My Maharishi in Nepal
What Did Maharishi Do?
[00:00:45] Jai Guru Deva.
[00:00:48] Welcome to my podcast, The Vedic Worldview. I’m Thom Knoles. Today, I’d like to recount a tale of so many, many years ago, traveling and moving with my Maharishi.
[00:01:08] Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was my master with whom I studied and learned for more than a quarter of a century, and someone who had an enormous influence on me. And really, when people have asked me in the past, “Now, Maharishi, what did he do?” He made me. That was, in my opinion, the most important thing he did. He made me what I am.
[00:01:41] He took the timber that came from the forest, and kiln dried it and shaped it and turned it into the furnishing, which today is known as Thom Knoles, Maharishi Vyasananda Saraswati.
[00:01:59] I’m recalling because the thought came to me this morning, since I was speaking to some friends from Nepal, those of you who are not so familiar with the geography of the Southern part, the subcontinent of Asia, South Asia, Nepal is a smallish country. It’s bigger than some American states, but it’s a smallish country rather oblong that sits on an axis in the north-east of the Indian subcontinent. India continues to go northward from Nepal.
[00:02:44] Nepal is the place where the Himalayan ranges arc down into that part of the world, and in which the most famous mountain in the world, Mount Everest, sits, and the capital of Nepal is Kathmandu. Kathmandu is a mountain city that sits in central Nepal and which is the seat of government.
Nepal — The Last Vedic Kingdom
[00:03:16] There was a period of time for a few hundred years when Nepal was the last of the Vedic kingdoms. Just as today we have the United Kingdom, sometimes we think kingdoms are a little out of date, but I don’t think that people who live in the United Kingdom would agree that kingdoms are out of date.
[00:03:41] In fact, the United Kingdom, which has a head of state, currently Queen Elizabeth II. She is the head of state not only for all of Britain but for Wales, and Scotland, Northern Ireland, Australia, Canada, and a few other places.
[00:04:04] So, when we look at the government status of the United Kingdom, it’s a constitutional monarchy. And the constitutional monarchy was also the nature of Nepal for hundreds of years until relatively recently, since about 2001, it changed.
Maharishi in Switzerland
[00:04:26] In 1974, I had been with Maharishi in Switzerland during most of the 1970s. Instead of living in his native India and requiring people to come to India to train with him or to learn under him, he decided to move himself and his small organization headquarters to Switzerland. That being roughly a midpoint between the United States, where the largest number of Vedic meditators existed, and India, which was the home of it all.
[00:05:11] And his idea was that the Ashram which he had occupied during the 1960s had become too small to continue being a viable place for the hundreds of people who wanted to apply to be trained as teachers by him. So, he began to hold his teacher training programs, his residential retreats and so on, in Switzerland instead of India, and did that for about a decade.
A Summons From The King
[00:05:45] While we were there in Switzerland, the previous King of Nepal, His Majesty Mahendra by name, passed away, and the kingdom went to his son, Birendra, who became The King of Nepal. Birendra, as a much younger man, had been initiated by Maharishi, by my teacher, into our practice and was a great devotee of Maharishi.
[00:06:23] Birendra had gone on after learning to meditate while still the Crown Prince, had gone on to take his tertiary education at Harvard University in Massachusetts, and then went back to Nepal and then later became The King.
[00:06:41] Shortly after his coronation, which had happened in 1972, but in 1974, he had sent a message to Maharishi in Switzerland saying that he had heard that a large number of people meditating in the same place at the same time could bring about a level of coherence, a level of cohesiveness in the collective consciousness and that this was a very desirable thing.
[00:07:14] And he wanted, as part of one of his first decrees as King, to make it possible for any Nepalese person who wished to learn Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s technique of meditation to do so.
The Raj Guru to The King of Nepal
[00:07:31] But in his conversation with Maharishi, The King had felt rather insistent that Maharishi himself, personally, should be the teacher, and being an Indian, and most Nepalese people spoke either English or Hindi as well as their native tongue of Nepali, and that this would be something that would attract a large number of Nepalese people.
[00:08:04] And so Maharishi agreed to The King, in those Vedic countries there are names for things that we’re not accustomed to, so, let me give you the names.
[00:08:17] A king of a nation is referred to as a Chakrabarti. Chakrabarti, it means the monarch of a given periphery or a circle. Barti. Chakra is a circle. Barti means a ruler or monarch.
