Saturday, February 16, 2008

Peaceful Death for Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Indian Guru Maharishi Yogi Dies

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Born January 12, 1918
Pounalulla, India
Died February 5, 2008
Vlodrop, Netherlands
Parents Father: Sri Ram Prasad

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (born 12 January, 1918, Pounalulla, India, [][1]; died February 5, 2008, Vlodrop, Netherlands),[2] founded and developed the Transcendental Meditation technique and related programs and initiatives, including schools and a university with campuses in the United States and China.[3]

He was born in India. His passport records his birthdate as January 12, 1918. Various years are given for his birth: most frequently 1911, 1917, and 1918,[4] and some sources state he was born on January 12 but others say his date of birth is unknown.

Around 1939 he became a disciple of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati[5] who, from 1941 to 1953, was the Shankaracharya (spiritual leader) of Jyotir Math, located in the Indian Himalayas. Maharishi credits the Shankaracharya with inspiring his teachings. Since his first global tour in 1958,[6] Maharishi's techniques for human development have been taught worldwide.[7] He continued to focus on making all aspects of the Vedic Literature widely available.[8] He became well-known in the Western world due to The Beatles having visited him in 1968. Starting in 1990, Maharishi coordinated his global activities from his residence in Vlodrop, the Netherlands.[9] On January 11, 2008, he announced his retirement from all administrative activities and went into Mauna (spiritual silence). He declared: "Invincibility is irreversibly established in the world. My work is done. My designated duty to Guru Dev is fulfilled." [10][11][12] On February 5th, the Maharishi passed away, alert, in yoga posture.[13]

Early life

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was born January 12, 1918. Place of birth given in his passport: Pounalulla, India. Name of Father: Sri Ram Prasad[14]to a Hindu family living in Jabalpur in the Central Provinces of British India and was named Mahesh Prasad Varma at birth (although the Allahabad University list of distinguished alumni calls him "M. C. Shrivastava").[15] He earned a degree in physics[16] at Allahabad University.[17]

According to Jay Randolph Coplin, the name "Mahesh" indicated that Maharishi came from a Hindu family that worshipped Shiva.[18] Cynthia Anne Hume writes that his family was of the kayastha (scribal) caste; contrary to some reports, caste rules allow the honorific terms "yogi" or "maharishi" to be applied to kayasthas. [19] The scribal caste origin is also stated in the New York Times obituary.[20]

In 1941 he became a secretary to Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, who gave him the name Bal Brahmachari Mahesh. Besides indicating his family faith, Coplin[21] says the conferred title "identified him as a dedicated student of spiritual knowledge and life-long celibate ascetic." Maharishi remained with Brahmananda Saraswati until the latter passed away in 1953. Although Maharishi was a close disciple, he could not be the Shankaracharya's spiritual successor since he was not of the Brahmin caste. [22]

In 1953, Maharishi moved to Uttarkashi, in the Valley of the Saints, in the Himalayas, where his own Master had lived in previous decades with his Master, Swami Krishanand Saraswati. In 1955, Maharishi left Uttarkashi, [23]and began publicly teaching what he states is a traditional meditation technique that he later renamed Transcendental Meditation. He began The Spiritual Regeneration Movement in 1957, in Madras, India, on the concluding day of the Seminar of Spiritual Luminaries. According to J. Lynwood King, the feedback Maharishi received from the diverse population that learned his technique suggested to him that it could be of wide benefit.[24] By 1958 Maharishi had begun the first of a number of worldwide tours.

Expansion of teachings

World tours

His first world tour began in Rangoon, Burma, now Myanmar. Maharishi remained in the Far East for about six months teaching Transcendental Meditation.[25] His teaching received press coverage in various cities. On December 31, 1958, the Honolulu Star Bulletin published an article about Maharishi saying: "He has no money, he asks for nothing. His worldly possessions can be carried in one hand. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is on a world odyssey. He carries a message that he says will rid the world of all unhappiness and discontent."[26]

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the front cover of Time on October 13, 1975.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the front cover of Time on October 13, 1975.

