George Harrison’s (The Beatles) Visit to ISKCON Juhu (India) – Remembering🌻& Giving Thanks
I will never forget the moment when I heard that George Harrison had passed away, shortly after Thanksgiving in 2001. The strength of my feelings of separation surprised me—and made me think how important and dear George must have been to Srila Prabhupada and Sri Krishna. And I remembered my own little experience with George in Bombay.
George’s Visit to ISKCON Juhu
In 1974 George came to visit Srila Prabhupada at Hare Krishna Land, in Juhu. He was wearing a white kurta and white yogi pants and had a plain bead bag. I took him around the property, and he expressed his appreciation for our work and encouraged us in our efforts. When at twelve-thirty we heard the conch shell blow for raja-bhoga arati, we went to the temple shed, where George chose a pair of kartals and played and sang with the other devotees. Puri dasa, originally from Scotland, was doing the arati, and when he turned to offer the ghee lamp to the devotees and saw George, his hand started trembling so much that he thought he might drop the lamp.
After the arati, I arranged a full plate of maha-prasada for George and, after he ate, accompanied him to meet Prabhupada in his apartment. Prabhupada greeted him warmly, and I left them together and returned to my office.
“Prabhupada was behind his desk, with George in front of him,” Kishor das later described. “I barely remember what was said, but I remember the feeling of love that went back and forth between them. It was tangible. I didn’t really understand what this relationship was. I was young, and here was a big rock star, and a pure devotee of Krishna, and there was I somewhere. But I could just feel this feeling of love that went back and forth between Prabhupada and George.”
The Boy’s 🧒 Quest
About two hours later, a pudgy twelve-year-old boy with glasses—the son of our friend and supporter Pranjivan G. Valia of the “Hare Krishna” house in the Juhu Vile Parle development—came to my small office at the back of the property. “I heard George Harrison is here,” he said.
“Yes,” I replied, “he is.”
“I want to see him,” he stated.
“Well, you can’t. He’s meeting with Srila Prabhupada.”
He looked me straight in the eye, sizing me up, and, concluding that he wasn’t going to get anywhere with me, turned, dashed to the stairs, and bolted down the steps.
Oh my God, I thought. He’s going to try to find him. So I bounded down the stairs in hot pursuit.
I ran across to the next building, and when I reached the second landing, in front of Prabhupada’s flat, I found the door ajar. The boy stood just inside, and beyond him George sat cross-legged with his back erect, like a yogi—a perfect disciple listening attentively at the feet of his master.
With the boy’s abrupt appearance, Prabhupada and George ended their meeting, exchanging some final words. George was gracious and appreciative, Prabhupada affectionate and kind. I was upset that the boy had interrupted them, but they took it as a matter of course. Maybe it was time for the meeting to end; maybe they took it as Krishna’s arrangement.
Bidding Goodbye .. 😊
Shyamasundar and I accompanied George back to the temple shed for darshan of the Deities. He paid full dandavats, lying completely flat on the floor before Them for a long time, and then left.
The next year, on a morning walk in Sanand, Gujarat, Prabhupada recalled the meeting: “He is very nice boy—George. I have studied. Very good boy. He showed me in Bombay. He came to see me in Bombay, last year. He is keeping Jagannatha within his bead bag and chanting.”
We are .. Thankful 💫
I and many thousands—perhaps millions—of people are thankful to George for all the service he rendered to Srila Prabhupada and the Krishna consciousness movement, for making the holy name of Lord Krishna—the Hare Krishna maha-mantra—and the principles of Krishna consciousness so accessible to people all over the world and for attracting so many souls to the all-attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna.
About The Author -:
Giriraj Swami was born Glenn Phillip Teton, the only son of a respected Chicago attorney and judge. In March 1969, while a student at Brandeis University, he met His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder-Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), from whom young Glenn said he learned more in one brief exchange than in his many years of academic education.
After graduating cum laude from Brandeis University, he became an initiated disciple of Srila Prabhupada receiving the spiritual name Giriraj Das. Giriraj Das quickly became a leading member of ISKCON-Boston and was soon given the opportunity to go to India with Srila Prabhupada where he helped establish his spiritual master’s mission.
In 1972 Giriraj Das was appointed president of ISKCON Mumbai and a trustee of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. Since then, he has made many significant contributions to Srila Prabhupada’s mission, most notably overseeing the development of Hare Krishna Land in Juhu, Mumbai.
He was instrumental in the acquisition and development of the Bhaktivedanta Ashram in Govardhana and led the development of the Kirtan Ashram for women, the Bhaktivedanta Hospice, and the Vrindavan Institute of Palliative Care, all in Vrindavan. Through his efforts, Giriraj Swami has become renowned for his austerities, loyalty and dedication to Srila Prabhupada’s mission, his ability to raise funds and cultivate important members of society, and his care for devotees around the world.
In the year following Srila Prabhupada’s departure in 1977, Giriraj Das was awarded the renounced order of life and appointed president of ISKCON’s board of trustees in India. From 1982-2000 he served as a member of ISKCON’s Governing Body Commission. In that capacity he oversaw ISKCON’s activities in Mumbai, Mauritius, South Africa, Spain, Portugal, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan.
Giriraj Swami has also taught at the Vrindavan Institute for Higher Education and continues to lecture and to give presentations at japa retreats and workshops around the world.
Presently based in Southern California, Giriraj Swami now focuses on writing, one of the main personal instructions that he received from Srila Prabhupada. Giriraj Swami is the author of Watering the Seed and Many Moons and is working on several other publications, including books about death and dying in the Vedic tradition, his search for a spiritual master and his early days in the Boston temple, his travels with Srila Prabhupada in India and Srila Prabhupada’s monumental efforts in Mumbai, and Vaishnava holy days.