Thousands gathered on the banks of India's Ganges River on Monday to mourn Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a one-time spiritual adviser to the Beatles who died last week in the Netherlands, witnesses said.
Yogi, who died Tuesday in his home in the Dutch village of Vlodrop, was cremated at his "ashram" or hermitage in Arail on the banks of the Ganges near the Hindu pilgrimage city of Allahadbad, an activist of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) told AFP.
"There were thousands of people including his disciples from abroad at the ceremony," said the activist by phone from Allahabad.
Newly appointed leaders of Yogi's Transcendental Meditation order, wearing flowing cream-coloured robes and gold crowns watched the ceremonies as followers showered flower petals on their guru's body.
The funeral pyre was lit by his nephew and successor Swami Girish Chandra Verma to the chants of hymns from the Veda scriptures, the Press Trust of India news agency said.
An unnamed disciple quoted by the agency said the Maharshi's ashes will be taken to 193 countries across the world.
Yogi, whose body was brought to India on Saturday, was born in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh but said he did not know his date of birth.
In 1958, he unveiled his meditation movement, which attracted a huge following -- including the Beatles, who meditated with him in India in 1968, and Hollywood stars Shirley MacLaine and Mia Farrow.
According to the movement's followers, mass meditation sessions can generate positive powers that can end negative processes such as war and violence.
In 1990, the Maharishi moved to the Netherlands to take up residency in a former convent. From his worldwide headquarters the guru and his followers provided 24-hour television broadcasts and weekly news conferences.
In the last few years of his life the Maharishi did not appear in public and communicated via a television link-up.