Misleading information about Prem Rawat is being distributed on the internet by a small but vocal hate group known as "ex-premies."
Allegations regarding individuals named in this page are expressions of opinion. The owner of this web site encourages readers to examine all available evidence and to form their own opinions.
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Opposition to Prem Rawat and his message
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Does Prem Rawat have opponents?
Are the people in this group credible?
Harassment and criminal acts
What are they trying to accomplish?
Scholarly research: What drives apostates' obsession
Does Prem Rawat have opponents?
Since the late 1990s a small internet-based group, often operating under the cloak of anonymity, has been harassing Prem Rawat and his students. They operate using an unregistered association (formerly calling themselves The Maharaji Information Group) with a web master residing in Latvia, who uses a blind e-mail address, safely outside of the reach of law. They have made no effort to provide journalists or interested parties with any independently verifiable documents or factual support for any of their allegations. They have committed numerous harassing and sometimes unlawful acts. Some have been responsible for death threats. Due to their hate speech and harassing activities they have often been called a hate group.
Are the people in this group credible?
Out of around 15 or 16 active members in 2003/4, it has been documented
One had been hospitalised for hallucinatory paranoia.
* One had acknowledged suffering from multiple personality disorder.
* One became a member of the group after surgery to remove a brain tumour that affected his cognitive abilities.
* One receives a pension for permanent mental disability.
* One, Dave Simpkiss, runs a pornographic film production business in the UK.
* Neville Ackland from Australia, was arrested and served a prison term after being convicted for illegal weapons possession as well as possession of 150 lbs. of marijuana.
* Jeffrey Leason, a notorious cyber-hacker, was subjected to a restraining order after being investigated for domestic violence.
* Journalist John Macgregor from Byron Bay was held liable by the Supreme Court of QLD Australia for theft of private financial and credit data and convicted for contempt of court. John later apologized for his actions and supplied an affidavit to E.V. Australia giving details of his involvement with the group.
* John Brauns, the web master of the group's web sites, fled from England to Latvia reportedly leaving a trail of bad debts after the demise of his beer importing business.
* Jim Heller, a Canadian lawyer, acknowledged in writing having embezzled $18,000 from an organisation assisting Prem Rawat's work. He wrote later that the admission was a joke. He openly admits hating Prem Rawat's students and has supported harassing activities by members of the ex-premie group.
Is it true that Prem Rawat's opponents have manipulated some media?
Members of this group have actively sought, and in some cases found, reporters who have re-published false and defamatory statements without endeavoring to undertake a direct investigation of facts or to exercise a fair measure of due diligence or professional journalistic caution.
They have successfully fed misinformation to newspapers and sent multiple letters to editors using fictitious names.
In 2002, journalist John Macgregor filed complaints against Elan Vital with many tax authorities around the world and then encouraged other reporters to write about tax fraud investigations without disclosing to readers and editors that he had instigated the story. Macgregor also misled local reporters about his credentials, claiming to have been a high-level organiser of Elan Vital, when in fact, he never held any such position. Macgregor later apologized for his actions and provided Elan Vital Australia with an affidavit which describes how the hate group operates.
In 2003, the group contacted the newspaper at a California university where Maharaji was going to speak. They bombarded a young journalism student with emails containing hurtful allegations. A hate group member then posed as a fictitious "spokesperson" of Elan Vital and gave the newspaper silly quotes supporting the hate group's allegations. The student newspaper was duped and published a false and hurtful story. When Elan Vital contacted the newspaper's faculty advisor, the newspaper published a retraction. The hate group re-published the false and retracted article on its website, but never acknowledged its role in fooling the press or that the article was retracted.
This hate group has come to rely on the laziness or irresponsibility of a minority of reporters to "do their dirty work" by republishing false and defamatory statements with no measure of due diligence or journalistic caution.
It is not sufficient for publishers to simply precede these allegations with cautionary phrases such as "some critics say" and then add a token response from Prem Rawat or Elan Vital. Given the fact that the hate group is composed of people with woefully inadequate credibility and malicious motives, reporters and editors who are manipulated by these individuals are in breach of journalistic ethics and may put themselves at legal risk.
Is it true that members of the group have committed criminal acts against the organisations and Prem Rawat's supporters?Sadly, yes.
Using the anonymity of the Internet, they have discussed various plans and threats, including but not limited to:
* Inciting people via the Internet to drug and kidnap members of Prem Rawat's family.
