Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Carmarthen

The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's seminar at Bangor University was one of the great pop cultural moments of the 1960s. Attended by The Beatles, Mick Jagger, Brian Jones and Donovan, the Daily Mirror dubbed the train that took them there in ’67 as 'The Mystical Special'. At the time The Beatles were flirting heavily with eastern mysticism and in particular Transcendental Meditation. Photos and footage of the musicians in the north Wales town show them kitted out in ethnic garb and garlanded with flowers. For his part the Maharishi understood perfectly that an association with the band would massively boost interest in his Spiritual Regeneration Movement. According to the rock'n'roll guru, harmony achieved through spiritual regeneration would end wars and lead to universal love. The visit took on even greater significance for Beatles fans when news arrived that Brian Epstein had overdosed on barbiturates at his London flat. He wasn't a great fan of the Maharishi and the group went to Bangor against his wishes. Six months later the Beatles were in India at the Maharishi's 15 acre ashram on the banks of the Ganges where they got down to some serious spiritual regeneration. Eventually, however, they got bored of meditating, chanting and being pestered for financial contributions so they returned to the UK.

What's often forgotten is that the Maharishi's seminar in Bangor wasn't his first visit to Wales. Without any celebrity musicians in tow his two week Transcendental Meditation course held at Trinity College Carmarthen in the summer of ’66 was an unheralded affair. Nevertheless 200 acolytes from all over the world turned up to follow his programme. They spent six hours a day in deep meditation. Of the 200 seekers of a higher consciousness only one person was actually Welsh. She came from Penarth and had only decided to attend after seeing the Maharishi being interviewed on television.