Drugs and the Knowledge of Prem Rawat (Maharaji)
Guru Maharaj Ji (as the young Prem Rawat called himself in the 1970's) initially taught that the effects of practising his Knowledge were so perfect that the use of drugs by his premies would automatically end. He said the Knowledge was a constant LSD from which you never had o come down. He stressed the impermanance of altered consciousness through drugs and that his Knowledge made you much "higher" than any possible drug and that it was legal as well. A selection of quotes from his speeches in which he condemns drug use is available here. Of course at that time he had never taken any drugs and for that matter did not experience the state of consciousness he claimed his Knowledge could produce. He soon began to drink alcoholic beverages and smoke cigarettes and marijuana.
Prem Rawat's Public Prohibition of Drug Abuse Was Widely Reported
Professor Ron Geaves in his paper, Globalization, charisma, innovation, and tradition: An exploration of the transformations in the organisational vehicles for the transmission of the teachings of Prem Rawat (Maharaji), 2006, wrote:
"Many of the characteristics of the Indian movement founded by Prem Rawat's father, who had died only in 1966, were imported wholesale into the western environment. … Members were expected to forswear drugs and alcohol, and adopt a strict vegetarian diet."
Many newspaper articles mentioned the prohibition on recreational drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. Daniel A. Foss and Ralph W. Larkin of Rutgers University carried out the most exhaustive research into Divine Light Mission and they wrote:
"Those who founded the Divine Light Mission or joined it during 1971-72 were former "freaks." … But now, as "servants" of the Teenage Perfect Master, Guru Maharaj Ji, they proceeded to build and manage an organization which became, during 1972-73, a veritable parody of that conception: The Mission enjoined upon its organizational core a strict regimentation of everyday life. It banned drugs and established an order of celibate-renunciates. It enforced hair and dress codes and fostered servility and obedience in lower-level operatives."
Prem Rawat's Early Disciples Were a Perfect Group To Test the Success of Drug Abstinence
His early 1970's followers were a perfect group on which to test the idea that "practising Knowledge" would make you forswear drugs as virtually all of them had been using marijuana and LSD prior to their involvement with Divine Light Mission. In a study conducted early 1973 with 875 premies, the majority of whom were between the ages of 15 and 29, 840 out of 875 respondents had been using drugs prior to "receiving Knowledge." It's unlikely that the high use of marijuana and LSD improved their critical facilities leaving them open to recruitment into Divine Light Mission and initially they had a dramatic though not total fall in drug use.
- Marijuana: 97% had used marijuana at least once, with 87% using it more than 40 times. 50% were using marijuana more than 20 times per month before receiving Knowledge.
- Hallucinogens: Before receiving Knowledge, 62% were using hallucinogens at least once per month.
- Stimulants (amphetamines, cocaine, etc.) : Half of the respondents used stimulants at least once per month before Knowledge.
- Barbituates, Hypnotics, and Tranquilizers: 43% used these drugs at least once per month before Knowledge.
- Opiates: Before Knowledge, 21% used opiates once per month, or more often.
- Alcohol: Out of 450 respondents, 18.5% drank alcohol at all before Knowledge.
76% of the respondents had been meditating less than a year, and none for more than 22 months so long term effects were unknown.
Prem Rawat Claimed His "Knowledge" Eliminated Desire For Drugs
The official Divine Light Mission book "Who Is Guru Maharaj Ji?" claimed that:
The Knowledge of Guru Maharaj Ji is natural and suitable for every human being, but it has had striking effect in eliminating drug dependency because the drug abuser often recognizes that his mind is the source of his suffering, and seeks a means to control it. Meditation on this Knowledge does not bring a suppression of the desire to take drugs; rather it brings a transcendence of these needs as one becomes fulfilled by the highest consciousness of peace available to man. Physically, the body releases its drives towards temporary sensual fulfillment as biochemical changes occur through activation of the pineal gland during meditation on divine Light.
Guru Maharaj Ji (Prem Rawat) was quoted in the official biography "Who Is Guru Maharaj Ji?"
