Beatles Ashram

Cooper Padilla

Yesterday we left the Sri Ram Ashram to go to Rishikesh where we visited the Chaurasi Ashram, also known as the Beatles Ashram. This was where the Beatles stayed to study under the guidance of guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1968. They were there to explore a new type of mindset for growth and inspiration which was the Transcendental Meditation Technique. Their stay at this ashram ended up being the space that fostered the creation of most of “The White Album”. This made me very excited because the White Album was the first Beatles album I ever heard and is also my favorite. I am a musician and this album has been very influential to me, which enticed me even more. 

As we arrived at the Ashram, the first thing that caught my eye was these tall stone domes that were hollow inside. Later I learned that the domes were part of the Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation Technique in which the Beatles were training. Once you are in one of the domes there is no way for anyone to hear any sound you make. So they were used for a type of meditation where one chants a private mantra for twenty minutes or longer. Long meditation like this is the main concept of  the Transcendental Meditation Technique. During their stay at the ashram the Beatles were participating in meditations that sometimes lasted many hours. Fortunately I was able to climb into one of the meditation domes. The dome is constructed in such a way that the acoustics amplify any noise immensely. It was a natural reverb effect of sorts, and I wish I had a guitar with me to experiment with the vibrant sound. I was able to hear how a mantra would become very potent to a person in meditation and drown out any outside noise. 

There were many bungalows at the ashram where students would stay, but there was a specific one that the Beatles resided in. It was at the very end of the path that winded through the ashram. The bungalow was not in great condition, which was unfortunate. Supposedly the Indian government had taken control of the ashram, but was unable to take care of it. There were no windows or carpet left, only the walls which were peeling and dusty. Even though there were no inherent remnants of the Beatles, I was still overjoyed to be in the same creative space that they were once in. Knowing that I was in the same building where John Lennon wrote Dear Prudence was very special. I went up to the big flat roof that covered the bungalow to get a look at the surrounding nature. Later I learned that George Harrison would often sit on this same roof to play his guitar or sitar. It was amazing to be in a place that I had heard about so much before.