The making of a mess
Posted by: Neville Ackland2
How the development of Ivorys Rock Conference Centre (IRCC) contributed to the demise of Elan Vital and has resulted in the bizarre world or Rawat's personality cult being exposed by the Australian media.
the mid 1980s maharaji had spoken publicly about his vision
to purchase land and establish what he called an
international learning centre; A place where premies
(followers) from around the world could come to practice
the very beginning (in 1990) when the first piece of land
that was to become IRCC was purchased, senior Elan Vital
administrators knew they were in for a bumpy ride.
Unbeknown to most premies maharaji was impractical,
irrational and very demanding. Keeping him on track
required constant effort. A year or so before he
purchased IRCC, Elan Vital co-ordinator, Jan McGregor had
managed to talk him out of buying land south east of Perth
thousands of miles from anywhere. The logistical
problems associated with such a remote site 100s of ks from
an international airport and thousands of ks from his Fig
Tree Pocket HQ in
engineer contacted me to ask for help about 6 weeks before
the program was due to commence. I was a licensed
builder and heavy machinery operator with experience in
earthmoving, dam building, road construction, agriculture
and reforestation. He told me the
construction crew were exhausted, everyone was working from
dawn till dark and they were weeks behind schedule.
I had a reputation as an outspoken troublemaker and had up
until then been black listed - the fact that they asked for
my help reflected how desperate they were.
evening before the event began we were all exhausted.
When maharaji arrived many of the personality cult social
climbers deserted their posts climbing over one another to
position themselves for the please the master
competition. Premies children became
temporarily parentless, feelings were hurt and reputations
were permanently damaged. People's health and
sanity suffered all in the name of holy name and in service
to the undisputed lord.
sides of the personality cult pyramid are very
slippery. Devotees must always hang on for fear of
falling. In desperate attempts to reach the masters
feet (or sit at his table at the silver service "fine
dining" restaurant) people clambered over each other, often
oblivious to the consequences of their selfish actions. I
could cite countless examples of pyramid climbing and the
misery it caused (and is still causing). Having
surrendered their mind at the masters feet, the hardcore
servants of the lord blindly blundered on having forsaken a
part of their intellect believing it to be an encumbrance
upon the spiritual path. This is true to some degree
of all religions but when it comes to personality cults
surrender of deductive reasoning skills and the right to
criticise is an essential prerequisite to becoming a trusted
member of the organization. I was never trusted
because I couldn't and wouldn't deny my common sense.
gross dysfunctional nature of IRCC grew like a festering
sore in the 12 months leading up to the mutiny. Jan
and Terry (his and her majesty) were seen by
most of the administration staff and department heads as the
source of the problem. Maharaji was beyond criticism so it
seemed obvious to many premies that for things to improve J
and T had to go.
We had all been given a list of questions to respond to. I have the original list in front of me as I write this along with notes I took at the time. The list reads and I quote:
Reflect on the line mentioned and respond to:
(With whom, how often and in what circumstances has it been the most damaging and what are the consequences for me, others (the people I work with, other volunteers and the general community). And Amaroo as a tool, and for him personally?
We were all seated in a circle clutching our questionnaire and looking anxious. Before we began I asked Valerio to give a definition of The line he said it was doing things our way instead of the clients (client was code for maharaji). I replied that everyone had a unique point of view and a right to their opinion. I asked him how we were expected to know what the clients way was when he hardly ever communicated with us and information was withheld by Jan and Terry. Varerio didnt know what to say. I insisted he clarify the line further and he replied the second definition of the line is dont criticise. My reply was short and sweet. How pathetic. Valerio wasnt prepared for this and asked me if I wanted to leave. I ignored his attempt to get rid of me and asked him to quote exactly what maharaji had said to him about criticism. Dont criticise Varerio replied abruptly. I cant remember what shocked me the most, maharajis preposterous demand or the fact that everyone else in the circle caved into it.
