Patti Boyd, John Lennon, Mike Love of The Beach Boys, Maharishi Yogi, George Harrison, Mia Farrow, John Farrow, Donovan, Paul McCartney, Jane Asher, Cynthia Lennon at the ashram. Photo: Keystone Features/ Getty Images
50 years ago, The Beatles made the journey from the UK to India to visit and stay at Maharishi Yogi’s ashram in Rishikesh to learn and practise transcendental meditation.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (right) conducts a session in meditation at the ashram.
The Beatles met the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi for the first time in the year 1967 in London. Lead guitarist George Harrison’s wife had signed up to attend a session after coming across a newspaper advertisement. After being unable to complete a 10-day programme due to the untimely death of band manager Brian Epstein, the band decided to explore their meditational journey in India at Maharishi’s ashram. John Lennon and Harrison, two of the most dedicated meditators among the Beatles, arrived with their wives, Cynthia Lennon and Pattie Boyd on 15 February, 1968. The other two arrived three days later, Paul with his girlfriend Jane Asher and Ringo with his wife Maureen.
Paul playing Holi at the ashram.
While several controversies ensued post the visit, the time The Beatles spent at the ashram is often reffered to as a period during which the band was at the height of their creative prowess. While in Rishikesh, they wrote 48 songs for the seminal White Album, that featured songs such as Blackbird, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Dear Prudence and Happiness Is A Warm Gun.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Ringo, George at a party to celebrate Harrison’s 25th birthday at Rishikesh on 25th February 1968.
Paul smears red colour on the face of Scottish singer Donovan during Holi and is watched by Jane Asher on left and fellow guests inside the ashram.
John pictured playing a flute as he walks barefoot through the ashram.
Years later, the ashram— called Chaurasi Kutia for the 84 sheltered structures within the property—remains to be a pilgrimage spot for fans of the band, despite the state of disrepair it is in.
Film director and photographer Paul Saltzman just happened to be in India for similar reasons, and the Fab Four agreed to give him unprecedented access to their experiences. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the journey, Saltzman has released THE BEATLES IN INDIA, a photo book that gives readers insight into the legendary trip.