The Rag, Volume 8, issue 7, 11/26/1973

MILLENIUM '73: BIG TIME AT THE BIG TOP

Rennie Davis prepares to kiss the lotus feet of his Guru.

"I Won’t Be Surprised If The Angels Come And Start Putting Flowers On That Houston Astrodome. It Will Be So Incredible, Wherever You Look The Light Will Be Shining." - Guru Maharaj Ji

by Gavan

If Millennium '73 was incredible, it was not because any angels descended from heaven. They didn't. The weekend festival (Nov. 8-10) was incredible in that the teenage Guru was presented in a super-slick, hyped-up, multi-media package. Live music, films, speeches, T-shirts, posters, buttons, bumperstickers, paperback books, magazines, newspapers, spot lights, strobe lights, artificial rainbows, the Astrodome scoreboard and Guru Maharaj Ji himself, all with one messagei Try it. You'll like it.

All the Guru asks is that each of us give up our minds. Really. "It is a scary thing," admits Millennium coordinator and former political heavy Rennie Davis, "but it's something you must do if your soul is t.., guide your life. You must surrender your mind to free your soul."

Millennium '73 was the sales pitch for Guru Maharaj Ji's Divine United Organization and its missionary purpose. Guru initiates were given the old hard sell from the multi-level podium in centerfield which rose 35 feet to Guru Maharaj Ji's teardrop shaped throne.

The Divine United Organization (established, ironically, on April Fools Day of this year) is the corporate umbrella for all Divine Light Mission activities and service agencies. Its avowed purpose is to work in all forms of endeavor to end human suffering by spreading Guru Maharaj Ji's "Perfect Knowledge". A devotee of the Guru can apply his or her skills with the Divine United Organization.

Women from the World Peace Corps (WPG) distributed an extensive skills questionaire to the premies who dutifully completed the pastel forms and returned them to the WPC for computerization. The questionnaire covered nearly all vocations — from palmistry to law enforcement. Premies could indicate if they were skilled, trained, experienced, accredited or just interested in 430 different work experiences.

Premies (Guru followers) who attended the Millennium will, according to Rennie Davis, form the Divine United Organization which will "feed amd clothe every needy person on the planet." The Divine United Organization first plans to erect a Divine City -- built by love. Davis claimed that the Divine City will be the manifestation of Heaven on Earth. With the Divine City as a base, the DUO plans to spread the Guru's knowledge across the globe until all humanity has been enlightened. And this, they say, will begin a millennium — 1000 years of peace.

The show-business with which all this was presented was much more impressive than the theology, which tended at times to get lost in the sensory shuffle of frantic music, pulsating lights and the explosive Astrodome scoreboard.

The stage was flanked by two huge screens which projected a closed-cir-cuit image of the speakers and performers, and an equally huge (though inadequate) public address system. The scoreboard flashed quotes from the Guru and organized premies into "propagation parades" around the Astrodome area.

Blue Aquarius, the Guru's 56-piece band with 6o-voice choir, was conducted by Bhole Ji, 20-year-old brother of Guru Maharaj Ji, who appeared in a sparkling sequined suit. Bhole Ji, who is even pudgier than the Guru, was quite a spectacle as he bounced around to Blue Aquarius' jazz-rock sound. Band members, all of whom are premies, include former members of the Bee Gees, the Foundations, the Soul Survivors amd Dando Shaft.

Bhole Ji Blisses Out

Sequin-spangled Bhole Ji blissing-out to Blue Aquarius' Divine beat.

All throughout the Millennium, various rock and folk artists singing praise for Guru Maharaj Ji were’ paraded before the premies. Sprinkled in among the acts were speeches by Divine Light bureaucrats and members of the Guru's Holy Family. Of All the acts, the most inspiring was Krishna Lila performed by the Divine Light Dance Ensemble. The dance, according to the program, celebrated the love of a devotee for the living Perfect Master ‘ through the tale of Lord Krishna and his beloved «opis. The dancers were dressed in beautifully intricate Eastern costumes. They filled the arena with color as they weaved complex patterns onstage.

