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Elan Vital 'Hate Group' Allegations

Elan Vital is the generic name for national organisations that support Maharaji's teachings in a practical way. In June 2004, the United Kingdom Elan Vital put up on its web site a page titled Hate group harasses EV and Maharaji's students, which is substantially a copy of a similar page from the Elan Vital Australia site. Here is my personal response to some of their points.

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Does Maharaji have opponents? Over the past thirty years, many thousands of people in Britain have practised Prem Rawat's teaching of inner peace and found them of great benefit in their lives. At the same time, many have also decided not to pursue them and have moved away with no ill feelings...

Correct, but the number who have 'decided not to pursue them' is many many times more than the number who are currently practising Maharaji's 'Knowledge', or as Elan Vital puts it: 'Prem Rawats teaching of inner peace'. I would estimate that the number of people who have taken Knowledge in Britain since 1970 is probably approaching a hundred thousand, and the number currently practising less than five thousand. It would be interesting if Elan Vital were to provide publicly verifiable documents that would make these figures precise.

...to our chagrin, a very small number have formed themselves into a vociferously complaining opposition of whom some actively work against Prem Rawat and Elan Vital in a way that can only be characterised as that of a 'hate group'.

I am not sure what that way is 'that can only be characterised as that of a hate group'. All the people that I know who have stopped practising Maharaji's Knowledge, and who are now writing about their former experiences, have a variety of emotions - grief, feeling stupid they were ever so gullible, angry perhaps - but not hateful. They, and I, are merely trying to come to terms with the fact that we gave most of our adult lives to Maharaji and what he taught. I think that it is remarkable, in fact, how little hate I have seen in this group, considering what many of us went through.

...a small Internet-based hate group of approximately twenty disgruntled former students operating under the cloak of anonymity has been harassing Maharaji, his students and Elan Vital.

There are several inaccuracies here. First, there are many more than 'approximately twenty' ex-premies trying to come to terms with their past with Maharaji publicly. A quick visit to the ex-premie Forum will verify at least twenty participants in the last 24 hours alone.

Secondly, the 'cloak of anonymity' applies to Elan Vital itself, and not the ex-premies. You will note that on no Elan Vital site is there the name of an individual who can be contacted and is accountable for what is written there. Premies who post to the ex-premie Forum are almost always anonymous. While many ex-premies are also anonymous, many also identify themselves clearly. My name is Mike Finch, email mrf@sent.com.

Thirdly, the phrase 'harassing Maharaji' is probably true, but only in the sense that what he says publicly, and what he claims, is being challenged - also publicly - which I would imagine does harass him. There is no harassment in the legal sense as 'a course of conduct directed at a specific person that causes substantial emotional distress in such a person and serves no legitimate purpose' (United States Code Title 18 Subsection 1514(c)1) since the purpose of writing about our experiences does serve a very legitimate purpose.

They operate using a fake front with a Webmaster allegedly residing in Latvia, who uses a blind e-mail address, safely outside of the reach of law.

This sentence is meaningless and insidious innuendo. I am not sure what a 'fake front' means here. The ex-premie website is a web site the same as Elan Vital's. The webmaster clearly identifies himself as John Brauns, who I know personally. He really does live in Latvia. Who are any of the Elan Vital sites webmasters, and where do they identify themselves? What is a 'blind email address'?

They have made no effort to provide journalists or interested parties with any independently verifiable documents or factual support for any of their allegations.

When you are in a cult, there are no 'independently verifiable documents' which tell your personal story. There are, however, many 'independently verifiable documents' of Maharaji's speeches from the past, namely his own journals and magazines, which Elan Vital has tried to collect from all the premies and take out of circulation, as they are so embarrassing to him. Of course, not everyone handed them all in, and direct quotes from these embarrassing speeches appear regularly on the ex-premie Forum. Many of these embarrassing speeches, and the journals that contain them, can also be seen on the Gallery.

There is also a large body of 'factual support' from eyewitnesses, and many journalists and 'interested parties' are aware of it. The fact is, that from a journalist's point of view, the story of a small and dwindling cult is not newsworthy these days.

