Master with a Plan
AUGMENTATION OF NARRATIVE AND
HAGIOGRAPHY: A CRITICISM OF RON GEAVES' TREATMENT OF PREM PAL SINGH RAWAT
Academic study of belief and the sociological aspects of
religion are frequently problematic and those researching the sociology of
religion face many challenges. The dispassionate and disinterested ideals of
science may not always be obtainable in sociological research and
Qualitative Methodology provides a worthy alternate approach. However the
role of the researcher working within the narrative of a given belief must
be explicit if the research itself is not to become merely an adjunct to
that narrative of belief or a mere addition to an existing hagiography. This
article examines the writing of Prof. R. Geaves concerning Prem Pal Singh
Rawat and the role that Geaves' work has had in the development of both the
narrative of belief and the hagiography attached to Prem Rawat aka Maharaji.
Ron Geaves is a Professor in the Study of Religion
[*]. He is also a long time adherent of the teachings of Prem Pal Singh
Rawat. Geaves has written a number of academic papers which focus on Prem
Rawat although habitually Geaves does not declare his association with Rawat
within his authorship references.
In 2004 Geaves published a statement [*] addressing what Geaves claimed to be defamation of his professional
standing, which had appeared on the Internet. Geaves did not identify a
specific web site but the contentious material seems to have been focussed
on Geaves' 2004 article "From Divine Light Mission to Élan Vital and Beyond:
An Exploration of Change and Adaptation" [*].
In his statement Geaves describes himself as an "experiential essentialist",
how informative this self description is, is beyond the exploratory scope of
this web site, however Salman Rushdie has described Essentialism as "the
respectable child of old-fashioned exoticism. It demands that sources,
forms, style, language and symbol all derive from a supposedly homogeneous
and unbroken tradition ...........," ( Imaginary Homelands: Essays and
Criticism 1981-1991  67).[*]
Geaves' 2004 article was discussed in largely unfriendly terms on the
Prem Rawat Talk forum .
In March 2006 Geaves published a further article on Prem Rawat titled:
Globalisation, charisma, innovation, and tradition: An exploration of the
transformations in the organisational vehicles for the transmission of the
teachings of Prem Rawat (Maharaji) [*]
In this latest work Geaves continues to develop a proposition that Rawat is
a master planner, a strategist who stochastically responds to a changing
media environment to more effectively ensure the delivery of a 'teaching'.
In maintaining validity of this proposition, Geaves lays himself open to the
very same criticism that has attached to his earlier writings about Rawat,
that is: that Geaves is not producing a dispassionate analysis but rather is
creating both hagiography and apologism. The failings of the most recent
article certainly raise serious doubt about the quality of the analysis that
Geaves has employed in the presentation of his hypothesis.
2. Chronological Errors
Geaves' proposition is that Rawat has pursued a purposeful and successful
organisational strategy over time. Clearly any proof that such a strategy
has been followed, and especially that such a strategy has been effective,
requires the presentation of an accurate and referenced chronology. In May
2006 a criticism of Geaves' most recent article was published on the Prem Rawat Talk forum. [*]
This criticism challenged Geaves' chronology of Rawat's organisational
initiatives, and in so doing further provided a challenge
to the validity of Geaves' analysis of Rawat. The chronological errors can be summarised as:
Geaves erroneously claims that Élan Vital was created as a new organisation.
The various nationally registered Élan Vitals were in fact, with the sole
exception of the UK organisation, simply the old Divine Light Missions
under a new name. [*]
Geaves erroneously claims that the various national Divine Light Missions outside of
India ceased to exist in 1982. The US name change was not completed until
1986, the Australian DLM did not change its name until 1993 and the UK DLM
was not wound up until 1995. [*]
Geaves erroneously gives the date for the creation of Divine United Organisation
as 1974. The correct date is 1973, the year in which the creation of DUO was announced by Rawat and
in which it was registered in India. [*]
Geaves erroneously claims that DUO became defunct and was replaced by
Bhavan (sic). DUO was in fact simply renamed Raj Vidya Kender.
Geaves erroneously gives the date of closure for the western ashrams
as 1982. The closure was in fact not complete until 1983. [*]
3. Unsupported Assertions
The chronological inaccuracies in Geaves' 2006 article are compounded by a
large number of unsupported and unjustified assertions.
