Prem Rawat in the Late 1970s: Evolution video - Part 3
This video, titled 'Evolution', © ILC (International Learning Center) production, was released in 1989. It is part of a series that includes Birthday Gift - 1988", "Windows In Time - 1989", "I Have This Knowledge - 1996", "Remembrance - 1996", Storyteller - 1997" and "Passages - 2001" that attempt to show an extremely upbeat version of Rawat's early career in the West and a coherent evolution of his career and teachings while allowing his devotees watching it to briefly relive their youth during the exciting, overtly divine and devotional, optimistic and successful public phase of his career. It is certainly not an accurate picture of the history of Rawat's life and career but it is an accurate picture of how he wanted that presented in 1989 within the constraints of available archival film.
??? minutes through the video we have come to a pivotal moment in Rawat's early career when he brought Divine Light Mission back from the brink of collapse in December 1976 in Atlantic City? The DLM administrators had attempted to refocus DLM as a worthy social organisation dedicated to understanding with a membershi0p of mature and sensible young people who meditated under the guidance of the young guru and this had emptied the ashrams, destroyed the financial base and then Rawat brought 5,000 premies back under the spell of screaming, weeping devotion to the shock of a few journalists and a researcher who were writing stories about how sensible and mature the DLM members were.
So began 3 years of constant travel and turmoil as premies sought to attend the series of devotional festivals Rawat was having across the world and immersing themselves in a fever of super-devotional worship.
"This love that we all have, that we all experience, that we all share, of course there is a distinction, there is one love is true love but maybe it's projected through the wrong lens, maybe the projector is right but the film is dirty and so you really cannot blame it on the projector. Maybe you are sincere but there are some loves which are just extension of mind but then there is the true love which is unselfish, which is pure, which is constant and that is the love that we wanna talk about that we wanna, we wanna share cause all other loves fail. They're there and then they go away, they're there and then they go away but this one love is not like that, it isn't like it is there and then it goes away, it is always there, it is always constant because it is true love." - Atlantic City, 1976
Rawat is referring to the love between himself, the Perfect Master, and his devotees which is only an imaginary love as they have no real interaction with him. As the great majority of his followers have left him that this love is even more unconstant than normal human love and will be until the divorce rate goes over 90%. This program was an important event for Rawat. By allowing his managers to attempt to remove his central importance to the Knowledge and close the ashrams his cash flow had plummetted. In Atlantic City, he began the "super devotional period" which lasted for at least another 5 years until he, finally, closed the ashrams and renamed Divine Light Mission to Élan Vital.
In 1978 Rawat was given a surprise birthday party at his mansion (his homes are known amongst his followers as "The Residence") in Malibu which was later replaced by a much larger building. The small Indian man with the glasses just behind him in front of the crowd and shoulder to shoulder with Rawat's wife is Mahatma Jagdeo. Jagdeo was a paedophile who took advantage of his "inner circle" closeness to Rawat and his supposed spiritual attainments to sexually abuse children of Rawat's followers. When this began to be made public he was sent back to India to avoid prosecution. See Prem Rawat AKA Maharaji or The Jagdeo Issue. Rawat appears overcome when he finds his present, anothersuperhot sports car for his collection. Rawat's film-maker followers had a strange obsession with filming him so that light appeared to be emanating from his head.
The following are brief scenes of his most successful period from 1977 to around 1982. Crowds of as many as 20,000 followers gathered to hear him berate them for not surrending to him. This success has never been regained since he attempted to change his public image, closed the ashrams and forbade the nightly, public "satsang" meetings where his followers spoke in the early 1980's.
What do you think? (giggles) Tell him that, what do you think?
That the vibration that I always feel …
The vibration that you always feel is what? (laughter)
Is, is your vibration?
My vibration (vibrates hand, laughter). Ah, look, Knowledge is the experience that's keeping you alive, hai, (laughter) and me, I am helping you to have the experience of the thing that's keeping you alive.
In 1975 Prem Rawat Was Chased Out of India, Frightened For His Life
Prem Rawat has never regained his father's Indian assets or devotees but with his few loyal Indians, led by Sampurnanand, and his Western devotees' money he was able to return in 1986 in some style and build up an Indian presence.
