GLOSSARY OF DIVINE LIGHT MISSION (ELAN VITAL) TERMS
Like many religious cults, Divine Light Mission has an ever-changing dictionary of names, words and phrases largely exclusive to the movement, which can make it tricky for non-members to keep up with what is going on. Here is a quick guide glossary to some of the terms and expressions used by the cult, - some are still in use, but many are not. Maharaji has jettisoned most of the overtly religious expressions and Hindu phrases used in the early years of his ministry.
I have added references to key concepts, players, and controversial events in Maharaji’s fascinating, if disturbing history too.
AGYA – A direct order from Maharaji himself, as opposed to anything coming from other members of his team of co-ordinators and administrators without his knowledge, or from which he can distance himself. .
AMAROO Highly controversial Prem Rawat Queensland, Australia real estate property development project.. The Ivory’s Rock Conference Centre, known to Premies as Amaroo, is a large hi-tech luxury conference facility purchased through complex undisclosed loan arrangements by Elan Vital organizations around the world in 1991. Though raised as a conferencing facility, the heart of the complex is a luxury residential property for Maharaji and his immediate associates.
There is a large meeting and concert hall where Maharaji gives speeches to invited guests. However, Premies visiting for conferences, when Maharaji makes relatively rare visits, mostly end up in external camp site facilities around Amaroo. Many of the amenities can only be entered with electronic swipe cards by privileged members. Security around Maharaji during his visits is extremely rigid.
Ownership of a private exclusive estate by a religious cult that turns its land into a security obsessed compound have made many compare Amaroo to Jonestown, Guyana, where Jim Jones led followers to mass suicide in 1978. The brochures for Amaroo make it look like a luxury Disneyland (or Premieland) for Maharaji’s followers, though many are likely to find the stay less than luxurious unless they pay through the nose. Andrea Cagan’s biography of Maharaji describes Amaroo as an idyllic exotic wildlife sanctuary full of eucalyptus trees and soaring eagles.
Amaroo has proved to be a major headache for Maharaji in the late 2oth and early 21st centuries. Many questions have been raised about just what the facilities are intended for and the extent of Maharaji’s personal financial investment interests in it. Monies for it were cycled through a number of offshore tax havens, including Jersey in the British Channel Isles. The amount of the facilities given to luxury apartment facilities for Maharaji, making the land a holiday home for his himself has caused much concern. Many of the Prem Rawat Foundation team that served as trustees to the facility resigned in concern that handling its finances could land them in court due to tax Inspectorate interest in Amaroo.
Amaroo saw further controversy with a strong mutiny when many of the Australian Premies co-ordinating the facilities began to work in a democratic way, and not by following Maharaji’s autocratic agyas. Maharaji sent a team in to quash the rebellion, which was achieved by making the individual rebels sit a series of introspective question and answer papers evaluating their lives and levels of commitment to Maharaji.
The crisis at Amaroo came to the attention of the Australian media, and in particular an award winning reporter called John MacGregor, who began to conduct an extensive, and groundbreaking investigation. It was not ground breaking in what he uncovered, but in the extent to which the Australian Premies fought back. From the Mid-1970’s to this time, Premies had fled from their critics. The Australians bared tooth and claw.
MacGregor, himself a former Premie, received information from a computer engineer about files showing financial irregularities at Amaroo. The engineer had been fixing broken computers at the centre and had seen information that troubled him. MacGregor allowed the engineer to copy files and send them to him. MacGregor began to write articles based on the material he found and posted some of the primary source material onto ex-Premie websites to gain opinions from their members too. This alerted the Amaroo Premies to what was going on. They quickly sought a court 'search-and-seize order', known as an Anton Pillar order. (http://www.ex-premie.org/pages/theaustralian031104.htm)
The complicated legal case that followed was not an investigation into the finances at Amaroo, but focused on MacGregor's rights to use the information he had received from such sources. The cultists argued that the material he had on them on his files had been illegally acquired, and that their lawyers had a right to gain access to his hard drive, and erase the material from it.
MacGregor argued that only by releasing the information he had into the public domain could he justify whether his action was acceptable or not. While the courts sympathized that his action was not in moral 'bad faith', they upheld the cults right to access and destroy MacGregor's materials relating them.
MacGregor had gained some information from a former Premie, Tom Gubler, who had left the movement in the early 1980's. Gubler later signed affidavits that amounted to being a confession to being a member of a small 'hate-cult' dedicated to discrediting Maharaji and all his work. The courts challenged the affidavits as having been signed under duress from the cult.
MacGregor valiantly refused to allow such an inspection, probably to protect confidential sources from exposure to possible reprisals by the cult). Many felt that the case itself meant that the materials at his disposal had now to be released in the public interest. The case became a a major landmark event in the history of the Freedom Of The Press. The stance Macgregor took eventually got him fined for contempt of court which was treated as a major victory by the Amaroo defense team. It sent shock waves through the media, and many reporters have been apprehensive about writing about Maharaji or any other cult leader since.
The Amaroo case led the cult to a vitriolic and ongoing attack on MacGregor as a leading activist of some kind of ‘hate cult’. Tom Gubler was also implicated in the ‘hate-cult’ and the Australian Premies have bleated the accusation ‘hate-cult’ in response to all criticism received ever since. Their accusations are repeated verbatim (without acknowledgement of them as a source) in Andrea Cagan’s book, Peace is Possible. Links to the Amaroo controversies can be seen at
ARTI - Epic hymn of many verses sung to honour Maharaji, often in his direct presence at festivals and programmes. The song was translated from Hindi by Gurucharanand, and exists in several versions. It was once often sung at the beginning and end of Satsang sessions. Aspirants in the early 1980’s were expected to memorize it and use the length of time it takes to sing the song three or four times over as preparation for the time they would meditate once they received the Knowledge. The singing of Arti was largely abandoned once the cult began to to suppress public reference to its Hindu roots and more overtly religious trappings.
Arti lyrics included
"Creator, Preserver, Destroyer
Bow their heads and pray to You
All bow and pray to You
Scriptures sing Your glory
Heavenly hosts sing Your praises
Your virtues are ever true
Jai Dev, Jai Satgurudev
You are my mother and you are my father
you are my brother and you are my friend
you are riches, you are wisdom
You are my all, my lord to me.
You are riches, You are wisdom
You are my all, my Lord to me.
