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Transcendental Meditation: Mental Relaxation or Hindu Religion?

Transcendental Meditation and Hinduism vs. the BibleIs Transcendental Meditation (TM), as promoted by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, just a mental technique to promote relaxation, energy, health, and coping with stress? How does it compare to the Bible? Is it a New Age form of Oriental Hindu Religion? How does TM compare with the doctrines of Hinduism regarding the nature of God, the divinity of man, reincarnation, karma, and liberation? 

What is the importance in TM of a mantra, the puja, and Hindu deities? Should a Christian practice Transcendental Meditation, or does it oppose Bible teaching?


Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a form of meditation in which a person repeats a word called a "mantra" twenty minutes at a time, twice daily.

It was popularized by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in a series of seven sessions under the guidance of the International Meditation Society. It denies being a religion, but is promoted as a mental technique for relaxing and increasing mental powers. It is supposedly based on scientific evidence and results in greater intelligence, health, energy, ability to cope with problems, etc.

Millions in the USA have learned the technique. It has been taught in colleges, public schools, prisons, the armed forces, and many businesses. Many famous entertainers have been involved including the Beach Boys, the Beatles, Mia Farrow, Marianne Faithful, performers from the Rolling Stones, The Doors, Earth Wind and Fire, and many others (see Corrupt Music, p. 13).

We do not hear as much as we once did about TM, but not because it is less popular. Rather, it has been absorbed into the New Age movement, where it is practiced under various different titles along with many other Oriental religious practices. When one understands the ideas involved, he frequently recognizes them in ways that would have otherwise been meaningless.

The purpose of this study is to demonstrate that TM, despite its claims, involves the practice of Hindu religion.

It is firmly rooted in Hindu principles and practices, and therefore contradicts the Bible. Proving this will require a basic understanding of fundamental Hindu concepts (see our article on Hinduism on our Bible Instruction web site at /instruct/).

Part I: A Comparison Between TM and
the Fundamental Concepts of Hinduism

The theory on which TM is based is called the "Science of Being" (also called the "Science of Creative Intelligence"). The practice of that theory is called the "Art of Living." Much of our evidence about TM will come from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's book Transcendental Meditation (abbreviated TM), now titled The Science of Being and the Art of Living. We will also quote his book Meditations.

The introduction to TM says:

"The Science of Being serves to provide a deep and significant basis for the art of living. As a matter of fact, the art of living is applied Science of Being ... without dwelling on the abstract features of the Science of Being, the whole wisdom of the book would have no practical basis" (TM, p. xvi).

So, the practice of TM is based on the concepts presented in this book. If these concepts are religious, if they are Hindu concepts, then TM is religious and is Hindu practice. We will examine the concepts underlying TM and compare them to Hinduism in the following areas:

I. The Concept of God

Hinduism teaches that God is fundamentally an impersonal power or force (Brahman), that manifests itself in the form of physical personal gods. This Brahman is present in everything in creation, including people. The real inner being of man is part of God, hence man is Divine.

A. The Teaching of TM about the Concept of God

God is an impersonal, eternal force.

"The impersonal aspect of God is formless, supreme; it is the eternal and absolute Being. It is without attributes, qualities, or features ... It is absolute, impersonal, and attributeless ... Everything in creation is the manifestation of the unmanifested absolute impersonal Being, the omnipresent God" (TM, p. 265f).

[See also pp 22,23,33f,44,267,269,270f,272f]

God is within everyone. Hence, man is Divine.

"The impersonal God is that Being which dwells in the heart of everyone. Every individual in his true nature is the Impersonal God. That is why the Vedic philosophy of the Upanishads declares: 'I am That, Thou art That, and all this is That'" (TM, p. 269).

Note that the Vedas and Upanishads are Hindu Scriptures. "That" refers to Brahman.

"...the Vedas express the Being as the ultimate reality and find It within man as his own inseparable self. They reveal the truth in the expression 'I am That, Thou art That, and all this is That...'" (TM, p. 33f).

