Who is Guru Maharaj Ji and why is he saying all these terrible things about God?

by Dean Latimer.

Penthouse Magazine

Penthouse magazine

(January 1974 - Volume 5, Number 5), page 65 - 66)

With winter at full tilt, it shouldn't hurt to take a look through the secondhand peacoats and parkas at your local Divine Sales outlet. They're bound to be absurdly cheap, marked up only minimally, if at all, from the price they were going for last summer, when their owners sacrificed them to the Guru Maharaj Ji to accumulate pradash in their quest for Divine Peace.

Pradash, you ask? Well, expressed in profane and dualistic Western terms, pradash is sort of the upward mobility the pilgrim soul acquires in its search for the Divine Light, by cutting itself loose of those material attachments that keep the poor mortal sinner chained to this unendurable life. This is very profound: by giving up your peacoat to the local Divine Sales outlet, you attain a trace of pradash to grease your chute to Eternal Tranquility, and moreover - and most marvelous! - the Divine Light Mission, Inc., likewise gains a pittance from the garment's resale to further its work in converting the heathen and establishing the Millennium of Divine Peace on this planet earth.

It is through the immaculate principles of pradash that the Guru Maharaj Ji's organization has assumed the opulent proportions of a globe - girdling caliphate, endowed with its own publishing company, Telex system, public - relations outfit, and vast stretches of tax - free real estate. The Guru's premies='loved ones" - adore exchanging pradash with their balyogeshwar - "perfect one" - and their prodigious contributions have made him the financial envy of all the other cult leaders of the world. With some 200 Divine Missions, food stores, secondhand shops, gas stations, and Heaven knows what - all in America alone pumping their freely given tithes into the Divine Account, the faith has become a force fearful to contemplate.

But who is this Guru Maharaj Ji, and how, out of all the 50,000 - odd professional holy men of India, should he have arisen to trouble the councils of the wise? Well, he's only fifteen years old, a right jolly little saintlet - 5'2", 180 Ibs. - and his picturesque family has been in the God business for two generations. It seems the present Guru's father outraged his progressive Indian political colleagues a couple of decades ago by abruptly deciding that India should retain her dubious distinction as the World Center of Religion, renounced penicillin for piety, pronounced himself satguru='perfect master" - and began preaching to the credulous masses. When the senior Ji died in 1966, his wife began grooming little Maharaj, then a veritable infant, for the Godhood. Even among the innumerable quasi - Hindu medicine men of India, this prepubescent evangelist stood out, lisping wisdom from his babe's mouth before the multitudes assembled; and it was not long after the desertion of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi by the Beatles that a wealthy Western seeker after truth happened to catch the Tittle Guru's show and to lay enough pradash - bait on the outfit to get the kid over to America, where yea, it was destined that the bit would go over big!

It was doomed to be so. The teenaged Guru is everywhere chaperoned by his businesslike brother, Bal Bhagwan Ji, and his formidable mother Mata Ji, and their image resembles an Oriental Osmond Family. Donny and the Guru have about the same number and intellectual quality of fans, in fact, except that the Guru's are ten to fifteen years older, and they have babies whom they name after the Holy Family. The Guru's family, in brief, is at once exotic enough in appearance and address, and yet bourgeois enough in structure, to appeal irresistibly to the spiritually insecure millions of the West. Unhappily, his commerce with his Eastern homeland is nowhere near so fortuitous.

Pilgrims who have made the hejira to the Guru's palatial residence at Dehra Dun, north of New Delhi, bring back stories of incredible violence. After untold ages of pestilence and malnutrition, the citizens of India are fed up with dragging starved corpses off the same streets through which herds of healthy beef cattle pass unmolested, and they display a marked intolerance toward pie - in - the - sky spiritualism such as the Guru's family spouts. They will barely tolerate the traditional begging - bowl ascetics in their midst, but toward such as the Ji family, whose ostentatious enjoyment of their Occidental creature comforts is vigorous and unabashed, they bear no good will at all. In November 1972, when the Guru was stopped at Indian customs in the vanguard of 3,000 Western followers who entered the country on seven chartered Boeing 747's, an international uproar was created around a certain suitcase, found in uncomfortable proximity to the Guru, containing some $80,000 in watches, jewelry, and foreign currency. This gives credence to those tales of incredible violence - thousands of rioting Indians trying to get their hands on God's Anointed - related by Western pilgrims who proudly admit to preserving the Guru's skin with holy quarterstaves of solid ashwood.

