Elsa Clary Dragemark was born on the 13th of February 1926, on Bokenäset, Sweden, and died in 2011. [◦Compare]
In 1972, ten years after she learnt Transcendental Meditation, TM, she published an interesting, illustrated travelogue centred on TM and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, his answers to questions, and much background information of what went before him and surrounded him for a long while. His aim was to spread TM.
This intimate book is becoming a rare find nowadays. It contains interesting information about how Maharishi first got his life mission to spread the meditation method called TM in short - as Dr. Raj Varma recounts it.
The text that follows is for most part abridged renderings, plain and simple, aiming for gist and highlights with some verbatim quotations in between. There are links to other pages with related contents, and tips on books that may be of interest from the early years of the TM movement. Some errors have been corrected and further facts added in notes and the rendered passages, all for the sake of better surveys. The chapter numbers are as hers, although some chapter titles are changed below.
- T. Kinnes
"Since 1962 I have had the good fortune to practice transcendental meditation." - Elsa Dragemark 
In Bohuslän on the west coast of Sweden she was born. During autumn and winter evenings the family would gather at home in the kitchen. At times there were seamen and sailors from the vicinity too. They were ordinarily stiff and taciturn, and knew the art of story-telling. They did not make their stories too exaggerated or unnecessarily dramatic, but calm and factual. She loved these moments.
In the kitchen, she always sat in her favourite place in front of the stove. The cat usually lay by her feet, purring and revelling in the warmth.
One autumn evening, as the rain gushed down the window panes and the family sat as usual in the twilit kitchen, her father told this story from his youth, when he tip-toed into a temple in India and soon forgot the world outside.
"We slowly drew near the most holy . . . Without wanting to or consciously realizing it, I soon lost contact with my surroundings. I seemed to float around in a large spaceless vacancy, which was soft and pleasant without being restricted in either form, colour or time."
Suddenly there was a gentle tinkling of a bell from somewhere inside the temple, and he soon left it. Afterwards he felt strangely dizzy and spellbound for several hours, walking around without seeing much. [13-22]
Years later still, Elsa started to search for something worthwhile in her life, without realizing she did. Then her best friend told her one day that she had started with something called "Indian transcendental meditation". Elsa tried to pry out of her what this mysterious thing was. Her curiosity was aroused.
"I went to the lecture filled with questions and to a certain degree, apprehension. The lecture . . . I have to admit that I didn't understand very much of it.
"When [the lecturer] said that every human being carries an ocean of joy within himself, I started to fidget where I sat on my bench."
"Meditation is the instrument for us to reach the finer levels of our consciousness and the inexhaustible source of happiness. Man is born to enjoy life, not to suffer from it," preached the lecturer. He went on to say that Indian transcendental meditation had been brought from India to the Western world by the Indian philosopher and scientist Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to stimulate relaxation among the materialistically inclined westerners.
"Truly enough we westerners were captivated by our interest in our material life and there were pressures which needed to be solved. I, myself, was as tensed as a spring of steel," Elsa wrote.
"The meditation technique is simple and can therefore be learned by everyone and it is not bound to any one religion," continued the speaker.
She reflected over this, "If it was really so easy to meditate, then why didn't everyone do so?" All the same, when the lecture was over, she hurried to join the line of applicants.
On her way home, she said to a good friend: "If it is true what was promised in the lecture, then this thing about meditation is something, absolutely fantastic. I am at least going to try and find out what there is to it."
Within some days she was taught how to meditate - in a room lit by a few candles. At the time, her father's story of his first trip to India suddenly came to mind, and she felt a complete and wonderful peace spreading through her.
The meditation technique was disclosed to her first. Then she was to meditate for half an hour in another room. There she tried to imagine what she'd look like sitting with shut eyes together with people she had never met before in her life. However, she found it very pleasant to sit there, eyes closed, in the middle of a group of strangers.
After half an hour she was discreetly urged to leave the room. By then she was relaxed and happy. Her happiness felt pure and real, coming from within. On coming out into the dull February evening, she looked at her surroundings with fresh eyes. She felt wonderful.
What she had experienced during and after the meditation was something very much like what she had felt as a child in Bohuslän, surrounded by the innocent beauty of flowers, hearing the rushing of the brook and sensing the sun-warmed earth during many happy and bright hours of childhood. To walk alone in slushy Stockholm streets with wet snow splashing against her face that February evening, made her childhood brightness ripple again. "I had been given a key, I knew."
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi first founded the Spiritual Regeneration Movement in India in 1958 to offer humanity a simple form of meditation along with a happy and harmonious life. In 1959 he made his first world tour in order to bring his technique outside India's borders, and came to Thailand, Malaya, Singapore, Hong Kong and Hawaii first, He went on and lectured and taught TM in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, New York and London. [Maharishi tours]
When he set out on world-tours later, there were people waiting on all continents except Antarctica to meet the Maharishi, and also to work for the movement. Maharishi's public appearances became more and more noticed - thousands of people started to practice his technique of meditation.
When Maharishi was going to hold his first international summer course in the Austrian Alps in 1962, Elsa came one sunny day in July by bus with others to the small alpine village of Hochgurgl near the Italian border at 2,200 metres above sea-level. Around 200 people from twenty-seven nations occupied three hotels. All had come to participate in the ten-day course that Maharishi was going to hold.
In a not very large lecture hall people were sitting and waiting for Maharishi to come, holding flowers to greet him with. At last came Maharishi, receiving the flowers that were eagerly offered to him. With arms full of flowers Maharishi seemed to glide up onto the table and with crossed legs he motioned to them all to sit down. He closed his eyes. Soon people were meditating together.
After a while there was a low murmur from Maharishi, but Elsa could not hear what he said, for she was sitting too far back in the hall. "How small he is," was her first reflection. Then she noticed his eyes were mild and clear and radiated love. There was something charming in Maharishi's mode of being, at the same time expressing both humility and the strength of a great man. Maharishi was blessed with a large portion of humour as well, but his humour was so special that many couldn't always catch the point.
When Elsa finally got to bed sometime after midnight and lay there in the darkness, in some way it felt good to think of him.
After breakfast one day, she went out to meditate in peace beside a mountain stream. When she eventually slowly opened her eyes, they filled with tears before Alps.
She climbed up a slope and came to a beautiful mountain meadow with gentian in thick carpets. Mountain flowers glowed in bright blue, white and pink colours, and the sun felt pleasantly warm. A herd of sheep grazed calmly a bit further down.
She stayed up there in the meadow for a long, long time. She rested, drank of the fresh water in cupped hands and wholly enjoyed the environment. "I had realized that maybe it wasn't so bad to be a human being after all." [30-36]
Maharishi first came to Norway in 1960, and in 1964 he went to Norway to lead an international summer-course. Elsa met him again there. One day Maharishi told what happened when he started the Spiritual Regeneration Movement (SRM). He said he had come out from Uttar Kashi in the Himalayas and on his way came to some places in South India and stayed on those places for three weeks each. One morning he started to go north to the capital town of Kerala. On the first morning there, on his way to a temple in the town, somebody asked him if he lectured.
Maharishi: "No, I don't lecture, but if there are people who want to hear me, I could give them some message."
The same day an organisation arranged for him to lecture for seven days.
Maharishi said: "All right, I never intended to stay here seven days, but it doesn't matter."
The people who organised the lectures gave the programme to the papers, local papers, and people started attending. In the end they crowded the area around the lecture hall too. The press wrote about the lectures, and came people from all over the province. Maharishi stayed for three months. People were initiated and began to feel happy. Then they took him round the whole province.
Maharishi stayed in Kerala for about six months. From there he went slowly further and further north and came to Kashmir. From there he went to the farthest west, and then to the farthest east. It took about two and a half or three years, said Maharishi.
Then the people of Madras in South India asked if he would come to a big conference and celebrate Guru Dev's 89th birthday for three days. This was in 1958. He came, and about ten-twenty thousand people gathered. Towards the end of the third day Maharishi addressed the conference, told of his travels and how his simple system of meditation could help people become relaxed and peaceful and happy. He also said that since different types of people began to feel happy with this meditation, why should it not be possible to eradicate suffering from the whole world? People were clapping for five minutes or so.
Maharishi further: "Now, when through the simple system of meditation all sorts of people come out of their misery and tension, then why don't we inaugurate a spiritual regeneration movement."
He explained a bit more from the start of SRM, while in Norway, "By mere chance I just happened to say it . . . without a thought - "Spiritual Regeneration Movement" - to spiritually regenerate all mankind. And again the clappings for five minutes."
Maharishi said: "Come on, we will spiritually regenerate the whole world."
The TM enterprise has diversified since the TM technique and TM movement were introduced in India in the mid-1950s. The movement's first vehicles were the Spiritual Regeneration Movement (1958), the International Meditation Society (1960) and the Students International Meditation Society (1965). So in the 1960s and 1970s, Maharishi created specialized organisations to present TM to specific segments of the society, such as business people and students.
The organizers gathered round and said that if he had let them advertise this idea of a world movement, it would have been done more nicely."
He said he did not know one minute beforehand that the world movement was going to be launched.
He worked for about six months in South India and then calculated that with his current speed it would take hundreds of years to spiritually regenerate the whole world. So he changed how he worked: he wanted to go to America. It was fitly arranged. When his passport and other formalities were completed he started out for America. He came to Rangoon and Kuala Lumpur and Penang and Singapore and Hong Kong first, and then reached Honolulu.
Later, during that summer course in Norway in 1964 he made it plain that he had only one thing in mind, that he had a message, useful for every man.
At the Hong Kong airport a man happened to ask him: "Where are you staying in Honolulu?"
Maharishi said: "I don't know."
He said: "You don't know where you are going?"
He said: "No, no."
Then he went round, whispering to people: "He doesn't know where he is going."
A devoted man then whispered to Maharishi: "Waterman, just remember the name Waterman . . . in Honolulu, you just phone to Waterman, that you have arrived, and he will want you to stay two or three days before going to the United States. Don't forget it."
Maharishi said: "All right."
When the plane had landed, he phoned Waterman and things were taken care of. On the third day he met a pianist in the street, and the pianist later asked him, "Have you some engagements there in the United States, in San Francisco?"
Maharishi said: "No, I don't have any engagements."
He said: "Where are you staying there?"
Maharishi: "I don't know."
"Oh no." The other picked up the phone without asking Maharishi, phoned to the airport and cancelled his plane ticket. Then he took Maharishi to another hotel and next day brought some press reporters. The pianist announced that Maharishi would lecture there. A month passed; time went quickly. About 300 people began to meditate in Hawaii.
Many had friends in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and a big programme was prepared for him there. After about a month in San Francisco, some people from Los Angeles came and eventually made him a lecture programme for Los Angeles. He went there. Right after his first lecture in Los Angeles a couple said their house was big, and invited him to come and stay there and initiate people.
Maharishi stayed there for quite some time.
