Even in the midst of this discord, Maharaji's message of peace shows that peace is still possible for anyone who wants to find it.

Bahia Zahnan is a sociologist living in Lebanon. With Maharaji's help, she has discovered firsthand that peace can be found within. She recently sent this article to Words of Peace Global:

"The local media knows me because I have done many television interviews about special occasions like Mother's Day. Recently, a journalist from a television channel in Dubai came to interview me. They filmed me at home for five hours, and I talked about many subjects. The final program included an hour about my experience with Maharaji and peace within.

Report: Event in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Until recently, Maharaji had never been to Albuquerque, New Mexico, though he was personally asked a few years back by Stan Metcalf from Taos to come and speak. Maharaji said, "I fly over it all the time, but I have never dropped in."

Maharaji decided to "drop in" on September 11, 2009, and proceeded to give his perspective on the difference between make-believe and reality. He called the made-up version of everything the "human arbitrary synthesis," referring to how individuals arbitrarily make up so many things, then a few people agree on them and form a consensus, and then we think that's reality.

"You live, fortunately or unfortunately, in the world of make-believe," he said. "In this world of make-believe there is a 2009. And there is going to be a new year. Is there, or is it arbitrary? Of course it's arbitrary. It is purely a human arbitrary synthesis. For Hindus, it's a totally different calendar. For the Nepalese, there's a totally different calendar. For the Mayans, there's a totally different calendar."

TPRF Makes Two Grants to Provide Relief in Pakistan

The Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF) has granted over US$65,000 to provide food, medication, cattle and livestock provisions, and fruit plants to aid over 10,000 persons affected by the country's recent internal conflicts, which have displaced over 650,000 people. (World Food Programme, July 2009)

Thousands of families were displaced in May and June of this year due to the escalation of conflict between the Pakistani Army and the Taliban. Now they have returned to their homes to find waterways destroyed, crops and livestock gone, and no seeds to plant for the next harvest.

Refugees Watch Words of Peace in Sri Lanka

In the recently flooded northern part of Sri Lanka, Tamil refugees from the final, brutal battles in the country's 25-year civil war are watching Maharaji's talks. The DVD screenings are being held three times a week in two vast camps, sprawling over 800 acres, which together hold almost 48,000 people.

The videos, which are being shown on large screens as well as televisions, are the only outside materials allowed into the camps where thousands of people are surviving in plastic tents, with just the clothes on their backs. Almost all the refugees have been under fire; many have seen their families killed and witnessed appalling atrocities. To add to the misery, heavy rains have recently flooded the camps making conditions almost unbearable.

As a result of the screenings, which are extremely popular, over 200 people have begun the process of preparing for the Knowledge that Maharaji offers and are now watching The Keys. Unusually, the heads of both army-run camps are also watching the videos.

Report: Event in Boulder, Colorado

As he is doing the world over, Maharaji brought "good news" to Boulder, Colorado, September 13, 2009.

"Today I am here as the bearer of very good news," he said in his opening remarks to about 1,200 people at a public event held at the fabled Macky Auditorium Concert Hall on the campus of the University of Colorado at Boulder.

"This is a difficult time for people," he said, "but the good news has something to do with you. It's pretty incredible. It's so good that some people find it hard to believe."

"The good news," he continued, "is, one: you are alive. To me, that's as good as news can get. Two: the divine that you are searching for is within you. That gives birth to the third good news: whatever it is you are looking for is also within you."

New Beginnings

Hear from people in Serbia, Venezuela, Cambodia, and South Africa about how a message of peace is catching on in their countries. (25 minutes)

Maharaji's message is more than words, as you will hear in this video. He offers a way to discover peace within that he calls Knowledge, and to prepare for that, he offers a step-by-step process he calls The Keys.

Report: Event in Medford, Oregon

Have you ever heard of Medford, Oregon? Well, if not, you are not alone.

This is the town that, with only four-day's notice, hosted Maharaji's 62nd event for 2009. Medford is a small rural timber and farming town near the border of Northern California and only 12 miles from Ashland, Oregon, where there are a number of people who have wanted Maharaji to visit their area for a long time.

