MAHARAJ JI JIVE
PAGE 8 BERKELEY BARB NOV. 23-29. 1973
Today everybody prays to Jesus and says, "Jesus, you are my Lord." What about the time when he came? There were very, very few people who said, "You are my Lord." Pwople were saying, "Oh no, he can’t be it, it’s just impossible for him to be the Lord." —Guru Maharaj Ji by Pat Reed special BARB correspondent
HOUSTON—Guru Maharaj Ji, the 15-year-old boy from India, was seated on his throne 35 feet above the crowd in Houston’s Astrodome. He had finished speaking and his followers placed a golden crown on his head and kissed his feet.
The Astrodome’s electronic scoreboard flashed a message: "God walks on this earth.’’ And the scoreboard’s electronic fireworks display was set off.
It was a fitting end for what had been billed as "the most holy and significant event in human history."
What happened was that God spoke at the Astrodome last week. He was there for Millennium ’73, a three-day event which was to usher in "a thousand years of peace for those ,who want it."
He had, he said, a practical plan for bringing peace to this problem-plagued planet.
Give me your love, I will give you peace. Come to me, I will relieve you of your suffering. I am the source of peace in this world. All I. ask of you is your love. All I ask is your trust. And what I can give you is such peace as will never die. —Guru Maharaj Ji
Guru Maharaj Ji is a fat, 15-year-old kid (some claim, however, that he is 27) with short, dark slicked down hair, peachfuzz moustache and a voice that cracks. As such, he seems an unlikely candidate for the living God. But that’s what his followers claim he is.
In the book -"Who Is Guru Maharai Ji?" (edited by one of the guru’s devotees), the guru describes his ascendancy to Perfect Master upon the death of his father:
"… Everyone was weeping. I was just sitting there not weeping and something began to happen to me. I began to feel that I am not this body; that I could not move these lips—I always thought the soul would leave by the mouth, but my mouth was shut. Still f felt like I was leaving my body and my soul was everywhere going out. And this voice came to me saying, "You are he, you are the one to continue.’ " He was then eight years old.
The last time the Perfect Master came, He was dressed in rags and nobody believed him. This time, He’s come back as a kid and said, "Pow—dig this, I’m here, everybody, and you can’t miss me this time." — Rennie Davis, Chicago 7 defendant and DML premie
Where should God speak today but in the Astrodome?
"Up til now," Divine Times, the DLM newspaper once wrote, "the magnitude of the Astrodome has been self-defeating. The energy on the playing field easily evaporated into die huge space of the dome. But considering the energy radiated by the Lord of the Universe. . .the Astrodome may prove unable to hold everything in. The roof just might lift off. That dome would make quite a far out flying saucer."
At last check, the dome still had its roof.
Perhaps the problem was that the Divine Light Mission had expected something between 60,000 and 100,(XX) people to fill the dome to hear Guru Maharaj Ji, but, unfortunately, no more than 20,000 showed up, even on the best night.
Those who did come, however, were in for quite a spectacle. It was, as one observer noted, something like a circus, a rock festival and the Second Coming all rolled up into one.
Divine Sales, DLM’s capitalistic arm, hawked everything from Guru t-shirts and guru buttons to magazines, newspapers and books to such health food delights as yogurt, cheese sandwiches and apple juice.
In a sort of it-takes-one-to-know-one twest, Marjoe, the onetime boy evangelist, was the only writer to get a personal interview with Guru Maharaj Ji. Or so it was rumored.
Jerry Rubin was there claiming it was all a rip-off.
The Krishna people got busted when they threw themselves across an entrance to the Astrodome to block traffic.
And the Jesus freaks parked themselves at one gate to proclaim that the guru was really the voice of Satan.
Rennie Davis (who, according to Tom Heyden, is a dA agent) agreed to "Realist" editor Paul Krassner’s challenge to a debate. It was generally agreed that Krassner asked some good, tough questions, and that Davis, with extreme skill and charm, evaded them beautifully.
Still, Davis remains one of the best spokesmen of the movement.
"The Lord is on the planet and he is in a human body and he is about to usher in the greatest event in human history," Davis said. That statement was frequently heard throughout Millennium *73. Meanwhile, back in the Astrodome:
The stage—if it can be called that—looked like something dreamed up for a pagan religion movie. It was huge, designed not only to add a certain magnificence to the occasion but also to accommodate a large number of side acts which performed when the guru wasn’t around.
