When a ‘heartbroken’ backpacker met The Beatles in India

A Canadian backpacker’s meeting with The Beatles in a spiritual retreat In India half a century ago is the subject of a new documentary. For filmmaker Paul Saltzman it was a “life-changing” experience.When a 23-year-old Canadian man arrived at an ashram near India’s holy city of Rishikesh in 1968 to meditate, he was told the place was out of bounds because The Beatles were living there.Paul Saltzman had been backpacking in India when news arrived from Montreal that his girlfriend had moved on.Heartbroken, he had travelled by train, boat and taxi to the retreat, run by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, one of the most flamboyant of the self-styled gurus to emerge from the era of hippiedom. The plan was to meditate and “cure my broken heart,” as Saltzman says.After many hours of persuasion, the helpful ashram attendant had let Saltzman in.He had headed straight into an hour-long meditation session, and come out feeling better. “The agony of heartbreak had gone. I stepped out into the woods to see the place,” Saltzman told me in a phone interview.

There he spotted The Beatles for the first time.

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