George Harrison 1943 - 2001



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Editor's note: what follows is a random collection of press releases and articles about George Harrison's death in Los Angeles, 29 Nov. 2001. Most of this just turned up in my inbox and I posted it. At the time George Harrison died, I had been out of the Hare Krishna organization for good, for more than twelve years. I did not participate in writing any of these press releases put out by ISKCON, nor do I endorse them. I only posted them for the history of it. I can confirm through first hand knowledge that George's dear friends Mukunda Goswami and Shymasundar were with him at the end. Musician Ravi Shankar and members of his family were also there with George at the end. - Nori

The Daily Telegraph
Saturday, November 30, 2002

Fans gather Friday at the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of Beatle George Harrison. Former Beatle George Harrison did not leave a penny to the Hare Krishnas or any other charity in his nearly 100-million pound ($240 million Cdn) will, which was made public Friday. At the time of his death from cancer a year ago, it was reported that he had left about $50-million Cdn to the faith he embraced in the 1960s.

However, his will reveals that he left all his estate in Britain to the benefit of his wife Olivia, 54, and then to his son Dhani, 25. Harrison's 71-year-old sister Louise, with whom he fell out five years ago because she opened a bed and breakfast in Illinois called "Hard Day's Nite," also did not figure in the will, though the two were said to have been reconciled shortly before his death in Los Angeles.

During his life, Harrison, 58, was known to have been a generous donor to the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and even donated a 23-acre site near London to the group. He was cremated in a cardboard coffin in accordance with the faith but his ashes were not scattered in the Ganges as reports at the time suggested they would be. Thousands of followers, Beatles fans and members of the media waited in vain on the banks of the river for two weeks after his death.

All the guitarist's money -- less than half the amount that commentators predicted -- was left in trust in the will he made four months before his death. In an NBC interview this week, his wife of 23 years said that her husband had accepted the fact he was dying of cancer. "He gave his life to God a long time ago. He wasn't trying to hang on to anything. He was fine with it," she said.

"George dedicated a lot of his life to obtain a good ending and I don't have any doubt that he was successful." By leaving the estate in trust, his family avoids paying inheritance tax of almost 40 million pounds. In his will, Harrison gave his address as Montagnola, Switzerland, where he had a villa, but declared that he was a "British citizen" subject to "English law". Harrison, who also had a 15 -million-pound mansion near Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, gave his trustees power to make any investments they wanted and transfer capital from the trust to Olivia or Dhani in circumstances where "they shall think fit".

The three trustees named in his will are thought to be his solicitor and professional friends. His estate is believed to include the rights to several songs, including My Sweet Lord and the triple album All Things Must Pass, as well as the income from his part in producing films, including Monty Python's Life of Brian. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, the two surviving Beatles, were among performers at a memorial concert for Harrison at the Royal Albert Hall in London Friday night. They were joined by Eric Clapton, Jeff Lynne, Jools Holland, Tom Petty, and Ravi Shankar before a sell-out crowd of 5,000.

"It's a reflection and a celebration --my dear friend George died on that day," said Starr. "And it's a positive groove. Olivia wanted to put it together and we all said, 'yeah'." Proceeds from the concert will go the Material World Charitable Foundation, funded by Harrison since 1973, to support the arts, music, and eduation.





Mysteries Surrounding George Harrison's Death
http://www.arrowfm.com/grapevine/stories/05-13harrison.shtml

(05/13/02) -- Some of the rumors surrounding George Harrison's death have been proved untrue, but other questions still remain.

It has now been six months since Harrison died after a long battle with cancer. According to sources close to him, reports of Hare Krishnas being present at his deathbed are false. It is also not true that his ashes were spread on India's Granges River and that he left $30 million to the Krishnas.

However, the motives of Dr. Gil Lederman are unclear. Dr. Lederman treated Harrison at the Staten Island University Hospital, and was eager to speak to the press following his death. A friend of the family said, "Dr. Lederman mounted a press tour exploiting George in the most shameless way." He gave a number of television interviews commenting on Harrison's religious beliefs and personal values, when in fact he'd spoken to Harrison very little. The New York State Department of Health confirmed that the doctor's statements to the press could be considered misconduct.

Family friend, Gavin de Becker, was under investigation when a Los Angeles district attorney accused him of falsifying the address on Harrison's death certificate. He was later cleared of the charges. Becker said, "They still don't know where George died, and they never will. Which proves that even a very famous man can lead a private life and have a peaceful, private death."





ISKCON Internal Memo and Press Release

From: Anuttama dasa, ISKCON Communications
Subject: Caution Please
Date: Thu, 6 Dec 2001

Maharajas and Prabhus,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

I have been in touch with Mukunda Swami and Syamasundara prabhu regularly over the last week.

It was their choice and advice that we should follow the wishes and mood of the Harrison family and deal with George's passing in a quiet fashion. Thus, the text of original press release was very reserved.

While devotees were with George the days leading up to his passing, many reports that are coming in the media are exagerated and untrue. For example, to our knowledge there are no plans yet how George's family will deal with funeral arrangements or his ashes.

I strongly urge the devotees to deal with this in a cautious way. We must not feed the media or "PR" frenzy or we may jepordize our relationship with George's family and his memory.

George was a dear friend, but we must avoid claiming to be his exclusive devotion or faith.

In the past, a few devotees tried to exploit George's fame for personal gain. It is essential our society is careful to avoid such improper behavior or risk a public backlash. Especially devotees that are making public statements to the press or to our congregations need to be careful what they say to stick to facts as they know it and nothing else.

