Lennon's India


Bhaktivedanta Book

Dec 08, MUMBIA (NEWSLINE) — In 1967, the Beatles were introduced to Transcendental Meditation by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The Beatles visited him in Bangor, Wales, where he was lecturing at the University College. After they arrived in Bangor, their manager Brian Epstein was found dead in his flat. The Beatles, shaken up by the death, were counselled by the Maharishi.

In 1968, all four band members and their wives spent several weeks with the Maharishi in Rishikesh. John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison found the experience very creative, but the couples eventually left the camp disillusioned with the Maharishi, who seemed too interested in fame and young women. They had a fallout, which led to Lennon’s press statement that the yogi was ‘‘human’’. And the Maharihi’s ride came to an end.

In the December of 1966, an elderly Indian swami climbed into a Volkswagen van with 15 followers and their instruments (including a harmonium loaned by Allen Ginsberg), drove to a recording studio near Times Square and recorded an LP. The work included chants and meditation music. A few months later, a letter arrived at a small temple on New York’s Lower East Side. Someone had told the Beatles about the swami’s album. They ordered 100 copies.

Harrison later recalled in an interview, the impression Swami Bhaktivedanta’s album, Krishna Consciousness, made on them. ‘‘I remember singing it (the Hare Krishna mantra). For days, John and I, with ukulele banjos, sailing through the Greek islands. Like six hours we sang, because you couldn’t stop once you got going. You just couldn’t stop. It was like as soon as you stop, it was like the lights went out.’’

In September 1969, Swami Bhaktivedanta arrived as a guest at Tittenhurst Park, Lennon’s British estate. Thrice a week, the Swami (later known as Srila Prabhupada) gave public lectures in a building a 100 yards from the main house. After the Swami’s arrival, everyone called that meeting place The Temple. Today The Temple is flanked by a recording studio complex owned by Ringo Starr.

On September 14, after enjoying a vegetarian Indian meal prepared by The Temple devotees, Lennon, Yoko Ono and Harrison, walked over to Srila Prabhupada’s quarters for their first meeting with the man who introduced the West to the Hare Krishna mantra.

Their discussion with Srila Prabhupada dealt with peace, the soul, reincarnation and the authority of the Bhagavad Gita. Explaining that Lennon should have nothing to fear in life or death, Srila Prabhupada declared: ‘‘When this body ceases to exist, you will continue to exist. The soul is eternal and the body is temporary.’’

India, India
Take me to your heart
Reveal your ancient mysteries to me
I’m searching for an answer
That’s somewhere deep inside
I know I’ll never find it here
It’s already in my mind
I’ve got to follow my heart
Wherever it takes me
I’ve got to follow my heart
Whenever it calls to me
I’ve got to follow my heart
And my heart is going home Om
India, India
Listen to my plea
I sit here at your feet so patiently
I’m waiting by the river
But somewhere in my mind
I left my heart in England
With the girl I left behind
I’ve got to follow my heart
Wherever it takes me
I’ve got to follow my heart
Whenever it calls to me
I’ve got to follow my heart
And my heart is going home
India ah

(John Lennon’s unpublished songs were recently released for a Broadway musical, Lennon which included a song titled "India, India")

(Some information courtesy krishna.org)


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