"The Divine Plan of today is ... for everyone to begin to enjoy his own inner Divine nature ... You are Divine ... [Man] himself is the Absolute Bliss, the Great Power, the great reservoir of all energy, peace, and happiness. He is That" (Meditations, p. 157; via Haddon, p. 149).

"...we are all 100% Divine..." (Meditations, p. 177; via Haddon, p. 151).

[See also TM, pp 24,25,251,255; Haddon, pp 151,149; see also quotes below on how to achieve our destiny]

These concepts of God are Hindu to the core. They admittedly come from Hindu Scriptures.

B. The Teaching of the Bible about the Concept of God

As shown in our study of Hinduism, the Bible teaches that God is personal spirit. That is, He possesses the characteristics of a living individual: intelligence, emotions, power to choose, etc. He is not found within everything, but is the Creator of all.

In particular, man's spirit is not Divine.

Genesis 3:5 - Satan led Eve to sin by offering the false appeal that she could be as God. Ever since then, men have been tempted by the desire to believe that we are God or can be Divine.

Acts 12:22,23 - Herod was slain by God when people said of him, "It is the voice of a god, and not of a man."

Acts 14:15 - The people of Lystra tried to offer sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas as gods (vv 8-18). But the inspired men said people should cease such practices and worship the living God. They themselves were simply men of like passions with those attempting to worship them.

The desire to think of ourselves as God is blasphemous and must be rejected in all its forms. Yet it is a fundamental concept of Hinduism and of the theory on which TM is based.

II. The Concept of Human Destiny

A. Reincarnation

Hinduism teaches that, when a person dies, he is reborn as another person or an animal, a god, etc., in a continual cycle of death and rebirth. This too is fundamental TM doctrine.

"In order to understand the cycle of birth and death ... it should first be understood that the cause of rebirth is the unfulfilled desires of past life. If a man wants to accomplish this or that and fails to do so before the body ceases to function, he dies unfulfilled. Because of this unfulfillment the inner man (mind) goes to create another body through which that unfulfilled desire of the past life may be fulfilled.

"Thus it is one's own desire that is the cause of rebirth ... this cycle ... takes the man from birth to birth, and the cycle of birth and death continues..." (TM, p. 110).

[Cf. TM, pp 129f quoted below]

So TM is based on the same concept of reincarnation that is found in Hinduism.

The Bible, however, teaches that each person dies one time (Hebrews 9:27). After that His eternal destiny is sealed (Luke 16:19-31), and he is judged according to the deeds done in his body (2 Corinthians 5:10).

B. Karma

The Hindu doctrine of karma is that everything, good or bad, that happens to an individual on earth is the consequence of his own previous conduct in this life or in previous lives. Does the theory of TM teach this doctrine?

The book Transcendental Meditation has a whole section on "Karma and the Art of Living" (pp 128ff). It says in part:

"This philosophy of karma explains that whatever a man is, it is the result of his own past. If he is happy, it is the result of good doings in the past ... If a man is suffering in the present, it is a result of his own actions which had at one time spread an influence of misery, ill-health, and suffering in the atmosphere.

"None other than himself is responsible for a man's happiness or suffering. If a man enjoys, he enjoys out of his own doings; if a man suffers, he suffers out of his own doings" (TM, p. 130).

"The basic premise of every religion should be that man need not suffer in life" (TM, p. 253).

So TM also is based on the false Hindu concept of karma.

We learn from the Bible, however, that people often do not receive on earth the just reward for their conduct, good or bad (Luke 16:19-25). It is after this life is over that we face the consequences of our deeds (2 Corinthians 5:10).

[Cf. TM, pp 129f, quoted below; see also quotes below on how to achieve our destiny]

C. Liberation

The Hindu concept of the ultimate destiny of man is to escape the cycle of reincarnation, to cease physical existence and be absorbed into the impersonal God (Brahman). TM says:

"As long as the soul is not liberated, as long as the individual soul has not merged itself into cosmic existence, so long will the individuality be held by the soul in whatever world or body it may be ... When a man is liberated ... the individuality has merged into cosmic existence..." (TM, p. 129f).

For one who is aware of His Divinity, "...death is just a silent declaration of no return - no return to the cycle of birth and death" (Commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita, p. 234; via Haddon, p. 151f).