In 1985, this small team wrote a letter to Maharaji and invited him to this region of the Northwest commonly known as the "Rogue Valley." Maharaji wrote them back personally and said that he would be happy to come visit, but he felt it was not the time. So from time to time, and every year for the past five years, they would write, keeping Maharaji up to date on the community's activities, renewing their request: "Please honor us with your company." Confirmation came 24 years later, and Mike McGuire ("Guire" as he is known to his friends) said they always knew it would.

The joyful excitement these folks exuded was electric. Here was an event where they could finally invite all their family and friends to hear Maharaji in person—and that is what many of them did.

Report: Event in Santa Cruz, California

In 1971, when Maharaji first arrived in the U.S., Santa Cruz residents invited him to visit their charming seaside town. But he went to nearby Carmel. About two years ago, they decided to invite him again. They scouted for appropriate venues, sent him an invitation, and then they waited.

He almost came in September 2008, but it didn't work out at the last minute. San Jose was chosen instead. Understanding their disappointment and the fact that many of them were elderly or disabled and couldn't travel, Maharaji arranged for a bus to bring 60 people from Santa Cruz to San Jose. His thoughtfulness inspired them to renew their commitment and try again.

Several locals began meeting weekly. This time they secured a hall that would hold 300 people. On Monday, August 24, 2009, word came that Maharaji would like to come, but a bigger hall was needed.

The next day, Tuesday, they found the Civic Auditorium. On Wednesday, they heard the words they'd long been awaiting: "That's wonderful. Maharaji would love to come to Santa Cruz. He'll be there on August 31st."

Report: Event in Sacramento, California

On August 30th, the momentum of excitement escalated as the 60th event on Maharaji's 2009 world tour commenced in Sacramento, California, where Maharaji gave a special event in Hindi.

Organized by a team of Hindi- and Tamil-speaking people from all over the country, preparations were underway months ahead of time for an event somewhere in North America where Maharaji would speak in Hindi. When Sacramento was selected, the team rapidly set plans in motion. They had stayed in touch by email, conference calls, and meetings each week, eagerly planning for this special occasion. Even with just two days' notice, 400 people attended from all over the U.S. and Canada, including five from England.

On the day of the event, it took a great deal of teamwork to get everything ready in time. Pramod Patel Kalarn, project manager for the Sacramento event, lives in Phoenix but was part of the planning conference calls. He said that a lot of preparation and learning needs to happen before an event, so that when the event happens, it is smooth and flawless.

"The key seems to be attention to detail, down to the smallest," he said. "With only one day to set up, we had to build three stages from scratch. Volunteer carpenters brought wood and tools and built what was needed. Then the carpet layers came, and with help from the rest of the crew, cut carpet, laid down double-sided tape on the flooring, and then stapled the carpet along the siding. Quite an exacting enterprise to witness."

TPRF Gives US$20,000 to Aid Sri Lanka War Victims

VAVUNIYA, Sri Lanka, Aug. 31 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF) has donated US$20,000 to the Jeeva Shakthi Society for aid to Vavuniya, Northern Province, Vavuniya District of Sri Lanka in an effort to provide nutrition to those displaced by civil war in the region. The grant will aid the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) currently occupying camps and settlements for a two-month period.

Report: Event in Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana is the capital and largest city of Slovenia. Its name has several possible meanings, although the closest Slovenian word to it is 'ljubljena,' which means beloved. Whatever the meaning of its name, Ljubljana is the cultural and business center of Slovenia, rich in history and surrounded by mountain streams and pristine lakes.

Maharaji has spoken at four events in Ljubljana since 2000, including in July of this year. This last time, anticipating that he might come again, we had been ready like sprinters at the starting block of a race, and we made it. Everyone involved gave his or her best to prepare a beautiful environment for the event to take place. It had the feeling of being effortless—that feeling that comes only after lots of effort has been made.