Prem Rawat Lila

A dramatic moment in the Divine Light Dance Ensemble's Krishna Lila.

Divine Light propaganda claimed that the highlight of each night's presentation in the dome would be satsangs (discourses) by Guru Maharaj Ji. However, the real highlight of each evening happened after the Guru’s addresses. Strike up the band! Blue Aquarius began its frenzied Las Vegas show. Bhole Ji saved the band's hottest upbeat ntrabers for last. A medley of "the hits of the '60s which raised our collective consciousness to the lotus feet of Guru Maharaj Ji" and a stirring Dixieland version of "When the Saints Go Marching In" brought the crowd to its feet. At the end of each Blue Aquarius finale, the lightshow went off. Someone pressed the "home run" button on the scoreboard control panel and the spotlights panned over the crowd who shouted in unison "Bole Shri Satgurudev Maharaj Ki J'ai" and raised their arms as if to embrace the Guru, who was safe behind the barricades.

The Guru discreetly disappeared behind the throne each night and made his way to his waiting Rolls-Royce which sped him across the street to his penthouse at the Astroworld Hotel.

The event, as it occurred inside the Astrodome, was little more than a neatly orchestrated Divine pep rally. The real event, missed by nearly everyone, occurred at the West entrance of the stadium.

HARE KRISHNAS LOCKED OUT

Although Guru Maharaj Ji's Divine Light Mission claims to be rooted in basically the same spiritual philosophy as the Society for Krishna Consciousness (Hare Krishna), there was no love lost between the two movements at the Millennium.

There was no Millennium for the Krishnas. Excluded from the Astrodome, they spent most of the weekend chanting and dancing at the West entrance. On Saturday night, Houston police -- called in by the Guru's security force, the World Peace Corps (WPC) — arrested 31 Krishnas for disturbing the peace. The Krishnas say that all they were doing was celebrating the Lord by dancing and chanting the Hare Krsna mantra.

The Guru's people didn't seem to like the Krishnas' presence outside the dome at all. Straight-laced WPCers with bullhorns ordered all premies to quickly move on past the chanting Krishnas and into the dome. At one point. Guru Maharaj Ji and his Holy Family appeared at the window behind one of the plush skyboxes that ring the Astrodome and waved to the crowd which had gathered around the Krishnas, diverting all the attention away from the colorfully costumed dancing devotees and toward the gray-flannel Guru.

Krishnas disturbing the peace

Krishnas "disturbing the peace", as the "peace makers" arrive

The Krishnas were made to feel unwelcome at every turn. The truck hauling their food was not allowed on the Astrodome parking lot. They were not allowed to sell their books.suid magazines. They were even refused permission to enter the Astrodome to use the restrooms. The Divine Lighters were laying dora some pretty heavy hints to the Krishnas that they were not wanted (although Millennium hype said the festival would be open to all), but the Krishnas just danced and chanted on.

Finally, the Divine Light Mission decided that the Krishnas needed to be removed. WPCers located on the press level of the Astrodome promised a surprise news event when the Guru was to speak at 8i30 Saturday night. It was to be Guru Maharaj Ji's final address of the festival and being thoroughly bored by the Guru's two previous satsangs, the reporters relished the idea that the Guru would do or say something newsworthy.

No dice. The only "surprises" inside the dome were Rennie Davis kissing the Guru's lotus feet and the Guru receiving a swan as a token of premie appreciation. The real surprise was outside. The police had moved in and hauled off the Krishnas while the press sat in their cushioned seats waiting for a non-existent news event.

What the Divine Lighters have against the Krishnas was not made entirely clear. Perhaps the Guru wanted a monopoly on all the impressionable young minds at the Millenium. Perhaps it was felt that the Krishnas' well-known penchant for peddling Bhagavad-Gitas would cut into the Guru's "Divine Sales." The most likely explanation for the animosity the Guru followers displayed is that the Krishnas reject outright the claim that Guru Maharaj Ji is a perfect spiritual master.

