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 Meditation. 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 around India for two years interacting with his “Hindu audiences” in an “Indian context”. At that time, he called his movement the Spiritual Development Movement, but renamed it the Spiritual Regeneration Movement in 1957, in Madras, India, on the concluding day of the Seminar of Spiritual Luminaries.According to Coplin, in his visits to southern India, the Maharishi spoke English rather than the Hindi spoken in his home area to avoid provoking resistance among those seeking linguistic self-determination, and to appeal to the “learned classes”.
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. It was there that 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”.
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.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. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is on a world odyssey. He carries a message that he says will rid the world of all unhappiness and discontent.”In 1959, the Maharishi lectured and taught the Transcendental Meditation technique in Honolulu, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, New York and London. While in Los Angeles the Maharishi stayed at the home of author Helena Olson,and during this period he developed a three-year plan to propagate Transcendental Meditation to the whole world.Though most of his audience consisted of average middle class individuals, he also attracted a few celebrities, such as Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Nancy Cooke de Herrera and Doris Duke.
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.
While in Manchester, England, the Maharishi gave a television interview and was featured in many English newspapers such as the Birmingham Post, the Oxford Mail and the Cambridge Daily News. This was also the year in which the Maharishi trained Henry Nyburg to be the first Transcendental Meditation teacher in Europe.
In 1961, the Maharishi 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. In April 1961, the Maharishi conducted his first Transcendental Meditation Teacher Training Course in Rishikesh, India, with sixty participants from various countries.Teachers continued to be trained as time progressed.During the course, the Maharishi began to introduce additional knowledge regarding the development of human potential, and began writing his translation and commentary on the first six chapters of the ancient Vedic text, the Bhagavad Gita.
His 1962 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. In Rishikesh, India, beginning on 20 April 1962, a forty-day course was held for “sadhus, sanyasis, and brahmacharis” to introduce TM to “religious preachers and spiritual masters in India”.
The Maharishi toured cities in Europe, Asia, North America and India in 1963, and also addressed ministers of the Indian Parliament.According to his memoirs, twenty-one members of parliament then issued a public statement endorsing the Maharishi’s goals and meditation technique.His Canadian tour was also well covered by the press.
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. In October of that year, in California, the Maharishi began teaching the first Advanced Technique of Transcendental Meditation to some experienced meditators.While travelling in America, the Maharishi met with Robert Maynard Hutchins, the head of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, and U Thant, the Secretary General of the United Nations.During this same year, the Maharishi finished his book The Science of Being and Art of Living, which sold more than a million copies and was published in fifteen languages.
In 1966, the Maharishi founded the Students’ International Meditation Society (“SIMS”), which The Los Angeles Times later characterised as a “phenomenal success”. In the 1970s, SIMS centers were established at “over one thousand campuses”, including Harvard University, Yale University, and UCLA.
In 1967, the Maharishi gave a lecture at Caxton Hall in London which was attended by Pattie Boyd, George Harrison’s wife, as well as Leon MacLaren, the founder and leader of the School of Economic Science (SES).He also lectured at UCLA, Harvard, Yale and Berkeley.That year, an article in Time magazine reported that the Maharishi “has been sharply criticised by other Indian sages, who complain that his programme for spiritual peace without either penance or asceticism contravenes every traditional Hindu belief”.Religion and culture scholar Sean McCloud also reported that traditional Indian sages and gurus were critical of the Maharishi, for teaching a simple technique and making it available to everyone, and for abandoning traditional concepts of suffering and concentration as paths to enlightenment.
During 1967 and 1968 the Maharishi appeared on American magazine covers 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.At the end of 1968, the Maharishi said that after ten years of teaching and world tours, he would return to India.