In 1959 in Los Angeles Maharishi stayed at the home of author Helena Olson, her husband Roland Olson and their family. Helena Olson describes the visit and his teachings of Transcendental Meditation in her book A Hermit in the House (Los Angeles Olson, 1967).
Dr John Hislop (-1995) came one night and asked Maharishi what was the best thing to do with his money.
Maharishi, "You have to consider what you think to be the best and execute it."
Hislop said he had listened to Maharishi for forty-five days continuously, and thought at that time that "there is nothing better than working for the Spiritual Regeneration Movement . . . There won't be anything better than working for this movement."
Maharishi said: "You are a wise man, you have come to a right conclusion - go ahead!"
Hislop organised an international convention in Sequoia National Park in California. Until then Maharishi had used to go to a place, lecture, initiate and leave for another place, leaving some people meditating, but without links or meditation-centres to assist meditators. But in the park the time had come to tell: "We have to spiritually regenerate the whole world . . . I'll multiply myself" - by training meditation teachers, that is.
Charlie Lutes argued that it would seem better to have been trained in the Himalayas than in downtown Los Angeles. It was decided to build a meditation academy somewhere in the Himalayas to train people from all over the world.
Maharishi travelled through America and through Europe. It took a long time for him to go back to India. Dr. Hislop then offered to go to India for Maharishi. He found academy sites in Uttarkashi. Around them was an area of poverty.
"But it was in Rishikesh [in Uttarakhand] that we started to build the academy," said Maharishi. In the Himalayas, where everything had to come on horseback or muleback, and taking a little longer than he expected.
In the meantime Maharishi travelled round and round and held big world assemblies in London, in Paris, in Bonn, Rome, Bombay and Delhi, so SRM gained ground more and more. He called people to stay with him for three months in India, under very rough conditions of living - no electricity, no fan in the heat.
"We have to work to the maximum of our capacity to bring this meditation to the largest possible number of people in the shortest time possible," he went on to say up in Norway.
"It is very necessary to begin the work of spreading the meditation . . . because the collective tension . . . will not allow the individuals to be happy in themselves.
There was a dire need to "do our utmost to bring meditation to the majority of people in the shortest possible time."
Maharishi told a group it would be good to spread meditation "so that the . . . tension in the atmosphere, is neutralized. That alone will stop war breaking out."
He went on: "When tensions can no longer be sustained in the atmosphere, they break into some collective calamity or war, maybe famine, maybe flood, maybe rain, maybe ... any collective calamity."
Elsa Dragemark visited Maharishi when he was in Falsterbo Hus in Sweden, in 1967. There he opened the door for her to the Meditation Academy in Rishikesh.
In January 1968 she was off on a plane from Stockholm, and after and intermediate landing in London, she boarded an Air India plane. It was heading to Moscow first. On the plane from Moscow an Indian sat down on the seat beside her and took hold of Elsa's hand to read her palm.
"You are going to make your first trip to India now," he said, "It will be very successful and happy. But it will not be your last trip to India. In a few years you shall return."
She laughed. After some hours, on 15 January 1968, she set foot on Indian soil for the first time. Two hours later she was able to leave New Delhi's airport in a taxi. A very relaxing atmosphere filtered through the open car-window. She got a room in a Tourist Hostel in the central section of the city. There were many impressions to take in the next day.
Already in Sweden Elsa Dragemark had heard of a temple in New Delhi, the Birla temple, an enormous building of red, white and yellow sandstone, several times larger than the Uppsala cathedral.
The temple doors stood wide open to Hindus and others who wished to visit.
The main temple was covered in shining white marble. The temple guard smiled kindly and hung a wreath of tagetes flowers around her neck. On a tribune to the left in the temple two men sat playing drums and accordions and singing. They stopped playing and moved down to sit with her and tell of Hare Krishna
Suddenly she longed to be out in the sunshine again. She thanked the men for their kindness, and left to sit down on the floor a bit further away. There she started to meditate. Afterwards it was time for food served on pattal leaves instead of plates.
She wondered how many world-renouncers, sadhus, there were India, and was told there were perhaps five million some were genuine and others were were beggars, vagabonds, vagrants, tramps, swindlers, criminals and slothful men who wore orange renouncer clothes to get food for it. And who would recognize a face covered by ashes and sandal paste?
Some of these five million men were conjurers or fakirs, she was told. However, true sadhus practiced yoga for God. Later in India she thought she had learnt to tell the difference between the real holy men and the fakers. The real ones were free in themselves, for one thing.
On the other side of the main temple lay a large beautiful temple dedicated to Buddha. She slunk into that cool temple until the sun started go down.
Back in the Tourist Hostel in New Delhi she laid awake for several hours and listened to something that she first thought to be a dog howling and wailing down in the courtyard, but it was a dark bundle and a little child that barefoot and sobbing circled the bundle - the child's mother who squatted there and howled plaintively for a few coins. The child picked them up for his mother.
The experience was strange and frightening and encouraged afterthought, followed in the morning by a cold shower before she walked into the streets and the thundering traffic. She watched women at work, and then went into the broad business street with its crowds of undernourished children.
Elsa felt fascinated by round faces with beautiful golden skin, high cheek bones and slightly slanting eyes under a broad and open forehead - especially one with thick black hair. She took a jade jewel in her chubby hand and held it out to Elsa, and gently caressed the opaque green, smooth stone. "Jade, jade," she whispered, and their eyes met calmly and trustingly.
And there were belts, bracelets, rings and stones. Elsa bought a simple ring and a silver brooch studded with violet stones. With confidential smiles they parted.
Elsa walked in through the gates of the Astronomical Observatory, usually called Jantar Mantar. The palms whispered to her by rustling their leaves. She considered her life was pre-arranged and figured out after cosmic laws, and with an astrologer's help it could be deciphered in step with an old saying: "Your fate is written in the stars".
"And who can says this is not so? . . . I am inclined to believe it."
Delhi lies on the river Yamuna (Jumna), and has sharply marked outer city limits in a quite desert-like area. Mahatma Gandhi's burial place in Delhi is a national monument. Old memorials and architecture abound in the area.
While travelling by car from Delhi to Agra, Elsa looked out on a flat landscape with fields of thin grain and greyish-yellow sand plains with desert vegetation where sheep and goats searched for something to eat between the stones,
They stopped by the roadside. She sat down. A buffalo nearby gazed at her as he chafed his chin against a tree trunk. He seemed satisfied. His muddy pool glistened about fifty yards further away in a hollow.
A stork-like bird flew in large wide circles over the pool, alighted and stood motionless on one leg by the water's edge, seemingly undisturbed by a black, long-legged pig that rootled in the earth a few yards away. The air was filled with birdsong. Green parrots were gyrating among leaves, while emitting harsh, hoarse cries. There were alsopeacocks that moved among the trees. A farmer was sleeping soundly nearby.
She got into the car again. They passed through villages around their cobbly streets, full of stench and people, greyish-white cows, and a dull and gloomy atmosphere, as if the apathetic men had resigned in the struggle to merely survive.
In the outskirts of the villages lived the Untouchables in thatched mud-huts. Round, grey-brown pancakes were plastered on to the house walls. Such cakes were precious cow-dung made into cakes, dried in the sun and later used for fuel. With bare hands the children gathered it up in the fields and brought it home to mother, who formed it into cakes, which were rolled in the dry grass and plastered onto the house wall.
Dogs were around the places where dead animals were gathered in the hope of finding left-over scraps. Large, bald vultures were sitting in the tops of the surrounding trees waiting for cadavers to feed on Dead animals would otherwise be infesting a lot. The vulture service was good, but may not have looked that way at all times.
Women in saris worked the fields. They came home from work with bunches of sugarcane and gathered rushes. The bunches were many times larger than themselves. Three or four children might cling to their mother's skirts. At other times women were carrying large brass-jars that were gracefully balanced on their heads. They were on their way to fetch water.
Later on the trip she saw the Taj Mahal bathed in the red rays of the setting sun. Its minarets leant a little outwards in case of earthquakes; then the minarets would not fall very easily on the dome, but more likely into the park.
Jaipur was the next goal on the trip. On the way they came to a village that the road passed straight through. Not a tuft of grass was seen. The grey houses lay crumbling and gaping. The people were squatting along the dirty road, gloomy and apathetic. About ten vultures were feasting on three dead cows who lay outstretched in the middle of the road. They tore the intestines out of the torn bellies. In the midst of the vultures sat five or six emaciated children watching. The peoples' faces reflected crying agony. They had to stay where they were and starve to death.
Large flocks of black goats grazed calmly among the sparse tufts of stonecrop and cactus in the desert. Little did they know that in Jaipur was a great marble temple dedicated to the bloodthirsty Kali-goddess, and that every morning she receives blood offerings from slaughtered black goats.
The rose-coloured city walls of Jaipur shone brightly. Its streets were broad and airy. Opposite the "Palace of the Winds" the slipper craftsmen had their workshops. They stitched with gold and silver-thread on red velvet and made pointed sandals that stood lined up in hundreds in neat rows.
After some time they left Jaipur behind them. At night its gates were closed as a protection against wild desert animals Hungry tigers and jackals were roaming around for the black goats of bloodthirsty goddess Kali. Grey-white monkeys, with long tails, raced along the roadside and grimaced.
At dusk they reached Amber, a stronghold in the mountains. A man in a snow-white turban was guiding an American group there. He was relating loudly that in ancient times the gods came down at night to these terraces to enjoy terrestrial beauty. In this otherwise dead castle, the goddess of death, Kali, still gets her blood sacrifice every morning in a small temple especially consecrated to her.
From there they drove towards Delhi again, through the Rajasthan desert between high hills and desolate sand plains.
Meditators gathered in the hotel chosen as their meeting place. On 25 January Maharishi was scheduled to arrive. He did not show up then. The receptionist said calmly: "If he doesn't come today, then maybe tomorrow."
Maharishi came two days late, after completing a tour of the United States and spending a few days in Bombay. In the meantime Elsa got training in putting on and wearing saris. When she thought she had got it right she stepped on the front edge of the sari. The sari fell to the floor and she was standing there in her petticoat. When she carried the bundle toward her room she met an Indian in the corridor. He raised his eyebrows. She was embarrassed. In her room she started to dress all over again and thanked her good fortune that the sari had not fallen off her on the street.
When Maharishi came to the hotel, she was dressed in a sari during all events, welcoming him with flowers. Maharishi at once set out to plan the programme for the next few days. Maharishi chose representatives from various countries to talk on topics like world peace, social behaviour, education and health in the light of transcendental meditation. "World peace" was the main topic. The world press waited outside for Maharishi. Even course members were diligently questioned by the press, and getting the most peculiar questions.
Speakers placed yellow tagetes garlands around Maharishi's neck and talked until Elsa squirmed in her seat.