We will see that the purpose of TM is to bring about liberation [see also quotes listed below on how to achieve our destiny]. So again TM is thoroughly based on Hindu concepts.

The Bible, however, teaches that our eternal reward is to be with God forever in heaven (Matthew 5:10-12; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; 5:9,10).

III. The Concept of How to Achieve Our Destiny

Hinduism teaches that one way to achieve liberation is by meditation. This is also called Yoga. We will see that this is exactly what TM is all about.

A. The Teaching of TM

TM brings together all the concepts we have discussed to lead people to liberation. Briefly, the concept is that, though we are Divine, we have failed to appreciate our Divine nature. Meditation shows us how to become aware of our real nature (God-consciousness) and improve our conduct (karma) until finally we escape the reincarnation cycle (liberation). Note the quotes:

TM is designed to help us realize we are Divine.

"This thesis will enable all men to ... find their God within themselves" (TM, p. xv).

"The full potential of man is the unlimited potential of the universal Being ... The potential of human life should mean the potential of the almighty divine on earth ... a God-realized life, in divine consciousness ... the practice of transcendental meditation ... unfolds all the divine in man and brings human consciousness to the high pedestal of God consciousness" (TM, p. 80f).

"Transcendental deep meditation is the practice ... through [which] man readily rises to the level of divine Being" (TM, p. 255).

"Transcendental Meditation is a path to God" (Meditations, p. 59; via Haddon, p. 159).

[See also TM, p. xii,42,44,46,66,95f,96,248f,252,254f,261; Haddon, p. 106,107,117.]

TM is a means to improve our karma or conduct.

We are told that TM enables one to reach a state of transcendental or cosmic consciousness. Note the result:

"...the practice of transcendental deep meditation ... enables the individual to rise to a state of cosmic consciousness ... The will of man, then, is the will of God; the activity of man, then is the desire of God; and man, thus, fulfills the purpose of God" (TM, p. 248).

"This is a way to be able to do all good by being all good ... by the practice of transcendental deep meditation ... the karma becomes a karma of absolute righteousness. Here is a direct and practical way ... to do all good for all times..." (TM, p. 134).

" that level the mind, by its very nature, knows only the right action. Therefore, the state of cosmic consciousness affords an absolute criterion of right and wrong" (TM, p. 165).

"...cosmic consciousness offers an absolute basis for right action ... Only cosmic consciousness can inspire right action at all times" (Science of Being..., 1967 edition; via Haddon, p. 118).

"...only after realization of God can one become good ... Only nearness to God, or with a good amount of God consciousness alone, could one be free from wrong ... that means good life is the effect, God realization is the cause" (Meditations, pp 58,59; via Haddon, p. 159).

[TM, pp 95f,112]

The end result of TM is liberation that we might be absorbed into the great impersonal Being (God).

"The art of Being and breathing is the art of raising the status of the individual to the state of eternal cosmic Being. And the fulfillment of this art is found in the regular practice of transcendental deep meditation" (TM, pp 108,109).

TM "brings the life to a state of eternal freedom" (TM, p. 81).

"Thus we find that ... in the regular and sustained practice of transcendental deep meditation, ... the mind is freed from the binding influence of action and attains a state of liberation in the eternal Being" (TM, p. 143).

[See also TM-xii,42,44,46,80f,95f,111,112,131,132,248f,252,254f,261,264,268; Haddon, pp 103,105,106,107,109,117,130]

All this is accomplished by the continual repetition of a mantra, not by Jesus.

As described earlier, TM claims that those who have the proper understanding of God will not suffer. Consider the consequences of this regarding the death of Jesus:

"I don't think Christ ever suffered or Christ could suffer ... It's a pity that Christ is talked of in terms of suffering ... Those who count upon the suffering, it is a wrong interpretation of the life of Christ and the message of Christ. It is wrong..." (Meditations, p. 123f; via Haddon, p. 165).

Instead people are taught to meditate repeatedly on a mantra. What is a mantra?

