Someone kindly sent me a partial transcript of a talk the Maharishi gave 40 years ago—on a rounding course in Poland Spring, ME in 1970.
He discusses how his title, maharishi, came to be used—and why he accepted it.
Personally, I think it contains misleading translations and humble self-aggrandizement. What do you think?
POLAND SPRING, 1970
Question: ...where and in what manner did you receive your title 'Maharishi'?
MAHARISHI: I never received any title like that.
Question: Then how is it that we all call you 'Maharishi', where does this custom originate from?
MAHARISHI: What happened was, in South India this word is more prevalent for good saints. And when I travelled South India, just the news papers wrote. And then it came from one news paper to the other, like that.
It is a spontaneous thing. This is not a title conferred as a degree in a college or somewhere. It is, I think, just like a (the word) 'sage' or a 'seer' or a 'saint', they are not the degrees, it is the symptom of a man - a symptom, a feature. And then people start calling him (like that). There is no confirmation of the title or anything. That is it.
Rishi and Maharishi - rishi is a Sanskrit word and that means the seer of the mantras. The seer of truth. Mantras are the Vedic hymns. A seer is the rishi - rishis are the seers of the mantras, mantras of the Vedas. And mantras of the Vedas are the truth of life.
So rishi is equivalent to a seer. A seer sees the truth. Maharishi means great seer - maha is great. Someone sees the truth and records it. And people hold him high, who applies those truths to the daily life of the people - brings the benefit of the truth by the seer in the daily life of the people. Applies that truth to the daily life. And people call him 'Maharishi'.
And this is what people found in the message of our movement, that the truth of life is applied to the life of the people. And spontaneously the word comes 'Maharishi'.
I think without a thought, once people hear the message and then - generally people don't remember the name. North Indian name is not so easily remembered by the South Indians, like that. But the symptom remains in the memory of a man, 'Oh, he is a Maharishi, he said this and this', just like that.
It is the feature of the person found in his message. This is how this became popular. I didn't object to it. (laughter) Otherwise I had to explain why they should not call me Maharishi and they should call me something else. I saw the validity of the word in the message. And if it is easier for the people to associate the person with this quality, the message justifies it.
So, I had no reason to refuse and say 'Don't call me like that'. People will say, what should we call you then? Some other word would have to be replaced by this word. And I thought let them call what they like. Especially when it was confirmed with the quality of the message. There was no reason to frown on that.
And once I didn't object to it - (to be) silent is half consent . If you don't refuse it means, yes you accept it...
Your thoughts? Can't wait to read the comments.