Next day Maharishi gave a guest lecture at the University of New Delhi. Representatives from the Students International Meditation Society came too, and told how students in various countries had begun to meditate and how much the results of the studies had improved after they had taken up TM. Before Maharishi left the hall, he got a long applause.
Another day Maharishi was to speak in the open air, in a large open place. The morning air was fresh and cool and it was a little windy. Maharishi spoke in his own language, Hindi, and at times inserted a sentence in English. With hand movements around a red flower, Maharishi illustrated life's outer and inner aspects with enthusiasm and joy.
The course participants remained in Delhi a few more days.
Maharishi had told
so there was no need to hurry to get there.
Then one morning they left in a bus and a few cars for the Himalayas. At dusk they arrived at Hardwar, where the Ganges flows out over the plains from a mountain valley. Every twelve years a great religious festival, Kumbha Mela, is celebrated there. Many people, also holy men, come wandering and show up in public every twelfth year thus.
It was dark when the party arrived in Rishikesh, the yoga village. It had narrow, crowded streets. Many sadhus, dressed in flame-coloured robes, were roaming there. They slowly stepped aside for the bus. They seemed almost grotesque and frightening to Elsa.
The bus drove as far as possible, and then the bus load and the others had to walk the rest of the way to a hill embraced by jungle. That is where Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ashram-academy was. The hand luggage appeared heavier for every minute theu walked. A man told them that panthers, tigers and other wild animals were out hunting in the area, and snakes could at any time cross their path too.
A flashlight beam hit a large, wooden, white-painted signboard. It showed the way to Maharishi's Academy of Meditation. An open veranda ran along all the buildings. The arrivers were welcomed. Their first meal consisted of boiling hot soup, boiled vegetables of different kinds and pancake-like cakes.
There was a lecture hall covered with red coconut matting. On a platform, built of red brick, stood Maharishi's chair with an outspread deer skin. Behind it was a table, and above the table hung a portrait of Maharishi's Gurudev, who is also the Gurudev og TM initiates.
Elsa returned to the house block where she was to stay. Block five, room eleven was to be hers for the next three months. In the room was a bed with a wooden bottom, a mattress, a pillow, two sheets, a blanket and a flowery quilt. There was also a chair and a table. The floor was covered with a large yellow-brown carpet and in front of the window were curtains. On both sides of the room were shelves, bricked into the walls, for clothes and other belongings. There was a four-foot mirror hanging on one of the walls too.
It was damp and cold in the room until an electric heater was set to work. In the adjoining toilet room she washed off some traveller's dust before she crawled to bed and listened to the flowing Ganges some distance away on the other side of a hill.
Next morning Elsa sat up in bed and wondered where she was. Her body felt sore. The room was bare and bitterly cold.
"Breakfast will be served at seven," a friendly servant told her. He appeared with a hot water pail.
In the ashram or the Academy of Meditation, Maharishi was responsible for the spiritual part of the activities. He had brahmacharis (students) around him. They had sought him out and asked to be accepted as his learners. The brahmachari reward was thought to be increasing heart wisdom.
One of the brahmacharis was in charge of all the catering and of getting all the toilet articles, and chocolate – He was also in change of other practical things, such as sending the laundry bags to the laundry in Rishikesh, seeing to that leaking taps were mended and so on. He worked from six o'clock in the morning till twelve or one o'clock at night.
Another of the brahmachari students kept Maharishi's room nice and clean and ironed Maharishi's clothes. In the open air he often came with a cup of fruit juice and a napkin for Maharishi to wipe his beard and when the sun was strong, and would sit and hold a black umbrella over Maharishi. He could sit completely still and do this for hours without letting his hand shake even for a moment. The sweat ran down his face and his clothes got darkened by it, but he sat completely still, looking at Maharishi. And when dusk and the cold came creeping in, he would come and place a shawl over his Maharishi's shoulders. His brahmachari name meant "Patient One".
In the kitchen were three Indian cooks and two English youths who had come to the ashram to be allowed to stay and take part in the course in return for working in the kitchen. And there were ten or twelve small boys who helped to bake bread, peel and chop vegetables, wash dishes and wait at the tables.
At breakfast between seven and nine in the morning, one could then get oatmeal porridge or corn flakes with boiled buffalo milk, coffee, tea, chocolate, toast with different kinds of marmalade, honey and buffalo cheese. The buffalo cheese tasted somewhat salty and sourish.
Every morning two mountain men came and delivered buffalo milk and cheese. On a bar resting on their shoulders they carried a swaying milk-can between them. They did not talk to anyone.
At night there were watchmen along the fence that enclosed the area. They saw to it that no wild animals or thieves made their way in at night.
At night Elsa could hear the mumbling of young boys who watched the fire that heated the water in tanks outside, keeping the fire burning.
The academy area was not large; it took Elsa just a few minutes to cross the area in either direction. There was a gravel path from the row of houses to a wooden gate. There a man was sitting with a book to keep track of who entered and left the enclosed area.
Between one and three o'clock in the afternoon the participants were free to go down to the Ganges or elsewhere outside the area, for at that time a group of soldiers watched over them and saw to it that of these wealthy foreigners were kidnapped, robbed,or something.
Outside the wooden gate, to the right of the road, were two rows of houses where among others Doctor Raj R. P. Varma lived. His full name is spelled out as Rajrajeshwri Prasad Varma in Varma 1980. He became a good friend of Elsa's in time.
On the left side of the road was an workshop with a band saw, a carpenter's bench and another bench. Behind the workshop was a printing works with a printing press donated by SRM in Norway. There were printed Maharishi writings in Hindi, books in English, photos of Guru Dev and Maharishi, and pamphlets which were to be distributed at various lectures and meetings.
Beyond the printing works was another fence with a wooden gate and another watchman. Behind that gate there were five or six houses where brahmacharis had simple rooms and a kitchen where they cooked and ate their food.
A little further down the hill, was an office with a stressing telephone - the office manager answered it as when he felt inclined.
Opposite the office were a few tents where tailors sat cross-legged on the ground and sewed on hand-cranked sewing machines. Many women among the participants wanted to have sari-blouses made and the men wanted Indian-style pants and shirt.
Once Elsa ordered a sari blouse for herself, and the blouse would be ready in next day. When she appeared next morning at the tent opening, the tailor tilted his head a little, smiled and said: "Tomorrow, madam, tomorrow."
The same happened twelve days in a row. The thirteenth time she got it, but it was too small. She yelled angrily at him.
"Yes, but what to do, madam?" the tailor at once replied. [Nordic folk tale about something similar]
The guest-house for privileged visitors who could not leave the ashram before nightfall, was a nice little house at the bottom of the hill. Beside the guest-house was the post office where the mail arrived around one o'clock. Outside the post office were a few flowerbeds, The postman watered, weeded and raked the flowerbeds, his pride and joy.
One day when Elsa forgot to close the gate outside the post office's garden, a holy cow stepped in. The postman was sitting by the open door, and saw the cow coming. He jumped up from his chair and threw his post stamper at the cow. She got nervous and couldn't find the gate, so she ran back and forth in the flowerbeds. Earth whirled in clouds around her hooves. When the cow finally found her way out, Elsa helped the distressed postman to tidy the ground and prop up some of the flowers.
Along the slope down towards the Ganges were some grey buildings. There the workmen lived with their families.
The "stronghold" of the Meditation Academy was the house where Maharishi lived. It was made of red bricks with white-framed windows and embedded in greenery. The house has a colonnaded veranda along both sides of it. The projecting roof is supported by round, white-painted concrete pillars. Inside was a quite large room with windows on three sides.
The floor had a a soft underlay. A portrait of Maharishi's master, Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, Jagadguru, Bhagwan Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math, was framed in a mahogany panel. Under the portrait was Maharishi's chair with an animal skin on the seat. On a little table in front of the chair were two tall brass vases filled with flowers. There were no chairs to sit on, which was comfortable, and the river roar from outside was a source of repose.
Maharishi had a private room, a small and unpretentious room with four doors. He was often seen sitting with crossed legs on his bed and talk incessantly to lots of people who expected a word of wisdom. Sometimes he pulled his hands through his beard and hair. Now and then he giggled.
During the greatest part of his life Maharishi had lived as a monk. Now, too, he lived simply, had one meal a day - of rice, dhal (a pea-like vegetable), curds (soured buffalo milk), puri, chapatis and boiled vegetables. It was the same kind of food that the participants had for lunch and supper. Maharishi also drank a few glasses of fruit juice a day.
In his peaceful garden were lawns and many flowers, and bird song. Surrounding the ashram were rounded, green hills along the Ganges valley.
Elsa wondered why so many of the Indians she dealt with, laughed so easily. It was, further, well-nigh impossible for her not to break rules of social etiquette along the way, but Indians were on the whole lenient with what was done through ignorance, she found.
The Indian darkness was very thick and the twilight short. But still there was a cosy atmosphere. On these nights Maharishi's voice seemed to be warmer, more loving and softer than usual while we sat cuddled and wrapped in blankets and listened to his words of wisdom.
Ashram activities started at dawn, while the course members still slept. Then when they had meditated for an hour or so there was a knock on the door, and a servant came with a pail of warm water for the morning toilet in the washroom. Those who had brought electric razors with them, let their beards grow.
On her way to breakfast, Elsa filled her lungs with fresh, light, frosty air and walked on frozen, dry leaves through the park into the dining hall, where it was as cold as outside, and also a fine view across the Ganges, to the sparsely wooded area above the rocky shoreline and the dwellings of sadhus and other hermits. In the morning the course members could see them leave their huts and go down to the beach to bathe in the holy river and do their morning devotion in their loincloths, waist-deep in the water. They waded out into the river and splashed and poured the holy water over their bodies. Then they stood still and looked towards the rising sun.
Crows crowed around the kitchen quarters, there were peacock cries, and holy cows moved among the bushes in the jungle as a new day started.
Maharishi kept bubbling with great energy and enthusiasm. The time in the ashram was to be devoted only to spiritual practices. Washing clothes and ironing was what Elsa most enjoyed not doing. Brahmachari Raghuvendra took care of all that.
There were great temperature changes throughout the day. Under a cement platform were cool meditation cells a good help.
Lectures were held in the open air in the sunshine with birds singing all around in the high trees in the park. With every lesson Maharishi would unveil a little more. He never lacked an explanation to the most simple questions and the most difficult ones, Elsa found. Maharishi presented something from Vedic Scriptures, surrounded by masses of flowers of all kinds.
One day Elsa walked to the Gita-Bhavan Ashram nearby. It was a large, white building with pinnacles and towers and with colourful paintings as decoration and with the whole Bhagavad-Gita or the Song of the Lord written down on the walls. From the Gita-Bhavan led a few wide "ghats" - carved steps - down to the river.
Further up on the south side of the Ganges was another large ashram, Anand Kutir, or "House of Bliss", founded by the enlightened guru Swami Sivananda, well known in India and elsewhere.
