Never done an obit on justastory before but this one in the Telegraph caught my eye today. Of course, the Beatles were giant in my young imagination – and their fascination with Oriental themes came out big time in Sergeant Pepper, which I listened to endlessly whilst growing my hair. It proved to be the spur for much further reading and thinking. Bit enlightening to hear that the Maharishi heavily disapproved of the Beatles behaviour whilst in his ashram, but then again, one feels he could have been wiser in some respects……
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Indian guru to the Beatles and millions of meditators, has died at his home in the Dutch town of Vlodrop, a spokesman said.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a guru to the Beatles who introduced the West to transcendental meditation, has died at his home in the Dutch town of Vlodrop.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi parlayed his interpretations of ancient scripture into a multimillion-dollar global empire
“He died peacefully at about 7 p.m.,” said Bob Roth, a spokesman for the Transcendental Meditation movement which the Maharishi founded and which introduced the West to a Hindu practice of mind control, once dismissed as hippie mysticism but which gradually gained medical respectability.
Mr Roth said the cause of death was yet to be established but it appeared to be “natural causes, his age.” The Maharishi was believed to be 91.
The most celebrated and famous of the 1960s spiritual gurus, the Maharishi drew in many high profile celebrities to his Transcendental Meditation movement. These included the Beach Boys, singer-songwriter Donovan, Clint Eastwood and avant-garde film maker, David Lynch.
But the most high profile followers were the Beatles, who spent time on a retreat in India in the late 1960s.
However the relationship soured and, with the exception of the late George Harrison, the group became disillusioned with the Maharishi and following a widely-publicised spat, left. Only Harrison maintained an interest in meditation.
The spiritualist and author Deepak Chopra, a former maharishi disciple and a friend of Harrison, has said that contrary to popular myth, the row was nothing to do with claims that the maharishi made sexual advances on Mia Farrow, the actress and friend of the band.
Instead, he said, the maharishi had objected to the group taking drugs at his home in Rishikesh, northern India.
Dr Chopra told the Sunday Telegraph: “What isn’t generally known is that the maharishi had got fed up with the Beatles taking drugs while they were at his ashram [spiritual home].
“They were smoking ganja [cannabis] and taking LSD. He hadn’t come across anything like that before and he took a strong view.”
Born between 1911 and 1919, the maharishi, whose real name was Mahesh Prasad Varma, was a physics graduate from Allahabad University before rejecting materiality and becoming a devotee of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati or “Guru Dev”.
In 1955 the maharishi began publicly teaching a traditional meditation technique which he later renamed Transcendental Meditation.
Within three years, the maharishi had begun the first of a number of worldwide tours which lead to his fame and global recognition.
It is estimated that there are some 5 million practitioners of Transcendental Meditation worldwide.