Thursday, November 04, 2010

Fascinating Transcript of "Maharishi Sez" from Poland Spring 1970

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?


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.



John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Yipes! I was at Poland Spring and I don’t remember this. But I was furiously taking notes, so it’s probably in there, somewhere. Mahesh’s “title” was always a bit like sex: we were too young and too afraid to ask and very afraid of looking stupid if we did.

I have long wondered about “Maharishi” as a title. I haven’t seen it in the usual suspected places on the Internet. I suspect, don’t know, but suspect that Mahesh made sure to manipulate just the right people into making sure he was grandly accorded. Mahesh left little to chance. I am sure neither he or we can have imagined going around saying Bal Brahmachari said ....

Tanks for d’mem’reez

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Oh, wow. Now we'll get the vehement over-analysis and histronics: he is a demon and manipulated the use of the name, blah, blah. In the real world, where Indians work all over, you'll find very auspicious names, like StarBucks has for coffees, I guess. So, Joe MahaDharmaKrishnaHiranyagarbhaBrahma, could just as well be just a normal human ass being. No big deal. Have you not met people named Jesus that would cut your head off at the slightest whim?

As to whether MMY earned the title, not much, but he did change the world of meditation for the better. I seldom come across that nonsense about the mind being like a monkey ....

-- jb

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Oh, dear. I’ve stepped in it again. Well, so much for consistency, I guess.

OK, first, I do not as in DO NOT think Mahesh is a DEMON. I do not think he is evil and I do not think he is some kind of extra human force.

Mahesh was a human being just like all the rest of us. He made mistakes and he tried to make himself look like more than he was … just like the rest of us and certainly, just like me.

As I have so often found, semantics and intent are not always clear and my efforts to clarify are not always fruitful. That has not stopped me from carrying on.

I think Mahesh did many things that leaned more towards his own benefit than any one else’s. That’s human and NOT demonic. But it is also not particularly spiritual in my estimation of what spiritual and spirituality is or ought to be. I think that as Mahesh got older he leaned more and more to promoting his own image than putting things right with those he had taken for all he could. Also human, also not acceptable.

Now, did Mahesh help to change the world towards something better? I can certainly find evidence that he did. Evidence that I do not question. Yet, it also remains clear that while TM helped many, Mahesh helped himself to the resources of many and I just don’t find that acceptable. Should Mahesh have arisen completely above all human frailties and really merited the title he felt he was entitled to? That would have been something I think we all could have been deservedly proud of had he done so. On the basis of my experience with him and his organization, I think he fell far, far short of what good he could have done and I think this is so because he wasn’t all that he let us believe he was and he did not make an effort on our behalf so much as he did on his own, especially when it came to his efforts to try to cover his shortcomings with more and more expensive promises.

I think that Mahesh *used* his title to keep people looking elsewhere and when many of us began to turn our attention to him himself and to the exact nature of what he was teaching and why, he fell short of his title.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Yes, jb, I have met Indians named BrahmaKrishnaananda, etc.,......but there is one BIG difference. It is their real name, given to them at birth. It is not a title. A person whose last name is "Pope" doesn't present themself to the world as the Pope.

In contrast, Maharishi apparently bestowed the "Maharshi" title (not a family name) upon himself.

But indeed, that is a very small point to quibble. It was, by my reckoming, one of the least of Mahesh's transgressions on his path to self-aggrandizement.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

I'm just going by the story, he was given it. Apparently that happens naturally in india. I don't know, following a guy called joe blow as a guru doesn't sound good. Look at the Jim Jones thing.

Just goofing, you know. Since I don't have inside info, MMY camp is just as crazy as you people. And, I mean that in a nice way.

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

It looks to me like those who already think MMY is trustworthy will believe his story of how he got his title "Maharishi." And those who already think MMY is not trustworthy will not believe this story. So the question of how he got the name "Maharishi" remains unresolved.

Therefore I suggest we need to go outside this transcript, and ask people aside from MMY questions like the following: Is that how titles are bestowed in South India? Does "Maharishi" mean what he says it means? Etc.

I understand "Mahesh" was his given name (like "William"). But, where does the name "Yogi" come from?

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