The assertion of 'growth' is wholly unsupported by evidence; certainly the
number of followers/initiates/students attracted to Rawat between 1979 and
2001 was only a fraction of the numbers claimed as adherents in the 1970s. [*]
"In order to comprehend Prem Rawat’s success in the last four decades,
first only in India and then on a global scale, it is necessary to explore
the various organisations that have been created as vehicles for
dissemination as an aspect of ‘resources’, here used to describe the
spiritual and material dimensions of a changing situation wherein people
were able to make new meaning of their inner lives and of their lives as a
group, and to situate themselves in new locations in regard to the wider
Here Geaves begins by introducing a notion of 'success', yet nowhere does
he propose how this claimed success is to be
measured. Many former followers would suggest that Rawat's only success has
been the acquisition of personal wealth, while even current followers would
be hard pressed to identify any quantitative achievement that might equate
to any common understanding of the term "success".
Geaves goes on to assert that 'people', by whom he appears to mean
committed followers of Rawat, were enabled to "make new meaning of their
inner lives and of their lives as a group". To have validity such an
assertion requires not only definition - (What in this context does 'inner
life' mean? What behaviourally and constructively was 'the group'?) but
also some presentation of evidence that in fact 'new meaning' could actually
be gained and to what extent was this actually realised by those involved.
"Prem Rawat has been successful since he left India in 1971, establishing
his teachings in over eighty countries, and his original vehicle Divine
Light Mission was described as the fastest growing new religious movement in
Here Geaves does give a definition of success, yet the claim of
"establishing his teachings" remains unqualified and unquantified. Without
demonstration of what establishment of the teaching amounts to, the
assertion is meaningless. Further if Geaves' test of success is the rate of
growth of Rawat's 'vehicles' then this axiomatically undermines the claim
that Geaves makes elsewhere for the success achieved by Rawat in the 1980s and 1990s
when levels of activity and participation were static or in decline.
"Initially, the followers of Prem Rawat’s teachings in the UK established
Divine Light Mission in 1971, shortly after his first arrival in the west at
the age of 13. There had been a presence in the UK since 1969, located in a
basement flat in West Kensington and then in a semi-detached house in
Golders Green, North London. This had come about as a result of four young
British members of the counter-culture, taking the ‘hippy trail’ to India in
1968 discovering the young Prem Rawat and his teachings and requesting that
a ‘mahatma’ be sent to London who could promote the message and show
interested individuals the four techniques known as ‘knowledge’."
It seems incongruous, if not disingenuous for Geaves not to indicate at any
point in the article that one of the "four young British members of the
counter-culture" was Ron Geaves. The fact that the author of the article was
actually one of those who instigated the introduction of the Rawat movement
to the UK is a fundamental 'fact' in an article so heavily reliant on
personal assertion. [*]
"Divine Light Mission was also established in the United States and by 1972
had its international office in Denver, Colorado."
Geaves' contention that a single entity called Divine Light Mission had an
"international office" appears fallacious, there is no evidence that such
an office existed. Although the Officers of the US DLM, either at Rawat's
instigation, or from their own initiative, may have operated as though they
had international authority, the national Divine Light Missions in the UK,
Australia, India etc. were entirely autonomous, whilst the US DLM had no
brief to operate internationally.
"Although Divine Light Mission was established as an organisational vehicle
for promoting Prem Rawat’s teachings, it rapidly developed into a vigorous
new religious movement with its own distinctive appearance combining the
typical characteristics of a contemporary North Indian Sant panth (sectarian
institution) in which nirguna bhakti was combined with intense reverence for
the living satguru ....."
The original foundation documents for the US, UK and Australian DLMs make it
quite clear that they were created as religious organisations from the
outset. Had the intention simply to have been to create vehicles for the
promotion of a teaching, then the organisations could have been created as
having educational rather than religious purpose. [*]
"....but in fact, Prem Rawat’s charisma owed itself to a combination of
factors that enabled individuals to perceive something far more dynamic than
an established sampradaya lineage could provide."
The Geaves' assertions about Rawat's charisma and the perceptions of individuals are
unsupported by any evidence, it is difficult not to conclude that there is
but one 'individual' in this context and that Geaves is simply reporting his
personal experience as 'fact'.
