The Beatles in India: ‘With their long hair and jokes, they blew our minds!’

Tout sur les Beatles

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Two new documentaries offer intriguing insights on how the Beatles’ 1967 escape to study transcendental meditation shaped the band and India, baffled the KGB – and saw Ringo survive on a diet of baked beans

In 1968, Paul Saltzman was a lost soul. The son of a Canadian TV weatherman, he was working as a sound engineer for the National Film Board of Canada in India when he received a “Dear John” letter from the woman he thought was going to be his wife. “I was devastated,” he says. “Then someone on the crew said: ‘Have you tried meditation for the heartbreak?’”

Saltzman went to see the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi – the founder of transcendental meditation – speak at New Delhi University. Emboldened by promises of “inner rejuvenation”, Saltzman then travelled to the International Academy of Meditation in Rishikesh. It was closed, due to the arrival of the Beatles.

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