Prem Rawat's Career: 2016 - A 50 Year Asessment
Prem Rawat began his career as guru in 1966 when he was declared to be the Perfect Master and Lord of the Universe on the death of his father who held those positions (in the small world of the Indian Divine Light Mission) before him and told to prepare to go out and bring peace to the world. In 2016 he had been hoeing his row for 50 years and his remaining followers even organised some celebrations in honour of his "great achievements."
Prem Rawat aka Maharaji claims to have a powerful and unique message - that peace begins with each of us, is within inside of us and that he can reveal 4 simple meditation techniques that allow us to go inside and find the joy and peace. This message is about as un-unique as it is possible to be. It is particularly strange that Rawat would make this claim of uniqueness when there are so many famous and well-known people saturating popular culture with this very message. There are also hundreds of thousands of unknown yoga teachers, mindfullness meditation teachers and all the other anonymous people of many faiths making this very statement. Of course they do not agree that Prem Rawat has any claim to uniqueness or power to validate his claims, quite the contrary. Prem Rawat is a failed and forgotten divine wannabe hanging onto the rump of his former devotees and making a relative fistfull of money while doing it.
Assessing Prem Rawats Success By Number of True Believers
Surely it is Prem Rawat's own criteria for success that should be used to judge him. Even before he arrived in London he was exhorting the British premies * to Spread This Knowledge ie recruit more premies:
TO ALL THE PREMIES OF LONDON: Spreading this Knowledge is the most, most holy and spiritual thing that one can ever do in this life, and the most precious thing that one can ever do in this life. … So I hope you will spread this Knowledge and encourage more and more people to spread this Knowledge. Divine Light Number 1 June 1971
So the most holy and precious thing was to recruit people to practice this Knowledge. Success was to be judged by the number of meditators obeying Rawat's instructions. After 50 years recruiting during which his PR material continually spruiks how hard he has worked there are about (as best as can be assessed) around 10,000 true believers out of India. People prepared to donate their time and money where he requests. As he also claimed he would recruit billions through his premies exponential word-of-mouth he has to be considered a failure.
Prem Rawat Has Lived in a Bubble
Prem Rawat has had an extremely limited and circumscribed life compared to his eldest brother. He has travelled extensively by private jet but he has always stayed well clear of the public and all but a few trusted servants. He does not mingle with his "students" and does not appear to have any interpersonal skills as shown in this video where he actually attended a small birthday celebration of one of his most devoted Australian followers. Even then this was held at his cult compound in Australia and was strictly private. He repeats the same script: fly by private jet, stay isolated in luxury, make speeches to mostly the same people, return to Malibu palace. Satpal has not only administered a large Indian organisation and followers as Satguru but has been heavily involved in politics, both local, state and international in a country where privacy is almost unknown.
Prem Rawat aka Maharaji appears to have three major objectives:
- to retainj or increase his following thereby receiving more money and personal adoration and maintaining his opulent lifestyle
- to gain respectability and respect as an "International Ambassador of Peace" or at least the appearance thereof
- to avoid publicity and media attention which would bring his history to the attention of the public and make him the butt of ridicule and contempt
These objectives are difficult to balance together as there are inherent conflicts between them. Judging by the resources and subterfuges that have been used to try to gain him public respect and respectability over the years since that time he must feel the desire for public respect very strongly. It must hurt knowing that his eldest brother stole his birthright and has gone on to publicly succeed in Indian politics and as a guru/Godman and inherited their father's legacy, property, organisation, followers and wordly goods.
Prem Rawat's Knowledge Aint Got No Future
In 1971 when Prem Rawat was roaming the USA looking for anyone who would listen to him there was a photographer with him. In a photo of a small group of people asking questions published in the Divine Light magazine there was something really unique … a bald head. That young man was suffering early onset baldness while all around him were healthy, shining heads of male hair. 43 years of meditation later its 2014. This photo published on a Prem Rawat official site is of a crowd of his faithful premies listening to him speak.