[00:08:38] He was the Chakrabarti King Birendra, and the kings always would have a Raj Guru. Raj means a prince or a royal figure or a king, a king. Raj is where we get our English word regal, and also where we get our English word, royal. It comes from the Sanskrit raja, raja.
[00:09:09] So, a Raj Guru is a guru, a wise and trusted counselor, a master of spirituality, who is the advisor to the Chakrabarti, to The King, and Maharishi already had, for years, enjoyed the honor of being the Raj Guru to The King of Nepal.
Zurich to New Delhi to Kathmandu
[00:09:37] And so a few people who were in Maharishi’s entourage of those who could move quickly and nimbly, and whose commitments elsewhere could be either postponed or forestalled, or who even didn’t have commitments elsewhere, were able to be assigned the role of going with Maharishi and making things smooth and possible and easy for many, many people to learn to meditate.
[00:10:14] And it was a magnificent trip. We left from Zurich and took a direct flight to New Delhi in India. And there we changed planes and picked up a few supplies and things, and from there, we took another direct flight to Kathmandu.
[00:10:34] And being around Maharishi in India again was a great delight, because when Maharishi would travel in the west, the public and, by and large, considered him to be a novelty. First of all, they weren’t a hundred percent sure who he was or what his status was. They knew that he was a famous person.
[00:10:57] Maharishi had become, by the early 1970s, had become one of the most easily recognizable faces in the Western media. People knew who he was, if you said Maharishi everybody knew who that was.
[00:11:12] But they didn’t understand what his status was, and perhaps didn’t have the level of respect for him that would’ve been held for him in a country like India. So it was very fun to get back to India and then moving on to Nepal, to the city of Kathmandu, to see the level of reverence and respect in which Maharishi was held.
An Audience of One Hundred Thousand
[00:11:35] And particularly when, as a dignitary and the guest of The King of the country, the level of honor that was shown to him and bestowed upon him when he arrived. It was fabulous to see when we got off the plane, there were Vedic pandits.
[00:11:59] These are people whose entire lives are given to the phenomenon of memorizing and learning to recite all of the Vedic literature in verse and in style, so they sing it, and the Vedic pandits were singing. As he disembarked from the plane, there were rose petals being thrown, raining from the sky as he walked from the aircraft to the terminal building.
[00:12:34] And he was immediately whisked away with an entire flotilla of cars that went with him to the palace, where he was greeted by The King, and The King briefed him and arrangements were made for Maharishi to give an introductory lecture to literally a hundred thousand people who were assembled in a main square, a large, large open space in a central part of Kathmandu, and beautiful big dias was set up.
[00:13:13] It was the largest introductory lecture I’d ever seen. I had witnessed Maharishi giving an introductory lecture to an absolutely full Royal Albert Hall in London once. And I believe there are about 10,000 people seated there.
[00:13:29] But to see 100,000 people and to hear them cheering him on, and as he walked in, everybody standing in complete silence and reverence, and then when he sat, to hear a hundred thousand people all saying, “Jai Guru Deva,” resonantly and simultaneously. It was a wonderful thing to witness.
“Where was I?”
[00:13:54] Maharishi spoke mainly in Hindi but broke into English on a few occasions during his introductory talk. And then, with the help of all of us, all of his helpers and Indians came as well, and there were Nepalese teachers of Maharishi’s, we were able over the next few days to initiate approximately 100,000 people, which was about 1% of the Kathmandu valley population in one very big and spectacular course of instruction.
[00:14:36] And it was a wonderful time, and at the end of which we, and this was an amazing thing with Maharishi, we said our goodbyes. Maharishi gave his blessings, arrangements were made to leave certain people behind who were fluent in the local languages to continue the process of the follow-up of all of those new thousands of meditators.
[00:15:02] And Maharshi himself boarded the aircraft and flew back to Switzerland and, arriving in Switzerland, got straight off the plane, walked straight to the lecture hall where he was teaching mostly Westerners in the arts of how to teach our meditation technique, and sat down, had a few moments and then just said, “Now, where was I?” As if his, his 10 days away was just perhaps a 10-minute interruption and thousands of initiations had occurred.
[00:15:42] He was one of those people who embodied that ideal of having what we call equanimity. Equanimity is a word that is not as well known today as once upon a time it was, mainly because the quality that it embodies is not a quality that is as well known today as perhaps once it was.
[00:16:04] Equanimity indicates and describes a state of evenness, the ability to be not overshadowed either by fabulously positive news, or by a turn of events which is not within one’s preferences. And so not able to be made or to be broken, make or break, not to be made or broken by mere events.
