CLARE VOOGHT looks back at how The Beatles’ historic visit helped shape the West’s view of India Clare Vooght回顧披頭四樂隊歷史性的印度之旅如何令西方對印度改觀

Discovery - - CONTENTS - 披頭四樂隊50年前的印度之旅改變了大眾對旅行與印度的看法,但樂隊成員本身又是否因此有所改變呢?撰文: Clare Vooght

It’s 1968. The Beatles need a holiday. Since their first hit Love Me Do just over five years ago, touring and recording schedules have been non-stop. Beatlemania is at such a height, no one can hear the live shows over screaming fans. By this point the group’s interest in Indian spirituality and music had been growing for some time – George Harrison’s especially, having learned sitar with Bengali musician Ravi Shankar for tracks such as Norwegian Wood. They decided to take a break to learn transcendental meditation in a small holy town 240 kilometres northeast of Delhi, in the foothills of the Himalayas. They arrived with their wives and entourage at Rishikesh, the birthplace of yoga, in February of that year.

‘In 1968, Rishikesh was a very small, sleepy town,’ says Dr Meenakshi Sundaram, tourism secretary for the state of Uttarakhand. ‘Rishikesh in those days used to be just the ashrams around the River Ganges.’

Adventurous Western tourists were beginning to find their way to Rishikesh – along the marijuana-smoking hippie trail from Afghanistan to Nepal – but the arrival of The Beatles brought international attention.

The band slept in simple, egg-shaped stone bungalows 50 metres above the Ganges at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram, known locally as Chaurasi Kutia, meditating five hours a day and eating a vegetarian diet. They shared the compound with around 70 other students, some of them celebrities including Mia Farrow, Donovan and Mike Love from The Beach Boys.

Although bemused by the effect the group had on fans, contemporary Indian newspaper articles with headlines such as ‘The Beatles Are Coming!’ showed a positive reaction to the group’s interest in Indian culture. A local commentator described the Maharishi’s involvement with Western celebrities as ‘distasteful’, but praised his keenness to promote Eastern spirituality to the rest of the world.

While at the ashram, the band wrote songs that appeared months later on a self-titled double LP (known as The White Album), which begins with the swoosh of a plane landing. Dear Prudence is an ode to Mia’s sister, urging her to stop taking meditation so seriously and come out of her room, while The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill is about another student going tiger hunting.

But despite its moments of unbridled, excellent creativity, the album reveals a difficult dynamic for the band in Rishikesh. ‘You can tell how far apart The Beatles were by listening to The White Album,’ says Dr Mike Jones, the University of Liverpool’s Beatles

那是1968年,披頭四樂隊需要度假休息一番。自從五年前他們推出首支單曲〈Love Me Do〉一鳴驚人之後,四人便一直忙於巡迴演出和灌錄專輯,沒完全 有停一刻 下來。披頭四狂熱風靡全球,他們在演唱會上的歌聲,往往被歌迷的尖叫聲全完 掩蓋。

四子這時對印度的靈修和音樂興趣日濃,當中尤以George Har r ison為甚,他已跟隨孟加拉音樂師Ravi Shankar學習西琴段塔 一 日子,並在〈Norwegian Wood〉中使用這種樂器。於是他們決定放下繁重的工作,遠赴印度德里東北240公里以外,位於喜瑪雅拉 山腳下的小聖城Rishikesh(這裡也是伽發的 源地) ,學習超覺坐。當年2月,他們攜同妻子和助手抵達當地。

北阿坎德邦旅遊部秘書長Meenakshi Sundaram博士指出:「Rishikesh在1968年還是很寧的小鎮,只不過是恆河沿岸的靈修之地。」

其時,愛熱 嘗試新事物的西方旅客開始從阿富汗沿著吸可 食大麻的嬉皮之路走到尼泊爾後,最 抵達Rishikesh,令此有地薄 名氣。但真正令這個寧謐小鎮舉世知名的,遠卻是而道 來的披頭隊四樂 。

