Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Who is Maharishi Mahesh Yogi?

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is famously known as the Guru of transcendental meditation (TM) who developed and bring TM to the western world. He was born in 12 January, 1918 and died in 5 February, 2008. He was born Mahesh Prasad Varma and became known as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. In Sanskrit, “maha” means great, and “rishi” means seer. “Maharishi” is a title traditionally bestowed on Brahmins. Critics of the yogi say he presented himself with the name, which is Sanskrit for “great seer.”

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Birth and Early life of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

The birth name, birth date, and caste of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi are not known with certainty, in part because of the tradition of ascetics and monks to relinquish family connections. Many accounts say he was born Mahesh Prasad Varma.  A different name appears in the Allahabad University list of distinguished alumni, where he is listed as M.C. Srivastava.

Authors Paul Mason and William Jefferson say that he was born 12 January 1917 in Jabalpur, Central Provinces, British India (now Madhya Pradesh, India). The place of birth given in his passport is “Pounalulla”, India, and his birth date 12 January 1918.

He studied Physics at Allahabad University and received his Master’s degree in 1940. After finishing his academic studies, however, he decided to look for deeper meaning in life — he started rigorous yoga and meditation practice as a disciple of a highly revered yogi, Swami Brahmananda Saraswati.

Most report that in 1941, he became an administrative secretary to the Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math, Swami Brahmananda Saraswati (also known as Guru Dev) and took a new name, Bal Brahmachari Mahesh. According to Vedic tradition when a young person identified him as a fully dedicated student of spiritual knowledge and life-long celibate ascetic then he is titled as Bala brahmachari. In Sanskrit bala means unmarried young man.

After the death of his Guru Dev (Swami Brahmananda Saraswati) in 1953, Bal Brahmacharya Mahesh went into seclusion in the Himalayan foothills. He emerged two years later with a new thought and belief of meditation and began teaching that system of belief, which was called transcendental deep meditation.

In 1955, the Maharishi began to introduce his Transcendental Deep Meditation (later renamed Transcendental Meditation) to India and the world. His first global tour began in 1958.

 Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s India Tours

In 1955, Brahmachari Mahesh left Uttarkashi and began publicly teaching what he stated was a traditional meditation technique learned from his master Brahmananda Saraswati, and that he called Transcendental Deep Meditation. Later the technique was renamed Transcendental Meditations. It was also then that he was first publicly known with the name “Maharishi” an honorific title meaning “great sage” after the title was given to him according to some sources from “Indian Pundits” and according to another source the honorific was given along with Yogi by followers in India. Later in the west the title was retained as a name.

He traveled all around India for two years (1955-1957) interacting mainly with his “Hindu audiences” in an “Indian context”. At that time, he called his movement the Spiritual Development Movement.

 

Maharishi Mahash Yogi’s World Tours

Maharishi Mahesh tours all over the world between 1958 and 1968 mainly to spread the knowledge and benefits of TM to western and eastern world. According to author William Jefferson, in 1958, the Maharishi went to Madras to address a large crowd of people who had gathered to celebrate the memory of Guru Dev. And at that occasion he spontaneously announced that he planned to spread the teaching of TM throughout the world. Hundreds of people immediately asked to learn TM. In 1959, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi began his first world tour, writing: “I had one thing in mind, that I know something which is useful to every man”.

Mahesh Yogi is on a world odyssey. He carries a message that he says will rid the world of all unhappiness and discontent.   The first world tour began in Rangoon, Burma (now Myanmar) and included the countries of Thailand, Malaya, Singapore, Hong Kong and Hawaii He arrived in Hawaii in the spring of 1959 and the Honolulu Star Bulletin reported: “He has no money, he asks for nothing. His worldly possessions can be carried in one hand. During the beginning of his world tour (1959) the Maharishi lectured and taught the Transcendental Meditation technique in Honolulu, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, New York ,London and Los Angeles.

When the Maharishi came to the U.S. in 1959, his Spiritual Regeneration Movement was called Transcendental Meditation. That same year he began the International Meditation Society and other organizations to propagate his teachings, establishing centres in San Francisco and London. For years, the sole teacher of Transcendental Meditation in America was a San Diego woman named Beulah Smith.