[00:16:38] That consciousness state that is grounded in a permanent experience of The Absolute; we refer to this as Nitya Samadhi. Nitya means eternal, unceasing. Samadhi is that beautiful quiet place that you touch upon in your deepest meditation.
[00:17:04] And when that beautiful, inner quiet place that you touch upon in your deepest meditation has been awakened and stabilized, such that it’s there all the time, even when you’re engaging in quite excitatory activities, in walking around, moving, talking, moving here and there, moving furniture, whatever it is you’re doing, driving cars, flying airplanes, no matter what you’re doing, that backdrop of Samadhi, that deep inner silence, cannot be overshadowed by those activities.
[00:17:38] One has perpetual access to it. One is living the individual life with all of its color, with all of its variety, with all of its character, with your full personality at your disposal. But there is a difference between you and other people until other people are able to get to the state of consciousness you’re in and that’s our whole goal, but that difference is that you’re grounded in the state of Being.
[00:18:10] Let’s think about that for a few moments. When you go and sit to meditate, your body rests, your brain rests, your eyelids rest, but your consciousness, even with eyes open prior to sitting for meditation, already had been grounded in the state of unbounded awareness of Being.
[00:18:34] And so, closing the eyes and sitting to meditate, nothing new could happen, except that the body rested, the brain rested, and the eyelids closed. The unboundedness, which had been there already prior to sitting and closing the eyes, continues to be there.
[00:18:54] And then after meditation, after having the little body, brain, eyelids rest, maybe we could also throw the voice in there too. The voice gets to rest because, during waking life, one is constantly speaking and communing as is already there prior to meditation, during meditation; it’s naturally there after meditation.
[00:19:15] So, we call this Nitya, unceasing, eternal. Samadhi, Samadhi that deep, vast backdrop of unbounded awareness; Nitya Samadhi.
[00:19:29] And Nitya Samadhi is the natural condition that one naturally stabilizes through regular twice-daily practice of Vedic Meditation, diving into that deep inner silence, and then coming out into activity, stabilizing it through daily activity, and then saturating the mind with it again.
[00:19:56] In each meditation, coming out into activity, a state arrives where the alternating between the two, between the deep depth of Samadhi and the activity of daily waking state life, the alternating of the two causes the two states to homogenize.
Readiness to Meet Any Demand
[00:20:15] And when they homogenize, that homogenous state of Nitya Samadhi occurs. In that state, one is in equanimity. That means that so-called bad news is a change in the information base, and so-called good news is another change in the information base.
[00:20:42] One is not living one’s life in a situation where my identity, my state of being depends upon certain events, either which haven’t yet happened happening, something I was completely basing all my hopes on, my beacon in life, nor, should things not go a particular way, would one be in any way deflated or overshadowed by that.
[00:21:16] One is in a state perpetually of simply readiness to meet any demand, interactively, to interact with any demand successfully, knowing that one has an infinite amount of creativity, intelligence, and consciousness energy at one’s disposal.
[00:21:40] So, we call this state Cosmic Consciousness. There are other higher states than Cosmic Consciousness, but Maharishi certainly was, at the very minimum, displaying the Cosmic Consciousness trait at all times.
[00:21:55] And that gave him the ability, even after 10 days of being away, and being celebrated in such a great achievement of bringing thousands of new people in a kingdom into meditation. Being able to sit in his chair and look around at the familiar faces from 10 days ago and say, “Now, where was I?” No big deal, even though to anyone else who was as impressionable as I was, in my twenties in those days, it seemed to me to be a very big deal.
The Vedic University in Nepal
[00:22:31] In years that followed, many years later, I had been selected by Maharishi to return to Nepal and to continue my activities under the guidance of His Majesty The King Birendra, to site and locate and make arrangements for it to be built on the Narayani River, a Vedic University which still is there today and extant, and can be visited by any of you who are ever traveling to that place.
[00:23:06] I can make arrangements for you to see that place, the university, in which all Vedic knowledge in Sanskrit, the knowledge of Vedic astrology, Jyotish, Ayurvedic medicine, and all manner of Vedic teachings are being learned by the local Nepalese culture to maintain that cultural integrity generation after generation.
[00:23:33] And someday, we’ll tell more stories about my time in Nepal. This time, not with Maharishi, but on my own, but being guided by him by telephone. Telephone calls I had with him every night while I was there. Another story for another day.
[00:23:53] Jai Guru Deva.