樂隊行一 人棲身於恆河岸50公尺的山坡上、圓橢形的簡陋石屋內。這裡是瑪哈禮師.瑪西赫 .優濟創辦的院修 ,當地人稱為Chaurasi Kutia。每想他們 天冥五小時,只吃素食。當時還有約70名學員一方修習,其中不乏名人紅,星演如員Mia Farrow、歌手Donovan及The Beach Boys樂的隊 Mike Love等。

當時印度報章雖然對樂迷為披頭四而瘋狂的現象感到大惑不解,但是還 用上「披頭四來了!」等大字標題來報道這件新聞。四人對印度文化的傾慕之情度,印報章作出十分正面的反應。一位本地評論家則在形容瑪哈禮師與西方名人來往是「惡俗」行為之餘,同時卻讚揚他努力不懈向世界各地傳揚東方靈修之學。

樂隊住在靈修院間期 ,寫下多首歌曲,收錄於數月後以樂隊名字命名的雙唱片內(一般將之稱為《白色專輯》) ,並以飛機降落時的呼嘯聲作序曲。專輯內的〈Dear Prudence〉一曲特別獻給Mia的妹妹,提醒她不要沉溺於冥想,應該走出房間看看外面的世界至; 於另一首〈The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill〉則描述一名學員獵殺老故虎的 事。

雖然專輯充滿澎湃驚人的創作力,卻同時展現出樂在隊 Rishikesh的痛掙苦。扎 利物浦大學的披頭專四 家Mike Jones說:要「只 細心聆聽《白色專輯》,便可以感受到樂隊正在分崩離析。專輯中的歌曲完全不是披頭四的集體,每創作 而是 位成員各自作創 的個人作品。他們在Rishikesh的時候各自活在自己的世界開, 始各走。各路 」

其實成員之間早已有嫌隙, Jones表示George特別感到不如意,因為錄室在 音 以外,他被奉為神明;但在樂隊中論資排,輩 他卻是最年輕的成員。「Paul和John總是叫他耐心等候表現自己的時機。」此外,他們的經理人Brian Epstein在數月前因為濫藥離世,而John Lennon和Cynthia的婚姻亦到走 盡頭。

expert. ‘None of them are Beatles songs; they’re individual songs. They were in their own worlds in Rishikesh. They began to pull apart.’

Tensions had been building for a while. George in particular was frustrated, says Jones. Outside the studio he was treated like a god, but in the studio he was the youngest in the band: ‘Paul and John would be telling him to wait his turn.’ Their manager Brian Epstein had died of a drug overdose months before, while John Lennon’s marriage to Cynthia was ending.

Paul McCartney was keen to embrace the experience, staying for around six weeks. But Ringo Starr missed his young children and struggled with food allergies – he apparently arrived in India with a suitcase full of baked beans – leaving after two weeks. ‘They were going to Rishikesh to find themselves, and it all went badly wrong,’ says Jones.

Sexy Sadie immortalises John’s disillusionment with the experience, with thinly veiled lyrics dealing with the sexual advances the Maharishi allegedly made towards Mia Farrow and other women at the ashram. It’s since been denied, with the suggestion that the Maharishi had taken a disliking to the group taking LSD and smoking cannabis against ashram rules. Perhaps we’ll never know the exact nature of the bust up, but either way John and George left Rishikesh on awkward terms.

‘There’s no question that The Beatles post-Rishikesh were different from The Beatles pre-Rishikesh,’ says The Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn.

‘The relationship between George and Paul was different after Rishikesh, partly because George was disappointed Paul had left. When they got back to England, John and Yoko got together and John’s marriage with Cynthia was over, so everything shifted. It didn’t break The Beatles up, but Rishikesh was a watershed period. It was a time for reflection,’ he adds.