This is especially true in India and elsewhere where the media is attributing false, unsubstantiated information to ISKCON sources and relaying that worldwide. This must not prove an embarrassment to us.

Below please find a press release from the UK office, my most recent release from the US, and the original release from Mukunda Swami and Shyamasundara.

Your servant, Anuttama dasa

****************

Media Release

George Harrison's Death Mourned by Krishna Community

For Immediate Release
Date: December 3, 2001
Contact: Anuttama Dasa
Phone: 301 299-9707

Washington, D.C.---Hare Krishna communities around the world observed memorial services over the weekend for George Harrison, the former Beatle whose personal spiritual search and devotionally inspired rock music helped to introduce millions of young people to Indian spirituality.

"George Harrison has probably done more that any single popular cultural figure during these past few decades to spread spiritual consciousness around the world," said Shyamasundar dasa, a Krishna devotee and personal friend who was with Harrison in Los Angeles during his last few days.

A long time friend of the Hare Krishnas, George was inspired to do his part to spread spiritual consciousness. His 1970 song, "My Sweet Lord" introduced millions to the Hare Krishna mantra, which he gently interspersed between choruses of the Biblical praise, Hallelujah.

"Hare Krishna has a mystical side to it," Harrison said in a 1982 interview published in the book, Chant and Be Happy. "It's more than glorifying God; it's asking to become His servant."

George first met A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder-acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in 1969, in England. They developed a close and affectionate relationship and their association influenced George's music and spirituality.

In a 1982 interview, Harrison said that his song, "The Lord Loves the One that Loves the Lord," from the Living in the Material World Album, was written about Srila Prabhupada. Harrison also made significant contributions to support Prabhupada's work. In 1969, he financed the first hard bound printing of the "Krishna Book," an English translation by Srila Prabhupada of the Srimad Bhagavatam, Tenth Canto, that describes Lord Krishna's lila, or pastimes on earth 5,000 years ago.

In 1973, George Harrison donated Bhaktivedanta Manor, a 23-acre estate outside of London, to the Krishna society. The Manor has since become one of the most important Hindu shrines in Europe.

"When George gave us the Manor, he gave us more than a few buildings," said Varshana devi dasi, ISKCON's UK spokesperson. "He provided a facility for many thousands of people to come for spiritual instruction and to worship God. Each year, over 15,000 British public school students visit the Manor to learn about Vaishnava Hinduism," she said.

For many individual Krishna devotees, the music and lyrics of George Harrison opened the door to a spiritual experience, and the monotheistic philosophy of Vaishnava Hinduism.

"I remember looking at the picture of Krishna and Arjuna on the cover of the "Living in the Material World" album, and wondering who are these divine beings?" said Bhaktimarga Swami, of ISKCON Toronto. "That led me to Krishna devotees, and for that I am eternally grateful to George."

"He was an inspirational figure for many of our generation," said Anuttama Dasa, ISKCON Communications Director. "Knowing that a member of the Beatles was saying publicly that fame and money do not bring happiness gave my search into eastern mysticism more validity," he said.

Weekend services at ISKCON temples included readings about Harrison's meetings with Prabhupada and excerpts from his lyrics glorifying Lord Krishna. Many temples put aside their traditional bhajans for the day to listen to George's rock renditions of the Hare Krishna mantra and other devotional songs.

"If you open up your heart You will know what I mean We've been polluted so long But here's a way for you to get clean By chanting the names of the Lord and you'll be free The Lord is awaiting on you all to awaken and see"

--"Awaiting On You All" from the album All Things Must Pass

***********

Release from UK devotees

Media Release

George Harrison's Death a Great Loss to the Krishna Community

For Immediate Release
Date: November 30, 2001
Contact: Varshana Devi, ISKCON Communications +44-(0)778-845-3756

Hare Krishna devotees mourn the passing of George Harrison and extend their deep sympathy and affection to his family.

George Harrison met Srila Prabhupada, the founder of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) in 1969, in England. George Harrison developed a close and affectionate relationship with Srila Prabhupada and their association certainly influenced his music and his spirituality.

George Harrison donated Bhaktivedanta Manor, Hertfordshire, UK to the Hare Krishna devotees in 1973 and ISKCON feels greatly indebted to him for his generosity. The Manor has since served as one of the most important Hindu temples in Europe.

George was an intensely private person in all aspects of his life, including his spirituality but he was loved and admired by many devotees of Krishna who respected his attitude of humility and service.

There will be a memorial services for George Harrison to be held at Bhaktivedanta Manor and temples around the world during over the next week.

*********

NEWS RELEASE

Hare Krishna Statement in Memory of George Harrison
November 30, 2001

Los Angeles-George Harrison has probably done more than any single popular cultural figure during these past few decades to spread spiritual consciousness around the world.

He transferred his perceptions of a state of being beyond and higher than ordinary consciousness into the words and music that altered millions of lives.

Along the way he became the friend and devoted servant of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder of the Hare Krishna movement. George's relationship with the Hare Krishnas was deep and long abiding since he met them in the late sixties.

During his last days, Krishna devotees were by his side and he left his body to the sounds of the Hare Krishna mantra.

The devotees of Prabhupada are eternally grateful to George Harrison for his boundless services to all living beings.

