George Harrison #5

Here’s the piece I submitted to India Hindustan Times newspaper on 30 December 2001: George Harrison’s Appointment With God George Harrison was one of the four Beatles, the 60s music group that changed the world — not only its music, but its culture and its worldview. His death in Los Angeles on 29 November, 2001 was to him the beginning of a journey to God. He was one of the few musical stars to fully embrace the principles of transmigration of the soul, karma and many other elements of Indian philosophy. George Harrison has probably done more than any single popular cultural figure in history to spread Indian culture around the world. He became a dear friend of India. His friendships with Ravi Shankar, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and the Hare Krishna Movement’s founder Bhaktivedanta Swami became part of his lifelong quest to improve the quality of his life on earth. Some of his songs which contain the essence of Vedic knowledge in their lyrics and which sold hundreds of millions of copies around the world are “All Things Must Pass,” “The Lord Loves the One Who Loves the Lord,” Living in the Material World,” “The Art of Dying,” “Krishna Where Are You?” “My Sweet Lord,” and “Here Comes the Sun.” Lyrics from some of these songs explained it all: “Living in the material world, Got to get out of this place, by the Lord Shri Krishna’s grace, after living in this material world.” Harrison’s disdain for material wealth, fame and stardom was unique among celebrities of his stature. George Harrison’s interviewers remember that he saw God in every blade of grass and in every grain of sand. He believed in transmigration. He saw death not as the end, but “as the same old mob going round and round and round.” He popularised yoga, especially Bhakti-yoga or the rendering of loving devotional service to the Supreme Lord. He included the Hare Krishna mantra in his hit record, “My Sweet Lord,” a song that sold millions of copies and was one of the largest selling records of all time. Thanks in large part to George’s music the Hare Krishna mantra became known in every part of the world. His Concert for Bangladesh in 1971 after that country’s catastrophic floods, spawned a generation of similar concerts, such as “We Are the World” and “Live Aid,” in which rock stars assembled to benefit good causes. His perceptions of a state of being beyond and higher than ordinary consciousness entered into his songs and altered millions of lives. Many times George Harrison said, “Everything else can wait, but the search for god cannot wait, nor can love for one another.” “He left this world as he lived it,” his family said in a statement released publicly, he was “conscious of God, fearless of death and at peace with himself.”