Category Archives: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Book Review: “The Beatles in India” by Paul Saltzman

Beatles in India Paul SaltzmanThe Beatles in India by Paul Saltzman is 104 pages of the author’s unplanned encounter with the Beatles, their wives, girlfriends, Donovan, and Mike Love at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh, India in 1968. This book was originally published as a limited edition in 2005, but was revised and rereleased on February 13, 2018. I picked this book up while I was at the Beatles’ White Album Symposium at Monmouth University in November. Paul Saltzman was also there and I must admit that I’m sorry I didn’t get him to sign this when I had the chance.

Though mostly a picture book, the first 16 pages of this book are a Foreword by Pattie Boyd (along with a couple of her photos from the same time at the ashram), an Preface by Tim B. Wride (a photography curator for a museum) and an introduction by the author who talks about how he ended up at the ashram with the Beatles. Mr. Saltzman’s story about how he ended up in India and at the ashram at the same time as the Fab Four is actually quite interesting. The author could have chosen to just put out a collection of photographs, but instead invited us into his life and also the life of the Beatles while they were trying to escape the press and pressures of fame. His casual conversations with John, Paul, George, Ringo and their significant others shows us another side of the people we think we know from the stories we’ve read before.

I’m sorry to say, I wasn’t as impressed with the photos as I thought I would be. Don’t get me wrong…they’re beautiful photos, but I’ve seen them before. Now they’re just larger and not on a computer screen. The author/photographer also seemed to spend a lot of time photographing John and Paul, but I guess we need to also cut him some slack because he wasn’t actually a photographer, just a guy who happened to be in the right place at the right time with a camera.

The book ends with the Afterword by Donovan Leitch and anyone who knows me or read my review of Donovan’s autobiography knows I’m not a fan of his and as I suspected he seemed to have a hard time not making the whole thing about himself…again! Paul Saltzman says he was a soft spoken guy, but if you ask Susan Shumsky, the author of Maharishi and Me, she’ll tell you a different story about meeting Donovan during her time at the ashram. But I digress…

All in all, this is a beautiful book with a great story of a heartbroken man with a camera stumbling upon the biggest celebrities in the world in 1968 and becoming their friends for a short time. If you’re a collector of Beatles books, you can buy the special limited edition for $325 on the authors website…or you can buy the super deluxe limited edition for $875. I think I’ll stick to my $35 copy. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

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Book Review: “Maharishi and Me: Seeking Enlightenment with the Beatles’ Guru” by Susan Shumsky

On September 3rd, I received an email asking if I’d be interesting in being part of a Blog Tour for a new book. The subject line of the email was “NEW BOOK: The Beatles’ India – sex scandals & mental breakdowns (Inside Story)”. As a publicist who works with authors, a book that was released seven months earlier is not considered a new book…but what the hell. Also, I had the pleasure of meeting the author, Susan Shumsky, last week at the Beatles’ White Album Symposium at Monmouth University in New Jersey. I introduced myself and told her I would be reviewing her book. We had a brief conversation, I attended one of her talks and then said our goodbyes at the end of the seminar.

Maharishi & Me: Seeking Enlightenment with the Beatles’ Guru by Susan Shumsky was released on February 13, 2018.  It’s a 300+ page book about the author’s experience with the same Maharishi that the Beatles spent time with in 1968. The book is very well written and an easy read. Of course, you may get tripped up on all the Hindu terminology, but not enough to distract too much from her personal story of following and living at the ashram of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and practicing transcendental meditation for over 20 years.

Now for the more personal side of this review…and strictly my opinion: There are many times throughout Susan’s story that the word ‘cult’ would come to my mind. Even the author herself brings up the topic along the way, but easily finds ways of dismissing it at times. It can become almost disturbing to the reader and I still haven’t come to terms with her justification of some of the things that she brings to light about the Maharishi’s organization. Even after being kicked out of the TM organization, she still supports the Maharishi to the very end.

But was John Lennon correct when he called the Maharishi a fraud? Well, this is also left open to interpretation. Ms. Shumsky spends several chapters in the middle of her book discussing the Beatles involvement and visit to India to meet with Maharishi at his ashram. She draws the stories from other sources since she wasn’t there to obtain any first hand knowledge. She also draws upon stories from people she knows who were there. In a court of law, a lot of this would all be considered hearsay. My thought is to take what she says, along with any other sources you may have read and develop your own opinion. Or…maybe not, because in the end, does any of it really matter? I think it’s up to the reader to decide what’s right for them when it comes to their personal religious beliefs and not be influenced by celebrity endorsements…or condemnations. Even Susan says in her book that you have to find the right guru for you, so you’ll either find her story about TM impressive or disturbing.

Susan Shumsky does a great job of opening the readers eyes to the making (and life) of a guru by someone who was actually there to witness it. She tells both the good and bad. The stories of her experiences are heartwarming, funny, disturbing and told with a lot of strength. Yes, I would highly recommend that you read this book if you’re a true Beatles fans or just someone considering TM or just wants a first hand experience of what it’s like inside the ashram. It’s a book that can create a lot of discussions about gurus, religion and God. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

***For more information on Susan Shumsky, go to www.DivineRevelations.org

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