Prem Rawat's Drug Abuse
It is difficult to understand Prem Rawat's early career in the West unless you know that it began in 1971 when he was 14 years old and that he was uneducated and ignorant with a veneer of confidence that only true ignorance can provide. He had a grasp of a particularly simplistic version of the Northern Indian Sant Mat cult of the Hindu religion, could confidently speak in public - though poorly in English - and had a group of Indian parables, stories, clichés and concepts that he rehashed in various combinations along with his juvenile cod philosophy and recent events from his life. Though his life style and aspirations were nothing like that expected of an Indian religious leader, who are usually ascetics, by "spiritual seekers" in the West, he had a rock solid belief in his entitlement to everything he desired. The possibility that he should be ashamed of or need to defend his greed and louche taste apparently never crossed his mind and he became quite irritated and defensive when he was questioned about it. In fact, after facing a few pointed questions at the Millenium '73 festival from real journalists he never put himself through another such experience. A selection of public statements made by Rawat about drugs is available here and a fuller discussion of the use of drugs by his followers is available here. Evidence by various people close to Rawat about his drunkneness is listed below.
Rawat claimed to have "realised Knowledge" and "become one with it" after a few weeks but exactly what he meant is unclear. His young followers assumed this meant he was spiritually "liberated" or "enlightened" whatever they thought this might mean. Having learnt hippie jargon from his early followers he often preached that he was "high" and they too could get high without drugs and never come down. He claimed his experience was far higher than anything available from LSD or marijuana which virtually all of his young Western followers had used regularly. Higher even than "the Apollo" - presumably the Saturn V rocket to the Moon.
It will be far out when you get this Knowledge, because it will give you a greater experience. It will take you higher than hashish. - Fernbank, London, February 28, 1972
However there was nothing in his public appearances to suggest he was experiencing anything special or unique. Despite his claims that he experienced and could reveal the ultimate peace that people were looking for in drugs and sex and other worldly pursuits he began to drink alcohol, smoke marijuana and have an illicit sexual affair with an older woman before he was 16 years old. Despite this, he continued to preach for abstinence and insist upon it for his followers living in ashrams and certainly never spoke publicly of his own secret drug use.
There are various facets of Rawat's character that are evident in these actions: hypocrisy, deceit and ignorance are the most obvious. The hypocrisy of teaching that spiritual realisation was only available through the Knowledge that only he could/can reveal and that it required abstinence from drugs, alcohol and meat-eating (and celibacy for the most dedicated) while indulging in these things himself is obvious. It is also depressing to realise that those of his followers who were able to get close to him had so few ethics that none of them (as far as Michael Dettmers knew) had ever rejected the offer of joining in these activities and the conspiracy of silence about them. Furthermore none of the blonde devotees approached to have sexual encounters with him refused despite his obvious physical unattractiveness and the weirdness of fucking the incarnation of God and current Lord of the Universe in a dwarfish, obese and pimply physical form. The boy who claimed to go infinitely up, higher than an Apollo missile and to have a constant LSD and who denigrated the use of drugs as if from some elevated plane of consciousness was really nothing more than a lying, fat, teenage boy who started to get drunk and stoned and masturbating to Playboy magazines as soon as he had the chance to get away from his mother's discipline. This was obvious to 99.9% of the human race that heard of or saw him.
On April 1, 1975 Rawat's mother and eldest brother and the administrators of Divine Light Mission (India) revealed to the press that they had deposed the young guru for alcohol and drug abuse, meat-eating, showing too much interest in sex and being a "spiritually imperfect" playboy. The overwhelming number of Indian devotees and mahatmas accepted the eldest brother, Satpal Maharaj, as their new Satguru. Some of their accusations were denied by Western spokepersons of Divine Light Mission especially Joe Anctil but Rawat, himself, refused to be interviewed by reporters.
Sophia Collier, who had been a journalist in Divine light Mission's Denver headquarters, wrote in her book "Soul Rush" published in 1978 that she and others were told by Bob Mishler, the President of Divine Light Mission, that the 15 year old boy guru was "sloshed" at the Millenium '73 festival and she reported personally seeing his brother, Raja Rawat and sister-in-law, Claudia Rawat neé Littman, drunk at first hand.
