London, Feb 7 (PTI) Former Beatle Ringo Starr today paid rich tribute to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the band's one-time spiritual guru who passed away at his home in the Netherlands, describing him as one of the "wisest men he has met in life".
"One of the wisest men I met in my life was the Maharishi. I always was impressed by his joy and truly believe he knows where he is going," the former Beatle said in a brief statement.
The Maharishi died peacefully in his sleep on Tuesday evening due to "natural causes, his age" in the Dutch town of Vlodrop. He was thought to be 91.
A memorial service is being held in Vlodrop today before the Maharishi's body is flown back to India for a funeral by the Ganges.
Though the physicist-turned spiritual guru introduced the Transcendental Meditation movement to the West in 1959, Yogi rose to popularity when the Beatles travelled to India to learn the mind control technique at his Ashram in the Himalayas in 1968.
Starr, however, returned home after 10 days, while the rest of the group stayed, joined by other celebrities including Mick Jagger, Donovan and Mia Farrow.
The band, however, fell out with the Maharishi soon thereafter over rumours that he had made inappropriate sexual advances towards Mia Farrow.
The spiritual guru transformed his interpretations of ancient vedic scriptures into a multi-million dollar global empire and went on to built up a following of about six million people worldwide, including celebrities like Beach Boys, singer Donovan, Clint Eastwood and avant-garde filmmaker David Lynch.
"Maharishi's work is complete," a statement issued by Transcendental Meditation movement, which was founded by him, said.
"He has done what he set out to do in 1957 -- to lay the foundation for a peaceful world. Now Maharishi is being welcomed with open arms into heaven," it added.
Born in Madhya Pradesh, the Maharishi, whose real name was Mahesh Prasad Verma, graduated in physics from Allahabad University before devoting himself to spiritual enlightenment.
In 1955, the Maharishi began publicly teaching a traditional meditation technique through chanting of Sanskrit mantras, which he later renamed as Transcendental Meditation.
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