In 1959, Maharishi taught the Transcendental Meditation technique in Hawaii[16] and later went to California and became a guest in a private home owned by the Olson family. He continued to visit and teach from the Olsons' home over the next few years.[27]

During the 1960s and early 1970s practitioners of the technique began to be seen as part of the then current "counter-culture" phenomenon. Also during that time, a number of celebrities that included The Beatles,[28] the Beach Boys, (including singer Mike Love,[29] who became a TM teacher) and singer-songwriter Donovan, who befriended Maharishi and put his picture on the back cover of his A Gift from a Flower to a Garden album, learned the technique. Comedian Andy Kaufman and magician Doug Henning were also students of Maharishi. Clint Eastwood[30] and David Lynch are two notable directors who have practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique. In October 1975 he appeared on the front cover of the US magazine Time.

Transcendental Meditation teachers

After starting the Spiritual Regeneration Movement in the United States, Maharishi continued his world tour. He travelled to Europe in early 1960, stopping first in London. During the next two years, he returned to India and the Far East, before revisiting the U.S., Europe, and Africa. He lectured about and taught the Transcendental Meditation technique, and also established administrative centers where practitioners could meet in his absence. Eventually the more experienced practitioners were trained to become teachers of the technique. In 1961, he conducted his first international Teacher Training Course near Rishikesh, India. Over 60 meditators from India, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Britain, Malaya, Norway, the United States, Australia, Greece, Italy and the West Indies attended. [31] Teachers have continued to be trained.[32]

Early books

In 1961, Maharishi began to introduce additional knowledge regarding the development of human potential, including a translation and commentary on the first six chapters of the ancient Vedic text, the Bhagavad Gita.[33] Maharishi said that the source of his commentary was his master and the increasing interest in Vedic knowledge: "We are just an innocent means for the spontaneous flow of that knowledge -- that's all."[34]

In his 1963 publication, Maharishi describes the Bhagavad Gita as "the Scripture of Yoga." He says that "its purpose is to explain in theory and practice all that is needed to raise the consciousness of man to the highest possible level."[35] In 1964, Maharishi attended the All-India Yogic Conference held in Calcutta, India, where he said that because the teachings contained in the Bhagavad Gita were misunderstood, "the practice of yoga was misunderstood, misinterpreted, and misapplied," resulting in "weakness in the fields of thought and action."[36]

While working on his translation and commentary of the Bhagavad Gita, Maharishi audiotaped the text of the The Science of Being and Art of Living which was transcribed and published in 1963.[37][38]

Advanced programs

Over a 30-year period Maharishi held advanced, in-residence courses and assemblies in North America, India and/or Europe for practitioners of the Transcendental Meditation technique. These courses provided long meditation sessions, lectures by Maharishi, discussions based on personal experiences, questions from course participants, and organizational meetings. Maharishi believed that this group practice of the technique benefited the environment.[39] In-residence courses continue to this day.[40]

In the late 1970s, Maharishi designed the TM-Sidhi program as an additional option for those who had been practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique for a period of time. According to Coplin, this new aspect of knowledge emphasized not only the individual, but also the collective benefits created by group practice of this advanced program.[41]

Other initiatives, projects and programs

Maharishi International University (renamed Maharishi University of Management in 1995), the first university Maharishi founded, initially held classes in Santa Barbara, California, in the 1973-74 academic year. After that, the university moved to Fairfield, Iowa, where it remains today. The university houses a library of Maharishi's taped lectures and writings that includes the 33-lesson, Science of Creative Intelligence course, originally a series of lectures given by Maharishi in Fuiggi, Italy, in 1972. Described in the M.U.M. university catalogue as combining modern science, and Vedic science,[42] the course also describes claimed higher states of consciousness and guidance on how to attain these states. [43]

Over the years Maharishi continued to introduce programs and practices such as an alternative medical system called Maharishi Ayur Veda, Maharishi Jyotish, a system of Vedic astrology, Maharishi Sthapatya Veda, a system of Vedic architecture, Maharishi Gandharva Ved, and various other practices related to music, systems of education, theories of management, defense, and government.[44] Maharishi also offered a program said to alleviate poverty and introduced a new currency, Raam Mudra, toward this end.[45]

