MAHARSHI MAHESH YOGI
Mahesh Prasad Varma was born on January 12th, 1917 in Chichli near Gadawara, in Madhya Pradesh. Mahesh Yogi took a monumental decision to leave home, become a monk. In the year 1941, he became a disciple of Sawmy Brahmananda Saraswati soon after his University studies. In the year 1953, Maharshi moved to Uttarkashi, in the Valley of the Saints, in the Himalayas, where his own Master had lived in previous decades with his Master, Swami Krishanand Saraswati. In the year 1955, Maharshi left Uttarkashi, and began publicly teaching what he states is a traditional meditation technique that he learnt from his Master, which he called Transcendental Meditation. In the year 1957, he began “ The Spiritual Regeneration Movement ”. Maharshi toured many Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Island of Hawaii and from there on to America.
MAHARSHI MAHESH YOGI
“ Birth of Mahesh ”
“ Mahesh Prasad Varma ” was born on Friday, January 12th, 1917, into a comfortably well-off family, the third of four children.
He was of the Kshatriya caste, with his father believed to have been a minor official in the Department of Forestry. He was born in the village Chichli, near Gadawara, 150 kilometres east of Bhopal, in the State of Madhya Pradesh.
“ Education ”
Mahesh received an above-average education. Evidently, he showed a certain promise in the scientific disciplines, although, as with many other students, the ancient language of Sanskrit posed difficulties for him. Offered the rare opportunity to engage in higher education, he undertook degree courses in both physics and mathematics at Allahabad University. There, the acquisition of so much information only accentuated his hunger for deeper fulfillment.
“ Meeting with Guru Dev ”
“ I was completely dissatisfied with what I studied in the college. Because, I knew, this can’t be the whole knowledge. I was searching for something complete whereby I could understand everything.
“ One day, someone in the street whispered to me, ‘ There has come a great saint, but he does not want to be known by the people. If you wish, then we shall go quietly one night.’ I said, ‘ There could be nothing better than that ’.
“ As a thirsty man arrives at a well, so I arrived at the feet of my Master. The quest of a Perfect Master was there. The first sight of his personality was enough to make me surrender at his feet ! He was the most highly revered Sage in India and was held as the embodiment of Divine Consciousness. ”
Maharshi then described his first vision of Guru Dev, in the deep darkness of the night, illumined only by a brief flash of light from a car some distance away. But that glimpse was all that was needed : “ In that one moment, the whole life was surrendered. ”
“ Decision to become a Monk ”
Mahesh announced his intention of leaving home to become a disciple to Guru Dev. This monumental decision, to become a monk and renounce his kith and kin and presumably all prospects of a lucrative career, apparently threw his family into great confusion.
Swami Brahmananda Saraswati insisted that before accepting Mahesh as a disciple he must fulfill two pre-conditions : he should complete his studies at University ; and more importantly, he should receive parental permission before joining him. His father listened to Brahmananda Saraswati with extreme reservations, but at length, reluctantly consented to his son’s departure.
Mahesh’s uncle Raj offered this insight into his nephew’s enthusiasm and commitment for his new life with the Brahmananda Saraswati.
“ He came to the ashram as a youth bubbling over with mirth, full of energy and joy of living. He became so devoted to his master in everything .. at night he lay down outside Guru Dev’s door. ”
“ Devotion to Guru Dev ”
“ It was in the deep functioning of my heart and mind, feeling and understanding, to just go in the direction he wanted me to go .. this way or that way or that way or that way. Very precious activities sometimes I had to completely abandon, because I thought his mind was going that way, and I adjusted myself to that and that.
“ There was quite a period of tests, but somehow it happened that I just came through them all. Action I took as a means of communicating to him in order to be able to adjust to his thought .. ‘ this way ’, ‘ this way. ’ In very trifling things, ‘ this way ’, ‘ this way. ’ So all the time adjusting to his feelings, thinking.
