While the spectacle of a bunch of grown men playing at government but not actually having one in reality might evoke the image of a fading royal family and court in exile, for King Tony, as I call him, it's a 24/7 lifestyle at the TM organization's world headquarters compound in Vlodrop, Netherlands, or a rumored 2-story Paris condo. These photos of Tony, his wife and their kids, are now circulating among some of the TM faithful; they were taken during the organization's celebrations of Tony's and Maharishi's birthdays last week.
Birthday of a King of a "Global Country" that will "Transform the World:" January in the TM movement has long been marked by the birthday of its founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on January 12, and now the movement also celebrates the birthday of its King, er, Maharaja on January 10. Through one of the worlds' most boring, glacially-paced and incomprehensible (to the casual Western observer, anyway) TV channels - Maharishi Channel 3, delivered over the Internet - we can, at a distance, get an idea of what passes for "celebration" among the kingdom's subjects.
Much of the celebration, outside of the Vedic recitation, Maharishi video-watching, bagpipe-playing and cake-cutting, consists of a bunch of robed guys with crowns telling Tony that he'd make a good deity, and that he's about to lead the world to Sat Yuga which will begin Real Soon Now. In those professions of devotion there were a number of passages in which, for example, a king is called "deity in human form," and the inevitability of world transformation brought about by the existence of his Global Country is simply assumed. For instance, Bevan Morris invoked the mythical ancient kingdom of Ayodya, ruled by Raja Raam the Great, the seventh incarnation of Vishnu, while implying that the Global Country was the return of that kind of kingdom, in which "suffering belonged to no one."
I'll have a later post here with more of those kinds of details, for now, here are some stills taken from the Maharishi Channel.
|King Tony on the throne at MERU, Holland.|
|Bevan Morris at the Brahmastan of India.|
Girish Varma, Maharishi's nephew, and head of TM movement operations in India.
|The setting in India, with various "ministers," "Rajas" and other functionaries surrounding Girish Varma.|
|These are the "Mothers of the World from the Sovereign Domain of Consciousness."|
|A sampling of "Maharishi's Vedic Pundits" who performed Rajabhishek, the traditional Vedic ceremony of coronation.|
|"Royal Bagpipers" who concluded their appearance by playing "Amazing Grace."|
|Cutting the cake, which was in the form of a "Maharishi Tower of Invincibility."|
|The audience at the India gathering; only young boys could be seen on the video feed.|
|"Raja" John Hagelin, in the standard "raja" costume he wasn't wearing at the Met last month.|
|Eike Hartmann, the movement's "Minister of Architecture," which means he'd probably like to rebuild the planet by bulldozing your house. His tribute to King Tony consisted, in part, of reading from verses 2 through 8 of chapter VII of the Laws of Manu.|
Like that image of Guru Dev, only different: The celebration of the January 12 birthday of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi seems to serve as a reaffirmation of the connection between the current TM movement and some stream of the "tradition" that spawned Mahesh and "Guru Dev," whose picture was seen by all meditators when they learned TM. In this vein, the several hours of speech-making, puja, Vedic recitation and Maharishi video-watching also included the presence of His Holiness Swami Vasudevanand Saraswati Maharaj, Bhagwan Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math, to use the full title that Bevan used when introducing him. The Shankaracharya is patron of the Brahmananda Saraswati Foundation, which is in charge of the pundit project.
Here's a video still of the Shankaracharya and his entourage. This might be familiar to those who remember the Guru Dev image from their initiation into TM, but wait - who's that guy on the right?
That is, in fact, an armed security or police officer. Times have changed, haven't they?
"David Wants to Fly" Plays in San Francisco: David Sieveking’s masterful account of his journey through and around today's TM movement played at the Castro Theatre this past Sunday as part of the German Gems Film Festival. Check out Gina's review of the film, and her personal reflections of the day, both here at TM-Free, and on her personal blog, Coming to Life. The next scheduled showing in the U.S. is in Cambridge, Massachusetts on March 15, but stay tuned here for updates as we hear about them.
Briefly: Another story about the Gore-Tex family fortune feud I covered last week showed up in the Wilmington, Delaware News-Journal... Looks like at least one TM center, or whatever they call them now, is down to advertising in newspapers for volunteers to handle clerical tasks... Despite the continued prevalence of articles like this one, it bears repeating that the main thing the TM program will "empty" is your wallet, though your mind might follow.
TM-Free News Brief, 19 January 2011. Published irregularly here on Wednesdays by Mike Doughney, who's solely responsible for its content unless otherwise noted.