FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. -- June 11, 1996
In a recent world-wide conference call, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi predicted imminent biologic and genetic warfare on a global scale will break out between the major industrialized countries within weeks.
The Maharishi is best known as the "Giggling Guru" who brought Transcendental Meditation (TM) to the Beatles, Mia Farrow, and other '60s celebrities. He also taught Dr. Deepak Chopra, the well-known New Age and alternative health guru. Most recently, he urged his followers to found the Natural Law Party, headed by Dr. John Hagelin in the United States.
The Cult Awareness Network, TranceNet, and other watchdog organizations have reported complaints of cult-like activity within the Transcendental Meditation movement have increased recently.
According to attendants of the closed conference call in Fairfield, Iowa, on or about May 27, the Maharishi claimed, "If we don't act today, there may not be a tomorrow." He spoke of the horrific impact of genetic and biological weapons that he believed will be released in a devastating global war within weeks.
John Knapp, editor of TranceNet, an Internet publication critical of the Maharishi, commented, "This is a very dangerous signal. Cult leaders frequently use apocalyptic announcements to 'gather the faithful.'" He pointed out that similar announcements preceded mass deaths at Jonestown, Waco, Aum Shinrikyo, and Solar Temple and other tragedies.
In the last decade, the Maharishi has turned his attention away from Transcendental Meditation, the relaxation technique that made him famous. He has founded a controversial alternative health care system based on India's ancient Ayur Vedic folk medicine, inspired the Natural Law Party, and most recently focused on what he claims are the dire consequences of genetic engineering.
According to sources present in Fairfield, the Maharishi warned his followers particularly about genetically altered food, saying, "The gene is the intelligence value of the system. If you ingest the intelligence value of genetically engineered food, it doesn't fit with your body's intelligence. Those who eat these foods had better pray for evolution in the next lifetime, because they will not live to see enlightenment in this lifetime."
In recent months, the Natural Law Party, headed by John Hagelin in the United States, has also warned about the dangers of genetic engineering. According to Bob Roth, a spokesman at the Natural Law Party headquarters, "There has been extensive coverage about TM and the party. It's no secret this is the TM party."
In 1992, the Maharishi urged his followers to enter global politics to avert coming global calamity. At his direction, leaders of the Transcendental Meditation movement founded the Natural Law Party and entered political campaigns in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, and many other countries.
The thrust of the Natural Law Party's platform has been securing government funding for teaching Transcendental Meditation to American citizens and outlawing genetic engineering and other research they view as environmentally dangerous. The Natural Law Party has undergone surprising growth in 1996 and has qualified for the election ballot in more states than Ross Perot's Reform Party -- although they have been the target of investigation in California for registration fraud.
TM and other programs of the Maharishi have been found to be religious in several U.S. federal court cases. Yet the Natural Law Party may be eligible for as much as $15 million in campaign matching funds.
"I talked with a TM teacher and congressional candidate of the Natural Law Party recently," said Michael Garvey of Worcester, Massachusetts. "He said it was just like the Green Party, concerned about environmental issues. But as a former TM practitioner myself, I knew his story didn't add up."
According to conference call attendees, the Maharishi has called for an emergency "Maharishi Vedic University Project" to avert the apocalypse he sees coming. The "Project" apparently consists of gathering teams of 50 to 100 Transcendental Meditation governors who are traveling to Central American and other Third World countries to found branches of Maharishi Vedic University. The Maharishi claimed that this project could avert the coming disaster, although he apparently gave no details of how this might be accomplished.
Kathy Brooks, of the office of the president at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, confirmed that the TM movement is organizing a "Maharishi Vedic University Project" on an emergency basis, but declined to give any details. "All information is available from your local Maharishi Vedic University on a need-to-know basis only. Maharishi has special instructions for each local community and isn't encouraging communities to share details."
"This is a frightening turn of events," said John Knapp. "Anybody who lived through Jonestown and Aum can't fail to see the parallels. The Maharishi is creating small isolated groups of dedicated fanatics. Without contact with the outside world, they're being charged to carry out a mysterious apocalyptic vision. The Maharishi has never before painted such a doomsday scenario in my experience. It looks very bad. I hope that the authorities and the media take this situation very seriously so that a tragedy may be avoided."
A former TMer was reached for comment. Declining to be identified because he fears reprisal from what he considers a destructive cult, he said, "I don't understand what is happening. My ex-wife is a TM teacher. Suddenly she's arranging to sell her house. I'm worried for my kids."
- CONTACT: trancenet.net
- John M. Knapp, Executive Director
(C) Copyright 1996, John M. Knapp. All rights reserved.