...they have committed harassing and sometimes unlawful acts....Is it true that this small hate group has committed criminal acts against the organisations and Maharaji's supporters?

I am not aware of any such acts. However, the harassing and 'sometimes unlawful' acts of current premies towards ex-premies is well documented.

What is this hate group trying to accomplish? While it is difficult to understand their motives and pursuits...

I appreciate that it would be difficult for a fully paid-up cult member (a 'premie') to understand their motives and pursuits. But to anyone outside the cult, they are obvious: We gave our lives (literally) to Maharaji, and we now feel that this was a terrific waste. The process of unravelling our emotions, regaining our integrity, and taking responsibility for our own lives again, is a sometimes painful one, but something we need to do. And for many, it is a great help to do it publicly with a support group, namely others who are going through the same process.

Almost all of these critics have left the practice of Knowledge 20 or more years ago and have not been able to find other interests in their lives.

I was still practising Knowledge in a very committed way in 2000 (less than four years ago). I started leaving Maharaji and stopped practising Knowledge in 2001. I have found a wide variety of other interests in my life since then.

Many of their activities have leapt from mere criticism into outright illegal acts

This is not the case, and of course Elan Vital have no evidence to support such an outrageous accusation. On the contrary, it is they and the premies who appear to have made such a 'leap', if anyone has, as has been well documented, as I mentioned previously.

...they obsessively display material and photographs of Maharaji from the 1970s in a desperate effort to 'prove' that Maharaji once was seen as 'God.'

I don't know what they mean by 'a desperate effort'. It is undeniable that Maharaji was and is seen as God or God-like; he was seen this way publicly throughout the 70's and early 80's; and privately even now by most inner circle premies. Many thousands who lived through that period know it as a fact. Why try to hide it? Note that Elan Vital do not, in fact, deny this; they only state that efforts to show this are 'desperate' and 'obsessive'.

Is it true that this small group has manipulated some media? Members of the group have actively sought, and in some cases found, reporters who have re-published false and defamatory statements without endeavouring to undertake a direct investigation of facts or to exercise a fair measure of due diligence or professional journalistic caution.

All the reporters who have actually undertaken a 'direct investigation of facts' agree with the broad conclusions outlined on this site or on the ex-premie website. See a collection of such press articles here.

Are the people in this hate group credible? Of the 15-20 people posting as various anonymous personae on the hate site, it has been documented that...

The allegations that follow are ridiculous and defamatory. Note that Elan Vital does not say they are true, only that 'it has been documented'. As for my own credibility, readers will have to judge for themselves from this site.

Knowledge was given freely to these people. Everyone is entitled to change his or her mind, and those who don't like Maharaji's message are encouraged to move onówithout recrimination or ill feeling.

In fact, that describes my position well. Except that it was not so much that I did not 'like Maharaji's message' - the problem was that I liked it too much, I thought it was a beautiful and believable message.

To conclude: for myself, Maharaji and his message are fast becoming an insignificant blip on the horizon behind me, as I move on. Feelings of recrimination and ill feeling are resolving, and I am seeing life and myself in a new, fresh and wholesome way. I do not wish to 'bring Maharaji down', or even to change anyone's opinion. I get emails from premies telling me how wonderful their experience of Maharaji's Knowledge is, and I have no right to deny that, nor do I want to.

My sole reason for my writing about Maharaji on this site, is simply that as a prominent premie in Britain for so long (see my premie CV/Resume/Bio), encouraging so many people throughout the years to become followers of Maharaji (or stay as followers once they were), then to retain any sort of personal integrity, I have to make my present-day position public.

I know personally many of the people involved in Elan Vital UK, and I still remember them with fondness and respect. I find it hard to believe that they, or others like them, could be responsible for such a vitriolic page. But more importantly, why? If this Knowledge is so great, and Maharaji such a great teacher of 'inner peace', why react so strongly to criticism? If Maharaji's following is not a cult, why react in such a cult-like way?

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