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Eckankar Darwin Gross

QUESTION: Eckankar Darwin Gross – Who was he and what was his influence?


Eckankar’s Darwin Gross was the second Living Eck Master or the Mahanta of the Eckankar movement.

Eckankar is a religious organization started by Paul Twitchell in 1965. Twitchell, who was an avid reader of occult and eastern religions, started his own group after having been kicked out of Swami Premananda’s church.

When Paul Twitchell died of a heart attack in 1971, he had made no provisions for a successor. His widow, Gail Atkinson, claims to have had a vision in the night in which Twitchell named Darwin Gross to be the next leader. In a ceremony in Las Vegas, Atkinson walked over to him and handed him a blue carnation, signifying that he now had the “Rod of Power.” Since Gross had been with the movement for only two years many Eckists were disturbed by this and left. A few months later Atkinson and Gross were married, sending more ripples through the movement. Their marriage only lasted a few years. They were divorced in 1978.

In October 1981, Darwin Gross announced that he was resigning his position as Living Eck master. He wanted his position to be President of Eckankar, with a yearly salary of $65,000 for life. The ‘Rod of Power’ was handed to Harold Klemp. Within two years, Klemp fired Gross for negativity, spiritual decay, and embezzlement.

Eckankar has now purged any mention of Darwin Gross from all of its literature.

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