Further up the river, on the same side as Gita-Bhavan, was Param-Arth-Nikétan ashram, a magnificent building where rich Indians often spent their free time and where many of them later retired for the rest of their lives.
Elsa soon waded out into the fresh, gurgling water of the Ganges and found a suitable rock to sit on beside the water. The Ganges flowed with its pale blue-green water and filled the valley with a whispering murmur. She looked around. A flight of seven dark birds were sharply outlined against the pale-blue sky. With stretched-out necks, they flew with rapid wing beats along the Ganges
A few days later some course members said they could need some saris, punjabi-dresses and sandals.
"That's no problem," Maharishi said. The next day salesmen from the village came and spread out their saris, cloths, shawls, sandals and jewellery on the cement platform where we used to have our outdoors lectures.
Maharishi saw to their needs. They were to lack nothing. Maharishi only needed to tell someone once and it was done.
One night a woman from America said: "Maharishi, I do so long for some yogurt."
"Yogurt," Maharishi said, "you shall have it," and turned to brahmachari Raghuvendra. Next morning there was enough yogurt on the breakfast table for all of them.
Another woman said: "Maharishi, I have waited for my Punjabi-dress from the tailor for several days now. I would like to have it soon."
"Oh," said Maharishi, "that's no problem . . . Is anybody else waiting for their clothes from the tailor?"
At least twenty hands went up into the air.
"You will receive your clothes tomorrow. I will send for more tailors." That evening, when Elsa went by the tailors' tent, she saw six tailors sewing for dear life in the light of lanterns on the floor.
If there was somebody who sneezed or coughed in the lecture hall, Maharishi would look at the person and send for the doctor. It also happened to Elsa one time she coughed. The doctor came with a bottle of cough medicine and cold-tablets. She did not open the bottle, for she did not have a cold, but she appreciated Maharishi's concern. The participants had free medicine and doctor's services.
In the ashram, Eva Rudstrom from Oslo became Elsa's close friend. They had stuck together from the very first time they met at the New Delhi Hostel. The view mattered little, as long as they could talk, and in their own language.
The Beatles with wives and manager arrived at the ashram on the 18th of February, three weeks after the beginning of the course. The rumour spread, and soon journalists stood pressing against the gates of the ashram in the hope of getting an interview with the Beatles or at least a picture of them. Photographers were sneaking around the gates, telephoto lenses sparkled in the brushwood of the jungle and the guards looked lost in the sudden flurry of activity. Now the course participants could not go to the tailor or the post office without being stopped outside the gates. There were always questions about the Beatles. They were not regarded as some peculiar creatures within the e ashram, but were assimilated in a into the community. They were rather tired when they came and felt is was wonderful to be able to retire for a while. They turned out to be seeking for the meaning of life. We could later read in the papers that they had complained about the food, although they ate with a good appetite and "any expressed desire for chicken or beef was never heard".
After a few days the journalists forced down the three gates towards the Ganges and stormed into the area. Without respect for people's integrity, they stormed into the Beatles' rooms, chased by the despairing guards who were now forced to be a little tougher.
Maharishi went out to them while the course members had lunch and had a press conference under the large trees in the open space near the post office and the guest house. He said: "The Beatles are meditating and can't be disturbed."
Ringo found the time in the ashram completely useless; he mostly walked around kicking his heels. He soon left with his wife to visit less spiritual and peaceful places.
Musicians from Hardwar and Rishikesh sometimes came to the ashram's evening lectures and sat down on the platform with their instruments. When Maharishi gave the sign that the music could begin, marked by improvisation and increasing in rhythm and feeling. The ways they played the veena, sitar and tabla drums, breathed inherited culture.
The root of Indian music has been found in the Vedas, which date back several thousand years BCE. According to legends, the music was brought to earth by gods. The music builds from melodic forms or modes (ragas) which allow for much improvisation without the aid of notes.
The weeks passed quickly, lectures were reduced and were required to have longer and longer meditations. Silence was to reign within the ashram.
The word 'silence' reminded Elsa of lines in the seventh part of the Bhagavad Gita, a section that she had come to love. Excerpts:
Know the higher life-element, which upholds the world [and is] the womb of all beings.
When they had been in the ashram for about three weeks Maharishi said one evening: "Now go to your rooms and meditate as long as you can." He added, "If you want to talk to me about anything, come to me, even if it is in the middle of the night."
This was the moment Elsa had been waiting for. She lit her Swedish red block-candle and crawled up on the bed with her legs pulled up beneath her, and with her back leaning comfortably against the wall.
She thought she was alone in the room till she discovered a spider as big as a ping pong ball. For a while she played with the idea of how she would react if a cobra slid into the room through the crack between the door and the floor.
After some time she felt like a calm lake during a bright, Swedish summer's night. At times a small fish jumped up above the surface and made small, soft ripples or rings on it.
Suddenly the hot wax from the candle penetrated the red covering and ran down on the plate. Her stillness was shattered for a while.
When the light of dawn filtered in through the flowery curtains, she pulled off her sari and went out into the washroom and looked out through the window. She washed herself and went back to her room, crawled to bed, blew out the light and at once fell asleep.
The next days were devoted wholly to meditation. Once a day food was brought to her. But usually she had not touched the food when they came with a new tray of food or drink.
At times the air was shattered by flashes of lightning and claps of thunder echoing between the high mountains with great force. But when it was sunny and still, piercing screams of peacocks and other birds reached her where she sat in meditation or rested on the bed.
At times Maharishi would call all of them to see them in the lecture hall. He wanted to make sure they were well and also wanted to give those who had questions an opportunity to ask them.
One evening, when Maharishi was leaving the lecture hall, Elsa went up to him and asked him something.
"Come to me tomorrow morning at eight," Maharishi said.
Next morning she got up and dressed especially carefully. It was a beautiful morning. The air was fresh and cool. Calm reigned. She was soon in Maharishi's garden, where two men were crawling on the ground, weeding the flower-beds. Flowers . . . innocent beauty on earth.
At Maharishi's house she took off her sandals at the foot of the steps leading up to the terrace and pattered on barefoot. She slipped into Maharishi's room, but there was not a sound. She took her waiting time outside the room more as an advantage than an irritation. After an hour or so Maharishi's room as still empty. She asked one of the boys who used to be in the house where Maharishi had gone, and he said that Maharishi had left the ashram around five o'clock that morning on an errand.
"He'll probably be here soon, atcha," the boy said, nodding his head.
She went out on the terrace, still waiting for Maharishi. Soon she saw him and a few others come up the sand-path towards the house. When he caught sight of her, his face lit up with a smile of welcome.
Soon she was sitting on the floor in front of him, keeping a whispering conversation about life's basic secrets, but it was as if Maharishi's mere presence gave her the answers she was seeking. What he said was filled with confidence.
The session lasted about an hour. When the session was over, Maharishi gave her a red rose, and the morning was still fresh.
The month of March came, and with it came heat from the large plains. Elsa liked how the heat became daily more intense, for nights had at times been bitterly cold earlier in the year.
After a few days of uninterrupted meditation she found her room dark and stuffy and I longed for sun and fresh air. On the veranda it was sunny. The heat shimmered between the white house walls, the marigolds in the flowerbeds lay flat and wilted.
There was a pastoral mood over the ashram. A barefoot boy of nine or ten came along with a catapult in his hand. His task was to hold the crows at a distance so that they wouldn't disturb the meditation of all. The boy caught sight of a crow and shot a stone. The crow lifted unwillingly and disappeared into the jungle with cries of protest. Again there was silence.
Elsa climbed a ladder that stood against a wall of her building and got to the roof. A tree was leaning over it. She sat down in the shade of a tree and saw how a monkey threw itself with giant leaps from one tree to another while a baby monkey held fast to her back. They stopped in a tree, and peels from nourishing bael fruits they threw on the ground, revealed what they were doing.
She had learnt that holy men who retreat into the jungle, live solely on these fruits - as large as melons, some of them. Inside the yellow, hard shell is the yellow-white sweet fruit pulp with red seeds.
In India, monkeys are considered holy, just as cows are. Lively, grey mountain-jungle monkeys came to visit the ashram. A large flock invaded it when everyone was meditating. From the park came a blend of what sounded like donkey-cries and dogs' barking. On every branch in the park monkeys were swinging and bail peels sailed through the air. Monkeys danced on the roofs while holding each other's hands, jumping around, turned somersaults and appeared to have great fun. The baby monkeys were the most amusing to watch. They bounced and twisted and turned.
From the veranda roof she was sitting on, Elsa saw an English woman sitting on the veranda in the next block, meditating. She did not let them disturb her as they jumped around her.
Towards dusk the monkeys returned to the jungle again. In the future only a few at a time visited the ashram, sometimes begging for food.
A richly coloured peacock with its trailing tail came sauntering along between the trees with jerking neck movements and a hoarse cackling.
Elsa reached up with her hand to the tree leaning over her, and studied closely the nerve labyrinths in the pale green leaves of the tree. She considered how Maharishi would often use a tree to compare with when he talked of inner and outer sides to life and what Being is like.
A few thin, pale-grey holy cows moved slowly about below the trees. They never mooed.
Elsa started to wonder what it would be like to spend the night lying on the roof, looking at the stars. In the end she could think of no other way of spending the night than under an open sky on the roof of block where she stayed. She wondered if her friend Eva would join her,
She wanted to climb down again, but the ladder had been removed, and she ws five or six yards above the ground, "very sentimental and very Swedish" - homesickness rushed through her. She longed for white birch-trunks, bubbling brooks, wood-anemones and bright-yellow buttercups, moon-daisies and cornflowers, red wooden cottages surrounded by green meadows, and white sails cracking in the salty wind. At home the farmers would just be planting potatoes and turning the rich soil while a cloud of seagulls followed in their tracks. Everywhere there would be the fragrance of freshly turned earth and manure.
She shouted and one of the ashram boys arrived. They boy roared with laughter and disappeared for a while, then came back with the ladder and placed it against the wall. Down she climbed and visited Eva.
Eva was sitting on the bed filing her nails. "How exciting!" she said and at once leaped up from the bed, grabbed her red shopping-bag and began to pack a whole lot of things. She ran around the room and collected incense, candles, plastic jars with nuts, almonds and raisins, oranges, bananas, a soap box and a towel, books and writing paper while they both chatted away at each other and planned and were as happy as children about their excursion to the roof.
They forgot to be quiet. One of Eva's neighbours came in with a finger on his lips. This was not the first time they had been asked to be quiet.
"We must also have something to sleep on, Eva whispered.
"That's right, we'll borrow some of the foam-cushions from the chairs in the lecture hall."
Elsa went home to pack things to take with her, and Eva went ahead to the kitchen and made her rounds there. When she left, Elsa came and the boys in the kitchen to fill her thermos flask with tea. She cut up a loaf of bread and spread it with butter and marmalade and put the bread and a large piece of cheese in the shopping-bag. She got as many mango fruits, apples and bananas as she wanted.
