Life of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Tracey Kelley
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is the founder of Transcendental Meditation.

The life of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi centers on his most famous achievement: the development of the Transcendental Meditation® practice. He also established universities, research centers, alternative healing initiatives, and a city, Maharishi Vedic City, in Iowa.

The Life of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

The Dawning of the Transcendental Meditation Technique

Born Mahesh Prasad Varman in 1917 near Jabalpur, India, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi initially studied physics as a young man. After college, he became an assistant to Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, also known as Guru Dev.The two spent years reviewing Hindu texts. After uncovering an ancient Veda meditation technique, Guru Dev suggested that Maharishi (pronounced mah-HARSH-ee) develop a new form of meditation that the masses could easily perform.

Maharishi, which means "great seer" in Sanskrit, adapted his new name after Guru Dev died. He devised a way to teach the Transcendental Meditation technique, or TM, to help people explore their minds in a deeper, more fulfilling way.

Happiness is the Point of Life

Maharishi traveled the world with one message: happiness is the point of life, and every individual can uncover his or her true potential through TM. Throughout much of the 1950s and 1960s, Maharishi spent the majority of his time teaching the method to millions of followers. The rapidly-growing counter culture searched for new answers and peace of mind during troubled times. Meditation seemed to provide both.

Known as the "Giggling Guru", Maharishi's devotees included many celebrities. The Beatles, the Beach Boys, Donovan, Clint Eastwood, and David Lynch are just a few popular figures in entertainment that credit TM for enhancing their creativity. The attention of celebrities propelled the life of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to pop icon status, and he appeared on the cover of Time magazine in 1975.

Maharishi's popularity fostered great success and wealth in other business ventures, including real estate, health care institutions, and peace palaces. Reportedly celibate, he died in February 2008, without immediate family, in Vlodrop, Netherlands.

Practicing the Transcendental Meditation Technique

An estimated six million people practice TM for 20 minutes twice a day. Some individuals meditate alone, while others believe that a group meditation effort promotes world peace. There are hundreds of meditation domes or halls around the world where TM practitioners congregate.

TM is not free: participants pay $2,500 for the introductory courses, a personal mantra, and other features. Members are not allowed to teach TM to anyone unless the member is an authorized teacher and the individual follows the proper channels. This methodology is the biggest source of controversy surrounding the TM practice and Maharishi. Critics say the organization has a cult-like following.

Maharishi University of Management

In 1973, the life of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi turned another monumental corner when he founded Maharishi International University, later renamed Maharishi University of Management.

Based on his research into the human consciousness, Maharishi established what he called a "new science": one that would provide people with a systematic understanding of the levels of consciousness. Once mastered, this new science would enhance all areas of knowledge for an individual. This discipline Maharishi named the Science of Creative Intelligence, or SCI.

Yale and Stanford universities were just a few of the post-secondary institutions that incorporated SCI into basic coursework. As scientific interest in both SCI and TM grew, Maharishi realized he could blend both practices in a new university setting. He teamed up with a number of scholars to create a curriculum. The first classes of MUM were held in Santa Barbara, California.

When Parsons College in Fairfield, Iowa closed, Maharishi and private investors bought the property, relocated MUM, and gained accreditation. Maharishi established other learning centers, including a teacher's training facility in Spain and in the Netherlands, but MUM remains the primary university for Consciousness Based Learning.

Books by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

If you'd like to learn more about the life of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, reviewing his collected works is the best place to start. MUM Press carries all of his titles, including:

  • Science of Being and the Art of Living - Transcendental Meditation
  • Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the Bhagavad-Gita
  • Celebrating Perfection in Education

Other Books about Maharishi

Life of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi