Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was the Indian guru who first met The Beatles in 1967. They became fascinated by his techniques of Transcendental Meditation, and in 1968 visited the Maharishi's spiritual training camp in Rishikesh, India.

The Beatles with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1967He was born Mahesh Prasad Varma on 12 January 1917, in the Panduka area of Raipur, India. He studied physics at Allahabad University, and in around 1939 became a disciple of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, who from 1941 was the Shankaracharya (spiritual leader) of the Indian city of Jyotir Math.

In 1941 Maharishi became a personal assistant to Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, whom he knew as Guru Deva. Maharishi was given the name Bal Brahmachari Mahesh by him.

Maharishi remained with Brahmananda Saraswati until he died in 1953. Afterwards Maharishi moved to Uttarkashi in the Valley of the Saints, in the Himalayasm before leaving in 1955 to teach a meditation technique he called Transcendental Deep Meditation, later renamed Transcendental Meditation.

He began the Spiritual Regeneration Movement in 1957 in Madras, India, and the following year began the first of many worldwide tours to bring his techniques to a wider audience.

We'd seen Maharishi up north when we were kids. He was on the telly every few years on Granada's People And Places programme, the local current affairs show. We'd all say, 'Hey, did you see that crazy guy last night?' So we knew all about him: he was the giggly little guy going round the globe seven times to heal the world.
Paul McCartney

George Harrison's wife Pattie had become interested in Eastern philosophy and religion following a holiday in Bombay towards the end of 1966. The following year a friend invited her to a lecture on Transcendental Meditation at London's Caxton Hall.

When Pattie heard that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was giving a series of talks at the London Hilton, she persuaded George to come along. On 24 August 1967 the couple, plus John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Jane Asher were in front row seats, listening to the Maharishi speak.

Advertisement about Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, The Times newspaper, 3 August 1967

I got the tickets. I was actually after a mantra. I had got to the point where I thought I would like to meditate; I'd read about it and I knew I needed a mantra - a password to get through to the other world. And, as we always seemed to do everything together, John and Paul came with me.
George Harrison

Ringo Starr was unable to go to the lecture, as his wife Maureen had given birth to their son Jason on 19 August 1967.

I came home and put on the answerphone, and there was a message from John: 'Oh, man, we've seen this guy, and we're all going to Wales. You've got to come.' The next message from from George, saying, 'Wow, man - we've seen him. Maharishi's great! We're all going to Wales on Saturday, and you've got to come.'
Ringo Starr

The Beatles with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1967

After the event The Beatles were granted a 90-minute private audience with Maharishi. He impressed them with his philosophy; the next day they traveled to Bangor, north Wales, to attend a Transcendental Meditation seminar.

I think he realised that these boys could get his message across real fast. And so after we met him, he brought up the idea of us going on tour again and opening up a place in every city. But we didn't do that, because things began to change.
Ringo Starr

The train left London's Euston Station on 25 August. All four Beatles were on it, along with Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull and Donovan. However, John Lennon's wife Cynthia missed the train after being mistaken for a fan and held back by a security guard.

I remember Cynthia not making the train, which was terrible and very symbolic. She was the only one of our party not to get there. There's a bit of film of her not making it. That was the end of her and John, really, weirdly enough. There was a big crowd at the train station, and there was another to meet us in Bangor. We all wandered through in our psychedelic gear. It was like a summer camp.
Paul McCartney

The Beatles spent two nights in Bangor. Due to the last-minute decision to attend, they had to sleep in a rented schoolroom along with the other students of Maharishi. In Bangor they were each given personal mantras.

The Beatles with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1967

The Beatles' encounter with the Maharishi coincided with their realisation that LSD didn't hold the answers they were hoping for. They held a press conference to reveal their new passion for meditation, and announced that they had given up drugs.

They came backstage after one of my lectures, and they said to me: 'Even from an early age we have been seeking a highly spiritual existence. We tried drugs and that didn't work.' They are such practical and intelligent young boys that it took them only two days to find that Transcendental Meditation is the answer.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

The Beatles' manager Brian Epstein had been due to join them in Bangor after the August Bank Holiday. However, he never made it: his body was discovered at his London home on 27 August 1967. He had died of an overdose of barbiturates mixed with alcohol.

