TRANSCENDENTAL: The Beatles with Maharishi in 1968 before the bust-up
IN 1968 the shockwaves from the Beatles trip to India to visit Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of transcendental meditation, reverberated around the world. The Fab Four were not the only celebrities to make the trip to the sparsely constructed ashram overlooking the River Ganges. Actress Mia Farrow, Beach Boy Mike Love and folk singer Donovan also attended but the Beatles were far and away the most famous.
I spent six years on Maharishi’s personal staff and 20 years living in his ashrams all over the world, including the one at Rishikesh.
I was lucky to get a unique insight into how Maharishi and the events that happened in the ashram influenced and inspired the Beatles.
During this rare respite from Beatlemania, the Liverpudlians composed 40 songs in the Himalayan foothills.
Thus was born the two-record album The Beatles (aka The White Album), released on November 22, 1968.
Donovan claimed that while in Rishikesh, he suggested that since the Beatles were so famous they didn’t need a photo on their next album. It could be plain white and nameless.
Pop artist Richard Hamilton, who designed the cover and poster, said: “Paul McCartney requested the design be as stark a contrast to Sgt Pepper’s day-glo explosion as possible.”
John Lennon and his wife Cynthia arrived on February 16, 1968, with George Harrison and his wife Pattie Boyd and Pattie’s sister Jenny.
Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and their partners arrived three days later.
BEATLES visit the Maharishi Yoga at Rishikesh, India in February 1968
Despite struggling to keep his centre afloat, the famous guests were given double beds, sit-down toilets, rugs, curtains and baths with water heated by staff in disused oil drums.
Maharishi asked students to respect the band’s privacy but gave them private lessons.
John and George were the most absorbed. “Whenever I meditate, there’s a big brass band in me head,” John said.“For creating, it was great. It was just pouring out!”
On George’s 25th birthday, Maharishi presented him with a book and a plastic globe with the southern hemisphere on top.
Celebrity devotees of the Mahareshi Mahesh Yogi and friends, at his academy high up in the Himalayas
Maharishi said the world was in turmoil and asked George to make it right through transcendental meditation.
George turned it right-side-up and declared: “I’ve done it!” Due to childhood peritonitis, Ringo lugged a suitcase of Heinz Beans to India.
His wife Maureen insisted that “Ritchie” kill even the smallest fly and after 10 days they left.
Paul and girlfriend Jane Asher stayed for five weeks, leaving to fulfil her theatrical commitments while John and George stayed on.
Then on April 10, the remaining Beatles left Maharishi in a huff for three reasons:
Maharishi & Me: picture from the book
A film deal went south
Maharishi granted the Beatles’ Apple Corp exclusive rights to make a movie about transcendental meditation and Maharishi, so the company hired a film crew.
But the guru had already given Four Star Productions, of Hollywood, exclusive rights to film Maharishi for the next five years!
One morning John, bed-headed and bleary-eyed, opened his bungalow door when a Four Star director yelled “Action!”.
Infuriated, John and George holed up in their rooms feeling betrayed and used. They refused to be two-bit players in someone else’s film.
“Magic Alex” got his way
The second reason was because Rosalyn Bonas (a schoolteacher from Brooklyn) and her paramour Alexis Mardas claimed Maharishi had made a pass at Rosalyn and “Magic Alex” talked George and John into leaving.
He later admitted he only travelled to Rishikesh to split the Beatles from Maharishi.
The Beatles broke the rules
In September 1991, George Harrison visited Maharishi in Vlodrop, Holland.
During that meeting, arranged by author Deepak Chopra, George said he came to apologise. When asked why, George answered, “You know.”
Maharishi & Me: Seeking Enlightenment With The Beatles’ Guru is out now
Maharishi asked George to tell Deepak the real story and he revealed the Beatles were asked to leave because members of their party were using drugs and alcohol.
The topic turned to the Beatles’ Ed Sullivan Show appearance, during which no crime was reported in the USA.
Maharishi exclaimed, “When I heard this, I knew the Beatles were angels on Earth… It doesn’t matter what John said or did, I could never be upset with angels.” George then broke down and wept.
Later, George phoned Deepak and said: “A huge karmic baggage has been lifted from me, because I didn’t want to lie.”
Maharishi & Me: Seeking Enlightenment With The Beatles’ Guru by Susan Shumsky is out now, priced £19.99 on Amazon
Read more here: Daily Express :: Celebrity News Feedhappy wheels
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