HE was a God made for the western youth acid generation. Young himself, barely 21. And right from India in the wake of some heavy hitters, the least not being the Maharishi who had won over the Beatles.
HE rode his devotee-drawn carriage through the crowd of prostrating premies, and to kill the boredom, he reflected on when he had first arrived in the States. When was it? 1971? His short term memory wasn't what it should be for someone so young, due in part to his propensity for the vices of an opulent lifestyle; expensive red wine and cognac and the best hash.
Those early days had been the best days. The numbers of his devotees had been claimed to be in the millions, in the United States alone.
HIS Mission, Divine Light Mission, had suffered some hard blows since then. He scowled suddenly, remembering the defection of his general secretary, Bob Mishler, just before the Jonestown suicides. And the fight with his family before that.
This was the last day of the Kissimmee festival.
A devotee in the front of the crowd lined up for darshan happened by circumstance to be in the line of The Scowl, and felt the world end that moment. A severe suicidal depression overcame him. How could he have displeased his Guru so much as to cause this look? This sadness would last for months and end in disaster for that young man, who just happened to be standing in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The Master thought about the grand finale tonight. If only there were some words he could say that were not the ones they wanted to hear. What would be the point? Everything he said was accepted as divine truth.
And the God business had been very lucrative since coming West. No, there had been some rough waters, but it was not time to stop just yet.
But lest the person who received Maharaji's scowl during the weird wagon darshan be forgotten, here is the rest of his story.
The young man was one Doug Carrol who lived in the Vancouver ashram. He had been engaged in a fierce struggle with his mind in the days prior to the Kissimmee festival and had been praying fervently that Maharaji would bestow some special sign on him to renew his faith.
Maharaji's scowl in his direction triggered a depression in him that he wouldn't have named as a depression-no, premies didn't ascribe psychological terms to their suffering back then. Rather, he KNEW that he had fallen out of Maharaji's favor and would never win the fight over his mind.
After that, Doug became more and more reclusive, and his once dry humor turned morbid and sad. He became obsessed with the idea of coming back in the next lifetime as a lizard or a dog. One night he heard a dog barking outside his window. Something about the juxtaposition of his thoughts, the strange slant of moonlight on the carpet, and the dog's bark, twisted his mind into a grotesque shape. He started screaming and crying and his best friend in the ashram, John, held him and tried to calm him down.
Doug needed help but the thinking in the ashram at the time was that he just wasn't surrendered enough. Besides, the ashram couldn't afford the money to send him to a psychiatrist. John wanted to call Doug's family, but Doug wouldn't let him. Doug kept struggling with his mind during daily meditations and would take long walks at night. Sometimes the ashram brothers heard him sobbing in the shower.
The day Doug hung himself, the other people in the ashram didn't really talk about it. After dinner, they ate their ice cream slowly. The evening meditation was good that night.
John went to the funeral (against the community coordinator's wishes) and was shocked to see the open expressions of grief in the family members and in the friends from Doug's hometown. Doug's mother looked like she had been crying for a week. She apologized and said the doctor had given her something to calm her nerves and that she was 'out of it'. She said she was surprised at the level of her grief. They had lost Doug long ago, but he was still her child.
A few weeks later John received a letter from Doug's mother. In it, she wrote, "I thought I should send you a copy of this letter I'm sending to Maharaji. I am off of the anti-anxiety pills now, and I'm not feeling sad anymore. I'm enraged."
Just as surely as if you had shot a bullet through his heart, you killed my child. Do you have any idea what this feels like, to have your child lost to you twice? The first time was when Doug moved into the ashram, claiming that were no longer his family.
You can't imagine how we tried to understand the strange spiritual quest he was on. We consulted psychologists, read books. We did everything we could to keep in touch.
We blamed ourselves. We were never an overly strict family. We never went to church or tried to force anything on our kids. If only we had been stricter, more involved in our children's lives, less permissive, etc. etc.
Then Doug killed himself. We've since discovered that Doug felt he was out of favor with you. Do you have any idea what goes on in the minds of these young men and women who believe you are the Lord and have given their promising young lives to you? Do you know that Doug meditated night and day looking for a sign from you of your love for him? That he worked at that brainless job solely so that he could earn money to see you? No, I suppose you couldn't understand a young man sweating in a warehouse since you live the life of obscene luxury. No you couldn't understand because you are a fraud, nothing but a bloodsucking fraud, sucking the life force out of gullible young men and women.
I have found out that there have been several suicides of ashram devotees. Why do you think this is happening, Maharaji? Your callousness is remarkable to me.
I've had my heart cut out of me and I'll never recover. Nor will Doug's brother or father. I consider you to be the devil himself and I'm not a religious woman, but I wouldn't wish this even on you.
- Veronica Carrol