Assessing Prem Rawats Success By Money
The 2 major public bodies that receive donations to aid Prem Rawat's objectives (whether publicly stated or otherwise) are the Prem Rawat Foundation and the Words Of Peace Global Foundation (Stichting WOPG) based in Holland. Before the creation of WOPG in 2013 Prem Rawat used Elan Vital as the names of his national organisations and Elan Vital (US) was the major public vehicle for donations. Examination of their annual reports allows an assessment to be made of the success of his attempts to gain followers over the 50 year period since his incarnation as the current, divine Perfect Master of the Universe.
The Prem Rawat Foundation ($US)
Examination of the Prem Rawat Foundation annual reports shows that less than 30% of the funds contributed to the foundation (by Rawat's devotees, not by Rawat personally) were spent on humanitarian or charitable activities. The majority has been spent on Prem Rawat himself and helps fund his travels in his private multi million dollar jets, staying in luxury hotel suites and giving speeches that inspire his followers to donate money that is spent on his travels in his private multi million dollar jets …
Human Development Through Self-Knowledge.
While there are national organisations in many countries their donations are relatively minor. Apart from the USA the Western country with the largest number of followers of Rawat's is Great Britain. Human Development Through Self-Knowledge is the British organisation financing Prem Rawat's activities. Their financial records show that national organisations are not the major source of finance for Rawat.
In 2014 & 2015 HDSK revenue was £351,702 or $US 428,724
Words Of Peace Global ($US)
The total public income of the 3 major fundraising organisations working for Rawat in 2014 & 2015 averaged $6,610,319.50 per annum. The number of people donating money was approximately 10,000 and they are donating an average $12.50 per week. This is probably not all the money donated to Prem Rawat as he has some wealthy followers who receive personal access to him though a loosely organised Major Donors Club and direct donations through EFT is available. In September 2016 "a celebration of 50 years of Prem Rawat's outstanding work around the world conveying his message that peace is possible" was held at the Amaroo cult compound in Peak Crossing, Australia. 4,200 devotees from many countries spent 5 days camping and glamping at or near the Centre aka Ivory's Rock Conventions and Events. This is a reasonably expensive holiday but the overwhelming majority of Rawat's Western followers were from the middle or wealthy classes and most could make a comfortable living once their youthful excesses had been got out of their systems.
As a young boy and man, Prem Rawat promised to bring peace to the world. Literally. Not just personal peace, not just to parts of the world but peace on earth. And he said it would be easy for Him. These boasts were as ridiculous as He was Himself. Possibly the most outlandish part of his persona is his strutting around the world, displaying himself to his small group of followers and accepting their adulation and accolades for his "outstanding work around the world conveying his message that peace is possible."
For all but his loyal devotees Prem Rawat's 50 year public career can only be seen as a failure. He tries to hide his claims of divinity during the first 15 years of his career but it was while obeying the script that he had been taught as a child and using the excitement and exuberance of his young counter-culture devotees that a following developed in which over 20,000 people would gather to see and hear him and consider themselves fortunate to kiss his feet him. In the early 1980s, the 25 year old decided to go his own way and hide his Lord of the Universe history and do it in his own way. After another 35 years of touring and speaking and proselytising, financed by his diminishing group of devotees, he can only attract a crowd of around 4,000. This is despite the cost of international travel being much cheaper than 35 years ago. This is truly an outstanding failure and the core of his followers are now starting to die of old age.
What About His Indian Devotees?
Most of the time I blithely ignore the fact that over the last 40 Years Rawat has rebuilt an Indian following and infrastructure using some of the money donated by Western followers and the few Indian premies that stayed loyal to him after his mother played her April Fools Joke on him. Large Indian crowds gather when Rawat is going to give a speech coinciding with one of the major religious festivals. This is very important in keeping his Western followers inspired but Rawat is small beer as an Indian guru/Godman compared to the real stars. His unusual evolution from traditionl Indian child Satguru to Westernised "Inspirational Speaker / Ambassador of Peace / Internationally Respected Businessman and Philanthropist" probably raises some eybrows.
'Premie' is the original word given to people who were initiated by a mahatma and obeyed Rawat's instructions. Rawat stopped using this word circa 1982. I generally use 'follower', 'student', "true believer," etc depending on whim.