The Beatles' confidant Peter Brown telephoned Bangor with the news. Their reaction to the press revealed how far The Beatles - Lennon and Harrison in particular - had embraced Maharishi's teachings.

We loved him and he was one of us. Maharishi's meditation gives you confidence enough to withstand something like this, even after the short amount we've had.

We all feel it, but these talks on Transcendental Meditation have helped us to stand up to it so much better. You don't get upset when a young kid becomes a teenager, or a teenager becomes an adult, or when an adult gets old. Well, Brian is just passing into the next phase.

John Lennon, 1967

8 responses on “Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

  1. Bongo

    Always had a soft spot for Sexy Sadie! Great song dedicated to the Maharishi, even if they had to change the title!

  2. Dr-go-frak-yourself

    This is the same guru that KGB agent Yuri Bezmenov talks about in the youtube documentary “Deception was my Job” and shares the experiences he had with Maharishi Mahesh.

    1. Franz Rickinger


      Thank you very much for your hint.

      I listened to a certain video that showed Mr Mahesh talking about
      the comunistic revolution in Ethopia that took place right at the end of his teacher
      training course at Ethiopia. (…the first TTC-course on “African ground” as he said..).
      I heard that “talking about” several times (4-5 times all together) from about end 1974 to spring 1976.

      End 1975 I could listend to it in a rather short distance of time: 4 1/2 month.

      Mr Mahesh explains that as a matter of fact that revolution had taken place shortly after his course had come to an end.
      (Mr. Heile Selassi got asassined as a result of that by the way, -> internet).
      Mr Mahesh had been somehow deeply shocked and – different from other shocks – he
      somehow couldn’t get rid of it.
      There was that feeling that it had to do with his course.
      Mr Mahesh tried to explain what had taken place and he suddenly stopped to even try
      to talk in those scientific terms that he constantly had been trying to maintain.
      Mr Mahesh said that as a result of so many people practising TM – at such a rather small spot – quite a lot of ‘sattva’ had got produced. When the course had ended that production
      of sattva had come to an sudden end and as a result of that lack of affluence of
      sattva such a thing as that revolution might have happen.
      It was obvious that he hadn’t understood what had happend; he had been searching
      for an explanation to soften down that deep feeling within him that there had been some
      “link” between his course and that revolution.
      That explanation never could convince me.

      As a matter of fact Mr Mahesh handed over all organizational responsibilities to
      the so-called “board of directors”.
      Within about 1 year the “TM-movement” got changed into something that got labeled
      by – for instance – Germany as a dangerous sect.
      (….There had been a very strong influence of the US-TM-organiaztions; there had been
      the rumour that “sect” would have had advantages in the field of tax….).

      One more interesting fact is that Tatwale Baba got assassined at the end of 1974.
      Tatwale Baba had lived in a cave near the “ashram” of Mr Mahesh and ( I had been
      told by some TM-teacher who had been deeply shocked when he had heard about the death of Tatwale Baba in 1974 ..) Mr Mahesh had send someone of his helpers
      to Tatwale Baba to ask him to come down into his ashram from time to time.
      Tatwale Baba then talked to those TM-practicioneers, answered questions, …
      Tatwale Baba had been a sort of friend of Mr Mahesh.

      Thus those two attacks against Mr Mahesh happend within a short period of time.
      Asassination of a friend and then the revolution in Ethiopia,

      He who had assassined Tatwale Baba regained his freedom already 1 year of prison.
      (see internet reports…).

      When I had heard Mr Mahesh’s talk twice within only 4 1 1/2 months and after having heard
      it 4-5 times altogether I suddenly started to remember that plan of young supporters of communisme: “Long way through the stately organizations to convert there function eventually”.

      I got to the result that another possible explanation – leaving Mr Mahesh’s explanations
      as a hypothesis – would be:
      Some such young supporters of communisme had failed to infiltrate those stately
      organizations and they had – may be – altered their plan to infiltrate international organiazations like the TM-movement in the hope to be someday able to manage a
      turn-over towards communsisme in India, etc.