Maharaji added verses he himself had penned to some versions of the tedious song too, including;
Meditation begins in the form of our Master,
Adoration begins at the feet of our Lord,
Concentration begins in the words of our Master,
Liberation begins in the grace of our Lord.
Our Lord is the maker of all things created
He keeps them and brings them
all home to His Word
Our Lord is The superior power in person
I bow down before such a wonderful Lord.
Talk about blowing your own trumpet.
ARTI-TRAY – A candle holding tray with the Deepak (flame) surrounded by rose petals. The tray would be placed in front of a shrine –portrait of Maharaji for the duration of satsangs, and at the close of the evening, as Arti was sung, the tray would be passed round and each Premie and aspirant would touch the flame to feel its warmth. The Initiator or mahatma would be the last to touch the sacred flame. Being assigned the duty of passing the Arti-Tray was considered a great privilege for many Premies.
ASHRAM – A house designated as the spiritual headquarters of the movement in any given town or city. Ashrams were usually owned by the cult who controlled the lease and in a few cases, the mortgage. A few unofficial Premie houses were confused with the official Ashrams. A Premie living in an ashram faced a much more strict regime than Premies who lived outside of the property. Ashram Premies had to be up early to meditate and look after the house, which operated as if Maharaji himself popped in unexpectedly at any minute. The house was as much a temple as a residence, and the Ashrams had visitors throughout the day. Many non-Ashram Premies would go to the house to do Service by cleaning and helping prepare food. In the evenings, the Ashrams were centres for Satsang gatherings, and most people would receive the Knowledge at ashrams, where the Initiators often resided too.
Ashram Premies were expected to maintain a high income, and so they had to work as well as serve in Ashram duties and commit themselves to extra meditation. Problems arose when Co-ordinators, and occasionally Maharaji himself decided to move Premies from one ashram to another with virtually no advance notice. A Premie residing for years in a London ashram could suddenly be sent to Glasgow overnight, and have to find new work quickly to be able to maintain the lifestyle.
ASHRAM CLOSURES c. 1983 In the transition from Divine light Mission to Elan Vital, Maharaji jettisoned most of the Hindu trappings associated with his movement, and the Ashrams were closed down and sold off (profitably) at very short notice. Many long serving Premies had known most of their adult lives in the ashrams and suddenly found themselves evicted with little provision or consideration for their futures. The shock wave caused by the sudden end of the Ashram activities, (for many the very heart of Premie life) caused many to leave Divine Light Mission entirely. My own departure, 9though I was not an ashram Premie) was rooted in the consequences of these closures.
ASPIRANTS – New recruits to Divine Light Mission, who have not yet received the Knowledge meditation techniques. The period for which someone might remain an Aspirant can run from a few hours to several years. While Knowledge is promised to all who ask, and easy to actually give, asking often results in Aspirants being told they are not yet ready for it and kept waiting until they are willing to follow Maharaji rather than just taking the Knowledge and leaving.
AVATARS – In Hinduism any living incarnation of God in sentient (usually) human form is called an avatar. Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, etc, were all, by Hindu teachings avatars. Prophets, or messengers who taught people about gods without being an incarnation of him, such as the Prophet Mohammed, are not regarded as avatars as they did not claim direct descent from divine parentage. In Divine Light Mission’s early mythos variation on Hinduism, there is only ever one living incarnation of God at any given time, and each time the living avatar departs this world, or dies, he is reincarnated into the body of his successor. Maharaji in the early days, openly beseeched his devotees to believe that his father, Shri Hans was an Avatar, and that upon his death, his divine power moved into Maharaji, making him the newest incarnation of the Godhead.
BERAGON - A Meditation aid in the form of a wooden T cross which was used simply as an arm support. Practicing the 1st and 2cd techniques of meditation, Light and Music can be tiring on the elbows and arms for many. Beragons were created to offer some comfort, and as an extra source of income in the cult. Some Beragons are simply two pieces of wood that slot together. Others are metal, or plastic, cushioned, and with extending telescopic legs and supports. The Beragons proved popular, but many Premies happily mediate without them, feeling that their use prevents the mediation being an entirely natural practice. Maharaji himself proved surprisingly dismissive of Beragons, joking at one mod 1980’s programme that he lets his children use them as toy helicopters. Maharaji is believed to have issued an Agya calling for beragons not to be produced any more for Premies. They were mass-produced in Sheffield, England by Premies, among other places and are still available in some quarters. Other meditation sects use similar devises too.
BHAGWAN JI, BAL - Maharaji’s oldest brother, and the man who many of Shri Hans’s followers had expected to be the next avatar after Shri Hans Maharaj Ji. Though he initially accepted his role as a leading servant to his younger brother, BAL Bhagwan eventually denounced Maharaji as a charlatan, and himself as the real reincarnation of their father. He still has a following in India, but he has made virtually no impact in the West where Maharaji maintained control of his followers more successfully.
BHOLE JI - Brother to Maharaji who defected to give support to Mata Ji when the family feuding erupted into irrecoverable separation.
BHOLE SHRI SATGURU DEV MAHARAJ KI JAI – Hindi greeting for Maharaji literally translated as ‘All praise to the Living Perfect Master’. That he cheerfully used to receive such a greeting from the Satsang stages at his festivals leaves little doubt that he was willing to allow people to regard him as a deity incarnate.
BLISS aka BLISSED OUT – a high state of extreme happiness caused by intense meditation and having witnessed Maharaji. Being Blissed out was akin to being drunk or drug intoxicated, and left followers of Maharaji in states of hysterical delirium. For many it was regarded, as the perfect state of being it was possible to attain by practicing the Knowledge. True total states of bliss were a rare experience for even the most disciplined of Premies, and far from easy to achieve.
BONGO - Going Loco – A Bongo Premie is one who has gone mad, or behaves in an irrational, deranged way, which makes other Premies uncomfortable. Bongo was a state that could be induced by Meditation, either temporarily or permanently. A Bongo Premie will always be ostracized from other Premies and can even be thrown out of the Movement entirely.
As second definition of Bongo which may or may not have been local to Manchester, England, was that of a Premie who took Marijuana and other drugs as an aid to meditation and watching Maharaji, either live or on video. Such activity, though officially frowned upon, was widely practiced.