"Mantra ... an invocation used by Hindus in worship in the form either of a brief petition or of the repetition of a sacred word" (Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary). Note that a mantra is an invocation - a prayer. It is used in Hinduism and is a form of "worship." It involves repetition of a sacred word. That is exactly what is done in TM.

This system of achieving liberation is described in the Hindu scriptures the Bhagavad-gita (6:20-23).

The Hare Krishna movement also uses a mantra in which they chant the names of Krishna. They say, "The Hare Krishna mantra is both a glorification of God and an appeal to be engaged in His service" (Back to Godhead, p. 3).

"The entire knowledge of the mantras or hymns of the Vedas is devoted to ... man's communication with the higher beings..." (Meditations, p. 18; via Haddon, p. 42).

So the theory on which TM is based is pure Hinduism, drawing together every false concept of Hinduism we have studied. God is an impersonal force that pervades everything, including people. Man is reincarnated according to his karma (past actions). The goal is to seek liberation from the reincarnation cycle and become united with the universal God by realizing that one is already God within himself.

All this is accomplished by TM, which gives a perfect understanding of right and wrong, and causes one to practice absolute righteousness. The end result is liberation and union with the Supreme Being. This cannot be accomplished by the sacrifice of Jesus, because He really never suffered on the cross.

B. The Teaching of the Bible

Just as TM contradicts the Bible concepts of God and of man's destiny, so it contradicts Bible teaching of how to achieve union with God.

Jesus did suffer on the cross, and that suffering is the only means by which we can be saved.

1 Peter 3:18 - Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.

Matthew 16:21-23 - Jesus predicted He must suffer. Like the Maharishi, Peter objected to the idea that Jesus would suffer. Jesus responded by calling Him Satan and said he was minding the things of men instead of the things of God.

Luke 24:44-48 - Jesus explained how the prophets predicted His suffering. [cf. v25,26]

Hence, TM denies the only way the Bible says we can be saved.

We can communicate to God only through Jesus, not by vain repetitions.

1 Timothy 2:5 - Jesus is the one mediator between God and man. There is no way to approach the Father except through Him (John 14:6).

TM says God is within you and you can communicate with God by meditating on a Hindu prayer word. This is an attempt to communicate with God without Jesus as mediator!

Matthew 6:7 - Constant repetition of a mantra exactly contradicts Jesus teaching about prayer. He forbade "vain repetition," saying heathen people think they can please God by much speaking of a particular phrase.

The Bible is the only means to learn God's will.

TM says it can provide you with an absolute criterion of right and wrong. The Bible says:

Jeremiah 10:23 - The way of man is not in Himself. Hence, it cannot be found by meditating within.

Galatians 1:8,9 - If we follow any other doctrine other than the gospel we are accursed.

Psalm 1:1,2 - Hence, our meditation should be, not on a Hindu prayer, but on the word of God. [Joshua 1:8; Psalm 119:15,23,48,78,97,99,148; 1 Timothy 4:15]

Acts 17:11 - We should search the Scriptures daily, not search our inner thoughts by means of a mantra.

2 Timothy 3:16,17 - The Bible is inspired as God's revelation to man. By knowing it we can know every good work. [Ephesians 3:3-5]

Part II: Further Evidence Showing TM Is Religious Hinduism

In this section we intend to cite other evidence that shows TM is religious Hinduism. In order to understand the evidence, one must be able to recognize Hindu concepts and terms. To assist in this, we list the following terms and meanings:

Hindu deities: Brahman, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, Krishna

Hindu scriptures: Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad-gita, shrutis, smritis, puranas; sutras are statements of Hindu philosophy (WR-151).

Titles for Hindu religious teachers:

"Shri" ("sri") - "Hindustani. Mr.; Sir. [lit., majesty, holiness]" (Random House College Dictionary - abbrev. RHCD).

"Rishi" - "Hinduism, an inspired sage or poet" (RHCD).

"Guru" - "Hinduism, a preceptor giving personal religious instruction" (RHCD).

"Yogi" - "a person who practices Yoga" (RHCD).

