Within him, without him

Somehow, I think George would find this article a fitting tribute.  No, it is not filled with tales of stardom and grandeur.  It is simple, and quite understated, not much unlike the man himself.  I have been thinking quite a lot about George Harrison.  Yes, it is the anniversary of his passing, but for some unknown reason I simply did not know how to put some sort of tribute to him into words.  Somehow anything I tried to assemble all fell short of expectation. 

I have been listening quite a bit to the Wilbury set that came out recently and simply love hearing these guys at the top of their games, having fun making music and enjoying their own company.  I don’t think George wanted to have things any other way. 

  • What is your favorite memory or personal experience of George Harrison?  I’m sure that everyone would love to share their favorite memories.  Please share in the comments below.   

Here’s what we’ve read. 

It’s 11 pm on December 3, 2001. I am at a Varanasi hotel lobby. The media and tourists are vying for space. There’s an air of hushed expectancy. Lights are subdued and people are speaking in low whispers. The bitter cold and the fog outside sneaks in with every visitor and produces a collective shiver.

George Harrison has died four days earlier in Los Angeles after battling cancer. He has been cremated in a cardboard coffin. Media reports have it that his ashes are to be immersed in the Ganga at Varanasi. Harrison’s widow Olivia and son Dhani are to carry out the ritual. A throng has descended on the pilgrim town hoping to catch a last glimpse.

Harrison, the ‘quiet Beatle,’ had a long, intimate relationship with Indian mysticism, music and Hinduism. In 1967, Harrison introduced the other Beatles to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. A year earlier, after the Beatles had stopped touring, he came here to study the sitar with Ravi Shankar. Shankar was present during Harrison’s final hours.

That night the vigil continues. Rumours fly thick and fast about the details of the visit. Some say that the ashes would arrive by a special aircraft early on the 4th. There is no official word about the exact programme. I get into a lively discussion with an international channel about the raw deal meted out to Harrison by the other Beatles, and how he deserved equal space with John and Paul. Others join in.

Harrison spent his last moments chanting ‘Hare Krishna’ with his family next to him and pictures of Rama and Krishna near his bed. His 1970 song, My Sweet Lord, introduced millions to the ‘Hare Krishna’ mantra, which he gently interspersed between choruses of Hallelujah.

In a 1982 interview, Harrison said that his song, The Lord Loves the One that Loves the Lord from the album, Living in the Material World, was written about Srila Prabhupada, founder of the Hare Krishna movement. In 1969, he financed the first hardbound printing of the Krishna Book. In 1973, he donated Bhaktivedanta Manor, a 23-acre estate outside London to the Krishna Society.

It is 4 a.m. The wait is becoming painfully long. Word comes that the local administration and air traffic control have received no communication about the arrival of the ashes. Most people get up and leave. But our vigil was not in vain. We have paid our respects to a great musician and a greater human being by sharing our love for his music and his humanness with each other on a cold winter night.

I don’t retire to my room that night. Instead, I head to the ghats and wait for the sun.

Source: Hindustan Times


3 Responses

  1. I can’t find any words to say how I feel about George, other than I love his music and if his music is a reflection of his soul, then I love the man, as well.

    Listening to George Harrison’s music at this very moment, in fact. I do quite frequently. 🙂

  2. thank you for posting this. George will be in my heart for his caring all around the world..

    same with bonni, i’ve been listening to George’s music these days..especially the ukulele,its beautiful 😀

  3. george will always be that shy quiet beatle, who had a heart of gold. his music with and without the beatles is so beautiful. cloud nine is still a memorable album for me, wow 20 years ago….God bless you george, you are a prince.

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