Prem Rawat's Historical Revisionism
From the late 1980's Prem Rawat's organisations produced a series of videos that showed a censored version of Rawat's history. These videos were for display to his followers, not to the general public, which had no interest in or knowledge of Rawat's activities. They were not created to introduce Rawat's improved persona to the public but to teach his true believers the correct "party line" about Prem Rawat's claims and activities in the 1970s. Apart from a brief period in the mid 1970s Prem Rawat's organisations' publications have always maintained a strictly upbeat, effusively positive presentation of Prem, his activities, his speechesw and his career. So he can reuse clips from old Divine Light Mission films, videos or magazines as they only ever contained a one-sided message and only the problems like his mother disinheriting him can be edited out or the loss of half his followers never mentioned. The actual historical record in books, documentaries and the press is never seen by his followers and contains only brief mentions of his early success and some scandalous or ridiculous events.
These videos include Birthday Gift - 1988", "Evolution - 1989", "Windows In Time - 1989", "I Have This Knowledge - 1996", "Remembrance - 1996," Storyteller - 1997" and culminated in "Introducing the Possibility of Knowledge (2000)" and "Passages (2001)". Click Here for a full list and introductions to each video.
Most of these videos merely showed a bright and bouncy, successful version of Rawat's career which left out the controversy, criticism and failures which had left him with only a rump of the followers, organisation, support and family which he inherited. Beginning with "Windows In Time" he began to explicitly voice a false version of his history and this culminated in "Introducing the Possibility of Knowledge (2000)" in which he told bald-faced lies about the events to a group of his most committed followers. This was a version which they should certainly have known was false having lived through the period in which the events occurred but as far as we can tell from the video, nobody spoke up with a correction or a query.
Q: "When you first arrived in the West, how did people react to your message?"
A: "There was a mixed, mixed reaction that people had. Some people were definitely looking for the Eastern religion and I think you're talking about very much the 60's era who were uh very much so looking towards the East whilst for some other people it wasn't a question of East and West but it was a question of something real, something beautiful and finding that and understanding that and examining that and I think that uh it was that is what really Knowledge always has represented is that deep feeling within regardless of East and West and all the other barriers that we tend to put on."
There was a mixed reaction but 95% of the reaction, even amongst the counter-cultural youth, was disbelief, derision, mocking laughter and scorn. The majority of "people looking toward the East" had a smiliar reaction knowing that Rawat's following in India was amongst the poorest and uneducated and relatively small. Those with an indepth knowledge of Sant Mat traditions knew that Rawat taught a bastardised introductory form of meditation and guru-worship. A small minority of the desperate and the gullible became involved with Rawat and his Divine Light Mission. and the majority of them had left Maharaji's following by the time this video was made, as the watchers well knew.
This revisionism peaked in a series of corporate-type training sessions Rawat had with his most dedicated followers (for which they paid 4 figure sums) in which he lied to their faces and they grovelled accordingly. A video was produced, "Introducing the Possibility of Peace" using 2 of these sessions though they didn't include any of the actual "training sessions" only Rawat's introductions in which he restated his complaints about the past and his hopes for the futures once these sessions had the desired effect on his ageing followers. It seemed a bit overdue to be introducing this possibility as he had been supposedly striving for 40 years to spread this peace to the world and he had often claimed that he had. Needless to say, these hopees were not fulfilled.
"When a lot of the mahatmas came to the West they brought with them immeasurable amount of concepts and it kinda went wild and there was no stopping it. The backlash of that I had to directly bear because people would ask me point blank these questions, "Are you this, are you that, you know, what is this, what is that?" Whereas, a event or a question and answer session was very informative for people because the questions were being dealt with, it slowly changed to where you were trying to lay down groundwork of what you are not or what you don't do, what you aren't you shouldn't expect will happen."
Nobody dared to ask Rawat what these "mahatma concepts" were. Everybody in the room knew that it was Rawat himself who had publicly claimed to be an incarnation of God, had publicly claimed he would bring peace to the world and demanded to be supplied with every possible luxury which was why he was being asked difficult questions.
"Well in a way that went on for an extremely long time and this is my key of bringing the history here. That people were very open to Knowledge, that people were very open to me and I really don't think that I have ever felt that that has changed. That people are still very open and when they listen and what they hear they're just as fascinated by it as they were when I was a little boy talking about the same stuff. So that's the good news, the bad news is that the concepts have really gotten us buried in a hole to this day where we're still having to defend ourselves, which I find pathetic, having to defend ourselves and say, "No these things are not true."
Rawat, himself, has been the main impediment to successful recruitment but this is something he cannot admit.
The Passages (2001) video contains scenes of some of his most loyal, long term followers providing a revisionist history of the Divine Light Mission years. They mainly argue the incredible position that it was the Western followers themselves who mistakenly associated Hindu religious and cultural traditions with Maharaji's Knowledge and were taught false ideas by Maharaji's so-called "Holy Family" (except for Raji Ji the second youngest brother) who were conspiring to use the movement as a money making tool for their family business at explained by Prem Rawat's right-hand minion in Great Britain Glen Whittaker. They claimed that it was the young Prem Rawat himself who realised in the 1980's that his premies were using these practises like 'darshan' where they filed past and kissed his feet and the use of 'charanamrit' or 'Holy Water' in which they were given small, specially bottled containers of water in which Prem Rawat had washed his feet and 'Arti' where they sang an extremely devotional song to him with some lyrics that he had written himself. Worst of all, they took his other titles like Satguru, "Lord of The Universe" and "Perfect Master" at face value rather than as Hindu phrases that shouldn't be taken too seriously. In fact, it was Prem Rawat, himself, who enacted all these rituals, promoted them and demanded obedience and worship from his followers.
Guru Puja, if you have a guru, if you have a Perfect Master, you can't do anything but worship him every day of your life. You tell me, if you really have that Perfect Master in your life, what can you do except to worship him every day? Get up and worship him, pray, know, surrender. Every day of our lives!
Passages was produced in 2001 and seems to have been created to refute some of the criticisms of Prem Rawat or Maharaji that were being aired on the internet. A full transcript is available here. There are sections dealing with the history of the Perfect Masters, a large section devoted to Maharaji's most loyal, longterm students talking of their love and devotion to him and a large section devoted to Maharaji's most loyal, longterm students talking of the mistaken and false ideas they and other premies had in the 1970's. There is a table available here containing links to various clips and transcipts and captured images extracted from the Passages Video that are selected by topic.
The Reaction to Prem Rawat Amongst Counter-Cultural Youth of the 1970s
- See Kent, From Slogans to Mantras
- Dupertuis, COMPANY OF TRUTH: Meditation and Sacralized Interadction Among Western Followers of an Indian Guru
- What's Behind the 15-Year-Old Guru Maharaj Ji? - The Realist Magazine, December 1973, No 97-C
- Guru Blisses Out on Synthetic Grass - Crawdaddy Magazine - February 1974, page 62-65.
- Over the Hill at 16 - Ramparts Magazine - February 1974
- When The Lord of All The Universe Played Houston - Rolling Stone Magazine - March 14, 1974
- Salvation Slapstick with the Guru Maharaj Ji - Creem Magazine - March 1974, page 37-39.