Written by Shyamasundar das and Mukunda Goswami, International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)





George Harrison died amid chants of Hare Krishna
AFP (Los Angeles, December 1)

Former Beatle George Harrison died amid chants and prayers of Hare Krishna practitioners with whom he had been close since the 1960s, a source from the Hare Krishna Movement said.

The spiritual musician was surrounded by old friends from the Hindu-based religious movement, which he embraced at the height of his fame in the 1960s, Gauda Chandra of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness said

"He had some close friends that he has known since the 1960s with him at the end. There was chanting and praying and he was at peace," he said.

The Hare Krishna followers at his bedside in the home of a Los Angeles friend of Harrison were Shyamasundar Das and Mukunda Goswami.

"During his last days, Krishna devotees were by his side and he left his body to the sounds of the Hare Krishna mantra," they said in a statement obtained here.

"Harrison probably did more than any single popular cultural figure during the past few decades to spread spiritual consciousness around the world," they said.

The two came from Britain and New Zealand to be with Harrison during his final days until he lost his four-year battle with cancer on Thursday, they said.

The bodies of Hare Krishna devotees are usually cremated and their ashes scattered in the holy rivers of the Ganges and the Yamuna, but Gauda Chandra Das said the Los Angeles temple did not know whether Harrison had been cremated or not.

"It's up to the wishes of the family and the individual," he said. "We do not know what Harrison and his family decided."

Media reports said the family had held a private funeral on Thursday night.

Gauda Das said the movement was "deeply saddened" by Harrison's death.

Harrison led the other three Beatles to dabble in eastern religion in the 1960s after he and John Lennon met Krishna founder A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Harrison paid for the printing of the movement's Krishna book in 1970 and wrote its foreword.





Ex-Beatle's Family Due for Last Rites in India
December 3, 2001 1:56 pm EST
By Kamal Kishore

VARANASI (Reuters) - The family of Beatle guitarist George Harrison was due to arrive in India very early on Tuesday to immerse his ashes in the sacred Ganges River, an official of the Hare Krishna movement said.

Arajit Das, an official of the Hare Krishna movement in the holy city of Varanasi in northern India, told Reuters the musician's widow, Olivia, and son, Dhani, would arrive on a chartered plane around 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday (6 p.m. EST Monday).

They would first immerse Harrison's ashes in the Ganges at Varanasi, a bustling town also known as Benares and, as one of the holiest places in Hinduism, a popular site for cremations.

His family would then take another urn to the town of Allahabad, scene of the huge Kumbh Mela Hindu festival in January and February, the official said.

There they were to immerse his ashes in the Sangam, a holy confluence where the Ganges meets the Yamuna River and the mythical Saraswati River.

Harrison, who died last week in Los Angeles after battling cancer, was a long-time devotee of the Hare Krishna movement, a Hindu sect, for which immersion of the ashes is symbolic of the soul's journey toward eternal consciousness.

"We have been asked to be ready to accompany them to the Ganges, where they will immerse the ashes, after which they also propose to go to Allahabad," Das said.

Harrison, 58, was cremated in a cardboard coffin hours after his death, in keeping with his Eastern faith.

Photographers and reporters crowded on Monday into Varanasi, a tourist hotbed once known for mystical splendor, hoping to catch a glimpse of what was supposed to be a private ceremony.

Varanasi has at least 80 "ghats" -- steps leading to the river where the devout take dips aimed at cleansing sins, make sacred offerings or cremate bodies and immerse the ashes.

Relatives normally sprinkle ashes on the river's surface before lowering the urn gently into the water.

Harrison, who believed in reincarnation, was a faithful member of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, popularly known as the Hare Krishna movement.

He spent his last moments chanting "Hare Krishna" with his family next to him and pictures of the Hindu gods Rama and Krishna near his bed, British newspapers said.

Through his friendships with Indian musician Ravi Shankar and guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Harrison developed an interest in Eastern culture and persuaded the Beatles to fly to India to explore mysticism.

Shankar taught Harrison to play the sitar, a 21-string instrument used in Indian classical music.





Associated Press
Harrison's ashes to be immersed in Ganges
December 3, 2001 Posted: 9:44 AM EST (1444 GMT)

NEW DELHI, India (AP) -- The ashes of the late Beatle George Harrison, long a devotee of India's Hindu faith, were to be immersed in the holy Ganges River, religious authorities said Monday.

Maha Mantra Das, a spokesman in New Delhi for the International Society of Krishna Consciousness, told The Associated Press that Harrison's widow, Olivia, and his 23-year-old son, Dhani, would be accompanied by two Hare Krishna devotees from in London.

They were scheduled to arrive in India late Monday, Das said, to scatter the ashes in the Ganges River in the northern city of Varanasi. The ashes would also be sprinkled off Allahabad, where Hindu's three holiest rivers converge: the Ganges, Yamuna and the ancient Saraswati.

He did not know precisely when Harrison's ashes would be released, but believed it would be later Monday or early Tuesday.

Harrison, 58, died in Los Angeles on Thursday. Britain's Press Association reported that Harrison was cremated only hours after losing his long battle against cancer.

Harrison, known as the "quiet Beatle," had a long, intensely intimate relationship with Indian mysticism, music and Hinduism. He was beloved by Indians who appreciated his respect for their culture and religion.

"Harrison was the best guitarist the world has ever produced," said Shashi Ranjan, a lawyer in Allahabad. "I'm a die-hard fan. It's sad, but now we can pay our last respects."

