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Maharishi Yogi, guru to the Beatles, dies aged 91

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a one-time guru to the Beatles credited with bringing "transcendental meditation" to the West, has died. He was thought to be 91.

Maharishi, who shot to fame after the British band visited his Indian ashram in 1968, died last night in the southern Dutch town of Vlodrop. According to Bob Roth, a spokesman for the Transcendental Meditation movement that Maharishi founded, the death appeared to be due to "natural causes, his age".

Maharishi was born in central India, reportedly on 12 January 1917, although he refused to confirm his age or discuss his early life.

Although once dismissed as a hippie mystic, Maharishi gained respectability over the decades. He persuaded many – including the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, the actor Clint Eastwood and the director David Lynch – to practise his form of meditation.

The Beatles trip to his ashram ended in acrimony after John Lennon left early and Maharishi was said to be put out by the use of drugs among the group. From the 1980s, he was occasionally accused of fraud, but millions practised his methods.

He moved to a historic Franciscan monastery in Vlodrop in 1990. Mr Roth said the guru, who "retired" last month, died in peace. "He had been saying he had done what he set out to do."

Maharishi summed up his mantra in 2006 : "Don't fight darkness. Bring the light, and the darkness will disappear."