"If you take this Knowledge, you have no need of drugs. It is internal, very internal, much more beautiful than any outside drugs. Today everyone says, "Sonny, don't take drugs," but see, they have to have an alternative, and the alternative is the Knowledge. So those who have this Knowledge enjoy the normal and natural human experience within them, instead of trying to glean some excitement or happiness from occasional entertainment or pill popping. Taking drugs is not the infinite stage, it's a very finite stage, it has a beginning, it has an end. But this Knowledge does not have an end. What I have is like a built-in LSD which God provided you when you were born. There's no need to come down from it."
The young guru ended his speech on the 25th of July 1972 at the Guru Puja festival at Montrose, Colorado with a message Nancy Reagan would have been proud of (well some of it):
One premie came to me and asked this question, "Why do you want us to leave these drugs?" I said, "Well, now you have realized this Knowledge, haven't you?" And he said, "Yes." And I said, "Well, suppose you come to my home and you bring an automobile. Do you bring the automobile right to my room?" He said, "No, I leave it outside." And I said, "Same thing here. You used to take drugs, and you say apparently these drugs brought you to a point. But then you took Knowledge and that was beyond them. So now leave the drugs and proceed purely, proceed naturally." And what is natural? These drugs are not natural because they are taken from outside; they're artificial. The natural thing is within inside us. All the drugs are outside, which means they had to be produced. Whenever a Master came, He never gave drugs to people saying, "Okay, take this." No. He revealed something that was greater. And I am here. I don't claim myself to be Perfect Master, but I am here with a greater thing than drugs. Take it. It's much better. You have to spend money on all those things, and then you have to work it out with the sheriff, because if he sees you he will arrest you, right? But you can take this thing 24 hours a day, and there's no money required. It's within inside you, and if the sheriff sees you he'll be amazed. And that's what has been happening, as a matter, of fact. Because with drugs your body goes down and your senses just start bouncing around. But in this Knowledge your body and your senses all elevate, and if the sheriff sees you, maybe he will see you as being up in the sky, you will be so high because of this meditation. And he will really be amazed. So you can also experience and understand this thing; it's a greater thing that I've brought to you.
Dr John Horton, long-term physician to Prem Rawat (Maharaji) who claimed he researched the effects of meditation along with Drs Edd Hanzelik and Robert Hallowitz wrote:
"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"
This was something commonly claimed by premies, see Through A 'Third Eye' Comes The 'Divine Light', 15-Year-Old Hottest Star of Guru Circuit & Oz in the Astrodome. Rennie Davis was questioned about this by a reporter at Millenium '73, the most Holy and significant event in human history according to Prem Rawat:
Why did you give up dope?
Rennie: Most people give up dope not because Guru Maharaj Ji says, simply because when we take this Knowledge and meditate on it many of the things we did before drop away, quite naturally. For example, after I received Knowledge, after a couple of weeks back in the United States, I was in a room and a pipe was going round, and I thought, well I shouldn't. Then it passed a second time and so I tried just a little bit and it brought me crashing down. It was the first time that it had ever happened to me and the reason I wouldn't smoke dope now is just because this is a higher place to be and it's a better trip. Really it's the ultimate trip and people give up drugs because they're all downers, compared to this Knowledge.
Prem Rawat Strictly Forbade Use of Drugs in Divine Light Mission Ashrams
It was strictly forbidden to use any intoxicants in the ashrams.
Part Three: Rules and Regulations
6. No meat, fish, eggs, drugs (except prescribed medication), alcohol, or cigarettes should be permitted to be kept in the Ashram.
- The Code of the Renunciate Order of Divine Light Mission
Observers as different as Marc Galanter in his book "CULTS: Faith, Healing, and Coercion"
"There was no idleness, brashness, marijuana, beer, loud music, or flirtation-all hallmarks of a more typical assembly of people in their twenties."
and Marjoe Gortner, the former child evangelist, reporting for Oui magazine observed that there was little if any drug use at Divine Light Mission festivals.
