Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1918-2008) is one of the foremost teachers of meditation. Since he began teaching meditation in 1955, his transcendental meditation movement has been practised by an estimated 5 million people worldwide.
“Transcendental Meditation opens the awareness to the infinite reservoir of energy, creativity and intelligence that lies deep within everyone.”
– Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Mahesh Prasad Varma (later changed to Maharishi Mahesh) was born in Madhya Pradesh, India on January 12th, 1917. He was born to the Kshatriya (warrior caste) Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was born on January 12th, 1917 to a Kshatriya caste Hindu family living in the small village of Chichli near Jabalpur, in the central region of India.
After completing a masters degree in Physics from Allahabad University in 1940 he felt increasingly attracted to the spiritual life. He joined the Jyotirmath and became a disciple of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati. After studying meditation under the guidance of the Shankaracharya for 12 years, in 1953, he travelled to Uttarkashi in the Himalayas. Here he entered into a meditation retreat, enabling him to deepen his meditation experience. In 1955, he decided he should teach meditation to the world and so began teaching traditional meditation techniques. He also assumed the title “Maharishi” which means great sage and is quite common amongst Indian Gurus. In 1957, he founded his first organisation the Spiritual Regeneration Movement. There have been many related organisations, they tend to get grouped under the heading of Transcendental Meditation movement.
Transcendental Meditation Movement
The growth in the Transcendental Meditation movement was rapid, especially in the 1960s when the counterculture made meditation and eastern spirituality more appealing and in the public eye. Many high profile celebrities were attracted to the movement these included the Beach Boys, singer-songwriter Donovan, Clint Eastwood and David Lynch. The most high profile were the Beatles who spent time on a retreat in the late 1960s After a while, with the exception of George Harrison they became disillusioned with the Maharishi and left. George Harrison maintained an interest in meditation throughout his life and helped provided the TM movement with a meeting place in England.
The Maharishi has sought to identify different stages of consciousness. In particular, he has sought to demonstrate that if groups of people sincerely meditate in the same area it can have an effect of creating a more peaceful and prosperous effect. He gave this the term the Maharishi effect. Since September 11th, 2001 he has often stated that combined efforts of meditation are important for the progress of the world’s spiritual unfoldment.
Towards the end of his life, the Maharishi rarely appeared in public but issued weekly podcasts in which he offered messages on meditation to his followers. However, he has encouraged his students to become registered TM meditation teachers. There are an estimated 1,000 TM – siddhi meditation teachers. Unlike traditional Indian approach to spirituality. Transcendental meditation classes do require a significant monetary fee.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is credited as the author of at least 14 books. The most important books are the Science of Being and the Art of Living: Transcendental Meditation and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the Bhagavad-Gita.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi passed away on Tuesday 5th February 2011 at his home and headquarters in Vlodrop, the Netherlands. He is believed to have been in his 90s.
Science of Being and Art of Living: Transcendental Meditation
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