Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Former TMer visits modern Rishikesh

An anonymous 20-something reader, former MUM student, sent this with permission to post.

Hey Gina,

How have you been? Good stuff here. So much to see - I can't wait to dive in and read more. I find it funny that the web page uses keywords from the site for the Google ads, and so it is actually promoting Maharishi's products at the same time the words are critical of him. The movement pays top dollar to Google for that. If they only knew where it's ending up ;P

Did you hear they are paying people to take their siddhis and to go to the domes?

You won't believe this, but I just got back from India. I've been wanting to go to India for over a decade. I did manage to take a few days in Rishikesh.

In Rishikesh, I found the original ashram where the Beatles stayed with Maharishi in '68. Have you ever been there? It was actually a little sad because it was abandoned and dilapidated. The entire trip was very educational to see how scamming is really part of the culture in India, from the highest political level, to the bicycle rickshaw driver, to the sadhus by the river. I dropped in on a few yoga classes here and there.

I talked with one 20 year old teacher that's been doing yoga for 8 months. He said he wants to be a famous guru like Maharishi when he grows up. Poverty combined with corruption - just add the cultural gift of Vedanta and a little bit of
smarts. It really made me understand Maharishi better. Scamming white people is a tradition there, and still very active.

Locals either didn't know much about him, or they just knew that Maharishi had a bad reputation. I did hear from one guy that he thought Maharishi built the ashram on state forest land and wouldn't pay for it, or did eventually, but wouldn't renew the lease. Something like that. So it looks like it was fishy from the start.

Some locals told me that people come there to go "yoga shopping". There are indeed lots of little stores that line the river to stock up on Ganeshas, Oms, and other collectables.

There is probably something genuine still there somewhere, but it's either unidentifiable because it's buried in the tourism/commercialism - or it simply moved up river to where it's less populated. Interestingly, Rishikesh is now a hot spot for whitewater rafting and hiking too. I was surprised at how it felt a little like the Colorado foothills. One river guide I spoke
with told me to be careful of some guides. To some, it's just another job to try because they either failed at many others, or they just can't find another job due to lack of opportunity. Made me think of Maharishi getting his physics degree and not being able to find a job with it, then finding SOMETHING, that being a swami's secretary.

Since coming back I tried doing a little research on the web and found this really good site. Very interesting reading about how Maharishi was less than monk-like from the early days with trying to extort and manipulate the Beatles and his other celebrity friends, then giggle it off. What a prick. Check it out:


Click on photo collection, then stories.

(personal conversation omitted)

Hope all has been well with you and that you have a great new year.

All my best,

1 comment:

Rick Archer said...

Those of you who are FairfieldLife members may view some current photos of the Rishikesh ashram at http://ph.groups.yahoo.com/group/FairfieldLife/photos/browse/1653

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