I remember hearing The Beatles on an A684 Murphy radio when my sisters tuned in to English music programs such as His and Hers from The Netherlands and Lunchtime Request Show from India.
It was in February 1968 that The Beatles arrived at the International Academy of Meditation in Rishikesh, India, on the invitation of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Transcendental Meditation was practiced in the Academy. The site is now colloquially known as Beatles Ashram and is referred to locally as Chaurasi Kutiya [pronounced chow-Rah-see koo-ti-yah; meaning “84 huts”]. The followers of Transcendental Meditation would perhaps prefer to call the site Maharishi-ji’s Ashram.
The global media followed The Fab Four to Rishikesh. Wouldn’t you too if you could tick off the following items as a reason to cover a story: The Beatles, Himalayas, Ganges, “Indian spiritualism and mysticism,” Transcendental Meditation, exotic location like Rishikesh?
The Beatles left the ashram, each at different times, each disillusioned by different aspects of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi or, food allergies in Ringo Starr’s case. In addition, there was a difference of approach to The Beatles’ stay at the ashram—Paul wanting to work on the next album while George wanted to use his time to meditate. The Beatles wrote over 30 songs during their stay at the ashram and several of those songs ended up in the White Album.
While The Beatles continued on their path to fame and fortune, the ashram in the foothills of the Himalayas lies in ruins. There is an allure in visiting such ruins. It is a fond reminder of what George Harrison wrote in his iconic post-Beatles track:
All things must pass
None of life’s strings can last
So I must be on my way
And face another day
Pxley Extras on The Beatles:
A) My favorite song by The Beatles is While My Guitar Gently Weeps.
I wrote ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ at my mother’s house in Warrington. I was thinking about the Chinese I Ching, the Book of Changes… The Eastern concept is that whatever happens is all meant to be, and that there’s no such thing as coincidence – every little item that’s going down has a purpose.
B) My favorite song by George Harrison is My Sweet Lord, a composition from his post-Beatles career. He blends a Hebrew word with a Hindu Vedic prayer in the song. Perhaps it was George’s way to provoke and unify us, irrespective of our religion, while seeking spirituality. [Note: My preference for listening to My Sweet Lord is a simple setting—loud, for Volume.]