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Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 26, 1968

Paul McCartney leaves Rishikesh

Paul McCartney, Jane Asher and Neil Aspinall left Rishikesh on this day for England, having spent more than a month studying meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

I came back after four or five weeks knowing that was like my allotted period, thinking, No, well, no, I won't go out and become a monk but it was really very interesting and I will continue to meditate and certainly feel it was a very rewarding experience.

They touched down back in the UK the following morning, arriving at London Airport. Paul and Jane spoke briefly to reporters at the airport.

Q: Well you look very happy. Do you feel better after five weeks of meditation?

Paul McCartney: Yes, yes, I feel a lot better, except for the flight, you know. That's quite long. I'm a bit shattered, but the meditation is great!

You sit down, you relax, and then you repeat a sound to yourself. It sounds daft, but it's just a system of relaxation, and that's all it is. There's nothing more to it. We meditated for about five hours a day in all. Two hours in the morning and maybe three hours in the evening, and then, for the rest of the time, we slept, ate, sunbathed and had fun.

Q: One Indian MP accused the camp where you stayed as being an espionage centre, and you, in fact, as being a spy for the West.

Paul McCartney: Yes, it's true. Yes, we are spies. The four of us are spies. Actually, I'm a reporter and I joined The Beatles for that very reason. The story is out next week in a paper which shall be nameless.

Q: Jane, did you go for a holiday or did you go to meditate as well?

Jane Asher: Oh, to meditate.

Q: And what effect did it have on you? This, I presume, is your first big meditation experience?

Jane Asher: Yes. I think it calms you down. It's hard to tell because it was so different, you know, the life out there. It'd be easy to tell now that I'm back, or when we're doing ordinary things, to see just what it does.

Q: We've heard about the extreme poverty that exists in India. Presumably you saw some of that?

Paul McCartney: Yes, oh yes. I don't equate it, you know, because it's nothing to do with it, you know. The idea is to stop poverty at its root. You see, if we just give handouts to people, it'll just stop the problems for a day, or a week, you know. But, in India, there's so many people, you really need all of America's money to pour into India to solve it, you know. So, you've got to get to the cause of it and persuade all the Indians to start working and, you know, start doing things. Their religions, it's very fatalistic, and they just sit down and think, 'God said, this is it, so it's too bad to do anything about it.' The Maharishi's trying to persuade them that they can do something about it.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 25, 1968

The Beatles are still in India.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 24, 1968

John Lennon, India, 1968

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 23, 1968

George Harrison and John Lennon sit on rocks by a river in Rishikesh while studying transcendental meditation. 

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 22, 1968

The Beatles are in India.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 21, 1968

The Beatles are still meditating under the Maharishi in India.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 20, 1968

The Beatles are in India and their approach to meditation was marked by a friendly competitiveness among the four band members. Lennon was complimentary about Harrison's progress, saying: "The way George is going, he'll be flying a magic carpet by the time he's forty." While Lennon was "evangelical in his enthusiasm for the Maharishi", according to his wife, Cynthia, she herself was "a little more sceptical". Cynthia later wrote that she "loved being in India" and had hoped she and Lennon would "rediscover our lost closeness"; to her disappointment, however, Lennon became "increasingly cold and aloof". The Lennons' room contained a "four-poster bed, a dressing table, a couple of chairs and an electric fire". Lennon played guitar, while his wife drew pictures and wrote poetry between their long meditation sessions. After two weeks Lennon asked to sleep in a separate room, saying he could only meditate when he was alone. Meanwhile, he walked to the local post office every morning to check for Ono's almost daily telegrams. One of these telegrams read: "Look up at the sky and when you see a cloud think of me".

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 19, 1968

Today singer Donovan travels to India and joins the Beatles to study transcendental meditation under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 18, 1968

US single release: Lady Madonna

US single release: Lady Madonna

The single was released as Capitol 2138. As with the UK version, it had George Harrison's The Inner Light on the b-side.

Lady Madonna was not a great commercial success in America, and only managed to reach number four in the charts. It was, however, the last Beatles single to be released on Capitol; subsequent ones were one their own Apple label.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: March 17, 1968

Pattie Harrison celebrates her 24th birthday in India

Pattie Harrison celebrates her 24th birthday in India. George Harrison's wife Pattie celebrated her 24th birthday on this day in Rishikesh, India.

A number of photographs from this day were published in April 1968 in an edition of British music magazine Disc And Music Echo. They included Pattie being given her birthday cake, The Beatles with local entertainer Shah Jahan and flautist friend Paul Horn, George Harrison checking a yogi's pulse, and Paul McCartney playing a tamboura.