Around the World
In 1955 Maharishi Mahesh Yogi began offering to the world the quintessence of this timeless wisdom by starting the Spiritual Regeneration Movement in Madras, India. He founded the simple, natural technique of Transcendental Meditation, which allows anyone to experience and utilize the source of infinite intelligence and creativity within – the field of pure consciousness. This effortless and systematic technique had been lost to human life until brought to us by Maharishi, inspired by his own teacher.
For his teachings, Maharishi worked with scientists, educators, and exponents of Vedic wisdom to develop an integrated approach to knowledge, unifying diverse fields of study. He wrote many books and circled the world numerous times, speaking with world leaders and lecturing widely
Maharishi organized his first international Teacher Training Course in Rishikesh, India in 1961, where a number of meditators, from countries including India, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Britain, Malaya, Norway, the United States, Australia, Greece, Italy and the West Indies, were present.
In 1975, Maharishi introduced the TM-Sidhi program and Yogic Flying. With the introduction of this program it was postulated that the square root of one percent of the population practicing the TM-Sidhi program, together at the same time and in the same place, would create enlightenment in the world. This was referred to as the “Extended Maharishi Effect”.
In 1955, Brahmachari Mahesh left Uttarkashi and began publicly teaching what he stated was a traditional meditation technique learned from his master Brahmananda Saraswati, and that he called Transcendental Deep Meditation. Later the technique was renamed Transcendental Meditation. It was also then that he was first publicly known with the name “Maharishi” an honorific title meaning “great sage” after the title was given to him according to some sources from “Indian Pundits” and according to another source the honorific was given along with Yogi by followers in India. Later in the west the title was retained as a name. He traveled around India for two years interacting with his “Hindu audiences” in an “Indian context”. At that time, he called his movement the Spiritual Development Movement, but renamed it the Spiritual Regeneration Movement in 1957, in Madras, India, on the concluding day of the Seminar of Spiritual Luminaries. According to Coplin, in his visits to southern India, the Maharishi spoke English rather than the Hindi spoken in his home area to avoid provoking resistance among those seeking linguistic self-determination, and to appeal to the “learned classes”.
According to author William Jefferson, In 1958 the Maharishi went to Madras to addresses a large crowd of people who had gathered to celebrate the memory of Guru Dev. It was there he spontaneously announced that he planned to spread the teaching of TM throughout the world. Hundreds of people immediately asked to learn TM. In 1959, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi began his first world tour, writing: “I had one thing in mind, that I know something which is useful to every man”.
The Maharishi’s 1986 book, Thirty Years Around the World, gives a detailed account of his world tours, as do two biographies, The Story of the Maharishi, by William Jefferson, and The Maharishi by Paul Mason. The first world tour began in Rangoon, Burma (now Myanmar) and included the countries of Thailand, Malaya, Singapore, Hong Kong and Hawaii. He arrived in Hawaii in the spring of 1959 and the Honolulu Star Bulletin reported: “He has no money, he asks for nothing. His worldly possessions can be carried in one hand. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is on a world odyssey. He carries a message that he says will rid the world of all unhappiness and discontent.” In 1959, the Maharishi lectured and taught the Transcendental Meditation technique in Honolulu, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, New York and London. While in Los Angeles the Maharishi stayed at the home of author Helena Olson, and during this period he developed a three-year plan to propagate Transcendental Meditation to the whole world. Though most of his audience was average middle class individuals, he also he attracted a few celebrities such as Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Nancy Cooke de Herrera andDoris Duke.
When the Maharishi came to the U.S. in 1959, his Spiritual Regeneration Movement was called Transcendental Meditation. That same year he began the International Meditation Society and other organizations to propagate his teachings establishing centres in San Francisco and London. For years the sole teacher of Transcendental Meditation in America was a San Diego woman named Beulah Smith.
In 1960, the Maharishi travelled to many cities in India, France, Switzerland, England, Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Africa.
While in Manchester, England, the Maharishi gave a television interview and was featured in many English newspapers such as the Birmingham Post, the Oxford Mail and the Cambridge Daily News. This was also the year in which the Maharishi trained Henry Nyburg to be the first Transcendental Meditation teacher in Europe.
In 1961, the Maharishi visited the USA, Austria, Sweden, France, Italy, Greece, India, Kenya, England, and Canada. While in England, the Maharishi appeared on BBC television and gave a lecture to 5,000 people at the Royal Albert Hall in London. In April 1961, the Maharishi conducted his first Transcendental Meditation Teacher Training Course in Rishikesh, India with sixty participants from various countries. Teachers continued to be trained as time progressed. During the course, the Maharishi began to introduce additional knowledge regarding the development of human potential, and began writing his translation and commentary on the first six chapters of the ancient Vedic text, the Bhagavad Gita
His 1962 world tour included visits to Europe, India, Australia and New Zealand. In Britain, he founded a branch of the Spiritual Regeneration Movement. The year concluded in California where the Maharishi began dictating his book The Science of Being and Art of Living. In Rishikesh, India, beginning on 20 April 1962, a forty-day course was held for “sadhus, sanyasis, and brahmacharis” to introduce TM to “religious preachers and spiritual masters in India”.
The Maharishi toured cities in Europe, Asia, North America and India in 1963, and also addressed ministers of the Indian Parliament. According to his memoirs, twenty-one members of parliament then issued a public statement endorsing the Maharishi’s goals and meditation technique. His Canadian tour was also well covered by the press.
The Maharishi’s fifth world tour, in 1964, consisted of visits to many cities in North America, Europe and India. During his visit to England, he appeared with the Abbot of Downside, Abbot Butler, on a BBC television show called The Viewpoint. In October of that year, in California, the Maharishi began teaching the first Advanced Technique of Transcendental Meditation to some experienced meditators. While travelling in America, the Maharishi met with Robert Maynard Hutchins, the head of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, and U Thant, the Secretary General of the United Nations. During this same year, the Maharishi finished his book The Science of Being and Art of Living, which sold more than a million copies and was published in fifteen languages
In 1966, the Maharishi founded the Students’ International Meditation Society (“SIMS”), which The Los Angeles Times later characterised as a “phenomenal success”. In the 1970s, SIMS centers were established at “over one thousand campuses”, including Harvard University, Yale University, and UCLA.
In 1967, the Maharishi gave a lecture at Caxton Hall in London which was attended by Pattie Boyd, George Harrison’s wife, as well as Leon MacLaren, the founder and leader of the School of Economic Science (SES). He also lectured at UCLA, Harvard, Yale and Berkley. That year, an article in Time magazine reported that the Maharishi “has been sharply criticised by other Indian sages, who complain that his programme for spiritual peace without either penance or asceticism contravenes every traditional Hindu belief”.Religion and culture scholar Sean McCloud also reported that traditional Indian sages and gurus were critical of the Maharishi, for teaching a simple technique and making it available to everyone, and for abandoning traditional concepts of suffering and concentration as paths to enlightenment.
During 1967 and 1968 the Maharishi appeared on American magazine covers such as Life, Newsweek, Time and many others. He gave lectures to capacity crowds at the Felt Forum in New York City and Harvard’s Sanders Hall. He also appeared on The Tonight Show and the Today TV shows. At the end of 1968 the Maharishi said that after ten years of teaching and world tours he would return to India.