What magic does the Holy Family exert on its Western adherents to mesmerize them into such comalike, obsessive fealty? Well, the tenor of their orthodoxy, such as it is, is distinctively Hindu: that is, it's not a faith so much as an infinitely elastic set of rationalizations for following instructions from a secure authority, and not thinking too much about anything in particular. In its specifics, the Ji family creed absorbs with nymphomaniacal voracity every faith, popular notion, fad, movement, and superstition that comes to hand: astrology, palmistry, lost civilizations, ESP, natural foods, organic gardening, women's liberation, Zen, kung fu, transcendental meditation, revolutionary politics, Islam, Christianity, Cabalism, Tarot, everything but drugs and sex are subsumed under the Guru's revealed philosophy, and milked for all they're worth. And the emphasis of course is on Apocalypse, with the end of the world due any minute now, so get that pradash moving right away!

The effect of this spiritual sandbagging on its disciples - typically young survivors of the hippie experience, their minds already opened and considerably tenderized by the grievous abuse of psychedelic drugs - is to render them as blissful and untroubled as brained cattle. Indeed, they tend to bear the peaceful aspect of having been clubbed on the head by a plank, and then administered a solid dose of Demerol: foggy - eyed little goosesteppers for the most part, with the exception of the higher - echelon mahatmas, who tend to be steely - eyed control addicts.

The prime disciple of the Guru so far, of course, is ex - revolutionist Rennie Davis, late of SDS and the Chicago 8. To the dismay of his erstwhile comrades, Rennie fell afoul of the Divine Light miasma on a plane to Paris in the spring of 1972: he had intended to confer there with Madame Binh of the NLF, but a coterie of pilgrim premies across the aisle inspired him to take the plane all the way to Dehra Dun. "I wanted not to have any doubts," he said later, "because everybody was so blissed out." His first sight of the adolescent avatar, resplendent in pinstripe suit and zip - out boots, precipitated Rennie into an Epiphany not unlike St. Paul's on the road to Damascus. Relegating politics to an inferior order of existence, he dedicated his life to full - time evangelism for the Divine Mission.

And Rennie Davis can fill a tent all right, as was amply demonstrated at the Astrodome last November, when the Guru Maharaj Ji announced the advent of the Millennium to a full house. It was Rennie, working out of the Houston Mission, who orchestrated this once - in - an - eternity event. At first he evidently had hopes of filling the Dome with money - the advance notices in The Divine Times, the Guru's house organ, warned all premies, "Do not, repeat do NOT, go down until you have filled out a service form and are called and given a date to arrive. Just going to Houston without permission leads to confusion. Please cooperate." The plan as stated was that only 500 button - bearing premies would be allowed to "help out" at the affair: hopeful volunteers were told to submit a $75 "consideration fee," and in the happy event of their selection, were to cough up another $150 for bus fare, food, and lodging for three days. Nowhere was it suggested that the initial $75 would be returned in the event of Divine Rejection.

Maybe the government caught wind of these arrangements, or perhaps the problem of getting normal people to listen to the Guru was harder than expected, or just possibly Davis and his cohorts were smitten momentarily with compassion, but in any case, shortly before the grand event word went out to the faithful that yes, they would be permitted after all to behold their saviour in the flesh.

This was a wonderful thing for them, because many of them pray daily to effigies of the kid, as to any crucifix or golden cow: it's not that he's God, no, this he modestly denies, but the reasoning is that he's greater than God, for he intercedes between the human and the divine. Yea verily, the bottle is greater than the beer. Thus all pronouns pertaining to him in the various Divine Mission periodicals - The Divine Times and the Denver - based slick magazine, And It Is Divine - are capitalized: "Him," "He," "His," "Who," "Whose," etc. To Him is attributed the power of administering the Eucharist, a visible flash of light experienced within the communicant's head when He places His Lotus Hands on it. He transmits the power of provoking this hallucination to his anointed mahatmas, or "henchmen." So you can imagine how eager those thousands of "loved ones" were to lay out $225 apiece to get to Houston and gaze upon their corpulent Encorporeal.

And probably their deification of the little Guru was only garnished by the knowledge of the mortification of the flesh to which he is currently subject: the fifteen - year - old apostle of Divine Bliss has an ulcer. Other holy men of India can walk barefoot through flame; kung - fu novices can lie in stacks of six or eight sandwiched between double - ply beds of nails; Baptist housewives in Tennessee can guzzle strychnine and kiss away cottonhead bites; but the Guru Maharaj Ji was admitted to St. Luke's Hospital in Denver last August with a profane tsurris in the lotus kishkas.

"I am human," he admitted to the multitude in 1971, "hands, bones, lungs. But Guru is greater than God, because if you go to Guru, Guru will show you God." Para - physician, heal thyself.