      I rembered the TM-course at Kössen in autumn 1971 which had been attended by Mr
      Mahesh (…and Bramcharya Satyananda, too…).
      (I had been practising TM since spring 1971; I had still been of minor age until march 1973, I hadn’t got written permission by my parents for learning TM, etc. Of course I hadn’t falsifed such a permission! (Some people in the TM movement stated later that I had had falsified. Those are lying) and I had not been able to avoid to ask for initation because my teacher of german language and geography W.S. had violated the law that should garantuee the means of fredom of learning and means of freedom of teaching…Thus I had a merely objective approach to that TM-movement)).
      Some people here and there told me ” Oh look, he was one leader of the student’s
      big demonstrations in 1968; lokk Him,He was chief-ideologist of SDS – socialistic german club of students -, etc.
      A certain P.H: made the suggestion that some should take care of the relationship
      of the TM-movement towards the soviet union.
      Mr Mahesh then gave that job to P: H:.
      Mr Mahesh said: “Take a Mercedes and go”.
      Mr Mahesh had wanted – until about 1976 – that all over the world there should have
      been five organzations for spreading TM; he somehow liked that idea: “5 senses,
      5 organs of action, 5 TM-organizations -.
      P.H. has founded a 6’th organization, his own organization, in Germany.
      That organization had been different. P: H: selected the people who had been
      allowed to use it. A young Dr. of philosophy had been P: H:’s man in Munich.
      That Dr. said to me once: “I have been a convinced communist until I started TM”.
      That “until” has two meanings in German language; it can mean “I was so convinced to
      even to do such a ugly thing as to learn TM and to disguise myself as a TM-teacher” as well.

      All that I remembered when I had listend to that speech of Mr Mahesh about
      the ethiopian communcistic revolution in spring 1976.

      Aha, may be they had disguised themselves as TM-teachers to be able to get into
      other countries and to be able to communicate with each other in a hidden manner for
      the sake of managing those revolutions.

      By the time the Soviet Union had ended, communisme in Ethiopia came to its end, too.

      Somehow that would fit very well to what Mr Yuri Bezmenov has been talking about.

      I left the TM-movement rather abruptly in summer 1976.
      It thought that that’s may-be something for the CIA but not for me.

      Even all that what happend to me after that insight somehow fits to Mr. Bezmenov’s

  3. Franz Rickinger

    Regarding Mr. Mahesh`s activities of teaching one really should know his story about how it came along that he has started to teach even he never had wanted to do that. Mr Mahesh has reported it as follows:

    When he had stayed at Uttar Kashi (after the death of “Guru Dev”), he found an elederly sadhu with whom he “felt well”. They used to sit together practising their meditation some times. Some day Mr Mahesh faced a problem with his “staying in samadhi”:
    A thought kept on coming into his mind “Rahmeshwaram”; it didn`t come all the time but repeatedly; just that thought “Rhameshwaram” (a famous Shiva temple in South India). After a while he asked that elderly sadhu about that “pheneomenon”. The elderly sadhu looked at him in a manner like “Oh, it seems that you aren’t yet a real yogi”.
    Then the elderly sadhu said: “Go there an come back to get rid of that thought; but don`t forget that it’s ok down to Hardwar; beyond Hardwar it’s the world of MAYA, it’s MAYA”.

    Mr Mahesh followed that advise and finally reached Rhameswaram. There he went for mediations into the temple for some weeks or even months. After that period of time he felt “Now it’s alright, it’s gone” and he started his way back to the valley of the Ganges.

    Somewhere near Madaras he has been approached by a man who has run a bookshop. That man had asked Mr Mahesh. “Do you talk?” Mr Mahesh replied or may be just expressed: “What you call talking talking, yes, what you call lecturing, no”.

    Mr Mahesh has been quite sure that he had expressed that he hasn’t done a vouch of silence either but neither would he want to give lectures nor would he want to teach.

