Money: What Guru Maharaj Ji Wants
Raising money is a necessary part of any cult or New Religious Movement and it has been especially important in Prem Rawat's organisations because of the opulent lifestyle he has demanded since arriving in the West. Donations were and are encouraged from converts by the use of "spiritual blackmail." Guru Maharaj Ji was the Lord of the Universe so he should live in opulent splendour according to his senior premies. The young Rawat humbly acquiesced to their demands. In the 2½ years 1971-73 Divine Light Mission was making all efforts to attract new devotees to prevent a looming apocalypse and create a Millenium of Peace on Earth. Once Divine Light Mission was surviving the young Rawat took over half the cash flow for his personal use. By 1973 Rawat was receiving $60,000 per month. In the early days in England wealthy followers were even encouraged to accompany Rawat to Harrods to purchase whatever took his fancy.
It seems like the only time the Mission or Maharaj Ji gets in the press is when they're the source of some new scandal. Why do they focus so much on the bad news and never on the good?
Papers that have nothing but good news in them don't exist - nobody buys them, so they can't be printed. So the only way to get into a newspaper is with what's seemingly bad news. Here's an example: I sent out an information kit on Divine Light Mission two months ago to the major magazines and newspapers and wire services, and nobody's interested; it's such a nice story - how Divine Light Mission is growing and how we're paying our bills and how everything's really, really nice now - nobody cares. But if Mike Garson says that 60% of our income goes to upkeeping Maharaj Ji, now that is newsworthy, because it's seemingly bad news. Little does the general public or the newspapers know that the premies would be happier if 100% of our income went to support Guru Maharaj Ji. But the fact is, it's only 3 to 5 percent. Our income, right now, supports the Denver offices, the 24 regional offices, the 156 Divine Light Mission cars around the country, the computer, "And It Is Divine" and "Divine Times," all the propagation materials and the travel of all the mahatmas. There's no way. If Guru Maharaj Ji took up 60% of our income, we'd be $3 million in debt.
Mike Garson saw a computer form that showed 17,000 active premies, but he didn't see the other part of the form which showed all the centers and the ashram communities. He only saw the premies-at-large, which is only half the picture. But his seeing half the picture got us in the newspapers and gave me an opportunity to show the press that look, on our computer we have 41,000 names and that's only since we started counting in the middle of 1972.
The evidence of Michael Garson, a former premie who worked in the Denver headquarters during the "Darby McLean case" revealed that a major method of financing DLM was peer pressure exerted on those young recruits with inheritances.
Two years after arriving in London the young Rawat had collected a trove of technological toys, including:
- a Cessna Cardinal single-engine plane worth $30,000
- a Cessna twin engine worth $190,000
- a Mercedes Benz in New York worth $12,000
- a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud in Los Angeles worth $26,000
- a $12,000 mobile home in Montrose, Colorado
- a movie camera worth $12,000 and numerous related sound devices.
- DLM's property holdings do not yet rival those of the Catholic Church, but they are numerous and growing.
- Divine residence in Los Angeles worth $76,000
- an ashram in Denver worth $41,000
- an ashram in Hyattsville, Md. valued at $55,000
- several hundred acres of property in New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Maine, donated by premies and their friends.