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Maharishi Vedic City seeks ideas for mostly vacant pandit campus

Photo submitted

An aerial photograph shows the 161 buildings that comprise the Maharishi Vedic City pandit campus in Jefferson County.
Photo submitted An aerial photograph shows the 161 buildings that comprise the Maharishi Vedic City pandit campus in Jefferson County.
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MAHARISHI VEDIC CITY – Maharishi Vedic City is seeking input on ideas to rehabilitate its mostly vacant pandit campus.

John Hagelin, president of Maharishi University of Management, and Bob Wynne, the mayor of Maharishi Vedic City, sent an email addressed to “Fairfield Meditators, Sidhas and Governors” about the state of the pandit campus near Maharishi Vedic City, and opportunities for renewing it.

Merriam-Webster defines a pandit as a “wise or learned man in India – often used as an honorary title.” The pandits at the campus in Maharishi Vedic City came to meditate and chant, with the hope that their actions might alter the world around them for the better.

Wynne said the Maharishi Vedic Pandits are “trained experts in Vedic technologies of consciousness for world peace.”

“In addition to practicing the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program also practiced by many members of the Fairfield and Maharishi Vedic City community and millions of people around the world, the Vedic Pandits are experts in Vedic recitation to create peace. UNESCO has declared Vedic recitation as a masterpiece of oral and intangible heritabe of humanity,” Wynne said.

The campus was built over a three-year period from 2006-2008. According to the email, the Maharishi Vedic Pandit campus hosted more than 1,000 Maharishi Vedic Pandits for 12 years. The campus consists of 161 Maharishi Vastu (a style of architecture) buildings on 76 acres of organic land.

Hagelin and Wynne wrote that the facility said farewell to the last Maharishi Vedic Pandit in November 2018.

“Although we hope to enrich our community again with their presence, we can only expect a small group,” they wrote.

The campus has other residents such as the IdeaLife Campus on the north side, which is home to the Invincible America Assembly (a type of meditation), Transcendental Meditation retreats, and conferences. However, more than two-thirds of the campus sits empty. That is why the public is being asked to share ideas for a new vision for the campus.

“Whether you picture organic gardens, walking trails, a market/café, a wellness/fitness center, or beautiful program halls and inspiring knowledge programs, please share your ideas,” the email said. “The vision that is emerging is to serve our community with these precious campus facilities, all built according to Maharishi Vastu design, by creating an ideal, sustainable, multi-generational community with everything needed to promote health, happiness and enlightenment.”

Maharishi Vedic City will invite private developers with the interest and financial capacity to redevelop the campus for private residences, including homes, rental housing and other amenities. The city hopes to send a request for proposals to prospective developers on Oct. 7.

Wynne said in an email that the campus housed 1,050 pandits at its peak. It has 600 bedrooms, and because they are double occupancy, the campus could house as many as 1,200 people.

“Converting these buildings from dormitories to single-family homes of course reduces the potential number of residents,” Wynne wrote. “There are 149 residential buildings and 12 buildings for dining, classroom/meeting, program, etc.”

Wynne said the residential buildings may house up to 300 residents depending on how they are configured (such as single family or duplex, for instance).

“There is also land for new construction and great interest in using the common buildings for amenities,” he said.

Wynne added that 14 buildings with four suites each and a shared kitchen/living/dining room each had extensive interior renovations in the fall of 2018 and spring 2019 for courses and conference housing. He said they may continue to be used as suites or for another purpose.

Those who wish to submit an idea are encouraged to email vision@maharishivediccity-iowa.gov by Sunday, Sept. 15. The email stated that meetings will be announced in the near future where residents can participate in the discussion in person or electronically. A new website is under construction to give the public access to the latest plans, too.