    Yet that man came back and said to Mr Mahesh that he had anounced lectures for him and that he would be in need of the headline for his lecture.

    Mr Mahesh was surpised, “took it to be the will of God”, gave that man the requested themes and asked him for a copy so that he would know about what he would have to lecture.

    The lecture was very succesfull and one lecture after the other got announced and just like that the whole “movement” would have come about, has said Mr Mahesh in the context of his TM teacher training courses.

    Now what’s Interesting? A man doesn’t want to do something and another man creates a situation that the first man would have to do what he doesn’t want to do.
    According to the standards of the western world that’s a violation of freedom and not acceptable. How to explain how that “violation” came about?

    In the year about 2000 a tourist guide about India got published by Baedeker and I happend to read in that book a story that Duke Elington has reported in a biography:
    Duke Elington had stayed near Madras in a noble hotel. He went for dinner in his hotel and took his decision according to the menu card he had been given. He asked the waiter whether that what he had decided for were available. The waiter shook his head. Duke Elington decided for something else and asked “is it available?”. The man shook his head once more. Like that it went on for about 4 days. When Duke Elington said that he would like to have some fish and asked whether it were available the waiter shook his head again. Duke Elington then thought: “We are here next to the ocean and they don’t have fish?” and he decided to understand the shaking of the head as a “yes”. And it worked.

    The story shows that there are parts of India where a certain shaking of the head is used to express a “yes”.

    Now back to Mr Mahesh. Mr Mahesh didn’t like to use the word “no” as one could see when one has been round about him him for a while. Instead of saying “no” he used to shake his head. He used to try to avoid to use the word “no”

    Thus I suppose that Mr Mahesh had said to that librarian “What you call talking, yes; what you call lecturing” ; after these words he shook his head instead of using the word “no”.

    And it seems to me that thus he had caused that misunderstanding that he then has taken to be “the will of God”.

    If Mr. Mahesh would have really followed the advise of that elderly sadhu,he would have had to take that “violation of his expresed will” as something like: “Oh, that must be due to MAYA, not the will of God and better I don’t take it to be caused by evil-mindedness but better I take it to be a phenomenon of misunderstanding, of illusion, of MAYA”.

    Yet Mr Mahesh prefered to take it to be the will of God. May be Mr Mashesh had forgotten that advise “Don’t forget, beyond Hardwar is the field of MAYA”.

    The advise of that elderly sadhu given to Mr Mahesh in the situation of Mr Mahesh would have been a beautiful, secure, good strategy to handle such problems.

    This shows in what sense it’s very true that Mr Mahesh “made fool out of all”. Whenever the work around lecturing and teaching had got to much for him, he left it to others with the lame excuse that “I had said that I don’t want to lecture, you want me to teach, it’s your karma not mine”.

    There`s also that story of shankara that even Mr Mahesh has narrated sometimes:
    Somewhere there was a rope laying around in some forest. A man has come along and didn`t look there clearly and spread the rumour that a dangerous snake were there.
    People were forbidden to go there etc and a big upheaval occured. It went on like that amidst fear and “don’t go there!”, etc” until someone looked objectively to that “snake” and saw that it onlys had been a rope.

    A teacher of religion (Pater Wisnet) has told to us at ground school that once he had been at Papa Neuguinea to spread Christianity. He had to go across a river but it was rather difficult to get down to the river. Thus he had been very happy when he saw something that he looked at as the solid stem of a tree. Yet when he had put his foot onto it, he noticed that it had been a boa constructor, a snake with a length of more than 10 meters.
    He had taken a snake to be something like rope.
    That had been rather dangerous.

    At a TM-center I once got witness of the following;
    One young man had been near finishing his study.
    Some TM-teachers in his centre now thought;
    Better we choose him to become the centre-leader; otherwise he might fall off working for the TM-movement after he would have finished his study; finally working for the TM-movement is the most important thing, it’s like having to do the will of God….” .
    See that was some such upheaval “don’t go there, there’s a dangerous snake” in the context of “snake and rope”.
    Such strange behaviour might result in dangerousness, too.