The next two hours were, for me, an unexpected gift as each premie tried their best to comply with the will of the master and blame themselves for something they knew little or nothing about. I took a step towards freedom. I sat in blissful silence, my breath coming and going with profound regularity as if I was being breathed. My awareness was sharp like a knife and wave upon wave of adrenaline washed over me as realisation after profound realisation flooded my consciousness. When I began to search for a god to thank I couldnt find him anywhere and in the moment I didnt care, Id found myself again and for the first time my gratitude had no where else to go and it filled me up and overflowed. Tears filled my eyes but no one noticed.
On the way back to my car I swear my feet didnt touch the ground. I found a pen and wrote down the notes I am referring to now, as I write this. Little did I know what lay ahead of me, my journey home had only just begun and the greatest challenge of my life was yet to be faced, but thats another story.
saga of "fine dining" (Dayas restaurant) is just one example
of rawat's mad logic and egocentric megalomania. In
the mid 1990's "the boss" as everyone referred to him back
then, came up with the idea of a silver service restaurant
where he could wine and dine in the company of his
well-heeled privileged followers. It began in a marque
but soon manifested as a permanent extravagant ego
trip. A site was chosen not far from his private
heavily guarded compound well away from the public
areas. I remember the look of dismay on the faces of
the already overworked under funded design and construction
team when he added this bizarre project to the long
list. There were already dozens of uncompleted jobs -
in particular serious drainage problems left
unsolved. The property was littered with
transportable buildings and shipping containers costing
thousands of dollars a month to hire. Accommodation
services and facilities were inadequate and working
conditions substandard, sometimes dangerous. All these
problems and more needed to be addressed with massive
amounts of time and money. Needless to say the lord
would have his way and fine dining, a hotchpotch of
expensive transportable buildings was born. The
volunteer premie staff were constantly overwhelmed, the food
was subsequently substandard and the prices
exorbitant. The boss wined and dined with his "major
contributors" from the VIP camp ground who could afford to
purchase front row seats at the new amphitheatre for $5000 a
pop. Ordinary premies ate take away. For several
years he demanded improvements to the facilities and more
transportables were hired. The place was running at a
huge loss despite the high prices charged for food and
Behind the scenes, especially amongst the female premies, something equally sick and shocking was being played out. The pyramid climbing I mentioned earlier was manifesting itself amongst devotees desperate to maintain and improve their access to the master. The knives were always out - two-faced bitches from hell well practiced in the skills of back stabbing never missed an opportunity to consolidate their position. Whilst premie gopies ate humble pie and slaved under difficult conditions in the bowels of the kitchen, the favourites of the maitre d' and mafia men and women plotted and schemed their way to their masters table oblivious to the feelings of those they trampled upon. The details of their crimes are truly shocking and made even more disgusting in the light of the fact that publicly "love, devotion, surrender and humility" are encouraged as part of the "practise of k". In the mean time the average premie knew very little about these horrid games - the odd rumour perhaps, best left un-investigated.
A condition of the original I.R.C.C. development
approval was that within 3 years Mt Flinders Road, 3 km of
gravel, would be sealed and appropriate drains built.
The three year deadline passed but maharaji had mismanaged the
finances so badly there was no money in the kitty. (He was busy building
Ms notorious engineer from
He promptly left
Whatshisname already had a reputation for being incompetent and passing the buck and so I was careful to show the report to my immediate superiors to gain moral support before presenting it to whatshisname. Upon reading my report he became furious and stormed about the office yelling Why cant I get anyone to do what I ask around here. I got the sack and went home to report yet another crazy story to my family.
Whatshisname tore up my report and tried to get someone else
to do the job I had already done.
About a week later I got a phone call from the poor guy asking
for help. I
explained the story to him.
There was a deathly silence on the other end of the phone. He declined the
opportunity to continue the research.
The construction team covered for whatshisname for fear of
offending maharaji. A
few months later
But the story doesnt quite end there; there is a kind of epitaph Whatshisname was making a mess of a lot of other things and taking a leaf out of his masters book by blaming everyone else! At a rare meeting between maharaji and the construction team whathishames obvious ineptitude was cautiously suggested by a brave premie. Maharaji became angry and said (I quote) Whatshisname is my engineer and that was that! Whatshisname went on to stuff things up for years to come and probably still is.
