Tag Archives: George Harrison

Ravi Shankar’s 96th birthday

7 Apr

Today’s Google Doodle reminds me that today is the birthday of the  incomparable Indian sitar master Ravi Shankar:

‘Today we celebrate Pandit Ravi Shankar, who was born 96 years ago today. Shankar evangelized the use of Indian instruments in Western music, introducing the atmospheric hum of the sitar to audiences worldwide. He performed frequently with the violinist Yehudi Menuhin, and composed a concerto with sitar for the London Symphony Orchestra. Shankar also taught George Harrison of the Beatles how to play the sitar, and widely influenced popular music in the 1960s and 70s.

Shankar’s music popularized the fundamentals of Indian music, including raga, a melodic form. Raga, as Shankar explained, has “its own peculiar ascending and descending movement consisting of either a full seven-note octave, or a series of six or five notes in a rising or falling structure.” The distinctive character of Shankar’s compositions attracted the attention of composer Philip Glass, with whom Shankar wrote the 1990 album Passages.’

Here is some amazing footage of his performance at Woodstock.

The Beatles in Rishikesh

12 Apr

I just finished reading Paul Saltzman‘s The Beatles in Rishikesh, a first person account of their 1967 visit to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi‘s ashram in India.



Saltzman, was working as a photo journalist, and the book is mostly a collection of his photos. The text is a brief account of how he came to Rishikesh and the time he spent their with the Beatles. The story is spread out to book length by using an enormous font size.

I was mostly interested in the story of the Beatles relationship with the Mararishi and its implication for the practice of meditation. It is clear that the Beatles had different feelings about the Mararishi at the time of their split, John being the most hostile and George much less so.

For me, the story teaches us that while meditation has great value, it is a tool that needs to have an ethical foundation in order to realize its true potential. That is why I practice metta mediation.

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