10 Mar


Sometime around 1967 one of the multitude of gurus coming out of India, avatars of ‘Neo-Hinduism’, scored big. He met the Beatles, thru George Harrison’s wife, the model Patti Boyd. Here she is:


Pretty wasn’t she?

Famously the fab four trotted off to India with this guy in 1968, there to receive the answer. They were all in thrall to the guy. It didn’t bother them, his lush estate, his fine house, his private helicopter. They put up with the rules, no drinking, no drugs – well mostly, and they took up meditation. Versions vary as to what occurred but it’s a well established part of the lore of the 1960s that Lennon and Harrison confronted their guru over his advances to the women of the group. Mia Farrow recalls being grabbed by him in a cave, that sort of thing.

Afterwards McCartney issued a statement saying they’d all thought the guy was something more than human and he wasn’t. All four confirmed that the benefit that they’d had from the association was to the practice of meditation. They’d left drugs behind and were seeking a new way.

Needless to say they didn’t leave the drugs. Over ten years later McCartney came close to doing 8 years in a Tokyo jail after getting busted with an ounce at the airport. Being a Beatle he only did 9 days. This happened around the time Lennon got shot dead by one of those who the Me Decade decided weren’t Beautiful People after all. And in that long slow decade since those halcyon days with the Maharashi he’d faced addictions to alcohol and heroin. Ringo was never into it much, drugs or meditation. Maybe George got past it, but he came close to losing it on the I-see-the-Light trip. Goodbye the pretty girl upstairs.

But that was to come, in ’68 they spent some weeks in India. And then it finally dropped that the Maharashi was not immune to the sex and money traps of power. Maybe he wasn’t at all the gentle and great spirit he seemed. Lennon remember some look from the guy when they told him they were out of there. Something hostile, murderous. Amongst the explosion of songs written at the time came one of Lennon’s most aspic barbs. Originally it was called ‘Maharashi’. Fearing lawsuits and some kind of voodoo (Lennon seemed to be superstitious) they changed it to a girl’s name and thus to a story of destructive harlotry. How strangely Christian that a man’s transgressions are blamed on a woman. I recommend Rachel Unthank & The Winterset’s version on the Mojo White Album tribute.

There’s the revelation, the kernel of truth that persistently escapes neat definition. And then there’s always someone ready to make a buck out of it. When things were jake, the Maharashi was talking movie deals with someone in the Beatles camp. He jumped in right with a 2.5% of the gross profits bid. He knew how to hustle.

Religion it’s a bitch.


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