AMSTERDAM The guru to the Beatles who
introduced transcendental meditation to the West, Maharishi
Mahesh Yogi, died at his Dutch home overnight, aides said on
Wednesday. He was said to be 91.
The reclusive Indian mystic shot to international
prominence when the Beatles -- John Lennon, Paul McCartney,
George Harrison and Ringo Starr -- visited him in the foothills
of the Himalayas in 1968 to learn his transcendental meditation
Film footage of the four Beatles sitting cross-legged and
dressed in white robes with garlands of flowers was beamed
round the world. Beach Boy Mike Love, British singer Donovan
and U.S. actress Mia Farrow joined the sessions.
"His passing is profoundly sad. But I for one, am among the
millions who are grateful for what he shared with us," said
Love. "We will miss you, but your great light will shine on."
After teaching other 1960s and 70s icons, the Maharishi
with the flowing hair and white beard gained a worldwide
following and had more than five million people studying his
"His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi ... passed away
peacefully," his Global Country of World Peace movement said in
"Maharishi's work is complete. He has done what he set out
to do in 1957 -- to lay the foundation for a peaceful world.
Now, Maharishi is being welcomed with open arms into heaven."
The Maharishi moved his headquarters to the small southern
Dutch village of Vlodrop in 1990. A memorial service will be
held there on Thursday before an expected funeral on the Ganges
river in India, a spokesman said.
The guru periodically emerged to appeal for funds to
promote world peace, building a huge business empire estimated
to be worth billions of dollars ranging from real estate
dealing to a company selling ayurvedic medicine and cosmetics.
In 2002, he said he could combat world terrorism and war if
he could raise $1 billion to train 40,000 expert meditators.
The Maharishi set up universities and schools all over the
world and his Natural Law Party -- which promotes yogic flying,
a practice that involves sitting in the lotus position and
bouncing into the air -- has campaigned in dozens of countries.
Transcendental meditation, known as TM by its followers,
involves reciting a mantra that practitioners say helps the
mind stay calm even under pressure. It gradually gained medical
respect over the decades as the Maharishi challenged Western
scientists to investigate its health benefits.
Film director David Lynch, a TM practitioner, said: "It has
changed my life, my world. I am not alone. Millions of other
people of all ages, religions and walks of life practice the
technique and enjoy incredible benefits."
Last month the Maharishi stepped down as head of his
organization and said he would be "retiring into silence."
Born in central India, the Maharishi started studying
meditation after completing a degree in physics in 1940. After
a retreat in the Himalayas he decided to take his techniques to
the world, first visiting the United States in 1959.
According to the TM organization, the Maharishi's message
remained constant: "Life is bliss. Man is born to enjoy. Within
everyone is an unlimited reservoir of energy, intelligence, and
(Editing by Catherine Evans)