BONGO LISTS - Security around Maharaji was always tight so Premies and some aspirants who were suspected as being likely to embarrass him by asking awkward questions or in some way disrupting his Satsangs were listed on secret Bongo-files which were used to keep them from attending some satsangs or keeping them close to rear exits under close observation, often without them suspecting they were being watched.
CAGAN, ANDREA – Maharaji’s 2007 biographer, author of Peace Is Possible, which fails spectacularly to address many controversies and allegations relating to the cult or its leader. My review of the book is online at http://book.review-andrea.cagan-peace.is.possible.htm
CHARANAMRIT – Holy water, Maharaji style. Water in which Maharaji has washed his feet or is believed to have bathed in sold and presented to Premies in the 1970’s and 1980’s often upon receiving the Knowledge. It was believed that even a tiny drop, if mixed with tap water, retained its strength forever. Mine went down the sink years ago.
CHARANAND, GURU, later just CHARANAND – Maharaji’s closest and longest serving supporter from the beginning. He is the true brain behind the early success of Divine Light Mission. Charanand was a supporter of Shri Hans Maharaj Ji, who supported Maharaj Ji in the early years of his ministry. Charanand flew to the UK ahead of Maharaji in 1971 to establish a core following for Maharaji’s arrival. He is a musician and the man responsible for translating / composing Arti. Many old Premies believe Charanand is himself a splinter incarnation of Maharaji who came in the form of the perfect devotee – the level of Narcissism behind such logic is mind-boggling. Charanand remained loyal to Maharaj Ji when the Holy Family feud erupted and helped relaunch the severely depleted membership of the Mission virtually from scratch in the UK in the early 1980’s. Charanand was the first speaker I ever saw giving Satsang in 1981.
CO-ORDINATORS –Important figures in the Divine Light Mission / Elan Vital command structure. Co-ordinators are the ones given control of tasks ranging from organizing Satsangs, making sure everyone does Service, and recruitment, discipline, etc. A co-ordinator may have a small-localized task or a role in preparing everyone for a Major tour by Maharaji. Maharaji does not personally deal with the day to day activities of his followers – that task is delegated to co-ordinators, often through a hierarchical complex chain of command. Maharaji will often leave co-ordinators some degree of autonomy as long as they are getting results. For most Premies, any criticism, or hostility comes from co-ordinators rather than from Maharaji. Many Premies find the rigid co-ordination system oppressive and some complain to Maharaji in writing to let him know of this, but he never takes any notice. Co-ordinators failing to get results will soon be stripped of office or moved to another Premie community at short notice. Since the Ashram closures the role of co-ordinators has seriously weakened as Premies now seldom meet or operate as a communal body.
Many co-ordinators were criticized for conveniently not practicing regular hours of meditation due to their duties, and a need to keep their wits about themselves at all times.
DARSHAN – Hindi word meaning to be ‘In the presence of the Master’, which means all times when a Premie sees Maharaji live are technically and literally speaking, Darshans, but in Divine Light Mission, Darshan invariably refers to the kissing of Maharaji’s feet, for which followers queue up patiently for hours at programmes and festivals where Maharaji is present. Officially the practice of Darshan has been discontinued with the excuse of its Hindi roots and too great a number of followers, (despite membership being in severe decline in the cult) but in reality, Maharaji does still allow Premies to kiss his feet at certain events.
DARSHAN DREAMS – Name given to any dreams in which Maharaji appears to his followers as they sleep. Such events are seen as visions, and messages from Maharaji himself. Some Premies would happily relate their Darshan Dreams as Satsangs.
DAYA LATA - One of Maharaji’s two daughters.
DEEPAK – Name given to the flame on the vegetable ghee candles on an Arti tray. Maharaji once offered names to Premie new born children, and Deepak was a commonly issued boy’s name. It is a fairly common name in India.
DETTMERS, MICHAEL – One of Maharaji’s most outspoken ex-followers, and once very closely involved with the leader of the organization. Details of the Indian hit and run tragedy rest largely on his eyewitness testimony. http://www.ex-premie.org/best/bof12252000224417.htm
DIVINE GRACE - Maharaji often talked in the third person of the divine grace of Goomradjie as a gift that allows him to control how well or badly the Knowledge worked for followers even at a distance. In effect, reference to grace makes him sound omnipotent and omniscient. Premies in the 70’s and 80’s felt that all good things that happened, i.e., a sunny day, or a taxi arriving on time, were due to Maharaji’s Grace. If things went badly, it was due to an absence of the same grace, and they were at fault for letting Maharaji down in some way. Grace was seen as a reward for disciplining oneself to meditate every day.
DIVINE LIGHT MISSION (DLM) Official name of the movement from 1960 to about 1980, when it was phased out in favour of the name Elan Vital. Strictly speaking, DLM no longer exists, certainly not as any kind of financial body, but most ex-Premie commentators, including myself, still call it that. Andrea Cagan fails to mention the Divine Light Mission once in her entire book on Maharaji. It was founded by supporters of Shri Hans to support his dream of promoting his teachings in Europe. The dissolving of the Mission by name was largely to cover over the many scandals and break ups that had rocked the movement in the first decade of Maharaji’s activity. That the Prem Rawat Foundation has largely replaced Elan Vital shows history repeating itself. For a full history visit http://cults-divine.light.mission.htm
DIVINE TIMES – Weekly newspaper produced by Divine Light Mission in its early years in the UK, which served as a parody of the Times newspaper, and gave everything from the boy guru’s early talks in transcript form, to vegetarian recipes, cartoons and even crossword puzzles.
DIVINE UNDERSTANDING ORDER – British Premies used this name to hire halls and lecture theatres for meetings and satsangs in the early 1980’s when admitting that they were members of Divine Light Mission was considered strictly taboo. Many other such pseudonyms exist.
DIVINE UNITED ORDER – A short-lived early replacement name for the official DLM organization in the 1970’s, at the height of the conflict with Mata Ji’s breakaway groups.
DONATIONS - Money rose for hiring rooms and towards the cost of promotional literature as opposed to financial Dedications, which went to Maharaji as a gift. At UK Satsangs it was common for two Premies to be assigned to collect monies from those entering; one to take Donations, and the next to ask for Dedications. Premies offering little or no money to either were often ostracized or made to feel uncomfortable.