On the ground beside the ladder the two women had placed everything that they had in mind to bring to the roof: Foam-pillows, quilts, blankets, a duffle coat, a fur coat and shopping-bags. A red plastic pail with water for the morning toilet was also there.
They had been in a small, isolated ashram in the middle of the jungle for over a month when they prepared for a nightly camp on the roof. The sun began to set and shimmered periodically through the foliage in the garden. The mountain, which rose steeply behind Shankaracharya Nagar's hill, was flooded by the golden light of the setting sun. They could easily see a number of caves in the cliff-face, and paths that went from the cave-entrances down through the jungle. In these caves holy men lived.
"What do you think Maharishi would say if he saw us now?" Elsa asked Eva, and in answer got a giggle.
The jungle became silent. The holy cows laid down to rest under the trees.
Elsa had something to do in her room and shuffled down the ladder in the dark. On the veranda she ran into an American who lived in the same block.
"What are you and Eva doing on the roof?" he asked.
"Nothing special, we're just there."
"Maharishi has said, that anyone who wants to can come along on a boat trip on the Ganges tonight. There will be a full moon tonight. If you want to come be at the gate at eight o'clock, when cars will be there to take us somewhere up the Ganges, I don't really know where."
Elsa hurried back to the roof and told Eva what she had heard. Eva responded with enthusiasm. It was a few minutes to eight. They barely reached the cars that took them to the boat.
The ashram's two cars were filled with meditators eager to make the trip. Elsa and Eva crawled into a covered lorry under the canvas and made themselves comfortable on the pillows placed on the floor. On the uneven jungle road the lorry gave them a good shaking anyway.
When the lorry stopped, they were by the - the bathing steps which lead down to the Ganges from the Swarg Ashram. A gig-like boat was waiting. They went aboard and the boat was pushed out from the shore. The engine was started and they went upstreams. Maharishi and others, who had travelled in the cars, had left before them in another boat. After some signalling the boats drew near each other and soon we were side by side. The engines were stopped and the boats were tied up alongside each other with ropes. The participants got goodies wrapped in leaves. Lighted incense sticks were placed along the railings.
Slowly they drifted down the silver-shimmering water of the Ganges. The moon had been rising slowly between the tall mountains, stars in the night. Along the shores burned fires Two singers from Varanasi, who were visiting the ashram, were also with us on the trip. They started to sing hymns from the Samaveda and Rigveda. The incomprehensible words had special effect in that they left a longing for perfection within Elsa.
Everything was like a fable out of "A Thousand and One Nights".
The singers fell silent, and the boats put in at Swarg Ashram. The excursion was over and
they bounced back through the jungle the same way they had come.
Once inside the ashram Eva and Elsa again climbed up the shaky ladder and prepared to spend a night under the open sky. It turned out to be a strange night. Elsa wanted answers to questions she had had over many years. She shuddered when it struck her that she had to abandon pretence and be herself. For she had been trying to hide herself. Logical thought rose within her. From somewhere within her a warm feeling flowed up and filled her with joy and a wider perspective of life.
Outside the ashram the night was ruled by mountains beasts of prey and snakes. Kill or be killed - the law of the jungle. And in the villages families were resting behind frail doors, wrapped in thin cloths and sleeping in a corner on the earthen floor. When morning comes the women hurry to the kitchen with cooking holes in the ground and soon the smell of smouldering cow manure fills the air. It is a sign that the village has awakened. The women roast wheat grain which they later crush and boil with water. At last they add a dab of buffalo butter - and the concoction is allowed to simmer slowly over the fire.
It was time to wake Eva. Elsa touched her cheek lightly and she slowly moved under her cover.
Elsa set down many fine points from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi teachings. Her are for most part renderings with verbatim quotations from her book put in brackets:
"Man creates his culture on the basis of how he behaves, what he does and what he accomplishes."
Religions appear and disappear in Time. But there runs an undercurrent of eternal religion. Knowledge of this universal and eternal religion [called Sanatan Dharma, eternal righteousness, eternal law, and more] is contained in the Vedas. Manu presented it - established codes of conduct for people. Manu expressed universal philosophy.
Religion expresses applied aspects of philosophy: Religion-philosophy is the backbone of religion.
If and when any generation does not produce philosophers or teachers to explain the proper meaning of the "do's" and "don'ts" of religion, then the people fall away from the standard patterns of behaviour and thereby they lose stability, become weak and fall into suffering.
The Vedas contain precious, practical wisdom of life which can easily put an end to suffering.
There is relative, perishable life and absolute, imperishable and eternal life.
In its perishable aspect, life devolves. At the same time such a process of destruction provides a basis for evolution. Hence, evolution of life is carried on continuously by virtue of its perishable nature.
Maharishi propounds that the six systems of Indian Philosophy join hands in presenting one solution to all problems of life and living. He published his commentary on the first six chapters of the Bhagavad Gita (1972) in that light. (TK)
Maharishi further says that this one solution is transcendental meditation to gain transcendental consciousness often, making one attuned to Great Intelligence and Life Energy. It can be easily done. From that level one re-enters relative life and is somewhat charged from deep inside, and hopefully better able to cope and deal with one's problems, one by one.
Everyone is naturally attracted towards greater knowledge, greater power, greater happiness. This natural tendency of life to flow towards greater achievements may do for an active mind in the relative field, to contact the superior Absolute. This higher skill or practice of brings the mind to the Absolute and in time results in more integration in life.
The art of deep meditation is to let one's conscious awareness contact Absolute Being as perceived in mind and heart, to gain a direct contact.
The nature of Being is bliss and the nature of the mind is to reach for or flow toward greater happiness.
Bhagavad Gita in essence presents some of wisdom of the Vedas, including the practical Indian philosophy in one short phrase: "Nistraigunyobhava (Bhagavad Gita (2.45)."
Maharishi teaches that by swift and deep meditation and its greatest fruits one can turn into a human of action, a man of knowledge and a man of God simultaneously, to enjoy life in its many phases. He speaks for a direct way to highest development and maximum accomplishment - of action, of heart, of knowledge and of God. Further, the simple and natural way to get successful is through transcendental consciousness, Maharishi teaches.
Through transcendental meditation morning and evening and an active life during the day, the waking state of consciousness begins to co-exist with transcendental, pure consciousness, and one gains Cosmic Consciousness, he teaches.
"In the state of clear understanding about the inner Self and the outer world, the heart swells . . . and rises high . . ." and communes with God." Having gained the light of celestial life, Cosmic Consciousness finds fulfilment in God-Consciousness and celestial light; a sound basis for the Supreme Knowledge of making the mortal phase of life immortal.
A simple path from waking consciousness to transcendental consciousness to Cosmic Consciousness and to God-Consciousness and from there on to the state of Supreme Knowledge is what he offers.
The four inherited paths of Yoga, Karma (action), Bhakti (devotion) and Gyana (knowledge) are unified in such a teaching, where they mark different successive steps on the progressive path to perfection.
Expansion of consciousness is the basis for all glory of knowledge [and playing with many sorts of ponds too].
Indian philosophy as it is taught in colleges and universities is highly damaging if it leaves life high and dry through a distorted study in the name of knowledge such a deplorable state. For there is theoretical and practical knowledge. Theoretical knowledge or intellectual understanding and experience are both useful, but experience should eventually be best.
In the early 1970s, the first Maharishi University was planned in Spain, taken to Italy, then moved to California and from there to Fairfield on the Iowan plains. There it teaches TM along with study, as 'consciousness-based education'. It is an accredited American university. (TK)]
Is India not waiting to become the leading nation today? Vital parts of its great heritage have gone unrecognised. Yet it will not take long for India to rise and to awaken the world to the light of truth.
The time has come when the eternal religion will guide the destiny and flow of life on earth, and open up for enjoyment and progress, providing support to man's life and various phases of his living. And genuine Sanatan Dharma - seldom free from incomplete interpretations - is true and useful outside the limitations of time and space also.
The eternal religion (Hinduism) contains teachings and deeper means to supports greater intelligence than base living, and can lead to fulfilment,.
Maharishi: "The true light of Indian philosophy . . . will always be there to provide greater energy, and greater creativity in increasing joyfulness to every man in every generation and help him to steer the course of his life through greater accomplishments generation after generation" and guide the destiny of different lands.
Maharishi: "Here is a proven way for all countries to come out of suffering by raising the level of consciousness of the individual through the practice of transcendental meditation.
"Mother India . . . the world will find her in her full glory and grace, . . . and creating a world of happiness, harmony and peace."
People in the West have concentrated their energies towards ingenious devices and amusements. Are some happy with their lives and fully satisfied? If so, well done.
We have different abilities to adapt to modern society. Various demands are increasing, and there is competition between individuals in the societies and a race between nations too.
But after all, sound material progress must be balanced by development of our inner being, of our consciousness, to avoid getting completely foolish or out of control. Seldom a good and sound solution is found in the relationship between the Self (inner Being) and the outer creation and the intrinsic value of all that is created. So folks remain ignorant of deeper, higher and brighter sides to life: Anxiety and suffering linger and wars and misery are not far.
Is it possible to live a more fulfilled and a richer life, after all?
Maharishi says: "Yes, of course," adding that the solution lies in raising the level of consciousness. "We must develop this," he says, "and use it in our daily life for ourselves and for others."
Fulfilling the innermost being lies in developing one's potential and live - The technique, which Maharishi has called transcendental meditation, has its origin in the Veda Philosophy's sixth system, the Vedanta, which deals with the Absolute.
Maharishi came in order openly to offer this life-wisdom in an attempt to deliver people from sorrow and suffering and to lay the foundation of a new world of happiness, harmony and peace.
Since Maharishi Mahesh Yogi started the Spiritual Regeneration Movement in Madras in India in 1958, he went further and wanted to regenerate this globe, for interest in material things overshadowed people's spiritual life and caused tensions and conflicts. Maharishi wanted to bring peace of mind to all and sundry.
He was far-seeing, optimistic and indomitable for many years. He went on world tours when he still was a wholly unknown person in Europe. On his first visit to London he took a room in a small hotel and next day he put an advertisement in The Times: "Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has arrived." Then he returned to his hotel and sat down to wait. One, two and three days passed, but none came knocking at his door seeking to know hom. But on the evening of the fourth day a woman, Mrs. Marjorie Gill, came and wanted to see the yogi. After only a short time together she offered to talk to her friends to arrange a public appearance for him, helped by her friends.
His message was met with enthusiasm and scored a great success. Many people learnt the technique of meditation and a meditation centre was established in London.
Maharishi came to Sweden for the first time in December 1960. His first talk made 150 Swedes learn to meditate.
During his first round-the-world tour Maharishi founded meditation centres in twenty-five countries.