His widow asked fans for a minute of meditation as a tribute to the musician. PA reported that Harrison's family was to scatter his ashes in India tocoincide with that minute, which would take place 9:30 p.m. (2130 GMT) in London, or 3 a.m.Tuesday in India.

Das said that this was likely.

"Early morning is a very auspicious time for Hindus," he said.

Long tradition

Subigra Das, the head of the Baluaghat Krishna temple in Allahabad, told The AP that Mrs. Harrison and their son would first attend Hindu rituals in Varanasi at 3 a.m., then head to Allahabad.

"We will take out a procession and the rituals will be completed in Sangam," said Das. Sangam is the confluence of the three holy rivers and the site of the Kumbh Mela, a festival in January in which 10 million Hindus gathered to pray and wash away their sins.

In a tradition dating more than 3,500 years, Hindus are cremated on riversides and their ashes immersed in holy waters. Hindus believe this ritual releases the soul from the body for its heavenward journey, and frees it from the cycle of reincarnation.

"It is a great loss to us," said Bijendra Nandan at the New Delhi chapter of the ISKC.

"He was a good devotee. We had also held prayers for him a few days before he died," Nandan said.

London-based Hare Krishna devotee Mukund Goswami introduced Harrison to the movement's founder Srila Prabhupada. Harrison later donated one of his studios, spread over 14 acres in London, to the Hare Krishnas. In one of Harrison's most popular songs, "My Sweet Lord," the musician himself chants Hare Krishna.

Krishna is one of the most popular Hindu gods. Hindu mythology describes him as a mischievous character born into a cow herder's family. He was seen a shrewd manipulator who plotted plans to kill exploiting rulers and mobilized farmers to defend their rights.

'He looked so peaceful'

In 1966, after the Beatles had ceased touring, Harrison came to India to study the sitar with Ravi Shankar. Shankar, whom Harrison helped make famous during the Beatles visits to India, was present during Harrison's final hours in California.

"We spent the day before with him, and even then he looked so peaceful, surrounded by love," Shankar said in a statement. "George has left so many precious memories and moments in all our lives which will remain with us forever."

In 1967, Harrison introduced the other Beatles to the teaching of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who pioneered Transcendental Meditation. Harrison and fellow Beatle John Lennon traveled to the Maharishi's ashram in Rishikesh, another holy city in northern India on the Ganges River, to study meditation.

"George's music was wild before he met the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi," said Swami Shyam, a holy man drinking tea along the Ganges River in Rishikesh. He said he met Harrison at the Maharishi's ashram in 1967.

"Some peace was infused into his music after he came to the ashram," Shyam said. "Bliss came much later, after he was associated with the Hare Krishna movement."

Harrison was the only one who remained a follower of Transcendental Meditation and he visited India many times.

The Hindustan Times reported Monday that he quietly visited Varanasi three months ago to bathe in the Ganges and pray at local Hindu temples. He used a false name and no one was aware of his visit until he left, the paper reported.





Tuesday December 4 3:48 AM ET
Mystery Surrounds Harrison's Last Rites in India
By Sharat Pradhan

VARANASI, India (Reuters) - Mystery surrounded the last rites for Beatles' guitarist George Harrison on Tuesday as Hare Krishna officials gave mixed signals on the immersion of the musician's ashes in India's sacred Ganges river.

Harrison, a long-time devotee of the Hindu sect, was closely attached to the holy Hindu city of Varanasi where the immersion of the ashes was expected to take place in a ritual symbolizing the journey of his soul toward eternal consciousness.

Harrison, 58, who died last week in Los Angeles after battling cancer, was cremated in a cardboard coffin hours after his death, in keeping with his adopted faith.

Hare Krishna members chanted prayers for Harrison's soul in Delhi, but no one could give clear details of if, where or when the immersion ceremony would take place.

Officials in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh said the ritual may already have taken place quietly.

``So far, we have received no information with respect to Harrison's ashes,'' the state's home (interior) secretary, Naresh Dayal, told Reuters.

``All I can presume is perhaps they wanted it to be a private affair, so they might have already come and gone without informing anyone.''

In Varanasi, a Hare Krishna official who had earlier said the ceremony was due to take place at dawn changed tack.

``Apparently, I had been misinformed by someone in Delhi,'' Arajit Das told reporters.

In Delhi, a Hare Krishna spokesman held out hopes that the ritual may yet take place later on Tuesday for the ``quiet Beatle'' of the quartet that made legendary music in the1960s.

``There is every prospect of it (the ashes) coming down today,'' the spokeswoman told Reuters. ``That the immersion will take place in Benares (Varanasi) I am reasonably sure ... But his wife wanted no coverage (by the media).''

Das had earlier told Reuters the musician's widow, Olivia, and son, Dhani, were scheduled to visit Varanasi, one of the holiest Hindu places and a popular site for cremations.

CLOSE ATTACHMENT

The Hare Krishna spokesman said he certainly expected the immersion of some ashes in Varanasi and possibly also in Allahabad, 80 miles upriver, where the holy Yamuna joins the Ganges and the mythical Saraswati river.

He said the Beatle was closely attached to both towns. ``We did a prayer today with Harrison's picture. We chanted for peace to the soul.''

Hare Krishna's representatives in Allahabad and London said they were in the dark as most others on the ritual.

``All I do know is that devotees of the Hare Krishna movement are with the family (to guide rituals),'' Varshani Devi Dasi told Reuters by telephone from London.

``They are choosing to be private. The news that I have is that they are still in Los Angeles.''

