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Guru Maharajji at the Houston Astrodome

By the fall of 1973 a number of Eastern gurus of the newer school, led by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi with his "TM," had come to the West and gathered a following, only to fade from the public eye after a brief reign in the glare of publicity. Guru Maharajji was **the most spectacular and, one might say, outrageous of these gurus. Fifteen years old, he had already been proclaimed to be "God," his family (mother and three brothers) was the "Holy Family," and his organization (the "Divine Light Mission") had communities (ashrams) all over America. His 80,000 followers ("Premies"), like the followers of Krishna, were expected to give up worldly pleasures and meditate in order to attain an "expanded" consciousness which made them perfectly peaceful, happy, and "blissed out" — a state of mind in which everything seems beautiful and perfect just the way it is. In a special initiation at which they "receive the knowledge," disciples are shown an intense light and three other signs within themselves, which later they are able to meditate on by themselves. In addition to this "knowledge," disciples are united in believing that Maharajji is the "Lord of the Universe" who has come to inaugurate a new age of peace for mankind.

For three days in November, 1973, the "Divine Light Mission" rented the Houston Astrodome (an immense sports arena entirely covered by a dome) in order to stage "the most holy and significant event in the history of mankind." "Premies" from all over the world were to gather to worship their "god" and begin the conversion of America (through the mass media, whose representatives were carefully invited) to the same worship, thus beginning the new age of mankind. Appropriately, the event was called "Millenium '73."

Typical of Maharaj-ji's convinced disciples was Rennie Davis, leftist demonstrator of the 1960's and one of the "Chicago Seven" accused of inciting riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. He spent the summer of 1973 giving press conferences and speeches to whoever would listen, telling America: "He is the greatest event in history and we sleep through it... I feel like shouting in the streets. If we knew who he was, we would crawl across America on our hands and knees to rest our heads at his feet."

Indeed, the worship of Maharaj-ji is expressed in a full prostration before him with one's head to the ground, together with a Sanskrit phrase of adoration. A tremendous ovation greeted his appearance at "Millenium '73," he sat atop a tall throne, crowned by an immense golden "crown of Krishna," as the As1rodome scoreboard flashed the word "G-O-D." Young American "premies" wept for joy, others danced on the stage, the band played "The Lord of the Universe" adapted from an old Protestant hymn.

All this, let us say again — in "Christian" America, this is already something beyond mere worship of pagan "gods." Until a very few years ago such worship of a living man would have been inconceivable in any "Christian" country; now it has become an ordinary thing for many thousands of religious "seekers" in the West. Here we have already had a preview of the worship of Antichrist at the end of the age — the one who will sit in the temple of God, setting himself forth as God (2 Thes. 2:4).

"Millenium '73" seems to have been the peak of a Maharaj-ji’s influence. As it was, only 15,000 followers attended it (much less than expected), and there were no "miracles" or special signs to indicate the "new age" had actually begun. A movement so dependent on media publicity and so much bound up with the popular taste of a particular generation (the music at "Millenium '73" was composed mostly of the popular songs of the "counter-culture " of the 1960's) can expect to go out of fashion rather quickly; and the recent marriage of Maharaj-ji to his secretary has further weakened his popularity as a "god."

Other of the "spiritual" movements of our times seem to be less subject to the whims of popular fashion and more indicative of the depth of the influence which Eastern religions are now attaining in the West.

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