Is Maharaji the Leader of a Cult?

If you ask a member of a group, if they are a member of a cult, they will answer, "No". If you ask former members of that group, and they answer "Yes, we were in a cult", then you should be sceptical about the answer given by current members.

Elan Vital attempted to answer this question in their
Opposing Views FAQ on their website (since removed, but preserved here). Although they are selective in their criteria for what constitutes a cult, even using their criteria, Divine Light Mission, the predecessor of Elan Vital, was clearly a cult.

But cult membership is a little more subtle than the criteria Elan Vital choose. Joe Whalen analyses the definition of a cult in more detail, and describes the process of becoming a member of the Maharaji cult, in his excellent analysis
here, and his followup.

For more recent accounts of the process of becoming a cult member, read
a rejected aspirant's story, or a lucky escape.

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