Rival Gurus Call Off Courtroom Battle
Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File); May 24, 1975; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Los Angeles Times (1881 - 1986)  pg. D1

Rival Gurus Call Off Courtroom Battle

Maharaj Ji and Brother Promise Judge They'll Seek Pact

NEW DELHI (AP) - Rival gurus Maharaj Ji and his oldest brother called off their legal confrontation Friday but kept up their feud over who is "perfect master" of their sect.

Maharaj Ji, 17, and Bal Bhagwan Ji, 24, promised an Indian judge they would try to settle their competing claims to leadership of the Divine Light Mission out of court,

They dropped their defamation suits against each other after being scolded by Judge Prithan Singh Safeer during an hourlong hearing. "Courts should not be utilized for washing this dirty linen," Safeer declared.

You say you are men of religion. Well, there is going to be bloodshed in your family unless you settle your disputes.

"If you want bloodshed, continue with this litigation. But why not come to terms?"

Maharaj Ji then stepped forward and unconditionally withdrew his defamation suit against his brother. After some coaxing from the judge, Bhagwan Ji withdrew his suit.

However, within hours after the hearing ended, it was clear that the brothers were still reluctant to work out a compromise over who should lead the international religious movement founded by their late father in 1961.

"He can't be a guru anymore, that's for certain," Bhagwan Ji said of his youngest brother shortly after the hearing, "but we are prepared to accept him as a member of our family." In a separate statement, Maharaj Ji said he had no intentions of giving up leadership of the Divine Light Mission despite his mother's renunciation of him in favor of Bhagwan Ji last month.

The mother had accused Maharaj Ji of becoming a playboy after moving to the United States in 1973.

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"I intend to serve as the spiritual head of my devotees as instructed by my late father," Maharaj Ji said.

"Although I was not the first in starting litigation, I am happy that I was the first to withdraw out of it,' he added.

Robert Mishler, president of the mission's American chapter, said Maharaj Ji might return to the United States in about two weeks after a stop in Tokyo.

Maharaj Ji, accompanied by his 24year-old American wife and 2-monthold daughter, came to India in April to try to regain control of the mission's Indian chapter.

The red-turbaned Safeer accused Bhagwan Ji of being jealous of Maharaj Ji for having become head of the mission when their father died. Before the hearing ended, the judge asked the two: "What is the greatest sin?"

"Jealousy," Bhagwan Ji said.

"Not realizing the god who created us," said Maharaj Ji. "Wrong," the judge said. "The greatest sin in the universe is deceiving people in the name of God."