Hare Krishna officials in Varanasi said they were puzzled by the sequence of events, adding they had earlier been informed the ashes would arrive by a special aircraft early on Tuesday.

Photographers and reporters thronged the tourist town on Monday, hoping to catch a glimpse of the private ceremony.

Varanasi has at least 80 ``ghats'' -- platforms or steps by the river to help the devout take dips aimed at cleansing sins, make sacred offerings or cremate bodies and immerse the ashes.

Relatives normally sprinkle ashes on the river's surface before lowering the urn gently into the water.

Harrison, who became a vegetarian and believed in reincarnation, was a member of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, also called the Hare Krishna movement.

He spent his last moments chanting ``Hare Krishna'' with his family next to him and pictures of the Hindu gods Rama and Krishna near his bed, British newspapers said.





Secrecy Shrouds Harrison's Last Rites in India
December 4, 2001 8:19 am EST
By Sharat Pradhan

VARANASI, India (Reuters) - Mystery surrounded the last rites for Beatles' guitarist George Harrison on Tuesday as Hare Krishna officials were tight-lipped about plans to immerse the musician's ashes in India's sacred Ganges river.

Harrison, a long-time devotee of the Hindu sect, was closely attached to the holy city of Varanasi where the immersion of the ashes was expected to take place in a ritual symbolizing the journey of his soul toward eternal consciousness.

Harrison, known as the "Quiet Beatle," died last week in Los Angeles at the age of 58 after battling cancer. He was cremated in a cardboard coffin hours after his death, in keeping with his adopted Eastern faith.

"All I do know is that devotees of the Hare Krishna movement are with the family (to guide them in the rituals)," Varshani Devi Dasi, a Hare Krishna official, told Reuters by telephone from London. "They (the family) are choosing to be private,"

In Varanasi, a Hare Krishna official who had told reporters that the musician's widow, Olivia, and son, Dhani, 24, were due to visit Varanasi and that the immersion ceremony would take place at dawn on Tuesday said later he was misinformed.

Government officials in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh said the rites for the youngest of the Beatles quartet who revolutionised pop music in the 1960s might already have taken place.

"All I can presume is perhaps they wanted it to be a private affair so they might have already come and gone without informing anyone," state Home Secretary Naresh Dayal told Reuters.

Varanasi has at least 80 "ghats" or steps leading down an embankment to the Ganges where the devout take sin-cleansing dips, make sacred offerings, cremate bodies and immerse the ashes.

Relatives normally sprinkle the ashes on the river's surface before lowering the urn containing them gently into the water.

IMMERSED TWICE?

In New Delhi, a Hare Krishna spokesman said he expected some of Harrison's ashes to be immersed at Varanasi and possibly also at Allahabad, 80 miles upriver where the holy Yamuna joins the Ganges. But he had no other information.

Photographers and reporters, who thronged the busy tourist town hoping to catch a glimpse of the ceremony were joined by a handful of eager foreign tourists.

"Once I read the news in the papers (about Harrison's ashes), I thought I must take a look," said London tourist Tony Roche.

Thomas Neville from Ireland who had his head shaved in a traditional Hindu gesture of mourning for Harrison said he was disappointed not to have seen any ceremony.

"Here I am, paying my last respects to the great singer."

Harrison, who became a vegetarian and believed in reincarnation, was a member of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, also called the Hare Krishna movement.

He spent his last moments chanting "Hare Krishna" with his family next to him and pictures of the Hindu gods Rama and Krishna near his bed, British newspapers said.





Harrison's Ashes Expected in India
12/04/2001 1:34 PM EST Email this Story
By PRAJNAN BHATTACHARYA

VARANASI, India (AP) - Hare Krishna followers in India awaited the arrival of the ashes of former Beatle George Harrison, a fellow devotee whose family reportedly planned to scatter his remains in the holy Ganges River.

Officials of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness told The Associated Press that Harrison's widow, Olivia, and their 23-year-old son, Dhani were to arrive in India soon. By Tuesday evening, the Harrisons had not been spotted.

"There is a lot of secrecy. What I can tell you is that we expect to perform the ceremony tomorrow," said Vrajendra Nandan, a spokesman for the Krishna society in New Delhi. Nandan would not comment on when he expected Harrison's family to arrive.

The family would not confirm any aspect of the reports, spokesman Gavin de Becker said in Los Angeles.

Harrison, 58, died of cancer in Los Angeles on Thursday. Hours after his death, he was cremated at Hollywood Forever Memorial Park.

In Harrison's hometown of Liverpool, England, more than 1,000 people attended a vigil in his memory, standing silent for a minute on Monday night as requested by Olivia Harrison.

"George was a truly gifted musician. But he was much more than that. His ideals and his love of peace inspired countless thousands," said Liverpool Mayor Gerry Scott. "His loss will be deeply felt but his vision will live on."

In a tradition dating back more than 3,500 years, Hindus are cremated on riversides and their ashes immersed in holy waters. Hindus believe this ritual releases the soul from the body for its journey toward Heaven, and frees it from the cycle of reincarnation.

Ram Shankar Tripathi, chief priest of the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, said Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar once brought Harrison to his home.

"Harrison had a loving personality and ardent curiosity about the sacred city of Varanasi and India's cultural heritage," Tripathi said. "He appreciated our religion. His ashes will be scattered in the holy river and he will achieve salvation."

