The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Techniques of Knowledge

The Techniques of Knowledge as taught by Prem Rawat, also known as Maharaji, comprises four techniques that purportedly helps students to take their senses and invert them within to experience inner peace. Students often describe the experience simply as "going within."

Students say that the techniques of Knowledge have always been a prominent part of Maharaji's teachings and that these techniques have not changed throughout the years. See also the past teachings and current teachings of Prem Rawat. In the past, these techniques were referred to as "Light", "Sound", "Name" and "Nectar". To remove any cultural connotations, Maharaji nowadays refers to them as simply 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th techniques. Students see the ongoing relationship between the disciple and their teacher (guru in Indian culture) to be of central importance for the usefulness of the techniques.


The experience of Knowledge is described by followers as highly internal and "atomistically" individual. The techniques are to be practiced privately, there being no social structure or hierarchy related to their practice. According to students, there is no liturgy or social obligation involved, but Maharaji instructs them to practice the techniques daily for at least one hour to fully benefit from them. They also say that the techniques are universally applicable and their practice has no impact on or relationship to a student's gender, race, sexual orientation, economic status or national origin[1]. Elan Vital also states that practice of Knowledge will not affect a person's religion.

Descriptions of Rawat's techniques have been posted on websites by critical former students, purportedly described by people authorized by Rawat to teach the techniques in the past [2]. Current students answer that the descriptions posted by these apostates are not accurate and moreover, to be useful, the techniques require preparation and mentoring by a living teacher. Students say that they accepted the trust given to them by their teacher and that they have made a vow not to share the techniques with anyone, and that the posting of the description of the techniques would be a unbridgeable affront to the sensitivities of the hundreds of thousands of people around the world that consider Maharaji their teacher and, and his trust as a source of dignity and love.

The Knowledge Session

In his early days in the West, Prem Rawat himself or his instructors (called Mahatmas in India) conducted these sessions in person with smaller groups. Nowadays, the techniques are taught via a multimedia presentation made by Maharaji. It is available in more than 50 languages (of which he speaks five himself: English, Hindi, Nepalese, Spanish and Italian. The other languages are dubbed). Maharaji explains the techniques step-by-step, demonstrating them one by one in ample detail, to ensure that these are understood and practiced correctly. The whole process takes 2 1/2 hours, of which one hour is dedicated to practicing the techniques one by one, 15 minutes each. Before the presentation starts, people can hear Maharaji asking for three promises: a) to keep in touch, b) to give Knowledge a fair chance, and c) to not to share these techniques with anyone. He then asks attendees to stay and receive "the gift of Knoweldge" if they agree with these three promises.

The Knowledge sessions are facilitated by a technical operator that runs the multimedia presentation and the video equipment needed, and another person that ensures the comfort of the attendees and assist them if needed. These people do this as volunteers. Knowledge sessions are available throughout the year in most Western countries mainly during weekends. In India, due to the large number of people, there are Knowledge sessions every day of the year. In special cases such as people in hospitals, or bed-ridden, etc, these volunteers go to were these people are to conduct the Knowledge session at their convenience.

In 1981, Wim Haan (who belonged to a critical movement within the Roman Catholic Church) wrote in an article while he was a student of theology at a Pastoral and Theology school in a small town in the Netherlands, (see references) that receiving Knowledge involved a formal initiation that the aspirant had to keep secret. In this article, Haan speculates that the reason for the secrecy is that he saw a direct connection between the techniques, the initiation and the need to live a life a devotion to Rawat. He also speculated that the fact that other groups may also use the same techniques would probably not help to increase the interest in them. Haan did not receive Knowledge and wrote this article based on observations between 1980 and 1981. Supporters deny Haan's claims, saying that his credentials makes his article hardly worthy of interest. Critics rebut this by pointing out that Professor Eileen Barker refers for more information about the Divine Light Mission to this article that appeared in the official magazine about religious movements of the Free University in Amsterdam.

It has been alleged that the techniques of Knowledge, also known as kriyas, originated from the Surat Shabda Yoga or Sant Mat.

References to the Kryias, Knowledge and the Teacher

  • Bhagavad Gita - Raj Vidya Raj Guyha Yog, Chapter 9. Available online
  • The Buddha-karita of Asvaghosha - Book 15 Available online
  • The Larger Pragńâ Pâramitâ Hridaya Sűtra Available online
  • Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Sohila - Section 04, part 002.
  • Kabir - In his poems, Kabir makes numerous references to the techniques of Knowledge (gyiăn) (e.g. Jaise mandir mahi; Hai koi răm năm batăvai; Răm ke năi neesăn băgă) and to the importance of a teacher (e.g. K.S.S. p.4:41; K.S.S. p10:117; K.S.S. p.16:9; K.S.S. p.2:14)
  • Nanak - Numerous poems by Nanak refer to gyăn (Jnana) and the importance of a living master or guru. Available online
  • Jalalu'ddim Rumi. In many of the poems in his Mathnawi, Rumi refers to the experience within and the love for his teacher. Translation available online
  • Tai I Gin Hua Sung Dshď - An ancient esoteric Chinese book fom the Kiën Lung period in the 18th century traslated by Richard Wilhelm and discussed on the book "Das Geheimnis der Goldenen Blüte" (The Secret of the Golden Flower) in collaboration with Carl Jung. ISBN 0-1567-9980-4
  • Upanishads - Mandukya Upanishad, Chapter 3, Adavaita Prakarana.


  • Chryssides, George D. (2001). Historical Dictionary of New Religious Movements, p. 109. The Scarecrow Press, Lanham, Maryland and London, 2001. ISBN 0-8108-4095-2
  • Haan, Wim (Dutch language) De missie van het Goddelijk licht van goeroe Maharaj Ji: een subjektieve duiding from the series Religieuze bewegingen in Nederland: Feiten en Visies nr. 3, autumn 1981 (Article is based on the Dutch branch of the Divine Light Mission) ISBN 90-242-2341-5. Note: Haan was part of a critical movement within the catholic church.
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04