for ISKCON News on Dec. 1, 2011
On November 29th, 2001 George Harrison passed away in Los Angeles. At that time Radha and Krishna Deities were at the foot of his bed. He was surrounded by family and friends.
During the San Francisco “Summer of Love,” I wrote to George Harrison through an underground newspaper called “the Oracle.” The Oracle had just published a statement by him, to the effect the one could get to the essence of music by chanting mantras. I took it upon myself to write him, care of the Oracle, saying that it was actually the other way around: that the sound of the mantra was the essence and that music was a means to get to that essence.
After writing that letter in mid-1967, I forgot about it. As far as I was concerned it was a done deal and the chances that George would see it were extremely slim. I forgot all about it. When I first met him in London about a year and a half later, he remembered my name and the contents of the letter.
George became a supporter of the Krishna consciousness movement, meeting Srila Prabhupada shortly after Prabhupada’s London arrival in September of 1969.
At that time most of the devotees were about the same age as George, and we struck up a friendship, that was to last for many years.
ISKCON devotees even lived at his home in Henley-on-Thames. He introduced Syamasundara to the other three Beatles.
Shortly after arriving in England, some devotees witnessed the Beatles rehearsing at Twickenham Studios for the album, “Let It Be.” It appeared at that time that the world’s most popular music group would be breaking up. That proved to be true. Not long after “Let it Be” was released, the Beatles as a rock group ceased to be.
In September of 1969 The Hare Krishna Mantra recording, produced by George Harrison, became popular all over the world, reaching into the top 10 in many countries.
Once in Manchester, England the Hare Krishna Mantra was played over the loudspeaker system at the intermission of a football (soccer) match in a large stadium. Thousands of football enthusiasts sang along.
In 1970, George’s song “My Sweet Lord," which included the phrases, "Hare Krishna" and “Hare Rama” zoomed to the very top of global charts. Because of this number-one record, people all over the world heard the Holy Names of Krishna and Rama. “My Sweet Lord” remained in the number one position for several weeks.
Many came to Krishna consciousness, so they say, because of George Harrison.
In 1973 George purchased the 17-acre estate, now known as Bhaktivedanta Manor, for ISKCON.
On the 29th of November 2011 an important part of Bhaktivedanta Manor was formally dedicated to George Harrison. This prominently situated garden will undoubtedly be maintained with love and devotion in memory of the person who donated the building and its beautiful grounds to ISKCON.