TM Marketing Timeline

Guest contributor Michael H. Jackson has written this thought-provoking article for TM-Free Blog.  Thanks, Michael!

TIMELINE:  Maharishi Sells the Soporific of TM and All Its Adjunct Programs

1950’s:  Maharishi begins to sell TM; tells people they can live 200% of life and even get enlightened.

Beginning in 1961:  Maharishi begins to market his teacher training courses to train people to teach TM, in essence giving him as many salesmen and saleswomen as possible all over the world to sell him and his brand of meditation, and later all his other goods, products and services. He also begins offering and selling in-residence courses to give people longer experience in meditation.

1967:  After announcing he is retiring back to India, he meets the Beatles, and every reporter in the world shoves a camera and microphone in his face.

1967 on:  Capitalizing on his Beatles-fueled notoriety, Maharishi continues to sell TM as a means of spiritual rejuvenation. At some point Maharishi sells “advanced techniques” for the devoted to accelerate their race to enlightenment, including techniques to sleep better and quit smoking. Maharishi also, in response to questions about time, states that 3-5 years is how long it takes to get enlightened through the practice of TM. This time frame is later expanded to 10 years or more after many complain they have been meditating longer than 5 years and are still not enlightened.

Early 1970’s:  Maharishi realizes that all the long-haired hippies who are coming to him asking all kinds of spiritual questions are not going to give him what he wants.  He realizes it’s their parents who have the money, so he begins to market TM to “the responsible people of society” from the cradle of science – and dubious pseudo-science at that.

Merv Griffin learns TM and gives Maharishi a big boost by having him on Merv’s talk show.  Lots of people get initiated into TM on the strength of their love for Merv.

Early to mid-1970’s:  Maharishi continues to use celebrity endorsements from Clint Eastwood, Mary Tyler Moore and others to try to keep the Merv wave going. It doesn’t last long.

1974:  With initiations and therefore revenues down, Maharishi secretly begins to experiment on TM teachers, charging them for the privilege of being human guinea pigs on expensive courses as Maharishi develops his own version of the sutra yoga of Patanjali. Very secret.

1976:  Ignoring the massive amounts of physical and emotional distress (called “unstressing” by Maharishi) that some initiators experience during the sutras courses, Maharishi directs all TM centers to reveal the TM-Sidhi Program for regular folks. TM loses much of its scientifically-backed credibility upon Maharishi’s announcement that he can teach people to fly. Many people, including some TM teachers, distance themselves from TM at this time.

But Maharishi knows what he is doing, because those who are left in the TM fold, who can stomach his ridiculous and unfounded claims, could possibly (and hopefully, from his point of view,) be hooked for life. Maharishi claims that the TM-Sidhi practice is “10,000 times more powerful” than practicing TM alone.

The race to inner space is on, and those who have the money rush to become supermen or superwomen through the practice of the TM-Sidhis. Maharishi markets the new program at one point with exactly that blandishment: “Learn TM-Sidhis to become a superman.”

Due to intense and ongoing physical and mental distress (still called “unstressing”) on the part of MANY participants of the new program, Maharishi announces that from now on, one has to take OTHER courses, such as the TM-Sidhi Preparatory courses, to qualify for the TM-Sidhis themselves. Odd that an enlightened man couldn’t have foreseen that happening. More money is taken in through the TM-Sidhi Prep courses.

Late 1970’s to early 1980’s:  Problems crop up with TM-Sidhi revenues.  People begin to question how a program that is 10,000 times more powerful than TM alone, which in itself is supposed to bring enlightenment within 10 years, has not yet produced any enlightened individuals. Also no one actually levitates, which brings up more questions.

Maharishi states that there are stages of levitation, hopping like frogs being the first.  He later amends that to shaking being the first and hopping being the second.  Since people are already at stage 2 (hopping like frogs on floors covered with thick foam), Maharishi claims that very soon people will be flying above the taxis, and that TM teachers will be running to the mountains to get away from all the people who want to learn TM.

Maharishi shifts the emphasis from getting enlightened more quickly through TM-Sidhi practice to the effect of the practice of TM-Sidhis in groups. Maharishi claims group practice will reduce negativity in the spiritual and psychic atmosphere, and eventually lead to world peace – another fine marketing ploy to redirect TM believers’ attention away from what they are not getting to promises of future rewards. Maharishi emphasizes the importance of living and working in the same locale so as to be able to practice “program” together. This also has the effect of concentrating the people who are contributing regular revenue to Maharishi into a group that can help manage group point of view to keep the believers believing.

1986:  Revenues need a boost.  Maharishi reveals that he, with his amazing enlightened consciousness, has delved into and revealed the full value of natural law in the ancient Indian system of health care called ayurveda. Of all the rishis and holy men and women in India, only Maharishi was able to revive the real deal of ancient ayurveda that had fallen into corruption over the years. 

(A little research will reveal that Maharishi actually didn’t cognize or know anything about ayurveda, and relied on ayurvedic practitioners like Dwivedi, Balraj Maharishi and Triguna, whom he flattered into working for him.)

“Maharishi Ayurveda” gives a plentiful opportunity to market goods and services to true believers who were once told that all they needed to lead a high-quality life was TM 20 minutes twice a day.

Ayurvedic consultations, herbal formulas, massages and various therapies are marketed and sold.

A month or two after ayurveda is rolled out, Maharishi reveals that another part of ayurveda is jyotish, a form of astrology practiced in India. This was after years of Maharishi warning TM meditators not to do or be involved with astrology.  Maharishi never gives any explanation on why astrology is suddenly acceptable, except to say that his “Maharishi Jyotish” is superior to Western astrology.