DURGA JI The sixteen year old Maharaj Ji had his twenty-four year old air-hostess bride, Marolyn Johnson christened with this Hindu deity and warrior queen title at their wedding, much to the offence of his mother, and her parents, (she was given away by a Premie, Michael ‘Milky’ Cole rather than as traditionally by her Father). This insensitive act more than any other gave offence to his Mother, and lost Maharaji much of his Indian support, which at that time, 1974, had been considerable.
ELAN VITAL - Official replacement business name for the old and now obsolete Divine Light Mission phased in quickly in the mid 1980’s, from the French for ‘Vital Force’. EV has itself now largely been replaced by the ‘Prem Rawat Foundation’.
EX-PREMIES Anyone who has received the Knowledge and has then stopped following Maharaji for any reason is an ex-Premie, and in numbers there are more of these than still practicing Premies though the term usually applies to those former followers who have gone public with their stories and openly stated their dissatisfaction with his teachings, as opposed to those who have quietly just stopped believing in him. An ex-Premie discussion forum can be seen at http://www.prem-rawat-talk.org/forum/
FAKIRINAND, MAHATMA - High ranking Premie believed, with at least two accomplices, to be responsible for the savage hammer attack on Pat Halley which was paramount to attempted murder in 1973. Maharaji never disciplined him for the incident.
THE FIVE COMMANDMENTS Five commandments given to new Premies as they received knowledge before 1984 when the Commandments were dropped. The Commandments are, as given at
1/. Refrain from postponing till tomorrow what can be done today
2/. Always meditate on the holy name
3/. Never doubt.
4/. Never avoid attending Satsang.
5/. Always have faith in God.
The first is basic common sense on one level, and a drive to rush things through on order without pausing to think about them first, which can prove to be impetuous. The second and fourth bind the Premie to practicing the Knowledge. The third is a shortened version of an earlier commandment ‘Never leave room for doubt in your mind.’ In both versions, the commandment forbids and discourages Premies to lose faith or question Maharaji’s teachings and personal behaviour. The last makes Maharaji’s teachings impossible for atheists and agnostics if taken literally. To many of his followers, Maharaji is God incarnate, a belief that he does nothing to refute.
FREAKED OUT – A Premie state of consciousness – that of being angered or frightened by what is felt in meditation, or from following Maharaji instead of being happily blissed out. An unhappy Premie will often be separated quickly from other Premies and aspirants for fear of ‘freaking them out’ too.
GLASTONBURY FAYRE 1971 saw one of Maharaji’s first speeches in the UK when he invaded the stage at the legendary British Rock Festival, having disabled the microphones for a band performing to the audience there, which upset many who were obliged to watch and listen to him until the power was cut to the mics and he was hustled off.
GOOMRADJIE – Affectionate name for Maharaj Ji, which abbreviated his title into just three, syllables.
GUBLER, TOM – Australian ex-Premie who assisted an investigative journalist, John MacGregor in the course of a bitter legal dispute concerning Maharaji’s Amaroo facilities in Queensland. His assistance in MacGregor's investigations ensured that Gubler would be vilified forever by the Premies. Unfortunately Gubler has also become somewhat disliked by many ex-Premies for signing affidavits that amounted to a confession to being part of a 'hate-cult', though the affidavits were recognized in court as being signed under duress.
GURU – In Hinduism, Guru means spiritual teacher. Gu means darkness. Ru means light, so a guru is someone who leads people from darkness to light. There are thousands of gurus in India; many are called Maharaji. Prem Rawat rarely used the honorific of Guru after the mid-1980. The term is now used and abused to describe experts in many secular areas by the popular media.
GURU PUJA An annual festival for the movement celebrating Maharaji’s teachings in his presence. Premies are expected to drop everything and try to attend.
HALLEY, PATRICK US reporter who was beaten up at the Millennium ’73 Festival after he hit Maharaji with a custard pie. Maharaji’s leading supporters hit him with hammers, and crowbars fracturing his skull.
HANS JAYANTI – A festival taking place in India annually to supposedly celebrate the life and work of Maharaji’s father, Shri Hans, but mainly serving to allow Maharaji to recruit in his homeland, and repair the damage done there by his mother, Mata Ji following Maharaji’s corruption by western materialism
HATE GROUP ACCUSATIONS – In the 21st century The Premies have become increasingly hostile to Maharaji’s critics and more outspoken former members. A term frequently used so within the sect since the Amaroo investigations is the label ‘hate-cult’. Biographer Andrea Cagan rashly claims that Maharaji’s opponents are a small body of hate-mongers operating largely from Latvia. My own response to being accused of being in such a hate cult is online at CULTS HATE CULT ACCUSATIONS
HIT AND RUN – An astonishing allegation that has emerged recently is that Maharaji fled the scene of a fatal car accident in India in the early 1980’s in which a passing cyclist was killed.
Maharaji had been driven out of India for much of the 1970’s due to his Mother, Mata Ji’s campaigns to denounce him as a phoney. In the early 1980’s, he was beginning to recover some support in his homeland. However, after a festival event there, he drove the lead car in a cavalcade of vehicles back to his residence. According to the testimony of former member, Michael Dettmers, Maharaji was suddenly involved in a collision with a cyclist. The cyclist was killed by the impact.
Though Maharaji has a reputation for irresponsible driving, and also for alcohol abuse, the indications are that the accident may have been the cyclist’s own fault. That in no way excuses what followed however. Maharaji immediately took extra-ordinary steps to distance him from the situation. Instead of offering the dying, or already deceased cyclist any assistance, or alerting the authorities, Maharaji moved to another car in the cavalcade. Dettmers had also been traveling in the convoy. Maharaji's associate, Mahatma Sampuranand arranged for another Premie to claim to have been at the wheel of the car while Maharaji fled to the airport, and caught a flight out of India. The sordid matter, and such serious allegations were never sufficiently investigated further.
HOLY BREATH - When newly made Premies first go for Darshan, they are instructed to cup a hand to their ear as a signal to Maharaji to blow them a kiss once known as his ‘Holy Breath’. Initiators will usually sit immediately around Maharaji to watch for older Premies trying to get Holy Breath more than once.
HOLI – A Hindu festival, by no means exclusive to Maharaji, in which people celebrate by throwing coloured water at one another. The idea is that the wetter and more colourful you get the more the gods love you. In Hinduism, getting soaked by rain from above symbolizes love and good fortune – one reason for many Bollywood films featuring dance scenes taking place in the rain - Maharaji doesn’t use buckets and hoses, but giant airport fire fighting machines and water cannons, which have injured people getting too close due to water hitting the ground and spraying up stones and rocks.
