It's a long way from Maputo to nirvana, but Mozambique's salvation may lie in something other than prawns, South African tourists and cashew nuts.

The October election victory of President Joaquim Chissano could open the way for devotees of the Maharishi Mashesh Yogi, one-time guru of the Beatles, to implement a spiritual and agricultural utopia in the world's poorest country.Chissano is an enthusiastic practitioner of transcendental meditation, into which he has roped his family and a large section of Mozambique's ruling elite.

On receiving an honorary doctorate last year from the Maharishi Vedic University in Vlodrop, Netherlands, Chissano credited the "technology of consciousness" with bringing peace to his country, lowering the crime and accident rates and bringing good rains to the countryside.

He sent thousands of soldiers on meditation courses and, he said, "a positive effect was felt throughout the country." His honorary degree was awarded for "adopting the TM program in such a way that he calmed down the whole population."

Encouraged by sympathizers in such high places, the Dutch-based Maharishi Heaven on Earth Development Co. (Mahedco) has asked Maputo for permission to implement an ambitious plan to develop 50 million acres of Mozambican territory - almost a quarter of the countryside.

Mahedco wants to plant cotton, timber, mangoes and pawpaws, rebuild the infrastructure of the country and set up a national health program based on "natural" holistic medicine.

It's nothing less than a holistic cure for an entire country, one that was at war nonstop from 1964 to 1991.

"But first we need to revive the consciousness of people," Mahedco chief executive Jacques Uijen said in an interview. "As long as they remain in complete inertia, no project will succeed."