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Maggi Draper

“Summer of 1971 was a very special and magical summer. I was 19, had already journeyed overland to India for my gap year and had completed my first year at university. A former school friend of mine had shown me the photo in the newspaper of the young 13-year-old ‘guru’ arriving in London and the accompanying article which said he'd be appearing at Glastonbury Fayre. I was already planning to be at the festival, so I thought I would see him there.

“In fact, when the young Prem Rawat took to the stage, the loudspeakers were not working well and I was in another field at the time and I missed his talk.

“I had a wonderful time at the festival spending a lot of time dancing in front of The Pyramid Stage.

“At some point, I came across a van that had a picture of Prem on its side and someone gave me a small piece of paper with a poem on it by Charles Cameron which appealed to my young artistic imagination. At the bottom was an address in Golders Green, North London. I thought, ‘Ok, I'll go and check it out sometime when I'm back in London.’

“When I was back in London, what I can only describe as a series of coincidences or serendipitous moments led me to that modest house in Golders Green. And finally, I met Prem Rawat for the first time. He was in the sitting room at the front of the house answering questions for those who had gathered there. At first, I totally forgot I had been told he was 13 years old. To me, he spoke with a wisdom that was timeless. I felt like I'd found home.

“When he had finished speaking, he got up, left the room, and ran upstairs. It was then that I remembered he was only 13. He started playing with water pistols. I was at the bottom of the stairs, mesmerised, looking up at him. Suddenly he said, ‘Milky, bring me a bucket of water!’ Yes, you guessed it, a moment later I was absolutely drenched and very, very happy!

“This was my introduction to the wonderful Prem Rawat. And still, after 51 years he kindly reminds me with his words of wisdom of the importance of peace in my life and where to look for it.”