Darshan of Prem Rawat
Darshan - being in the physical presence of the living Perfect Master and doing pranam is the peak experience for students of Prem Rawat. It was the most important ritual for Rawat's followers in the 1970's but in the West this has rarely happened anywhere but at Amaroo since the early 1980's. It is now known as The Greeting Line. After proving they are bona fide "People who Have Been Revealed the Techniques of Maharaji's Knowledge" by showing their Smart Cards or being vouched for by a premie with credibility within the organisation they are allowed to line up and file past and either place their foreheads on his feet or kiss them but only gentle kisses are allowed, nothing passionate. This is also one of Prem Rawat's major sources of income as people make direct cash dedications (in envelopes) as they approach Rawat's throne. Most of the DLM films prior to the early 1980s included scenes of lines of premies kissing Rawat's feet with a soundtrack of a devotional ballad. A gaudy and glittering extravaganza of darshan scenes is available here.
However kissing someone's feet is a practice universally frowned up in Western societies and so Prem Rawat with his desire for respectability has had to balance off the odium and mockery of publicly having his feet kissed and the fall in donations that comes from having uninspired followers. In the West, organised darshan lines are secret but do occur regularly at Amaroo since the early 1990's. Since around 2010 this is done in a purpose-built room for secrecy and is called "The Greeting Line".
Click here to see what Prem Rawat, himself, has to say about darshan. Prem Rawat's wife, Durga Ji or Marolyn Rawat, said about darshan: "Because, really, as you go to do pranam you're the most fortunate human being in this world.".
Here is a quick teaser from an Amaroo video showing those who have been revealed the "secret techniques" the darshan line at Amaroo. It seems that despite all that de-Indianisation that Elan Vital claims occurred back in the 1980's, Prem Rawat aka Maharaji is still giving 'Holy Breath'. Look at the woman second in line cupping her hand over her right ear. This was the instruction for new initiates to indicate to Rawat that he should blow on them ("Holy Breath"). That section is repeated 3 times in slow motion at the end so you don't miss it while blinking.
In 1980 at a Divine Light Mission religious festival to a song which makes a pretty straightforward statement about Prem Rawat's role on earth, a song called 'You Are My Saviour'. Prem Rawat's wife is shown crowning him with the crown of Krishna whose costume he is wearing and then doing full pranam (lying on the ground in front of him) and kissing his feet in adoration to the ecstatic chants of "Bhole Shri Satguru Dev Maharaj Ki Jai" from the thousands of premies watching her symbolise their devotion.
In the years before Prem Rawat began his public dancing performances, darshan was the holiest and most intense feature of all Divine Light Mission religious festivals. These images of a darshan line are from the Guru Puja festival in Miami in 1979. It was held in a darkened area to enhance the mystery and experience and keep the dwetails of the ceremony, especially the foot kissing, secret from the unitiated. Ushers prevented too much enthusiasm from his followers as they kissed his feet in adoration and hurried them along. In the pictures below he is giving "Holy Breath" to a first time darshanee.
Below are images from a video clip of a darshan line during the Guru Puja Festival, London, England in 1973 from the movie 'Who Is Guru Maharaj Ji?' that were also featured in the documentary "Mysterious Miracles, Aliens from Spaceship Earth, A Spiritual Odyssey".
Here are images from a video clip of a darshan line in Montrose, Colorado in July, 1972. Bihari Singh collects the donations as the premies pranam to Maharaji.
In India such huge crowds gather for religious festivals that darshan is sometimes seeing the Master drive past but in the West darshan lines of over 20,000 were known in the late 1970's and early 1980's. Darshan in the West is now only held at Amaroo in Australia where lines of a few thousand have been known in the 1990's.
Scenes of Holi and some privileged Indian premies receiving intimate darshan in the mid 1990's with the camera looking over Maharaji's shoulder.
When the guru thought the number of premies would grow rapidly in the 70's he devised a system where two people could do pranam at the same time but as this growth did not occur and it looked utterly ridiculous and his followers thought they were missing out on the "Grace", it was only trialled once. NB premie in right lane receiving Holy Breath by holding his cupped hand behind his right ear.
He also tried drive by darshan. At Guru Puja '74 in Amherst, Massachusetts Rawat tried "drive by darshan" where he had a throne attached to the side of a small truck and passed by the line of premies.It didn't have the same effect as slowly walking down a long aisle in semi-darkness and having the guru appear on a pedestal surrounded by beaming members of his trusted and well known (well-known to other premies and considered to be special due to their closeness to the guru) devotees.
Darshan at Montrose, Colorado from the TVTV documentary about Millenium 73. Prem Rawat wrote to his followers that Millenium '73 was going to be "the most Holy and significant event in human history".
Rawat is giving Holy Breath.
People queue past to do pranam in Copenhagen in a mid-70's darshan line. Note photo on left where Maharaji has given Holy Breath.
From the Divine Times of December 1977: "The only night that Maharaj Ji didn't appear on the shining white stage was on Darshan Day, when he sat majestically without a break for ten hours in a basement area as 13,300 premies filed past him in an awesome, holy procession. The next night he told us it was the longest darshan line of his whole life."
The students' devotion sometimes doesn't even require the physical presence.