"By 1974, the movement had experienced a number of crises resulting from
the marriage of Prem Rawat to Marolyn Johnson, a Californian follower; the
financial crisis created by the failure to fill the Houston astrodome and
the disillusionment of American followers, whose millennialism had always
been stronger than in Europe or Britain, when their expectations of a
messianic event were not fulfilled."
Geaves' assertion of exceptional millennial belief within Rawat's US
following begs the question of why such a belief arose. If indeed Geaves is
correct regarding millennial belief, this sits unconformably with his
elsewhere that Rawat did not promote religiosity. Rawat's early
orations, which included frequent reference to the Bhagavad Gita certainly
contributed apocalyptic imagery to the melange of millenialistic
expectations of Rawat's
"Elan Vital displayed none of the characteristics of a religion found in
Divine Light Mission. For example, none of Smart’s dimensions of religion
could be found in Elan Vital and Prem Rawat increasingly used its
organisational neutrality as a vehicle to promote his message of inner peace
and fulfilment with a marked decrease in the trappings of the Indian
Here Geaves is heaping assertion on top of his erroneous claim that Elan
Vital and Divine Light Mission were fundamentally different entities. Indeed
of the dimensions commended by Smart - experiential, ethical, doctrinal,
mythical, ritual, social and material - only 'ethical' can be said to be
have been wholly absent from the operative belief systems of those following Prem Rawat both before and after the name change from Divine Light Mission
to Elan Vital.
"However, the organisation was not responsible for this task, which was
handed over to individuals around the world who felt personally committed to
organise events and publicity, even down to inviting Prem Rawat to speak in
their towns and cities."
From 1972 onwards it was standard practice for Rawat only to attend meetings
to which he had been 'invited'. Denial of a request was presented in terms
of "Guru Maharaj Ji feels more strongly drawn to his followers elsewhere" to
which organisational insiders and the mahatmas would respond by berating the
community that had failed to have its invitation accepted as "being not
loving, committed or devoted enough". Although 'beration' is not an explicit
feature in the operation of Elan Vital, the acceptance or refusal by Rawat
of an 'invitation', is still seen in terms of success or failure by many of
his followers and is a key part of the dynamic which supports the garnering
of donations to fund Rawat's travels. Further, Elan Vital is explicit about
its role in the 'invitation process'. [*
see page 2 Review of activities] & [*]
- "A new organisation was created by Prem Rawat, and named The Prem Rawat
Given that creation of TPRF is a recent development it might be expected
that Rawat's role in this 'creation' process would be identifiable, yet none
of the publicly available documents relating to TPRF show any involvement by
Prem Rawat at all. Geaves may be correct in his assertion but some evidence
in what must have been a transparent process is required to validate the
- "This new development [TPRF] provides an agency through which Prem Rawat
can independently promote his message, but also offer the same independence
to individuals who wish to assist him locally, organising their own events
through supplying both print and electronic materials."
The notion of Rawat's 'independence' is false. The funds supporting TPRF come from the same cadre of followers that provide funds to the
national Elan Vitals which in turn are the source of revenue which supports
the operation of a $45 million jet and an associated $4 million per
annum travel budget. Further no individual followers can practically 'assist'
locally without reference to the national Elan Vitals. [*
see page 2 Review of activities]
- "Prem Rawat ......... and he encourages would-be students to think for
themselves, delaying formal teaching of the four techniques for at least
five months during which time they should listen and resolve any questions."
There is no process in which those who sign up for the Keys programme of
DVDs (which are required viewing for anyone wishing to be taught the four
meditation techniques), are in any way encouraged to think for themselves.
Rawat has never commended critical examination of what he says, what his
organisations do or what his recommended meditation actually involves. The
only consistent command that Rawat has given to those aspiring to be taught
the Rawatian Knowledge is that the aspirant should give up 'doubt'. [*]
- "Although Prem Rawat’s followers, in both east and west, have asserted
strongly that he is either an avatar of the supreme being or one of the
avatars of Vishnu, especially Krishna, he has gone to great lengths to
assert his humanity and deconstruct the hagiography that has developed
around his life."