"My friends I must share this with you, I travel a lot, I go to a lot of places, I do a lot of things, but there is nothing like Knowledge, nothing, abso-lute-ly nothing. Anywhere from coast to coast, from any corner of the world to any corner of the world you wanna pick on. This Knowle"
In March 1986 Rawat held a "gala ball" at the Grand Hyatt in midtown Manhattan for his followers most of whom had led ascetic lives (by modern Western standards) up until a few years earlier. Those living in his ashrams had lived under severe constraints, ordered by Rawat himself, including mandatory vegetarianism and prohibition on alcohol, drugs, sex and even coca-cola. Rawat did not actually attend the "gala ball" but appeared for perhaps a half hour or so towards the end as desserts were being served, and sat at the head of the elevated head tables apart from his followers. He also held similar formal dinners in Miami, London and Frankfurt where the admission price was 500 German Marks but it did not become a regular event. I have known followers of Prem Rawat intimately for 35 years and I can say absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt that followers of Prem Rawat do not experience anything extraordinary whatsoever. They lead the banal, ordinary lives of any members of a minor religious cult despite their belief and faith in Prem Rawat and his so-called Knowledge.
"I think because the whole process is learning that when you, it's like almost climbing a set of uh stairs and you know that once you have left that step, if you go back to it you really not going anywhere. So you're always leaving the steps even though every step is very, very important in the process of climbing the ladder but you have to leave the steps behind and you climb from one to the other and I think that's what growth is and that's what evolving is that we learn, we learn so many things about our own selves, about what Knowledge is that it's not limited process."
"And so why not? Why not grow, when there is a necessity for growth and it always will be and from the time I was a, a little boy I would, I would see this, I would see how these changes would come about but they were not changes, at that moment, they were scary, they were different but when they came and you could look back at 'em, specially, you realized that it's just evolving, that it had to happen, and that it's beautiful and you find yourself in a much more beautiful place than you could have contemplated how it could be. So, for me, it always boils down to this conclusion and that, it's ah uh, to be able to evolve is a gift."
A brief recap montage of the movie.
Prem Rawat used his children as props on-stage when they were younger
On my left I have three very special guests. First one over there starting with Miss Premlata Rawat and uh the gentleman in the centre is Hansi Pal Singh Rawat and the lady at the end here is Dayalata Rawat.
Rawat is no doubt a loving parent, there are billions of us after all. He has used this image in many of the publications and videos published by his followers. Should this provide him with any legitimacy in his assumed role of Master of Inner Peace? Certainly not. In the same way, loving your children should provide no credibility to criticisms of Rawat. The truth is all that should matter. He is poseur and a charlatan.
"So I just, you know, for me I just see a beautiful direction, beautiful direction. More people are, are receiving this experience than they ever have, ever! And enjoying it and that's it, that's what I want. I want people to enjoy this and uh to bring that enjoyment in peoples' lives, to bring that beauty in peoples' lives so they can witness it, that's why I do what I do. No other reasons and it's a beautiful reasons. Cause it makes me very happy, very happy."
It's difficult to know if Rawat is just outright lying here or if he really believes that in 1989 "more people are, are receiving this experience than they ever have". By 1989 his organisation in India, Raj Vidya Kender, may have been rebuilt to the point where many Indians were being initiated but numbers could not compare with the millions of followers he claimed in the early 1970's. Maybe he's including the much larger number of Indians being initiated by his eldest brother, Satpal Maharaj, and his large Indian organisation, Manav Dharam. It is Satpal (aka Bal Bhagwan Ji in the 1970s) who inherited his father's assets when Prem was deposed and disinherited by his mother
In June 1972, Prem said "Five million people have received it". In 1973 he said "six million people. That's the last counting." In November, 1973 he said "it is given to eight million people" and after he had lost the majority of his followers, when his mother deposed him, in November 1975 he said "There are over a million people who have received this peace. " In just 18 months, between June 1972 and November 1973, he claimed to have 3 million new followers initiated into his Knowledge.
"If I can look back, for me, if I can look back and say, yeah, it's been very beautiful, the I can also turn my head and look toward the future and know, it's just going to be very beautiful. I can't help it, I can't help it. Life is beautiful and life is going along and I'm understanding it, I am feeling one with it and that's a beautiful, beautiful process. And there is this most incredible evolution happening in my life and I need to know that. Everyone needs to know that, everyone. And feel a joy, a joy in that growth and I'm gonna grow."