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the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

a photographic essay by: roy james Shakespeare

The Beatles visited Rishikesh in India in February 1968 to attend an advanced Transcendental Meditation (TM) training session at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Amidst widespread media attention, their stay at the ashram was one of the band’s most productive periods. Their adoption of the Maharishi as their guru is credited by some as changing attitudes in the West about Indian spirituality, and encouraging the study of Transcendental Meditation.[1] The Beatles first met the Maharishi in London in August 1967 and then attended a seminar in Bangor, Wales. Although this seminar in Wales was planned to be a 10-day session, their stay was cut short by the death of their manager, Brian Epstein. Wanting to learn more, they kept in contact with the Maharishi and planned to attend his ashram in October, but their trip was rescheduled due to other commitments. The Maharishi’s compound was across from Rishikesh, located in the holy “Valley of the Saints” in the foothills of the Himalayas, and the home to many ashrams. The Beatles arrived there in February 1968, along with wives, girlfriends, assistants and numerous reporters, joining about 60 other TM students, including musicians Donovan, Mike Love of the Beach Boys, and flautist Paul Horn. While there, Lennon, McCartney and Harrison wrote many songs (Ringo Starr wrote one), of which eighteen were later recorded for The Beatles (White Album), two for Abbey Road, and others for solo works. Starr left on 1 March, after only a short stay; Paul McCartney left a couple weeks later due to other commitments; while John Lennon and George Harrison stayed until they left abruptly in April following financial disagreements and rumours of inappropriate behaviour by the Maharishi, accusations which were made public. Harrison later apologised for the way he and Lennon had treated the Maharishi, and in 1992, he gave a benefit concert for the Maharishi-associated Natural Law Party. In 2009, McCartney and Starr reunited at a concert held at New York’s Radio City Music Hall to benefit the David Lynch Foundation, which funds the teaching of the Transcendental Meditation in schools.

The Beatles Ashram 1968  

The Beatles visited Rishikesh in India in February 1968 to attend an advanced Transcendental Meditation. Here it is now, the mystical place...

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