“ I remember, it took me about two and a half years to really adjust myself. Right from the beginning, the whole purpose was to just breathe in his breath. That was my ideal. The whole purpose was just to attune myself with Guru Dev, and that was all that I wanted to do.
“ Just about two and a half years for my thoughts to be mainly flowing in tune with his .. how much perfectly, there was no way to measure, but I knew I was making very, very rare mistakes ; no mistakes almost.
“ And from there on for me the whole thing was very light and beautiful, no obstacles .. clear in everything. Then I was living around him without even feeling that I was living. It’s a very genuine feeling of complete oneness with Guru Dev, just like that. People who have seen me moving with Guru Dev know I was not ‘ as if ’ in this isolated, single body or something. There was something of a universal value. And what I did from my side was .. just on that first glimpse of the flashy light on him, my life was surrendered. ”
Brahmachari Mahesh appears to have become so well attuned to his master’s thoughts that he took it upon himself to become his private secretary and dealt with the majority of his correspondence without recourse to his ‘ Guru Dev ’. Sometimes he would even be sent to some distant town or village to lecture on the scriptures.
Mahesh’s uncle Raj says : “ I can say straight out that Maharishi was Guru Dev’s favourite disciple and no wonder .. few are capable of such work and few have such unending loyalty. ”
“ Guru Dev’s last message ”
Hours before Shankaracharya Swami Brahmananda Saraswati’s death, he allegedly summoned Brahmachari Mahesh and explained to him that, as a dying father’s unfinished business is dealt with by his sons, the same is true for the ‘ guru ’ and his ‘ chela ’. He directed him thus :
“ Look around. Many people are dejected. There is a lack of energy in their minds. Their minds are not strong enough. What I have taught you also contains the knowledge of the technique for the householder, which has been misinterpreted and forgotten during the centuries.
“ Don’t think of money for travelling here and there. Don’t worry and don’t be afraid of being alone and don’t be anxious about anything. Begin working and everything will go by itself. ”
“ Last journey with Guru Dev ”
After the death, Guru Dev still seated in the lotus position, he was taken to Calcutta railway station and transported to Varanasi, where at Kedareshwar Mahadev Ghat, he was committed to the waters of the Ganges.
The chest was lowered into the Ganga. Brahmachari Mahesh Yogi dived alongside and retained a touch of the precious container till it finally came to rest on the riverbed. Reverently, he bowed and surfaced again, sharing the agony perceptible in the faces surrounding him.
“ Intense Sadhana ”
With his master’s passing, Brahmachari Mahesh took leave of the monastery and retired to the caves of the “ Valley of the Saints ” in Uttar Kashi, high in the Himalayas. It was in this remote and ancient place that Swami Brahmananda had found his guru and taken initiation into the mysteries of yoga. The destination he sought lay on the outskirts of town, an ashram by the name of Sri Shankaracharya Gyan Mandir.
Having arrived at Gyan Mandir, Mahesh committed himself to prolonged spells of deep silence.
“ Where I stayed in a small ashram in Uttar Kashi, the cave is like a very small basement under a room. The entrance is through an opening only big enough for one person to enter. Down there is quiet. No sound. Cool in summer. Warm in winter. ”
Brahmachari Mahesh spent many months in solitude in his sandy cave.
He pursued his sadhana and inspite of the isolation he began to entertain the notion of travel. He had a friend who came to visit, an extremely elderly monk who wore his hair so long that it trailed along the ground behind him. On hearing of the younger man’s hankering for travel the old man said :
“ This is holy ground. All the rest is just mud. ” On that note the subject was firmly closed. However, Mahesh’s wish to travel persisted.
“ When I mentioned to him a few weeks later he said, ‘ I think you have been thinking of it for so long. Why not get rid of this thought, and get rid of this thought means go there and come back and never think of it again. ’ When he said that, this purpose of not returning or returning didn’t come to my mind. But at least he responded to that idea which was coming to my mind .. go to Rameshwaram .. go to Rameshwaram. ”
After an year and a half or so, spent in seclusion at Gyan Mandir, Brahmachari Mahesh took to the road in order to follow his inspiration to visit South India. His destination was very close to Sri Lanka.
