68′ was a year to remember along the shores of the Ganga in Rishikesh and especially for Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, John, Ringo, Paul, and George. Well, Ringo might also remember that he didn’t eat enough meat!
On a sunny Rishikesh morning, Maharishi Mahesh woke up, washed his face climbed into his seashell covered meditation cave and dived into his morning meditation as he did every morning, until a knock at the door. It was a young disciple who came to announce the arrival of his “golden key”. For a long time, the Maharishi had been trying to spread his knowledge on transcendental meditation.
His golden opportunity had now been granted in the shape of the craziest phenomena that had been going all over the western world back in ’68 – The Beatles. The Maharishi who already had a few Ashrams in India invited them to his great mansion in Rishikesh.
After the Beatles released 2 albums all inspired by their experience with the host of this big mansion (although if you pay attention to the “song name”, Sexy Sadie, you can hear John pointing out some accusations at Maharishi) several groups of curious fans and also spiritual seekers popped out like snails after a monsoon. The name “Maharishi Yogi” and transcendental meditation spread and finally reached the other side of the globe as the Maharishi had always wished.
The years after, Maharishi managed to build up his Ashrams to small villages which the government noticed and claimed their cut. The Maharishi who was now well connected followed his goal and made his way to the West taking with him his followers.
Behind him, he left Ashrams at the hands of the forest department and the ashrams were left to be buried in time and nature. This is how you would find them today overgrown and desolate. They have been locked and barred to keep away visitors because the spirits have moved on. Since Maharishi moved India has not suffered from lack of spiritual seekers, new ashrams have come and grown but the old Ashrams have just grown old and lonely.
The Ashram that the Beatles visited is the easiest way to get an understanding of what an Ashram would feel like. With endless trails hidden beneath wild bushes and blooming orchids, it takes you through the abandoned history of the Maharishi.
For every visitor that goes through the barred gates of the ashram, their trip is individual but each shares the same answer that there is something paranormal about the place. The ashram is inundated with ‘visitors’ at night, babas, tigers, bears and bats. During the day it is a time for travelers to visit
As for the Maharishi, he relocated all his spiritual business to the place where it is said money grows on trees but he didn’t find any money tree in London. However, what he did find were those looking for deep spiritual guidance with deep pockets. As he did in India he did in the west he opened an ashram and another one and more and by the time he had to redeem his soul to Shiva he had built a whole legacy in the west with thanks to the 4 guys who had come for a visit to Rishikesh back in 68.