Drug Use Again Became Common Amongst Prem Rawat's Disciples
However with the falling off of the initial enthusiasm and the failure of Rawat's early promises about the effects of meditation, drug use became rampant again in 1976 after the ashrams were closed for the first time and many premies were no longer living the ordered, restricted life of an ashram resident. Maeve Price in "The Divine Light Mission as a social organization" wrote
"At a festival held in Leicester in 1976 many openly smoked cigarettes and cannabis, drank alcohol and wore 'conventional' hippie clothing, the men complete with beards and beads. Official mission policy is opposed to all these practices."
In the Atlantic City Conference on December 20th, 1976 Rawat (Maharaji) was explicit about his prohibition on the use of drugs by his premies including alcohol and cigarettes and even eating eggs. He mentioned the "'gerbage' excuses people give" for smoking pot, that "everybody used to drink bhang in ashram. In India. And all of a sudden they would get just … somewhere else, in their own little world" and he knows "that a person who is stoned cannot really do meditation" and that "instead of having brains they just got horsemeat."
By the 1990's the drinking of alcoholic beverages became a normal part of Elan Vital "events" though the extent of marijuana smoking among Rawat's "students" is not easily determined as it is illegal. At that time I observed that most of the volunteers working at Amaroo (Rawat's cult compound in Australia) were smoking cigarettes. By the 1990's, smoking was very much a minority habit in Australia. In 2003 John MacGregor reported that half of Rawat's "students" in Northern NSW smoked marijuana. By then the early promises of transcendant states of consciousness were forgotten ot at least not discussed publicly.
Words of Peace Global Sponsored Weekend Retreats Required Bartenders
By the time Words Of Peace Global had been created, it became commonplace that Prem Rawat's disciples required a bartender or two for meditation, whoops, weekend retreats at Amaroo, Rawat's major Knowledge Centre in Australia if not the world.
In the 1990's Rawat's legal drug taking (Marlboroughs and cognac apparently being his favourites) became public public knowledge amongst his followers and smoking amongst them became common and a "retreat" at Amaroo was inconceivable without an experienced bar-tender.
Next retreat 25 - 27 September
Cash handling experience
Mature personality, harmonious and level headed
Methodical and high working standards.
Own white top and dark trousers/skirt
Must have hair tied back and no jewellery on hands. Closed shoes. Training provided
Need to make own way to site (no nearby public transport)
Downloaded from www.whatcanyoudo-southpacific.com, the What Can You Do The South Pacific SAM Team website on 14th October, 2009. Site now moved to Words Of Peace Global Volunteers
Further evidence that the overwhelming majority of young people attracted to Prem Rawat (Maharaji) and his Knowledge and Divine Light Mission in the 1970s were involved in drug taking, mainly but not exclusively marijuana and LSD, and that many of them suffered severe mental and emotional problems can be found in Divine Light Mission official publications.
- Develop a Superhuman Nature The Golden Age, Number 3, April 11, 1974
- People who found Peace: Derek Harper The Golden Age Number 7, Saturday, June 8, 1974
- People who found Peace: Michael McDonald The Golden Age Number 9, July 6 - July 27, 1974
- People who found Peace: Neville Ackland The Golden Age Number 10, August 3 - 16, 1974
- People who found Peace: Frank Starrs The Golden Age Number 5, Thursday, May 9, 1974
- People who found Peace: Judith Downes The Golden Age Number 12, August 31 - September 12, 1974
- People who found Peace: Susie Gardner-Brown The Golden Age Number 8, Thursday, June 22, 1974
- People who found Peace: Peta Herbert The Golden Age Number 1, Thursday, March 14, 1974
- The Way Out: A Magical Mystery Tour Of Communal Life
- Utopia UK The Golden Age, Number 7, Saturday, June 8, 1974
- How It Is For Me The Golden Age Number 33, October 1976
- Sacred Journeys: The Conversion of Young Americans to Divine Light Mission James V. Downton, Jr.
- Who Is Guru Maharaj Ji? Charles Cameron (ed)
- High Without Drugs The Golden Age, July 6 - 27, 1974
- CULTS: Faith, Healing, and Coercion by Marc Galanter
- Who Was Maharaj Ji? by Marjoe Gortner, OUI Magazine, May 1974