In 1968 the Beatles formed by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, felt that part of their lives had no sense. They had obtained fame but they did not find their transcendence and decided to travel to the north of India with their wives and girlfriends as well as some friends to find that they needed. But today there are some curious details, including inappropriate sexual practices and some attitudes unknown until now by Lennon.
In 1957 when the members of the Beatles came to public light they never imagined the amount of attention that would fall on them years later, how they would obtain overflowing fame and recognition that they never imagined; The same that would lead them to have 1 decade later personal problems like drug addiction and discontent with aspects of their lives. This fact led them to have problems with creativity and musical inspiration.
But a magical trip made on February 16, 1969, to the region of Rishikesh in the north of India, will end up giving them back that creativity, that illusion, and love for creating dozens of wonderful songs that today 41 years later are still playing with such success and fury than when they were first released.
During the 1960s a counter-cultural, libertarian and pacifist movement called hippie, hippy or jippee emerged in the United States. This movement led to many internal and existential questions that at that time seemed to be unimportant. It was thus that the members of this new movement that was growing strongly in the ’60s were interested in learning about meditation techniques from India.
Around that time Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The initiator of Transcendental Meditation, began to become famous, touring the world. In 1967 he made a tour in London where he presented his talks on Transcendental Meditation, coincidentally he had the presence of the Fab Four which was how John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr used to be called, who was totally fascinated. They asked the Maharishi to make a spiritual retreat with their wives in South Wales, and Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull joined them. Everything seemed to go smoothly, but the death of Brian Epstein left that event incomplete and would end up being the key to what would come a year later in India.
However, this experience marked them deeply because, for many years, they had resorted to drugs, LSD to achieve a higher degree of consciousness. But they describe that in the end, this ended they up leaving empty, unmotivated and dry artistically, but thanks to the meditation they had in Wales with
allowed them to leave the LSD and their state of consciousness improved managing to leave many existential problems, that had complexed them for years.
But before this event the Beatles had already approached meditation as described in her autobiography by Patty Boyd, wife George Harrison. She describes that it was her interest in Hindu music, sitar and Indian culture that prompted her husband to learn about transcendental meditation and this inspired the other members of the group to approach it.
In 1968 the Beatles after several meditation experiences decide to make a trip to the Maharishi’s Ashram. The first member of the Beatles was George Harrison, who was working on the soundtrack of the film Wonderwall, which was critically acclaimed.
During this experience, The Fab four was not alone, they also had the presence of several famous people of that time, all attracted by the fame that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi had created for himself as the master of the Beatles.
Among those celebrities were: Jazz musician Paul Horn, singer Donovan, famous photographer Paul Saltzman, Mike Love of the Beach Boys.
However, the techniques of decontamination of the world that came used to the fantastic kids of the music did not turn out to be easy, it was so Ringo Starr and his wife Maureen ended up not continuing in the experience after a week of having initiated, 3 weeks later Paul McCartney would do it.
Maureen would reveal years later that the vegetarian diet, as well as the climatic conditions of that place provoked allergies, as well as one to the exotic insects that always lived around them ended up returning to the comfort they had in England.
The other members of the group had a fairly normal routine without variations, moderate breakfast, meditation, exercise, walking, talking with the Maharishi and sleeping in bungalows that had a bathroom and 4 beds.
All this was very helpful because for the first time it was them, their essence was in its fullness, they were far from the uncomfortable questions of journalists, from a life of eccentricities, of luxury, of camera flashes, etc… In essence they enjoyed the peace of the ashram.
This activity of finding oneself was of total benefit to the group, who during those productive weeks of meditation, managed to compose 48 songs many of which became hits, one of the songs that would result from that experience and would have a lot of Indian influence in their composition would be without you without you.
Although the so-called master of the Beatles was an important pillar in helping to reunite the members of the band, many also tried to seek their benefit and take advantage of it. like the time they proposed to make a documentary, but it had already signed an agreement with a television company in which the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi promised the presence of the Beatles.
He was in charge of promoting his conferences and teachings with the pictures of the English band, of course looking for revenue of publicity and fame. On one occasion he even proposed to the Beatles to receive between 10 and 15% of their income since according to him their influence had contributed to their success.
The renowned Scottish singer-songwriter, poet and guitarist Donovan comment that during that experience in India, creativity flowed to the Beatles, that only when they took the guitars in their hands the songs flowed as if by magic. He also tells that much of that fluidity was fostered by peace, the serenity of the place, the sound of nature, all this had made them prolific again.
About that experience of those days Lennon mentions years later:
“I wrote many songs, I had incredible experiences that I never imagined, I had trips that I will never live again, it was an experience that really filled me up. ”
For many years the Beatles had the idea of participating in the cinema, many film directors of the time had made the proposal to which they constantly ignored. however, during his experience with Maharishi and in the midst of that great shower of ideas that they had during those weeks, they came up with the idea of creating a new project in the field of cinema:
The Beatles want to bring the Lord of the Rings saga and the Tolkien saga to the big screen, they even had the roles handed out to make the film. Lennon would play Gollum, Paul would play Frodo and George would play Gandalf. Ringo would play Sam, and among the directors who could do that project I had thought of Stanley Kubrick and even Michelangelo Antonioni.
The time that Lennon and Harrison were in the experience with the Indian guru of meditation, lasted half of the agreed time and basically it has to do with aspects that we touched previously and it was the undoubted desire to enrich themselves thanks to members of the group. Amassing fame and fortune this disconcerted Lennon since this projected an image contrary to the fullness and peace that he claimed to have.
other aspects that led to Lennon’s departure were sexual misconduct by Maharishi.
The maharishi had several female disciples with whom he was famous, which was not in contrast to his performances, Lennon says in an interview with the BBC in 1972 *many sexually inappropriate behaviors were noted by Maharishi*. They decided to tell him that they were leaving Rishikesh, to which the Maharishi only responded sarcastically.
In the face of such a response, according to Harrison; Lennon became very angry as he felt very deeply disappointed by the Guru’s performance. Because he saw him worried and obsessed with money, fame, promiscuity and women.
Sometime later Lennon in the form of a protest composed the song Sexy Sadie in which he talks about this uncomfortable moment, The original version that was modified then had the following verse at the beginning, Sexy Sadie, What did you do Because you made us all look like idiots.
These rumors about Lennon’s discomfort with the maharishi dissipated with time, the only one who always kept his version was Lennon himself. Who said that transcendental meditation was of utmost importance, but that they had the wrong teacher altogether.
Eventually all this trouble brought consequences for Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who saw his reputation in the ground.
However, his international work on transcendental meditation meant that after a while the problem was forgotten and he continued to expand his teaching throughout the world.
Today we remember those pictures of the Beatles with their white robes and their flower necklaces which has become a true icon of their legacy.
Although it seems incredible they brought the Hindu culture closer to the West, the music, the meditation and even the clothing were influenced by them.
A great legacy has been left to us after 52 years in India.