The first world-tour was at once followed by a second one. Those who had learnt to meditate had had time to experience positive effects of meditation. The seed had begun to bear fruit. On all continents except Antarctis Maharishi was met by meditators, who wanted to help in passing on the method, TM.
Maharishi met with more and more attention. Soon journalists, scientists, curious and seeking people were crowding round the The slim monk from the Himalayas - with long hair and beard and dressed in a long white garment and simple wooden sandals - hardly reached up to the shoulders of those surrounding him. That he was an Indian was no advantage. Many times when brought face to face with the public and the journalists, he had to hear: "You are an Indian, can anything good come out of India?"
Experiences of transcendental meditation spoke in favour of much that Maharishi said. He became a well-known and much-discussed personality. He never lacked an answer, optimism and sense of humour.
Example: When Maharishi returned to London on his second round-the-world tour, he came out from London Airport with his arms full of flowers given him by people who showed him reverence and esteem that way. It is an Indian custom. He attracted great attention.
A lady went up to him and asked: "Do you sell flowers?"
"No," Maharishi replied with a smile, "I sell love."
The lady looked frightened. With eyes filled with terror she retreated hastily.
In India in the early summer of 1961, Maharishi started to train TM teachers from many countries. He also set out on worldwide tours, year after year. The first edition of his book, The Science of Being and Art of Living, was published.
By 1964 many Germans had discovered that transcendental meditation developed one's mental ability and relieved stress and tensions and thereby increased one's productivity in life. Around 250 meditation centres were established in Germany in a short time.
Elsa mentions beginning TM research. It has continued. Some results of the best forms of research on TM are here: [৺David Lynch Foundation TM Research]
By 1965 many young people had become interested in the technique; they sought help for studying well. Maharishi set up the Students International Meditation Society (SIMS), founded at Bad-Mergentheim.
Student's International Meditation Society (SIMS) was founded in 1965 to promote the transcendental meditation technique as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. In the early years of the movement in the United States, SIMS and the Spiritual Regeneration Movement were the two major vehicles for spreading the maharishi's teachings.
The Academy of Meditation in Rishikesh in India was now ready for use. Maharishi held an international three-months course there to train TM teachers. Afterwards they could help in spreading the technique world-wide.
On a worldwide tour in 1967 he got published a commentary on the first six of the eighteen chapters of the Bhagavad Gita,
In the beginning of August 1967 he held the first Swedish international summer course at Holsby Brunn. At the beginning of September that year he inaugurated the first European Academy of Meditation - in Bremen - and he called the Academy for Development of Personality.
After this Maharishi returned to Sweden, where he stayed for a considerable time during the autumn. He made Falsterbohus his headquarters there.
The Beatles had started to meditate when Maharishi visited England. TM suddenly became "in" among Beatles fans too and caused a great onrush.
In January 1968 Maharishi started another three-months' course for training of TM teachers. It was "Elsa's course", the one she writes about.
Maharishi had first decided to spend ten years to spread transcendental meditation in the West. By 1968 those years were gone, and Maharishi returned to India and gradually got more accepted there! Other Indians came to ask, "Why do you devote so much time to the West when we need you so badly?"
And then Maharishi made a tour of India and appeared at eighty-six places. Thirty thousand to forty thousand people attended at each place.
When theory and practice go hand in hand one gains knowledge - on the basis of one's self one knows truth, writes Else further.
In 1969 Maharishi sent his brahmacharya Satyananda on a round-the-world tour in his stead. In Sweden there was a course in Lapland, and thereafter Bremen was the base for journeys to Norway, England and Holland.
And then, by 1971 Maharishi had come to the West again. TM was backed up by new and very promising research.
Scepticism loomed tall and questions were many when Maharishi was brought face to face with audiences the world over. Below are questions and rendered answers from one of his world-tours, and some Maharishi quotations too.
Meditation is a process of leading the mind towards the subtler glories of creation. It leads the mind directly toward experiencing very great happiness.
When the mind does not wander much, thought-force and will power develops.
Experiences during meditation are finer than ordinary feelings - and may seem to be no experiences in the beginning. With much practice one's own awareness gets cognized even when the mind is out of this field. It is in the deep mind that experiences of awareness get brightened thus.
"With repeated dives within more and more of the Divine quality is retained until the very nature of the mind is transformed. This can be practised easily . . . one dip in the morning and one in the evening." [Maharishi]
Well trained meditation guides can impart the technique. A small effort is needed to start up the meditation. After that, the process goes by itself and does not need any forcing.
"Right from the start one feels better; worries begin to have less hold on the mind; one is able to rise . . . But it must become a part of one's daily routine, morning and evening." [Maharishi]
Question: Why does it sound so simple?
Maharishi: "Because it is simple!"
"Human suffering is not necessary." [Maharishi]
Enjoy living: Be sometimes inside (i.e., meditate), and sometimes outside to enjoy unity of life and variety of life better.
"If duality is an illusion then unity will not be established. Both have their value . . . One seems unreal, the other seems real. . . . [until] both are real at the same time." [Maharishi]
"In meditation we have no idea of any meaning whatever . . . the mind is experiencing its different vibrations - subtle, subtler . . ." [Maharishi]
"The end of meditation is that the mind may become free."[Maharishi]
When our minds are turned outward they should they should be so fully, and when we are withdrawn in deep meditation, we should be fully withdrawn.
The experience of our own Self is gained when the mind gets to the state of Transcendental Being, then the mind becomes It. The individual mind becomes the cosmic mind.
Absolute Bliss Consciousness - with practice it grows.
The mind should not all the time be engaged in the outside experience. For a time one should retire within and get to the Absolute Bliss Consciousness.
Pure Consciousness will emerge, and when this happens, no inward withdrawal is necessary.
If man is lastingly happy he has attained that state of happiness he was born for. Suffering is no credit in itself. Credit of life is happiness.
Suffering can hamper deep progress.
To accept suffering is unnatural, because the mind naturally accepts joy, but not suffering.
To an evolved mind we may say conscience is given by God. And to an un-evolved mind it is acquired through education of what is right and what is wrong. If every mind be an evolved one then all thoughts and actions will be right. [Hopefully]
Perfect knowing is the State of Being. The Self is found in [such] fullness. The Self alone is and that is the Being. That is Pure Consciousness.
Question: Maharishi, does the personal God belong to the manifested field?
Cosmic Consciousness is inclusive of personal and impersonal Self. That is why we call it "cosmic". Personal Self is experiencing objects through the eyes - personal Self. Impersonal Self is the transcendent Self-consciousness. Through meditation you reach that and do not remember anything and that state will grow and be the impersonal Self. When that impersonal Self comes to be lived along with the personal Self, hand in hand, then that is Cosmic Consciousness, which is inclusive of both the personal and the impersonal Self. It is beyond the personal self in the sense that when we get to the impersonal Self we are in the transcendent.
Question: Does the mind belong to the body?
Maharishi: No, the body belongs to the mind, and the mind belongs to the soul. The soul is cosmic mind, cosmic being; its child is the individual mind and gross body is the child of the individual mind.
Maharishi: The surface faculties of the mind, which are active make up the conscious mind.
The soul is like the seabed beyond the limits of water.
The strength of thought from the conscious mind is due to the deeper layers of the subconscious mind.
The whole mind . . . When the full depth of consciousness is lived, then the thoughts on the surface of the ocean of consciousness are tremendously powerful.
This is what happens to the whole mind when we meditate. When the whole field is conscious, it is Cosmic Consciousness . . . [However,] in order to stabilize the state practice is necessary.
Maharishi: Consciousness manifests. After the manifestation of the ego comes the intellect, which is capable of deciding; and the senses. Pure Consciousness appears in different forms, manifests itself into the ego, the intellect, the mind, the senses, the body and the universe.
'Ego' [Sanskrit: ahamkara] is the experiencing faculty. Intellect is that faculty of the mind which decides.
The mental faculties are relative manifestations of Bliss. Bliss is the state of Being, a state of Consciousness itself.
Reality pervades both the states of unity and diversity. #
Being is neither unity nor diversity; it is both at the same time.
Unity is in full command inside and diversity is in command outside . . . Unity is there, all-pervading and diversity is there on the surface. #
The process of self-realisation is absolutely a selfish process! [And] one gains the greatest ability of helping others. Unless one becomes wealthy oneself one cannot help the poor. . . . Therefore, one who desires to help others must be selfish and should earn to become wealthy - only then can one render effective help.
Become wise, energetic, peaceful and happy through TM.#
Weeping in sympathy with the poor is no help. Meditation leads to that state of selfishness, where selfishness becomes universal and all-embracing.
When a sound foundation has been laid then a building may be erected.
Question: Maharishi, is this meditation very old?
Maharishi: Very old. Most ancient tradition . . . the way to realization of the truth is also very ancient.
The basic cause [of the world crises] is the growing tension in the individual lives of the people in all countries. Leading the conscious mind of the individual to the chamber of wisdom, peace and happiness within himself -- this alone is the solution.
World peace: Each individual has to solve . . . the problem of peace and happiness is his own life."
The purpose of this meditation is to know spirituality by direct experience: what the I of the mind is; what the I of the intellect is; what the I of the ego is. The I of all aspects of the spirit, which is the very source of the spirit. The Eternal Being alone is spirituality. Absolute Bliss Consciousness is spirituality; the never changing principle of the cosmos is spirituality; the unity pervading all is spirituality.
Being, that Absolute Bliss Consciousness which is pervading the entire relative world, is quite different from everything in the relative world . . . yet the whole universe is nothing else but the manifestation of the Being. It is the ultimate reality.
Because [Eternal Being] is all-pervading . . . the manifested and the unmanifested spirituality differ in no way . . . the whole universe is spirituality [if you see it] and yet it is not spirituality [if you don't see it].
The master is full of wisdom, free from all desires. And the river rushes towards the ocean to merge with it [and] individuality expands to universality. The water of the river [becomes] the [salt] water of the ocean.
The individual mind is bounded by time and space.
The individual has great scope of action.
A guru has the wisdom and learning to dispel ignorance, let a disciple experience the Self, and enlightenment comes.
Maharishi: The disciple adjusts his likes and dislikes to the likes and dislikes of the master, thereby elevating his mind. What is important is the attunement . . . It took me about two years to adjust myself through trial and error.
After some time . . . the whims of the master become the whims of the disciple. When this level is reached, the status of the master's mind being cosmic, immediately the individual mind of the disciple is raised to that cosmic level . . . without any giving on the part of the master." . . .
The thing is done; it does not take a long time.
The method is always a willing "yes" and an attunement of the mind . . .
[Maharishi teaches that he as a disciple adjusted his likes and dislikes to the likes and dislikes of Guru Dev to serve more and better through willing attunement. "After some time the intentions of the master become the intentions of the disciple; the desires of the master become the desires of the disciple; the whims of the master become the whims of the disciple. . . .
