This great Sage was born into a Hindu family of Jabalpur, Madhyapradesh India with the name Mahesh Prasad Varma. It is said that Mahesh Prasad Varma was born on Friday, January 12 1917 to a minor official father in the Department of Forestry. Mahesh received an above-average education. Evidently he showed a certain promise in the scientific disciplines, although, as with many other students, the ancient language of Sanskrit posed difficulties for him. Offered the rare opportunity to engage in higher education, he undertook degree courses in both physics and mathematics at Allahabad University. The acquisition of so much information only accentuated his hunger for deeper fulfillment. He was later to recall: "This has been the one question in my mind ever since I was young: If God is omnipresent and God is almighty and God is merciful and in the heart of everyone, why should a man suffer having God within himself? And what is the value of oneself if he keeps suffering? I was completely dissatisfied with what I studied in college. Because I knew - this can't be the whole knowledge. I was searching for something complete whereby I could understand everything."
Having completed his studies in 1941, Maharishi became a secretary to the Hindu Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, the Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath. "As a thirsty man arrives at a well, so I arrived at the feet of my Master. The quest of a perfect Master was there. The first sight of his personality was enough to make me surrender at his feet." -Maharishi describes his first meeting with his master Brahmananda Saraswati. The Shankaracharya gave him the name Bal Brahmacharya Mahesh. He remained with Brahmananda Saraswati until the latter passed away in 1953. Swami Brahmananda insisted that before accepting Mahesh as a disciple he must fulfill two preconditions: he should complete his studies at university; and more importantly he should receive parental permission before joining him. His father therefore listened to the Shankaracharya with extreme reservations but at length reluctantly consented to his son's departure.
Maharishi retired into silence for approximately two years in Uttarkashi, a valley in the Himalayas known as the Valley of the Saints in 1953. It was the place where his own Master had lived in previous decades with his Master, Swami Krishanand Saraswati. In 1955, Maharishi left Uttarkashi, possessed of the knowledge of life bestowed on him by his Master. Maharishi later recalled his deep concern about the two apparent divergent realities of life. He noted the exalted quality of Indian Vedic Literature that depicts all life as bliss, and compared that reality to the suffering humanity endures. He felt that "there was no reason why there should be a gap, because it's so simple for the individual to be on that level of universality and immortality This was the natural feeling that was deep in my mind, that something should be done so that people don't suffer."
From 1955, Maharishi started teaching what he states as a traditional meditation technique publicly. He later renamed it 'Transcendental Meditation'. The technique involves the use of a mantra or sound and the proper technique of how to use it. The mantras come from the age-old Vedic Tradition and the sounds are worked as the Mind Vehicle to settle down to the quieter states of awareness at its finer levels. This meditation programme has been taught worldwide to over 5 million people. Some Transcendetal Meditation practitioners report that during the practice their mind becomes very alert but their body receives deep rest. The effects of the meditation continue afterward. To Maharishi this state is "Transcendental Consciousness" or restful alertness. He has founded many organizations of which the first began in 1957 'The Spiritual Regeneration Movement' in Chennai, India.
By 1958, Maharishi had begun the first of many worldwide tours. In spring of 1958, Maharishi's tours to Southeast Asia, included Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. Everywhere he went people from all walks of life greeted him enthusiastically. Finally, the momentum of the tour took him to the island of Hawaii, and from there, on to America. During the 1960s and early 1970s practitioners of the technique became seen as part of the then current "counter-culture" phenomenon, at which time a number of celebrities learned the technique. Celebrity students at that time included The Beatles (In 1967 the popular British rock group The Beatles learned Transcendental Meditation, and in early 1968 for varying lengths of time attended a Transcendental Meditation teacher training course in Rishikesh, India, under Maharishi's supervision), the Beach Boys, including singer Mike Love, who became a TM teacher and singer-songwriter Donovan, who befriended Maharishi and put his picture on the back cover of his 'A Gift from a Flower to a Garden' album. Comedian Andy Kaufman and magician Doug Henning were also students of Maharishi, while Clint Eastwood and David Lynch are two notable directors who have practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique. Lynch is currently involved in an effort to raise $7 billion to teach the technique to all students in the USA, via his David Lynch Foundation.
Maharishi travelled to Europe in early 1960 after starting the Spiritual Regeneration Movement in the United States of America. During the next two years, he returned to India and the Far East, before revisiting the U.S.A., Europe, and Africa. With each place that he visited, he not only lectured on and taught his technique of meditation, but also established administrative centers where practitioners could meet in his absence. His students soon became sufficiently experienced of the technique which made him able to train them to become teachers. In 1961, he conducted his first international Teacher Training Course near Rishikesh, India, with over 60 meditators from India, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Britain, Malaya, Norway, the United States, Australia, Greece, Italy, and the West Indies. he has continued to train teachers throughout the world, preparing them to teach the technique in exactly the same way, everywhere.
