Prem Rawat's (Maharaji) Films and Videos from the mid-1980's on
Prem Pal Singh Rawat, who claims to be a descendant of Indian Royalty, arrived in West as the 13 year old, "Guru Maharaj Ji", the Lord of the Universe, Perfect Master and Satguru whose titles included Balyogeshwar Param Sant Ji Maharaj. From the beginning his organisations have used visual media as a major tool of recruitment for new followers and for the teaching of his devotees. His teachings have never been regularised in print. His main, almost sole, teaching method is the thousands of impromptu speeches he has made since being enthroned as the Perfect Master in 1966. Many of these are available on CD and DVD though printed materials have been very few since the early 1980's. While copies are kept of all his speeches, only later ones are available for purchase. In 1982 in one of the most audacious and naive attempts at controlling his image ever attempted by a NRM leader he ordered his followers to destroy all copies of the printed, audio, video, and film publications about him in the West available up until that time.
He closed the ashrams in which many of his followers lived, terminated the nightly public meetings ("satsangs") they held and then disappeared from public view for many years years while his followers maintained a low-key organisation. No public advertising of public meetings was allowed for nearly two decades. He reinvigorated his organisations in the late 1980's with an increased number of worldwide meetings for his followers calling himself Prem Rawat or 'Maharaji' having dropped the 'Guru' from his self-created title. His close followers gave a revisionist explanation for his earlier persona and actions blaming all controversial aspects of his "Knowledge" on his followers and exonerating him. Since then he has been trying, in a very low key way, to change his public image from boy guru to respected, philanthropist, international teacher of Inner Peace living off his investments. These videos begin during the early years of his second incarnation.
Calcutta 1984, records parts of the Holi festival held in that place in that year. The video contains no English dialogue anf had deteriorted significantly before it was digitised.
It contains footage of the usual apparently chaotic crowd scenes in a festival in India with scenes of a large scale Holi spraying and a quick scene of Maharaji divine dancing, some satsang given in Hindi and lots of discordant singing
Contact, a Visions International (a division of Elan Vital Inc) release, was produced in 1987/8.
It contains footage of a festival in India with Holi, Darshan and divine dancing, sound-bites of premies, some satsang given in Australia and flight footage not just of the jet-of-the-day but his helicopter and his glider as well and the big ballad has scenes of Rawat producing the recording of 'I Need To Feel It' which is the featured big, inspirational ballad.
There is a very definite exposition of Rawat's position in the lineage of Perfect Masters and their role as the unique giver of true experience rather than doctrine and dogma.
Prem Rawat made this speech in February, 1988 to a group that mainly consisted of his followers. Thank God I'd realised Knowledge was a crock of sh*t and stopped listening to Rawat before he decided he was a sophisticated man of the world and fascinating raconteur. He repeats an idea he's used many times, that your life will end up as nothing but a dash on a tombstone i.e. if you don't worship him.
By the time Rawat gave this speech in Wembley England one could get a better perspective on his talents because he had metamorphosed from a dwarfish lump of lard running around ranting, raving, screaming and frothing at the mouth that everyone should surrender to him, worship him and pray to him into a what he obviously believed was a comedic and inspirational raconteur a la Garrison Keillor, Billy Connolly or Robin Williamson and a polymath showing off his enormous and erudite vocabulary as does Stephen Fry. Actually he was shiite.
Windows In Time, an ILC (International Learning Center) production and a Visions International (a division of Elan Vital Inc) release, was premiered at the 'Festival of Knowledge' in Miami, July 1989. It contains historical footage from India and a ridiculously upbeat view of Rawat's early career in the West. In the 1970's the press had been nearly 100% critical and derisive of the 'fat boy guru'.
There is extensive footage of an "interview" with Prem Rawat in the back seat of a car from the late 80's and some of his 'students' providing revisionist spin on his early days in the West and rare footage of his childhood in India. It ends with an inspirational series of clips of his life over 'Teach Me Devotion' with late 1980's lyrics.
Don't miss the super clear explanation of the commitment required to practise Knowledge, at least, that's what I think it's about.
Festival Of Knowledge, an ILC (International Learning Center) production and a Visions International (a division of Elan Vital Inc) release, contains footage of sections of his speeches at a meeting of his followers in Brussels in 1989 and songs and montages of crowd scenes.
Rawat hasn't yet learnt to pronounce 'wisdom' which is certainly appropriate. Even after his Western followers have practised his "Knowledge" for nearly 20 years he has to emphasise hope and trust in him as the living Master and the inability of his followers to know anything on their complicated and uncertain path. He voices his sneering caricature of normal human lives and work that he has picked up from cartoons and sitcoms. He sneers at people working to make others rich without appearing to see the incredible irony of a rich parasite Master whose wealth and opulent lifestyle is totally based upon donations from those very workers.The emotional highlight is another la Chanteuse Inconnue self-reviling ballad in which Rawat's "love" must continually save her (and by extension all of Rawat's devotees) from her imperfections, depressions, lack of trust and, presumably, belief in her inability to meditate.
