Chanting George Harrison and Hare Krishna Devotees in 1970

Published on October 20th, 2015 | by HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada | Full size image


The Beatles: George Harrison, John Lennon and Yoko Ono and Krishna

In September 1969 Srila Prabhupada, the founder of the Hare Krishna movement, arrived as a house guest at Tittenhurst Park, John Lennon’s estate in England. 1969 was for John Lennon a year of intense search for social and personal liberation. He had already been to the Maharishi and later would enter primal therapy and left-wing politics. He was in a major transitional period; he had married Yoko Ono in March.

On a cold December night in 1966, an elderly Indian Swami climbed into a Volkswagen van with about fifteen of his followers and their instruments (including a harmonium loaned by Allen Ginsberg) and drove uptown to a recording studio near Times Square. They weren’t professional musicians, but in a few hours they’d recorded an LP that even the producer was excited about. it was a special album, more than just music. it was chanting and meditation; it was worship. A few months later a letter arrived at a small storefront temple on New York’s Lower East Side. Someone had heard the album and told the Beatles about it. They ordered one hundred copies.

George Harrison would later recall in a November 1980 interview the impression Swami Bhaktivedanta’s album, Krishna Consciousness, made on them. “I remember singing it [the Hare Krishna mantra]. just for days, John and I, with ukulele banjos, sailing through the Greek islands–Hare Krishna. 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, the founder of the Hare Krishna movement arrived as a house guest at Tittenhurst Park, the beautiful eighty acre British estate owned by John Lennon. Three or four times a week, the Swami, who later became known to the world as Srila Prabhupada, gave public lectures in a tall, stately building at the northern end of the property a hundred yards from the main house, in which John and Yoko lived.

The building had been formerly used as a hall for chamber music recitals, but now several of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples, who resided along with him in a block of guest houses on the property, installed a small Deity altar and a podium for Srila Prabhupada. The building never really had a name, but after Srila Prabhupada’s arrival, everyone called it “the Temple.”

They still call it “the Temple” today, and except for the recent addition of an enormous crimson-and-gold pipe organ nearly covering the towering west wall, it exists unchanged, now surrounded by a recording studio complex owned by Ringo Starr.

Nineteen sixty-nine was for John Lennon a year of intense search for social and personal liberation. He had already been to the Maharishi and later would enter primal therapy and left-wing politics. He was in a major transitional period; he had married Yoko Ono in March, and the Beatles were about to break up.

On September 14, John, Yoko, and George Harrison, after enjoying an Indian vegetarian meal prepared by the devotees at the Temple, walked over to Srila Prabhupada’s quarters for their first meeting. Three months before in Montreal, some of the Hare Krishna devotees had sung with John and Yoko during the recording of “Give Peace a Chance.” And now they were about to meet the guru who brought the Hare Krishna mantra to the West.

Their lively discussion with Srila Prabhupada, which you can hear by listening to the RealAudio clip on this page,, deals with the path to peace and liberation, the eternality of the soul, reincarnation, the nature of God, qualifications of the guru, and the authority of Bhagavad-gita (the Indian spiritual classic still sacred to 600 million people.

In a conversation sometimes lightly humorous, sometimes intense, the reader will be struck by Srila Prabhupada’s prophetic use of President Kennedy’s assassination to dramatize the temporality of human life and how the soul lives on after death, subjects that John would explore in his later songs. Explaining that John should have nothing to fear either in life or death, Srila Prabhupada declares:

“When this body ceases to exist, you will continue to exist… The soul is eternal and the body is temporary…. But that minute quantity of the Absolute within us [the soul] is very great when compared to material knowledge. Material knowledge is practically no knowledge whatsoever. It is covered knowledge. But when one is liberated and attains liberated knowledge, his knowledge is very much greater than the greatest material knowledge.”

John had searched for a guru in India and was anxious to understand how one could recognize a genuine spiritual master,

John: Yes, we should go to a true master. But how are we to tell one from the other?… That’s what we’re doing. We’re going around. Actually, Yoko never met the Maharishi. So, we’re asking for advice about how to know what’s real.

Yoko: We want to ask your advice on that. In other words, what is your answer to this question of authority?… What is the authority, and who has the authority?

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6 Responses to The Beatles: George Harrison, John Lennon and Yoko Ono and Krishna

  1. janmastami das says:

    does anyone know the verses that Srila Prabhupada quotes in the audio version of the interview?

  2. Sam says:

    This eplains to me why both John and George were taken from their bodies at relatively young ages. The only step really required for liberation of the sole is the obliteration or dissolution of the ego self into the Godself. This is the greatest challenge for any spiritual aspirant. Now imagine how uch ore dificult it would be if you were say a Beatle like John and George. Constant distractions wherever you go,peole asking for autographs and praising you constantly. All the fame and the money would make it so much harder. The higherself is merciful and John and George were begging for liberation. So much of their lives focused on attaining oneness with their Godself. The beautful music they wrote required a great deal of focus and attention ( Meditation is attention)I would say that although some might see their passing as the absense of God I see it as the merci of God and beleive they were removed from the physical vestures riddled with distraction and an overpowering Ego and placed in a body somewhere perhaps in a highly spiritual family where they could further their journey Godward with all the love and support needed.

    • Omar s. Camberos says:

      Objection, my friend:

      You say that “The only step really required for liberation of the sole is the obliteration or dissolution of the ego self into the Godself”.

      Definitely wrong. No, no and again, no!

      That is a missconception akin to the buddhist impersonal philosophy, and one that one aspiring to become a devotee SHOULD DISSCARD FROM THE VERY BEGGINING of his training on that path.

      Srila Prabhupada repeatedly explains that ego is always there as a result of the eternal INDIVIDUALITY of the human being. The right propossal in this connection is that man has to gradually learn how to rid himself of the FALSE EGO, in the life-long process of purification, the result of which is the exhibition of HIS TRUE EGO.

      This is entirely different from the so called “dissolution of the ego”, which, as you may now understand, is a big nonsense.

      “Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you or any of these creatures, nor in the future shall any of us cease to be”

      This is Krishna’s decree of INDIVIDUALITY. And that is final.

  3. preety says:

    hare krishana!!!!I realy thank Madhudvisa dasa for sending me “Krishna Connect Newsletter”. its very inspiring… thanx a looooooooot…

  4. Ramatirtha says:

    Hare Krishna! Dandvats unto the feet of Srila Prabhupad & Sri Sri Guru & Gourangas. This is a UNIC place of Learning of KC. I thank MadhudwishPrabhu for sending me upgrade “Krishna Connect Newsletter”. VIDIOES are very inspiring to become better Devotee.—Ramatirthadas Adhikari.

  5. mayur jagtap says:

    hari om

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About the Author

Founded the Hare Krishna Movement in 1966 in New York. In only 11 years he spread the movement all over the world. He wrote more than 80 books including Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Sri Isopanisad. Prabhupada's books constitute a complete library of Vedic philosophy, religion, literature and culture.

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