Peter Max Paints Swami Vishnudevananda’s Peace Plane and All You Need is Love

Born on a Thursday Number Fourteen

All aboard the Peace . . . Plane! 

When I was watching the videos in this post, I was thinking how it’s amazing that Sivananda ashrams have barely changed since 1970, except for that you see evidence of technology – everyone has a cell phone and their own computers. (And some now have straw bale buildings)!

Peter Max talks about his experience painting Swami Vishnu-devananda’s Peace Plane. He also talks about yoga versus drug use – and – about technology.

Swami Vishnu-devanandaWhile I was training to become a yoga instructor at the Sivananda Yoga Ashram, Swami Swaroopananda told us the story of Swami Vishnu-devananda’s plane, and how it was painted by Peter Max and how Swamiji flew the plane over the Berlin Wall – dropping flowers and peace pamphlets from the sky. Of course, Swamiji was arrested in East Berlin, but after a few hours of questioning, authorities released him to West Berlin.

I love that story! Can you imagine a psychedelic plane flying over your city dropping flowers and peace leaflets? I would be terrified if it wasn’t kind of funny and sweet and beautiful.

Before Berlin, he had other adventures in his Peace Plane. According to wikipedia:

On August 30, 1971, Vishnudevananda flew from Boston to Northern Ireland in his Peace Plane, a twin-engine Piper Apache plane painted by artist Peter Max. His Vedantic message, “Man is free as a bird”, challenged all man-made borders and mentally constructed boundaries. Upon landing, he was joined by actor Peter Sellers and they walked through the streets of Belfast chanting a song called “Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself.” Later that same year, on October 6, he took off with his co-pilot over the war-ridden Suez Canal and was buzzed by Israeli jets. The same thing happened with the Egyptian Air Force on the other side of the Canal. He continued eastward, “bombing” Pakistan and India with flowers and peace leaflets.

I think if Swamiji’s plane wasn’t blessed with Peter Max’s trippy artwork ala the Beatles Yellow Submarine, he probably would have been shot down! Art saves! Of course, there were some strong intentions behind the art and the mission as well.

We need more peace and love today!

I missed meeting Swami Vishnu-devananda by only a few years. I began practicing yoga before he died, but it wasn’t until a few years after he died that I trained to teach. Swamiji was very well-loved at the ashram.

If you want to trip out, check out this clip. It is an hour of the music festival happening and Peace Plane blessings at the Sivananda Ashram in Canada in 1970. 

Yellow Submarine Trailer (This movie scared the heck out of me when I was a little kid! I think I need to re-watch it).

Om shanti! Thanks for reading.


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Holly hails from an illustrious lineage of fortune tellers, yogis, folk healers, troubadours and poets of the fine and mystical arts. Shape-shifting Tantric Siren of the Lunar Mysteries, she surfs the ebbs and flows of the multiverse on the Pure Sound of Creation. Her alchemy is Sacred Folly — revolutionary transformation through Love, deep play, Beauty, and music.

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