As these first teachers' increased experience with the technique, it made it possible for Maharishi to introduce further knowledge for the development of human potential. During their course that he began writing his translation and commentary on the first six chapters of the ancient Vedic text, the Bhagavad Gita. Maharishi later said: "So the credit of this knowledge goes to the source and the time - Guru Dev (his Master) and the present time of the world, the response of the people of this generation. We are just an innocent means for the spontaneous flow of that knowledge - that's all." He is still working on his translation and commentary of the Bhagavad Gita.
Maharishi continued to hold advanced, in-residence courses and world assemblies for practitioners of the Transcendental program every year in North America, India, and Europe for the first thirty years of his travels. Maharishi also explained that group practice of the technique benefited the environment. After creating over 100,000 practitioners of his techniques and 100 centers of the spiritual Regeneration movement worldwide by 1964, Maharishi attended the All-India Yogic Conference held in Calcutta, India, where he stated that, because the teachings contained in the Bhagavad Gita were misunderstood, "the practice of yoga was misunderstood, misinterpreted, and misapplied," resulting in "weakness in the fields of thought and action." This "created imbalance in nature and overshadowed the evolutionary aspect of natural law," and "lack of peace in the world." He further explained the Transcendental Meditation techniques and relieve these problems.
In 1972, Maharishi delivered a 33-lesson videotaped course in Fuiggi, Italy, that is described in the Maharishi University of Management catalog. It states, "In this course, Maharishi integrates the understanding of nature's intelligence provided by modern science (through its objective approach) and by ancient Vedic Science (which untilizes both objective and subjective approaches to gaining knowledge.)"
Maharishi wrote and audio taped the text of his first published book, "The Science of Being and Art of Living". The publication was in response to requests by early students who, fearful that he might not return from a visit to India, wanted to have "the essence of his teaching in a book." "In this classic book first published in 1963 and which has reached millions of readers, Maharishi unfolds his vision for "a new humanity developed in all life's values - physical, mental, material, spiritual." In the introduction to the book "the Beacon Light of the Himalayas", Maharishi makes the following offer to humanity: "Oh ye of the peaceless and suffering humanity! My happiness desires to root out your suffering. Will you extend your arm and allow me to lift you up from the mire of misery and peacelessness?" The book was released in 1955.
The TM movement maintains a number of websites. Their Maharishi Open University website provides basic information for the general public and broadcasts Maharishi's weekly webcast press-conferences via satellite. Information is also available on what he has named "Consciousness Based Education",the Maharishi University of Management, the American K-12 school, Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment, and what is claimed to be the largest chain of privately owned schools in India, Maharishi Vidya Mandir.
Since 1990 Maharishi coordinates his global activities from his headquarters in the town of Vlodrop in the municipality of Roerdalen in the Netherlands. In weekly satellite press-conference and webcast after the September 11, 2001 attacks Maharishi started issuing cautions about the prevailling directions of societal change in the world. He made a solution to the current world problems that is 'creating large permanent groups of Transcendental Meditation- Sidhi practitioners performing their meditation programs to create the claimed Maharishi effect'. In 2007 Maharishi initiated what he describes as a seven- point, invincible defense program for every nation.
1. Vedic Defence - creating an influence of positivity and coherence in collective consciousness through practice of Yogic Flying in large groups
2. Creating Problem-Free Government
3. City and country planning in accord with the principles of Vedic Architecture
4. Establishment of Vedic Medical Colleges to produce healthy medicines
5. Establishment of Consciousness-based education
6. Production of Vedic Organic Agriculture
7. Elmination of poverty through the support of adequate wages, housing, and education for those living in scarcity and suffering
TM literature states "Maharishi in the world today is a Cosmic figure, caring for the well-being of all mankind.... a quiet guardian of all nations." Another TM publication says that his achievements are "unequaled today or at any time in recorded history." So it was that the Bal Brahmachari Mahesh who treated so uneasily with the recurrent thought to 'go to Rameshvaram' had not only yielded the role of hermit but in less than four years had assumed the position of Director of Operations in an organization that took as its goal the spiritual regeneration of the world. Within nine months of traveling, the interest shown in his practice of Deep Meditation was such that its future success seemed fairly well assured.
(Last Updated on : 23-06-2014)
|More Articles in Indian Saints (193)|