A Pictorial History of Prem Rawat 1990s+
Some people are never satisfied and so Prem Rawat realised he needed a Canadian-Made Challenger 601 to make himself feel better so an appeal went out on October 4. He has had his plane upgraded a few more times and at staggering cost. These aircraft are not purchased by Prem Rawat but are leased from the actual owners by a cabal of Prem's rich devotees. Leasing an aircraft apparently has major tax benefits for people wealthy enough to make use of them.
In early 1991 Prem Rawat selected a large tract of rural land in South East Queensland in Australia for purchase and development. He named it Amaroo. It was intended, following a planned multi-million dollar investment, to serve as an international meeting place for his devotees. By 1992 a conference centre was being developed at Amaroo. Over the subsequent decade, hundreds of premies moved to the region from all over the world to help with the project. A "Knowledge Hall" was built seating 400 and an outdoor amphitheatre for 4500 and office and bathroom blocks. Australia is a wealthy country with no major social problems or political unrest but it is a long way from Europe and North America where most of his Western followers live. He probably prefers to have only his wealthier followers able to be around him.
1996 was the 25th anniversary year of Prem Rawat's arrival in the "West". There had been failures: publicly disinherited by his mother and losing his father's assets and devotees in India. Losing half his Western followers in the early 1980s when he closed the Divine Light Mission ashrams and changed his name, his title and his public persona. His followers had been through a lot, media ridicule, family disapproval, attempting celibacy in a hot house of hormonal nightly meetings and loss of good careers. But the ones he'd kept seemed to be the ones who were in through good or bad and, most importantly, they donated money and by 1996 he had a Challenger personal jet, a cult compound in Australia (albeit both came with large debts owing) and his British old-timers celebrated with the first "Divine Times newsletter" in 15 years that revelled in reliving the blissful early days of 1971. The Élan Vital video "Like the Rain" was produced, part celebration, part rewriting of their history.
1996 Prem Rawat's eldest brothew elected to the Lok Sabha, the Indian National Parliament. He is appointed to be the Union Minister of State, Railways and in June 1997 he is promoted to be the Union Minister of State, Finance.
In 1997, 2 Knowledge Centers were purpose built for Rawat's technologised, computerised initiation ceremonies. The one in Australia was rarely used as the recruitment of new converts was almost non-existent even if as Rawat claimed: "The one in Australia is quite a showcase, it's magnificent." Magnificent maybe, but empty certainly. Élan Vital publicity claimed large numbers of new recruits by including initiations in India, a land where having a Godman/guru is de rigeur, but where Prem Rawat is smalltime.
In the late 1990's premies became far more organised and standards, protocols, rules and regulations proliferated and service became integrated via an internet system called ©FirstClass, an Élan Vital private communication system. Prem Rawat's personal presence at sessions was hopelessly inefficient and the possibility of recruiting thousands of new followers anywhere in the world under this sytem was non-existent. Rawat was and is an ardent technophile and so a machine driven system was developed. Knowledge Sessions became highly formalised and a Knowledge Session Event Guide was produced. This system requires teams of people: Event Management, Aspirant Team (aspirant contact), Hall Liaison (venue research & facilities coordination), Production Team (audio, video & lighting), Event Set-up Team (KS venue & reception area setup), Assistance Team (security, ushering & special needs), Catering Team, Translation, Finance (resource contact). Everyone was to repeat a script. There waa no personal contact with members of this team, who often outnumbered the "people receiving the techniques of Knowledge." This was frowned upon.
Prem came up with a brilliant idea. The problem was people weren't used to sitting for long periods (unless they were watching TV ot movies or driving a car or …) so they needed special hi-tech super aerodynamic chairs for the Knowledge Session. He was sure that would make a difference to the drop-out rate. Wrong Again.
Amaroo's construction and infrastructure projects were funded by $US 10 million in unsecured loans raised from devotees. Premie lenders were given a verbal promise that Rawat would personally repay them when the loans came due. A sceptical newspaper article published in Queensland's Brisbane Courier Mail in 1997 and public protests at Amaroo by Neville Ackland, a disillusioned but very energetic premie who took the opportunity of staging a public protest. He was interviewed on Australian TV and the centre of newspaper articles. Rawat held no further international events at Amaroo for several years and so there was no money to repay those loans.
Prem Rawat was not satisfied with the quality of his premies despite 30 years of meditation and listening to his speeches. He still wanted them to get out and attract a new cohort of true believers but they were either milquetoasts or weird. Rawat decided to utilise the "expertise" and try to whip his unsatisfactory followers into shape in "team-building" exercises that were known, amongst themselves, as "the Trainings." This appeared to have no long-term effect on the success of his organisations though at $1,000 per head it was financially successful. What made it even more remarkable is that most of them had been doing such personal and public recruitment in the 1970's relatively successfully despite the derision Rawat as the Guru Maharaj Ji had received in the press. Rawat had ordered them to cease and desist publicly promoting Him and His Knowledge circa 1983 and in 1987 "advised" they not even talk about Him in private.
Prem Rawat categorically states that "Knowledge Cannot Be Taught as a Course"
I don't know if you can present Knowledge as a course. Here watch 15 videos, it'll take 5 months and then you will be ready. This is much more of personal journey. We can not start abdicating that responsibility by making it a course. The idea of people watching videos, getting their questions answered and proceeding on the path of wanting to have Knowledge and enjoy Knowledge cannot be presented as an academic process
Within a few years Rawat would finally realise that He could not personally inspire and instruct the flood of new recruits he was expecting. However the course and the initiation computers were not required in the West where recruitment was not successful and his cohort of early 1970's initiates were ageing and lethargic except when cheering him on stage.
The 2000s: Prem Rawat aka Maharaji in the 2000s