What started out to be a good idea, a venue to seat an audience of 5,000 and provide Brisbane with a unique entertainment venue soon became an expensive fiasco as a result of maharajis need to play god and his unique brand of stupidity.
The amphitheatre should have been the jewel in the
I.R.C.C crown. It
had the potential to become one of
M had always publicly stressed the need for
Amaroo to become a convention centre in the true
sense of the word; a viable commercial venue that could
double as his international learning Centre
where premies could gather from all over the world. Whether he was ever
serious about this plan is another matter.
Even before the amphitheatre was on the drawing board this
plan was at risk. Maharaji
had commandeered the best available land for his personal
use, a remarkable valley tucked away at the back of the
property. It was a developers
dream with room for both accommodation and entertainment
facilities well away from neighbours easily offended by
large crowds, lights and noise. Without this prime land
at its disposal I.R.C.C. struggled from day one. The compromise was
obvious to the hardworking architects and surveyors and
backed by the construction crew they lobbied maharaji to
purchase land on the opposite side of
In the mean time the amphitheatre project commenced. As was the norm with most large projects he requested its construction only a few months before a major event. Premies went into immediate panic mode, adding it to an already impossible list of major projects in an effort to please the lord. Stage 1 was completed hours before the event commenced. Many expensive mistakes were made in the rush. The site was then left abandoned for many months as the exhausted premies regained their breath (excuse the pun). A couple of months before the next event history repeated itself, once again at great unnecessary expense. A couple of years later there was a major injection of funds, much of what had been previously built at great expense was demolished and maharajis design for a new stage area was implemented.
What was needed was a functional structure that could accommodate musicians, a choir, actors and entertainers with dressing rooms, a back stage area and so on. What maharaji wanted and of course and what he got was a cross between a shrine and an alter upon which he sat in order to be adored. Behind and below this monument to his narcissistic complex, was something that resembled a luxury apartment, a place where he and his family could relax before a performance.
When a bus load of Ipswich City Counsellors were given a guided tour of the amphitheatre soon after its completion, the inadequacy of the stage, its inability to cater to public demands and its bizarre similarity to an alter was not lost on any of them. The premies didnt mind though they were all too exhausted to care and, anyway, the lord acts in strange ways and who were they to question the lord.
Throughout this painful period, over about 4 years, I made myself unpopular by pointing out what I considered was one mistake after another. I was able to get some of the more intelligent premies to acknowledge how crazy things were but I was never able to get them to look more closely at what lay behind the disfunctionality at I.R.C.C. When I suggested the responsibility lay with the boss, that he was well meaning but naive and misguided (at that time I had it half right) I was reported to higher authorities and branded a security risk. I was asked to leave.
I formed the opinion that maharaji had been hijacked and had lost his way and that corruption had overwhelmed the good will of the administration. It never crossed my mind the rot had set in from the top down and that maharajis contempt for his faithful privileged few was being passed on down the line all the way down down down to people like me.
The One more brick in the wall project
In the mid 90s after 5 years of not being able to make up his mind and spending most of the premies donations on yachts and private jets, I.R.C.C. was still a ramshackle collection of temporary buildings and shipping containers costing us all a fortune to rent. When an event was held more buildings were rented. Even the thickest of premies were perplexed by the obvious stupidity of the situation.
At last there was an announcement that construction of permanent buildings would begin. This was my cue as whathisname (the engineer) had asked me (and my family) to move to the area and be in charge of the building of stabilised earth walls. maharaji had already seen my resume and delegates from I.R.C.C. and E.V. had checked out houses I had built including a large convention centre built of rammed earth that was getting lots of publicity and had won an award for environmentally sensitive design. It was clear to me that maharaji could do the same by using natural materials and utilizing designs that harmonised with the environment. I.R.C.C. could become a show place for this kind of technology gaining notoriety and free publicity the environment was the flavour of the day back then. The timing was perfect.
A very good premie friend of mine, (hitherto referred to as thingamabob) and I were asked to research all types of earth wall construction thingamabob was a licensed builder and a very capable guy. We got on well and were very positive about our research as was the whole construction team. We built a sample wall from maharajiy cement stabilised earth blocks and were confident they would be useful throughout the property. My machinery could produce 2000 a day and be operated by premies using soil from the property and saving a lot of money.
