Guru Maharaj Ji left India for the first time and arrived in the UK on June 17 1971 and then traveled on to the US and Canada in July. He attracted a lot of media attention because he was such an absurd and ridiculous figure, a 13 year old very short, very fat boy claiming to be God. His mother was unhappy about this but he promised to return at the end of his school holidays and he had a bodyguard, Bihari Singh. He gave many public speeches on the "Knowledge" - four meditation techniques which were taught by the Indian "mahatmas" in "Knowledge sessions" to those prepared to promise that they would dedicate their lives to him and obey his Commandments:
- Do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today
- Constantly meditate and remember holy name
- Never delay in attending satsang
- Never leave room for doubt in your mind
- Always have faith in God
He made his second public speech on June 21 at the first Glastonbury Fayre. His English was nearly indecipherable, his understanding of the hippie audience was so misguided that he spoke of regret at not being able to be a policeman or a soldier and that he managed a bank. The speech was not well received and power was cut off after a few minutes but enough publicity was generated to provide a steady stream of disaffected and disenchanted counter-cultural youth yearning for liberation.
His mother was furious at his refusal to return to school but the excitement and material rewards of the West were too strong for him to resist and he went on the the USA. He returned to India for the Hans Jayanti festival in November preceded by nearly a jumbo jet full of western devotees. This was planned to maximise publicity when he was greeted by hundreds of Western devotees on his arrival in India as Western followers provide the highest status for Godmen in India.
Prem Rawat's family accompanied him to Europe and the USA in 1972 where premies worshipped them as the "Holy Family" and they were given the same divine adoration given to Prem himself. In April Rawat visited South Africa which had a large Indian population where he taught "the Perfect One (guess who) is here" and berated the audience for being unable to recognise God by "the experience of Himself which He can give" when He comes on the Earth. The film "Lord of The Universe" was shown on university campuses by DLM auteur Jacques Sandoz before the first Guru Puja ("Guru Worship") festival in the West was held in Montrose, Colorado in July 25-7 and it was a tremendous success. 6,000 people attended and over 2,000 were initiated which was a huge boost to DLM membership though only a quarter of those expected came. In October Rawat visited Japan where he said "the only one who can settle the governments down is the Perfect Master, the incarnation of God Himself, who comes to Earth to save humankind" and Australia where he explained God "takes a form of a Guru to come into this world to enlighten people, to show them a way, to show them a path."
Newspapers were calling Guru Maharaj Ji the "Hottest Guru On Circuit" and "Divine Residences" had been established for him in London and Los Angeles. On Rawat's instructions Bob Mishler registered Divine Light Mission as a church in the USA with Rawat as the Spiritual Leader and Denver became the international headquarters. It was the ashrams that provided the impetus and finances for the growth of Divine Light Mission and while they were unstable there were about 500 premies living a monastic life in ashrams in 24 cities in the USA who donated all their wages to the Mission. Rawat was swallowing up half of the finances to fund his extravagant materialistic lifestyle and without the donation of some considerable inheritances the Mission would have collapsed financially. The main room of each ashram had a large altar on which pictures of Rawat and his Holy Family were placed. The devotees sang a long devotional song ("Arti") to these pictures each morning and evening, prostrating themselves in front of the altar afterwards. Premies who were accepted into ashrams were required by the Ashram Code to:
- Take vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience and no drugs
- Live by the strict ashram schedule
- Do satsang; service and meditation
- Turn over all assets and income to Divine Light Mission (20% directly to the guru)
- Do any "service" requested of them
In November after completion of his second World Peace Tour, at least eight Jumbo Jets of premies flew to India for the Hans Jayanti festival and to stay in Hardwar's "Divine City" for some extended Knowledge practice. This became quite a trial for many of the premies with sickness and depression being common. Lucy Dupertuis Ph.D. reminisces:
Physical hardships consumed my remaining energy. 3,500 Westerners were crowded into army tents on a few acres of dusty land in Hardwar, North India in late November, when the sun still roasts at midday but the nights nearly freeze. Twice a day we all stood in line for an hour or two waiting to eat. Then there were long tramps to the latrines, to the Ganges to squat and swish dirty clothes about in the water, and to the outdoor "showers," where women had to wash fully clothed (in the tradition of Indian modesty) from sporadically flowing taps. I hardly talked to anyone except a few friends from California who seemed to moan in their sleeping bags sick with dysentery for the entire month. The rest of the time when I was not wandering aimlessly among the market stalls of "Divine Sales," I sat quietly in meditation along the banks of the Ganges, or listened to "satsangs" (spiritual discourses) by the Guru and his "Mahatmas," or tried to sneak up to the Guru's rooms on the ashram roof, past ever-present guards, in hopes of "darshan" - a glimpse of him. Several disconfirming events did not shake my initial enthusiasm. The friends I had come with gradually got fed up, and some other acquaintances from California left for Nepal in disgust. Then the reputation-conscious Mission, worried about customs, offended my counter-culture sensibilities by conducting a heavy-handed "dope raid" - in my tent among others - to confiscate hashish.