The Hindu Guru in the West Academic Paper

Religious studies

Hindu Guru Essay Prompt Westerners (that is, those living in the US, Europe, and other countries in the European tradition) have embraced Hindu practices in many ways, including yoga, meditation, and even devotional practice, despite the obvious fact that Westerners often take a different approach that doesn’t consider traditional Hinduism’s context.Famous gurus have introduced these […]


Many nations in the West, which do not know the culture, tradition, or Indian language, are now connecting to the country through yoga. As such, this raises the question of how yoga was spread to the West and whether they possess people who perform in gyms and studios the world over correctly representing the Indian tradition (Fergusson 40). As it is known in the West, modern yoga took off in the late 1890s, when monks from India, for the first time, started spreading their knowledge to the Western world. Additionally, those who traveled to India had the opportunity to interact with the yogis and witness their practices. Swami Vivekananda is credited with introducing yoga to the West; he was the first ever monk from India to have visited this part of the world. Consequently, many other Swamis and Yogis from India, including Maharishi Mahesh, were welcomed with open arms by the West.

The Life of Maharishi Mahesh

The life of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is based on his outstanding accomplishments, including a city, Maharishi Vedic, in Iowa, an alternative healing initiative, research centers, and established universities. However, his most notable achievement in life is establishing the Transcendental Meditation (TM) practice. Over the first 50 years, Maharishi Mahesh has been regarded as one of the most influential yoga gurus from India; he had many followers from various parts of the globe (Frawley). His teachings based on meditation had an enormous impact, including on some of the best articulate, most affluent, and educated minds from the East and West. In India, his influence was wide-ranging, where he redefined the corpus of knowledge that the guru was anticipated to symbolize and the image of the guru.

In the West, he became the meditation master, the media face of the yogi, and the cult figure. Despite his admiration, he did inspire a personality cult; instead, he focused on higher knowledge, which is impersonal. He successfully articulated the ancient tradition of yogic and Vedic knowledge of the modern mind. He was possibly the first influential guru to apply modern marketing techniques (Frawley). He took the knowledge of India’s old pandits, considered their nation as pieces of the museum from another era, and through skillful repackaging, he gained practice respect as the future evolution of humanity, the cutting edge of medicine and science, and guides to universal consciousness.

Maharishi Mahesh’s Influence on the West

Introduction of Transcendental Meditation (TM)

Maharishi Mahesh founded the TM movement in the West on a promise of world peace and inner harmony. Apart from bringing this meditation to the West, he also encouraged scientific studies and created mainstream meditation (Yogi 14). Mahesh pointed out that this practice enhances all elements of life and, thus, could be added to an active lifestyle. He headed this organization until death when he issued a farewell message. During his leadership, he attained a cult-like following, and he was able to achieve this when his message of peace reverberated with a counterculture in bloom, which was occurring by the end of the 1960s.

TM had approximately 600,000 practitioners by the mid-1970s, including pop singer Donovan and footballer star Joe Namath; some other notable followers included actresses Mia Farrow and Shirley McLain. The practice was widely embraced in the West because the guru’s message was inspiring in its simplicity: one could attain happiness and reduce stress by meditating twice a day for 20 minutes on a mantra or secret Sanskrit. He stated that if adequate numbers of mediators attained inner peace, they could radiate bliss to the world; this would end wars and reduce crime. Maharishi Mahesh, whether a holy man or huckster, fascinated Americans, thousands of whom were introduced to his ideas.

The Beatles and the Sudden Interest of Yoga in the West

Maharishi Mahesh’s encounter with the Beatles was one of the most significant milestones on the road of spreading yoga to the West. Arguably, the Beatles were the most influential and commercially successful music band during the era of rock. Maharishi Mahesh, on the other hand, was already a renowned and famous teacher. The group was first exposed to yoga around the time when prominent yogis from India, including Maharishi Mahesh, moved to Western nations to extend their teachings (Hoffman). The Maharishi Mahesh’s teaching had profoundly influenced the Beatles; as such, their experience with TM and the yogi’s words inspired much of their music on the White Album. Likewise, this connection profited Maharishi Mahesh in the sense that the Beatles assisted in popularizing his teachings of yoga, leading to millions of people in the West embracing it.

The group reported that daily meditation assisted them, especially John Lennon, who ultimately came off drugs. The members became prolific, and some of their outputs linked to what Maharishi Mahesh was teaching them. Due to their interaction with Maharishi Mahesh when they sought spiritual guidance from him, the Beatles assisted in popularizing TM as a simple practice that calms the mind. When they parted ways, Maharishi Mahesh had the journalistic account and photographic evidence of the devotion of the Beatles (Hoffman). Consequently, the guru’s star continued to shine even after the band moved on, and TM became progressively rooted in popular culture. Therefore, without a doubt, the interest showed by the Beatles for TM assisted in making the practice a household term, not only in the West but everywhere across the globe.

Setting up a Global Organization

Maharishi Mahesh worked tirelessly, setting up universities, schools, and TM Centers, certifying meditation teachers, writing books, and touring the world. To this end, he was one of the first meditation instructors to promote modern scientific studies to evaluate the impact of the practice on the body and mind. There is much deep tradition and cultural context concerning meditation in India. However, things were very different in this respect in the West. People are interested in the West’s practical, functional, and new things. For this reason, Maharishi Mahesh had already encouraged scholars to scientifically analyze TM meditation in his first lectures at Harvard and UCLA in the 1960s. Consequently, he led a revolutionary approach, and the West would not have embraced the practice of Maharishi Mahesh had not involved research in this way.

Controversy Involving Maharishi Mahesh

The connection of the Beatles with Maharishi Mahesh has become shrouded in urban myth, folklore, and rumors. The group particularly accused him of rape. Moreover, the movement by Maharishi Mahesh went on trial in a federal court with the accusation of being a “cult” that seduces people to relinquish control over their life, which, in turn, injures them psychologically.


As taught by Maharishi Mahesh, the meditation process is an effortless approach to accessing the infinite field of intelligence, creativity, and energy that resides within everyone. His interaction with the Beatles helped demonstrate TM meditation’s creativity-enlivening and rejuvenating effect. Maharishi Mahesh also spread the practice to the West by encouraging numerous scientific research studies to substantiate the various ways the practice can benefit different aspects of life and stimulate intelligence and creativity.


Works Cited

Frawley, David. “Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Was the Most Influential Yoga Guru from India in 50 Years.” India Today, 16 Sept. 2017,

Fergusson, Lee. “Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and the creation of world peace: Part I—A literature review and thematic analysis.” Journal of Maharishi Vedic Research Institute vol. 6, 2018, pp. 35–88.

Hoffman, Claire. “How the Beatles in India Changed America.” Rolling Stone, 25 June 2018,

Yogi, Maharishi Mahesh. “Maharishi’s absolute theory of defence: Sovereignty in invincibility.” Journal of Maharishi Vedic Research Institute vol. 9, 2019, pp. 13–48.

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Published On: 01-01-1970

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