Harrison, known as the "quiet Beatle," had a long, intimate relationship with Indian music, religion and culture.

London-based Hare Krishna devotee Mukunda Goswami introduced Harrison to the movement's founder, Srila Prabhupada. Harrison later donated one of his studios to the Hare Krishnas. In one of his most popular songs, "My Sweet Lord," Harrison chants "Hare Krishna."

Krishna is one of the most popular Hindu gods. His views on the immortality of the soul were compiled in one of Hinduism's holiest books, the Bhagwad Gita.





Tuesday, 4 December, 2001, 04:44 GMT
Harrison fans unite in meditation

Fans, friends and the family of George Harrison have taken part in a minute's meditation in memory of the former Beatle.

His family requested that people gathered at 1330 Pacific Standard Time (2130GMT) to observe the silence.

It had been thought that Harrison's family intended to scatter his ashes in the sacred River Ganges in India following a private ceremony.

But it is unclear whether or not this has yet taken place.

Liverpool and London provided centres for fans in the UK to pay their respects, with vigils held outside St George's Hall and outside Abbey Road recording studios on Monday.

At Central Park's Strawberry Fields in New York, more than 200 people gathered to take part in the meditation and afterwards sang songs.

One participant said: "The world is emptier without him. It is a big loss."

Inspiration

Three hours earlier, fans in Liverpool had clapped along to Harrison's hit My Sweet Lord after observing their own minute's silence. Liverpool Lord Mayor Gerry Scott told the crowd: "Tonight we are gathered here in memory of George Harrison, a true son of Liverpool, whose music reached out to the whole world and shaped a generation.

"George was a truly gifted musician. But he was much more than that.

"His ideals and his love of peace inspired countless thousands.

"His loss will be deeply felt but his vision will live on."

'Private ceremony'

Meanwhile it is uncertain what private ceremony may have taken place following Harrison's cremation.

According to the tenets of Hare Krishna, the Hindu sect to which the former Beatle adhered, the movement of the ashes in the river is symbolic of the soul's journey towards eternal consciousness.

But a Hare Krishna official in India told Reuters news agency that the ashes had not arrived by aircraft as expected.

Prasann Atmas Das, head of the Hare Krishna sect in Varanasi, said: "We were waiting to perform the necessary rituals.

"But now nobody has come."

Harrison's widow, Olivia and son, Dhani, wished to make the visit to India and the ceremony, at the holy city of Varanasi very private, Mahamantra Das, New Delhi spokesman for the International Society of Krishna Consciousnes had earlier said.

Hare Krishna members around the world had been praying for the musician's soul, he said.

In a statement, family friend Gavin de Becker, said Olivia and Dhani were "deeply touched by the outpouring of love and compassion from people around the world".

"The profound beauty of the moment of George's passing - of his awakening from this dream - was no surprise to those of us who knew how he longed to be with God.

"In that pursuit, he was relentless.

Pupils from Harrison's old school have planted a tree in the city's peace garden.

Children from Dovedale Junior School, along with Lord Mayor of Liverpool Gerry Scott planted it behind St George's Hall.

A memorial in Liverpool is to be planned for a later date to be agreed with the musician's family.





Secrecy surrounds spreading of Harrison's ashes

A Hare Krishna official says secrecy surrounds the spreading of George Harrison's ashes in India's holy Ganges River.

The family of Harrison is due to return to India for an ancient ritual that Hindus believe allows the soul to begin its approach to heaven.

Officials of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness said Harrison's widow and son were due to arrive in India before dawn.

But Harrison's widow, Olivia, and their 23-year-old son, Dhani, have not been spotted in India.

It had been reported that the spreading of Harrison's ashes would coincide with a minute of meditation that was held in London on Monday night.

"There is a lot of secrecy. What I can tell you is that they haven't arrived in India," BN Das, a spokesman for the Krishna society in New Delhi, said. "The ceremony will be held today or tomorrow in Varanasi."

The family will not confirm any aspect of the reports, spokesman Gavin de Becker said in Los Angeles on Monday.

Harrison died of cancer in Los Angeles on Thursday. He was 58

He was cremated hours after his death. He was dressed in traditional Indian robes and two of his closest friends, both Hare Krishnas, chanted quietly at his side, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.

In Liverpool, more than 1,000 people attended a vigil in his memory, standing silent for a minute on Monday night, as requested by Olivia Harrison.





HARRISON'S LAST RITES have been shrouded in secrecy since a Hare Krishna official said on Monday the musician's family was expected to visit the holy city of Varanasi for the ritual symbolizing the journey of his soul to eternal consciousness.

"As far as the administration is concerned, I don't think there's anything happening because normally any important people would seek official assistance even for a private ritual," Singh said.

He added the local administration and air traffic control had received no communication about the arrival of any special flights nor were the family booked on any scheduled flights from Delhi or Bombay.

IN KEEPING WITH EASTERN FAITH

Harrison, a long-time devotee of the Hindu sect, died last week in Los Angeles at age 58 after battling cancer. He was cremated in a cardboard coffin hours after his death, in keeping with his adopted Eastern faith.

Hare Krishna official Arajit Das said he was unaware of plans to hold any ceremony. "Whatever I can tell you is on the basis of newspaper reports because there's no communication either from our ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) offices in Delhi or London who are equally clueless about any plans to bring Harrison's ashes to Varanasi for immersion," he said. Das had previously told reporters Harrison's family would be arriving to conduct the ceremony at dawn on Tuesday, but then later said he had been misinformed.

