A Pictorial History of Prem Rawat in the 1980s
In 1982/3 Prem Rawat did a sudden about face. He ordered all DLM media to be destroyed and in 1983 * he ordered the ashrams closed, the nightly satsang meetings to cease. He changed his name, his titles, his organisation, his public persona, his public teachings and even his hairstyle. He ordered his followers destroy all records of his career so far. He was pretty well forgotten by then anyway so he apparently thought he would start again with a clean slate. Divine Light Mission was now Élan Vital.
This is what Guru Maharaj Ji comes to show us -- that there is a bliss beyond your wildest imagination. A bliss that's consistent, a bliss that's constant, a bliss that you never have to do anything to achieve. Just fall back and you will be blissed out. Let go and you'll be blissed out. And to achieve that is the ultimate state this body can receive -- to be constantly happy. Who doesn't pursue that happiness, to be constantly content? - Light Notes, Volume 1 Number 2 April 1980
What is the Perfect Master? He's a human being just like you and me. And yet that soul is enlightened. That soul is full of that Knowledge. When that recipient soul becomes eager, when that recipient soul becomes hungry and realises that hunger then that soul that is enlightened, that is full of that joy, is full of that bliss imparts that Knowledge to that other soul. Presto. (Message of the Heart video, 1981)
Q:Your followers seek to worship you, why do you seek that?)
Why do my followers worship me?
(Why do you seek their worship?)
Well, I don't seek their worship.
(It's an accident?)
(You're saying it's an accident?)
No it's not an accident.
In 1983 Prem Rawat closed the ashrams forcing those people who had lived under the rules of poverty and celibacy for a decade onto the streets with no money and mostly no careers. Cost-benefit ratio was no longer in their favour. Rawat said: "True devotees would realise everything He did was for their own good" and for those who took the opportunity to see through Rawat and his phony teachings it was.
In 1984, a Lear 35 was leased to facilitate Maharaji's world tour. However sufficient research again had not been done and it was not the ideal aircraft for Maharaji. It could fly eastbound around the world (America to Europe to Asia to America) with the help of tail winds but it could not go westbound nor fly from Los Angeles to Hawaii. It's cockpit and cabin were quite small and while Rawat is very short he has always been very fat. At the time it was probably all his followers could afford as finances had been severely impacted by the closing of the ashrams and the ending of nightly satsang meetings.
Actually, family life in the Malibu mansion was more like a Royal Court than a nuclear family. There were servants, X-Rated cronies, favourites, social climbers, gopis, bongos all scrambling to get close to their Lord, the source of power and prestige in the premie world. There were drugs and sex and really, really loud music, blonde premie girls pimped by Rawat's personal assistant for a sexual darshan and then there was the evil stepmother and the Royal Mistress of the Mattress, Madame de M.
A combination of some of Prem Rawat's favourite things. His giant water pistol spraying great spurts of coloured water, oodles of technology, very loud music, bright lights and an adoring crowd. Alas for those who had passed the ashram closing test and remained true to the (secret) Lord of the Universe there was to be no more darshan ceremonies, no more kissing the Divine Lotus feet, at least, not in public.
Before the the destruction of Divine Light Mission, Prem Rawat's USA mailing list had nearly 13,000 premies on it. In 1985 only 541 of those people were prepared to donate money to Rawat's Élan Vital. There were probably more prepared to give him money secretly and directly but the downturn was catastrophic.
1986 - Prem Rawat Lowers His Human Standards - Part-Time Instructors Rule
In 1986 Prem's followers' incomes were stretched keepng Him in the air so he changed his mind (again). They couldn't afford to financially support full-time initiators so he'd get his initiators to support themselves. Only a few years before He had preached that an initiator had to be 100% surrendered and to be a married part-time initiator was unthinkable. But needs must as they used to say. He spent years fiddling with them, firing, hiring, coddling, criticising, but nothing worked. New comers interested in Maharaji's Knowledge were few and far between and the drop-out rate of the newly initiated stayed high.
