Yogi's legacy lives on

REVERED by some, mocked by many, but today the Maharishi's legacy lives on in Suffolk.Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a guru to the Beatles who introduced the West to transcendental meditation in the swinging sixties, died at his home in the Netherlands this week at the age of 91.

REVERED by some, mocked by many, but today the Maharishi's legacy lives on in Suffolk.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a guru to the Beatles who introduced the West to transcendental meditation in the swinging sixties, died at his home in the Netherlands this week at the age of 91.

His ideas and projects attracted enormous publicity over the years - and he founded a worldwide organisation which is still going strong.

One of his foundation's great strengths was its ability to put its ideas into practice, and one of these is the Garden Village, which opened at Rendlesham last year.


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Fifteen years ago, when Bentwaters closed, the Maharishi Foundation was one of the early bidders for the former American air base.

It wanted to use it for yogic flying - but its project never got off the ground.

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After extensive negotiations, the plans for a University of Natural Law, providing courses for mainstream study but also many alternative subjects, plus housing and some low-key business use, faded away and the reasons it never took off were never made clear.

Yogic flying was demonstrated at Ipswich Town Hall by members of the Natural Law party, which fought several election seats in the 1990s, but the bouncing along rubber mats by cross-legged meditators only drew criticism and amusement.

But the movement kept its eye on Rendlesham and last year completed a development which it hopes will be the first of many around the country.

The 30 houses and 24 apartments which make up the Garden Village off Sycamore Drive are designed specifically to give their owners peace, prosperity and good health, based on the teachings promoting cosmic harmony.

All of the homes are built so their main entrances face east because the designers say “the energy from the sun is at its greatest and most vital when rising and, thus bringing greatest benefits to the health, affluence and vitality of the occupants”.

The designs are based on those of Maharishi Sthapatya Veda - architecture in line with natural law where the sun, moon and planets, poles and equator have a bearing on the setting and planning of buildings - and were endorsed by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Explaining the project, MSV Homes' administrator Henry Wilson said: “There have been a number of individual homes built around the country on these principles but this is the first development like this and we hope to be able to do more in time.

“Most of the homes are built around a central garden and the lay-out of the rooms and proportions of the rooms are all based on the Vedic principles for design.”

Have you tried transcendental meditation - did it work? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

FASTFACTS: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Maharishi was born Mahesh Srivastava in central India, reportedly on January 12, 1917 - though he refused to confirm the date or discuss his early life.

He studied physics at Allahabad University before becoming secretary to a well known Hindu holy man. After the death of his teacher, Maharishi went into a nomadic two-year retreat of silence in the Himalayan foothills of northern India.

With his background in physics, he brought his message to the West in a language that mixed the occult and science that became the buzz of college campuses. He described TM as “the unified field of all the laws of nature'”.

The movement really took off after the Beatles attended one of his lectures in 1967 and visited his ashram in India in 1968, bringing along such famous friends as Mick Jagger and Donovan.

In 1971, Maharishi founded a university in Fairfield, Iowa, that taught meditation alongside the arts and sciences to 700 students and served organic vegetarian food in its cafeterias.

In 1990 he moved to the grounds of a historic Franciscan monastery in Vlodrop, 125 miles south east of Amsterdam, staying in just two rooms, speaking only by video to aides around the world and even to his closest advisers in the same building.

FASTFACTS: Cosmic homes at Rendlesham's Garden Village

All the rooms of the houses - study, kitchen, dining room, lounge and so on - are positioned so the organs of the body are perfectly placed to carry out their functions, according to Maharishi Sthapatya Veda.

Only natural materials are used - painted wood, bricks, rammed earth, clay stucco, marble tiles, natural fibre carpets, curtains and furniture, and non-toxic paints, glues and wallpaper.

Each house is situated in its own Vastu - a precisely-dimensioned space, with a low fence or wall which works as a protective outer skin.

Inside each home there is a Brahmasthan - a silent space where if a person stands they can feel connected to the universe.

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