Evolution, an ILC (International Learning Center) production was produced in 1989. It is part of a series that includes "Windows In Time", "I Have This Knowledge" and "Passages" 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. It contains more extensive footage of his father and his early life in India than the others in this series but is amateurish by comparison with an intrusive, mediocre soundtrack.
The Journey is the Destination, a Visions International (a division of Elan Vital Inc) production, was released in 1994.
It includes Rawat answering the questions:
- Is Knowledge the only Path?
- Should we be Vegetarians?
- How does Spirituality Correlate to Knowledge?
and Rawat reading from Kabir. There are pretty graphics. The audience response during the answer to 'How does Spirituality Correlate to Knowledge?' is interesting.
Like The Rain, a Visions International (a division of Elan Vital Inc) release, was released in 1996.
It contains the 'Blessing of the Master' sermon, Maharaji dancing briefly, a Holi festival where some people are collecting the charanamrit and a
quick glimpse of a darshan line.
"So what is the blessing for a human being. Of course we've talked about life, we've talked about that breath, we've talked about this existence and yes they're all blessings. But there is another wonderful blessing and that blessing is the Master. Master, to me, is that manifestation of the yearning of the heart. If there was no yearning of the heart, believe me, there would be no Master."
In the period 1995 to 1997 Visions International produced a series of 10 short films which were later sold on Video CDs at speeches of Prem Rawat's. While they fit onto one Video CD they were sold as a set of two, presumably to maximise the financial returns. They were not merely recordings of Rawat's speeches, though they included many quotes and his daughter Daya's singing, some historical footage of his career and shots that followers could recognise as darshan lines (ie people lining up and passing before Rawat sitting on a throne and kissing his feet) though this would not be obvious to people who were not Rawat's long time students. They include "Boundless", "He's Here" and "Total embrace"
I Have This Knowledge, a Visions International, 1996 11 minute long video, allows premies to reminisce watching small clips and still photos from the early 70's Divine Light Mission archives. The soundtrack is an upbeat, edited "satsang" of Prem Rawat's talking about his early life in the West, some "interviews" with members of his inner circle and pointed comments about "Indian cultural" artifacts mistakenly taken up by young Westerners of the time that Prem Rawat has "removed" from Elan Vital doctrines.
The World Of Knowledge, a Visions International 1997 17 minute long video is a montage of scenes showing the apparently annus mirabilis of Prem Rawat's success in his 1996 25th Anniversay of coming to the West. The soundtrack is mainly an upbeat, South American song, a torch song by his daughter Daya, the terribly catchy and irritating "You're My Pilot" plus a surprise ending - a reprise of Dance, Dance, Dance the hideous song written by initiator Rich Neel at the height of the super-devotional period in Divine Light Mission in the late 1970's when Prem Rawat then known as Guru Maharaj Ji used to dance half naked dressed as Krishna.
Fulfillment, a Visions International (a division of Elan Vital Inc) short (15 minutes) introductory video, was released in 1998. It combines professional sounding voice-over explanations of Prem Rawat's claims about his life, philosophy and teachings with snippets of Rawat's "satsangs". Though intended to be shown as an introduction to "Maharaji" (Great King) as he calls himself, it still contains those central dogmas of his religion that have remained constant through the decades.
A full transcript of the video is available here
Contentment Within, a Visions International (a division of Elan Vital Inc) release, was released in 2000. It is a VCD of the 42 minute long speech Rawat gave in Denver, Colorado on March 2, 1994. His pronunciation was still a little shaky on the 'w' which he pronounced 'v' and he still said 'wissdom' instead of 'wisdom' and his voice often became shrill and loud. His mature style was already fully developed.
Connect 2000 video magazine, a Visions International (a division of Elan Vital Inc) release, was released in 2000. It is a shamelessly obvious attempt to inspire his "students" to keep arranging the showing of videos of Rawat's speaking in their local area despite the failure of this approach to attract many new followers and the lack of inspiration most of them felt doing these menial and thankless tasks. While purporting to present propagation as successful it actually shows it's near complete failure except in India. It has a small section of a Knowledge Session showing the extraordinary chairs provided for these sessions. There some short scenes of his father and Rawat reveals what a canny operator he was.
Across The Decade, a Visions International (a division of Elan Vital Inc) release, was released in 2000.
It includes short sections from speeches he made throughout the 1990's and presumably they are the crème de la crème of his inspiration and insights during that time, at least according to Rawat and his editors.
Four Days In November, a Visions International (a division of Elan Vital Inc) release, was released in 2000.
It includes footage of his meetings in Delhi, India in late 1999, the last program he appeared in during the 20th century. It's highlight is the first known public
performance of Prem Rawat singing in a duet with his daughter, Daya, of a bhajan and includes some ad-libbing by him and some group singing with the large audience. Unfortunately, there are only
a few testimonies from premies regarding his singing and their explanations of it's effect upon them as they are very interesting.
There is a full transcript of Rawat's (Maharaji) speeches from this video is available here.
