Savvy Indian guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 91, who sold out transcendental meditation to the West, passed away in his sleep Tuesday evening. The Maharishi, who set many like the Beatles on the path of spiritual enlightenment was residing in his 200-room mansion in the Netherlands, at the time of his death.
With the intent of bringing about individual peace and enlightenment, the Maharishi introduced transcendental meditation to the West in 1959. Now, at the time of his death, his empire is worth many millions of dollars.
A month back, the Maharishi announced his retirement. He retreated into silence at his home in Vlodrop saying his work was done and that he wished to dedicate his remaining days to the study of ancient Hindu Vedas texts.
'He had been saying he had done what he set out to do,' his spokesman, Bob Roth was quoted. Mr. Roth was also reported that the Maharishi had died peacefully in his sleep at around 1900 (1800 GMT) hrs , due to 'natural causes - his age'.
The Maharishi was born in Madhya Pradesh, India. He trained as a physicist before devoting himself to more spiritual ways. In the Himalayas, he trained under Guru Dev during the 1940s and 1950s. From there he spread the teachings of transcendental meditation throughout the world.
Transcendental meditation is based on the theory and practice of yoga. It involves a mental technique, which is touted easy to learn and practice by anyone, enabling him or her to reach a 'state of pure consciousness' and attain a sense of deep rest.
With the constant repetition of a Sanskrit mantra, a short word or phrase, a practitioner is supposedly able to discover deep relaxation. This in turn is supposed to lead to enhanced inner joy, vitality, and creativity.
'Don't fight darkness. Bring the light, and darkness will disappear,' these words of the Maharishi are oft quoted.
Though the Maharishi introduced these techniques to the US in 1959, transcendental meditation did not become widely known in the West until 1968, when the Beatles traveled to India to meditate with him.
Transcendental meditation's 20-minute routine has come to be widely used in the world of education, business and welfare to reduce stress and improve concentration. It now boasts a following of five million people.
Donations as well as the $2,500 (£1,270) fee to learn the technique has helped fund the construction of Peace Palaces, or meditation centers, in many cities around the world as well as in several universities.
After decades of teaching, the Maharishi unfurled plans to use the power of group meditation so as to bring about world peace and end poverty.
In 1990, he moved into his luxurious mansion in the southern Dutch village of Vlodrop. Fearing for his health, he kept to himself in two rooms, speaking only by video link even to his co-workers in the same building.