Although Western newspapers viewed meditation as slightly mad, the global press attention attracted more visitors to the small holy town. ‘Even though they were laughed at, you can set The Beatles’ trip as the start of meditation and yoga being much more widespread. The Beatles didn’t even do yoga, but them being so accepting of something that was then an alien Eastern culture very much popularised it in the West,’ adds Lewisohn.

Chaurasi Kutia fell into neglect over the decades, its walls covered in graffiti. It opens for International Yoga Week in March, and for the rest of the month to celebrate 50 years since the Liverpool lads’ visit. Rishikesh remains famous as the world’s yoga capital. Roads and infrastructure have improved, and it’s now accessible by train and Dehradun’s Jolly Grant Airport, but it still has a calm, backpacker atmosphere.

‘Backpacking and seeing the world became the thing for dropouts to do,’ says Lewisohn. ‘The Beatles didn’t begin that, but undoubtedly there was an encouragement there from the very fact that they did something similar. Rishikesh became part of the hippie trail, and it still is.’

Mark Lewisohn is the author of trilogy The Beatles: All These Years

Paul McCartney非常投入靈修的體驗,逗留了約六星期。Ringo Starr則因為掛念兒女,飽又 受食物過敏之苦(儘管他早已帶備大量焗豆到印度,可惜仍然無濟於事) ,所以逗留兩星期就離開了。Jones說他:「 們到Rishikesh尋覓自我,結果完全失。控 」

〈Sexy Sadie〉這首歌向後世展現了John對這次體驗的失望和幻滅,歌詞暗指瑪哈禮師在靜修院對Mia Farrow及其他女士性騷擾。其他人則另有說法,指瑪哈禮師不滿眾人違反靜修院的,清規 在院內服食迷幻藥和吸大麻。我們也許永遠無法得悉決的裂 原因,但不論真相如何,最終John和George尷尬地離開了Rishikesh。

研究披頭四歷史的權威Mark Lewisohn說:「沒有人會否認,四披頭 從Rishikesh回來後,已經跟以前不同了。George和Paul的關係出現變,化部分原因是George對Paul離開Rishikesh感到失望。回到英國後, John和Cynthia結束了婚姻,與小野洋子一起,所有事情都變。了 這次修行雖然沒有令披頭四拆夥,但Rishikesh肯定是一個分水嶺令, 大家反思自省。」

雖然西方報章視冥想為稍帶瘋狂的,行徑 但全球的泛廣 報道吸引了更多遊客前往這個聖城。Lewisohn補充說:「即使披頭四被世人取笑,但他們的修行旅程,的確令冥想和瑜伽更廣為人知。他們雖然沒有練習瑜伽,但亦以開放的態度接納當時被視為異類的東方文化,有助冥想在西方發揚。光大 」

Chaurasi Kutia靜修院其後數十年日漸荒廢,外牆畫滿塗鴉。今年3月,這裡除了舉辦國際瑜伽周之外,亦舉行紀念利物四浦 子到訪50周年的。日動 Rishikesh仍是全球的瑜伽聖地,的當地 道路和基建已大為改善,現在甚至有火車直,達可亦從Dehradun的Jolly Grant機場前往。雖然如此, Rishikesh仍然瀰漫寧謐閒散的氣氛。

Lewisohn說:背「 包旅行和前往世界各地增廣見聞都是遁世者嚮往的。事 披頭四並非開創風氣的先行者,毫但 無疑問,他過們做 類似的,事 足以帶動其他人起而效法。而Rishikesh從此成為嬉皮之路的一部分,至今不變。」



Rishikesh is a six hour drive from New Delhi, to which Cathay Pacific flies from Hong Kong 14 times a week

Nowhere, man The Beatles were joined in remote Rishikesh by their wives and other Western celebrities (above left); the holy town (above) still does a brisk trade in wellness tourism朝聖之行當年披頭四樂隊成員帶著他們的妻子,還有多位西方名人相隨,來到偏遠的Rishikesh(左上圖)...

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