HOLY FAMILY – Name given in the early tears of Maharaji’s ministry to his family, mostly to his Mother, Mata Ji, and his older brothers. The name suggested the perfection of the family team but with the feud that arose and irreconcilable differences bordering on civil war, the family proved to be unholy and highly dysfunctional. Maharaji now rarely mentions his family at all. With his own children growing, Maharaji may well try to found a new dynasty and a new ‘holy family’ of his own. Time will tell.
HOLY NAME Title of the third and most important of the four meditation techniques, which is just a deep slow, breathing exercise. Of the Kryjas it is the one Premies are mostly encouraged to practice all day long, even when working or sleeping.
INTENSIVES - Name given to the period of Satsang Aspirants go through in the days preceding their Knowledge initiation ceremony, where the indoctrination becomes more intense. Satsang and watching the Keys becomes more time demanding. Meals and drink breaks may be delayed to allow hunger to concentrate the Aspirant on the marathon preparation sessions involved.
INITIATORS/ INSTRUCTORS - Those directly authorized by Maharaji to teach new Premies how to meditate. A Modern name for those permitted to give out the Knowledge. The title ‘Instructor’ took over from Initiator which itself replaced Mahatma. Instructors have largely been rendered redundant by the introduction of The Keys.
IVORY’S ROCK CONFERENCE CENTRE. – Official name of Amaroo, Maharaji’s controversial Queensland, Australian facilities.
JAGDEO, MAHATMA - Controversial Indian Mahatma, now just referred to by name, and a good close friend to Maharaji from the earliest days of his ministry. Jagdeo has recently faced many allegations of sexual assault and abuse of female Premies in his ashrams. He has never been to court in relation to such offences and Maharaji has been criticized for never removing him from office.
JAI SAT CHIT ANAND - Hindi expression, often abbreviated to JSCA, literally translating as ‘I wish you truth Consciousness and Bliss. Many Premies would recite this in their Satsangs. Others have it engraved on necklaces and bracelets. A few even have the words or initials tattooed on their bodies. Use of the expression was officially stopped when Maharaji purged the movement of all public reference to its Hindu and religious roots.
JOHNSON, MAROLYN – Maharaji’s controversial wife since 1974, and Mother to his four children. Marolyn was having an affair with Maharaji before he was legally entitled to have sexual relations, though it can only be speculated as to whether their relationship was sexually consummated before their legitimate wedding. Marolyn is eight years older than Maharaji who she married soon after his sixteenth birthday.
Marolyn’s rechristening as Durga Ji was regarded as a major insult by many Hindi followers, and the biggest single cause of the breakdown of the Holy Family. The title has since been dropped, and Marolyn has now become very reclusive within the Rawat Movement. She no longer takes part in festival Satsang events. She is believed to have committed adultery on her husband, and there are many allegations of him doing likewise to her.
LEWIS, MONICA – Maharaji has allegedly seduced many female Premies since his marriage to Marolyn Johnson, supposedly despite his wife knowing of his indiscretions. Monica Lewis appears to have had a long lasting affair with him though, rather than being used for casual one-night stands.
KALI YUGA – In Hinduism, the Kali Yuga is the last age of humanity in the great Cycle of Karma. The world itself is destined to end at the close of the Kali Yuga, which is the last chance all of humanity has to put its spiritual life in good order, as there will be no further opportunity to re-incarnate or get another chance. In the early years of his ministry, Maharaji frequently referred to the Kali Yuga and talked of the Knowledge as the last chance we have to save ourselves from Hell or oblivion. He still talks of such things in some circles and in talks to audiences in the developing World.
KARMA (CYCLE OF) - Karma is central to all Hindu beliefs, and deals with the way in which what we do in one-life affects our destiny in future lives. In Karma, we literally reap what we sow. The good, enlightened man will be able to transcend and break free of the cycle of karma to become one with the Gods. Someone who falls short of such a perfect state of being will be re-incarnated and given a fresh chance. An immoral, materialistic, carnal lifestyle is supposed to lead to someone being re-incarnated as an animal, and in effect, having to reincarnate up the zoological and evolutionary scale to even become human once more. The man who lives by killing will probably become a tiger in a future life as then he can exercise his tooth and claw lifestyle to his heart’s desire. However, the cycle of life and death does not last forever. In Hinduism, the Kali Yuga brings everything to a close.
Maharaji, like many Hindu gurus and swamis, draws on the basic Hindu teachings, or at least the did until themed-1980’s when more overt religious notions were largely stripped from his assertions.
THE KEYS – Maharaji’s main recruitment method in the 21st century minimizes the need for Instructors – the Keys are a series of DVD and video presentations of Satsang running up to a total of seventy hours of viewing, and mostly involving Maharaji pontificating and giving Satsang. The final Key DVD, which can only be watched under Instructor supervision is one in which Maharaji finally reveals the Knowledge personally with the advantage of never having to answer awkward questions. The Keys have rendered the Knowledge an automated process cutting out most interaction with other Premies entirely. Many Aspirants simply decline to watch so many turgid DVD speeches. The Keys are proving to be a commercial disaster for Maharaji.
KRIJAS – Hindi name Maharaji used in the early years of his teachings, but rarely, for the four meditation techniques that make up the Knowledge.
KNOWLEDGE – The name given to the whole teaching that Maharaji offers. Knowledge, (always spelt with a capital ‘K’) means the know-how of the basic meditation techniques 9the Kryjas0, and gaining / practicing the Knowledge is what makes someone into a Premie.
KNOWLEDGE VOW – Immediately before receiving Knowledge, Aspirants were once ordered to take a vow of commitment to practicing, and not revealing the secret of the Knowledge to others. Wording of the vow changed from time to time, but here is one presentation of it.
Guru Maharaji, I dedicate myself to your lotus feet. I am weak and ignorant and
am filled with the impurities of this world. Oh Guru Maharaji, please take my
mind and purge me of the impurities I possess. Reveal to me the knowledge of
all knowledge. Strengthen me, uplift me and reveal the kingdom of heaven within
inside of me.
Bring me from hate to love, from darkness to light, death to immortality. I will OBEY you implicitly and will never reveal this knowledge to anyone for any reason. I will keep in contact with you through my DEVOTIONAL LOVE, Satsang, meditation and service. Thank you my LORD for everything.’
