Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Maharishi’s Beginnings

A native of Pounalulla, India, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was born in 1918, according to his passport, although there are varying accounts of his exact date and year of birth. He was born into the Kayastha Caste, which was considered an upper-level caste of some distinction. Born Mahesh Prasad Varma, the honorifics “Maharishi” meaning “Great Seer” or “Great Sage” and “Yogi” were added to his name later in life. After obtaining a degree in physics, he garnered employment as a personal secretary and aide to Guru Dev, also known as Brahmananda Saraswati, who was the spiritual leader of Jyotir Math, an 8th century CE monastery which, until he took the reins, had been without leadership for 165 years. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi became one of Guru Dev’s most devoted acolytes, although upon his death he was not eligible to succeed him due to his status as a non-Brahmin. Instead, he would travel throughout India sharing the spiritual teachings of Guru Dev, with a special emphasis on a technique called Transcendental Deep Meditation.

Transcendental Deep Meditation’s Origins

After Guru Dev’s death, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi continued his travels in India for an additional two years, sharing what he described as a type of meditation that was inspired by Guru Dev’s teachings. The technique was called “Transcendental Deep Meditation”. After gaining a substantial following, he would name his movement the “Spiritual Development Movement”, and at a memorial service for Guru Dev, the Maharishi announced that he planned to travel the world to share the techniques of Transcendental Deep Meditation (which was by then renamed simply “Transcendental Meditation”) with as many people as he could reach. For an introduction to Transcendental Meditation Techniques, check out this video of the Maharishi describing it in a 1974 lecture in Brussels, Belgium: https://youtu.be/MeCHfgq2Vp8.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Spreads His Message to the World

The Maharishi was quoted as saying, “The goal of the Transcendental Meditation technique is the state of enlightenment.” It was his greatest wish that the technique of Transcendental Meditation be taught to all people, allowing for the masses to experience the release of stress and the state of “bliss” which TM elicits. To that end, he began to travel extensively to share his message with the goal of the enlightenment of the world. His first tour around the world began in 1959 when he traveled outside of India for the first time. During that year, he would visit Hawaii, Los Angeles, New York, Boston, and London, among other cities. He imparted his message of the benefits of Transcendental Meditation to thousands that year, and word of his spiritual teaching began to spread. The following year, his world tour continued, and he would visit many European nations as well as Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. He kept up this rapid-fire travel schedule for years and eventually began training Transcendental Meditation Teachers in each country, allowing his precepts to be disseminated at a faster pace.

The Maharishi’s Celebrity Connection

As word spread about the Maharishi’s remarkable message, and he was given the opportunity to lecture at some of the most prestigious universities in America, including Harvard, Yale, and UC Berkeley, he started to gain some fame, eventually gracing the covers of TIME and LIFE magazines, as well as making appearances on The Today Show and many other popular television programs. His reputation as a meditation guru was solidified, particularly in the area of Transcendental Meditation, and he was soon capturing the interest of a number of Western celebrities, the most famous of whom were arguably The Beatles. After George Harrison’s wife, Pattie Boyd, attended one of the Maharishi’s lectures in London in 1967, all four of The Beatles traveled to India to study with the Maharishi at his ashram and immerse themselves completely in his spiritual teaching. Another famous Maharishi follower is Mike Love of The Beach Boys, who not only traveled to India to learn from him but took a course to become certified as a teacher of Transcendental Meditation. Upon his return to California, he had some impact on his fellow band members, and music on The Beach Boys’ album, “Friends” is said to have been inspired by the experience of Mike Love at the ashram as well as the Maharishi himself. Indeed, one song on the album is titled, “Transcendental Meditation”. It is certain that the embrace of Transcendental Meditation by these and other celebrated figures contributed to the widespread popularity of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and he is still very popular among luminaries and other notable personalities as well as those among us who possess neither fame nor fortune, but who simply wish to experience enlightenment.

What is Transcendental Meditation?

