When The Beatles learned Transcendental Meditation (TM) from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and traveled to Rishikesh, India in 1968 to study with him, they wrote songs under his influence with hidden meanings. Here’s the inside story.
John wrote this about actress Mia Farrow’s sister. Both sisters were studying with Maharishi in Rishikesh. When Prudence spent 24/7 meditating, Maharishi asked John and George to look in on her. They burst into her room, playing music to try to coax her out.
“Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill”
An Anglo-Saxon Ivy Leaguer, Richard A. Cooke III (Rik) went tiger hunting with his mom, Nancy Jackson. Elephants drove the tigers into a kill zone, where Rik shot one. When they recounted their exploits, Maharishi glared silently at Nancy. John piped in: “Don’t you call that slightly life-destructive?” Nancy retorted, “Well, John, it was either the tiger or us.”
Terry Gustafson, originally from Tucson, Arizona, was a Forest Ranger in California. After a bitter divorce, he took LSD weekly for six months. Dressed in khakis and short hair, Terry came across John one night wearing a paisley cape, red sash, white bell-bottom pants, green slippers with curled-up toes, and eyeglasses with strobe lights flashing on and off. “Look at you!” “Look at me!” John exclaimed. “One of us don’t belong ‘ere. Get back to the forest! Get back to Tucson Arizona! Get back where you belong!” After that, whenever their paths crossed, John teased Terry to “Get back!”
“The Maharishi Effect” was Maharishi’s theory, frequently described as: “For the forest to be green, the trees must be green; for the world to be at peace, the people must be at peace.” He believed politics and treaties would never create peace, but a small percentage of the population meditating could. He demonstrated this theory through scientific studies.
When it was originally released, Paul McCartney said he was inspired by hearing loud crowing in early morning at the ashram. However, years later, he ascribed it a deeper significance, paralleling the lyrics to a “black bird” (black woman) in the Civil Rights Movement.
“Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey”
Maharishi often said, “Take it easy; take it as it comes,” and “it’s such a joy!” Whenever he beckoned anyone to meet with him, he would always say, “Come, come,” or “Come on.” John revealed the “monkey” was Yoko Ono.
“Mother Nature’s Son” and “Child of Nature”
One of Maharishi’s lectures about the unity of nature and mankind inspired “Mother Nature’s Son” by Paul and “Child of Nature” by John.”
“Across the Universe”
This includes the term Jai Guru Deva (“Hail to the divine teacher”). Instead of saying “hello,” Maharishi greeted everyone with this salutation, honoring his own guru: Swami Brahmananda Saraswati.
“My Sweet Lord”
Here’s the translation of some of the song’s Sanskrit lyrics, chanted in the pooja ceremony every time a TM Initiator teaches new students: “The guru is Brahma, Vishnu, and the great Lord Shiva. The guru is the eternal Brahman, the transcendental absolute. I bow to the supreme guru, adorned with glory.”
John and George walked out on Maharishi in a huff for three reasons. One was because Maharishi made a pass at a Brooklyn schoolteacher — Rosalyn Bonas. John took out his vengeance, writing a song peppered with expletives: “Maharishi, you little #!*@. Who the %*!& do you think you are?” When George objected, John changed the seductress from “Maharishi” to “Sexy Sadie.”
Maharishi & Me: Seeking Enlightenment with the Beatles’ Guru by Susan Shumsky is out now. Grab your copy now through Amazon by clicking on the book cover below.