Ex-Premies like myself who ignore the vow, and freely talk of our experiences are regarded with contempt by many ardent practicing Premies.
KRYSHNA CROWN – Maharaji tries to dumb down the claims he has made about being a living incarnation of God comparable to Kryshna. The fact that for much of the ministry before 1985 he openly used to dance and prance before thousands of his followers and wore a golden Kryshna crown, to do so which has often been photographed, now serves as something of an embarrassment to him.
KRYSHNA DANCE – At festivals, Maharaji often entertains his supporters by dancing, often dressed in Kryshna crown and robes (some of which leave him half-naked). The dance is simply a lot of swaying from side to side, like a demented hula girl but Maharaji would often keep the dance going for several hours as his musicians hyped up the Premies into a frenzy.
LIGHT – Name given to the first meditation technique, in which Premies see a bright light (described in a cliché as brighter than a thousand suns) behind the Third eye. The Light may be a mixture of over-stimulated alpha waves and imagination. Maharaji’s instructors claim that the Light is that of God – and that seeing it is proof of the existence of God, with very unsubtle hints that Maharaji is that God. The early organization name ‘Divine Light Mission’ comes directly from the promise of its followers seeing such a light. That the ‘Divine’ nature of it is inherent even in the organization name shows that the teachings of Maharaji are highly religious.
LORD OF THE UNIVERSE – Title Maharaji used for himself in the early years. Despite his futile efforts to recover them all, in order to make himself seem more of a humble peace messenger than a religious egomaniac, copies of the Lord of the Universe speeches and videos are still in circulation, and often surface on Ebay, Amazon, etc.
LOTUS FEET – Maharaji’s feet, of which there are several pictures are an iconic, sometimes even idolatrous image for many of his followers, as the part of Maharaji he allows people to kiss at Darshan. The Premies are led to believe that his feet are special for being willing to touch the same ground the rest of us walk on.
LOTUS FLOWER– An important and revered Hindu symbol – the Lotus is regarded as something perfect that exists in an imperfect environment. The Lotus traditionally grows in dark mangrove swamps, but its bright petals do not touch the mud that holds its roots. It seems uncontaminated by the slime tat feeds it. Maharaji, by regarding himself as a Lotus Lord, lets people feel as if he walks our World without being from here which makes him either a Martian, or someone who have ideas above his station and a certain degree of contempt for his fellow man.
LUTON AIRPORT – Maharaji’s first landing in the West when he flew from India was here, and to some Premies the airport has been a place of pilgrimage ever since. His 1971 arrival there had been prepared for by Gurucharanand who ensured that he got a large reception committee. Many Premies claim to have been they’re that day that were not in fact initiated until much later.
MACGREGOR, JOHN – Australian Journalist who was vilified by the cult over his expose of the Amaroo crisis. This was the beginning of the Premie attack on opponents as a ‘hate-cult’.
MAHARAJI – Title used by Prem Rawat, originally spelt Maharaj Ji, and often proceeded by the additional title of Guru. Most |Premies and ex-Premies still habitually refer to him as Maharaji. For a biographical history of his teachings see my essay, CULTS - DIVINE LIGHT MISSION
MAHARAJ JI, SHRI HANS – Maharaji’s father, and the previous incarnation of the avatar Maharaji now claims to be. Shri Hans was a much more strict and humorless Guru than his youngest son – he would often beat inattentive listeners with a stick. Maharaji talks ambiguously of his father in the third person, using the similarity of his own inherited title (usurped from an older brother) to also talk with reverence about himself.
MAHATMAS – Early name for Maharaji’s initiators and instructors. The Mahatmas were so-called largely as a way of tapping into Western associations of the title mahatma (Great Soul) with Mahatma Mohandas K Gandhi. A shortage of Hindu born Mahatmas, many of who had served under Shri Hans Maharaji before, led Maharaji to name some high level Caucasian followers as Mahatmas, often renaming them in the process, which upset his Mother, Mata Ji. The distinguishing title was however one of the first things to go when Maharaji began to dumb down the Hindu terminology of the cult in the early 1980’s.
THE MALIBU MAFIA – Slang expression for Maharaji’s immediate entourage and body of hangers on, ranging from Premies to his security staff, and personal servants and staff living in house at his Malibu mansion.
MATA JI – Maharaji’s mother, who co-ordinated Divine Light Mission activity in India, making occasional visits to the West in the first few years of Maharaji’s mission. As news reached her of his increasing westernization and womanizing she became increasingly estranged from him. When he married Marolyn ‘Durga Ji’, she disowned Maharaji and denounced him as a charlatan. She declared his older brother, BAL Bhagwan to be the true Messiah instead. The damage she did to Maharaji’s reputation can never be healed.
MATERIALISM AND WEALTH. Maharaji encourages followers not to be taken in by wealth and material goods, while he himself amasses a fortune and considerable amounts of real estate. He believes that he is somehow immune to the effects that such wealth and affluence can have on people. The attitude is simple – our money can harm us so we should give it all to him as he won’t be affected. We can rest assured that he and our money are happy together. – On the whole, I’ll keep my money to myself (what little I have) – cheers.
MAYA – In Hinduism, the veil of illusion. The World and its resources, including life itself, are finite. Treating them as important when they do not last is a dangerous illusion. Life ends just like any other dream. The aim of Hinduism is to snap people out of the Maya to focus them on what is real and everlasting before the end of the world (Kali Yuga). Maharaji claims that the Knowledge he offers is the way out of the Maya. To many others, his teachings just sink us deeper in the quicksand that is the Maya.
MEDITATION – There are thousands of ways to practice meditation – Maharaji teaches just four of them, and they are available in many other places. There are, among the others available, mantra meditations, which involve repeating a word or syllable, such as Om. There are deep reflective exercises such as imagining you were a witness to some event in the life of Christ, Buddha, or some saint of your choosing. There are exercises involving looking at patterns in candle flame, or imagining such a flame in your mind (not dissimilar to seeing the Divine Light Mission Light), there are ways of looking at complex patterns in circles and spirals 9common in Muslim art). The aim of meditation is to either still the mind or focus it in concentration on a single given task. With Maharaji’s Krijas, the aim of meditation is to kill the mind entirely and see Maharaji himself as in charge of our destinies instead of us.
