Millennium '73 was a free three-day festival held at the Houston, Texas, Astrodome in November 1973 by the Divine Light Mission (DLM), prominently featuring Prem Rawat, then better known as Guru Maharaj Ji, who was 15 years old at the time. The event was billed as "the most significant event in human history." It was called the "youth culture event of the year", and was considered one of the notable events of the 1970s. It has been called the most important event in the movement's history. Attendances fell far short of the projected 100,000, being variously estimated at 10,000 to 35,000. Media reports generally depicted the event as a disappointment. The DLM had promoted it as the dawning of a great age, but it failed to meet those expectations. The festival's failure, along with other factors, led to changes in the DLM's structure, management and message.
The DLM taught a set of meditation practices that it called "Knowledge", and followers were called "premies". Premies who achieved bliss through Knowledge were said to be "blissed out". Some actions of the guru were characterized as lila, or divine play.
Guru Maharaj Ji's "Holy Family" included his mother, Mata Ji, and three older brothers: Bal Bagwan Ji, Bhole Ji, and Raja Ji. Bhole Ji was the bandleader of Blue Aquarius, a 50-member big band. Raja Ji headed the "World Peace Corps", the DLM's security force.
Guru Maharj Ji
- "This year the most Holy and significant event in human history will take place in America".
- "This is a festival not for you or me. It is for the whole world and maybe the whole universe".
- "Isn't it about time you all get together and help me bring peace to this Earth?"
- Statements in the invitation to the festival
- "It's really fantastic and really beautiful to see you here, the Millennium program will start tomorrow and it'll really be fantastic, it'll be incredible ... and soon people will get together and finally understand God. ... There's so much trouble in the world, Watergate is not only in America, it exists everywhere."
- Remarks made from an outdoor stage to thousands of followers who greeted him at the airport in Houston
- "You want to be the richest man in the world? I can make you rich. I have the only currency that doesn't go down ... People think I'm a smuggler. You betcha I am. I smuggle peace from one country to another. This currency is really rich. But if you think I'm a smuggler then Jesus Christ was a smuggler and so was Lord Krishna and Mohammed."
- Webb 1973
- "Try it, you'll like it."
- Gortner 1974
- "Imagine if you wanted a Superman comic real bad. And you go all over asking people if they've got one. You go to all the bookstores and to all the kids in the colleges, and all the people on the streets and no one has one anywhere. And you're real depressed and you're sitting there in the park and this little kid comes up and says "Hey man, how'd you like a Superman comic." And you say, "G'wan. You don't have one." And this kid pulls it from out of his shirt and it is a genuine; a gen-u-ine Superman comic: and you look at it and say, "Hey man; this must be very expensive," and he says, "No, take it, it's yours. It's free." And you don't believe him but then you take it. He just gives it to you. Well if you can imagine that, you can imagine what Knowledge would mean to you."
- Webb 1973
- "The thing is that this life is a big car, and inside the car there is a big engine. And in the engine there is a carburetor, which is hooked up to a fuel line. In some cars, before the fuel line hits the carburetor, there is a thing called a filter that makes sure the fuel going into the carburetor is pure. So in this life, the filter for our minds is the Knowledge, and if we are not being filtered properly, many dirty particles enter our minds and eventually the whole engine is destroyed."
- Levine 1974
- "They must be drunk. When the real antichrist comes they won't even recognize him. He'll be too professional."
- Levine 1974
- Maharaj Ji: The aim of this mission is to establish peace on this earth. Here I am. I say I can establish peace in this world. It is quite possible. I would very much like all the press would cooperate with me in doing this.
- Kilday 11/13/73
- Maharaj Ji: The thing is, if you write an article, maybe the credit goes to you or not; but if peace is established in the world, definitely there will be a credit for you. And this is the most important point that press reporters usually look for, 'Will we get credit out of this or not?'
- Gray 1973
- Reporter: Maharaj Ji, are you the Messiah foretold in the Bible?
- Maharaj Ji: Please do not presume me as that. Respect me as a humble servant of God trying to establish peace in this world.
- Levine 1974
- Reporter: Why is there such a great contradiction between what you say about yourself and what your followers say about you?
- Maharaj Ji: Well, why don't you do me a favor ... why don't you go to the devotees and ask their explanation about it?
- Levine 1974, Moritz 1974, Gray 1973
- Reporter: There's a war in the Middle East; why aren't you there?
- Maharaj Ji: When a war begins, a general doesn't have to be on the spot.
- Morgan 1973
- Reporter: It's hard for some people to understand how you personally can live so luxuriously in your several homes and your Rolls-Royces.
- Maharaj Ji: That life that you call luxurious ain't luxurious at all, because if any other person gets the same life I get, he's gonna blow apart in a million pieces in a split of a second. ... People have made Rolls-Royce a heck of a car, only it's a piece of tin with a V8 engine which probably a Chevelle Concourse has.
- Levine 1974, Moritz 1974, Gray 1973, Greenfield 1975
- Reporter: Why don't you sell it and give food to people?
- Maharaj Ji: What good would it do. All that's gonna happen is they will need more and I don't have other Rolls-Royces. I will sell everything and I'll walk and still they will be hungry.
- Levine 1974, Moritz 1974, Morgan 1973, Kelley February 1974, Greenfield 1975
- Reporter: Guru, what happened to the reporter in Detroit who was badly beaten by your followers? [Following the question DLM members tried to change the subject, but reporters called for an answer.]
- Maharaj Ji: I think you ought to find out what happened to everything.