In a Hare Krishna white paper on the Guru Maharaj Ji, they cite Vedic scripture and contradictions in the Guru's line as proof that the Guru is a fraud. The white paper concludes that "cheap statements and claims by imitators of the Surpreme Lord like Guru Maharaj Ji should be ignored as the chatter of an ignorant child."

Jita Prana, a Krishna devotee and one of those not allowed to use the restrooms, told The Rag that the Krishnas feel no animosity toward the followers of the Guru, "They were simply doing their duty," he said. "Of course, I don't agree with what they thought their duty, but they were simply doing their duty. They were propagating peace, but they threw peaceful innocent people in "jail."

The Jesus freaks were, of course, well represented. Several flyers signed (continued on page 8)

WHAT IS THIS GURU'S KNOWLEDGE?

Guru Maharaj Ji claims that anyone can find peace and happiness by receiving his "knowledge". The eight hour knowledge rite has been kept a closely guarded secret by the Divine Light Mission, but recently Detroit's alternative newspaper. The Fifth Estate, published an interview with a former devotee of the l5-year-old perfect master. The former follower, a medical student, detailed the knowledge process.

"Followers are taught by holy men or 'mahatmas' to experience four sensations! they are the Divine Light, the Divine Word, the Divine Music, and the Divine Nectar.

"The Divine Light is achieved by pressing on the devotee's eyeballs; this causes nerve cells in the eye to fire, stimulating the occipital cortex of the brain, amd the subject sees what the Guru describes as a holy light — from God within.

"To hear the Divine Music, subjects place their thumbs in their ears_— their elbows on a board — and literally hear their blood circulate and their hearts beat. This noise, the mahatmas explain, is the Divine Music.

"The Divine Word is heard by concentrating in a near trance-like state and listening to one's own breathing. This sound, explain the mahatmas, is the word of God inside you.

"Finally, to taste the Divine Nectar, subjects are taught to twist their tongues back toward the rear of the throat where the piece of skin tissue known as the uvula hamgs down. The uvula is usually coated with a bland mucus, which the mahatmas explain is the Divine Nectar.

"The problem," warns the medical student and former Guru devotee, "Is that the pressuring of the eyes to see the Divine Light can cause retinal damage to the eyes, if abused. She adds that the contortion of the tongue used to sense the Divine Nectar can strain the tendon of the tongue and can sometimes result in the accidental swallowing to the tongue.

"All premies are warned never to disclose the cermony to anyone. The punishment for revealing the rite is that the person who talks will come back in the next life as either an ant or a uni-cellular organism."

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BIG TOP (continued from page 7)

by the Christian World Liberation Front of Berkeley were passed out each night as the crowd dispersed. The Pentacostals hovered at the Astrodome exits eager to bend heathen ears with word of the Second Coming of the real Lord. The most outrageously vocal Jesus freaks were the students of a missionary training center in Phoenix. They intercepted carloads of premies and curious natives as they entered the Astrodome parking lot. Waving home-made placards declaring the Guru as the Anti-Christ, they ran up to the cars shouting "you robots I You will all be damned to HellI" Their fanatic zeal was only outstripped by the premies determination to ignore them. The paradox was outstanding. Inside the dome, boring speakers proclaimed 1,000 years of peace to a polite audience while a religious war raged outside.

Rennie Davis vs Paul KrassnerAt a Guru vs. Yippie debate held for the benefit of the press. Realist Editor Paul Krassner looks off into already lost to Millennium coordinator Rennie Oavis, who waits patiently, ready to deliver another 2uiswer to the question "who is Guru Maharaj Ji?" without regard to what question Paul puts forward. Krassner, too intent on being cute before the myriad of microphones and cameras, never pinned the elusive Davis down. If there was a winner to the debate, it was Davis, whose rhetorical choreography stole the show.