Names of specific Hindu teachers: Shankara, Shankaracharya, Guru Dev (Brahmananda Sarasvati), Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Yoga - A Hindu form of self-discipline in which a person attempts to find liberation (immersion in the absolute Brahman). A major element is meditation, very similar to TM. "Yoga is the practical philosophy dealing with various paths to God realization" TM, p. 319. (See also Religions of India, Thomas Berry, 1971, under "Yoga".)

Puja - "Hindu prayer ritual" (Webster's New Twentieth-Century Dictionary - abbrev. WNTCD).

Lotus - A flower; often Hindu teachers are surrounded by these flowers, and they are offered to Hindu gods. It also refers to the seating position in Yoga. (WNTCD).

"Thou art That" - Hindu expression found in the Upanishads stating that man is Divine in nature.

I. The Quotations and Evidence Regarding TM

A. History & Leaders of the TM Movement

Statement by a TM instructor regarding the history & leaders of TM

Douglas Shah took the TM course. He later wrote the book The Meditators. On p. 15 he describes the history of TM as told by the course instructor (we emphasize all terms that are Hindu in origin or significance):

"The last recorded revival of transcendental meditation [occurred] under the leadership of Shankara ... [He] was able, prior to his death to establish the Shankaracharya Seat of Knowledge. This Seat of Knowledge was vacant for 150 years before Guru Dev took on this responsible position ... Guru Dev is the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's departed master. The Maharishi has been his disciple."

Hence, TM is not a recent development, but the revival of an ancient practice, brought down through the men named.

Observations on the evidence of Hindu religion in this history

Shankara was a very influential Hindu teacher of the early 800's. His teaching clarified the doctrine that the soul of man is identical with Brahman, the impersonal God.

Guru Dev learned his beliefs from Shankara and passed them on to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. "Guru" is not a name, but a title for a Hindu religious teacher (Random House College Dictionary). His real name was Brahmananda Saraswati.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is the modern popularizer of TM. Mahesh is his family name. But the rest of his name consists of Hindu titles. "Maharishi" is a Hindu title meaning "great" and "sage or inspired poet." "Yogi" is a title for "a person who practices Yoga" (RHCD).

Hence, TM came to us through three men who devoted their lives to teaching Hinduism.

B. Frank Admissions that TM Is Religious and Comes from Hinduism

Initiates into TM are not told that TM is religious or that it involves Hinduism, yet there are adequate admissions of this if any honest person will examine the statements of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. But you must understand Hindu concepts and terms to get the point. We will emphasize terms of Hindu significance.

The connection between TM and Hindu scripture/religion

"The Upanishads bring out the Being as the ultimate reality ... The hymns of the Vedas and Bhagavad Gita sing the glory of the imperishable self, the Being ... The Upanishads explore the Being as Brahma ... The great words of enlightenment found in the Vedas express the Being as the ultimate reality and find it within man as his own inseparable self ... The eternal texts of the Vedas, crowned with the philosophy of the Upanishads, bring out the relative and the absolute as two aspects of the one reality of Brahma..." TM, p. 33f.

"The fulfillment of religion lies in gaining for man a direct way of God realization ... Religion is a way ... to raise the consciousness of man to the level of God consciousness ... A fully alive ... religion will be that in which every man is a man of realized God consciousness" TM, pp 249-251.

But we learned earlier that this is exactly what TM is designed to do. So, TM accomplishes the purpose of religion, and that purpose is to convince each person that he is part of God!

"...transcendental deep meditation is the key to open the gates of the most advanced science of psychology developed in ancient India and found in the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita." The footnote adds: "Bhagavad Gita is the cherished scripture ... which presents in essence the wisdom of ... the Upanishads of the ancient Vedic wisdom" TM, p. 260.

"The great practical wisdom of the Bhagavad Gita is the highest divine wisdom ever revealed to man. It is recognized as the essence of the Upanishads, which are the soul-accomplishing divine revelations contained in the most advanced chapters of the Vedas of eternal wisdom." TM, pp 319,320.

So TM is based on teachings found in Hindu Scripture, which are claimed to be the "highest divine wisdom ever revealed to man." This means TM is based on divine wisdom, and that wisdom is higher than the divine wisdom found in the Bible.