In 1960, the Maharishi travelled to many cities in India, France, Switzerland, England, Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Africa to spread his TM method.

In 1961, the Maharishi also visited the USA, Austria, Sweden, France, Italy, Greece, India, Kenya, England, and Canada. While in England, he appeared on BBC television and gave a lecture to 5,000 people at the Royal Albert Hall in London.  Maharishi conducted his first Transcendental Meditation Teacher Training Course in Rishikesh, India, with sixty participants from various countries In April 1961.

In 1962, his world tour included visits to Europe, India, Australia and New Zealand In Britain, he founded a branch of the Spiritual Regeneration Movement The year concluded in California where the Maharishi began dictating his book The Science of Being and Art of Living.

The Maharishi’s fifth world tour, in 1964, consisted of visits to many cities in North America, Europe and India. During his visit to England, he appeared with the Abbot of Downside, Abbot Butler, on a BBC television show called The Viewpoint.

During 1967 and 1968 the Maharishi gave lecture to different show and appeared on famous magazines such as Life, Newsweek, Time and many others.  He gave lectures to capacity crowds at the Felt Forum in New York City and Harvard’s Sanders Hall. He also appeared on The Tonight Show and the Today TV shows.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Beatles

The Beatles had become fan of Maharishi beginning in 1966. In “BeatlesBible.Com” Paul McCartney had explained how they come in touch with Maharishi Mahesh. He explained; “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.”

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.

The relationship with between Beatles and Maharishi started from then and they met several times since then.

Maharishi Mahesh yogi with the Beatles
Maharishi Mahesh and the Beatles

Further Growth of the TM Movement

In 1968, the Maharishi announced that he would stop his public activities and will dedicated himself to train TM teachers at his new global headquarters in Seelisberg, Switzerland. In 1969, he inaugurated a course in his “Science of Creative Intelligence” at Stanford University, which was then offered at 25 other American universities.

In 1970, the Maharishi held a TM teacher training course at a Victorian hotel in Poland Springs, Maine, with 1,200 participants. And also he held a similar four-week course with 1500 participants at Humboldt State College in Arcata, California.

By 1971, the Maharishi had completed 13 world tours, visited 50 countries. From 1970 to 1973, about 10,000 people attended the Maharishi sponsored symposia on his modern interpretation of Vedanta philosophy called Science of Creative Intelligence.

In 1974, the Maharishi International University was founded. October 1975, the Maharishi was pictured on the front cover of Time magazine. He made his last visit to the Spiritual Regeneration Movement center in Los Angeles in 1975, according to film director David Lynch, who met him for the first time there.

During the 1980s, the organization continued to expand and his meditation technique continued to attract celebrities.

That same year, the Pittsburgh Press reported that “The Maharishi has been criticised by other Eastern yogis for simplifying their ancient art.

Years in Vlodrop, Switzerland

In 1990, the Maharishi relocated his headquarters from Seelisberg, Switzerland, to a former Franciscan monastery in Vlodrop, the Netherlands, which became known as MERU, Holland, on account of the Maharishi European Research University (MERU) campus there. During his time in Vlodrop, he communicated to the public mainly via video and the internet. He also created a subscription-based, satellite TV channel, called Veda Vision, which broadcast content in 22 languages and 144 countries.

Deepak Chopra, described as “one of the Maharishi’s top assistants before he launched his own career”, wrote that the Maharishi collapsed in 1991 with kidney and pancreas failure, that the illness was kept secret by the Maharishi’s family and that he tended to Maharishi during a year-long recovery. According to Chopra, the “Maharishi Yogi” accused him, in July 1993, of trying to compete for the position of guru and asked him to stop travelling and writing books, which led to Chopra’s decision to leave the movement in January 1994.

In 1992, the Maharishi began to send groups of Yogic Flyers to countries like India, Brazil, China and America in an effort to promote world peace through “coherent world consciousness”. Between 1993 and 2003, he decided to raise the fees for learning the TM technique.