Mentions. Maharishi compares Guru Dev to a water tank and he himself as a shadowy pipeline connected to it. A comparison halts; that is a basic feature of a comparision and the root of the general warning words: "The comparison halts." — He also says a gurudev is without desires - ouch - , and then that a gurudev has intentions, desires and whims all the same - and also that the disciple makes them his or hers own. Yes, Maharishi contradicts himself too.
"If one is away at a distance from the master, it will not be possible to live as his shadow." [Maharishi].
However, with no opportunity of moving closely with the master, with daily practice in the morning and in the evening, attaining to Self-Consciousness within and gradually infusing the state of Self-Consciousness into the field of day-to-day activity, is the way, he also says.
Doctor Varma lived in a plain room in one of the houses just outside the fenced-in ashram enclosure. He had also made an extra room where he could sit and paint. He devoted most of his spare time to painting portraits of our Guru Dev, Maharishi's guru.
"Doctor Varma came to Guru Dev six months before Maharishi and knows more about Guru Dev and Maharishi than any other person I have met," writes Dragemark.
As a disciple of Guru Dev he lived a perfectly normal family life for many years, but now he had been a widower for a few years.
He had been a practicing homeopath, but had closed his practice and retired. He spent his time in Maharishi's company when the academy was open. Course participants bought many of his portraits of Guru Dev, signed Raj R. P. Varma.
Doctor Varma had not entirely abandoned his homoeopathic practice to the benefit of course participants who suffered from dysentery, colds or constipation: "What was easier than to walk the few steps which separated our own and Doctor Varma's rooms and be cured by Doctor Varma himself?"
He gave himself good time before he finally chose four or five small pills from his cabinet, placed them on a piece of newspaper, formed the paper into a funnel and asked the visitor to open his or her mouth. The pills melted on the tongue and left a weak, sweet taste.
"One was usually cured from whatever one had been ailing . . . One did not necessarily have to be ill to go to Doctor Varma," writes Elsa. She visited him often and felt at home. At times both were silent, at times they talked. Once she asked Doctor Varma whether it was difficult to reproduce Guru Dev's expression.
He answered: "Yes, very . . . but I do the best I can."
Jungle sounds of crows, peacocks and chattering monkeys mingled with bright twittering from the sparsely flowering garden behind the house. The twittering reminded Elsa of the lark's play-acting above the Swedish fields when the first seeds had been sown. She told him of Sweden and Swedish conditions and thought it was a mutually beneficial exchange.
She soon got used to drinking sweet Indian tea with him and "was able to enjoy food and drink as if I was at home and eating off Swedish china."
One day she said to Doctor Varma: "I should very much like to know more about Guru Dev. Would you be so kind as to tell me a little about him?"
She could see that her wish pleased him very much. In a subdued voice Doctor Varma began his story.
Guru Dev was a member of the highest caste, of the family Mishra from the village of Gana near Ayodhya, in the province of Uttar Pradesh in northern India.
Paul Mason: "Guru Dev was likely born on Thursday December 21st 1871. It is believed he was given the name Rajaram (meaning 'King Rama') . . . Rajaram Mishra." - Two more birth dates appear: 20 December 1868 (Raj Varma, 1980:1) and 21 December 1870 (Pasricha, 1977:11).
As a little boy he was enrolled at an Sanskrit Educational Institute in Benares[Varanasi], and his parents soon began marriage preparations: When he was eight or nine years old, his father went to Benares in order to take him with him home to his wedding. His son did not feel for it, though. When his father was asleep that night he left the house where he was supposed to be sleeping with his father, and started to walk along the Ganges. He walked till he came to a place with large mango trees in the evening three days later [according to Mason 2009a]. There he decided to rest. It was dusk. A man happened to walk by, walked up to Guru Dev and said: "You had better come with me now. I will see to it that you are comfortable."
Guru Dev declined.
The man left, but returned with a jug of milk after a while.
Guru Dev stayed under the mango trees the whole night.
When his father awoke and noticed that his son was missing, he set out to look for him at once. He went to the police station and reported his son was missing and promised a reward of 400 rupies to the one who could find his son and bring him home. The father returned home terribly worried.
One day a policeman found Guru Dev and commented: "It is normal [meaning common] to get married."
"They wanted to marry me off so the only solution for me was to leave Benares."
The policeman. "A reward of 400 rupies has been offered to the person who can find you."
"Don't destroy my future - leave me alone. I want to go my own way."
"But where you are going?"
"To the Himalayas . . . I have been wanting to for a long time . . . and I don't want to lose my future [by getting married]."
"You want to set out for the Himalayas without any company, without any relative. Where will you live, what will you eat? There are so many things you will need. . . . I can help you in one way. I can put you on the train to Kanpur."
"No thank you . . . and don't try to stop me."
"All right," said the policeman.
A true guru such as he wanted - one who was very learned in the Veda-philosophy, self-realized, had lived in celibacy his entire life and was free from anger - was no easy find. Searching and searching he came to the town Uttar Kashi in the Himalayas. Uttar Kashi lies in the "Valley of the Saints" about 160 hm from Rishikesh and towards the interior of the Himalayas. There, five years after he had left home, he found refuge with Swami Shri Krishnananda Saraswati, a lifelong celibate yogi, an instructor in Indian treatises (shastras) - Krishnananda accepted and initiated the fourteen-years-old as his disciple, and gave him the name 'Brahma Chaitanya Brahmachari'.
When Guru Dev was 34 years old he was initiated into the Sannyas Order by his master at the great folk festival of "Kumbha Mela" near the city of Allahabad. At that time he was given the swami-name Brahmananda Saraswati.
After this event he did not return to the Himalayas but instead he went to Amarkantakas, at the source of the holy river Narbada in Central India. There he spent the greater part of his life in isolation and silence in a dense jungle. His home was a cave and as neighbours he had elephants, panthers and other wild animals. Although he seldom or hardly ever came in contact with other people, he became widely known.
Spiritual India is divided into four large districts, each of which is ruled by a Shankaracharya. At this time the Shankaracharya throne in Jyotir Math in the north of India had been vacant for 165 years. It was well recognised that Guru Dev fulfilled the tradition's requirements for a Shankaracharya. However, it took twenty years of entreaties before he agreed to become the Shankaracharya (including religious preceptor) at Jyotir Math. He was enthroned on 1 April 1941 [see Mason 2009a:170-79].
Doctor Varma further told he first met Guru Dev when he had come out from the jungle and was not yet Shankaracharya. Guru Dev was not interested in acquiring disciples. The public was allowed to meet him for half an hour between six-thirty and seven o'clock at night. A bramachari guarded his door.
Doctor Varma came to the house where Guru Dev lived and asked the bramachari for permission to enter and to sit at Guru Dev's feet, but was told, "No, non don't be in such a hurry."
Doctor Varma came evening after evening, but each time he was staved off like that.
The bramachari asked everyone who came to see Guru Dev:
"What is your name? Do you desire to see Guru Dev?" He wrote down the name on a note and aftewards went to Guru Dev and asked if such and such a person might have an audience. Guru Dev closed his eyes for a moment and answered either "Let him come in" or "Ask him to leave".
Dr. Varma observed these incidents with wonder and excitement. One day he thought he had waited long enough and asked the bramachari to place his name on the list again, and added: "Tell Guru Dev that I can wait no longer."
The bramachari again placed Doctor Varma's name on the list, but it was of no avail this time either. The doctor had to wait until 1939 to be let in, but then he was also initiated.
Guru Dev visited Jabalpur six months later. It was then that Maharishi first met Guru Dev. Maharishi had just then taken his degrees in mathematics and physics at the university of Allahabad.
Maharishi Mahesh told the course participants about it himself, one evening towards the end of the course. Someone in the lecture-hall asked Maharishi to tell what happened the first time he met Guru Dev.
After a long pause he recounted. They were a few men who had gone to visit Guru Dev. They sat outside his door for a long time until they were finally admitted. They sat down by the door, which had been left open. Guru Dev sat in darkness - he didn't talk to them. Suddenly a car drove by on the road and the headlights momentarily shone in through the open door. For the first time Mahesh was able to see Guru Dev's face. "Oh! Immediately I experienced a deep reverence and devotion to him and I decided to do everything in my power to be in his surroundings."
Doctor Varma went on:
A few days after Maharishi had seen Guru Dev for the first time he returned and said: "I wish to be your bramachari."
"If you want to become a bramachari you must have your parents' permission."
It was difficult for Maharishi to get it, until one day Guru Dev intervened and had a long conversation with Maharishi's father. That same evening Maharishi could leave his home to go to Guru Dev. Maharishi was now a young man of 23.
Elsa: "Who is Maharishi really?" She knew almost nothing about him as a person and nothing about his background. "Where does he come from and what caste does he belong to?"
"Maharishi was born on the 12th of January 1917. . . . One cannot say that he belongs to this or that caste."
"Was he rich or poor?
"One can say he was neither rich or poor."
He came to the ashram as a youth full of energy and joy, and "became so devoted to his master in everything - yes, so devoted that he forgot himself. He gave himself no time for food or drink - even less for sleep. At night he lay down outside Guru Dev's door in order always to be available in case his master needed him.
"About half a year after Maharishi became a disciple of Guru Dev, Guru Dev accepted the Holy Shankaracharya Throne of Jyotir Math in Badariashramam, Himalaya. He was now called "His Holiness Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, Maharaj, Jagad-Guru Bhagwan Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math" . . . the year was 1941.
Doctor Rajendra Prasad, the Republic's of India first President, paid homage to Guru Dev and looked on him as his spiritual leader. And this is how Maharishi has described Guru Dev:
"Guru Dev's . . . whole personality always radiated serenity and true spirituality. His face radiated that rare light which signifies love, authority, peace and self-assurance - this state of Being that can only be attained through a righteous life and through God-Realization. His Darshan (Divine Look) made people feel . . . that it was worth while to lead a good life and to strive to realize the Divine.
"His spiritual teachings are simple and clear and talk directly to the heart. He kept strictly to the way of inner development which is founded on the system and ethics of Indian philosophy. He never raised his voice in contradiction but firmly supported those Truths and Principles which are contained in the concept of Dharma (The Law of Order in Existence). He infused the religious spirit into the people and made them happy in all the ups and downs of life."
Guru Dev sent Maharishi to a cave far from the ashram. There he was left alone for long periods to devote himself to knowledge of the Veda philosophy and to practicing various forms of Yoga. After several years of this training Maharishi again sat at Guru Dev's feet and began to answer letters with spiritual questions in them on Guru Dev's behalf. He made himself Guru Dev's secretary. He said he learnt to guess his master's thoughts and wishes.
After some time Guru Dev began to send Maharishi to various villages far from the ashram to lecture on various aspects of the Veda Scriptures. It could be any time of the day or night; he set out at once on foot without raising a question of when and why.
There were hundreds of bramacharis and monks in Guru Dev's ashram. Maharishi stayed with Guru Dev until the day his master left his body. It was in Calcutta, the 20th of May, 1953.