Here Geaves misleads by diversion as well as false assertion. The
treatment of Rawat by the movement that promotes him is profoundly
hagiographic, everything from Rawat's abilities as a pilot to his
registering a patent is presented as evidence of his great
accomplishments. A Hindu centred narrative may no longer be stressed but
the whole thrust of the Rawat movement is to promote a hagiography albeit
one that has been revised to encompass a materialist and technological
Further, in spite of the public message that the Rawat movement has
abandoned Hindu style religious guruism, which seems to be the basis of
Geaves' assertion that Rawat has "gone to great lengths", adulatory
practices continue at closed events as is made clear by the report of a
recent event held in Delhi:
"Last night the backdrop photo was of that moment. He is sitting,
aged 8 years, with his Krishna crown on and is having a tilak put on his
This was repeated last night on the 40th anniversary. After 3 wondrous
days with him giving us so much, of hearing ancient premies sharing
their love and gratitude for Maharaji with such wonderful words, of
hearing young premies sharing their love and enthusiasm for Knowledge
and Maharaji, of hearing many bhajans, old traditional ones and new
upbeat ones, of hearing his words and feeling his love and dancing once
more with him......................he came on to the stage in his
Krishna costume, Charanand put a tilak on his forehead, Raja Ji
garlanded him and Daya crowned him. We then sang artii to our beautiful
- "The audiences addressed by Prem Rawat through the activities of the
Foundation will provide the opportunity to place the emphasis on the message
rather than the personality as these new audiences will be independent of
existing congregations made up of those with a strong allegiance to the
person of Prem Rawat."
In this statement Geaves abandons any attempt at observation and moves
wholly to the prediction of outcomes. Even in this predictive mode, Geaves
seems oblivious to the fact that audiences at many of the events sponsored
by TPRF are largely made up of the "existing congregations".
4. False Hypotheses
Geaves, perhaps unintentionally, introduces two false hypotheses - the first
is that the organisational 'transformations' that have occurred within Prem
Rawat's movement have been intentional conscious responses designed to
support philosophically significant outcomes, the second is that Rawat alone
has been the 'genius' of change.
Intentional Change, Capricious Diktat or Expedient Reaction
The setting up of the Divine Light Missions in the UK, US and Australia
provide no evidence of any clear planning, and the role of Prem Rawat, then
aged only 13 and with little understanding of the world outside of his
northern Indian guruship and Catholic schooling can have had little grasp of
the legal aspects of Charitable status, tax exemption and Trustee
responsibility. Indeed it is not even clear that those of Rawat's
followers who initiated these organisations and who took on Trustee and
Officer responsibilities had any collective experience of such initiatives.
While all those concerned, including the young Rawat, no doubt had
expectations of what the organisations were to deliver, far from suggesting
'intentionality' the historical evidence points toward an ad hoc and chaotic
response to a collectivist notion of how things 'should be'.
Further this explanation of the evidence sits far more logically with Geaves'
claim of a 'counter culture' origin for Rawat's reception in the west.
The announcement of the creation of the Divine United Organisation in 1973
is the first point at which Rawat can be identified as the 'sole initiator'
of an organisational project, however as Rawat was still a minor he could
not have undertaken the legal responsibilities himself and the role of those
who did accept Trusteeships can not be shown not to have contributed
substantially to the shaping of the organisation. The role of the mahatma
Sarupanand particularly bears examination.
Although DUO was trumpeted by Rawat as being a wholly new initiative, it
merely copied the base formula of the Indian Divine Light Mission and in
comparison to that organisation did not even advance as far as an equivalent
development of the DLM World Peace Corps. For almost all its 33 years DUO/RVK
has been little more than an ashram and compound operated under the aegis of
an Association registered with the Indian Government.
Not until 1975 do events occur that, with later testimony, offer insights
into how the Rawat movement operated and which give a demonstration of what the
impetus for change actually was. The US DLM had originally been registered as having
charitable purpose and as being a church, with Prem Rawat identified as the
Chief Minister of that church. Michael Dettmers, Rawat's personal assistant
from 1975 to 1988 has explained in detail how the US DLM was redefined to
separate Rawat from having any legal or contractual responsibility to or for
the US DLM, while at the same time transferring some $5 million worth of
assets held by the
church to the personal control of Rawat. [*] The overarching impetus for this change was a formal examination by the US
Internal Revenue Service, and the effective outcome of the change was the
personal enrichment of Rawat. Geaves' hypotheses about Rawat at no point describe
observable events of organisational change that took place in 1975 and 1976
within the US Divine Light Mission.
