Prem Pal Singh Rawat as Maharaji and as Guru Maharaj Ji and Balyogeshwar, is a native of India who teaches a meditation practice he calls Knowledge. He came to early prominence leading the Divine Light Mission (DLM), which has been described as a new religious movement, a cult, a charismatic religious sect and an alternative religion.Rawat has been called a cult leader in popular press reports and in anti-cult writings. He has been criticized for a lack of intellectual content in his public discourses, and for an opulent lifestyle. His followers, when they have reacted to such criticism, have tended to point to issues of perception while Rawat himself has attributed it to ability to give peace and his mistrust of the press. Prem Rawat was born in India on December 10, 1957, and while still a child was given the honorary title Maharaji.
In 1966, Prem Rawat was 9 years old. His father died that year, and he took on the work to which his father had devoted his life: delivering a message to anyone who would listen that there is "a peace that is already within, waiting to be discovered." The tools that he teaches for discovering that peace are called Knowledge. Many people feel inspired and satisfied just listening to him, but others want more. Those who receive the Knowledge and take the time to practice it describe attaining a tremendous shift in their quality of life. For this reason (in the writer’s view at least) the process of making Knowledge available is also a humanitarian initiative. In 1971, at the age of 13, he began traveling internationally, speaking to diverse audiences about the real possibility of inner peace. At the core of his message are techniques that he makes freely available to those who wish to discover the inner experience he speaks of.
Today, Prem Rawat's message is broadcast via public channels on satellite and cable TV in more than 88 countries and 70 languages. In the US, an estimated 200 local cable networks air his addresses weekly in 33 states, reaching tens of millions of households. Broadcasts are entirely financed by voluntary contributions and the sale of related materials. He supports himself and his family through independent means, deriving no income from the organizations that support his work. Prem Rawat has always insisted that Knowledge be taught free of charge, though some have tried to persuade him to charge for it. Knowledge has never changed, though improved technology has made it easier for people to prepare to learn the techniques that he teaches.