The Beatles

The Beatles had met with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi during a 1968 TM teacher-training course they attended in Rishikesh, India. After an abrupt departure, sparked by rumors of Maharishi sexually assaulting Mia Farrow[46], John Lennon wrote the song "Sexy Sadie" ("what have you done? You made a fool of everyone") about Maharishi.[47] Whether the Maharishi's conduct with Farrow was sexual in nature is not clear. Mia Farrow's autobiography does not draw a definite conclusion: she describes "panicking" and fleeing after he put his arms around her in a dark cave, immediately after a private meditation session.[48] Word of the incident was given to the Beatles by "Magic" Alex Mardas, who portrayed it very negatively, devastating both John and George, who felt betrayed by the Maharishi.[49] Cynthia Lennon believed that Mardas invented the story to undermine the Maharishi's influence on the Beatles.[50][51] George Harrison, years later, commented on the contretemps, saying, "Now, historically, there's the story that something went on that shouldn't have done—but nothing did,"[52] Paul McCartney, in his biography, likewise says that he does not believe the allegations and also attributes them to Mardas.[53]

The Beatles' song Across the Universe was beamed into space by NASA[54] at 00:00 UTC on February 5, 2008, and contains a reference to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's teacher Guru Dev. Other pop songs known to be about Maharishi include the Beatles' The Fool on the Hill and Donovan's Hurdy-Gurdy Man.

After the Maharishi's death on February 5, 2008, Sir Paul McCartney released a statement saying, "Whilst I am deeply saddened by his passing, my memories of him will only be joyful ones. He was a great man who worked tirelessly for the people of the world and the cause of unity. I will never forget the dedication that he wrote inside a book he once gave me, which read 'radiate, bliss, consciousness', and that to me says it all. I will miss him but will always think of him with a smile." Ringo Starr released a statement saying, "One of the wise men I met in my life was the Maharishi. I always was impressed by his joy and I truly believe he knows where he is going." [55]


Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is credited as the author of more than 16 books.

See also

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (2006)
The Maharishi built up a following of about six million people

The Indian guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who is credited with introducing the Beatles and other stars to ancient Hindu meditation methods, has died.

The Maharishi, thought to have been 91 years old, died in his sleep on Tuesday evening at his home in the Netherlands.

He introduced the Transcendental Meditation movement to the West in 1959, with the intention of creating individual peace and enlightenment.

By the time of his death, it had grown into a multi-million dollar empire.

The Maharishi announced his retirement and retreat into silence at his home in Vlodrop last month, saying his work was done and that he wanted to dedicate his remaining days to studying ancient Hindu Vedas texts.

Don't fight darkness - bring the light, and darkness will disappear
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

"He had been saying he had done what he set out to do," his spokesman, Bob Roth, told the Associated Press.

Mr Roth said the Maharishi died peacefully in his sleep at around 1900 (1800 GMT), due to "natural causes - his age".


Born in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, the Maharishi trained as a physicist before devoting himself to spiritual enlightenment.

After studying in the Himalayas under Guru Dev during the 1940s and 1950s, he spread the teachings of transcendental meditation throughout the world.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Mia Farrow, Heathrow airport London,  24 Jan 1968
Actress Mia Farrow went to study with the Maharishi

Based on the theory and practice of yoga, transcendental meditation involves a mental technique that can reportedly be easily learnt and practised by anyone to reach a "state of pure consciousness" and gain deep rest.

By repeating in the mind a Sanskrit mantra, a short word or phrase, a practitioner is supposedly able to find deep relaxation, which in turn leads to enhanced inner joy, vitality, and creativity.

"Don't fight darkness. Bring the light, and darkness will disappear," the Maharishi said in an interview in 2006, repeating one of his own mantras.

The Maharishi introduced the technique to the US in 1959, but it did not become widely known in the West until 1968, when the Beatles travelled to India to meditate with him, although the band famously later fell out with him.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi with the Beatles in 1968
The Beatles famously fell out with the Maharishi after visiting him

Despite this, transcendental meditation's 20-minute routine came to be widely used in the worlds of education, business and welfare to reduce stress and improve concentration, eventually building a following of five million people.

Donations and the $2,500 (£1,270) fee to learn the technique helped finance the construction of Peace Palaces, or meditation centres, in dozens of cities around the world, as well as several universities.

After decades of teaching, the Maharishi unveiled plans to use the power of group meditation to create world peace and end poverty.

In 1990, he moved into 200-room mansion in the southern Dutch village of Vlodrop. Concerned about his fragile health, he secluded himself in two rooms, speaking only by video link even to his closest advisers in the same building.