People You Should Forget
Guru Maharaj Ji
by Gilbert Choate
As sure as there's a sucker born every minute, so every age has its sage, and the present presence on earth of the All and the One Almighty Lord is the divine, perfect, supreme, fifteen-year-old Shri Guru Maharaj Ji ("The Kid") - at least to hear him tell it. There are, to hear them tell it, other candidates for the office, and they flourish in my hometown of New York City. They are a lively lot and they seem to relish the curiosity and ridicule they draw. New York is famous for its threadbare God-mad jerkdom, and I suppose that each upon expiring is hailed as a new saint in heaven. After all, if the proper index of a seer's corner on truth is his chronic poverty and obscurity, then there is something holy about all these bums.
But where does that leave our prehensile swami, whose church operates a chain of secondhand shops and a small fleet of elegant automobiles and aircraft under the tax-free status of "religion"? Well-heeled, indeed, whatever the ultimate disposition of his soul. The Maharaj's spiritual message is somewhat as follows: mortals can never really know God, but by subscribing to Maharaj Ji's magnetic presence they can get pretty close. Moreover, the end of the world is nigh and only those in on the Messiah's secret have a chance of attaining any postapocalyptic grace. What is his secret? Even the initiates don't know. The method of initiation is to captivate alienated and world-weary middle-class youths like former radical and "Chicago Eight" defendant Rennie Davis, plus a few of the dumbest, most inarticulate and strung-out local hippies, and put them through a few days of meditative starvation, twist them like pretzels into the gut-wrenching configurations of a double-jointed veteran yogi, then depress their eyelids with the fingers of one of the holy higher-ups. This produces a retinal image called "Divine Light" by the premies (as the faithful are called) and "rapture of the depths" to those trapped in disabled submarines. If anyone should wonder why this simple, unpleasant, and purely physical phenomenon is being passed off as the veritable abracadabra of salvation, he is told that it is but symbolic of the inner somethingness of the mystic mocha moocher.
One of the less interesting projects of the avatar is And It Is Divine, a monthly slick-paper magazine on which he serves in the capacity of Supreme Editor-in-Chief. It's doubtful that many of the following items were reported in its pages:
- Pat Halley, a reporter from Detroit, threw a pie in the guru's face-for reasons of his own, no doubt. Subsequently, two of the Supreme Master's admirers allegedly beat a little Divine Light into Halley's head.
- The Master was presented with a gold-plated Rolls-Royce by his British admirers. The junior Jesus certainly gets around.
- He confided to Newsweek: "I am human."
- And he told the New York Times why his followers pay such lucrative homage: "Simple. They love me."
Well, the Supreme Master may well sing a different tune when his voice changes. Or he may be swept away by polio, tetanus, typhoid, kwashiorkor, measles, chicken pox, or some other plague or famine that annually kills thousands of Indian tots. Anyway, the sooner he ascends in his chariot of flame the safer I will rest: the latest rumor is that his peace-loving parishioners have joined hands with the puissant Kung Fu martial-arts cultists.
And Jack Anderson wonders why the U.S. backed Pakistan.