Maharishi taught Beatles to give peace a chance

Wed Feb 6, 2008 1:31pm EST
 
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By Alexandra Hudson

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Indian mystic who taught meditation to the West, inspired the anti-materialism of the late sixties and the music of the Beatles, gaining a hold over the era's most influential stars.

The Beatles -- John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr -- recorded "The White Album" immediately after their much-publicized trip to the guru's Indian headquarters in 1968 and many of the songs on the album refer to their experiences there.

Period footage of the four shows them sitting cross-legged, wearing white robes and garlands of flowers and wide-eyed with excitement in the presence of the Maharishi, who died in his Dutch home overnight.

"The Maharishi did have an influence for a time on the Beatles who are inarguably the most important group of that decade," said Simon Warner, director of Leeds University's popular music centre.

"I don't think we should overstate it... but it was certainly a headline-grabbing moment."

George Harrison led his fellow Beatles to the Maharishi and transcendental meditation after becoming interested in classical Indian music and learning to play the sitar.

Harrison was the most permanently influenced by the Maharishi, and his music reflected that for the rest of his life -- his biggest smash "My Sweet Lord" from 1970 encapsulates the world view that he adopted under the guru's guidance.

Huddersfield University music lecturer Rupert Till said Lennon also owed his utopian ideals to the Maharishi.   Continued...

 
<p>An undated illustration of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The Maharishi, the Indian mystic who taught meditation to the West, inspired the anti-materialism of the late sixties and the music of the Beatles, gaining a hold over the era's most influential stars. REUTERS/Graphics</p>