ISKCON - Beatle Confusion (George Harrison)

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ISKCON - Beatle Confusion (George Harrison)

George Harrison , the ’quiet Beatle’ and the youngest of the lively Liverpool quartet (born February 25, 1943) died from cancer on the 29 th November 2001.Harrison had been a very heavy smoker and his ’Eastern journey’ - first with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi of Transcendental Meditation, and then with the Hare Krishna Movement - did not help him overcome his smoking addiction.Medically his premature death at 58 shows the deadly effects of a life of heavy smoking - something most of the media reports fail to mention.

Harrison was the lead guitarist for the ’Fabulous Four’ - and also the quietist of them all. His life revealed a search for God and spiritual fulfilment.He believed he had found it through his involvement with the Hare Krishnas (The International Society for Krishna Consciousness - ISKCON).His single, ’My Sweet Lord’, in honour of the Hindu god, Krishna, reached the top of the charts in 1971. A new re-release of the song has been mooted by EMI.

His death caused confusion and uncertainty amongst his fans, and even amongst the Hare Krishnas.

Early reports, following his death,claimed that Hare Krishna officials had been involved in last rites, disbursement of his ashes, and that ISKCON had received something like 700,000 British pounds to build a temple in the Indian city of Varanasi, in India. A few days after his death, media reports claimed that the family would arrive in India in order to scatter Harrison’s ashes on the Ganges, one of Hinduism’s most sacred rivers. Some Hindus believe that the ashes must be placed on a sacred river within 13 days of death, but others consider that a year is sufficient. Fans and devotees flocked to India to be there for the Harrison ashes send-off, but the vigil was in vain. After the 13 day had passed so did the waiting.

As one report put it: ’Olivia Harrison and son Dhani have managed to lay low since the ex-Beatle’s death. They’ve also managed to keep theSite of Harrison’s ashes a secret—it was reported they would be cattered on the Ganges River in India, but the family never showed.’

Spokesman for the ISKCON World Governing Body, Ramai Swami claimed: ’I do not know of any of his estate being bequeathed to the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, nor did Hare Krishna devotees perform the last rites for George, nor have Hare Krishna devotees been involved in any distribution of ashes.’

What happened to Harrison’s ashes? - Somebody knows, but they haven’t let the general media know. Whether the family went to India secretly and secretly emptied the ashes on the Ganges, again is something they have not revealed to the media, nor does it look as if they ever will.

While Harrison’s death highlighted the Hare Krishnas for a short time, it has not been of big promotional value to them.The question of any bequest to them is probably another issue.

Harrison’s death has caused other, ongoing controversy however.

It seems that his death certificate was supposedly ’peppered with misinformation’ - at least the stated address of where Harrison supposedly died is a non-existent address.

High profile Los Angeles lawyer, Gloria Allred, challenged George Harrison’s death certificate for listing a non-existent address as his place of death.Allred claimed in early December 2001, that she had lodged the complaint with Los Angeles police because she was concerned that the ’integrity of public records is [was] at stake’ Adding that, ’Celebrities and/or their supporters are not above the law, even if they are acting with good intentions, for example, to protect the privacy of loved ones.’ Further adding: ’All things must pass, but not this’ [a play on words referring to Harrison’s original three-LP album, All Things Must Pass - which has since been remastered onto a 2 CD set with some bonus tracks].

(From TACL Vol 24 #2 March/May 2003)