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663638 Posts in 26587 Topics by 3815 Members - Latest Member: ILikeTheBeachBoys October 30, 2020, 11:47:23 PM
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Author Topic: Hinduism and the Beach Boys  (Read 462 times)
Reverberation
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« on: October 03, 2020, 03:43:26 PM »

Hello all,

I'm planning on writing a research paper on the influence of Hinduism on the Beach Boys and their music/spirituality for my Hinduism class. I was wondering if anyone had any input or information on this topic and this particular aspect of the band. I know that it seems to have had the biggest influence on Mike Love, in particular, but also it seems to have influenced most of the other members of the group after meeting the Maharishi in 1968.

I was also wondering if it might have had an impact on Brian Wilson separately, even prior to this. Brian was an avid reader, after all, and seemed interested in things like Eastern spirituality/philosophy around this time in the mid 60s. Brian's book, Wouldn't It Be Nice (though often thought to be unreliable/discredited), mentions the Bhagavad Gita, for example. I know he was a fan of Alan Watts' The Joyous Cosmology (Watts being someone who discussed Hinduism and Eastern spiritual practices extensively). Brian was also interested in psychology (being a psych major at El Camino CC, I believe), which has a deep fascination/connection with Hinduism too. I was curious if perhaps Hinduism had any impact on his spirituality and possibly even influenced SMiLE during that whole era any. I've heard that Brian briefly practiced Subud and even meditation prior to the other members meeting the Maharishi also.

After 1968 the group seemed pretty closely aligned with the Maharishi and Transcendental Meditation, for sure. The Beatles are more known for their association with Hinduism, but honestly, the Beach Boys seemed much more genuinely interested in it than any Beatle except maybe George Harrison. Whenever the Beach Boys would talk about their religious and spiritual beliefs, they would mention aspects of their belief system that essentially pointed to a universal consciousnesses and reference other details that appear to be Hindu-inspired. Carl certainly seemed affected. I know Mike and Al remained TM devotees even after the other guys seemingly abandoned it. Mike especially seems to have adopted Hindu practices which have held over even to this day. I first encountered this reading interviews he's given over the years, talking about it and his vegetarianism, but most notably in his autobiography more recently.

Even in their music, you have songs such as "Transcendental Meditation", "TM Song", "TM", "All This Is That", as well as numerous other lyrical references in their music over the years. All This Is That, in particular, stands out, as its title and chorus comes from words uttered in the Upanishads--not to mention Carl's haunting vocal line reciting the Sanskrit phrase "Jai guru dev", in the song's ending coda. I'm sure I'm missing quite a bit more, but this is what I can think of off the top of my head. Unlike so many other bands, namely those of the 60s psychedelic era, who seemed to only be inspired by Hinduism and Eastern belief superficially, the Beach Boys seemed much more earnest and genuine in their interest.

Does anyone know of any other good sources to look into or avenues to explore in my research on this topic? I hope it's substantial enough of a topic to find much information on and write about without making too much of a stretch.

My warm and sincere thanks in advance.
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terrei
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« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2020, 05:05:05 PM »

Check out "Into the Mystic? The Undergrounding of Brian Wilson, 19641967"
« Last Edit: October 03, 2020, 05:05:33 PM by terrei » Logged
Aum Bop Diddit
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« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2020, 07:45:38 PM »

My impression that someone attending a Transcendental Meditation initiation, seminar, whatever is likely not directly connecting it to Hinduism.  I certainly didn't'when I took the course nor do I now when I meditate.  I never heard the word "Hinduism."  I was aware that the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was "marketing" a method of meditation very specifically to a Western mindset, though distilled from ancient practices.  The nature of that ancient wisdom was not specified as far as I recall.  I did know my mantra was Sanskrit syllables.  Perhaps the Beach Boys, particularly Mike Love, were indoctrinated into Hindu teachings, I don't know.  Brian's interest in books on the subject strike me as a layman's interest, similar to astrology say.  

Maybe a way to go is to establish the link from Hinduism to TM, and then from TM to the Beach Boys.  Just my take.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2020, 07:48:59 PM by Aum Bop Diddit » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2020, 07:53:54 PM »

You might find this useful:
January 11, 1968 interview with Jamake Highwater (aka Jackie Marks)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3OQ4w77l0g
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Emdeeh
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« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2020, 07:11:45 AM »

My understanding is that Mike was the only convert to Hinduism.
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Reverberation
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« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2020, 11:52:55 AM »


Very cool. I was not aware of this book, thanks.