In 1997 the Maharishi’s organization built the largest wooden structure in the Netherlands without using any nails. The building was the Maharishi’s residence for the last two decades of his life. In later years, the Maharishi rarely left his two-room quarters in order to preserve his health and energy.

In 2000, the Maharishi founded the Global Country of World Peace (GCWP) “to create global world peace by unifying all nations in happiness, prosperity, invincibility and perfect health. In 2001, followers of the Maharishi founded Maharishi Vedic City a few miles north of Fairfield, Iowa, in the United States. This new city requires that the construction of its homes and buildings be done according to the Maharishi Sthapatya Veda principles of “harmony with nature”.

Maharishi Mahesh’s Death

On 12 January 2008 – his ninetieth birthday – the Maharishi declared: “It has been my pleasure at the feet of Guru Dev (Brahmananda Saraswati), to take the light of Guru Dev and pass it on in my environment. Now today, I am closing my designed duty to Guru Dev. And I can only say, ‘Live long the world in peace, happiness, prosperity, and freedom from suffering. Before his death, the Maharishi said that he was “stepping down as leader of the TM movement” and “retreating into silence” and that he planned to spend his remaining time studying “the ancient Indian texts”. The Maharishi died peacefully in his sleep of natural causes on 5 February 2008 at his residence in Vlodrop, Netherlands. The cremation and funeral rites were conducted at the Maharishi’s Allahabad ashram in India, overlooking the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers.

The Maharishi is survived by a brother and “a number of nephews”. One nephew, Girish Chandra Varma, is chairman of the Maharishi Vidya Mandir Schools Grou and a “senior functionary of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) movement in India.” Other nephews include Prakash Shrivastav, president of Maharishi Vidya Mandir Schools and Anand Shrivastava, chairman of the Maharishi Group.

The Maharishi’s 1986 book, Thirty Years around the World, gives a detailed account of his world tours, as do two biographies, The Story of the Maharishi, by William Jefferson, and The Maharishi by Paul Mason.

Characterizations

According to The Times the Maharishi attracted skepticism because of his involvement with wealthy celebrities, his business acumen, and his love of luxury, including touring in a Rolls-Royce. A reporter for The Economist calls this a “misconception” saying: “He did not use his money for sinister ends. He neither drank, nor smoked, nor took drugs. He did not accumulate scores of Rolls-Royces, like Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh; his biggest self-indulgence was a helicopter. When some observers questioned how his organisation’s money was being used, the Maharishi said, “It goes to support the centers, it does not go on me. I have nothing.”

In his biography of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, The Story of the Maharishi (published 1976), William Jefferson suggests that the financial aspect of the TM organization was one of the greatest controversies it faced. Jefferson says that the concerns with money came from journalists more than those who have learned to meditate.

Maharishi’s Works and Organizations

Maharishi International University (renamed Maharishi University of Management (MUM) in 1995), the first university the Maharishi founded, began classes in Santa Barbara, California, in 1973. In 1974 the university moved to Fairfield, Iowa, where it remains today.

The Maharishi Vidya Mandir Schools (MVMS), an educational system established in sixteen Indian states and affiliated with the New Delhi Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), was founded in 1995 by the Maharishi. It has 148 branches in 118 cities with 90,000 to 100,000 students and 5,500 teaching and support staff.

Maharishi Centre for Educational Excellence (MCEE) was established in the year 1999 in Bhopal, Madya Pradesh, India. This institute has a facility to have education from kindergarten to post graduation in one campus.

Maharishi Vedic Science (MVS) is based on the Maharishi’s interpretation of the ancient Vedic texts based on his master, Brahmananda Saraswati’s teachings. MVS aims to put forward traditional Vedic literature in the light of Western traditions of knowledge and understanding.

In 1998, Maharishi Open University was founded by the Maharishi. It was accessible via a network of eight satellites broadcasting to every country in the world, and via the Internet

The Maharishi also introduced theories of management, defense and government programs designed to alleviate poverty, and introduced a new economic development currency called the RAAM. In 2000, the Maharishi began building administrative and teaching centers called “Peace Palaces” around the world, and by 2008 at least eight had been constructed in the US alone. The Maharishi Institute, an African university that is part of a group of schools around the world are named after him. The institute was founded in 2007 and uses his Transcendental Meditation technique in their teaching.

