Besieged by mounting legal problems

2A Sunday May 18 1975 THE TUSCALOOSA NEWS

NEW DELHI, India (AP) - Besieged by mounting legal problems, Guru Maharaj Ji received an appeal from his family Saturday to give up his fight to retain control of the Divine Light Mission and patch up his feud with his mother.

There was no immediate response from the 17-year-old religious leader, who was reported in central Jaipur city, barred by a court from leaving India until a contempt citation brought by his family is settled.

"The best thing for Maharj Ji is that he should come td his mother, express regret for all he has done and ask for a pardon," said the guru's oldest brother, 24-year-old Bal Bhagwan Ji, in an interview.

"If he surrenders himself to mataji (mother) he can be absolved of all his sins by her grace.

We will accept him as a member of our family again, but not as guru or spiritual leader of the Divine Light Mission.

"He's a fused bulb, a fused spiritual light which can no longer give off spiritual enlightenment," he said.

Bal Bhagwan Ji spoke with the blessings of his mother, who proclaimed him the new guru of the Divine Light Misssion following her renunciation of Maharaj Ji last month.

The mother, whose late husband founded the movement in 1961, charged Maharaj Ji with becoming a playboy after moving to the United States in 1973.

Accompanied by his 26-year-old American wife, whom he married last year, and a retinue of about 10 American disciples, Maharaj Ji came to India last month to try to regain control of the crucial Indian chapter from his mother and brother.

But Maharaj Ji's attempts so far have been unsuccessful, with local authorities in some cities barring him from addressing rallies because they fear riots between supporters of the rival brother gurus.

Bhagwan Ji has brought a $13,000 damage suit against Maharaj Ji, for allegedly trying to distribute photos showing the newly proclaimed guru being hugged by an American devotee. The guru's mother had a photo published earlier in an Indian newspaper showing Maharaj Ji kissing and embracing an American devotee - something Indian holy men do not normally do.

Bhagwan Ji also filed a contempt suit against Maharaj Ji for allegedly refusing to receive a court order barring him from publishing the latest photos.

The judge ordered Maharaj Ji to remain in the country until the suit is resolved.

The first hearing is due May 23.

Within India, Bhagwan Ji and his mother appear to be winning the religious confrontation with Maharaj Ji.