* Conducting physical assaults. In June 2003, as Prem Rawat was leaving the hall in Bristol, UK, one such person assaulted security staff to rush at him, screaming, "If you don't stop, I'm going to kill you and your family."
* Inciting people to poison water at the IRCC Conference Centre near Brisbane during a convention.
* Mounting campaigns of telephone calls and letter writing to the employers of Prem Rawat's students "warning" them that they employ "a member of a dangerous cult." This caused several people to lose their jobs. In other cases, businesses were adversely affected.
* Filing formal complaints to professional regulatory bodies to have the law and psychology licences of Prem Rawat's students revoked. Fortunately, no regulatory body found any allegations worthy of formal investigation.
* Calling the editors of newspapers publishing fair articles about Prem Rawat (at times up to 40 calls a day), intimidating them into recanting their articles.
* Harassing by telephone and internet the author of academic articles about Prem Rawat, emailing his supervisor to have him rescind a fair article about Maharaji.
* Stalking the venues where Elan Vital holds public meetings, contacting the proprietors and flooding them with threats that there may be a demonstration. Then, sending defamatory statements about Elan Vital to the proprietors.
* Trying to learn what entities Elan Vital does business with, and then flooding those entities with "friendly warnings" about who Elan Vital "really" is. The hate group's goal is to get contracted business cancelled. One hate group member, a Vancouver-based criminal lawyer specialising in defending drug dealers and rapists, has repeatedly boasted of conducting similar harassment.
* Publishing on the Internet the floor plans of Maharaji's house (where his wife and children reside), publishing his personal telephone number and encouraging people to call him.
* Systematically calling the venues where Prem Rawat holds events, feeding them slanderous information and trying to cause them to cancel the event.
* Trying to break into the internal email system of Elan Vital.
* Using stolen, misappropriated access codes to enter into Elan Vital internal telephone conferences.
* Publishing on the Internet details about the private lives and sexual preferences of students of Prem Rawat and registering these documents with internet search engines so that people searching these people's names would immediately read this private information.
* Systematically posting copyrighted documents on their website, in violation of applicable copyright laws.
What is this group trying to accomplish?
While it is difficult to understand their motives and pursuits, they have overtly declared their intention to defame, libel and harass Prem Rawat (Maharaji) and his students, and have done so repeatedly.
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. Sadly, they justify their vindictiveness as "public service." Their activities have often developed from criticism into harassment, and occasionally, illegal acts.
Scholarly research: What drives apostates' obsession?
Stuart A. Wright explores the distinction between the apostate narrative and the role of the apostate, asserting that the former follows a predictable pattern in which the apostate utilizes a "captivity narrative" that emphasizes manipulation, entrapment and being victims of "sinister cult practices." These narratives provide a rationale for a "hostage-rescue" motif, in which cults are likened to POW camps, and deprogramming [is seen as] a heroic rescue effort. He also makes a distinction between "leavetakers" and "apostates", asserting that despite the popular literature and lurid media accounts of "rescued or recovering 'ex-cultists', empirical studies of defectors from new religious movements "generally indicate favorable, sympathetic, or at the very least mixed responses toward their former group."
Gordon Melton, while testifying as an expert witness in a lawsuit, said that when investigating groups, one should not rely solely upon the unverified testimony of ex-members, and that hostile ex-members would invariably shade the truth and blow out of proportion minor incidents, turning them into major incidents. Melton also follows the argumentation of Lewis Carter and David Bromley and claims that as a result of this study, the (psychological) treatment (coerced or voluntary) of former members largely ceased, and that this (perceived) lack of widespread need for psychological help by former members of new religions would in itself be the strongest evidence refuting early sweeping condemnations of new religions as causes of psychological trauma.
Bryan R. Wilson, who was a professor of Sociology at Oxford University, writes that apostates of new religious movements are generally in need of self-justification, seeking to reconstruct their own past and to excuse their former affiliations, while blaming those who were formerly their closest associates. Wilson utilizes the term "atrocity story" that is in his view [a story] rehearsed by the apostate to explain how, by manipulation, coercion or deceit, he was recruited to the group that he now condemns.
Wilson also challenges the reliability of the apostate's testimony by saying that, "The apostate [can] always be seen as one whose personal history predisposes him to bias with respect to his previous religious commitment and affiliations. The suspicion must arise that he acts from a personal motivation to vindicate himself and to regain his self-esteem by showing himself to have been first a victim, but subsequently a redeemed crusader."