[See also TM p. xi,xii,xv,xvii,34,248f,253-255,261,264,268,290-293,319,320; Haddon, p. 14,42,82,106]

How TM is presented to the public

"If the message [of TM] is to be carried from generation to generation, it should be placed on the mass tendency of each generation ... Whenever and wherever religion dominates the mass consciousness, transcendental deep mediation should be taught in terms of religion ... Whenever and wherever politics dominates the mass consciousness, transcendental deep meditation should be taught in terms of and from the platform of politics ... [etc.]" TM, p. 298f.

So, the intent is to appeal to whatever interests the masses of people in a society. If people are generally not interested in Hindu religion (as in America), then despite the fact that TM inherently is Hindu religion, it will not be presented as religion because that would turn people off.

The idea is that people will never really appreciate "God consciousness" until they experience it. If people are told "up front" that the real goal of TM is to convince them they are part of God, most people will not be interested. So instead, the technique is to find out what does interest people, then dupe them into starting TM by promising to give them what they seek. If people can just try TM, it is hoped they will achieve God consciousness and will want to continue.

In short, students are deliberately misled about the real nature of TM. "The end justifies the means." Vail Hamilton, a former TM teacher, quit for exactly this reason. She saw that TM was presented deceptively, and she could not in good conscience continue to deceive people. As a result, she helped write a book to expose TM. (See Haddon, pp 8,9).

C. Legal Evidence that TM Is Religion

The following is quoted from Freedom from Establishment and Unneutrality in Public School Instruction and Religious School Regulation, by Wendell Bird, pp 180f (reprinted from Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy).

"The Third Circuit recently held in Malnak v. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi that a public school course in the 'Science of Creative Intelligence - Transcendental Meditation' was 'religious in nature'..."

The appellate court agreed and added that "the puja, or initiation, ceremony constitutes a prayer through 'invocation of a deity or divine Being.'"

"The court noted that the Maharishi is a 'Hindu monk," ... and that he first offered Transcendental Meditation under the auspices of the 'Spiritual Regeneration Movement Foundation' ... It observed that the organization was incorporated as a 'religious' corporation, ... and that the 'field of creative intelligence' closely resembles the 'Hindu concept of the Supreme Being.'"

Hence, even the courts have ruled that TM is religious and is Hinduism. This has made it difficult for TM as such to be practiced now in schools. However, other forms of meditation, using the same concepts under different names, are still practiced.

D. Hindu Worship in the TM Initiation Ceremony

Wendell Bird's article from the Harvard Journal of Law, quoted above, also says the following about the TM initiation ceremony:

"The student removes his shoes to enter the room, and sees a sheet-covered table with a candleholder and incense holder below a picture of Guru Dev. The initiate brings flowers, fruit, and a handkerchief, which are placed on the table, and the teacher sings a chant in Sanskrit ... The chant expresses reverence for 'the Lord,' identifies Guru Dev as a personification of 'the Lord' and of the supreme being of Hinduism, and makes 19 offerings and 19 obeisances to Guru Dev ... 'Maharishi Mahesh Yogi places such great emphasis on the singing of the chant ... that no mantras are given except at pujas and no one is allowed to teach the Science of Creative Intelligence ... unless he or she performed the puja to the personal satisfaction of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi or one of his aides'" (page 181).

The ceremony itself is a "puja" which is a "Hindu prayer ritual" (WNTCD). It is sung in Sanskrit so the student does not understand it, but here is a translation of major portions of it into English. Words of Hindu significance are emphasized. Remember that Hindus worship their religious teaches as deities. [Quotes from Haddon, pp 47-50]

Part 1

"... to lotus-born Brahma the Creator ... to Govinda, ruler among the Yogis, to his disciple Shri Shankaracharya, [etc., others in the line of Yogis and teachers of meditation are listed] to the tradition of the Masters, I bow down. To the abode of the wisdom of the Shrutis, Smritis, and Puranas, to the abode of kindness, to the personified glory of the Lord, to Shankara, emancipator of the world, I bow down. To Shankaracharya the Redeemer, hailed as Krishna and Badarayana, to the commentator of the Brahma Sutras, I bow down. To the glory of the Lord I bow down again and again, at whose door the whole galaxy of gods pray for perfection day and night. Adorned with immeasurable glory, preceptor of the whole world, having bowed down to Him we gain fulfillment. Skilled in dispelling the cloud of ignorance of the people, the gentle emancipator, Brahmananda Sarasvati [Guru Dev], the supreme teacher, full of brilliance, Him I bring to my awareness."