1987 - Prem claimed to have broken a long held Indian tradition by conducting Knowledge reviews personally
Students could review the techniques of Knowledge from the teacher himself, rather than an intermediary instructor. Of course "Knowledge Reviews" had never been conducted by intermerdiary instructors - in the tradition of Hans Rawat's they had been conducted by the guru, himself, or his mahatmas. In none of the works written by Shri Hans Ji Maharaj or about him by his inner circe of devotees is this claim made. See The Light Of Wisdom, Shri Hans Ji Maharaj: Life And Teachings or Hans Yog Prakash by Shri Hans Ji Maharaj or Satgurudev Shri Hans Ji Maharaj edited by C. L. Tandon, Secretary Divine Light Mission or In The Light of Knowledge by Mike Finch or The Secret Knowledge by Satpal Maharaj or Shri Paramhans Advait Mat published by the Shri Anand Pur Trust or any of Prof. Ron Geaves academic papers about Prem Rawat
1987 - The Divine Paradox / Is He or Isn't He of Was He or Wasn't He?
Q: You say that like all of us you have your downs as well as your ups. Do you feel that eventually, through your Knowledge, you will achieve the feat of removing the downs entirely from your life, and if you can do it, can we achieve that too?
Maharaji: Well, first of all, you make it sound as if there's a great separation between you and me, by virtue of suggesting that I sit up there somewhere, as if I've taken the malaria pills, so I can go into the jungle and not worry about mosquito bites. But it's not like that at all. - An Evening with Maharaji, 1987
"I would be a hypocrite to sit here and say to you 'Oh yes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, I am in complete bliss.' I'm not going to tell you that, because that's not true. Things happen. I am not going to be a hypocrite and tell you that it is all the time" - The Ability to Be Happy, Nov 3 2009 Words Of Peace video
While any sensible guru would have retrenched at this stage of his career, Prem Rawat went ahead, relentlessly upbeat, exaggerating wildly about his success and keeping his eyes firmly on what he wanted and demanded, a better personal jet. In 1984 the 100 member staff of the office were fired but by 1987 Rawat had ensured there were people capable of professional fund raising onboard and they delivered. There were now 4,000 people who were prepared to donate to buy a jet for Prem and $1.1 million had been collected of the $4 million required.
In 1987 Maharaji began a series of meetings with all the remaining premies, he called this Rejoice '87. He claimed that they'd been meditating for 15 years using incorrect techniques and all that been claimed about the expected results of meditation was false.
In truth, He was the one who'd made the claims and as he had originall learnt the techniques from his father as had taught the mahatmas how to teach meditation this was clearly inconceivable. This was the most absurd, outrageous, ridiculous, stupidest move he'd ever made and it worked brilliantly. By 1987, the devotees who'd survived 15 years of His incompetence, selfishness, venality, megalomania and this farce would accept anything. They had Festingered themselves into abject acceptance of Rawat while remaining normal (mostly) in other respects.
Evolution, an ILC (International Learning Center) production was produced in 1989. It attempts to show an extremely upbeat version of Rawat's early career in the West and a coherent evolution of his career and teachings while allowing his devotees watching it to briefly relive their youth during the exciting, overtly divine and devotional, optimistic and successful public phase of his career. It is certainly not an accurate picture of the history of Rawat's life and career but it is an accurate picture of how he wanted that presented to his loyal followers in 1989. It is part of a series that includes "Birthday Gift, India '88" and "Windows In Time" and others. It is amateurish by comparison with the early DLM films with an intrusive, mediocre soundtrack.
In ten years Prem Rawat had halved the number of his followers but created a new organisation from those went along with him. By now they'd been through so much cognitive dissonance and accepted so many untruths that they were true Festingered believers.
But nothing had really changed. There were a lot less premies and they were older but they still sat and listened to Prem Rawat tell them what to think and how to do it and what to say about him (nod, nod, wink, wink) and they just cheered him a little less loudly and used no Hindi in doing so.
The 1990s: Prem Rawat aka Maharaji in the 1990s
In his memoire, "Without the Guru" Mike Finch writes "As it turned out, the ashrams as an institution were in their death throes, and were formally abandoned by Maharaji a year later in 1983. In those final two years, the ashrams went through a roller coaster ride, with every now and then a purge where the initiators came through and screened out those who weere not dedicated to that lifestyle. But many people could see the writing on the wall, and the ashrams were inhabited by a strange mixture of diehards who clung to the letter of the Ashram Manual, freewheelers who saw through it as a corrupt charade and acted accordingly, and those like myself, who still thought, however chaotic everything was, that Maharaji was still in charge, and that all would come out right if we just surrendered to him. … Finally, in late 1983 the ashrams closed. For those still in the ashram at the time, there were two predominant feelings - release and betrayal.