Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Biography

(Indian Yoga Guru and Founder of Transcendental Meditation Movement)

Birthday: January 12, 1918 (Capricorn)

Born In: Rajim, Chhattisgarh, India

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was a well-known Indian spiritual leader, known for introducing the practice of Transcendental Meditation to the West. Educated at the University of Allahabad, India, he came in contact with his Guru, Swami Brahmanada Saraswati, early in his life, eventually forsaking the material world to learn meditation at his feet, later spending two years as a recluse at Uttarkashi, India. Eventually, he started spreading his message, starting the Spiritual Development Movement, teaching the Transcendental Deep Meditation technique to one and all, opening numerous centers in India. Later, he moved to the USA, where he setup International Meditation Society. Very soon, he was taking world tours, spreading his message, teaching Transcendental Meditation to his numerous followers, including The Beatles, eventually setting up a world-wide organization with headquarters in The Netherlands. All his life, he worked to bring about world peace and prosperity through meditation, gaining approximately four million followers from the 1960s through the early 2000s

Quick Facts

Indian Celebrities Born In January

Also Known As: Mahesh Prasad Varma

Died At Age: 90


father: Sri Ram Prasad

Born Country: India

Indian Men Capricorn Men

Died on: February 5, 2008

place of death: Vlodrop, Limburg, Netherlands

Notable Alumni: University Of Allahabad

Cause of Death: Natural Causes

More Facts

education: University Of Allahabad

Childhood & Early Years

Little is known about Mahesh Yogi’s family background except that his father, Ram Prasad, was possibly a mid level government official, employed either with the forest department or the income tax department and that he had at least one brother, whose name is not known. Nothing is known about his mother.

There is confusion about his birth name. While most sources claim that he was born as Mahesh Prasad Varma, University of Allahabad’s website mentions him as "Sri M.C. Srivastava (Universally known as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi)" in their list of distinguished alumni.

There is also confusion about the year and place of his birth. While according to his passport, he was born on 12 January 1918, in Pounalulla, India, some disciples claim that he was born 12 January 1917 in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. Yet others claim that he was born on October 18, 1911, in Uttar Pradesh.

Although nothing is known about his early years, he must have had good schooling, which enabled him to enter the University of Allahabad with physics and mathematics, eventually graduating from there, possibly in 1942. By then, he had become acquainted with Swami Brahmananda Saraswati Maharaj, the founder of the Transcendental Meditation Technique.

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Early Aesthetic Life

In 1941, Swami Brahmananda Saraswati Maharaj, known to his disciples as Gurudeva, accepted the position of Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math. Officially known as the Uttarāmnāya Śrī Jyotir Pītham, it was one of the four cardinal pīthams established at Joshimath, Uttrakhand, by philosopher-saint Śrī Ādi Śaṅkaracharya in the 8th century.

As Gurudeva left for Uttarakhand, Mahesh Prasad decided to follow him; but remained behind to finish his education on the command of his teacher. He was also required to take the permission of his parents before taking up aesthetic life. Meanwhile, he worked in a gun carriage factory before leaving for the Himalayas.

In Joshimath, Mahesh Prasad was renamed as Bal Brahmachari Mahesh by Gurudeva and with that he began a new life, dedicating himself in the pursuance of spiritual knowledge, vowing to remain a lifelong celibate aesthetic. Concurrently, he was also required to undertake common chores as part of his training.

It took him about two years to get adjusted in the new environment. Over the time, he gained his master’s trust and began serving as his personal secretary, taking care, among other things, bulk of his correspondence, thus spending many years at his guru’s feet, studying scriptures, learning to meditate.

Soon, he was giving public speeches on Advaita Vedanta and teaching meditation at various places. This went on till 1953, when Gurudeva left for his heavenly abode and was succeeded by Swami Shantananda Saraswati.

A Teacher of Meditation

After his Master’s death, Brahmachari Mahesh left Joshimath and traveled to Uttarkashi, a favorite meditation ground on the bank of the Holy Ganga, where sages have been meditating since time immemorial. Here, he spent two years in meditation, leading a life of a recluse.

In 1955, he gave up his reclusive lifestyle and traveled all the way to Kerala. It was here that he began spreading his message, concurrently teaching the Transcendental Deep Meditation techniques, developed by his Master, calling it Spiritual Development Movement. Very soon, he began to be known as Maharishi.

