Maharaji - What's In A Name?

Prem Pal Singh Rawat, was at first known in the West as "Guru Maharaj Ji" and referred to himself as "Guru Maharaj Ji". In conversation he was often referred to as 'Maharaji'.

As late as the Rome Hans Jayanti festival on the 1st November 1981 he still referred to himself as Guru Maharaj Ji (57 times in the one speech) but he never used the term in a public program in Washington DC on November 26 (when the audio tape of this speech was released it was titled "Maharaj Ji") though members of the audience called him "Guru Maharaj Ji" and one called him out on his desire for worship:

Question from Audience: Why do you seek their worship?
Prem Rawat: Well, I don't seek their worship.

How quickly Prem Rawat forgets his very own agya!

"But the thing is, that what is Guru Puja? Why have we all come here? Ha, we came for Holi and we'll all come for Hans Jayanti and we are here for Guru Puja. Guru Puja, if you have a guru, if you have a Perfect Master, you can't do anything but worship him every day of your life. You tell me, if you really have that Perfect Master in your life, what can you do except to worship him every day? Get up and worship him, pray, know, surrender. Every day of our lives!!!!!!!!!!"

On March 23 1982 in Melbourne Australia the crowd even responded to his entrance with cries of "Bolie Shri Satguru Dev Maharaj Ki Jai" and he called himself Guru Maharaj Ji 33 times. but later that year in the very glossy booklet " People Pursue Happiness" ©Elan Publications he is called "Maharaj Ji" 50 times so it seems there was a intermediary period going from "Guru Maharaj Ji" to "Maharaj Ji" to 'Maharaji' but by 1985 he was definitely down to a one word title and he undoubtedly hoped to never see the word 'Guru' applied to himself again.

Only Prem Rawat can know why he demanded these changes but it seems reasonably obvious, considering all the other name changes being initiated around the same time, that he wanted to make a break with the past and have his 1970's Boy God career consigned to the trash can but to keep his loyal followers knowing him as he really is. So what do these Hindi words really mean? I think Prem Rawat, himself, is the best person to answer that question. On April 7, 1979, he gave his translation:

What does Guru Maharaj Ji mean? Guru -- the revealer of Light. Gu -- darkness; ru -- Light. One who takes us away from the darkness and brings us to Light is "Gu-ru." Guru Maharaj -- maha: the ultimate, raj: the ruler. The ultimate ruler. Guru Maharaj. And Ji is like the expression "sir."

maha: the ultimate, raj: the ruler; Maharaji: The Ultimate Ruler

Maharaji aka Prem Rawat Information Resource


The young Prem Rawat openly enjoyed creating and naming organisations and proclaiming proclamations and giving himself titles though to be fair not all of his nomenclatural complexity can be laid at his feet. Some were the creative flair of his devotees set aflame by his Divine Knowledge. Like most things related to Prem Rawat, there is considerable confusion. All these unholy names are referenced to official Divine Light Mission/Elan Vital publications or various newspapers. You can't make this stuff up.

  • Prem Pal Singh Rawat - Apparently this is his name though maybe it was Pratap Singh Rawat
  • Prem Rawat - Shorter version of name
  • Sant Ji - What he was called as a child, 'sant' is usually translated as 'saint'
  • Maharaji - Ultimate Ruler

Maybe we should accept the research of the New York Times which sent a special Indian investigator who discovered what name was actually given to him first:

The name given to him at birth was Pratap Singh Rawat. When he succeeded his father as head of the Divine Light Mission, he came to be known both as Balyogeshwar (Child God) and Shri Guru Maharaj Ji. He is a little over 15. He is the youngest of a family of five, consisting of three brothers and a married sister. His late father, generally regarded as the founder of the mission, is alluded to by his full title: Yogiraj (King of Yogis) Param Sant (First and Supreme Saint) Satgurudev (True Worshipful Teacher) Shri Hansji Maharaj. Balyogeshwar's mother is addressed as Shri Mataji (Revered Holy Mother). She is a buxom, good-looking woman with chocolate-brown complexion and high cheekbones. She blushes as easily as she smiles. Her row of sparkling teeth are outdone in their luster only by the diamonds in her nose and ears. Balyogeshwar resembles his mother. He has the same dark brown, smooth, mahogany skin, with slanting eyes and a tendency to fatness. He looks a brown cherub. His hair is well oiled. He wears a black waistcoat over a starched white shirt, white pajamas and ankle-high Western boots. As he enters, the devotees go down on their knees and press their foreheads on the floor. He takes the cushioned armchair.

New York Times Photograph

The purpose of this website is to provide an accessible information resource for those interested in the character and history of Prem Rawat and the organisations that support and promote him.

The authors welcome corrections to any inaccuracies that may have inadvertently been applied to the website's content.