There was a small rock band, The Apostles, a choir, a theater group which enacted the life of Christ, the Divine Light Dance Ensemble which rather beautifully performed Krishna Lila, an ancient Indian story (it is said the guru himsedf did the choreography for the dance and designed the costumes), and a 56-piece "bigband" called Blue Aquarius which was led by one of the guru’s brothers.
Also on the stage were the mahatmas, the guru’s disciples and the rest of Guru Maharaj Ji’s family, which includes, besides the band leader, two other brothers and his, mother.
The guru’s throne was on a platform high above the floor of the Astrodome. The throne itself was flame-shaped, and above the throne were great banners radiating purple, green and red lights.
On each side of the stage were huge videoscreens on which were projected the guru's image while he spoke.
And, of course, there was the electronic scoreboard whiched flashed great sayings from all religions including the words of Guru Maharaj Ji. The puzzler, it must be admitted, was "Sugar is sweet and so are you." It was attributed to the guru.
"Why, it’s a real multi-media show, one wide-eyed observer commented to a premie.
"No," the girl responded, ‘It’s divine.
Equally divine, one supposes, was the guru’s 20-year-old brother, Shri Bhole Ji, who, outfitted in a flashy silver sequined suit, a sort of fat Elvis Presley, lead Blue Aquarius, the 56-piece band.
The Divine Light Mission’s press release hailed Blue Aquarius as "a new musical sound in this country." The sound wasn’t exactly new, but the band, it must be admitted, was just about the liveliest thing going on at Millennium '73.
If nothing else, Blue Aquarius (which played everything from the Beatles to Bob Dylan, including some of (heir own religious pop tones) provided a foot-stomping, - hand-clapping involvement for the devotees who gathered in the Astrodome.
Karl Marx, of course, has called religion the opiate of the masses. But music, too, can be an opiate. The two together may be an unbeatable high.
The extravaganza cost nearly $1 million. Of that, $100,000 went to get the press there and keep them happy. A fair amount of money also was spent to put everyone up in hotel rooms, a nice gesture.
"The guru had a dream that everyone had a bed," Rennie Davis explained.
See, peace is not a bird, peace is not an apple that grows on a tree, neither is peace two fingers. Peace is within, inside of us. Maybe you don’t call it peace, maybe you call it the.Word; maybe you call it something else. But it is one thing, and it is within you. —Guru Maharaj Ji
Seeing a premie is kind of like glimpsing the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland: all one sees at first is a huge smile.
"Blissed out" is the way the premies themselves describe how they look. And what that is is a sort of radiant inner glow.
It’s hard to knock this happiness or, for that matter, many of the basic tenets of the Guru’s teachings.
Simply put, these teachings go something like this:
•The problems the world faces today—Watergate, the Middle East the energy crisis, etc.—are products of men’s minds and therefore can’t be solved until men are changed. •The way men are changed is through receiving knowledge. •Receiving knowledge is knowing God, and God is energy, perfect and pnire energy. •There is something good in every man. Every man can find inner peace, this knowledge of God, because God is in every man.
See page 12
MILLENIUM 73 — The 15-year-old indian guru’s religious festival in houston, Texas, last weekend— was supposed to usher in 1000 years of peace. The event, instead, appeared to be a flop.
Angels did not come down and drape the astrodome in flowers, nor did the astrodome fly toward the heavens, as the guru Maharaj Ji suggested it might.
While anywhere from 80,000 to 200,000 followers were expected, fewer than 30,000 people actually attended.
Space beings from Neptune and Venus did not appear as Rennie Davis hinted they would. The possibility of space creatures was taken so seriously that all rionearthlings were requested to report to a special communications desk, and a landing space had been set aside in the astrodome parking lot.
During the three-day event, the self-proclaimed "perfect master" stayed in the $2500 (dollar)-a-day celestial suite in the Astro-World Hotel. In the meantime, 200 of his devoted followers slept on the floor of an old coca-cola factory—(ZNS)inner peace and happiness for a who has some eight million de- him. large number of the Guru’s fol- voted followers to'be an over- But the kid stood there and belowers. whelmingly charismatic speaker, gin to unbutton his shirt, and untually about to see, hear, taste In America, those who have Guru Maharaj Ji, surprisingly, demeath it he had a Superman MAHARAJIJIVE From page 8
I have this little message and I it is very simple. All the world is within you, but you need a Perfect Master to show you. I Declare I can give you this peace if you accept my Knowledge. And it is really beautiful. It’s really goregeous. It’s really, really cool. — Guru Maharaj Ji
The rub comes—if one is not a devotee of the guru —in how each person is to receive this knowledge. One can’t find this knowledge, this inner peace, by oneself. He must have the guru to show him.
