Hindu Vivek Kendra
«« Back
George Leaves Ashes For Ganges

George Leaves Ashes For Ganges

Author: Amit Roy
Publication: The Telegraph
Date: December 1, 2001

Before he died in Los Angeles of cancer at the age of 58 yesterday, George Harrison expressed a wish to be cremated and his ashes to be tossed in the holy waters of the Ganges, devotees at Bhaktivedanta Manor in Letchmore Heath, Hertfordshire, said today.

At the manor, which Harrison gifted to the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon) in 1973, prayers were offered before a garlanded portrait of the former Beatle. Those who knew Harrison said his interest in Indian music, mysticism, philosophy, food and culture was sustained through his intimate "father-son" relationship with Pandit Ravi Shankar.

The worldwide popularity of Indian music, according to experts, should be credited to Harrison who acted as the catalyst.

At Bhaktivedanta Manor, one of the devotees, Nara Hari (born Narendra Bhatt in Kenya), said Harrison had maintained close ties with the Hare Krishna movement. "A lot of people have come to offer flowers and prayers to help him in his journey," he said, adding: "We hope Lord Krishna will give him shelter. He wanted to join us full-time but he was advised he could serve Krishna through his music. You can hear him chanting My Sweet Lord which was his tribute to Lord Krishna. He said when he died he wanted to be cremated and his ashes to be scattered in the Ganges."

Along with the immediate emotional reaction to Harrison's death came an assessment of his musical legacy. Harrison was a familiar figure on Ravi Shankar's frequent tours to Britain and had developed a fond relationship with his guru's daughter Anoushka, who called him "Uncle George".

Jai Vishwadeva, artistic director of Navras Records, said: "If Indian music is where it is today, it is because of him - he was the catalyst. He opened Indian music to a worldwide audience."

In the 1960s, when The Beatles were at the height of their fame, Harrison persuaded fellow band members to travel to India with him in 1968 and spend time at Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ashram in Rishikesh. But Harrison also found time to receive sitar lessons from Ravi Shankar, first in Bombay and later on at a houseboat in Kashmir. When Harrison's son was born in 1978, Harrison gave the baby an Indian name - Dhani.

Vishwadeva recalled one of Harrison's comments: "India is where it's at." The music producer who worked closely with Ravi Shankar in Britain, Viram Jasani, said: "When we toured with Ravi Shankar, Harrison was always with him. His interest in India was not a passing fad. It began in the 1960s and here we are in 2001."

Ravi Shankar's autobiography Raga Mala was edited and introduced and effectively published and financed by Harrison. In it, Ravi Shankar said: "Something clicked from the very beginning with George. I felt strongly there was a beautiful soul in him and recognised one quality which I have always valued enormously ...- humility."

Back                          Top

«« Back
  Search Articles
  Special Annoucements