Geaves claims that "As early as 1975, the ashrams were disbanded ..... "
seemingly suggesting that this was a purposeful move initiated by Rawat. In
the closure of many ashrams was precipitated by numbers of ashramees physically
moving out or otherwise, because the properties occupied as ashrams were
leased in the name of the residents, many followers simply abandoning the
strictures of ashram living and turning the properties into mere communally
The re-ashramisation that occurred under the aegis of the national Divine
Light Missions between 1977 and 1983 certainly appears to have been an
intended and strategic development, what is not clear is what the motivation
behind the reversal of laissez fair acceptance of ashram decline was. Geaves
seems to suggest that Rawat 'needed' to act because "loss of the Indian metanarrative was too soon for many committed followers of the teachings." Geaves' implication being that in reinstating the ashram system Rawat was
acting in the interest of, or responding to the demands of his "committed
Given that the organisational change of 1975 had been driven by an outside
influence (the formal examination of the US DLM by IRS) and that that change
had resulted in huge personal benefit accruing to Rawat, any hypothesis
regarding subsequent organisational changes might reasonably be expected to
address the issues of what the prevailing exterior influences may have been
and whether further personal benefit accrued to Rawat. Geaves make no
mention of either element and it is indeed the case that no single dominant
exterior influence appears to have been behind the re-ashramisation that
accompanied the heightened devotionalism demanded by Rawat at that time. However the further
accruing of personal benefit to Rawat is evident from 1977 onwards,
something which saw its fullest expression in the DECA project which some
participants have described in terms akin to a labour camp. Surprisingly
Geaves makes no mention of DECA despite the huge level of organisational and
financial resources that the operation swallowed up.
Geaves' conflation of the 1982 [1982 - 1983] closure of the ashrams with his
erroneous chronology of the Divine Light Mission/Elan Vital name change
leaves his analysis of this period highly questionable and Geaves'
presentation of the purpose behind the closure as being part of a strategic
aim to 'de-Indianise' seems partial at best. For those within the ashrams in
82 and 83 the decision appeared arbitrary and capricious, most ashramees had
no independent means of support and suddenly found themselves without home,
employment, career or family. An entirely materialistic and selfish response
by Rawat to external influence has
been suggested by a number of former ashramees as being the only motivation
behind the ashram closures. The perception being that a changing
legal climate saw increasing liabilities accruing to the national Divine
Light Missions for the health care, pension and other social costs of ashram
residents. In this scenario the ashram closures are explicable as a simple
fiscal response to a deteriorating fiscal environment.
A surprising omission from Geaves' chronology is the abortive attempt in
1985 to change the church/religious status of the US organisation - by that
point renamed as Elan Vital. The process was begun by lodging papers with
the IRS that changed the Elan Vital status to that of a public trust, and the
IRS actually treated the US organisation as having that status until 1989. The IRS
finally ruled the changed status invalid because of Elan Vital's
failure to submit requested documentation. This sequence seems to be
quite outside of the intentionality of purpose that Geaves claims for
Rawat's organisational changes.
Other omissions from the organisational chronology could be claimed as
justified because they were not "used to transmit his [Prem Rawat's]
teachings", however such a distinction seems somewhat arbitrary. The Elan
Vital Foundation for instance does not directly act to 'transmit teachings'
but it is the essential hub for the international movement of the funds
which support Rawat's travels. The SEVA Corporation of America, Myrine
Investments and the Oanae Trust are all organisational entities which are,
or have in the past been crucial to the movement of funds and to the beneficial
holding of assets which have been claimed by Rawat's supporters as either
being essential to support Rawat's travels, or to the operation of
mechanisms by which Rawat's 'students' have been enabled to make gifts to
their teacher. SEVA Corp. came into existence some time in the 1980s, its
subsidiaries have owned most of Rawat's aircraft, plus the 106ft yacht Serenity. Oanae
Trust and Myrine Investments are of less certain history, Oanae was a
financial vehicle for the receipt of funds from wealthy donors,
possibly including the Delaski family and the Delaski owned Deltek Corp. Myrine Investments was the ultimate owner of both Rawat's Australian
residence at Fig Tree Pocket and the Amaroo Conference Centre, the latter
having been purchased and built with donations and loans from Rawat's
followers. The Oanae and Myrine operations are 'off shore' registrations,
the board of EVF, which is registered in Switzerland is not publicly
identified while SEVA Corp. and its subsidiaries have had a select group of
Rawat's followers as Officers and Directors.
