Prem Rawat's Big Splash
File under: Satscams and Gurus Clockin' Dollars
Prem Rawat, the guru formerly known as Guru Maharaji Ji, has come a long way since his disgrace and subsequent withdrawal from the satsang scene in the early 80s. He recently addressed the U.N. during its 60th anniversary (and produced his own movie about it), has spoke at various educational institutions and donated $75,000 to a Texas food bank for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. How do we know all this? By the hand of his organization's PR department, of course! This is one guru who really knows how to toot his own horn.
Accused of the usual abuses (including shielding a pedophile in his organization), he has a very strong and seemingly well-organized group of ex-devotees who protest at his engagements. One went so far as to rent a truck to batter his way in.
We find that large, active communities of ex-devotees mean one thing: satscam. Rawat's renaming his org and flooding the internets with positive press releases doesn't seem to have quelled their criticism much. They say that any PR is good PR, but not when you claim to be God. Bad PR sticks to gurus like tobacco smoke at a truck stop. Unfortunately for him (but perhaps fortunate for the guru-seeking masses), we don't see poor old Prem getting out of that anytime soon.
Update: A Google blog search using the term "Prem Rawat" turns up an impressive number of blogs with Rawat-inspired entries, most of them seemingly planted by devotees. We're starting to smell a large, organized and concerted effort to flood the internets with positive portrayals of this notorious satscammer. Stay tuned as we attempt to track this scheme (if there is one) as it unfolds.