Born Mahesh. The world knew him as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He was born Mahesh Prasad Varma. The place of birth given in his passport is "Pounalulla", India, and his birth date 12 January 1918. He studied physics at Allahabad University and earned a degree in 1942.
One year earlier he had become a disciple of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, the Shankaracharya (spiritual leader) of Jyotir Math in the Indian Himalayas. After finishing his studies, Mahesh became an assistant of his Guru Dev. In his position as Shankaracharya, Sri Brahmananda was the spiritual head for the Hindus in Northern India. He had already an ashram in Varanasi. Scores of disciples had come to the Varanasi ashram. While the ashram now became the official seat of the Shankaracharya, the Jyotir Math was rebuilt after long years of neglect of the property. As Shankaracharya, Sri Brahmananda travelled widely across India, sharing his wisdom and reviving the religious and spiritual traditions wherever he visited.
Maharishi. It took Mahesh about two and a half years to attune himself to the thinking of Guru Dev, he said later. At first Mahesh performed common chores but after some time he was trusted to take care of the bulk of Guru Dev's correspondence. Mahesh remained with Guru Dev until Guru Dev passed away in 1953. Then Mahesh moved to Uttarkashi in the Himalayas. A couple of years later, Mahesh started teaching Transcendental Meditation to the masses. He had learnt the method from Guru Dev, and the bulk of his central ideas as well, assesses Paul Mason: "Maharishi . . . Mahesh Yogi owed much, if not all of his spiritual understanding, to his teacher Shankaracharya Brahmanand Saraswati." (2005:50)
Mahesh had got a honorific, Maharishi, "Great Seer", to his name about this time, and rose to world recognition. He did not claim to be any gurudev, and used to honour Guru Dev in several ways. The ceremony where people were given the TM technique, honours Guru Dev as the TM gurudev, not Maharishi. Maharishi did not fashion himself as a divine guru with personal followers; he served as a teacher of the TM technique and found it fit to include added programmes to it along the way too.
Maharishi was always acknowledging and honoring the source of the wisdom that he was teaching, Maharishi gave all credit to his teacher and the Advaita tradition's lineage of great souls before him. Author Paul Mason among others credits Brahmananda Saraswati with giving Mahesh the methods of swift, deep meditation and telling him they are suited to lots of people other than monks, and Mason also assesses that the bulk of Maharishi's key ideas are rooted in Guru Dev's thought. (2005:50)
Commisioned. Mahesh was commissioned to bring the age-old techniques of TM to the world. Guru Dev's disciple Dr. Raj P. Varma told Elsa Dragemark (1926–2011) that moments before Guru Dev passed away the 20th of May, 1953, he called Mahesh (who was a brahmachari, yogi-in-training then) and asked him to sit down. Guru Dev said there was one thing more he himself should have done, but did not have the time to carry through. Maharishi wondered what that could be, adding, "Tell me, so that I can fulfil it."
Guru Dev said: "What I have taught you also contains the knowledge of the technique for the householder." He let Mahesh teach "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." Mahesh accepted Guru Dev's last wish as his guiding line and life-task. (Dr. Raj P. Varma, in Dragemark 1972:261-2)
Maharishi did not present himself as a guru or claim his teachings as his own. Instead he taught "in the name of his guru and paid tribute to him by placing a picture of Sri Guru Dev behind him when he spoke.
Promulgating Transcendental Meditation. In 1955, Maharishi began to teach Deep Meditation (later renamed Transcendental Meditation) in his homeland, India.
His first global tour began in 1958, in Rangoon (in today's Myanmar). Maharishi remained in the Far East for about six months teaching Transcendental Meditation.
After 1958, Maharishi lectured, taught TM, developed TM Teacher Training Programs, toured the world a long time, authored books, appeared on TV shows, started organisations, established universities, research centres, alternative healing initiatives, and a city, Maharishi Vedic City. He established TM centres in several countries, and moved his headquarters some times, and finally to Vlodrop in the Netherlands.