But the suggestion Harrison's ashes might be scattered on the Ganges has sparked a media flurry in India, with local and foreign journalists flocking to Varanasi and surrounding areas.





Harrison: A 'dark horse' that shone bright
An appreciation by MSNBC's Jim Washburn

On Tuesday, government official in Uttar Pradesh, the state in which Varanasi lies, had said the rites for the youngest of the Beatles quartet who revolutionised pop music in the 1960s may already have happened.

Varanasi has at least 80 "ghats" or steps leading down an embankment to the Ganges where the devout take sin-cleansing dips, make sacred offerings, cremate bodies and immerse the ashes. Relatives normally sprinkle the ashes on the river's surface before lowering the urn containing them gently into the water.

Harrison, who became a vegetarian and believed in reincarnation, was a member of the Hare Krishna movement. He spent his last moments chanting "Hare Krishna" with his family next to him and pictures of the Hindu gods Rama and Krishna near his bed, British newspapers said.

'I don't think there's anything happening because normally any important people would seek official assistance even for a private ritual.' - HARE KRISNA OFFICIAL c. 2001 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters.





Wednesday, 5 December, 2001, 11:20 GMT
Confusion over Harrison ceremony

The River Ganges is sacred to Hindus

Vigils have been held for a third day for George Harrison on the banks of India's River Ganges, but there is still uncertainty over where the former Beatle's ashes will be scattered.

Officials of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) said that Harrison's widow Olivi Wednesday.

They have not been seen in the area yet and local police officials say they have been told nothing about any ceremony.

The former Beatle lost his battle against cancer last Thursday and news of his death prompted worldwide mourning.

India's Varanasi city police Inspector-General Vikram Singh said he thought the ceremony was a "creation of the media".

"As far as the administration is concerned, I don't think there's anything happening because normally any important people would seek official assistance even for a private ritual," he said.

Hare Krishna official Arajit Das said that despite an earlier suggestion the ashes would be scattered from Allahabad, where the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers converge, he was unaware of plans to hold any ceremony.

"Whatever I can tell you is on the basis of newspaper reports because there's no communication either from our offices in Delhi or London, who are equally clueless about any plans to bring Harrison's ashes to Varanasi for immersion," he said.

Elsewhere in the world, fans, friends and the family paid tribute to Harrison by taking part in a minute's meditation.

His family had requested that people gathered at 1330 Pacific Standard Time (2130GMT) to observe the silence on Monday.

Liverpool and London provided centres for fans in the UK to pay their respects, with vigils held outside St George's Hall and outside Abbey Road recording studios on Monday.

At Central Park's Strawberry Fields in New York, more than 200 people gathered to take part in the meditation and afterwards sang songs.

Sitar

Harrison, a long-time devotee of the Hindu sect Hare Krishna, died aged 58 and was cremated in a cardboard coffin hours after his death, in keeping with his adopted Eastern faith.

He had a long and intimate relationship with Indian music, religion and culture, and had donated one of his studios, spread over 14 acres (5.5 hectares) in London, to the Hare Krishnas.

In 1966, after the Beatles had stopped touring, Harrison came to India to study the sitar with Ravi Shankar.

Shankar was present during Harrison's final hours in California.

As a strong believer in the Krishna sect Harrison would have been familiar with the ritual of immersion.

But he also had an older, more profound link with the Ganges.

It runs through the retreat of a Hindu spiritual guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in the Himalayan town of Rishikesh, where Harrison had his first brush with Hinduism in the 1960s.

Success

It was here that he began his spiritual discovery of Eastern mysticism, which eventually led him to his involvement with the Krishna movement.

His acclaimed album All Things Must Pass, from 1970, was heavily influenced by his time in India.

Harrison was the first Beatle after the band's split to have a number one single, with My Sweet Lord.

The album looks set to enter the top 40 on Sunday and British newspapers are calling for a re release of the single in time for Christmas.





TUESDAY DECEMBER 04 2001
Harrison leaves £20m to Krishnas
BY ADAM SHERWIN, MEDIA REPORTER
GEORGE HARRISON left £20 million of his estate to the Hare Krishna faith which sustained him as he died of cancer.

As the family of the former Beatle arrived in India for a ceremony in which his ashes will be scattered on the Ganges, details of his will emerged. He left the bulk of his almost £200 million fortune to his widow, Olivia, and son, Dhani, according to reports in the US.

He left instructions for up to 10 per cent of his wealth to be distributed to the Hare Krishnas, whom he supported spiritually and financially for more than 30 years. It is expected to be distributed by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness to temples across the world. The sect will receive a proportion of future earnings from Harrison's music.

A significant proportion will go to Bhaktivedanta Manor, the Hertfordshire mansion bought by Harrison and donated to the Krishnas. A spokesman for the Manor said: "We are eternally grateful for all George has done for us. His generosity allowed the Krishna movement to take root in Britain."

Up to £5 million will be distributed to unnamed international and British-based charities which aid children in poor African countries.

In accordance with her husband's last wishes, Olivia Harrison will visit two Hindu pilgrimage sites in India today and scatter his ashes on the Ganges. In a tradition dating more than 3,500 years, Hindus are cremated on river banks and their ashes immersed in holy waters. Hindus believe this releases the soul from the body for its heavenward journey and frees it from the cycle of reincarnation.