In Maharaji’s teachings, Premies are expected to meditate for an hour upon getting up of a morning (fifteen minutes per each of the four techniques0 and for an hour again before going to bed. Ashram Premies could be arbitrarily expected to double this time period. The breathing technique and the Nectar technique were to be practiced all day, and especially whilst listening to someone giving Satsang.
MEDITATION BLANKETS Concentrated meditation, as opposed to just practicing Holy Name while walking, working and even sleeping, involved meditating in as total darkness as possible, so many Premies will get under dark blankets with their Beragons and meditate that way. It is not unusual to see Premies covered in blankets through coach windows, and as passengers in cars, as they got their mediation hours in while in transit.
MILLENIUM ’73 – The first major breaking point in Maharaji’s history, from which he has never fully recovered. Up to 1973, he was seen as the boy wonder of the guru world, and his membership grew. He was able to exploit his status as the teenage wise man, but after a few years people were starting to listen to what he had to say for himself. The Millennium 1973 Festival was his most ambitious and expensive attempt to promote his teachings. He hired elephants and stadiums, and promised miracles. It was expected that 20,000 plus would turn up. In fact, the numbers he attracted were very small. Already demoralized, Maharaji was made to feel worse when a reporter, Pat Halley hit him with a custard pie. Maharaji’s response was ferocious. (See the entry for Pat Halley for more on this).
MIND - Maharaji’s whole teaching is opposed to rational thinking. He sees the human mind as a distraction from human feeling. He sees the mind as a sentient, near living, cunning, schizophrenic devil inside our heads, which we must silence through deep meditation at every opportunity. One of his most famous quotations runs ‘if your mind troubles you gives it to me. It won’t trouble me’. If Premies have doubts about Maharaji’s teachings or become troubled by stories about his sexual infidelity, drinking, and support for Jagdeo, they are told that they are listening to their minds too much. The idea is to constantly suppress doubts about Maharaji as mind-speak and carry on feeling the good vibe that comes of devotion to him. In my respect for thinking, reason and philosophy, I am the Premie equivalent of a Satanist. In Maharaji’s teachings any kind of thinking at all is a mental aberration.
MISHRA, JUPTESWAR – One of the Premies who attacked
reporter, Patrick Halley. His choice of weapon was allegedly a crowbar.
MUSIC (OF THE SPHERES) Name given to the second meditation, and the sounds heard from practicing it, in which you are taught that you are hearing the sound of the Universe itself. That you have your fingers in your ears means you are listening to your own blood pouring through your ears.
NECTAR – The fourth meditation and the sweet sticky taste that you get in your mouth from practicing it – allegedly. That you are sticking your tongue back to the rim of the naval cavity (as far as you can without choking yourself or inducing vomit) means that you are breathing not nectar but snot and catarrh dripping down from the nose to the throat. Lovely!
PEACE – Maharaji in the 21st century is desperately trying to cast away the shackles of his religious cult teachings and present himself as a humble traveling ambassador of peace. Few who know of his past are convinced by the new image. Maharaji uses some of his vast money to rent lecture halls at the UN and then claims to have addressed the U. He sends money to famine, flood and disaster relief organizations, such as Oxfam and the Argentinean White Helmets, but then exploits the donations for publicity and uses that to promote the Keys to the people his money has helped.
Maharaji’s meditation makes someone peaceful only in so far as while meditating, no one in what is a shrinking minority movement today is doing anything else, peaceful or violent. His Knowledge will do nothing to end the wars and struggles raging between the peoples of the World today.
PEACE BOMB - An early and prophetic speech made by Maharaji in which he plainly promises to drop a peace bomb and create a social revolution. The World is still waiting M.
PEACE IS POSSIBLE – Title of Andrea Cagan’s misleading biography of Maharaji which omits most of the information touched on in this A to Z.
PERFECT LIVING MASTER – Unsubtle title Maharaji used for himself up to approximately 1985.
PRACHAD - A Hindi word for sharing – giving food and gifts to another without expectation of reward. In Divine Light Mission this has been corrupted to receiving a share of leftovers from Maharaji’s banqueting table at his larger festival events.
PRANAM – A Hindi form of prostration and devotion. In Divine Light Mission, it was, and may still not be unknown to see a Premie throw him or herself to the floor before a picture of or kiss a photo of him, or a photo of just his feet. Pranam in Divine light Mission was like trying to have Darshan without Maharaji or his feet being personally present.
THE PREM RAWAT FOUNDATION – Official name for the main parent organization that promotes Maharaji and his Knowledge for the 21st century. The PRF has largely taken over from the old élan vital organization, but the change of name does not change the beast within. The leopard cannot change its spots.
PREMIE – A Hindi word meaning ‘lover’, which can apply to familial, romantic, puppy or lustful love as much as any spiritual variation. In Divine Light Mission the name Premie is bestowed on anyone receiving the Knowledge and by association makes them ‘lovers of Maharaji’. That Maharaji has now started calling himself Prem makes the name Premie all the more disturbingly possessive on his part.
PREMIE HOUSE - A communal house shared and collectively owned by Premies, which were often used as surrogate ashrams up to 1985. Premies seeking a place in an ashram were often encouraged to live in Premie houses for a trial period of unspecified length first to see how they coped.
QUESTION & ANSWER SESSIONS - Maharaji sometimes takes questions from Premies at public events, following his uninterrupted Satsang discourse. though it was not acceptable for Premies to raise their hands to indicate having a question without first clearing their intention with their Initiators / Instructors who would make sure they were not going to ask about anything critical or awkward. Gaining such personal attention from Maharaji without going through channels could get a Premie a great deal of jealousy and animosity afterwards which would seriously ruin the buzz they gained by having seized such an opportunity. Maharaji seldom answered questions, but used them as a springboard for further Satsang and discourse.
RAJA JI – One of Maharaji’s brothers – the only one of the Holy Family to remain loyal to Maharaji after their mother denounced him as a charlatan
RAWAT, AMAR - Maharaji’s fourth, and youngest child, a son, born on Christmas Day 1981.
RAWAT, HANS – Maharaji’s oldest son.
RAWAT, PREM PAL – The name Maharaji currently operates under personally, and allegedly his real name by birth.
RAWAT, PREMLATA – Maharaji’s oldest child, a daughter also known as Wadi Sue.