For two years, he traveled throughout India, interacting with ordinary people. Eventually in December 1957, he held the Seminar of Spiritual Luminaries of India in present-day Chennai, in the honor of his Master. There on January 1, 1958, he formally inaugurated the Spiritual Regeneration Movement.

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Within the first three months, he established 25 centers of the Spiritual Regeneration Movement on Indian soil, teaching Transcendental Meditation techniques to thousands of people through them. Very soon, he was looking beyond the national borders.

World Tours

On April 27, 1958, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi left India and traveling through Burma (present-day Myanmar), Malaya, Hong Kong, Singapore and Hawaii, he eventually reached USA on January 29, 1959. For two months, he lived in San Francisco, spreading the light of ancient Indian wisdom, concurrently teaching Transcendental Meditation techniques to the deserving.

From 1959, he started traveling across USA, visiting Los Angeles, Boston, New York etc. While in Los Angeles, he put up with author Helena Olson, developing his Three-Year Plan to spread Transcendental Meditation across the world, eventually setting up the International Meditation Society, establishing a center in San Francisco.

In 1960, he left the US shores to travel to England, setting up another center in London, inaugurating his Three-Year Plan during his stay. Thereafter, he continued to travel across continents, in-between visiting India, where in 1961 he conducted the first International Transcendental Meditation Teacher Training Course in Rishikesh.

In 1961, he conducted the First World Assembly of the Spiritual Regeneration Movement at the Royal Albert Hall, London. Concurrently, he began writing, finishing his first major book, The Science of Being and Art of Living in 1963. In 1965, he completed his English translation and commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita.

As his fame began to spread, he started attracting many celebrities, most significant of them being The Beatles, a very popular rock band comprising of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. It all began with George Harrison, who attended one of his meetings in London.

In late August 1967, the Beatles attended a seminar on Transcendental Meditation in Bangor, north-west Wales and were highly impressed. Their visit attracted international publicity and very soon the younger generation began to see Transcendental Meditation as an alternative to psychedelic drugs as a way of attaining higher consciousness.

In February 1968, The Beatles traveled to India to study meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi; but when a claim that he had molested actress Mia Farrow, a female student, surfaced, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr distanced themselves from their former guru. However, George Harrison remained steadfast for a time.

In late 1968, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi decided not to interact directly with the public. Instead, he began to concentrate on training of Transcendental Meditation  teachers at his new global headquarters in Seelisberg, Switzerland. Concurrently, he also started lecturing at different universities, inaugurating courses in Science of Creative Intelligence.

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Continuing to expand, he started speaking at various universities and august gatherings across the world, eventually establishing the Maharishi International University in California in 1971, which later moved to Iowa. To eliminate stress for business professionals, he also started working through the American Foundation for SCI, structuring his program to suit their need.

Concurrently, he also continued his work in India, establishing Maharishi Ved Vigyan Vishwa Vidyapeetham in order to provide training in Vedic recitation in 1982. In 1988, his organization was accused of tax irregularities by the Indian Government and his complex in New Delhi raided.

In 1990, he shifted his headquarters from Switzerland to Vlodrop, the Netherlands. There he lived till his death, founding the Natural Law Party in 1992 and the Global Country of World Peace in 2000. Meanwhile in 1997, he had the largest wooden structure in the Netherlands built, without using nails.

Major Work

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi authored more than twenty works, among which The Science of Being and Art of Living (1963) and Meditations of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1968) are best known.

Best revered for making Transcendental Meditation popular across the world, he also propagated Maharishi Vedic Science, which aims to put forward Vedic literature in the light of Western knowledge and understanding.

Death & Legacy

In the later years of his life, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi stopped meeting people, leading a secluded life, communicating with his followers only through video conferencing. On February 5, 2008, he died peacefully in his sleep at his residence in Vlodrop, Netherlands.

His mortal remains were flown to his Allahabad Ashram in India, where the body was cremated. His funeral rites were attended by numerous followers and dignitaries.

At his death, he left behind an estate worth an estimated U.S. $300 million. Projects like Maharishi Vedic City, Maharishi International University, Maharishi University of Management, Maharishi Global Construction Company, Maharishi Global Development Fund, The Maharishi Channel, Maharishi Open University, Maharishi Vedic University etc continue to carry on his legacy.

See the events in life of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Chronological Order

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