Sunday Mirror, November 1972
Guru, 14, takes all
By Jill Robertson
Glen Whittaker … he runs
Guru's mission in Britain.
TONIGHT 350 British disciples of a fourteen-year-old Indian "god," Guru Maharaj Ji, leave London on an astonishing jet age pilgrimage to Delhi.
On Friday a similar load left by BOAC jumbo jet to join the shindig for this fat-faced youth whose followers believe he is an incarnation of God on earth.
I have seen British teenagers prostrate themselves in the wake of the guru and kiss the silk cushion where his feet have rested.
I have found out a lot of other curious things about the Divine Light Mission, which is what the guru's movement is called.
- The guru travels around grandly in Rolls-Royces and private aeroplanes.
- His really devoted followers give all their earnings to the movement and live on bare necessities.
- These followers also renounce all sex - and husbands and wives have been voluntarily parted because of their beliefs.
The Divine Light Mission is registered as a charity in Britain - which gives it considerable income tax benefits.
The guru's followers who have scraped together the £150 fare to go on the pilgrimage, do not appear to question the splendour which their adoration gives him.
He has a Rolls-Royce for his use in Britain and a "divine residence" in Highgate, London, worth £50,000.
He has a cook on duty twenty-four hours a day when in Britain in case he becomes hungry in the middle of the night.
The cooks, like all Guru Maharaj Ji's personal attendants, labour for no wages.
SHINDIG BY JET FOR A FAT-FACED 'GOD'
Guru Maharaj Ji, son of an Indian holy man has made only three short visits to Britain since his first call last June.
But it is claimed that in that time his converts have grown from 500 to 6,000.
In America, his devotees are said to number 50,000 and the world total is estimated at more than six million.
The slogan of the child guru is: "Give me your love, and I give you peace."
Those who don't are damned, explained the general secretary of the English mission, 29-year-old Oxford graduate Glen Whittaker.
Mr. Whittaker, the son of a travel agent in Southport, Lancs., runs the mission in Britain with great efficiency.
This cash-hungry mission has already inspired more than 300 followers in Britain to hand over their unopened wage-packets to divine headquarters.
They sever contacts with their past lives and give up sex,
meat, money, drinking, smoking, TV, cinema, marriage and worldly activities to live in "ashrams" - residential churches.
Suburban flats and houses have been turned into monastery - like communes in Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Leeds, Leicester, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, Oxford and districts of London.
The ashrams not only propagate "the knowledge" but provide the mission with an estimated regular income of at least £4,000 a week.
All members of the ashrams, except the housemother, who works as full-time unpaid housekeeper have to continue their normal jobs and hand their weekly wages over to the mission.
Glen Whittaker said: "Followers in ashrams must give one hundred per cent service to Guru Maharaj Ji. That's why married couples can't join ashrams."
John Lindus and his wife, Emma, have given up married life to work for Guru Maharaj Ji.
They are still very much in love, but no longer live together or have sexual intercourse.
Emma insists she does not miss the physical relationship with her husband.
"You have to decide whether you want babies or truth", she says.
In two ashrams I visited I saw dormitories where followers sleep on the floor.
One was the Achnacloich ashram, Inverness-shire, an isolated farmhouse which has been handed over to the Divine Light Mission by jute heir Andy Cox, 27, an Old Etonian.
The financial set-up of the Achnacloich ashram was explained by the secretary at that time, Mr. John Dewhurst.
"Eight of us are working," he said. "Jobs are hard to come by here, so most of us do timber contracting work. The two housemothers don't have jobs.
"I suppose we send between £150 and £200 a week to headquarters in London.
"They send us back £40 a week for the ten of us to live on."
I told Glen Whittaker that I thought it paradoxical that a
boy should not only live in such style, but should be exempt from the structures that are imposed on followers.
Whittaker replied: "They have the wages of happiness and peace."
Luxuries are lavished on the boy guru.
The 1970 model Silver Shadow Rolls-Royce bought for him on September 9 for nearly £10,000, isn't good enough. Next August Divine Light Mission in London will take delivery of a gold-coloured £13,000 1973 Rolls-Royce.
"We like to get him the very best," Glen Whittaker explained. "We understand that he is our Lord.
"It's the same as Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the donkey."
There were plans to buy the guru a Piper Comanche out of charity funds. But he didn't like it.
"He found it a bit noisy." I was told.
Now plans have been changed to buy him a twenty-seater jetliner.
Money is what Divine Light needs.
At a meeting at Chelsea town hall I heard one of the guru's mahatmas plead with an audience of over a thousand: "Spend money and you become attached to earthly things - give it to Divine Light and he will spread the word."