Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
was born in Jalapur, India 12 January, 1917
Passed away on 5th February, 2008
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a guru to the Beatles who introduced the West to transcendental meditation, died Tuesday at his home in the Dutch town of Vlodrop, a spokesman said. He was thought to be 91 years old. “He died peacefully at about 7 p.m.,” said Bob Roth, a spokesman for the Transcendental Meditation movement that Maharishi founded. He said his death appeared to be due to “natural causes, his age.” He began teaching TM in 1955 and brought the technique to the United States in 1959. Maharishi retreated last month into silence at his home on the grounds of a former Franciscan monastery, saying he wanted to dedicate his remaining days to studying the ancient Indian texts that underpin his movement.
The picture was taken in 1973, the year I met him at the Office of the movement at the time in Switzerland. One thing I was very concerned about was the fact that I was a Franciscan at the time and I wanted to meet him before the course began to ask him a few questions. Maybe I was a bit naive but because of my being so, and with a certain amount of determination, I had my wish. I arrived in Switzerland and on the plane and at the airport I met many students like myself heading for the course and I also met some who were already teachers but going for an advanced course. I was enquiring as to where exactly was Maharishi and most people said “no one knows” but one guy said, “Stay with me, I will take you because one of his personal secretaries is a friend of mines and I will try and help you find where he is”. At the airport, instead of getting on the bus with the new students, I went with the advanced group.
It was my first trip to Switzerland and it was early winter and the scenery was extremely beautiful. Finally we came to a Hotel in the mountains where we all got off and my friend asked me to follow him and he showed me a place in the lobby where I could leave my suitcase and he said, “wait here”. I must have waited over an hour and he came with another guy who he introduced to me and said “He will take care of you.” This guy explained that there was no assurance that I would see Maharishi but in any case he will try and come back and tell me. “Don’t move from here” he said and he pointed to a chair in the lobby where I could sit. I had travelled all the way across Europe all night and so I sank into the chair and, guess what? I meditated!
Every hour or so, someone came and told me that apparently Maharishi received my message and he said yes he will like to talk with me and I was given some yogurt and told not to go the dining area because if I leave the spot and someone came to get me, I would lose my place for the interview. Needless to say I waited and meditated for hours and the time went by and at 11.pm. I was hurried into the front seat in the hall. Maharishi was coming.
The hall was filled rapidly and then coming in the center was this man in white surrounded by his close staff. He went up on stage and immediately asked “Now where is the monk?” and “make room for him here” and he indicated right next to him as he pushed aside some flowers. I was ushered into a chair and there I was, as close as one could ever want to be, and he was smiling and laughing and chuckling he said “You are a monk? We monks do not need ™” Those were his first words to me and I will never forget! and we laughed as his laugh was so communicative!
He was very sincere as he told me that some years ago a monk from Europe wrote asking the Pope permission to become a teacher and the Pope refused. “We can show you the letter” he said. I explained that I did not ask the Pope, I asked my superiors and received all that was necessary. He was very attentive and he knew somehow that I was not registered at the hotel and so at the end, he turned to someone and asked, “Make sure he has a place for the night” and we said goodbye.
The Sama Vedas were now being played on the speakers and we left the hall in silence. As soon as I was in the lobby, a guy came to me and said “My name is Robert and am from Quebec, follow me” and I was driven to a place for the night. The next morning there was a boat they drove me to at 4 am and we crossed over the lake to the place where my course began.
I can still remember the feeling of that morning. It was like a dream and I was not out of it! I was cold and tired and hungry but it did not matter, as an exciting adventure of my life was about to begin.!
Actually we were not far from France and there another bus drove us over to a town called Vittel where the first six months of the course took place. we stayed in a Hotel, off season and we called it “The Ice Palace” because it was so badly heated that we had to be wearing sweaters almost all the time. The meals were very strict vegetarian but the course had its own cooks and some were real chefs who prepared some fantastic meals. I loved the dairy, yogurts etc. Our schedules for meditation were looked over by Maharishi and he gave me one hour per sitting.
If I remember rightly we had to do pranayama breathing 10 mins. then 15 mins. Yoga, then meditate and then do the exercises again and that was 1 round. So when the rounds increased, it meant longer hours. This was twice per day. Maharishi wanted his teachers to be well disciplined and we had to have the experience of regular sitting or how could we teach others if we did not. The course was very intense with lots of material not only directly from Maharishi but we had some of the best lectures given by well known scientists like Dr.J.Banquet, a well known neurologist from Paris and we even had Buckminister Fuller, who invented the Geodesic Dome and many others. He was a scientist himself and he opened the door to research on the brain to study what was happening while one meditated.
All this new science of today called ‘neuro-science’ was not named as such, but already existing in the late sixties in Maharishi’s environment. He had his own language of expressing things but he was beyond being a scientist, a very religious and spiritual man. Up to his death, he never accredited any success to himself, as he always pointed to his Guru and expressed that it came through the blessings of who he called ‘Guru Dev.”
I don’t know of hardly any Guru or Master who, at some point in their lives did not have trash thrown at them in the form of accusations. And so it was with him but I would like to recommend you to read from one of his students Deepak Chopra, who wrote a very beautiful defense of Maharishi in his blog at the time of Maharishi’s passing.
I was very edified in the way in which he prepared to face death. He knew that it was coming and one month before, he asked to go into silence. His passing was done so uplifting and so peaceful and even hours after his death one could have seen on utube, the serenity and peace on his face.
I never considered him as my Guru. I looked on him as my teacher. He himself had often said that he was not a Guru and that the Guru was Bhramanda Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Jyoti Math who he lovingly called Guru Dev. During the course, I had the occasion of meeting with him on several occasions. He was always very attentive as to whether I was comfortable and all was well with me. We had several conversations in private and it was always in my interest and concerning my meditations.
On the day of graduation, we had to go by groups of countries and meet with him. When the Canadian group came up, he asked me to wait because he wanted to speak to me alone. I was a bit nervous as I had to do the puja in Sanskrit by memory as he sat and watched. There were so many prayers said in that hall that day as I stood there and chanted and could almost feel supported by the energy. At the end he beckoned to me to come and sit close and he said ‘Very good very good” and then he proceeded to transmit the mantras.
I felt as though I was in a dream, in a cave sitting with an ageless sage talking with me and giving instructions. I was able to ask questions and he answered. At the end I placed my palms together and bowed my head to him and left. I was walking on a cloud.
The day he passed away, a friend sent me the link and I was able to go in and see him as he was seated in his bed shortly after. I looked at him sitting there and it brought back a thousand memories of this wise old man who was ever so kind and smiling and who spoke his own language but all about making the world a better place by teaching meditation, by loving one another, by raising the level of consciousness and all because, he said, “the nature of life is to grow and prosper”. How could I not feel sad at his departure? I found myself in tears.
Strangely enough a few days afterwards, his body was flown to India and with much ceremony and many people from all over the world present, the wood was lit and the smoke arose and at that moment I felt lots of joy in my heart, maybe because of the conviction that he was free, and his work here was well done and he was now happily with his Guru Dev!