Skip to main content

George Harrison in Kashmir: Within you Without you

George Harrison
We were talking - about the space between us all
And the people - who hide themselves behind a wall of illusion
Never glimpse the truth - then it's far too late - when they pass away
Lennon had been making comments on Christ and Christianity; and George was taking a keen interest in all things India. These were tough times for The Beetles: there were even talks of retirement.
In July 1966, The Fab Four arrived at Delhi on what was to be the band’s first visit to India; it was a brief visit, and Harrison famously bought a Sitar from a music store in Cannaught Circus, Delhi (now better known as Cannaught Place or just CP, and the shop was Rikhi Ram and Sons.).
In September, seeking Sitar lessons from maestro Ravi Shankar, George Harrison returned to India on a six-week trip along with his wife Pattie Harrison (who later married Eric Clapton). He stayed at Taj Mahal Hotel in Bombay (now Mumbai) and commenced taking lessons from Ravi Shankar; but soon realized that he was too famous even in India: when mobs of Indian Beatles fan started descending to the Hotel, he decided it was time to move to a place that offered anonymity and peace. Kashmir with its natural beauty and general inaccessibility proved to be the perfect place.

Once in Kashmir, he moved into the retreat of the famous Kashmiri houseboats (invented at the start of the century for the luxury of European tourists) that still line the Dal Lake. In the serene background of still waters of Dal, for the next few weeks he started learning Sitar from Pandit Ravi Shankar, and this was the only extended period of training that Harrison received from Ravi Shankar. He practiced Hatha Yoga (to get over the discomfort of having to sit on the floor with the Sitar), he started reading Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi and Vivekananda’s Raja Yoga. This was the start of his life long affair with Hinduism; and the immediate impact of the visit was for the world to see in the next Beetles' album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was for this album that George Harrison created the beautiful song Within You Without You.
And the time will come when you see we're all one,
and life flows on within you and without you.
Although the song did start the fashion of the ‘Indian sound’, generated western pop interest in ‘Indian thought’ and sent a million back backers on pilgrimage to Kashmir*; but the fact remains that the song, unlike its many successors, in many ways sounded like an outcome of genuine devotion to Indian music and thought.


George Harrison stayed with Clermont Houseboats, a famous tourist establishment
in Kashmir that over the years has played host to eminent guests like actress Joan Fontain, violinist Yehudi Menuhin, actor Michael Palin, former U.S. Vice President Nelson A. Rockerfeller and many more.
People still go to the place and look for the particular houseboat in which George Harrison stayed. Last year, Peter Foster, former South Asia Correspondent of Daily Telegraph, wrote about his trip to Kashmir and finding the George Harrison houseboat, now decrepit and sinking .

You may also like to read about:
    The information about George Harrison’s trip to Kashmir is from the book:
    The Dawn of Indian Music in the West
    By Peter Lavezzoli


    Popular posts from this blog

    Famous Old Faces of Doordarshan

    Some people recall the faces and some people recall the names. Here are images of some of the famous readers and presenters of Doordarshan down the years. If you recognize any of them, leave a comment. [ Update 1 : Most of the faces now have names thanks to helpful comments by olio-gallimaufry ] [ Update 2 : Included image of one of the earliest presenters, Gopal Kaul. Send in generously from personal collection by son, Ashutosh Kaul. Sept, 2010.] [ Major Update 3: Got a tip-off about a documentary about the famous faces of Doordarshan from the makers   of     “The Golden Trail , DD@50 :Special feature on Golden Jubilee of Doordarshan ” from which these caps were taken. I managed to catch the incredible documentary and am adding some more faces/name and part of the docu here. New ones can be found after the image of  Narotam Puri. 30th Oct, 2010]  Pratima Puri. Believed to be the first Doordarshan reader.

    Indian Cigarette Vintage Ads

    He put a cigarette in his mouth and, as a matter of silent routine, offered one to Gwyn, who said ‘No thanks.”Richard looked at him.”I packed it in.”"You what?”"I stopped. Three days ago. Cold. That’s it. You just make the life choice.” Richard looked up and inhaled needfully. He gazed at his cigarette. He didn’t really want to smoke it. He wanted to eat it. Almost the only thing that he still liked about Gwyn was that he still smoked…Paradoxically, he no longer wanted to give up smoking: what he wanted to do was take up smoking. Not so much to fill the little gaps between cigarettes with cigarettes (there wouldn’t be time, anyway) or to smoke two cigarettes at once. It was more that he felt the desire to smoke a cigarette even when he was smoking a cigarette. The need was and wasn’t being met… While it would always be true and fair to say that Richard felt like a cigarette, it would now be doubly true and fair to say it. He felt like a cigarette. And he felt like a cig

    Kishore Kumar, Yodel-ay-ee-oooo Songs, A List

    *Updated with corrections pointed out by Bart Plantenga , author of some incredible book on Yodeling including Yodel-Ay-Ee-Oooo: The Secret History of Yodeling Around the World. -0- Kishore Kumar 's brother Anoop Kumar, who we basically know for the line ' O manu tera toh hua ab mera kya hoga ', used to own lots of Austrian music records. And from these records, Kishore Kumar picked up the art of Yodel singing, an art perfected in bathroom and then introduced by him to the world of Hindi film music. According to his biography 'Kishore Kumar: method in madness‎ ' by Derek Bose, "Kishore was a fan of the Swiss singer Tex Norton [* Tex Morton, an Australian cowboy born in New Zealand who sang  in the gene autry / Jimmie Rodgers style ] and the Australian Jimmy Rogers [* Jimmie Rodgers , perhaps the most American and one of the most famous yodelers in the world, famous for his blue yodels ] as well." Although most of these songs by Kishore Kumar are t