In 1967, the Maharishi’s fame increased and his movement gained greater prominence when he became the “spiritual advisor to the Beatles”,though he was already well-known among young people in the UK and had already had numerous public appearances that brought him to the Beatles’ attention.They met in London in August 1967 and the Beatles went to study with the Maharishi in Bangor, Wales, before travelling to Rishikesh, India,in February 1968 to “devote themselves fully to his instruction”. Starr and his wife Maureen left after ten days, McCartney and Jane Asher left after five weeks, and Lennon and Harrison departed sixteen days later.During their stay, the Beatles heard that the Maharishi had made sexual advances towards Mia Farrow.On June 15, 1968, in London, the Beatles formally renounced their association with the Maharishi as a “public mistake”. “Sexy Sadie” is the name of a song by the Beatles, written by John Lennon in India and credited to Lennon–McCartney. Lennon originally wanted to title the song “Maharishi”, but changed the title at George Harrison’s request. Harrison commented years later, “Now, historically, there’s the story that something went on that shouldn’t have done – but nothing did.” In 1992, Harrison gave a benefit concert for the Maharishi-associated Natural Law Party, and later apologised for the way the Maharishi had been treated by saying, “We were very young” and “It’s probably in the history books that Maharishi ‘tried to attack Mia Farrow’ – but it’s bullshit, total bullshit.” Cynthia Lennon wrote in 2006 that she “hated leaving on a note of discord and mistrust, when we had enjoyed so much kindness from the Maharishi”. Asked if he forgave the Beatles, the Maharishi replied, “I could never be upset with angels.” McCartney took his daughter, Stella, to visit the Maharishi in the Netherlands in 2007, which renewed their friendship. The New York Times and The Independent reported that the influence of the Maharishi, and the journey to Rishikesh to meditate, weaned the Beatles from LSD and inspired them to write many new songs. In 2009, McCartney commented that Transcendental Meditation was a gift the Beatles had received from the Maharishi at a time when they were looking for something to stabilise them.The Beatles’ visit to the Maharishi’s ashram coincided with a thirty-participant Transcendental Meditation teacher training course that was ongoing when they arrived. Graduates of the course included Prudence Farrow and Mike Love.
In 1968, the Maharishi announced that he would stop his public activities and instead begin the training of 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. Later that year, he held a similar four-week course with 1500 participants at Humboldt State College in Arcata, California.In 1970, after having “a little trouble with Indian tax authorities,” he moved his headquarters to Italy, returning to India in the late 1970s. That same year, the City of Hope Foundation in Los Angeles gave the Maharishi their “Man of Hope” award.
By 1971, the Maharishi had completed 13 world tours, visited 50 countries, and held a press conference with American inventor Buckminster Fuller at his first International Symposium on SCI at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Massachusetts.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. During these conferences, held at universities, the Maharishi spoke with “leading thinkers” of the day such as Hans Selye, Marshall McLuhan, and Jonas Salk.
The Maharishi announced his World Plan in 1972, the goal of which was to establish 3,600 TM centers around the world. That year, a TM training course was given by the Maharishi at Queen’s University and was attended by 1,000 young people from the USA and Canada. At the start of the course, the Maharishi encouraged the attendees to improve their appearance by getting haircuts and wearing ties.He also “persuaded” the U.S. Army to “offer courses in TM to its soldiers”and made videotaped recordings of what was thought to be the West’s first comprehensive recitation of the Rig Veda.
In March 1973, the Maharishi addressed the legislature of the state of Illinois. That same year, the legislature passed a resolution in support of the use of Maharishi’s Science of Creative Intelligence in Illinois public schools.Later that year he organized a world conference of mayors in Switzerland. In that same year, he also addressed 3000 educators at an American Association of Higher Education (AAHE) conference on quality of life and higher education.
In 1974, the Maharishi International University was founded. In October 1975, the Maharishi was pictured on the front cover of Time magazine. He made his last visit to the Spiritual Regeneration Movement centre in Los Angeles in 1975, according to film director David Lynch, who met him for the first time there.
In 1975, the Maharishi embarked on a five-continent trip to inaugurate what he called “the Dawn of the Age of Enlightenment”. The Maharishi said the purpose of the inaugural tour was to “go around the country and give a gentle whisper to the population”.He visited Ottawa during this tour and had a private meeting with Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau, during which he spoke about the principles of TM and “the possibility of structuring an ideal society.”That same year, the Pittsburgh Press reported that “The Maharishi has been criticised by other Eastern yogis for simplifying their ancient art.” The Maharishi appeared as a guest on The Merv Griffin Show in 1975 and again in 1977, and this resulted in “tens of thousands of new practitioners” around the USA.
In the mid 1970s, the Maharishi’s U.S. movement was operating 370 TM centres manned by 6,000 TM teachers.At that time, the Maharishi also began approaching the business community via an organisation called the American Foundation for SCI (AFSCI), whose objective was to eliminate stress for business professionals. His TM movement came to be increasingly structured along the lines of a multinational corporation.
The teaching of TM and the Science of Creative Intelligence in a New Jersey public school was stopped when a US court, in 1977, declared the movement to be religious, and ruled adoption of TM by public organisations in breach of the separation of church and state (First Amendment).