The technique of Transcendental Meditation is described as a very simple one, but it is recommended that it be learned only under the guidance of a certified TM instructor. Fortunately, due to the rapid pace at which Transcendental Meditation’s popularity grew, locating a certified TM Instructor is not as difficult as it was in the 1960’s. The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi explains what the practice of TM entails in this short video: https://youtu.be/YPsdVnFeTmQ, in which he describes transcendental meditation as a “procedure for enrichment of life, for betterment of life, for more success and more progress and more joy of life.” He also refers to Transcendental Meditation as a practice which “anchors” the mind, calming it, and allowing it to be open to an “infinite source of energy and intelligence”.

Here is a brief summary of the steps necessary to participate in a Transcendental Meditation session:

  1. Obtain a mantra, or a repeated word or phrase, from your Transcendental Meditation teacher.
  2. With your eyes closed, repeat the mantra in your mind until you have come to an understanding of its most fundamental meaning and arrive at a state of “bliss consciousness” or “transcendental consciousness”. The Maharishi also called this state a “pure state of being”.
  3. Repeat TM twice daily for 15-20 minutes per session, usually once in the morning and once each evening.
  4. Allow your mind to experience this pure state of being and become re-energized, happier, and less stressed.

The Giggling Guru

This video of the Maharishi explaining to an interviewer how Transcendental Meditation works also demonstrates why he was nicknamed “The Giggling Guru” by the press: https://youtu.be/SsBGTIXY0AI. He was thusly christened due to his propensity toward frequently emitting a rather high-pitched titter during his lectures and interviews, which some no doubt found surprising from someone lauded as a world-renowned religious figure. He was also often photographed and filmed with a broad smile on his face, perhaps inspiring viewers to ask the question, “Why is that man always so happy?” This may have motivated more than a few prospective practitioners to give Transcendental Meditation a try.

The Science Behind Transcendental Meditation

Transcendental Meditation may be one of the most-researched meditation practices in existence today, and in 2013, the American Heart Association published the results of a study which indicated that TM should be considered a legitimate therapy for high blood pressure. Other studies have demonstrated that practicing it promotes an increase in insulin resistance, which decreases the likelihood of developing diabetes. Yet another study found Transcendental Meditation helpful in preventing or decreasing anxiety. These and other studies are not without their critics, however, and some study results have been found to have been flawed or incomplete, according to scientists who have repeated the studies. Some of these scientists have determined that the benefits experienced from practicing Transcendental Meditation are a result of a placebo effect, a result which has been found with such techniques as Acupuncture as well. One could argue (and many do) that if improvement is shown in the practitioner, and no harm is done, clearly the practice is a beneficial one.

The Legacy of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

The Maharishi passed away from natural causes in 2008 at the age of 90 (if we adhere to the birthdate in his passport) in the Netherlands, where he had relocated to in 1990. Before his final days, he had managed to personally teach the technique of Transcendental Meditation to over 40,000 people, and there are at least 5,000,000 practitioners of TM known today, although determining a specific number is nearly impossible. Many present-day celebrities are still aficionados of the practice, and counted among them are Aziz Ansari, Mario Batali, Gwyneth Paltrow, Leonard Bernstein, and Tom Brady. There are thousands of Transcendental Meditation schools, centers, and community groups throughout the world today, and the “Giggling Guru” will never be forgotten, nor will the ideologies he evangelized and taught about during his life.

The Maharishi Effect

The Maharishi contended that the effects of Transcendental Meditation are so powerful that a large number of people performing TM within a limited physical space could affect the environment in which they were, specifically sparking a reduction in the crime rate and improving the overall quality of life for residents. For each 1% of the population who regularly practiced the technique, the local crime rate was lowered by 16%.  Also noted was an improvement in the general health of the population, and the Maharishi purported that if the number of practitioners was multiplied, so, in turn, would the universal benefits be.


 © 2017 5th Dimensional Quantum Healing & Awareness by Author: Roisin Herrera