Now Maharishi and the TM Movement recommend that everyone get a yearly jotish chart done to improve the quality of one’s life and be able to discern if one has any negative karma that one could then alleviate with jyotish remedies. These remedies include wearing very expensive gemstones, using certain kinds of mantras to curry favor with whatever planet is out of whack in your jyotish chart, and having Hindu sacrifices or prayers called “yagyas” done for you regularly.  Yagyas cost from $1,000 to $1,000,000 apiece.

What came to be known with typical hubris as “Maharishi Yagyas” becomes an important source of revenue for Maharishi and the TM Movement.

1970’s or 1980’s:  Maharishi solicits funds for constructing many different kinds of buildings called by various names that purport to have various purposes. Most of these are never built,  and no accounting is ever given as to the whereabouts of the funds that had been raised for them. Most of the ones that are built fall into disuse or are sold. This includes Maharishi Veda Land, a vedic-themed fantasy park that the TM movement heavily marketed, promoted and raised money for. It was never built.

1986 on:  The emphasis is on selling TM, TM-Sidhis, teacher training courses, various kinds of in-residence courses, ayurveda and all its herbal and massage and consultation products, jyotish charts and jyotish remedies, especially yagyas, for unpleasant karma. At one point a “vedic observatory” was offered, or rather a plastic model of an astronomical observatory that supposedly was used in ancient India. This was offered for several thousand dollars, and all one had to do was look at it a few minutes a day to get the good vibrations from it.

1990’s:  Maharishi announces to his TM teachers that the emphasis is to be on selling TM and all its adjunct programs to the millionaires and billionaires of the world. From time to time Maharishi asks the wealthy people of the world and the governments of the world to give him huge amounts of money so that he can formulate courses to create world peace. The amounts he requests range from $20 million to $1 billion.

1990’s(?):  Maharishi begins to offer various healing techniques from various Indian healers, using what sound like shamanic techniques – blowing the breath on the client, making various kinds of sounds directed toward certain parts of the client’s body and so on. These cost from several hundred dollars to more than a thousand for each session.

1990’s and 2000’s:  Maharishi continually exhorts the world to give him money to create permanent groups of people practicing the TM-Sidhi program and Maharishi Yagya program. Much money is donated, few of the groups are ever created.

2000:  Maharishi creates the “Global Country of World Peace,” a non-existent country that exists only in the minds of the true believers in Maharishi and everything he says. This is interesting because in…

2002:  Maharishi creates what he calls “the global development currency Raam Mudra.” The Raam is a generally unrecognized and nearly unusable currency that Maharishi claims he created to alleviate poverty in the world. The only places the Raam is used are in TM facilities and communities. In these communities, one Raam is said to be worth ten US dollars. The TM organization attempts to sell the Raam to anyone who will buy it.

2004:  Maharishi and Dr. Benjamin Feldman, Minister of Finance and Planning of the Global Country of World Peace, announce that the Raam development currency is now backed by gold. No word is given on who owns the gold or where the gold is located.

Today the TM organization says, “Some might claim that since there is no gold or other material asset backing up the issue of the complementary currency, it will lead to inflation. This is not a valid argument, because the RAAM is backed by material assets—the new and more profitable crops that can be grown in the nation’s precious soil, and the underutilized energy and creativity of the people of the nation.”  Source

No word from the TM movement as to what happened to the gold that once backed the Raam currency.

2005:  Maharishi creates the Raja training courses. Maharishi charges $1,000,000 per person for these courses.

He also tells all TM teachers (whom Maharishi has retitled “Governors of the Age of Enlightenment”) that they will no longer be permitted to teach TM until they take a “Refresher and Recertification Course.” The TM teachers are required to pay for this out of their own pockets at a cost of a couple thousand dollars per person.

2005-2006:  Maharishi rolls out yet another fabulous aspect of the vedas, this time called sthapatya veda, the “science” of vedic architecture, an Indian version of feng shui that promises all sorts of benefits for people who live in a home with a proper alignment and orientation.

Maharishi claims that he suddenly realized that the whole world needed to redesign all buildings in the world to conform not just to ancient Indian ideas of architecture, but to HIS version. 

Maharishi is very clear that not any kind of sthapatya veda or vastu veda would do, only his brand, appropriately called “Maharishi Sthapatya Veda.” All others are off-base. Maharishi is also very adamant that if one lives or works in a building with a south-facing entrance, all sorts of problems would occur in that individual’s life and family.

No word on why TM (which was once all one needed to improve life on all physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and relationship levels) and the TM-Sidhi program (which is 10,000 times more powerful than TM alone) would be ineffective if one were not living in a Maharishi Vastu Veda home.

2008:  Maharishi dies.  Since that time, the leaders of the TM movement are using David Lynch and his foundation to market TM as a scientifically-backed and proven program. They are attempting to sanitize the image of TM using the exact same marketing techniques and even the same language that was used by the TM movement in the early 1970’s.

Using celebrity endorsements and TM practitioners who are placed in news media outlets such as Soledad Obrien, George Stephanopoulos and various writers for the Huffington Post, they are marketing pre-TM- Sidhis-program TM, ignoring or minimizing all the other programs and aspects of the TM movement. It is my understanding that when potential students visit Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa for their Visitors Weekend, the gold-crowned, silk-robed “rajas” who administer the TM movement are never seen nor mentioned, just to pick one example.

I may have missed some things, but that’s a part of the TM timeline as it has unfolded.


Michael H. Jackson is a former TM junkie who feels learning TM was one of the biggest mistakes he ever made. He lives in South Carolina running his own computer repair business and working part time as a freelance writer.