During the 1980s, the organisation continued to expand and his meditation technique continued to attract celebrities despite its “outlandish claims” and accusations of fraud from disaffected former disciples. The TM organization made a number of property investments, buying a former Rothschild mansion in England, Mentmore Towers in Buckinghamshire, Roydon Hall in Maidstone, Swythamley Park in the Peak District, and a Georgian rectory in Suffolk. In the United States, resorts and hotels, many in city centres, were purchased to be used as TM training centres. Doug Henning and the Maharishi planned a magical Vedic amusement park, Vedaland, and bought large tracts of land near Orlando, Florida, and Niagara Falls, Ontario, to host the park. The theme park was supposed to be the a gateway into understanding the mysteries of the universe. According to the Maharishi’s official Vedic city wedbsite, “Entering Veda Land through a secret cave on a windswept plateau high in the Himalayas the adventure starts as one travels through a waterfall that leads to a forest where an ancient Vedic civilization awaits to reveal the deepest secrets of the universe (sic)”.These plans were never executed and, for Niagara Falls, Veda Land turned out to be just another theme park proposal that never materialized, joining an eclectic list that includes the Worlds of Jules Verne, the Ancient Chinese City and even Canada’s Wonderland when it was first being planned.The Maharishi commissioned plans from a prominent architect for the world’s tallest building, a Vedic-style pyramid to be built in São Paulo, Brazil, and to be filled with Yogic Flyers and other TM endeavours. The Maharishi founded Maharishi Ved Vigyan Vishwa Vidyapeetham, a self-described educational institution located in Uttar Pradesh, India, in 1982. The institution reports that it has trained 50,000 pundits in traditional Vedic recitation. In 1983, the Maharishi invited government leaders to interact with his organization called “World Government”.
In January 1988, offices at the Maharishinagar complex in New Delhi were raided by Indian tax authorities and the Maharishi and his organisation were accused of falsifying expenses. Reports on the value of stocks, fixed-deposit notes, cash and jewels confiscated, vary from source to source. The Maharishi, who was “headquartered in Switzerland” at the time, reportedly moved to the Netherlands “after the Indian government accused him of tax fraud”.) Following an earthquake in Armenia, the Maharishi trained Russian TM teachers and set up a Maharishi Ayurveda training center in the Urals region. Beginning in 1989, the Maharishi’s movement began incorporating the term “Maharishi” into the names of their new and existing entities, concepts and programmes.
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.
In 1991, the Maharishi called Washington D.C. a “pool of mud” after a decade of attempts to lower the rate of crime in the city, which had the second-largest TM community in the US. He told his followers to leave and save themselves from its “criminal atmosphere”.The Maharishi is believed to have made his final public appearance in 1991, in Maastricht, the Netherlands.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 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.
As part of a world plan for peace, the Maharishi inaugurated the Natural Law Party (NLP) and calling it a “natural government.” His adherents founded the NLP in 1992.It was active in forty-two countries. John Hagelin, the NLP’s three-time candidate for U.S. president, denied any formal connection between the Maharishi and the party.According to spokesman Bob Roth, “The Maharishi has said the party has to grow to encompass everyone”.Critics charged that the party was an effort to recruit people for Transcendental Meditation, and that it resembled “the political arm of an international corporation” more than a “home-grown political creation”. The Indian arm of the NLP, the Ajeya Bharat Party, achieved electoral success, winning one seat in a state assembly in 1998.The Maharishi shut down the political effort in 2004, saying, “I had to get into politics to know what is wrong there.”
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”. In 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.He used videoconferencing to communicate with the world and with his advisors. Built to Maharishi Sthapatya Veda architectural standards, the structure, according to the Maharishi, is said to have helped him infuse “the light of Total Knowledge” into “the destiny of the human race”.
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, while supporting the rich diversity of our world family”.The Maharishi crowned Tony Nader, a physician and MIT-trained neuroscientist,as the king or Maharaja of the GCWP in 2000.[The GCWP unsuccessfully attempted to establish a sovereign micronation when it offered US$1.3 billion to the President of Suriname for a 200-year lease of 3,500 acres (14 km2) of land and in 2002, attempted to choose a king for the Talamanca, a “remote Indian reservation” in Costa Rica.
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”.
In a 2002 appearance on the CNN show, Larry King Live, the first time in twenty-five years that the Maharishi had appeared in the mainstream media, he said “Transcendental Meditation is something that can be defined as a means to do what one wants to do in a better way, a right way, for maximum results”.It was occasioned by the reissue of the Maharishi’s book The Science of Being and Art of Living. That same year, the Maharishi Global Financing Research Foundation issued the “RAAM” as a currency “dedicated to financing peace promoting projects”.
In 2003, David Lynch began a fundraising project to raise US$1 billion “on behalf of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi” to build a meditation centre large enough to hold 8,000 skilled practitioners.
The Maharishi ordered a suspension of TM training in Britain in 2005 due to his opposition to prime minister Blair’s decision to support the Iraq War.The Maharishi said that he did not want to waste the “beautiful nectar” of TM on a “scorpion nation”. He lifted the ban after Blair’s resignation in 2007.During this period, skeptics were critical of some of the Maharishi’s programmes, such as a $10 trillion plan to end poverty through organic farming in poor countries and a $1 billion plan to use meditation groups to end conflict.
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