It is further surprising that Geaves does not address the specific
development of the Amaroo Conference Centre as this project was foreshadowed
in earlier attempts to create westernised versions of the 'ashram compound'.
In the 1970s Rawat had announced plans for a 'town sized' ashram in the US
where everything would be run by Rawat's followers, this never materialised.
In the 1980s, Rawat, apparently at his own initiative purchased land in
Argentina which was planned to be developed as a global meeting place for
his followers. Attempts were made to hold tented gatherings there but the
land proved liable to flooding and the whole project was quietly forgotten.
The Amaroo project commenced in the early 1990s and with its clear antecedence
within the Rawat organisational chronology it is difficult to see how this
continuation of an organisational theme supports Geaves' proposition of
organisational innovation, indeed Amaroo has all the hallmarks of a project
conceived as part of Rawat's 1973 DUO plan.
Throughout the 1990s numbers of national Elan Vital's were closed and by
2002 only the UK, US and Australian operations were evidently active, Geaves
does not address this sequence of closures but again there is no evidence
that the organisational change came about for any reason other than the
financial imperative of shutting down moribund operations.
Geaves is certainly right to identify the use of the Internet by the Rawat
organisations but whether this development is anything other than a
pragmatic response to the development of a revenue generating opportunity
and the rapid decrease in numbers of followers outside of India willing to
spend time promoting Prem Rawat in a real world rather than virtual context,
is a moot point.
A further omission by Geaves concerns what were called Trainings. Although the style and attitudes
presented by Rawat in these events had been noted in the past by those
attending 'management' meetings with Rawat, it was undoubtedly a new
development to invite numbers of followers to pay for attendance at training
conference type events where Rawat took the role of Management Trainer. The
'trainings' certainly provide explicit evidence of Rawat's world view
and philosophical approach, however this evidence does not accord well with
the Rawat philosophy as presented by Geaves. [*]
Lone Genius of Change
Geaves avoids any analysis of the internal dynamics of the organisations
that have promoted Prem Rawat and instead presents Rawat as the sole agency
of initiative within those organisations. As already noted above Rawat cannot, for both practical and legal reasons, have acted without the
co-operation of those who held legal and constitutional positions in those
organisations. An exploration of the relationship between Rawat and the
functionaries, officers and trustees of the organisations is essential to
any understanding of how change, if any, came about.
The only published accounts of Rawat's relationship with individuals who
have had legal and functional responsibilities within the promoting
organisations are statements from three individuals all of whom had separated from
the organisations and who had rejected Rawat as a teacher. Covering a period
from 1971 until 1988, the comments of Bob Mishler, Michael Donner and
Michael Dettmers point to a confused and contradictory relationship between Rawat and those who run the promotional organisations.
These testimonies also clearly
identify numerous elements of organisational change that were the initiative
of individuals other than Prem Rawat. . [*]
In addition to these 'apostate' statements, Geaves' 'lone genius' hypothesis
can be tested against the known legal and functional demands of individual
- The US Divine Light Mission was created as being legally Incorporated and
as operating as a Church as defined within the Internal Revenue Service Code.
Legally the US DLM was required to have named Board members, named Officers
and, as chosen by the Board, a named Chief Minister of Religion. The changes
in the US DLM in response to the IRS examination of 1975 saw the position of
Chief Minister removed as a constitutional element, in all other respects
however the US Elan Vital has the same characteristics in 2006 as it had
under the DLM name in 1976. The question then arises: What has been the
relationship between Prem Rawat and the legally responsible members of the
Board and Officers of Elan Vital/DLM over the last 30 years? Geaves'
hypothesis requires that the Board members and Officers would have been
subject to instruction by Rawat as to how the organisation was run and
managed. Such an arrangement would be highly problematic, not least because
Rawat has been the recipient of large amounts of finance from the
organisation in support of his International travels. The financing of
Rawat's travels may be justified in terms of Elan Vital's 'brief' but the
demands of good corporate governance require that there be a degree of
independence in the awarding of commercial contracts, charitable
grants and expenditure which may seem to be seen to disproportionately
benefit an individual. If indeed, as implied by Geaves, Rawat has had a 'didactic'
relationship with the Board and Officers of Elan Vital then the required
level of independence must be in doubt.
