The Beatles in India

Music for the World

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The Beatles pose with Mahareshi Mahesh Yogi, their wives, and companions at the Maharishi's ashram in Rishikesh, India.

How it started

While enjoying a hiatus from touring in late 1966, during which the Beatles decided to devote their efforts exclusively to studio recording, George Harrison spent several weeks with friend and sitar maestro Ravi Shankar. Harrison had used the instrument for the first time on "Norwegian Wood," which appeared on the group's landmark 1965 Rubber Soul album. Harrison toured India and deepened his enthusiasm for its culture and people, while absorbing Hindu spirituality. He would impart his enthusiasm to the Beatles and many others, and in August of 1967 all the Beatles attended lectures by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at has academy in Bangor, Wales. The year 1967 had been both groundbreaking and challenging for the Beatles. In June, they'd released the innovative Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album, and had appeared later that month on the first international satellite TV broadcast, on which they'd performed "All You Need Is Love." In August, while in Wales with the Maharishi, the Beatles were shaken by the unexpected death of their manager, Brian Epstein. The year ended with the TV broadcast (in Britain) of the Beatles' entirely original creation, Magical Mystery Tour, which was not received well by critics - the group's biggest creative flop. By early 1968, all four members were eager to rest, take stock of events, meditate, and remove themselves from the at times almost unbearable distractions of fame. It is then that they retreated together to Rishikesh, where the Ganges meets the northern plains, to be hosted by the Maharishi at his ashram.

DID YOU KNOW. . .

Did you know that the Beatles were joined in India by well-known musical artist Mike Love of the Beach Boys?

At the Maharishi's Ashram

John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison had stopped briefly in India while completing their final tour, but only Harrison had spent extended time there. It was a new and exciting experience for the others. All enjoyed the spirituality and beauty of the surroundings.

DID YOU KNOW . . .

Changing the culture

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George Harrison and Ravi Shankar enjoy some time together in 1967.

Works Cited/Bibliography

Circa. "Sitar maestro Ravi Shankar has died at age 92." December 12, 2012 http://cir.ca/story/ravi-shankar-dies-at-92