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George Harrison's Ashes to be Scattered in Ganges - 2001-12-03


George Harrison's family plans to scatter the ashes of the Beatles guitarist in India's holy Ganges River, according to a spokesman of the Hare Krishna movement. Harrison had a long association with Indian culture.

The New Delhi spokesman for the International society of Krishna Consciousness, Mahamantra Das, says George Harrison's family plans to scatter his ashes in the northern Varanasi city where Hindu religion's three holiest rivers - the Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati - converge. Some of the ashes will also be immersed at another holy site in Allahabad.

British media has reported Harrison was cremated hours after he died in Los Angeles, Thursday. The reports say his ashes are being brought to India by his widow and son.

Hare Krishna is a Hindu sect to which Mr. Harrison belonged. According to its tenets, the immersion of the ashes is symbolic of the soul's journey towards eternal consciousness.

Mr. Das says the scattering of the ashes may coincide with a one minute meditation the family has requested Mr. Harrison's fans to observe in his memory. In India, that moment falls early Tuesday. "Early morning, according to Hindu rituals, is a 'Brahma muharat,' so this is very auspicious time," he said. "So probably they must have chosen that time."

George Harrison - known as the "quiet Beatle" because of his aversion to publicity - had a long and intense association with Indian mysticism and music. He first visited India in 1966 and is said to have found the quiet he craved here. He came to learn the guitar-like instrument, the sitar, with Indian musician Ravi Shankar, who became a lifelong friend.

He was also influenced by an Indian guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who introduced him to transcendental meditation. He traveled to Rishikesh, a holy Indian city to study with the Maharishi.

Harrison later became a follower of the Hare Krishna movement. The movement is based on the worship of the Hinda god Krishna and has thousands of Western followers.

These Indian connections left a mark on his music. He introduced the sitar to Western listeners in such Beatles recordings as "Norwegian wood" and "Rain."

British newspapers have reported Harrison spent his last moments saying "Hare Krishna," a chant that Krishna's followers say purifies the soul and takes it closer to God. The newspapers say pictures of Hindu god Rama and Krishna were near his bed and Krishna adherents chanted as he died.

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