I could see that Raja was not taking it well. With the lines so clearly drawn he began expanding his existing fascination for guns and violence. Like Maharaj Ji, Raja Ji had started to drink. Though I love to drink from time to time, I never do so before the end of the afternoon. Raja Ji sometimes started much earlier than that. One evening I sat with him and Claudia as they drank. Slowly the conversation turned from an interesting discussion to a series of slurred comments about where do the bubbles come from in champagne. This is spirituality? I thought to myself.
In 1978, Bob Mishler the President of Divine Light Mission from 1971 to 1975, who had been a confidant of the young Rawat's made some public statements reported in the press about Divine Light Mission's direction due to his concerns after the mass murder of Peoples' Temple cult members in Guyana. In a radio interview he spoke of Rawat's drinking which was partly caused by his inabliity to cope with stress, his ignorance concerning meditation and so he drank himself into a stupor day after day. The recording of this interview has been authenticated by people who knew Mishler and the radio station involved and by the Washington Post which in a series of articles in 1982 quoted the interview and reported it's effect on the parents of one premie, Emily Deitz, and the court case that ensued afer her family attempted to kidnap and deprogram her. Mishler was also quoted in the Los Angeles Times of January 12, 1979 revealing the guru's hypocrisy and deception "Maharaj Ji's ban on alcohol and marijuana for his followers was ignored at the estate" - the estate being Rawat's Malibu Mansion home.
This might have been the end of public reports of Rawat's drug abuse with the fall in the number of Rawat's followers and the lack of media interest in the controversial cults of the 1970's as their influence declined if not for the invention of the internet. Disillusioned ex-followers and critics of cults begain to use it as tool of communication and information dissemination almost immediately. Scientology and Transcendental Meditation received the most attention being larger than Divine Light Mission/Élan Vital and having famous followers but discussions about Prem Rawat on the internet have a long and lively history.
In 2000 contact was made by Jim Heller a former premie and lawyer from Vancouver, Canada with Michael Dettmers who has probably had the longest and most in-depth business relationship with Prem Rawat and was his main administrator/personal assistant from 1975 until 1991. Dettmers one time President of Divine Light Mission and one of the few followers who could be considered to have "done well" out of their time in Divine Light Mission and Élan Vital and who had pimped for Rawat and enjoyed secretly smoking dope and partying with the Lord of the Universe in the Malibu mansion was at first resistant to talking about his time with Rawat and had signed a non-disclosure agreement re Rawat's financial and legal dealings when ending their business relationship. However, after some soul-searching he came down from his phony "moral high ground" and recounted stories of Rawat's laziness, Rawat's marijuana smoking and being frequently paralytically drunk in the Malibu "residence" on the internet in 2000 and 2001.
Mike Donner, ex-Vice President and probably every other title in Divine Light Mission also recounted stories of regular marijuana smoking and drunkeness by Prem Rawat in the Malibu "residence" on the internet in 2001. He confirmed that Rawat had been smoking marijuana since 1973 when Donner first came into direct contact with him and that Rawat had been drinking through the Millenium '73 festival though only after his public performances. Rawat began drinking in the evening and often continued after a late dinner. Unlike Dettmers, Donner found these nights in Malibu boring and explained them away as the Lord of the Universe attempting to change him from an active person to a "better person" through boredom (go figure). Donner was less ethically challenged than Dettmers and he only pimped for Rawat once.
Mike Finch was a long-serving English premie whose devotional resumé includes being the 100th person to "receive Knowledge" in the West, failing his invitation to become only the second Western 'mahatma,' being Rawat's first English chauffeur, being a Ph.D. in Physics and generally being available to be Rawat's lapdog whenever he received the call. Despite 30 years' association with Rawat, who is the epitome of vulgar, mean-spirited materialism, he is incorrigibly high-minded and so found it difficult to "dish the dirt" on Rawat in his book, Without The Guru, published 2009. However, he also needed to give a full and truthful account of his former guru and so his life partner who also had a dedicated and successful 'career' as a high-level devotee (initiator, instructor, etc) of Rawat's contributed a page to the book which discussed his mistress, smoking and drinking. For years she "loyally and faithfully" kept this knowledge secret and discussed it with no-one until Michael Dettmer's revelations in 2000 pushed her over the edge into reality.