My impression that someone attending a Transcendental Meditation initiation, seminar, whatever is likely not directly connecting it to Hinduism.  I certainly didn't'when I took the course nor do I now when I meditate.  I never heard the word "Hinduism."  I was aware that the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was "marketing" a method of meditation very specifically to a Western mindset, though distilled from ancient practices.  The nature of that ancient wisdom was not specified as far as I recall.  I did know my mantra was Sanskrit syllables.  Perhaps the Beach Boys, particularly Mike Love, were indoctrinated into Hindu teachings, I don't know.  Brian's interest in books on the subject strike me as a layman's interest, similar to astrology say. 

Maybe a way to go is to establish the link from Hinduism to TM, and then from TM to the Beach Boys.  Just my take.

I guess more specifically I meant more as far as their experience in Rishikesh, India rather than TM itself--though I believe TM (and meditation itself) has Hindu origins. Maharishi is a yogi, after all. I suppose yogis before him attempted to do a similar thing RE the Western mindset. For example, Paramahansa Yogananda, who wrote Autobiography of a Yogi. I considered this though, the fact that there isn't an obvious and explicit connection to Hinduism and the Beach Boys, but I think the foundations for a lot of these beliefs/practices are.

TM I know is largely distanced from a lot of the Hindu or often even mystical/spiritual aspects now, being recognized even by secular institutions in medicine/science as being beneficial for one's psychological well being and health. Possibly more than the Maharishi or his book, I think a lot of people know of it because of its celebrity endorsements and David Lynch's foundation, for example. I admit, I'm not very tuned in to that whole world though or very knowledgeable about its practices outside of the BB or the TM book. 

As far as Mike Love's initiation into Hindu teachings, he goes a little into it in his autobiography. The Maharishi recited shlokas, Sanskrit poems, which Mike had to learn, as well as the practice of pujas while he was there. Likewise, Mike seems familiar with the Vedas and other Hindu sacred texts as well as other Hindu practices such as Ayurveda, though I'm not sure how much of this began with his initial study of Hinduism while in India in '68. Mike definitely appears to have been the most devoted, but I assume the other guys (at least the ones who traveled to India) experienced similar teachings, though I'm not certain. I don't want to make this solely about Mike Love though.

I appreciate your input. This is exactly what I was looking for: other perspectives from those other than myself, as I'm probably quite biased in my love of the Beach Boys. As far as Brian's interest, yeah I can't say for sure. I want to say that, to me at least, he seemed like a guy willing to learn and wanted to explore more intellectual pursuits, frequenting Pickwick books in LA and apparently always carrying a rucksack full of books with him. A lot of it was probably being turned on to "hip" ideas by friends of his once he moved to LA and started hanging around beatnik hipsters and hippie types more though.

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Reverberation
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« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2020, 11:54:30 AM »

You might find this useful:
January 11, 1968 interview with Jamake Highwater (aka Jackie Marks)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3OQ4w77l0g

Oh yeah! I came across this interview a little while back and was blown away by it. Such as cool little interview from such a fascinating era of the Beach Boys' history. Brian's really into the conversation there and getting into some sort of deep concepts. Unrelated to the topic at hand, but I like how they get into Stockhausen and synthesizers at the end of the interview.

I'd forgotten that they bring up religion in that. What Brian says seems along the lines of what he had been into for a number of years by that time, before the other guys got into meditation or any of that. Brian's always seemed like a spiritual guy, but especially after that supposed LSD trip on the beach, which apparently inspired SMiLE. I remember in interviews in the 60s, Brian pointed at trying to make spiritual music like this. I couldn't find the exact quote but I distinctly remember Brian saying something along the lines of wanting to create music people could pray to and was working on a new spiritual sound, something like "pure white light", or something to the effect, though I couldn't find the source of that with a quick cursory search.

I guess you could say a lot of this was a result of Derek Taylor or especially after the Jules Siegel article, Goodbye Surfing, Hello God, but I think it's more than just that. In that interview you posted, Brian seems to lean more toward a non-denominational, spiritual-but-not-religious, conception of religion when it's brought up by the interview. I think the rest of the band had similar views. I recall an interview or two by Carl Wilson, probably from the 70s, where Carl elaborates on his and the group's conception of spirituality and religion. Carl also appeared to be an incredibly spiritual person as well. I'm pretty sure some of these are in Domenic Priore's Look! Listen! Vibrate! SMILE! book, I'll have to go through that again and look for them.


My understanding is that Mike was the only convert to Hinduism.

I suspected that this might be the case. He's the only one who seems to have gone all the way with it, but I was curious if perhaps the other guys had taken aspects of Hinduism and integrated it into their own spiritual beliefs.
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thetojo
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« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2020, 01:16:29 PM »

It seems that TM is certainly based on Hinduism, notwithstanding the TM movement's denial of this for many years.

If you could speak to someone who has been a TM teacher but has left the movement, that might get you what you want to know.
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