Back in the mid '70s, Maharaji played a simple
game to describe himself - the rules were understood but
never mentioned: "You say I'm God... I don't say I'm God...
But there again, I don't say I'm not God..." There's a clue
to the official line on the back cover of his authorized
biography 'Who is Guru Maharaj Ji?':
"Why do more than six million people around the world
claim he is the greatest incarnation of God that ever trod
the face of this planet? Why do Christian priests claim that
he has taught them the way to love? Why do Hindus refer to
him as the Swan Avatar? Why does revolutionary Rennie Davis
claim that Guru Maharaj Ji is "already the brightest event
in the history of the planet?" Why have more than 280
centers of Guru Maharaj Ji's Divine Light Mission sprung up
in America in the last two years - all devoted to furthering
his promise: "I will establish peace in the
Guru Maharaj Ji has since dropped the prefix Guru and
simplified his name to Maharaji but many of his followers
still believe he is God come to lead us to the Promised
many followers does he have?
The number has fallen dramatically since the
highpoint of Divine Light Mission during the mid '70s. The
six million figure quoted above is very dubious - the total
number was probably nearer a few hundred thousand - the vast
majority of these being in India. The organisation came to a
virtual standstill in the late '70s when M lost a court case
in India against his mother and elder brother for control of
DLM. The Ashrams were closed and it wasn't until 1984 that M
restarted his mission under the new name of Elan Vital. The
organisation today is shrouded in mystery and there's no
real way of establishing an accurate figure, but his
decision to stop anyone other than himself imparting the
four meditation techniques, together with a minimum six
month waiting period, must have reduced the number
do people follow him?
Maharaji is a very
charismatic and effective speaker. He was brought up since
the age of six to think he was something very special and
although he probably no longer believes it himself, he is
astute enough to play the guru game for all it's worth - and
it's worth a great deal of money. He combines a simple
message - that meditation will lead to spiritual salvation -
with enough new-age doubletalk to mask the obvious
contradictions. The meditation techniques are packaged in
such a way that they are given a mystical power and people
are always attracted to the idea that they are the Chosen
Few who will be saved when the world falls into apocalyptic
he charge money?
Maharaji says he doesn't
charge for showing people the meditation techniques, but
there is a fairly obvious undercurrent that donations are
needed to spread the message and save the planet. Many of
the people who followed him with any conviction ended up
giving him all their savings and possessions.
Maharaji preaches a message
of peace, love and understanding; so where's the harm? The
best people to ask would be the relatives of those who
follow him - the husbands, wives, children and parents.
We've had a number of heart-felt cries for help from people
who feel their loved ones have lost touch with reality. Many
marriages have been destroyed when one partner decided to
follow Maharaji. The greatest danger in believing M's
message is that the follower gets sucked into an
organization with a hidden agenda. Despite what anyone says,
M is in it for one thing, and one thing only... the money.
He has no interest in his followers beyond the amount of
donations he can extract from them. He has a ridiculously
expensive lifestyle and it needs a lot of money to keep him
and his family in the style to which they have become
Maharaji's potential for harm is enormous. He leads his
followers to believe he is 'Divine' - just like the Rev
Jones and many other cult leaders have done before him.
Until Maharaji comes down from his ivory tower and says that
he's just an average guy making a living selling meditation
techniques, then he is a disaster waiting to happen.
does he live?
He lives in Malibu,
California. Scott Perry has been there: "I would easily
estimate it's worth at least $2,000,000 to $3,000,000. It is
a palatial, gated estate sitting atop a mountain with a
spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean far below." We've also
had a report from a local realtor who says the mansion has
recently been rebuilt and expanded, and now includes such
essentials as heated marble floors, electric windows and a
$2,000,000 music studio. His estimate is that it's worth a
minimum of $15,000,000.
Once Maharaji's closest
confidant, Bob Mishler said in his radio interview
that Maharaji was a very wealthy man. He's certainly owned a
collection of very expensive motor cars, including Rolls
Royces, Maseratis and Ferraris plus a plane (currently a
Gulf Stream 4 Jet worth some $25,000,000) and a yacht which
is said to be valued at around $7,000,000. (More details on
wealth and Who
Owns What Around Maharaji
did Maharaji become a guru?
His father started the line
and seems to have declared eight-year-old Maharaji his
successor shortly before his death in 1966. (Click
here to read the
details). But Bob Mishler tells a
fascinating story in his radio interview of the
circumstances surrounding Maharaji's election. Apparently
Maharaji's mother demanded that she should succeed but when
told that his Indian followers would not accept a woman guru
she pushed forward her eldest son. But by the time she had
got their agreement, Maharaji (the youngest son) had already
happened to the rest of his 'holy' family?
At one time, they were
known as the holy family. His mother was known as Mata Ji
and the three elder brothers were supposed to represent the
divine Hindu triumvirate: Bal Bhagwan Ji, the eldest, was
supposed to be the 'creator' (he was also said to be the
reincarnation of Jesus). Raja Ji was said to be the
'sustainer' (he created his own little police force known as
the World Peace Corps, complete with guns and sharp suits).
And Bhole Ji - the second youngest - was said to be the
Mata ji died a few years ago from
Bal Bagwan Ji set himself up as the perfect master
with the help of his mother but his guru business never
really succeeded, and he went into Indian politics. He
became a high-level administrator in a recent government and
there were some reports that he may even have been Transport
Raja ji was (and still is), an instructor and
ambassador for M. He married Claudia in 73 and they have a
daughter (although there are rumours that they are now
separated and that Claudia is suing M). Raja Ji was always a
sharp businessman and into making money. It's been said that
he used his position as M's brother to receive shares in
good premie businesses.
Bhole ji, who at one time ran quite a funky orchestra
for M known as Blue Aquarius, was last heard of driving a
taxi in New York, and he may now have his own taxi
During the early 80s, M's wife Marolyn dropped her
'Durga Ji' title, stepped down from her throne and
stopped speaking at programs.
Maharaji's stepmother (his father's first wife) had a
residence in the Indian ashram. She died a couple of years
ago and M. attended her funeral.
Changes in a
Many ex-premies may not
realise just how how far Maharaji has travelled since the
Divine Light Mission of the early '70s. The most obvious
change has been to the organisation's name - it's been known
as Elan Vital for some time. (For a more detailed account of
the changes, see DLM/EV
History - After 1983) The Mahatmas
who used to give Knowledge became 'Initiators', and are now
called 'Instructors'. Only Maharaji is now allowed to give
'Knowledge'. (Click here
to read the details).
The Guru Papers;
Marks of Authoritarian Power, by Joel Kramer & Diana
Alstad. Published by North Atlantic Books. ISBN
Radhasoami Reality; The Logic of a Modern Faith, by
Mark Juergensmeyer. Published by Princeton. ISBN
Freud : Civilization and Discontents. This
essay was written in answer to a question from one of his
friends, Romain Rolland, who was a well-known disciple of
Ramakrishna. He wrote "Ramakrishna's teaching" and also a
book about his successor Vivekananda. Ramakrishna was also
part of Radhasoami tradition. His question to Freud was
related to the beautiful and blissful feeling you can
discover through meditation. This is an 100 pages answer to
people who are interested in psychology.
Sudhir Kakar : Shamans, Mystics and Doctors (Alfred
A. Knopf, Inc., New York). S. Kakar is an Indian
psychoanalyst, practicing in Bombay. He studied in the US.
He analyses several Indian mystic groups, including the
branch of Radha Soami led by Charan Singh. This is very well
documented study, and is interesting as it is analyzed by an
Indian western minded psychoanalyst.