Divine Light Mission - Beliefs and Practices

Beliefs and Practices

For more details on this topic, see Techniques of Knowledge and Teachings of Prem Rawat.

According to some scholars, Shri Hans was influenced by both the Sant tradition and the Bhagavad Gita. Reinhart Hummel wrote that from the former came the reduction of Hinduism to the inner realization of the divine and the veneration of the guru, and from the latter the emphasis on the practical life. Hummel also noted that the DLM never developed a systematic doctrine, either during Hans' time or Prem Rawat's time. Hummel further asserted that the influence of the North Indian Sant tradition was dominant in Hans' eclectic thinking, and that from the Sant tradition also came the rejection of outward rituals and ceremonies; the rejection of asceticism in favor of life as a householder; the rejection of veneration of idols, and the focus on the guru as the manifestation of the divine. Hummel also noted that the four meditation techniques are of central importance to Prem, as they were to Hans.

No rules or regulations were imposed, and no beliefs or ethical practices were taught. The fundamental practices of inner peace were embodied and experienced through satsang, service and meditation, the sum of which is an experience called "Knowledge." Members of the DLM meditated formally twice daily and attended discourses on the Knowledge (known as satsang) when possible. According to Galanter "satsang could be delivered to active members or to those with only a casual interest. It was something of a polemic interspersed with parables, and because members were bright and sophisticated, these discourses tended to be engaging, making use of both Hindu mythology and Western philosophy". In a study by Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman former followers said that they had spent 32.9 hours per week in group-related processes and ritual and 19.9 hours in additional study or indoctrination (lectures, seminars, workshops etc). Vegetarianism was encouraged but not enforced except in ashrams and Divine Centers.

Five "commandments" were part of the Divine Light Mission's teachings:

  1. Do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
  2. Constantly meditate and remember the Holy Name.
  3. Leave no room for doubt in the mind.
  4. Never delay attending satsang.
  5. Always have faith in God.

In the United States, the early years of the Divine Light Mission were marked by the rapid growth of loosely affiliated local ashrams, united mainly by a shared devotion to Guru Maharaj Ji. As the DLM became more and more structured and centralized, leadership and power came to be concentrated in the Denver headquarters. According to scholars, Prem Rawat's desire to consolidate his power and authority over the U.S. movement led to increasing formalization, with rules and regulations for ashram living, standards for recruited "candidates," and pressure towards certification of the movement's teachers. According to scholars Foss and van der Lans, the teachings of Hans Ji Maharaj were minimized after 1975, and followers were expected to accept Prem Rawat as their personal savior.

David V. Barrett noted that the DLM movement was often criticized for emphasizing the superiority of subjective emotional experience over intellect. The sociologists Ralph Larkin and Daniel A. Foss made similar observations in 1978. In response, the religious scholar Ron Geaves, himself a member of the movement, accused Foss and Larkin of bias.

A 1981 article based on the Dutch branch of the Divine Light Mission stated that the DLM had little philosophical background and that the all its central creeds and tenets were described in the song associated with the Hindu ritual called aarti. Arti was sung to Prem Rawat in the morning and evening in ashrams.

Rawat says he does not charge for teaching people the techniques of Knowledge. Related organizations that support the dissemination of Rawat's message are funded by donations. According to the Prem Rawat Foundation, it is supported by people who appreciate Rawat's message and wish to help make it available to others.

Read more about this topic:  Divine Light Mission

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