Mini Santiniketan, Scotland-style

The Telegraph, UK/November 26, 2007

The legendary 1960s singer-songwriter Donovan has announced plans to set up a new university in his native Scotland where all students will be taught Indian-style transcendental meditation as part of their normal curriculum.

He made it sound almost like a new kind of Santiniketan though the university will be traditional in most respects.

The 61-year-old singer, best known for his debut single Catch the Wind, now believes he has caught the mood of the moment.

In an emotional aside, he confessed that the Invincible Donovan University had been "a dream of mine for nearly 34 years".

Donovan, who was born Donovan Philips Leitch on May 10, 1946, in Glasgow, and whose singing style has been compared with that of Bob Dylan, has had a genuine interest in meditation since he spent some very formative weeks with The Beatles and their Indian guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in Rishikesh in 1968.

Donovan, whose hit songs include Mellow Yellow, Sunshine Superman, Happiness Runs and Hurdy Gurdy Man, was one of the top artists of his day, producing a series of hit albums and singles between 1965 and 1970. He became a friend of Joan Baez, Brian Jones and The Beatles, and was one of the few artists to collaborate on songs with the band. According to reports, he influenced both John Lennon and Paul McCartney when he taught them his finger-picking guitar style in 1968.

Last month, at a hotel in Edinburgh, Donovan was flanked by three distinguished personalities with an equally firm belief in Indian-style meditation and who are supporting his university venture - filmmaker David Lynch, whose own meditation foundation has brought programmes to schools across the US and Europe, quantum physicist John Hagelin and Bevan Morris, the president of the Maharishi University of Management in the US.

Donovan has shortlisted possible sites along the waterfront at the Firth of Forth and an area between Glasgow and Edinburgh.

He said the university would focus on consciousness-based learning and the arts. "It will be a normal university but will also be very, very different because of its potential that will be unfolding because of an extraordinary technique which I learnt when I was in India with The Beatles in 1968.

"It's called transcendental meditation."

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