THE WORLD PEACE CORPS MAKING THINGS HAPPEN CORRECTLY

"The job of the World Peace Corps," explains Raja Ji, WPC Commander-in-Chief and 18-year-old brother of Guru Maharaj Ji, "is to make sure whatever is happenning, happens correctly."

The WPCers at the Millennium made it all happen. They ushered, ran a daycare center, fed and housed the premies (for a moderate fee), directed the stage show and ran the "Divine Sales" booths. WPCers were dispatched from an office in the Astrohall behind the dome to wherever "service to Guru Maharaj Ji" was needed. Generally, women were assigned to the day-care center, the kitchen and to the Astrodome to be ushers. Some men performed these tasks also, but they were vastly outnumbered by the women. No women were involved in the WPC's protective services.

Blissed OutSecurity was handled by what appeared to be an elite within the WPC. This elite force was composed almost entirely of nattily attired British males who were extremely closed-mouthed about what they were doing. Reporters heard more "no comments" from them thsui from the White House in the past five years. The WPC spent the Millennium guarding the Guru, his family, his Rolls-Royce and his money.

What the WPC elite did best was alienating the working press. As mediaoriented as the Divine Light Mission is, it’s members only succeeded in reaffirming all the worst opinions the press held against them. Slick, highly organized and bluntly authoritarian at times, WPCers were not above looking over reporters' shoulders at their notes or quietly pumping them for information. They only wanted to know if their promotion was working (it wasn't), but they were overly obnoxious about it.

WPC press officers were very stingy with their press passes. Green ones were easy to come by, but they didn't offer anything but a free meal and access to the press level of the dome. The all-important yellow photographic gallery passes amd blue backstage passes were issued only to the TV networks. Time. Newsweek. The New York Times, and The Washington Post. Some of the other more resourceful reporters and photographers obtained these passes by various nefarious means. A near state of open warfare existed between the WPC and the people from KPFT, Houston's Pacifica radio station. KPPT covered the Millennium like a blanket. They broadcast the circus live — gavel to gavel — and imported political heavies Paul Krassner and John Sinclair (Krassner would rather be termed a "political softy") and bio-energeticist Jerry Rubin to help them in their coverage. In all, KPFT had over JO reporters and technicians in and around the Astrodome. KPFT's live broadcast may have been the reason the Astrodome was so empty (20,000 people showed up, but Millennium organizers had predicted a crowd of over 80,000^ Houston could hear what was going on and knew better than to join in.

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Prem Rawat Uber Alles

"BOLE SHRI SATGURUDEV MAHARAJ KI JAI!" Guru uber alles at the Astrodome.

The WPC didn't hide their feelings and niether did the press. One reporter dubbed the WPC the "Divine Mafia" and some wondered aloud if the Guru's Divine United Organization is a precursor to ^ul international neo-Nazi party, forcing peace down the throats of the world population. WPC kingpin Raja Ji has said, "what we have to do is sacrifice our lives for Guru Maharaj Ji, and spread his Knowledge because it's so fantastic; spread it to every place possible in the world.

The World Peace Corps wants to make things happen "correctly" all over the world.

BLISS IS IGNORANCE

Banned T-ShirtSo all this controversy swirled through the scene at the Astrodome. Opposing religious philosophies raged in heated debate. Rennie Davis' former comrades soundly rebuked him. The Guru's security squad busted the always serene Hare Krishnas. But where were the premies all this time? What effect did this controversy have on them? The premies were oblivious to the event. They were all "blissed-out" in the dome, hanging onto Guru Maharaj Ji's every word of peace and human kindness, while those words were made a mockery outside.

Millennium '73 was a pseudo-event. Guru Maharaj Ji and his bliss were the perfect diversions. The Guru provided a convenient return to a steel and plexi-glass womb for his youthful followers — an escape from the outside world of intolerance and persecution — traits practiced very effectively by the Guru's more zealous followers.