The 20th Century India: The Age of Spiritual Yogi
During the 1960’s, the Western Interest in the Hindu Spirituality met with a huge boost. Thanks to many renowned sages from the time, in particular Mahesh Prasad Varma who later became to be known as Maharishi meaning “great seer” and then Yogi as an adult. He was then known to many, by the name Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Yoga, the gem of India, was introduced to the western people during the mid 20th century. Swami Vivekananda, started this initiative long back in the late 19th Century. It was carried forward by many further disciples and followers of Yoga and Spirituality. Yoga and Transcendental Spirituality were the key aspects of the movement in mid 20th century, which paved way for further spread of teachings from famous Yogi around the country.
In 1955, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, disciple and assistant of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, began to introduce the Transcendental Deep Meditation technique to India and the world. This technique was learned and passed on to Maharishi himself from his Spiritual Leader. The fruits of this technique tasted well, not only in India but was also welcomed by the western world. It was thanks to the success of many such activities from Maharishi, that ‘The Beatles’ & ‘The Beach Boys’ were inspired and motivated spiritually to learn the techniques of Yoga.
‘The Beatles’ travelled to Rishikesh in northern India to attend an advanced Transcendental Meditation (TM) training session at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. In fact, the visit was one of the band’s most productive period and received widespread media attention. This ultimately made possible for the Spiritual Regeneration technique to spread worldwide. During this period, most of the influential Indian teachers of Yoga came from two lineages, one from Sivananda Saraswati and others from Tirumalai Krishnamacharya. Slowly, the interest of other countries in Hindu Spirituality gave rise to great number of followers of Yoga.
Author William Jefferson in his book, ”The Story of Maharishi”, said that it was during a visit to Madras in 1959, that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi decided to spread the teachings of TM (Transcendental Meditation) to the world. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi then began his first world tour saying, “I had one thing in mind, that I know something which is useful to every man”. He visited various places on his world tour including the countries of Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Hawaii. He arrived in Hawaii in the spring of 1959 and the Honolulu Star bulletin reported, “He has no money, he asks for nothing. His worldly possessions can be carried in one hand.” This was the effect of spiritualism combined with the powers of Yoga, that the entire world resonated with.
The 20th century marked the peak season for India, with the western world, adapting to new and better ways of life. Maharishi’s teachings, the many other disciples who came after him consistently helped spread the lessons of life. Spiritual leaders like Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, were the base of this revolution. The rise of spiritual age was the pillar which was built upon decades of teachings and blessings of known gurus. This revolution would have been incomplete without the mention of Paramhansa Yogananada, an Indian Yogi and guru to millions of Indians and Westerners to the teachings of meditation and Kriya Yoga. His book, Autobiography of a Yogi remains a spiritual masterpiece till today. When the backbone of our spiritual journey is blessed with such great men, the future looks promising, ever. The world of Yoga and Spirituality has long been around in our Country, but it was the effort and cause for these Yogis which made the gem of India, the teachings of wise men, reach around the world.