County Times and Gazette - Friday, October 22, 1971
Faithful flock to see boy Guru
By Ian Norton
THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD Guru Maharaj Ji, claimed by his followers to be the Lord of Love, Bringer of Peace, and Emperor of the Spiritual World, has taken up temporary residence at Golden Manor, Hanwell.
Together with about 10 attendants. the young spiritual master moved into 2a Fernbank, Golden Manor, a detached luxury house in a quiet corner of Hanwell last week.
He is the leader of a movement known as the Divine Light Mission, claimed to be the largest spiritual organisation in India today, and the fastest growing movement of any kind in the world.
Maharaj Ji, whose full title is Balyogshwar Param Hans Satgurudev Shri Sant Ji Maharaj, has been acclaimed by his disciples since he was two years old, when his father, the former Maharaj Ji, died.
At his father's funeral in India, where the movement started in 1961, the child is reputed to have addressed the mourners in Hindi, saying: "Why do you weep? Has not my father taught you the spirit is eternal?"
Since then the Maharaj Ji has been at the head of an ever-growing movement, and has shown the "true Light" to thousands of his followers.
The first branch of the Divine Light Mission was opened in this country in 1969. The mission now has centres in Birmingham, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham, Southend, Exeter, Bristol, Inverness and Belfast.
The mission's London headquarters are at Golders Green. The Maharaj Ji and his attendants are staying in Hanwell for only a few weeks before moving into new, larger headquarters in Camden Town.
The teachings of the Guru transcend individual religions - he claims to demonstrate the Divine Light and the Word of God within each person who comes to him.
He and his followers believe in one God, known by many different names, and worshipped in many different ways.
His teachings depend not on blind faith, or belief but on true knowledge of God, which his followers claim they are shown through practical revelations.
The atmosphere inside the house at Golden Manor is one of warmth and friendship. Groups of young people stand or sit on the floor, discussing everything from the weather to Divine Light itself.
A large notice on the front door asks visitors to knock quietly, take off their shoes and place them neatly under the porch.
Only the ground floor is for followers of the Maharaj Ji and for the constant stream arriving to hear the Word. The top floor is reserved for the use of the "young master" and his personal assistant.
One of his followers who has seen the Light is 23-year-old Michael Finch, an Oxford graduate, who is reading physics at Exeter University.
He said the movement has a following of nearly 2,000 in England, several thousand in America, and about two million in India.
Once people have seen the truth, many decide to spend their lives in service to the Maharaj Ji, he said.
When they have decided this, they fall into one of three categories. They can be teachers, administrative staff, or they can earn money towards the mission's running costs.
Twenty-one-year-old David Passis, an architect, is another who has seen the Light, and become a disciple of the Maharaj Ji.
"I was studying to be an architect, but I found I was unable to concentrate on my work. I was nervous, restless, and doing very badly," he said.
"A friend of a friend who had seen the Light suggested I listen to the teachings of the Maharaj Ji as they could be a solution to my problems.
"I took his advice, and eventually was shown the Light. I spent a year in India, and since then my whole life has changed for the better," he added.
"I have given up smoking, I am now good at my job, and I get on well with my parents for the first time in my life."
David Passis, the mission's assistant treasurer, explained that, to be shown the Light, it is necessary first to listen to the teachings of the Maharaj Ji in order to prepare the mind.
There are then four stages of meditation before the Maharaj Ji passes on the knowledge.
"He will give you nectar to drink, and pass on the word of God to you. It has no alphabetical form, and is beyond the realm of man to understand," he added.
"Then you may hear divine music, you will certainly feel the vibrations of the word of God, and you will be able to see this tangible Divine Light inside your mind."
He insisted the Maharaj Ji does not try to convert people from other religions, only to show them true knowledge.
"The Maharaj Ji says only that if you are a Christian, be a perfect Christian, or if you are a Buddhist, be a true Buddhist," he said.
Mr. Finch, chauffeur to the Maharaj Ji when he is not studying, explained most of the mission's disciples in this country are young people.
"This is because the idea seems mainly to appeal to the young over here, but an increasing number of middle aged and elderly people are coming to find the truth as the word spreads," he said.
"Many of the younger people are bringing their parents to see what we are doing."
On Tuesday, November 2, the mission will hold a meeting at Central Hall, Westminster, at which the Maharaj Ji will speak before returning to India for a time.
His trip to India will be made in the first Jumbo jet ever chartered and he will be accompanied by more than 300 followers.
Reason for his visit is a mass celebration in Delhi, at which more than four million people from all over the world are expected.