John Lennon Part 1 - Lennon and the Indian Gurus

The fifty something but attractive looking woman from Brazil had named herself Aananda. Her real name was Minha Amiga. She loved the concept of Aanandam in the Indian religious thoughts so much that she changed her name to Aananda. She had never come to India, but she considered herself an Indian. Namaste was her usual way of greeting. Her infatuation with India was because of her belief that India was a spiritual land and a nation of Gurus.

She knew only Portuguese and practically no English. She got in touch with me through my website. I too conversed with her for a while through the help of an online translation service. The reason she cited for getting in touch with me was curious, to say the least. She imagined, after a look at my photograph, that I must be an Indian Guru. After putting her own facile construction on sentences like ‘Let the music set you free’ in my articles on music, she concluded that I am putting forward some kind of Indian spiritual axiom!

I thought I will play along for sometime and told her that I too was a kind of Guru. But she took me seriously and started addressing me in forms like ‘My Lord’. She started beseeching me to give her a ‘spiritual awakening’ and ‘aanandam’. This frightened me sufficiently to tell her that I was no Guru. She merely said: “No Guru calls himself a Guru”.

She felt that my words had magical and soothing effect! Obviously, something must have gone wrong in the online translation! She started asking me about the many Indian rites and their implications. In particular, she wanted to know about the extraordinary strength imparted by Nirvana Pooja. I can hardly blame her. Swami Amrita Chaitanya who had his female devotees dancing in the nude at midnight and Mata Divya Joshi who gave Darshan in the nude to her male devotees were internationally ‘famous’. One can only pity the devotees. Recently Amrita Chaitanya was arrested and put in jail. Divya Joshi committed suicide when caught for financial fraud running into crores.

But who cares? Babas materializing ashes, Matas who bless with embraces and kisses, Nithyananda Gurus who heal by touch and sex, the post-modern marketing wizards who teach the art of living are among some of the most internationally ‘famous’ Indian Gurus. Visit any of the ashrams of these ‘famous’ Indians, you are more likely to find foreigners than Indians. And do not be surprised if you find famous authors, musicians and cine artistes among them. It needs intellectuals and creative people more than ordinary men to fall for such Godmen. If only you pause to think, it is easy to see through these fake Gurus. But then, as Richard Dawkins said: “Religion is the process of not thinking”.

White men coming to India in search of 'Wisdom and Spiritual Liberation' is nothing new. But, barring a few most end up at the ashrams of charlatans and frauds. The music band Beatles, who shook the world in the 1960s with their magical music, were no exception. Beatles headed by John Lennon, who created some of the most popular and influential songs in the history of pop music, visited the ashram of Maharshi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh in 1968. This Yogi is supposed to be the guru of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the Chairman and Managing Director of Art of Living Inc. Before visiting India John Lennon had sung thus:

India, India, take me to your heart
Reveal your ancient mysteries to me
I'm searchin' for an answer,
But I know I'll never find it here
I am following my heart wherever it takes me…

Here we find the reason for the rich and famous among Westerners coming to India. Did John Lennon find his answers in Mahesh Yogi who ‘invented’ Transcendent Meditation? Beatles who had come for a three-month stay returned midway. It was said that Mahesh Yogi had tried to sexually molest the singer and actress Mia Farrow when she was alone with him. She was the only woman in the group to have come alone. Others had come with their boy friends or husbands. When angry John Lennon was leaving the Ashram, Maharshi Mahesh Yogi wanted to know the reason for his leaving. John Lennon had burst out: “Aren’t you the cosmic Guru? Don’t you know?”