Maharishi is reported to have trained more than 40,000 TM teachers, taught the Transcendental Meditation technique to “more than five million people” and founded thousands of teaching centers and hundreds of colleges, universities and schools, while TM websites report tens of thousands learned the TM-Sidhi programme.

The Maharishi is credited with heading charitable organizations, for-profit businesses, and real estate investments whose total value has been estimated at various times, to range from US$2 to US$5 billion. The real estate alone was valued in 2003 at between $3.6 and $5 billion.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in his farewell message on 11 January 2008, announced the establishment of the Brahmananda Saraswati Trust (BST), named in honor of his teacher, to support large groups totaling more than 30,000 peace-creating Vedic Pundits in perpetuity across India. The Patron of the Brahmanand Saraswati Trust is the Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math.

 MCEE in Bhopal, Madya Pradesh, India.
Maharishi Centre for Educational Excellence (MCEE) in Bhopal, Madya Pradesh, India.

Published works

The Maharishi wrote more than twenty books on the Transcendental Meditation technique and Maharishi Vedic Science.

  • Beacon Light of the Himalayas, Azad Printers, 1955
  • Meditation : easy system propounded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi., International Meditation Centre, 1962
  • Science of Being and Art of Living – Transcendental Meditation, Allied Publishers, 1963 ISBN 0-452-28266-7
  • Love and God, Spiritual Regeneration Movement, 1965
  • Yoga asanas, Spiritual Regeneration Movement, 1965
  • Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the Bhagavad-Gita – A New Translation and Commentary, Chapters 1–6, Arkana 1990 ISBN 0-14-019247-6
  • Meditations of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Bantam books, 1968
  • Alliance for knowledge, Maharishi International University, 1974
  • Creating an ideal society: a global undertaking, International Association for the Advancement of the Science of Creative Intelligence, 1976
  • Results of scientific research on the Transcendental Meditation program, MERU Press, 1976
  • Enlightenment to every individual, invincibility to every nation, Age of Enlightenment, 1978 ISBN 99911-608-9-2
  • Freedom behind bars: enlightenment to every individual and invincibility to every nation, International Association for the Advancement of the Science of Creative Intelligence, 1978
  • Dawn of the age of enlightenment, MVU Press, 1986 ISBN 978-90-71750-02-1
  • Life supported by natural law : discovery of the Unified Field of all the laws of nature and the Maharishi Technology of the Unified Field, Age of Enlightenment Press, 1986 ISBN 978-0-89186-051-8
  • Thirty years around the world: dawn of the Age of Enlightenment, Maharishi Vedic University, 1986 ISBN 978-90-71750-01-4
  • Maharishi’s Programme to create world peace: global inauguration, Age of Enlightenment Press, 1987 ISBN 978-0-

Quotes by Maharishi

“Success in anything is through happiness.”

“We must take situations as they are. We must only change our mental attitudes towards them.”

“The important thing is this: to be able, at any moment, to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.”

“Life finds its purpose and fulfillment in the expansion of happiness.”

“Whatever we put our attention on, will grow stronger in our life.”

“Transcendental Meditation opens the awareness to the infinite reservoir of energy, creativity, and intelligence that lies deep within everyone.

“The golden gate to peace in life is the experience of bliss, and it is easy for everyone to acquire this great glory and live it throughout life.”

“You are the master of all the laws of nature if you know the transcendental field.”

“It is the purity of man’s heart and mind, and his innocent and faithful approach to action with the purpose of all good to everyone, which really succeeds in yielding maximum results with minimum effort.”

“What makes one luckier is the good that he has done to others. It comes back to him.”

“Responsibility can never be given. It can only be taken.”

“Don’t go for what you know you can get. Go for what you really want.”

 

Sources:

  1. Wikipedia
  2. TM.org
  3. Maharishi Institute of Vedic and Management Science
  4. Maharishi University of Management