A member of event team, Jožef Omerzel, told me, "I felt like it took only half the effort to do the job compared to last year, even though we only had a quarter of the time to do it. Weeks before the event was confirmed, we had a feeling that Maharaji might come again and great hope that he would. Regardless of the fact that it was only a possibility, we had done most of the work by the time we got the confirmation."

Maharaji opened his address by talking about human beings' innate thirst for peace. "Even a long time ago," he said, "when people wore their skin for clothes, you can imagine a man or a woman standing under the stars on a beautiful evening. And what do they ask? 'Who am I? Why am I here?'

Report: Event in Belgrade, Serbia

28 July 2009 Belgrade

Here in Belgrade, in what used to be the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, people had a chance to listen to Maharaji for the first time ever. Belgrade is the capital of Serbia, a city of two million at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers. The setting for the event was the 400-seat amphitheatre of the Sava Center, right next to the Continental Beograd Hotel—both landmarks of modern-day Belgrade.

The foundation for this occasion was laid during an event in Warsaw, Poland, in the summer of 2008, when people from different Eastern and Central European countries talked to Maharaji about their earnest wish to see his message of peace made accessible to the people of their countries. This event was a direct result of that conversation. Not all the students from Eastern and Central Europe could make it this time due to a variety of travel restrictions, but it was a wonderful beginning. I remember Maharaji's words in Warsaw a year ago: "Yes, someday there will be a program in those places [in Eastern Europe], and it will be wonderful. Because people cannot travel, I will go to them." And he did.

Report: Event in Cheltenham, England

The Centaur at Prestbury Park Racecourse provides an ideal setting for Maharaji to deliver his 54th event this year. The racecourse is surrounded by gently rolling Cotswold hills and beautiful wooded valleys. This part of the world is known as "The Heart of England".

The Centaur is the most prestigious multi-purpose venue in Britain to be opened this millennium. It offers a spacious contemporary lobby and a state-of-the-art auditorium. The Event Management Team has put tremendous care into their preparation, in hopes that every attendee will have a straightforward and seamless experience.

Seating reservations were fully booked within hours of the event announcement. Over 2,100 people are expected to attend.

As buses and cars begin to arrive at the racecourse, attendees gather outside in the warm sunshine, chatting quietly together. Close by in the lush green paddock, brown and white ponies trot by. A light breeze stirs the trees. Overhead the blue sky is filled with fluffy white clouds. It is a typical English summer's day.

Report: Event in Glasgow, Scotland

16th July 2009. This evening, Maharaji has been invited to speak in the Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow. A state-of-the-art theatre, nicknamed the "Armadillo" because of its distinctive architectural design, the theatre is a cultural landmark on Clydeport's newly regenerated waterfront. You can still see traces of Glasgow's historic trading past here, where once ships laden with tobacco, cotton and sugar arrived from the Americas. A few tramlines, the quayside with its iron railings, old cranes and engine houses. Seagulls circle against swirling grey rain clouds, but the weather is still holding.

Tonight, nearly 1200 people are gathering here to listen to Maharaji present his message. Marian Reid, from nearby Edinburgh, is part of a local volunteer team preparing for Maharaji's visit. Her role, as event manager, is to ensure the event is the best it can possibly be for all. Many have travelled to Glasgow from all over the UK, Ireland and Europe to attend this event.

"It's a real privilege to have Maharaji come and speak in Glasgow. I always wished that he would come back here again to Scotland", Marian says. "It can be a life-changing experience".

Report: Event in Dublin, Ireland

It's a typical Irish summer's afternoon: clouds scudding across a blue sky and mild sunshine, interrupted by brief showers, which send the trickle of guests heading for the Royal Dublin Society Library scurrying for cover.

By 6:30 pm, with the evening's talk due to start in an hour, knots of people are idly clustering outside the 300-year-old Society's stone-clad façade. There's a little traffic in and out of the revolving doors, but no great sense of rush. This is Ireland after all, where, as the locals say, "There's no word that adequately conveys the urgency of mañana".