Guru Dev then called Maharishi and asked him to sit down. Guru Dev said: "My time is up. It is time to leave, but still one thing remains. There was something else I should have done, but I did not have the time to carry it out. It is the usual custom that the work remaining for a guru is completed by his disciples. It is a tradition that the father's task is completed by his son and what now remains you shall complete by yourself."
Maharishi said, "Your wish is my command. What do you wish, tell me, so that I can fulfil it."
Guru Dev said: "Look around. Many people are dejected. There is a lack of energy in their minds. Their minds are not strong enough. What I have taught you also contains the knowledge of the technique for the householder. . . . This should now be perfected into a simple method suitable for everyone. Ask the people to sit and meditate after this method a few moments every morning and evening. Teach them to enjoy life."
Then Guru Dev instructed Maharishi in how do handle his funeral. Thirteen years and seven months had now elapsed since the day that Maharishi joined Guru Dev. During these 13 years Maharishi had often lived as a hermit for long periods.
"Maharishi accepted Guru Dev's last wish as his guiding line and life-task."
Vedic wisdom and knowledge of the various aspects of life are fit for two main streams of life. One for monks or hermits and seems restricted. And one all the others, a way that had come to lose its original value.
Maharishi's task was given. He left for Uttar Kashi, for the place where Guru Dev had lived as a hermit during the time he was a disciple of Swami Krishanand Saraswati. There in a cave in the "Valley of the Saints", in the Himalayas, Maharishi dwelt in solitude and developed what he would eventually call transcendental meditation. The technique is founded on the natural tendency of the mind to be drawn towards satisfaction. One turns the attention inwards for a while and then, when the mind is charged with energy and creativity, the drive will be again to turn one's attention outwards.
Three years passed before Maharishi had made the method as simple as Guru Dev had wished. He set out to see if his method was effective or not, if it really could give people what Guru Dev had wished and intented.
In 1956 he set out for Kashmir. In Phalgam, not far from the capital city of Srinagar, Maharishi took his first disciples and saw the practice gave astounding results. "He stayed in Phalgam for two months," Doctor Varma concluded.
Before Elsa left Doctor Varma's room he put a torch in her hand - for safety reasons - so that she would not accidentally step on a snake or a scorpion in the dark.
In the ashram a rumour had began to spread that they were to go with Maharishi to Hardwar and participate in a religious festival that was celebrated every sixth year.
Down towards Hardwar the crowds were no doubt bigger and denser than towards Rishikesh. The pilgrims had perhaps walked hundreds of miles to be able to participate.
Elsa felt a close kinship with these people and then went to bed. Under the white veil of the mosquito net she pondered why there were pilgrims who wandered long, hot, sunburned roads and subjected themselves to so many hardships, "seeking something that was already present within them. If they were to learn transcendental meditation they would soon find that every one has his Benares within himself," she had learnt.
After many discussions, decisions, changes and new decisions it was decided that the departure from the Academy of Meditation would be on the 15th of April. But first they were to go further into the Himalayas - to Kashmir - and spend the last part of the course there, because of the better climate there at that time of the year.
When about two weeks remained of the course in Rishikesh the long meditations were over and the lectures were greatly increased. Maharishi had them occupied from early morning to late at night.
Now Maharishi permitted them to visit places outside the ashram. He himself arranged outings for each one of us and they were driven in the ashram's own cars.
Eva from Norway, Gerda from Germany and Elsa from Sweden went on an outing to a yellow-grey, monotonous plain where only cactus flowers appeared like bloodstains here and there along the roadside. No village, no people, no cars could be seen. Eva was car sick. They were heading, towards the little town of Mussourie, one of the Himalaya's last offsets, and a pleasant surprise to the three women. Horses were jogging along the streets there, and were well suited to the ueven terrain.
Help had come from Norway so that a school for Tibetan children could be built in Mussourie and the children would not have to be separated from their parents. Lodgings were also made available for them. In this way the Tibetan tradition could be kept alive even in exile.
It was afternoon and the three began to feel hungry, and would feast. At a restaurant Gerda said, "Eggs," and lit up as she studied the menu.
Elsa bought a few pieces of Tibetan silver jewelry from a charming, smiling Tibetan woman. On their way back to Maharishi's ashram Eva sang Norwegian folk songs, arias and goodness knows what else. Gerda and Elsa joined in. A night they were back in the ashram.
The next day a message went from door to door: "Holy men are visiting Maharishi." In Maharishi's garden, in the shade of the tall trees Maharishi sat surrounded by men in orange-coloured robes.
Maharishi and the holy man next to him seemed to enjoy themselves. They were talking in Hindi and laughing very, very heartily. Then a man in a loin-cloth came in through the portals. His eyes were clear and mild. "Who is he and where does he come from?" the participants whispered to each other.
Maharishi told them at the lecture later that evening that his name was Tatwula Baba or Naga Baba, which means "The Snake", and that he lived in a cave up in the mountains and only left it when Maharishi sent for him. He had reached the age of 130 years, it was said, but he did not seem to be more than thirty.
Another holy man made a visit. He was around 125 years old.
Now a swami with sandy-coloured beard began to underline Maharishi's greatness and asked us to consider carefully what a blessing it was to be able to stay here in the ashram and evolve under Maharishi's guidance. At that Else felt a sense of shame for not having been grateful enough, and shivered.
Maharishi turned to Tatwula Baba and asked him to speak to us. From the lips of the saint came a long-drawn-out "Aaaauuuuummmmm" and then bramachari Satyanand translated him into English. When they asked questions to Tatwula Baba, he always referred to Being and began every answer with a long-drawn-out "AAAAAuuuuummmmm".
"Maharishi had again given us something worth remembering from our time in his ashram."
The day of departure had come. They were leaving for Delhi in cars at nine o'clock in the evening in order to take a chartered airplane to Srinagar at five o'clock the next morning.
Dark clouds began to appear. The first gust of wind swept along the hill and the first heavy raindrops began to fall. There was nothing else to do but to wait and small-talk.
The cars and the truck which was to take the luggage arrived. We said a last farewell to Doctor Varma and Maharishi's bramacharis. Only Maharishi was not there. "What is he doing, why doesn't he come?" "Oh, this fantastic man who allowed himself no rest!"
Off they went and later rolled over pontoon bridge. "What a shame that I didn't have time to drink of the Ganges water just once more," Elsa said in Swedish. The driver apparently understood, stopped and filled a bottle with Ganges water and gave it to her.
They arrived in New Delhi at ten o'clock in the morning and went directly to Palam airport. In Delhi the air was burning hot. They were heading for Kashmir, to end their TM teacher training there.
In the heat at the Delhi airport Elsa's sari felt like a soaking wet and crumpled rag round her body.
The plane lifted and later landed at the airport outside Srinagar. It was chilly as on a Swedish April day but there was spring in the air.
Together with Eva from Norway, Gertrud from Germany, Joan from England and Reumah from Israel Elsa was to live in a most splendid houseboat called "Kashmir Hilton", a large, floating house at least 40 metres long.
The traffic was lively on the lake, with countless rowing-boats - To sit on the house-boat veranda early in the morning . . . she inhaled the beauty and the pleasant atmosphere and delighted in living.
A large covered barge was moored next to the hotel where Maharishi lived. The barge was used as a lecture hall.
They got an opportunity of seeing the tall, sturdy people of Kashmir at close quarters, and also made an excursion to a mountain village, first by bus and then by horses with their caretakers. The party climbed a narrow, rocky path. From the summit they got to, they looked down on forests and valleys dotted with small villages, and also saw the peak called Nanga Parbat ["Naked Mountain", the ninth highest mountain in the world at 8,126 metres, also known as Diamir]. Maharishi came riding on a white roan. Even on horseback he had his usual bouquet of flowers which seemed to shine even more intensely against the sun-drenched, blue-white snow.
The sun was warm and pleasant and most of all Elsa would have liked to sunbathe on the pure snow.
The village of Gulmarg was a picturesque little place. To Gulmarg the rich people from Srinagar come during the summer to pass the time by playing tennis, golf, polo, crouqet and so on, she writes.
Back on Dal Lake in Srinagar, Elsa and friends enjoyed the sun, gardens and flowers and the mountain air until the day the party returned by plane from Srinagar to New Delhi. One after another of the course members took their last farewells with each other before returning to their own countries.
That night Elsa said goodbye to a smiling Maharishi, who had taught her to love life, she wrote. One may add: "If not love it, then appreciate it at times, and if not appreciate it, stand it a little longer."
A good three months had passed since she first set foot on Indian soil. On the plane heading for Sweden, before the contours of India had disappeared, a longing to return welled up in her.
"Jai Guru Dev!" she ended her book with. Her life story went on - and that is what the next page is about. [⇒]
Dragemark, Elsa. The Way to Maharishi's Himalayas. Stockholm: E. Dragemark, 1972.
Fosse, Lars Martin. The Bhagavad Gita: The Original Sanskrit and an English Translation. Woodstock, NY: YogaVidya.com, 2007.
Mason, Paul. The Biography of Guru Dev: The Life and Teachings of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath (1941-53). Vol 2. Penzance, Cornwall: Premanand, 2009b.
Mason, Paul. 108 Discourses of Guru Dev: The Life and Teachings of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath (1941-53). Vol 1. Penzance, Cornwall: Premanand, 2009a.
Mason, Paul. Guru Dev as presented by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi: The Life and Teachings of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath (1941-53). Vol 3. Penzance, Cornwall: Premanand, 2009c.
Mason, Paul, compiler. Guru Dev: Life and Teachings of Shankaracharya Swami Brahmananda Saraswati. 2012. Online.
Nikhilananda, Swami, tr. The Bhagavad Gita. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1952.
Pasricha, Prem C. The Whole Thing, The Real Thing: A Brief Biography of Shri Gurudeva, Shri Jyotishpeethodwarak Brahmleen Jagadguru Bhagwan Shankaracharya Shrimad Swami Brahmanand Saraswatiji Maharaj of Jyotirmath, Badrikashram. English transcreation of the Hindi book by Rameswar Tiwari. New Delhi: Delhi Photo Company, 1977.
Shriver, LB Trusty. The Sweet Teachings of the Blessed Sankaracarya Swami Brahmananda Saraswati. Tr. and contr. Cynthia Ann Humes. Raleigh, NC: Lulu.com, 2013.
Varma, Raj R. P. Strange Facts about a Great Saint: A Short Biography of Shri Guru Dev, His Divinity Swami Brahmananda Saraswati Maharaj, Jagad Guru Shankaracharya of JYOTIRMATH Badarkahram, Himalayas. Jabalpur: Varma and Sons, 1980.
Yogi, Maharishi Mahesh. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation and Commentary with Sanskrit Text. Chapters 1 to 6. Reprint ed. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1972.
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