Following on from the success of his Atlantic City meeting Rawat began a series of such "festivals" every 19 days attempting to restore his premies "understanding" and blaming the problems in Divine Light Mission on bureaucracy rather than his poor leadership. He was able to report that "Active Membership Program is slowly just starting to pick back up again."
Throughout 1977 and 1978, many programs were held, and each one was more elaborate than the one before. Premies began moving back into the ashrams, and ashrams re-opened in cities where they had been closed. The "Holi" Festival in which Maharaji sprayed colored water and dye on premies using the world's most high-powered water pistol became a yearly occurence and was held several times in the Orange Bowl in Florida. You know what they say about the relationship between the size of a man's water pistol and his …
Maharaji began talking less and less about meditation and liberation and instead began saying that the true purpose of life was to experience devotion to himself which was greater than liberation and that premies should "surrender" to him, the All-Powerful Lord:
"to be next to the person who is everything; in which everything is, and he is in everything. Guru Maharaj Ji. The Lord. All-powerful."
The actual practice of Knowledge - satsang, service and meditation - was worthless without faith in him and was considered secondary to this devotion and to praying to him and begging to the Saviour, himself, to save them. He referred to himself as Guru Maharaj Ji the Ultimate Ruler. He said he was the one and only living Perfect Master or "the Master", the Savio(u)r, the Perfect Master, the Lord, the Incarnation of God who manifests in a human body and come(s) in(to) the world as all the Perfect Masters have done to reveal the same Knowledge as Jesus Christ, Ram(a), Krishna, Buddha, Kabir, Guru Nanak, Swarupanand (his father's guru), his father and others of that ilk.
In 1978, the programs became even more elaborate and he began "dancing" in his Krishna outfit at programs to the delirious delight of his more devoted premies. He also introduced new costumes, including a Krishna outfit in which he was naked from the waist up revealing his hairless man boobs.
These was not the sort of activities or the body likely to attract new followers nor was his stress on devotion to and worship of himself and his feet. Indian rituals such as Arti - the singing of an interminable Indian hymn of worship stressing his Godliness, Charanamrit - the drinking of Holy Water that had been used to wash Rawat's feet, Darshan or bowing and kissing Rawat's feet and giving him presents ie money, Pranam or full prostration on the ground as he passes by, Bhajans - Indian hymns praising his Divine attributes, Ashrams - living celibate lives and donating all your time and money to Rawat, were stressed even more than they had been prior to 1976 even though there were no longer any Indian mahatmas inspiring these Indian rituals.
Rawat stressed the importance of darshan in these programs - the super dose - and premies were under strong guru and peer pressure to go to Rawat's many programs and this drained the followers' finances. Premie solidarity could not cope with the pressure as wealthier premies were able to follow this agya while others could not. It also kept many of the most devoted premies on the move and depleting the communities' "inspiration quotient." Premies were encouraged to donate money when Maharaji gave darshan, and it's been estimated that hundreds of thousands of dollars were collected at each of these darshan events at large, international festivals. These funds went directly to Rawat himself. In Rome on 12th November 1977 at the Hans Jayanti festival in front of 10,500 premies, Rawat said:
I think to sum it all up it comes down into one simple thing. If I were a premie and I had a job the only reason why I would work and save up some money is to be able to go to festivals. I mean that really sums it up.
A considerable number of Western initiators were empowered with Mahatma Jagdeo, a paedophile, in charge of training them. Rawat was giving long, rambling speeches in which he explained his doctrines, complained about being unable to adequately speak of his own glory, complained about his unhappy childhood school days and spoke of his true loves, flying planes and driving cars. He ranted, raved and harangued his followers demanding total obedience and surrender and worship. He reiterated how wonderful the "experience of Knowledge" was while blaming his followers for not being able to attain it. He jeered at his initiators who were often people of greater intelligence, eloquence and charisma than the Lord of the Universe and were held in high esteem claiming they had no special insight or spiritual realisation. These speeches were transcribed and printed in the DLM magazines and newsletters to the exclusion of anything else by the late 1970's. Publication of magazines finished in 1980 and in 1982/83 the agya was passed on to all premies to destroy all the DLM publications, newspapers, magazines, audio and video tapes.
He continued to regularly predict dire consequences if a premie ever stopped believing in him:
And if that faith is not there, if that faith is not completely in Guru Maharaj Ji, you're going to fall in so many fragments that you wouldn't be able to count them yourself. You will run right out of count. Right out of it. You will go beyond zillions, billions, everything.
In 1979, the international headquarters of DLM was moved from Denver, Colorado to Miami Beach, Florida and a mansion was obtained there. He had decided he needed a Boeing 707 and an old one was purchased for several million dollars. A huge fundraising and conversion project began though the plane was kept secret from the premies except for those who were working directly on it's conversion. Between 1979 and 1981 hundreds of premies were brought in to work in a warehouse in Hialeah and they lived in several near derelict rented hotels. The concentration of so many of the most dedicated followers in Miami affected the level of inspiration and leadership throughout "premie communities" which required a minimum size group to remain viable though examining the practice of Knowledge practically was rare. Unfortunately Rawat had decided on the 707 without adequate research and it could fly for less time than had been required to convert it to Rawat's exacting and often changing demands. In an ironic twist of fate it was sold to a much more successful and richer guru, the Maharishi of TM fame for a million dollars. He obviously knew less about aviation regulation than the Maharaji of DLM infamy.
The climaxes of this festival frenzy were multi-day "Hans Jayanti" events in November 1978 & 1979 outdoors in Kissimmee, Florida. As many as 15 - 20,000 people attended them from all over the world but diminishing returns had set in and once Rawat's focus moved to the possibility of owning and flying a Boeing 707, festivals were cut back. The public satsang meetings and the ashrams and were summarily terminated in 1983 and Divine Light Mission changed to Élan Vital and Rawat dropped the 'Guru' and retitled himself Maharaji the "Ultimate Ruler". Now, in their 30's, his most dedicated followers who were nearly all middle class kids who entered Rawat's ashrams rather than college or university suddenly faced having to start their lives over with no money and no career. Rawat's following has not recovered from these decisions and he has never been able to attract an audience greater than around 10,000 since except in India where crowds of over a hundred thousand have congregated, quite small compared to the crowds of around a million people that gathered in 1971.