We then set about researching and building a wall using a method called tilt up. To cut a very long story short we developed a unique system that premies could use to prefabricate wall sections that were wonderfully attractive, inexpensive and harmonised with the Amaroo environment. We were thrilled. Everyone came to see the sample wall and loved it. The place was a buzz with excitement and expectation and maharaji was due to arrive in a few weeks.
Thingamabob and I were working away one day when the
architect arrived and announced that maharaji had requested
a sample wall be constructed from C.C.A treated pine logs. Now C.C.A. logs had
just been banned from all childrens playgrounds in
Two weeks later guess what? Maharaji arrived and chose the ugly wall. Thingamabob and I werent even there at the time. The costings and specs were never asked for and our opinion was never sought. Maharaji missed out on what we and everyone else recognised were a number of excellent opportunities to make I.R.C.C. something really special and to save a great deal of money. The pine logs were used to clad part of the new meeting hall, another blood sweat and tears project but one that turned out to be relatively successful. They were then passed over in favour of corrugated iron and other unimaginative building materials. But wait, the relevance of this story rests not on which building material was practical or in good taste, but on the fact that everyone knew maharaji was blowing it and no-one dared to approach him and there in lies the disfunctionality of I.R.C.C.
The last bit
My involvement at I.R.C.C. came to an end in 1999. The Valerio meeting catapulted me out of the premie mind set Id been struggling to free myself from for years. The process of forgiving myself was a tear filled journey that contributed to my marriage and health failing. The road to recovery from all these things was paved with bloody reminders of my own stupidity. I had no choice and soldiered on and with much help forgave myself and became a new man.
In the mean time things have gone from bad to worse at I.R.C.C. and for
E. V. internationally. Premies have deserted the sinking ship and donations have plummeted. The best hearts and minds have either drifted away never to be seen again or joined the ranks of the ex-premie movement, and what a movement it is.
Maharaji has been left with the dregs. The hard core left overs. The dregs do not include thousands of premie fringe dwellers, members of the distant doners social club. The dregs are those in the know, closest to maharaji who have backstabbed their way to the top or have turned a blind eye to what goes on. These people have lost their critical thinking skills, their psychological reasoning abilities and their freedom to sceptically scrutinise competing ideas. They have been retarded by their blind acceptance of maharajis me Tarzan you Jane philosophy and their isolation from a world of scientific enquiry and open minded humility before nature. Their capacity to think deeply about meaning and purpose or to experience self awareness as an objective reality has been replaced by the one size fits all universal mindset of the personality cult worshipper.
Maharaji is surrounded by these people. He has no one else to turn to for help. It must be hell. The inmates are running the asylum and I.R.C.C. has become the (not so) funny farm. Despite the fact that I have fun making jokes about it, it is not funny at all for maharaji or his dregs. I.R.C.C. has become their Amaroo, their journeys end. When so much disfunctionality is concentrated in one place for so long no amount of lies and cover ups can stop the truth from becoming obvious. I.R.C.C. has become a media target, a local laughing stock and has been hit hard. It is now an open wound from which Elan Vital is bleeding to death. The demise of this organisation that was once maharajis major money factory cant come soon enough. The sooner the suffering ends and the prisoners are released the better.
I hope youve enjoyed reading this. Ive tried to be as accurate as possible when describing the disfunctionality of I.R. C.C. and maharajis world. But really words are not enough, it was far worse than my description portrays. Stay tuned to www.ex-premie.org for the worst (and best) is yet to come. My next article takes a close look at the psychology of knowledge and should be on-line in 4 or 4 weeks.
Lots of love
PS: Come on Maharaji if what Ive written here isnt true take me to court and prove it. Prove to your premies you are the god you once claimed to be. Save your reputation and rescue your flock of bleating sheep. Strike me down now. They would love you for it or are you afraid of how many ex-premies would testify against you.
Have a go mate!
Modified by Neville Ackland2 at Tue, Jan 20, 2004, 15:09:42