My Maharishi – Moonlight on the River

“Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was very fond of full moon nights. He was a man who had a systematic idea about what kind of knowledge to release at what time, he gave you knowledge in a layered fashion.”

Thom Knoles

Episode Summary

Thom Knoles was blessed to spend many years as a student of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, travelling to many parts of the world both as a student and an assistant in Maharishi’s work.  

In that time he gathered many fond memories worthy of sharing.  This episode is the first of a “My Maharishi” series where Thom will be sharing some of those memories over the months to come.

He tells of his first experience hearing pundits chanting Samaveda.  You might also recognize the ‘sloka’ or hymn that Maharishi chanted before the meal, as the same sloka that Thom sings at the beginning of each podcast episode.


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Episode Highlights


Maharishi Mahesh Yogi – The Great Seer



On The Water



Between Spain and Portugal



A Barge and a Tugboat



A Vedic Sloka (Hymn



Chanting of Samaveda



The Dawn of a New Era


Jai Guru Deva


My Maharishi – Moonlight on the River

[00:00] Maharishi Mahesh Yogi – The Great Seer

I’d like to share with you a vignette, an anecdote, of one very special night I spent with my Maharishi, my master Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, whom I refer to as my Maharishi.  And this will become part of a series which I’m going to entitle, “My Maharishi”.  Maha means great, Rishi means a seer.  Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the man who brought to the world the meditation that I teach.  

The setting was inspired by, last night here in Flagstaff, Arizona where I live, seeing the beautiful full moon night, the moon shining so brightly outside that you could read a book by it, and the silence, this very slight breeze.  Every time there’s a full moon and I have an opportunity to go outside and witness it, I’m reminded of a particular night.  

Maharishi was very fond of full-moon nights.  He was a man who had a systematic idea about what kind of knowledge to release at what time, he gave you knowledge in a layered fashion.  If you could understand layer one, then he’d move to layer two and layer three and so on and so forth.  

But he wasn’t one who simply answered any question that you asked him any time.  And although you were entitled, during question times after his lectures, to ask him specific questions, he would really smilingly refuse to answer certain questions about topics that were not really part of what he wanted to teach you that night.  And I say night because the vast majority of his lectures were given in the night.  Many were given in the afternoon, but relatively few in the morning.  

[02:39] On The Water

One particular night, about 48 years ago, Maharishi was preparing to train a group of about slightly less than 200 people to be teachers of this meditation.  And these people had gathered in Spain, in a little coastal resort known as La Antilla.  La Antilla is in that part of Spain, which nearly borders on Portugal.  And just prior to the 12-weeks teacher training course beginning came a full moon night.

It was known by all of us who were the watchers of Maharishi that when full moon nights came something happened to him where, he would answer any question you asked him irrespective of how off topic it might be, and provided that you were willing to hear an hour-long or two-hour long answer to the question, he would always answer it.  

On this particular night as ever, he was hoping that we could somehow get the entire group onto a body of water.  His preference always was not to sit right on the coast or the edge of a lake or the ocean, but actually to get onto it in a boat.  And there were many, many full moon nights enjoyed in this way in various places in the world, from Spain to India, to Kashmir, to Switzerland, Lake Lucerne and so on.  

[04:15] Between Spain and Portugal

This was one particular night about 48 years ago, a large, very large barge was acquired.  And you know what a barge is, a flat-topped floating device designed to load up with all kinds of industrial equipment and things that you want to transport perhaps across a lake or across a river.  And there’s a river dividing Spain and Portugal right there near the city of La Antilla.  La

Antilla is the coastal area that’s just closer to the coast from Sevillia, from Seville in Spain, if you want to look it up on the map to get some kind of reference.  We were all put into buses, the 190 or so of us, and taken to the riverside right at sunset.  

Maharishi arrived just as the sun was setting and you’ll always notice that on a full moon night, the moon rises at exactly the time that the sun sets.  So the moment the moon goes down over the Western horizon you’ll see if you have a clear view of the moon coming up on the Eastern horizon.  

[05:26] A Barge and a Tugboat

We all loaded onto the barge and we were all seated comfortably.  The barge had been refitted to accommodate lots and lots of cushions and blankets.  It was in October, so quite a chilly month in Spain and a chilly night began.  It wasn’t freezing, but quite chilly, we all had blankets wrapped around us, we were sitting on cushions.  

And once we were all assembled on the barge, the moon was really up fully and properly, and Maharishi arrived.  He arrived and stepped onto the barge and walked right up to the seat that had been prepared for him, and then all of us were served a delicious meal of rice and various kinds of Spanish food, hot and we were expected to have our food in front of us, and then his food was brought to him and the barge was pushed off into the river current and it was being pulled by a tugboat.  The tugboat was very quiet in fact.  

The tugboat got out into the middle of the river between Portugal and Spain.  Maharishi loved to play with the idea of boundaries.  So we sat right on the boundary line right in the center of the river.  

[06:30] Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Sings A Vedic Sloka (Hymn)

The tugboat threw down its anchor, the barge also threw down some anchors, and we watched as Maharishi looked at all of us smilingly, gave a little talk and said, “Let us be together. Let us eat together, let us be vital together, Let us learn the truth and radiate life together. Never shall we denounce anyone, never shall we entertain negativity.”  

And then he chanted this in Sanskrit,

Saha nāv avatu, 

Saha nau bhunaktu, 

Saha vīryaṃ karavāvahai, 

Tejasvi nāv adhītam astu, 

Mā vidviṣāvahai.  

And I was gifted with a wonderful experience of this after opening my eyes when he finished chanting, seeing him not maybe 30 feet away from me, his head was silhouetted by the rising moon that was right behind him.  His every movement was a silhouetted move with this enormous moon behind him.  

[07:53] Chanting of Samaveda

And then he reached down and picked up his utensils and began eating his dinner.  And he wanted all of us to eat too while the food was still hot.  When everyone finished eating, he said, “Now we’ll hear some Samaveda.”  

Samaveda is a chanting of a particular branch of the Vedic knowledge which is sung by two pundits in a very resonant fashion.  Resonant is the word for it because the two of them sing in such a way, these Sanskrit phrases, that their voices together, combined together, create an overtone.  That is to say a harmonic tone, a ringing sound.  And when they acquire that ringing sound through their chanting, it is truly magical because you see two people singing and a third sound that emerges from the two voices intertwining.  

And I’d heard that for the first time that night sitting quietly, listening to Samaveda, the moon getting fuller and fuller, rising and rising and rising in the sky.  Occasionally opening my eyes and looking around at all of my new colleagues, people whom I hadn’t yet met, surrounding me.  And the moonlight falling on that river which was beautiful and glassy and the moon doubled in its power by its own reflection on the river.  It was a very, very lovely night.  

[09:29] Maharishi ushers The Dawn of a New Era

At the end of about one hour of chanting Samaveda, Marahishi began to speak, and to the new trainees who were there to become teachers of meditation, he spoke very specifically about the role that they were going to play in bringing light to the darkness of the world, and how this was going to be the beginnings of a dawn of a new era, and that we were all going to be playing a part in it with him and that his program over the next 12 weeks was going to be very, very demanding, but at the same time, full of deep experience, knowledge, and then at the end, the capability to teach others that same knowledge which we ourselves had been so happy to receive.

It was a beautiful night, I’m happy to have shared that with you.  

Jai Guru Deva.

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