Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Transcendental Meditation and the guru of several celebrities of our time died at his home in Netherlands today. From The New York Times, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Spiritual Leader dies:
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who introduced transcendental meditation to the West and gained fame in the 1960s as the spiritual guru to the Beatles, died Tuesday at his home and headquarters in Vlodrop, the Netherlands. He is believed to have been in his 90s. Steven Yellin, a spokesman for the organization, confirmed the Maharishi’s death but did not give a cause.
On Jan. 11, the Maharishi announced that his public work was finished and that he would use his remaining time to complete a long-running series of published commentaries on the Veda, the oldest sacred Hindu text.
He was at the center of many controversies including his title, which is traditionally used by Brahmans (he belonged to a lower caste), his alleged sexual improprieties towards actress Mia Farrow and the TM technique Yogic Flying, which disciples complained never went beyond the first stage.
He founded Transcendental Meditation in the 1950s.
Known as TM, a trademarked name, the technique consists of closing one’s eyes twice a day for 20 minutes while silently repeating a mantra to gain deep relaxation, eliminate stress, promote good health and attain clear thinking and inner fulfillment. Classes today cost $2,500 for a five-day session.
The TM movement was a founding influence on what has grown into a multibillion-dollar self-help industry, and many people practice similar forms of meditation that have no connection to the Maharishi’s movement.
Over the years since TM became popular, many scientists have found physical and mental benefits from mediation in general and transcendental meditation in particular, especially in reducing stress-related ailments.
Since the technique’s inception in 1955, the organization says, it has been used to train more than 40,000 teachers, taught more than five million people, opened thousands of teaching centers and founded hundreds of schools, colleges and universities.
In the United States, the organization values its assets at about $300 million, with its base in Fairfield, Iowa, where it operates a university, the Maharishi University of Management. In 2001, disciples of the movement incorporated their own town, Maharishi Vedic City, a few miles north of Fairfield.
His following was diverse and included Clint Eastwood, David Lynch and Deepak Chopra, Donovan, and Mike Love of the Beach Boys. But his most famous disciples were the Beatles. Check out this video, with interviews and archival footage.
The Maharishi had established a multi-billion dollar global empire in his years of teaching and mentoring people.
Some 5 million people devoted 20 minutes every morning and evening reciting a simple sound, or mantra, and delving into their consciousness.
''Don't fight darkness. Bring the light, and darkness will disappear,'' Maharishi said in a 2006 interview, repeating one of his own mantras.
Donations and the $2,500 fee to learn TM financed the construction of Peace Palaces, or meditation centers, in dozens of cities around the world. It paid for hundreds of new schools in India.
In the last years of his life he rarely met with anyone, even his ministers, face-to-face, preferring to speak with followers almost exclusively by closed-circuit television.
Mahesh Prasad Varma was born in northern India into a family of scribes. Called Mahesh, he studied physics at Allahabad University and for the next 13 years became a student and secretary to a holy man, Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, who the young disciple Mahesh called Guru Dev. To know more about TM and the Maharishi visit his website maharishi.org
Click here to read the full Times story.
- Thirty Years Around the World: Dawn of the Age of Enlightenment by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1987)
- Science of Being and Art of Living: Transcendental Meditation by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (2001)
- Meditations of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1973)
- The Maharishi: The Biography of the Man Who Gave Transcendental Meditation to the World by Paul Mason (1994)