Time ticks past, a couple of warning bells ring, people manning the registration tables get ready to go in. Eventually, the forecourt empties, and everybody ambles into the book-lined hall. The atmosphere is warm and intimate; old friends greet each other. As latecomers squeeze into seats in front of the low podium, the excited buzz of chatter lowers to a hum and then hushes.

Report: Event in Athens, Greece

11th July 2009. In downtown Athens, the narrow winding streets are crammed with tourists, scooters, yellow taxis and cars. In between, I catch a fleeting glimpse of an ancient marble arch anchoring the city centre. In the distance, a tiny white church clings to a dusty hillside, shining in the heat. Clusters of white oleanders ornament the roadside. Tall blocks of flats (apartments), rooftops bristling with satellite dishes and TV antennas crowd together. This beautiful and ancient city seems to be struggling to keep up with the pace and demands of 21st century life. There's a lot of pollution, a lot of traffic.

Later that afternoon, I take a taxi to the Theatron Cultural Centre, newly built with an airy lobby, all marble and glass. Inside the auditorium, event preparation is well underway; microphones and lighting tested, AV cables uncoiled, cameras positioned. Prem Rawat's presentation will be recorded, and his message sent around the world via websites and DVDs. Volunteers from all over Greece have helped to make the preparations for the event.

Report: Event in Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria, 7 July. We had dealt with the rain, and now it was time for the sunshine. A statement that, for me, was both literal and metaphorical! Maharaji had not been to Vienna for 14 years, and only once before that. On this visit, his plane was the last one allowed to land before they closed the airport due to torrential rain.

In the Austria Center, approximately 300 people gathered for what was to be a small event catering to the needs of the local people long familiar with Maharaji's message. Walter Baco, the event manager and a composer by trade, explained that the walk-in music reflected the rich musical heritage of Vienna, with pieces from Mozart, Debussy, Bach, and Strauss.

The event had come together at very short notice. Confirmed only five days before the event took place, there was initially surprise, then delight, that Maharaji had accepted the invitation to come to Vienna. Alex Schutz, a violin maker who works in nearby Linz, made plans to come as soon as he heard. He had only seen Maharaji once nine years ago. 

Prem Rawat Honored in Potenza, Italy

On July 3, 2009, Prem Rawat was honored by President Colombo and the Regional Administration in Potenza, the historic capital city of the Basilicata region in Southern Italy. Nestled in the lovely hill regions of Basilicata, Potenza's roots go back to the 4th century B.C. Currently, the Regional Administration hopes to transform their region into an important center for peace. Emilio Colombo, former Prime Minister of Italy, former President of the European Parliament, and lifetime senator, expressed great joy that Prem Rawat had accepted their invitation to come and speak: "I am happy to meet him in our dear region." 

President Colombo and Basilicata President Vito de Filippo of Potenza, in joint association with the presidents of nearby provinces, extended the honorary invitation to Prem Rawat, the seed of which was planted in 2005 when Prem Rawat spoke to a roomful of dignitaries at the Palazzo Giustiniani at the Senate in Rome. Notable guests to this evening's prestigious event also included the regional ministers of Health, of Industry and Tourism, and of Infrastructure and Transport, as well as local Potenza business leaders, students from the Conservatorio di Musica, friends and associates of the speakers, and several international attendees from as far away as Australia, Israel, and the United States. 

Q & A with Prem Rawat in Tel Aviv

In February, 2009, Prem Rawat spoke to an audience in Tel Aviv, Israel, where he responded to questions and expressions from the audience: 

Q: Hello. I've just finished my fifth key preparing for Knowledge. I'm very excited, anticipating. And I love listening to your stories. You make me laugh a lot. My question is: I have a very scientific way of thinking. I have to know, I have to understand. I feel that I'm missing something.

A: Well, when you hear what you hear, what do you feel inside of you? Do you feel good? Do you feel happy? 

Q: But I don't understand.

A: All you have to do is understand that. Feel that joy, feel that happiness. Something inside of you is responding. This isn't about a scientific experiment or proving a hypothesis. This is about feeling.