The problematic nature of Rawat's relationship with the US Elan Vital is
well demonstrated by the testimony of a former volunteer employee. [*] Further evidence of a confused organisational dynamic comes in the form of
legal representation provided to Rawat in his personal capacity by Linda
Gross who has served as President of the US Elan Vital. [*
Trouble around the Heliport]
However, as the US Elan Vital has been subject to examination by the IRS for
35 years, it must be assumed that Elan Vital has been operating with an
acceptable degree of effective corporate governance and that therefore the
Directors and Officers have consistently acted independently of Prem Rawat
and that therefore Geaves' hypothesis regarding Rawat's 'leadership' role is
- The UK Divine Light Mission was created as Trust with religious purpose
under UK Charity Law, the Trustees and Officers of the Trust being required
to act entirely independently and in the interest only of the Trust as
defined by its objectives. As with the US 'church' good governance would
have required a clear separation between personal adherence to Rawat as a
teacher, and any decision to use the Charity's resources to support
activities directly involving Rawat or which could be seen as benefiting
Rawat personally. Successive General Secretaries of the UK DLM were involved
in the requesting of funds to support the leasing of a property known as
Swiss House which was to serve as a private residence for Prem Rawat in the
UK. Were Geave's hypothesis to be correct, the initiative to acquire the
Swiss House must surely have come from Rawat himself, thus the Trustees and
Officers of DLM would be open to the charge that they failed to meet the
independence required of them.
- The Australian Divine Light Mission was created as an Association, its
original Constitution specifically provided for Prem Rawat to have the right
of appointment of members and officers; in this respect the Australian
organisation more than any other provides support for Geaves' hypothesis of
Rawat as a 'lone genius of change'. The scope of the Australian organisation
however has always been limited, in comparison the US Elan Vital has
subsidiaries that are involved in the production of materials for world wide
distribution and licensing and for the production of television programming.
Only in respect of the Amaroo project has the Australian organisation had a
more global role, here again the question of good governance arises because
the Association has created corporate subsidiaries. The Directors and
Officers of the subsidiaries must necessarily act independently of anyone
likely to benefit at the expense of the legal corporate beneficiaries. As
Rawat was involved at a personal level in the ownership of land on which the
Amaroo development has taken place, Geaves' hypothesis if correct would seem
to imply that an improper relationship must have existed between the
Directors and Officers of the Australian EV subsidiaries and Prem Rawat. As
the Australian authorities have reported no such untoward relationship the
Directors and Officers of the subsidiaries and the Officers of the
Association must be considered to have acted independently and as such must
be considered as agents of change within the Rawat movement, both in
Australia and upon a wider global scale.
Geaves' erroneous chronology of the Rawat movement fatally undermines both
the article in which it appears but also requires that his previous writing
on Rawat be re-examined. In addition Geaves own role as an agent within the
history of the Rawat movement demands to be addressed before any of Geaves'
propositions about the movement can be treated as disinterested analysis.
Geaves numerous unsupported assertions about the Rawat movement and about
Rawat as an individual are frequently contradictory and seem far more about
justification of a perspective than about providing a description of actual
phenomena or historical context.
Furthermore the hypotheses presented by Geaves do not explain the observable
data. For practical and legal reasons Rawat can not occupy the exclusive
'leadership' position that Geaves ascribes to him. Others, either as
individuals or collectively as corporate bodies necessarily shape the
movement that supports Prem Rawat. Additionally that movement is subject to
external influences which must to some degree be in conflict with the
expressed views of Prem Rawat. Geaves makes no attempt to explore how the
corporate bodies that comprise the corps of the Rawat movement respond to,
or mitigate the effects of conflict between external and internal
influences. In so doing Geaves neglects whole rafts of data which deserve
assessment, and which are essential to achieving any understanding of the
dynamics of the relationship between Prem Rawat and the movement that has
formed around him.
Article created July 2006, revised August 2006.