PROPOGATION – Premie buzz-word term for Maharaji’s recruitment drive -Premies are always encouraged to introduce newcomers to Maharaji by word of mouth whenever possible. Once someone has shown curiosity about attending a meeting with other Premies, the newcomer will be taken under the wing of a Premie assigned to recruitment. Contact with the trusted friend who brought the newcomer along in the first place may be limited for a time as the more practiced recruiters go to work. If the newcomer asks too many questions they may be told to shut up pr even leave. Once attentive, the newcomer, now an aspirant, will be introduced to the Keys, and expected to watch the videos in preparation for the final Key, which is the receiving of Knowledge from Maharaji by pressing play on another DVD.
- responsible for getting Maharaji clear of the scene after the hit and
run incident in India in the early 1980's.
SATGURU – Living Master in Hinduism, and Maharaji used the title to declare he to be the very living Master in question. Such egotism is boundless.
SATSANG – Literally translating as being in the ‘company of truth’ Satsang was and is (though rarely named as such now0 an unrehearsed discourse about Knowledge and Maharaji. Satsang speakers at private house and ashram meetings were usually picked out at random, while those for public meetings and before aspirants were usually to involve carefully pre-picked speakers. Traditionally, if an Initiator or Mahatma were present, they would speak last and close the event, often by starting a performance of Arti. Not everyone was chosen to speak at any given meeting, and some Premies chose not to speak which was usually respected.
Satsang could vary in length and quality. Some speakers could keep things short and to the point while others droned on all night.
Satsang speakers sometimes chose to meditate rather than speak. Speakers would reminisce about how the Knowledge changed their lives – everything they did before receiving Knowledge would be interpreted as a negative, empty or unpleasant experience – everything since would be seen as wonderful.
Listeners would meditate using Holy Name or Nectar techniques throughout a Satsang meeting, and speakers were not offered applause or formal gratitude for their contribution to any given evening. Sometimes Satsangs would include devotional music and hymns to Maharaji.
Maharaji’s own discourses were also called Satsangs, though he would receive applause. The contrast from the silence given to other speakers helped to amplify the level of reverence his Premies felt for him.
Satsang by was officially discontinued by that name through an Agya from Maharaji in 1984-5, but some Premies maintain the activity nevertheless. Maharaji still pontificates but it isn’t called Satsang and more – just inspirational discourse.
SATSANG CHAIRS – The most comfortable chair in a house, or Ashram was used as a convenient stage seat for Satsang sharers. Maharaji had special altar chairs made which were measured and tailored specially to his body shape. These were transported to and from his talks anywhere in the world.
SATSANG ROOM A room in a house or ashram, which was prepared for Satsang meetings usually by removing all chairs, bar the Satsang Chair, and adding a photograph of Maharaji and some flowers. Chairs may be introduced for elderly or disabled Premies and aspirants but everyone else was expected to use cushions or the floor. Private and ashram.
SCRIPTURE – Maharaji rarely writes anything down, though transcripts of his Satsangs have always been treated as scripture. Many early works make outlandish claims and prophesies that are now seen as embarrassing to Maharaji, so there have been doomed attempts to collect back his writings for destruction.
Maharaji rarely quotes from Biblical scripture and generally gets it wrong when he does. His emphasis on Knowledge as experience and proof of God means that he dismisses the great scriptures of rival religions as obsolete. He was for many years more likely to paraphrase Hindu scriptures in a corrupt, simplified and bastardized form. Nowadays, apart from when he speaks in India, he rarely makes use of the religion he grew up in to help people forget that what he is selling is religion in itself.
SECURITY - Maharaji is extremely security conscious, to the point of paranoia for many. He has Premies on regular alert for any bongos and wacko individuals in their midst. He also hires private security bodyguards who are not obliged to receive the Knowledge. Premies often find the security guards aggressive and unfriendly – when there is trouble their responses are often brutally uncompromising.
SERENITY – Maharaji’s personal yacht, one of his most expensive status symbols.
SERVICE –Premies are supposed to help promote Maharaji’s teachings and anything that raised money or recruits was regarded as service - Service could also mean working in shops and businesses owned by Maharaji for which the servant would receive no payments.
SPACED OUT – A Premie state of consciousness of being miles away and in a trance in which you are incapable of being aware and concentrating on what is going on around you. The meditations can induce an involuntary catatonic state from which it is difficult to snap free. This is being spaced out, which is like being asleep even when wide-awake, and akin to being stoned or high on drugs.
STORIES – Maharaji often speaks in parables, fables and stories in his ‘Satsang’ discourse. Histories range from lame poo jokes, to borrowed Zen parables to tales from Hans Christian Anderson and Aesop. Maharaji often loses the thread of one story in mid sentence and simply starts reciting another one. Premies and Instructors often borrowed his stories as part of their own Satsangs.
SWARUPANANAND – Guru who gave the Knowledge to Maharaji’s father Shri Hans. He was not a relative to the Rawat family, and though Shri Hans claimed to have been named as Swarupanand’s successor as an Avatar, the claim is denied and contested by other Hindu religious leaders who still strictly maintain Swarupanand’s traditions. If he did not declare Shri Hans as his successor the whole foundation of Divine Light Mission is a deception.
THIRD EYE, OPENING OF THE – A crucial moment at the beginning of the Knowledge session where an Initiator / instructor literally jabs a finger into the temple between and just above an Aspirant’s eyes to open the supposed Third Eye and switching on the Knowledge. Without this experience, the meditation techniques are believed by many Premies not to work at all – the Eye opening ceremony is of course, nonsense.
VIBRATION – A name sometimes given to the Holy Name meditation technique.
WORLD PEACE CORPS – The people immediately around Maharaji who were responsible for his personal security had this rather chilling if cynical Orwellian nickname for some time in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
WORLD WELFARE SOCIETY – Briefly used in the UK in the early 1980’s as a name by which Premies could hire rooms and lecture theatres for Satsangs without having to tell outsiders that they were using the facilities for a religious meeting.
X-RATING ELITE – Maharaji’s closest personal associates. Most Premies will never be allowed near him except for during Darshan events, which are now rare. The X-ratings are often privy to his more unpleasant habits, smoking, drinking and womanizing. Some X-rating people help to cover up such aspects of his life, but a few have become ex-Premies and broken silence on such activities.
© Copyright. Arthur Chappell
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