We all began with some simple fundamentals. We were able to feel a need and to express that need. We somehow think that is insignificant. We become very analytical, because this is what the world tells us to do: "It's this way. It's this way. It's this way."

TPRF Sponsors Five Multi-Day Eye Clinics in India

Over 15 million people in India suffer from blindness, and it is estimated that 75% of them could have preserved their sight with the proper care. Yet the country continues to suffer from a severe shortage of eye-care professionals and lack of eye care for its poorest residents, resulting in limited educational and economic opportunity for them. The Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF) has sponsored eye clinics in poor rural areas, carrying out eye examinations for almost 10,000 people and supplying eye drops and glasses where needed.

Report: Event in Thousand Oaks, California

Alternating clouds and sun cast shadows and light over the terraced patio in front of the Thousand Oaks Civic Center on Sunday, June 7, where a crowd of over a thousand people awaited a live event with Prem Rawat (widely known as Maharaji), the first since his return to North America after a six-month tour of Japan, China, Australia, and other parts of the Far East. Some talked quietly, others greeted old friends. But it was clear that such reunions were incidental to the main event.

After viewing a charming animated short about a lion that thought he was a sheep, and a documentary about his work called "A Man of Passion," Maharaji took the stage to applause, cheers, and a sea of waving arms.

He began with the routine remark we make to one another: "You won't believe what happened to me today." We say it because the other person wasn't there — if they were, they would know. 

Prem Rawat Receives Key to the City from Mayor of Tainan

On May 23, at the invitation of Mayor Tain-Tsair Hsu of Tainan, Taiwan, Prem Rawat, known as Maharaji, attended a ceremony where he was awarded the Golden Key to the city as well as an emblem of the Sword Lion, a symbol of the cultural capital of Taiwan. The ceremony was held at the National Tainan Living Arts Center. Over 800 people attended including guests of the mayor, dignitaries from other towns in Taiwan, as well as international and local students of Prem Rawat.

After a brief introduction from one of the Mayor's staff and a video, Mayor Hsu said how honored he felt to receive an "Ambassador of Peace" in Tainan. Prem Rawat was awarded the title of Ambassador of Peace at the International University of Peace in Brazil because of his worldwide efforts over four decades to bring a message of peace to millions of people.

"Today the Peace Ambassador has finally arrived in Tainan City," said Mayor Hsu, "and we have to collaborate with him to contribute to peace and harmony in this world. We have to encourage each other. We have to trust in peace. We cannot wait for peace to descend. We have to have the confidence in ourselves that there is a source of peace within us that is not only for ourselves but for everyone in this world."

Words of Peace in Prisons around the World

On six continents, thousands of prisoners are now watching Words of Peace as part of their rehabilitation program. Words of Peace, which features Prem Rawat's message of hope and the possibility for each individual to find peace whatever their circumstances, has inspired hundreds of inmates to write letters of appreciation.

Many prison officials have noted life-changing results in the prisoners, and many officials themselves enjoy viewing the videos. The program has been so successful that several prison officials have invited Prem Rawat to speak at their facilities. One prison administrator in the UK said, "Prem Rawat gives hope to all, including those people in our society who are from less-advantaged backgrounds and could be easily forgotten or unheard."

Peace Begins in the Heart of Every Human Being

In a telephone interview with Issa Asgarally, one of the editors of the Mauritius magazine L'Express Dimanche, Prem Rawat responds to a wide range of questions about the world we live in, the universal longing for peace, and the possibility of individuals to discover peace within. Published in in  L'Express Dimanche, Mauritius 2007.

The word "peace" means different things to different people. What kind of peace are you talking about?

People go somewhere very quiet and think it's peaceful. It's not peaceful; it's quiet. There is a difference between peace and quiet. It could be very quiet, but there could be a war raging inside a person, and that is not peace. Peace is fundamentally innate, an undeniable feeling that is real. It is so incredibly human to want to feel that peace. It is not in the realm of the divine but in the human realm that peace needs to be felt, and it is human beings who need and want peace. Even so, we get caught up in definitions, saying, "Maybe this is peace, maybe this is peace", but peace is a feeling.