- Levine 1974, Gray 1973
- "I don't know whether it's the air conditioning, but you can really feel something." [emphasis in original]
- Boyle 1985
- A bearded premie from Boston, though no Krishna-symp, voiced disillusionment with the Divine Light treatment of the Krishnas. "Rennie Davis, who is supposed to be such an advocate of free speech, isn't letting these folks have theirs. He's working with the police against these people."
- Dreyer 1974
- "It's the great spiritual energy that Goom Rodgie gives off. When he is giving a talk, you'll see lots of premies just dozing off to sleep. His energy simply stuns them."
- Snell 1974
- "I am meditating right now, as I talk to you," he says cheerfully. "But I cannot describe to you the Divine Knowledge any further than that if you haven't experienced it. Our Knowledge is not a religion, but an experience. Can I describe to you the taste of a mango before you have tasted it?"
- Gray 1973
- "Lila, did you see that lila?" a young girl runs out of the landing strip waving her arms excitedly. "He surprised us, he played with us by coming down on the wrong landing strip!"
- Gray 1973
- "I haven't been into acid much," a boy lying next to me says, "just about a hundred trips or so."
- Gray 1973
- A WPC member said: "This is nothing, should have seen us in India, mate. We had to carry batons there. Loving words won't always stop people from comin' onstage y'know. Sometimes you got to bonk 'em."
- World Peace Corps (WPC) was the security division of the Divine Light Mission, headed by Raja Ji.
- Greenfield 1975
- I've come to the point where I know there is a Supreme Being and He is one with that 15-year-old boy." **Robert Hallowitz, a "29-year-old neurophysiolegist and a research associate at the Laboratory of Brain Evolution Behavior at the National Institute of Mental Health in Washington."
- Morgan 1973
- These people are feeling better-that's why you don't see any scowl lines on their faces. I think one of the greatest evils in the world is the phrase "I need." It comes from our ego, the "me" position, the "my" position. Now, notice these people in the Divine Light Mission. You won't hear them saying, "I want this" and "This is for me," and they won't be fighting with each other. Watch the traffic guards in the hallways, and watch how the devotees listen to their authority. There's no battle with authority.
- Robert R. Newport, a psychiatrist from Guerneville, California
- Snell 1974
Anonymous quotes from non-members
- "You couldn't help being a little 'blissed-out' yourself watching thousands of people freak out of their minds."
- One T-shirted youth, trying to find an unlocked entrance so he could leave the stadium, said angrily. "I came to check it out. but this is a real bummer. No one who was really God would let himself be put up on a throne like that."
- MacKaye 1973
- And then, nodding out toward the arena, [the uniformed policeman] said, real friendly-like: "Ain't this just the damnedest thang you have ever saw?" [sic]
- Snell 1974
- "I'm going to check out this Knowledge," a prepremie in a crazy cowboy outfit says, "because it's like putting your cock into a new woman, you've got to do it before you know what it's like."
- Gray 1973
- "I don't like this movement!"
- Jerry Rubin, a co-defendant with Rennie Davis who attended the event at Davis' invitation.
- Blau 1973
- Most of the devotees with whom we spoke reported a significant drop in the number of people receiving knowledge starting from late 1973. This created a condition of financial strain which became critical when Millennium '73, an all-out extravaganza held in the Houston Astrodome where Guru Maharaj Ji was crowned "Lord of the Universe," proved to be an economic flop. ... DLM underwent significant organizational and ideological transformations. It no longer projected itself as a movement that would include all of humanity in its membership.
- Baxter, Ernie (August 1974), "The multi-million dollar religion ripoff", Argosy: 72, 77–81, #380
- Blau, Eleanor (November 12, 1973), "Guru's Followers Cheer 'Millennium' in Festivities in Astrodome", New York Times
- Boyle, Deirdre (1997), Subject to change: guerrilla television revisited, Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-504334-0
- Dreyer, Thorne (January 1974), "God Goes to the Astrodome", Texas Monthly
- du Plessix Gray, Francine (December 13, 1973), "Blissing out in Houston", The New York Review of Books (Volume 20, number 20): 36–43
- Gortner, Marjoe (May 1974), "Who Was Maharaj Ji? The world's most overweight midget. Forget him.", Oui
- Greenfield, Robert (1975), The Spiritual Supermarket, New York: Saturday Review Press/E. P. Dutton & Co. Inc., ISBN 978-1582340340
- Khalsa, Kirpal Singh (June 1986), "New Religious Movements Turn to Worldly Success", Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (Blackwell Publishing) 25 (2): 233–247, doi:10.2307/1385479, retrieved on 2008-09-27
- Kelley, Ken (February 1974), "Over the hill at 16", Ramparts Magazine: 40–44, #12
- Kilday, Gregg (November 13, 1973), "Under the Astrodome – Maharaj Ji: The Selling of a Guru, 1973", Los Angeles Times: D1
- Levine, Richard (March 14, 1974), "Rock me Maharaji – The Little Guru Without A Prayer", Rolling Stone Magazine: 36–50 Also in Dahl, Shawn; Kahn, Ashley; George-Warren, Holly (1998), Rolling stone: the seventies, Boston: Little, Brown and Company, pp. 102–105, ISBN 0-316-75914-7
- MacKaye, William R. (November 9, 1973), "Following the Guru To the Astrodome", Washington Post: 1
- Morgan, Ted (December 9, 1973), "Oz in the Astrodome", New York Times, retrieved on 2009-05-24
- Moritz, Charles (Editor) (1974), Current Biography Yearbook, New York: H. W. Wilson Company, ISBN 0824205510
- Snell, David (February 9, 1974), "Goom Rodgie's Razzle-Dazzle Soul Rush", Saturday Review World: 18–21, 51
- Webb, Marilyn (November 22, 1973), "God's in his astrodome", Village Voice