Harrison's ashes will first be immersed in the Ganges at Varanasi, one of the holiest places in Hinduism and a popular site for cremations. Phoolan Devi, the criminal- turned-politician known as the Bandit Queen, was cremated at Varanasi after her murder earlier this year.

Harrison's family are expected to take another urn to the town of Allahabad, scene of the Kumbh Mela festival earlier this year. There they are to immerse his ashes in the Sangam, a holy confluence where the Ganges meets the Yamuna River and the mythical Saraswati River.

More than 1,000 Beatle fans braved the bitter cold in Liverpool city centre last night for a vigil in honour of Harrison. They congregated in front of St George's Hall, where flags were flown at halfmast, to listen to his music and pay their respects. Pupils from Harrison's former school, Dovedale Junior, gave a reading and a Hindu prayer was also read. The crowd took part in a minute's silent meditation.

Before the vigil, Dovedale pupils planted a tree in the Peace Garden behind the hall. The English oak is rooted a few feet from a tree planted in memory of John Lennon.





You may say they were dreamers
by SAEED NAQVI
Posted online: Friday, December 09, 2005 at 0000 hours IST
http://www.indianexpress.com/full_story.php?content_id=83564

I wonder if the bead counting mendicants on the other side of Lakshman Jhoola in Rishikesh have any recollection (on the 25th anniversary of John Lennon's death) of how their peace was shattered by the arrival of the Beatles in the spring of 1968, in search of a new label: holy singers from the hermitage.

This plot, the quest for a new, spiritualised image, was, I suspect, in John Lennon's head, whom I found the most secretive of the Beatles. The most candid was Ringo Starr: "its like a Butlin holiday camp!" he exclaimed within hours of having reach Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ashram, Chaurasi Kutia, or 84 huts. The next day he brought his spiritual quest to an abrupt end, packed up his bags and left. The most earnest about meditation, Indian music, particularly the sitar, was George Harrison who occasionally tried to draw Paul McCartney into the conversation with little apparent success.

This was the first wave of globalisation that I personally experienced, ensconced in my cubicle as a guest of the Maharishi (that's the story I shall tell on another occasion).

The Beatles were not the only musicians to have made their way to the Maharishi's ashram in Rishikesh. The Beach Boys, Donovan, Mike Horn and film stars like Mia Farrow and sister Prudence Farrow, lay for days, sunk in transcendental meditation. "Hush!" the Maharishi would whisper. "Prudence and the Beatles have been in continuous meditation for 36 hours." I was always a little sceptical of these feats which bordered more on physical endurance than spiritual experience.

The manifestation of the Beatles in a Hindu ashram has its genesis in a movement started in the US a decade earlier. While Jack Kerouac, the guru of the Beat generation, was writing and rewriting 'On The Road', his comrade, Allen Ginsberg, was spacing his marijuana trances with reverential trips to Varanasi in search of nirvana.

The Beatniks gave way to a surge of flower children in Haight & Ashbury, California. These flower children, disparagingly called the hippies, came to India and Nepal in droves, re-invented Goa and spilled over into the 'Hare Krishna, Hare Rama' hotels in New Delhi's Paharganj.

These impulses were being picked up at a more sophisticated level. Cross fertilisation between the East and the West, particularly in the musical field at a higher cultural level, was facilitated at the Edinburgh Festival in 1963. Lord Harewood, director of the festival, was a friend of Yehudi Menuhin, the great violinist, and Dr Narayana Menon, veena player and secretary, Sangeet Natak Akademi. It was Menon who introduced Ravi Shankar (sitar) and Ali Akbar Khan (sarod) to Lord Harewood. Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar made such an impact on the musicians and musicologists present in Edinburgh, that their performances imparted to Indian classical music an exceptionally high profile in western musical circles.

In some ways the appearance of the Ravi Shankar-Ali Akbar duet in the western musical world could be compared to the impact Satyjit Ray had on the world of cinema with the release of Pather Panchali in the mid-'50s.

The Edinburgh music festival was followed up by Yehudi Menuhin-Ravi Shankar sitar-violin duets. Menuhin, one of the greatest western musicians of all time, delving into Indian classical music and yoga, gave Indian culture a boost in the West it had not had in recent decades. The fillip given to this fusion by Menuhin, Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar attracted the attention of the Beatles, particularly George Harrison.

I still remember the Oblong Glass House in the Maharishi's ashram which served as Harrison's "sitar" room. A junior sitar player, claiming endorsement from Ravi Shankar, became Harrison's ustad. It was during these sessions that Harrison began to strum the notes of Raga Bageshwari. Not many Beatles enthusiasts around the world know that the Beatles classic 'Norwegian Wood' is actually stultified Bageshwari. That was as far as George Harrison could go in mastering the raga.

Ravi Shankar, on the other hand, saw in the unprecedented popularity of the pop culture spawned by the Beatles (and others) as an opportunity to penetrate a wider audience in the West. It was this calculation which caused him to accept a proposition Ravi Shankar has lived to rue. His accompanist on the tabla, Allah Rakha, told me he had nightmares after that performance.

The disastrous "non performance" was at Woodstock, the greatest pop jamboree ever. But, alas, it was too noisy for classical music. Worse, the flower children closest to the stage took their clothes off and proceeded to make love in the spirit of hippie freedom, even as Allah Rakha, closed his eyes and covered them with his hands.

On this, the 25th anniversary of John Lennon's death, it is worth our while to remember the distinction between cultural "fusion" and cultural "confusion". Ravi Shankar at Woodstock represented the latter.



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