Wednesday, February 06, 2008

RIP: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

(Sorry for the long silence, folks--I'll be back on my game in the next couple of weeks. But I've made some time-consuming resolutions, and I have this conference to run....)

So the Maharishi is gone.

The Maharishi was both an entrepreneur and a monk, a spiritual man who sought a world stage from which to espouse the joys of inner happiness. His critics called his organization a cult business enterprise. And in the press, in the 1960s and ’70s, he was often dismissed as a hippie mystic, the “Giggling Guru,” recognizable in the familiar image of him laughing, sitting cross-legged in a lotus position on a deerskin, wearing a white silk dhoti with a garland of flowers around his neck beneath an oily, scraggly beard.

..........

The visibility and popularity of the organization can largely be attributed to the Beatles. In 1968, the band, with great publicity, began studying with the Maharishi at his Himalayan retreat, or ashram, in Rishikesh, in northern India. They went with their wives, the folk singer Donovan, the singer Mike Love, of the Beach Boys, the actress Mia Farrow and Ms. Farrow’s sister Prudence.

They left in the wake of rumors of sexual improprieties by the Maharishi, an avowed celibate, though no sexual-misconduct suits were filed and some of the participants later denied that anything untoward had occurred.

Nevertheless, public interest in the movement had been aroused in the West, and it continued to grow in the 1970s as the Maharishi took his movement around the world and as its techniques gained respectability in the medical world.


I have to admit, I never knew what to think of the the whole celebrity TM movement: I guess I can see that people in empty worlds reach for meaning, but then it also seems like dabbling in someone else's mysticism, which strikes me as potentially pretty cynical. But then I'm feeling pretty cynical these days. Still, I hear it's 1968 all over again, so who's to say?

Anyway, an important person and a valuable inspiration.

11 comments:

Kid Charlemagne said...

Welcome back, Mary...

The Maharishi was also the butt of a lot of jokes in the sixties. Really, how many Sixties comedies and shows like Laugh In had wacky yogi types in them?

steve simels said...

Hey -- long time no see, kiddo!!
:-)

I'm assuming that's the remix from the Love album? Didn't know there had been a video...

In any case, say what you will about the Maharishi and TM generally -- but the Fabs trip to India inspired some of their alltime best songs....

steve simels said...

Speaking of guru parodies, there was a column in the old Nat Lampoon by an Indian mystic named Baba Rum Raisin....

speedy said...

Y'all probably know that "Sexy Sadie" started out as "Maharishi." So there ya go.

Later on John referred to him as "the maharooni." RIP for sure.

Brooklyn Girl said...

I have to admit, I never knew what to think of the the whole celebrity TM movement: I guess I can see that people in empty worlds reach for meaning, but then it also seems like dabbling in someone else's mysticism, which strikes me as potentially pretty cynical. But then I'm feeling pretty cynical these days. Still, I hear it's 1968 all over again, so who's to say?

The modern day equivalent being Madonna embracing Kabbalah. However, while all the rituals and psychosocial drama surrounding TM may have seemed silly and excessive, the technique itself was actually pretty useful, and not at all mystical.

And, you may not believe this, but my word verification is "jewtm" ... I swear.

steve simels said...

"I forgot my mantra...."

NYMary said...

My mantra is out walking my dogma.

NYMary said...

Brooklyn Girl,
One of my last ties to Catholicism was a pretty firm conviction (and I still believe this, actually) that processes like saying the rosary, with endless, meaningless, patterned repetition, essentially function like meditation--the words occupy your conscious mind leaving a kind of clarity.

My problem comes with the whole "who's listening?" issue.

Brooklyn Girl said...

My problem comes with the whole "who's listening?" issue

Not sure who you mean ... God? or the celebrities?

Remonster said...

Hmm....I had my rounds with TM in 1979-81. It worked as it was presented to me; a relaxitation technique that calmed the mind and brought mental clarity. I was a teenager then and it did indeed focus me. I gave it up when my Christian phase started and learned that my matra was an incantation of a Hindu spirit that was evil!Both those phases are in the past and now if there is a phase it is more Hobbsian than anything else. I do however enjoy the nice turn of a power chord that shimmers and rocks and makes me think/feel like I did in '79. And I have never told another soul my mantra!

TMink said...

Didn't the fab leave when the Mahareshi made a rude pass/sexually assaulted (I do not equate them, I just do not know which it was) at Mia Farrow's sister? Dear Prudence was the song I think.

Trey