After touring around the temples and holy shrines of Rameshwaram and other places in Southern India, a stranger introduced himself and inquired, “ Would you bring some of the wisdom of the Himalayas to us ? ”
The brahmachari explained that he was unaccustomed to giving lectures but told the stranger where he might be contacted. The stranger returned and during the following week a series of lectures was held in the locality. Such was the interest generated by these talks that the local press was alerted and further lectures were arranged.
Mahesh’s master, Guru Dev, had many devotees in Southern India, who had grouped together in the city of Alleppey to found and dedicate to his name the Society for Spiritual Development. At nearby Cochin, arrangements were made for yagas .. religious rituals .. to be performed from 23rd to 26th October 1955. The assembly was estimated at over ten thousand and the star of the show .. ‘ Maharshi ’ Bala Brahmachari Mahesh Yogi Maharaj of Uttar Kashi, Himalayas.
“ Teachings on Meditation ”
After many months of touring, he returned to Southern India once more, this time using the city of Madras where the Seminar of Luminaries was attended by over ten thousand people. As it drew to a close, the Maharishi felt inclined to ask those assembled there :
“ Why can’t we spiritually regenerate the world through this technique ? ” Apparently his question drew tumultous applause, prompting him to arrange a day’s extension to the festivities. The next day, January 1st, 1958 the Maharshi announced :
“ The one aim of the Spiritual Regeneration Movement is to provide a simple and easy method of meditation and infuse this system of meditation in the daily life of everybody everywhere on earth. To meet this end, this Movement had been started to work for the construction of meditation centres everywhere in every part of human habitation.
“ It was the concern of Guru Dev, to enlighten all men everywhere that resulted in the foundation of the world-wide Spiritual Regeneration Movement in the year 1958, five years after departure of Guru Dev. ”
“ World-Wide Spiritual Movement ”
It was at Bangalore, in the spring of 1958, that the Maharishi became inspired to make his next move.
“ One fine morning, I thoughtfully reviewed the work done and calculated how much time it will take for the whole world at this rate and I found out that it will take 200 years.
“ Then, I said ‘ No, I must change my ways of work ’ .. then I thought .. I must go to the most advanced country because the country is most advanced and the people of that country would try something new very readily.
“ When I met some people in the morning I said, ‘ I want to go to America, ’ and they said,‘ All right ’. ”
Arrangements were made, but the trip to America had to be delayed whilst travel documents were obtained. During the wait, Maharshi made a relatively short hop across the Bay of Bengal to Rangoon, the capital of neighbouring Burma. An unexpected boost to his popularity came when the prediction of an aged Buddhist monk became known .. a year before, he had foretold that a great Indian Yogi would visit Rangoon on Buddha-poornima Day. This prophecy brought forth visits from monks, high-ranking officials and a large complement of local men, women and children. This was the first clear indication that the Maharshi’s teachings were capable of attracting people from outside.
In the Spring of 1958, Maharshi’s tour of Southeast Asia included Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. Everywhere he went, he was greeted enthusiastically by people from all walks of life. Finally, the momentum of the tour took him to the island of Hawaii, and from there, on to America.
Within nine months of travelling, the interest shown in his practice of deep meditation was such that its future success seemed fairly well assured.
“ I had one thing in mind .. that I know something which is useful to every man ; therefore no matter where I am, people will find in me the commodity that they want. With that confidence I left India and gradually I came to the United States. ”
“ Maha Samadhi ”
On January 12th 2008 .. his 91st birthday, Maharshi announced that his work in the world was over and he was going into silence. He didn’t speak to a single soul after that day. On Wedesday, February 6th, 2008, Maharshi went into maha samadhi.