We all know the tale of how the Fab Four found the Maharishi. They were looking for gurus, and looking for answers. More or less they found someone, and some answers from the meditation leader. If you were to ask each Beatle what they found from the leader, you’d get a different answer.
It’s sad to see someone who informed the Beatles’ music so much pass on, but time marches on for all of us. Even for the Maharishi it’s no different. In his honor, put on Sexy Sadie (John, would appreciate that) and think about all of those folks who shaped the men who shaped the sound that we all call the soundtrack to our lives.
Here’s what we’ve read.
They did it on the banks of the Ganges, as disciples of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, whose ashram had become the destination of choice for western hippies – a bit like Butlins, Ringo Starr said rudely.
Followers of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who went down in history as the Beatles’ guru, were predicting a swift journey to heaven yesterday, after he died aged 91. The former physics graduate coined “transcendental meditation” as a cure for shedding bodily cares and bringing peace to the world on 20 minutes’ meditation a day. He sold his “TM” system to five million followers, but was best known for his brush with the Fab Four.
The Beatles first went to sit at the feet of the Maharishi in Bangor, north Wales, in the summer of 1967, taking Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull, along with a media scrum. Next spring, as the Tet Offensive exploded in Vietnam, student revolt broke out in Paris, and the hippy musical Hair opened on Broadway, they journeyed to India. “If we had met the Maharishi before we had taken LSD, we wouldn’t have needed to take it,” Paul McCartney said later.
The visit made the Maharishi famous, while the band produced a reported 48 songs, including much of the White Album and classics such as Revolution, Blackbird, and While My Guitar Gently Weeps.
It ended in black comedy. The Beatles abandoned the Maharishi over claims that he crudely propositioned the teenaged actress Mia Farrow in a one-on-one meditation session. The story was confused and years later George Harrison apologised.
Plans recently emerged to turn the Beatles’ revered but run-down ashram, or hermitage, into an eco-hotel and school for street children.
Mahesh Srivastava, born in central India, studied physics at university before becoming secretary to a Hindu holy man. He began teaching TM in 1955, with “yogic flying” the ultimate level, though sceptics called it yogic hopping.
The Maharishi – a Hindi title for “great seer” – died in the Dutch village of Vlodrop. A former monastery in the Netherlands had become a private compound where he spoke to visitors by video, head of a meditation empire said to be worth more than £500 million.
The 65-acre site, dubbed the Global Country of World Peace, claimed its own currency, laws and government.
Five to six million people worldwide have learned his copyrighted TM techniques, typically paying a £1,300 fee. The money financed “peace palaces” around the world, with two colleges in the United States and 200 schools.
A spokesman said the Maharishi died peacefully due to “natural causes, his age”.
Eric Kaplan, administrator for the Maharishi Foundation charity in England, said: “Just before 12 January, his birthday, he announced his work was done.
“The aim of meditation is to bring about a state of enlightenment, where one has got rid of all physiological stresses, one lives in accordance with all the laws of nature. He was a perfect leader, and we would think there was a place in heaven for him.”
About 50 “international administrators” are poised to take the reins of the TM movement, supporters said yesterday. One key figure may be Dr John Hagelin, a Harvard-educated physicist, three-times fringe US presidential candidate, a Maharishi college teacher and “minister of science and technology”.
STARS WHO FLOCKED TO GURU
THE Beatles, Mike Love of the Beach Boys and actor and director Clint Eastwood were among the entertainment legends who flocked to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
He claimed meditation would calm their bodies, wake up their brains and boost the cause of world peace.
The Beatles wrote more than 40 songs on their Indian visit in 1968, including Revolution, While My Guitar Gently Weeps and Blackbird. They fell out publicly over claims the spiritual guru made advances on actress Mia Farrow.
However, other followers allege that the Maharishi was unhappy with the Beatles’ drug use.
Between films, director David Lynch tours the world preaching transcendental meditation, offering funds to schools that teach it. In Scotland, the singer Donovan, as “Dr Donovan Leitch”, recently announced plans for a Maharishi university; Irish engineer Joe Hayden has unveiled similar plans there.
Source: New Scotsman