Rawat Inc. - Two Family Businesses
According to his followers, Hans Rawat was early in his life an egalitarian iconoclast, and an opponent of the Hindu caste system. He was originally a member of the Arya Samaj, but left that movement after he met a guru of the Sant Mat tradition, Sri Swarupanand Ji Maharaj. Swarupanand initiated him into the four techniques of Knowledge or kriyas, which are the centrepiece of his religion with worship of the Master. In the 1930s when Swarupanand died he did not inherit the role of Master and the infrastructure so he had to develop his own following to support his first family. He recruited followers in Sind and Lahore and later in Delhi among textile workers.
Hans Rawat's Successful Marketng Strategy
His efforts in recruitment in the Punjab suffered when India was split in two in 1948. He set up shop in a strategic location on the outskirts of Haridwar knowing pilgrims on the way to the Vaisakhi festival will pass by and see his signs. By the 1950s he was doing well. He was a property owner and had 4 children by his second, younger wife and lived in considerable style. He founded the Divya Sandesh Parishad or Divine Light Mission in 1960 though he had apparently resisted setting up a formal organisation.
It is normal in the Indian tradition that a successful religious leader will pass the mantle on to his eldest son and create a long term family business often based on veneration of the founder and respect for his teachings. However when Hans Rawat died the succession was passed to his youngest son who was only aged 8 for reasons disputed and unknown now. Hans Rawat was interested in international expansion and had made bold feelers to Western political and intellectual figures proposing a merger and take-over. His death prevented this expansion.
International Expansion by Rawat Inc.
Fortunately by 1970 the time was right to move to the west as political and social changes were in the air. A small and inexperienced sales team using people who had already failed in the business world was collected. With their help Mahatma Gurucharanand, a successful member of the Indian administrative and Sales Team, went to England. He was hailed as a marketing guru by the press. He began marketing the family product successfullly publicisng their trade secret: the Knowledge that provides Inner Peace that you cannot buy, only rent on an onoing basis.
When a beach-head had been established their best salesman, the Guru of Gab, was sent to the West on a shoestring budget with a crack team of recruitment mahatmas and a burst of publicity. Their pyramid marketing strategy and the "instant gratification through meditation" slogan was in tune with the times.
Expansion was fast and furious and it seemed the corporation had been established successfully when the head of sales went off the rails setting up a cult of personality and carousing with a inner group of his team. He led a breakaway group to establish a new enterprise without prior negotiation. Using his insider knowledge of the family's business secrets and without paying royalties for the patented meditation methods and techniques he began selling a rebranded but identical product. The young sales guru claimed that only he understood the market and he could grow the business properly but as it turned out, he was wrong.
Rawat Inc. & Rawat Family Split
Despite the bad publicity as the two sides traded insults and subpoenas they were able to continue operations. The two divisions tried different strategies. Prem Rawat Inc. continued as before but found just shouting more and wearing outrageous clothes would only create a niche business. A significant number of the consumers continued to purchase the product regularly though market share never recovered.
After a decade or so, he rebranded the business, himself and even his hair-style. He was the master of the slogan: "Prem Rawat: Because He's Worth It", "Knowledge: The Meditation of Champions" were some of his better ones. As the years passed it became more and more difficult to pin down exactly what he was talking about as he became blander and less colourful.
The original Rawat Inc. which had lost the major distribution rights out of India, were left without a Western infrastructure and retreated to India. They continued on as if nothing had happened and never mentioned Prem Rawat Inc. again. Both groups have reaped reasonable rewards and after 50 years are fat and happy though Prem Rawat Inc. has never seemed satisfied with it's failure to become a prominent brand.
Back To the Future for Rawat Inc.
The Indian corporation seems well suited to continue into the future with strong family ties in the Indian business and political networks. In a century or two only this website will remember the sordid details.
The Western business might fade and die as it is basically a one man show that has used it's cash-flow to provide excessive dividends to its major shareholder and failed to reinvest adequate funds for the future. It has a narrow and rather boring product line and sales may collapse as the present customer base passes it's use by date.
In an Indian Family business it is not unusual for problems to occur as a new generation takes over as Kushwant Singh explained in "Gurus, Godmen and Good People":
When he feels his end is near, the Guru nominates a successor. In Indian religious terminology this is "as one lamp lights another". The man chosen is usually the closest disciple. But when money or property (ashrams, temples, land and houses) are involved, it is not unusual for the father to name his son (as in the case of Shri Guru Maharaj Ji) or relatives and thus keep the guruship and the property in the family. Disputes about succession result in schisms and often come up before Courts of Law.