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Learning English - Words in the News
06 February, 2008 - Published 14:00 GMT
Indian yoga guru dies
Yogic flying, or levitation, is practised by the Maharishi's devotees
Yogic flying, or levitation, is practised by the devotees

The man who brought the appeal of Eastern meditation to the Western world has died. In the 1960s, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi became world famous almost overnight and, over the years, he has built up a following of about six million people worldwide. This report from Chris Jones:

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The Maharishi's promises of better health and spiritual enlightenment struck a chord with many celebrities. The Beatles were spending a weekend with him in north Wales, when their manager, Brian Epstein, killed himself in 1967. John, Paul and Ringo soon tired of his message, while George Harrison switched to the Hare Krishna movement, but the Maharishi's business empire spread from Delhi to America.

His vast home in the Netherlands became a tourist attraction and transmitted courses on meditation via a global cable channel. British and European elections in the 90s were brightened by the yogic-flying candidates of the Natural Law Party, closely allied to the Maharishi's beliefs.

His movement, officially non-profit-making, is said to be worth at least two billion pounds. Any questions to the guru about the contradictions of his lifestyle brought a simple answer: "Just be yourself".

Chris Jones, BBC

Listen to the words

spiritual enlightenment struck a chord with many celebrities
a lot of famous people were attracted to the possibility of gaining a deep understanding of religious beliefs and teachings

soon tired of his message
quickly became bored with his teachings

large, very big

transmitted courses on meditation
broadcast lessons on how to think about only one thing, in a religious way, so that you become calm and relaxed

made more interesting and colourful

yogic-flying candidates
people who wanted to be elected as politicians who said that by meditating they could fly

closely allied to
had strong ties with, had a close relationship with

a religious teacher or leader

contradictions of his lifestyle
the way he lived his life (with his large house etc.) seemed to be the opposite of what he taught (encouraging people to follow a simple, religious life)

Just be yourself
behave in your usual manner, rather than behaving in a way you think other people might like or expect; be true to yourself

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For teachers
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