    These two examples show that both sides of that teaching of the philosopher Shankra are of practical importance.

    By the way, Shanakra is said to have come from the South of India; may be exactly that
    problem with shaking and nodding the head had been know to him.

    Mr Mahesh, according to the line of reasoning in my report, had taken a “yes that he had expressed against his intention” as “I had expressed a no”.

    And one should know one more fact: When Mr Mahesh has talked about the death of Swami Brahmanda Saraswati, his “Guru Dev”, he used to say, that after a while some little paper with just 3 names on it appeared and it were taken to be his “last will” about who should become the Shankaracharaya of the North after his death.

    In the Internet, however, one can find an official last will of Swami Brahmanda Saraswati that had been done by help of a notary and that had been deposited at the notary. That was not a small paper with just 3 names on it!

    Mr Mahesh had been the private secretary of Swami Brahmanda Saraswati over many years (the present Shankaracharya has said that in an interview that got part of the movie “David wants to fly”).
    As the private secretary, I think, he should have known very well that an official last will had been done and that it was that document that “was found” after the sudden death of the Jagad Guru of Jothir Math in 1953. Thus, I’m sorry, it is the truth that Mr Mahesh didn’t tell the truth always; he had thus tried to make himself “to look greater” and the Shankaracharyas – that had been initiated into sanyasin and who had been selected by Swami Brahmanda Saraswati as those who were able to pass on hs teachings – to look like “rather unimportant”.

    50% of the mantras that Mr Mahesh has used were classical mantras, knowable from the ancient scriptures according to an interview with one Shankaracharya. The rest of those so-called “Mantras” were more or less freely invented by Mr. Mahesh.

    Of course one can read something and one can make something useful out of it; yet, unfortunately, sometimes bad things are made out of information here and there. Mr Mahesh’s teaching activities caused both: Positive effects, but more or less harmful effects have resulted here and there, too.

    Two last remarks:
    As a conclusion of my report, someone might think that it would be a good idea to
    go to the Shankaracharya of the North instead of continueing to search for such knowledge in the “TM-movement”.
    That might sound rather logical.
    Yet there’s one very servere problem:
    In the magazine “Alpinwelt” of the German Mountain Club I once read that “Sickness of Height” might occur even at a height not higher than 3000 meters.
    The seat of teaching where a Shankaracharya of the North is used to stay during
    summer time is at Badrinath temple and that temple lays at a height of more than
    3000 meters.
    Thus it cannot be useful in general to go there at all.
    Mr Mahesh has made many people eager for such knowledge; yet he couldn’t even
    tell them a safe path to fulfill that thurst for such knowledge.

    If it had been all due to that misunderstanding then one would see that Mr Mahesh
    used to laugh with one eye and at the same time he cried with the other one.
    The title “sexy sadie” thus looks like having hit the situation of Mr Mahesh precisely.
    On the one side he had always been very sad about the missed chance for his wanted carreer as a real good celebetarian sadhu and on the other side he had that strange
    sort of laughing etc
    In the film “David wants to fly” a lady reports about her sexual experience with Mr Mahesh,
    by the way. Thus the Beatles’ hint at even sexual activities of Mr Mahesh got supported
    by that witness a few 10 years later . (That sort of documentary had been in the cinemas, too)