However, Mike has confirmed that Rawat is a heavy drinker, what I would call a functioning alcoholic, Australia has many of them.
From the Ex-Premie Forum
Date: Wed, Mar 14, 2001 at 20:15:58 (GMT)
From: Mike Finch
Subject: To Mikes Det/Don/Finch and all PAMs
I have experienced Maharaji drinking, and drinking heavily, but never when it would compromise his flying, or giving satsang at a programme.
I don't know about the definition of 'alcoholic', but it was clear to me that his drinking was at least under control enough so that it did not affect these core activities.
I was a somewhat ambivalent and very minor follower of Rawat's and have no insider knowledge of him whatsoever but sometime in the later 1980's I met an old friend whose "service" had been looking after the audiovisual materials in Divine Light Mission in Brisbane, Australia and he gave me some material that had been overlooked and not destroyed. Unfortunately my then wife, still a very committed premie, destroyed most of this before I could digitise it. However on an old audio tape I found this recorded interview with a young Rawat and like most people who grew up in the '60's I immediately recognised, or thought I recognised, Rawat's condition, marijuana induced hilarity and giggling. Rawat's hypocrisy, preaching that drugs, alcohol and tobacco should not be used by his followers and indeed would only detract from the much higher experience they can constantly have by practising his Knowledge, disgusts me but I also wonder about the morals of those members of his inner circle who supplied him with drugs, presumably at his request rather than their urging. He was after all only 14 years old when he started.
Fast forward another 10 years and another former premie who also lives on the Gold Coast in Australia told me that the last straw for her had been when she was "doing service" ie unpaid volunteer labour at Amaroo, Rawat's cult compound in South East Queensland. She was a long term "gopi premie" and so had been trusted to clean Rawat's residence there. The number of cognac bottles she had to take away took her away as well.
In 2009 (or thereabouts) a 34 year long term premie who had done a lot of service at the Malibu mansion and was a regular chauffeur of Rawat's when in his home city reached his last straw when Rawat arrived off his private jet paralytically drunk.
The next time I saw him, he was standing at the top of the folding stairs just outside the open door to the G550, tightly gripping the handrails on either side of the landing. Something wasn't right. Never had I seen him look so small and weak. He proceeded hunched forward, with Patrick bringing up the rear, to help stabilize each step. As they approached the car I held the door open, and with a wave of my hand guided him towards the back seat. He stumbled a bit, bumped into me, then brushed past as he nearly fell into place and slid over to the middle of the back seat. As I began to vaguely understand what was happening it became increasingly difficult to process the situation. Part of me began to comprehend the obvious; my Master, who I fully believed was God himself in a physical body, was sitting there thoroughly drunk in the back seat of the car. But at the same time, that explanation was simply unacceptable, no matter how true it might be. It just seemed impossible, or at least I didn't want to believe it …
On the long drive home from that trip, I tried again to sort through what it all meant. I remember now feeling an overwhelming mixture of blank chaos swirling inside my head. I could still hear the haunting sound of his twisted laugh echoing around me in the car. As I glanced in the rear view mirror, I imagined him still sitting there, drooling and babbling to himself, hands at his sides, pressing hard on the seat just to hold himself up.
Unfortunately 'Jasper' wishes to retain his anonymity and though he has been vouched for by ex-Premie Forum administrators John Brauns and Mike Finch I stress that at this time (early 2013) this story is told by an anonymous source. 'Jasper' writes that Mrs Rawat is also regularly under the influence of alcohol and spends most of her time living in a Malibu beach-side home.
After the revelations of Rawat's drug abuse were aired on the internet by Michael Dettmers and others, more sophisticated followers of Rawat's do not deny the alcohol use (not abuse). They merely deny it has any relevance to his career as an "Internationally Respected Master of Peace" or whatever the current euphemism they use to describe him.