Coveted Images Offer A Glimpse Inside The Ashram Left Behind By The Beatles

Echoes rebound inside the deserted rooms, but the graffiti-covered domes still reach towards the sky... Some 150 feet above the Ganges river in India lies an extraordinary piece of history. Built into the side of a cliff is an opulent 14-acre monastery, or ashram, whose hallowed halls once pulsed with peace, love and the creative energies of the most important band the world has ever seen. Now, though, it lies in ruin, its decaying walls covered in vegetation and the voices of its former inhabitants nothing but a whisper on the wind. So how did it get this way?

The Beatles beliefs

In the late 1960s the Beatles were largely responsible for bringing Eastern beliefs to the attention of Western society. At the time, the Fab Four were icons, and when they began expounding the virtues of yoga and meditation, the planet listened. It’d all begun in 1965 when the band were shooting their movie Help! in the Bahamas.

George Harrison studied Hinduism

It was here that the band encountered Swami Vishnu-Devananda, who introduced them to the concept of yoga. Guitarist George Harrison was clearly taken by the idea, and he began to look into Eastern philosophies. Wanting to learn to play the sitar, he then visited India and became dedicated to Hinduism. So much so, in fact, that Harrison’s ashes would be put in the waters of the Ganges following his death.

They imbibed their music with spiritual concepts

These Eastern teachings, often founded on ideas of peace and love, were also incorporated into the lyrics of many Beatles songs. In the second half of the 1960s this saw the band became an important part of the counterculture movement, which was famous for preaching free love and flower power. In essence, the Beatles introduced millions of Westerners to a new kind of spirituality.

Their spiritual practices saved them from drugs

Interestingly, the band’s interest in Eastern philosophy saved them from disappearing further down the rabbit hole of drugs. Harrison and John Lennon, in particular, had been exploring the use of LSD in the hope of accessing a higher plane of consciousness, thinking it would aid creativity. But the Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi would give them a method of doing this that didn’t involve taking narcotics.