  4. Frank Lotz

    Please take this writing:
    Mr. Rickinger, you are just talking 200 % nonsense. Many events you are talking here is untrue. I pick out 2 things:
    Adhi Shankara the reviver of the total Vedic system founded 4 Shankarcharys (spiritual guide). The present Shankara of the North is teaching & blessings in tune with Maharishi. Before Maharishi left his body he made that Shankarachraya Shri Vasudevanand our spiritual guide. Him you mentioned from the stupid movie “David wants to fly” is the retired Shankaracharaya of the west (where the light/Sun go down) and was like Maharishi Mahesh Yogi a disciple of Guru Dev (remember the song: “Across the Universe” my all time favorite Beatles song! He simply was jealous because he did not become the successor to the Seat of Guru Dev in the North!
    Another important wrong event you tell here. All the 4 Beatles (John Lennon came 1 day for a Meditation Checking to New York TM-Center and called Maharishi directly via phone) apologized later on directly to Maharishi about their wrongdoings when they were in Rishikesh & all those who read the authorized (from George, Paul & Ringo) “The anthology” that “Magic Alex” , who tried to be the Beatles Guru felt he would loose his influence on the Beatles made this false/fake rumors. In The Anthology already the Beatles did apologize and spoke only well about this deep Transcendental Meditation ™ and their spiritual Master Maharishi. In the 1991 George & Paul (only later they did find out that in the same year they went back to Maharishi for a visit & saying “Hello”. Paul wrote later in a US-Magazine about his meeting with Maharishi) did visit Maharishi in Vlodrop for personally say sorry to him for their wrong doings. Here comes the meeting of Maharishi with George Harrison in 1992, Vlodrop Maharishi European Research University (MERU), his permanent Place:

    Read more about The Maharishi & The Beatles:
    Good to know: The Son of Yoko Ono & John Lennon is a TM-Meditator as well as the son of Paul McCartney!
    So stop to speak the untruth Mr. Rickinger, fortunately your brother Martin has a totally different thinking about Maharishi and became a strong devoted Teacher of Transcendental Meditation!

  5. Franz Rickinger

    Hallo, Namaste

    You wrote >> The present Shankara of the North is teaching & blessings in tune with Maharishi. Before Maharishi left his body he made that Shankarachraya Shri Vasudevanand our spiritual guide.<>Swarupananda Saraswati’s Dwaraka title is undisputed, and he is routinely described in press reports as the Sankaracharya of Dwaraka. However, it should be noted that while his status as the head of two principal mathas is somewhat unusual, and also confusing for the lay public, it had not been insisted that he relinquish his position at Jyotirmath, before taking charge at Dwaraka. Swarupananda had attended the 1979 meeting of the Sankaracharyas at Sringeri, in his capacity as the Sankaracharya of Jyotirmath. He also attended the funeral ceremonies of Swami Abhinava Vidya Tirtha at Sringeri in 1989. In June 1993, a joint statement was issued by the Sankaracharyas, in connection with the Babri Masjid demolition, which Swarupananda Saraswati signed twice, in his dual capacity as the head of both Dwaraka and Jyotirmath. And as Jayendra Saraswati of the Kanchi matha has also signed the 1993 statement, I assume that he too accepts Swarupananda at both Dwaraka and Jyotirmath.< Paul Mason):
    >>Extract from ‘Shri Shankaracharya Upadesha’
    pages 20-23 of the newsletter of Shankaracharya of Jyotishpeeth
    Published 20th July 1953<>I had been fond of visting saints. Someday a friend told me about Swami Brahmanda
    Saraswati. I went there and arrived at night; It was all dark.
    I felt someone stting there but I couldn’t see anything at all.
    Suddenly the light of some car – at quite a distance was passing by – and it made it possible for me to see his face. There I knew that I had
    found the right one,
    I asked him whether I may become his pupil.
    He replied: “What have you been doing?”
    I answered that I has been studying physics.
    He answered: “Better first finish your study; then you may come”
    I asked him: “Where will I find you?”
    He answered:”You’ll find me somewhere here around”

    I went back and I tried to finish my study; I was so excited that I had some troubles
    finishing my study.<>Sir John George Woodroffe (1865–1936), also known by his pseudonym Arthur Avalon, was a British Orientalist whose work helped to unleash in the West a deep and wide interest in Hindu philosophy and Yogic practices.<<

    The Shiva Suktas deal with the theme "mantra", too

    I don'twant to write further commentaries here.


    (By the way, that story from Mr. Duke Elington I wrote about is to be found at Baedeker,6th edition, 2009, page 157
    The head line is “further source of misunderstandings”).

  6. Joe Post author

    I’m closing comments on this article, as they’ve become overlong and irrelevant to a Beatles-themed website. I’m sure there are more appropriate websites for in-depth discussions on TM and its proponents, so please look for those instead.

    I may cull some of the excess comments and reopen discussions at a later date.