Part 2

The student's fruit, flowers, and handkerchief are then placed on an altar before the picture of Guru Dev. For each item the teacher sings: "Offering the [item] to the lotus feet of Shri Guru Dev, I bow down."

Part 3

"...Offering light to the lotus feet of Shri Guru Dev, I bow down. Offering water to the lotus feet of Shri Guru Dev, I bow down. Guru in the glory of Brahma, Guru in the glory of Vishnu, Guru in the glory of the great Lord Shiva, Guru in the glory of the personified transcendental fullness of Brahman, to Him, to Shri Guru Dev adorned with glory, I bow down. ... to Shri Guru Dev, I bow down. Guru Dev, Shri Brahmananda, bliss of the Absolute, transcendental joy, the Self-Sufficient, the embodiment of pure knowledge which is beyond and above the universe like the sky, the aim of 'Thou Art That' and other such expressions which unfold eternal truth, the One, the Eternal, the Pure, the Immoveable, ... the true preceptor, to Shri Guru Dev, I bow down. The blinding darkness of ignorance has been removed by applying the balm of knowledge. The eye of knowledge has been opened by Him and therefore, to Him, to Shri Guru Dev, I bow down. Offering a handful of flowers to the lotus feet of Shri Guru Dev, I bow down."

The following facts make clear that this constitutes a form of worship, and is in fact idolatry:

(1) The entire ceremony is a Hindu prayer that appeals to Hindu deities, Hindu Scriptures, and Hindu concepts.

(2) Participants bow down to a man (Guru Dev) as a form of honor to a religious teacher. This violates Acts 10:25,26.

(3) An offering is made as an expression of religious honor to a man. This violates Acts 14:11-18.

(4) A man is attributed with possessing the characteristics of Deity. This violates Acts 12:22,23, etc.

One cannot learn TM and cannot obtain his mantra without bringing the gifts and going through the initiation. But this is clearly worshiping someone other than the God of the Bible. It is idolatry.

II. Bible Principles Violated by Participating in TM

We have already shown that TM is based on fundamental concepts of Hinduism, and we have shown those concepts to be contrary to the Bible. Notice now some reasons why a believer in the Bible must not participate in TM.

A. To Participate in TM Is to Determine Convictions by
the Wrong Standard.

TM tries to get people to first participate in the practice and then determine, based on their experience, whether or not they want to continue. Biblically, this is the wrong approach. A Christian must first investigate the practice and evaluate it by God's word before participating. If it does not measure up, then he does not even begin to participate.

2 Timothy 3:16,17 - The Scriptures provide to every good work.

1 Thessalonians 5:21,22 - Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.

Romans 10:17 - Faith is based on hearing God's word (not on personal experience).

Acts 17:11 - The Bereans were noble because they determined what was right based on an examination of Scripture.

So, the Bible approach is: (1) Examine the evidence of God's word as compared to the nature of the practice. (2) Reach a conviction (faith), based on the evidence, that the practice is or is not acceptable. (3) Then participate only if it was found acceptable.

The approach used by TM and Hinduism is: (1) participate in a practice first, and (2) if it seems acceptable, you develop the conviction that you want to continue. At no point is there evidence that God approves. (The result of such an approach is that, if a practice is wrong, you must first become guilty of the wrong before you can know it is wrong! And frequently you never would realize it was wrong because you are measuring by the wrong standard.)

B. To Participate in TM Is to Have Fellowship with Heathen Idolatry

The initiation, mantra, and theory of TM all involve Hindu worship, which is heathen idolatry.