Maharishi travelled the world with one message: happiness is the point of life, and an individual can uncover his or her true potential along with TM. In the late 1960s and early 1970s he became known as a teacher-guru of the Beatles, The Beach Boys and other celebrities. Further, in the late 1970s, he started advanced "butt hoppping" as an extension of TM, applying the term Yogic Flying to the practice. There is a big book about it. Quote:
"Peace will come if we just hop." - Madision, Wisconsin Capital Times (in Pearson 2008:331).
Maharishi wanted the practical benefits of meditation to be studied and researched, and welcomed scientists to research the TM technique. Many responded. As a result, TM stands out as the best researched meditation technique, and has results going for it. They count. [◦Research findings]
Maharishi's farewell. On 12 January 2008 – his birthday – Maharishi declared: "It has been my pleasure at the feet of Guru Dev (HH Brahmananda Saraswati), to take the light of Guru Dev and pass it on in my environment. Now today, I am closing my designed duty to Guru Dev."
Dragemark, Elsa. The Way to Maharishi's Himalaya. Stockholm: E. Dragemark, 1972.
Forem, Jack. Transcendental Meditation: The Essential Teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Rev. ed. London: Hay House, 2012.
Global Good News. "Maharishi's Achievements." Global Good News, 2012. On-line pages beginning here: [◦More]
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. 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. 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. Guru Dev: Life and Teachings of Shankaracharya Swami Brahmananda Saraswati. Compiled by Paul Mason. 2012. Online [◦Link]
Mason, Paul. The Maharishi: The Biography of the Man Who Gave Transcendental Meditation to the World. Rev. ed. Lyndhurst, Hampshire: Evolution, 2005.
Mason, Paul. Roots of TM: The Transcendental Meditation of Guru Dev and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Penzance, Cornwall, UK: Premanand, 2016.
Pearson, Craig. The Complete Book of Yogic Flying: The Program of His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to Enjoy Bubbling Bliss, Develop Total Brain Functioning and Higher States of Consciousness, Create National Invincibility and World Peace. Fairfield IA: Maharishi University of Management Press, 2008.
Radin, Dean. Supernormal: Science, Yoga, and the Evidence for Extraordinary Psychic Abilities. New York: Deepak Chopra Books / Random House, 2013.
Shriver, LB Trusty. The Sweet Teachings of the Blessed Sankaracarya Swami Brahmananda Saraswati.. Tr. and contr. Cynthia Ann Humes. Raleigh, NC: Lulu.com, 2013. ⍽▢⍽ Professor Humes translated the teachings and supplied the annotations.
The Institute of Vedic City Planning of Maharishi University of Management. Maharishi Vastu. Architecture and Planning: Vastu City Planning: Sustainable Cities in Harmony with Natural Law. 4th ed. Roerdalen, NL: Maharishi University of Management, Institute of Vedic City Planning, 2013.
Tiwari, Rameswar, compiler, LB Trusty Shriver and Cynthia Ann Humes, eds. Rocks Are Melting: The Everyday Teachings of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati Fairfield, IA: Clear River Press, 2000. ⍽▢⍽ Scanned hard-copy manuscript, with annotations. A good source.
Yogi, Maharishi Mahesh (presented as Maharshi Bala Brahmachari Mahesh Yogi Maharaj). Beacon Light of the Himalayas: The Dawn of a Happy New Era. Souvenir of the Great Spiritual Development Conference of Kerala, October 1955. in PDF format.
Yogi, Maharishi Mahesh. The Science of Being and Art of Living. Rev ed. London: Penguin/Plume, 2001.
WP. Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, sv. "Maharishi Sthapatya Veda"; "Maharishi Mahesh Yogi"; "Consciousness-Based Education"; "Maharishi University of Management"; "Transcendental Meditation technique"; "TM-Sidhi"; etc.
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