Peace is a feeling in which a person can say, "Now I feel peace." No questions, no doubts. It is not a group thing or a painting or anything else. There is a peace that lies in the heart of every human being on earth today regardless of what they believe in or what they do. Even the warmongers—in their hearts, they, too, truly want peace.

TPRF Gives Grant for Water Aid in Haiti

For the children of Haiti, clean water is in very short supply. Many community wells are contaminated, nutritious food is scarce, and children are dying from disease, starvation, malnutrition, and dehydration. A grant of US$20,000 from The Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF) to the Mercy and Sharing Foundation will provide seven thousand villagers with fresh water for one year and finance water wells at a new nutrition, education, and orphanage facility north of Port-au-Prince.

Q & A with Prem Rawat in Sicily

On a visit to Mazara del Vallo, Sicily in February 2009, Prem Rawat was awarded honorary citizenship. Following that ceremony, several high school students came to the microphone one-by-one to ask him questions. What follows are excerpts from that exchange.

Q: "Life is a journey, and the journey of life is so beautiful that it does not require a destination." I read this quote of yours, and I wanted to ask: without a precise destination, don't we run the risk of drifting away?

A: Every journey has to have a purpose. Now, in some journeys, the purpose is to reach a particular place or destination. But in the journey of life, the purpose is to enjoy. And that in itself is the destination of the journey—to enjoy being alive. Yes, I agree with you that we cannot drift away from the enjoyment of this life. That is the purpose of this journey.

Conversations with Prem Rawat

Compiled from several interviews of Prem Rawat by journalists.

A person in your position will be described or defined by many people. How would you describe yourself?

I'm me. I am a human being. Many things have been said about me. Many of these things have come from people's own emotions, good or bad. I'm proud to be a human being. I am very happy that I have this life. I'm happy being me. Some people would love to put labels on me, but I am just me.

What solution or help or hope do you bring?

Some teachers say, "Let's see what you can accomplish. How can we make you a success?" I focus much more on the person. Rather than show people what they could do, I say, "You have been given the gift of life. You have been given a treasure within you. Why don't you address your own treasure? Why don't you address your innermost feeling?" What are your needs? Not the needs of society, but your needs? What is your aspiration?

There is a fundamental aspiration true to every human being regardless of who they are, where they live, what they do, or what they think. Every being has an innate desire to be content. What I offer is a practical way to address that deepest desire common to us all. It is an individual process for personal success in enjoying life, independent of circumstances.

Report: On the Road with Maharaji in India & Nepal

The roads are jammed for a few miles outside Nawada, deep in the heart of rural Bihar. Tractor trailers, tightly packed with women in bright saris, their heads veiled, and men in bulbous white country turbans; auto-rickshaws, lorries, mini-vans, buses and cars, all bursting at the rivets with people, are tangled together into a knot that tightens as more vehicles arrive. In the distance is a long, patterned tent wall and far beyond, barely visible in the dust and heat haze, a large LCD screen. Several passengers get out to join the rivers of people flowing towards an opening in the tented wall.

Inside, a vast crowd stretching almost as far as the eye can see, is already seated. People have been arriving throughout the night and are now crammed, hip to hip and shoulder to shoulder into every available inch of an immense fallow field. Crowds in India can be large, but this is enormous. Almost 300,000. People squeeze closer together, as more arrive. Everyone is good-humoured, laughing and chatting, looking forward to the programme. No one complains.

Suddenly there is the distant drone of rotor blades. The crowd looks up: a helicopter, its fuselage glinting against the sun, is flying in low. People stand to wave, eyes shaded against the glare. A roar of joy goes up from the crowd as the helicopter circles the field and comes in to land behind the stage. Music plays, and then an MC comes out to welcome everyone. The crowd quietens. Videos begin playing. Despite the crush, there is pin-drop silence.