As shown above, the initiation ceremony is a act of Hindu worship to the man Guru Dev. The student must attend the ceremony and provide the sacrifices to be offered. The mantra he is given is a Hindu prayer. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi plainly states that the whole theory of TM is valid only if the Hindu theories on which it is based are valid. To participate then is definitely fellowship in Hindu idolatry.

2 Corinthians 6:16-18 - To be children of our true Father we must have no communion with idolatry but must separate ourselves from it.

1 Corinthians 10:14,19-22 - To have communion with God we must not have communion with idols. In particular, we must never participate in giving sacrifices to idols.

Daniel 3 - The three Hebrews were thrown in the fiery furnace because they refused to worship a heathen idol. If they were like people today, the Hebrews would have said to themselves, "I don't believe it, but I'll go through the motions just to satisfy the people." But they did not. It was a matter of principle and they refused to participate.

To participate in TM, one must give financial support to false teaching and false worship.

One must pay a substantial fee to participate in the training sessions. Every participant pays the teacher to offer idolatrous worship in the initiation ceremony and to teach Hindu false doctrine in the training sessions. In short, to pay the fee is to finance religious error.

2 John 9-11 - If we support or encourage those who are teaching error, we become partakers of their evil works. We are wrong if we support others to teach or practice error.

To participate in TM is to fail to properly oppose and rebuke error.

Ephesians 5:11 - Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.

2 Timothy 4:2-4 - We are to reprove and rebuke error.

Instead of participating in error, we are to rebuke it and speak out against it. If a person would speak out as he ought to against the errors of TM, he would never be allowed to go through the initiation, let alone participate in the classes.

Participation in TM would constitute a harmful influence, encouraging others to participate in heathen idolatry.

Even if we recognize that idols should not be worshiped, yet if we participate in the initiation and training, other people seeing us would think it was all right. This would lead some to sin by thinking the idolatrous practices were all right or else by violating their consciences.

1 Corinthians 8:10-12 - It is possible to realize that an idol is nothing and that meat offered to it is just food. But if you eat it in the idol's temple, you participate in their worship and that would cause others to stumble. That would be sinning against them and against Christ.

Matthew 18:6,7 - If we cause a believer to stumble, it would be better to be drowned.

To participate in TM is to fail to guard our hearts and minds against evil influences.

TM is a form of mind manipulation. Like hypnosis, various occult practices, and even alcohol and drugs, it can produce a powerful mental and emotional experience - a "high" which is very pleasant for many people. The effect can block normal powers of judgment and reasoning. As a result, TM has the power to change a person's convictions and inhibitions. [See Haddon, pp 111ff.]

TM may lead one who participates to believe and accept things he initially knew to be wrong. There is a power of suggestion which can lead him to get "hooked" so he no longer sees the evidence. He may come to accept the Hindu concepts underlying TM, despite the evidence against them.

Since the theory on which TM is based constitutes religious error, the person who practices TM is allowing Satan to have free access to his mental powers. This is extremely dangerous and is expressly forbidden.

Proverbs 4:23 - Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. Instead of allowing evil to have free access to our minds, we should guard our hearts against evil.

Proverbs 6:27 - Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? One who plays with error and subjects himself to its influences, is very likely to get burned by it - perhaps in eternity!

1 Peter 5:8,9 - Instead of playing with the devil's temptations, we should resist them and flee from them.


TM is false and unscriptural meditation. Like most of the devil's devices, it perverts something God ordained for our good. God ordained meditation, but not meditation on Hindu prayer words nor meditation on our own human wisdom.

The meditation God ordained is meditation on his word: Psalm 1:2; 119:97; etc. (see above.)

Philippians 4:6-8 - Instead of Hindu prayers as a means of achieving peace, we should pray to the true God of the Bible. We should meditate, not in accordance with the false doctrines of Hinduism, but on that which is true, pure, etc.

(C) Copyright 1999, 2006,David E. Pratte;
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Topics for further Bible study

Hinduism vs. Christianity
Buddhism or Christianity?
Evidences for God, Jesus, & the Bible
Evidence for Jesus' Resurrection
The Inspiration of the Bible
The Preservation of the Bible

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