How the guru reveals this knowledge is the Divine Light Mission’s big secret.
"Ask and it shall be given you," the guru says. But asking isn’t enough. The guru, or rather one of his 2,000 mahatmas, must ascertain that the follower is ready to receive knowledge.
First, a follower must attend satsang (sermons) until a mahatma decides he or she is ready to receive knowledge. (Manhatmas seem to be unusually adept at selecting a promising premie because there have been few SLM dropouts.)
Knowledge sessions usually contain around 25 people. Morfe satsang is given to help psychologi-cally prepare the followers for what they are about to experience. They are told they are about to experience the most important event in their lives, that they are actually about to see, hear, taste and feel God. and feel God. Obviously, the emotional pitch is high.
Receiving knowledge actually consists of four secret techniques which enable the follower to experience God. Premies are pledged never to reveal the four techniques. "'They’re so simple, you’d laugh if you didn’t know the rest," one premie said.
However, one disillusioned premie from Denver did reveal the techniques to a reporter in Houston.
First, to see God, the mahatmas tell the followers je will see a flash pf light which is actually God. The mahatma then oushes his fingers against the follower's eyeballs until he indeed sees a flash of light.
Then, the mahatmaa says the followers will hear God. And he puts his fingers into the follower's ears and pushes hard until he produces a thundering sound.
Nex tht eh followers is told he will taste the "nectar: of God. The follower's head is pulled back nad pressure is applioed gently until the sinuses begin to drain.
And finally, the followers is to actually feel God. He is told he is to take a deep breathof air and another and another, if necessary, and then he is told to hold his breath. What he feels is a tingling sensation.
When it is over the new premies are told they are God’s chosen people.
No doubt about it, receiving knowledge seems to have produced N INNER PEACE nd hPPINESS FOR A LARGE NUMBER OF THE gURU'S FOLLOWERS.
iN aMERICA, THOSE WHO HAVE SOUGHT THIS PEACE TEND TO BE YOUNG, WHITE AND MIDDLE CLASS. mANY OF THEM ARE FORMER PEACE ACTIVISTS WHO TRIED TO MAKE THIS COUNTRY A BETTER PLACE. oTHERS WERE HEAVT DRUG TRIPPERS BEFORE TURNING TOI THE GURU . oNE OLDER HOUSEWIFE SAID SHE WAS SIMPLY SEARCHING DESPERATELY FOR SOMETHING.
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the faTLing together; and a little child shall lead them. For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. — The Book of Isaiah
One just naturally expects a man who has some eight million devoted followers to be an overwhelmingly charismatic speaker.
Guru Maharaj Ji, surprisingly, is not.
His followers laugh when sonmeone expresses this surprise.
"I felt the same way the first time I heard him, but then I received knowledge and realized that he made me see God. He is truly divine," one follower explained.
Sometimes, however even his devoted followers cannot stay awake during his speeches.
"The Guru Maharaj Ji puts out so much energy that he puts his followers to sleep." Another devotee explained.
The guru's talks are heavily laced with "It's beautiful. It's gorgeous. Try it, you're gonna like it." These are his descriptive phrases for what having received Knowledge is like.
He frequently talks in metaphors and parables. A favourite story of his is about a man searching for a Superman comic book. He looked in book stores; he looked in homes; he even searched the litter barrels. But he couldn’t find one. Finally, discouraged, he sat underneath a tree and closed his eyes. A little kid came up to him. The kid was looking cool, really cool.
"Hey what do you want kid?" the man shouted. "Get out of here. Go away. Leave me alone." The kid, you see, looked too cool for him.
But the kid sttod there and began to unbutton his shirt, and underneath it he had a Superman comic book which he gave the man.
The problem with the guru’s parables is that he seems to forget the punch line. He fails to say something like, "And I am your cool little kid with the Superman comic book." See page 15
From page 12
The last night of Millennium L'73, the guru was supposed to reveal to the world "a practical plan to restore peace on earth."
No such practical plans were unveiled, unless, of course, finding the guru's inner peace counted as the practical plan.
Oh, someone did say something about a Divine City to be built someplace someday soon--a city that would be an example to the world. A city in which there would be no money. People would exchange services for goods. And no man or woman or child wou
The event finally just sort of petered out.
"For Lovers of Music. Blue Aquarius album by Stax Recording Co. on sale here for $5." (Last message flashed on the Astrodome scoreboard as Millennium '73 ended.)