Passages - A Masters Journey, a Visions International (a division of Elan Vital Inc) video, was published during 2001 to mark the 30th anniversary of the arrival of Prem Rawat (aka Maharaji) to the West in 1971 and to provide a coherent story for Rawat's followers to counter the criticisms of him being published on the Internet some of them by his former closest associates. It contains a potted history of Maharaji's life, his family, his organizations and his "message". Several prominent followers of Maharaji were interviewed for the video giving their very similar thoughts on these criticised aspects of Rawat and his career.
It was first shown at an Elan Vital program held in Nottingham UK in 2001, then sold for a period of time and broadcast via Satellite. The video is now no longer available for purchase or distribution via Elan Vital or their sister organizations. It contains some early footage of Prem Rawat in the West, some even earlier footage of his father but definitely not of his "Holy Family" in India, interviews with about a dozen of his most trusted followers and some background material with a professional doing the voice-overs explaining the new interpretation of his past and his Knowledge in an attempt to counter accusations against him on the internet. A complete transcript is available here.
Receiving Knowledge, was copied from a broadcast via Satellite.
It contains some footage of Prem Rawat in a Pre-Knowledge session, speaking and answering some questions. It also contains interviews with some people before receiving Knowledge (aspirants), directly after receiving Knowledge and up to a year later.
We have only received two clips from this video for now. In one he gives his definition of 'religion' and in another answers the question:"But can they be happy?"
One Day In September, was a "home movie" DVD.
It contains some footage of Prem Rawat attending a small birthday party at Amaroo for Cath Carrol in 2005. She was one of his most devoted Australian devotees and had often served as a media officer trying to influence reporters and deflect criticism of the "greedy guru" with her charm and Irish brogue. The age invariance of the inner circle of Australian devotees is obvious. The party instructions are given by George Laver who was Rawat's main man in Australia at the time.
INNER JOURNEY: A "Spirited" Conversation About Self Discovery
During 2004 and early 2005 Prem Rawat was "interviewed" by Burt Wolf, an obscure TV presenter based in Seattle. At that time the resultant DVD created by TPRF represents the latest attempt by Prem Rawat to garner as much respectability as possible by trying to associate himself with public figures, albeit minor public figures. One presumes that followers of Prem Rawat were able to convince Burt Wolf to provide his talking head to allow Rawat to present himself as depicted in the interview by paying him a fee over and above his usual earnings. The questions appear to have been written by followers of Prem Rawat.
On The Road With Maharaji, an Elan Vital Inc release, was released around 2005 as one of a series of thank you gifts to regular contributors who gave "Generous and consistent support.
It includes scenes of him donating money to charity, being publicly lauded by his devoted followers in 'expressions' and he does not correct the lady who talks about him being invited to talk at respected universities as if the University Authorities themselves had invited him. He introduces the Keys in this video.
This is a group of 5 short videos downloaded from Youtube.
- 2008 In Review Highlights of Maharaji's travels and speeches in 2008
- Freedom Bird Maharaji recites one of his poems
- Maharaji Remembers Shri Hans Ji Maharaji a short Words Of Peace Global video posted on Youtube, in which Maharaji reminisces about his father
- Maharaji Speaks at Kolkata University Maharaji answers questions from students at Kolkata (Calcutta)
- Settlement A short speech in Hindi interspersed with a bhajan
One Day In September This is something of a "home movie" filmed at Amaroo in 2010. It is far less professional than most of the media taken of Rawat and almost shows him as he really is. He attends a birthday party for one of his dedicated Australian volunteers. He does not appear confident and stands off from the small crowd of his devotees with his arms folded, leaning away from the crowd and looks uncomfortable. His interactions with Ms Carroll and honcho George Laver seem stilted and forced. I can't remember who gave me a copy but presumably it was one of the attendees who didn;t like what he or she saw that afternoon.
Peacemakers: Jeremy Gilley in Conversation with Prem Rawat, is a Words Of Peace Global (WOPG) video and was released in 2013 as part of - the most successful part of - Rawat's ongoing campaign to gain a public reputation as a respected longtime campaigner for world peace and not as a failed godboy messiah and wealthy, minor cult leader. Gilley appears to be overawed by Rawat, fawning and grateful to be in the "great man's" presence though his intellectual background is evident as he repeats the breathless claim that Rawat is a "Jedi knight." This is Rawat's first public conversation with someone who has talked to world leaders and Hollywood stars. He is now one degree of separation from respectability though of course he is no degree of separation from his elder brother, the Indian politican and Godman Satpal Maharaj, but as Rawat has been disowned by his family that doesn't really count.
The Greedy Guru: TV Investigation Now the jet-setting Indian guru who has followers lining up to kiss his feet [background graphic of Prem Rawat's face, in front of indistinct image of followers kissing unidentified man's feet. A graphic reading SECRET GURU followed by SECRET SECT is shown]. And disciples want to expand their operation in Australia.
World Renowned Teacher of Inner Peace
Teacher Of Devotion
Bhole Shri Satguru Dev Maharaji Ki Jai
These video clips have been obtained from miscellaneous sources.