- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 4, 2001

NEW DELHI (AP) George Harrison's intimate relationship with Indian mysticism, music and Hinduism sent his wife and son on a pilgrimage to the holy Ganges River, where authorities said the former Beatles' ashes would be scattered before dawn today.

Harrison's widow, Olivia, and his 23-year-old son, Dhani, were to be accompanied by two Hare Krishna followers who performed Hindu rites on Harrison's ashes with the family in London, said Maha Mantra Das, a New Delhi spokesman for the International Society of Krishna Consciousness.

Harrison, 58, died of cancer in Los Angeles on Thursday. He was cremated hours after his death at Hollywood Forever Memorial Park, a cemetery worker said.

In a tradition dating back more than 3,500 years, Hindus are cremated on riversides and their ashes immersed in holy waters. Hindus believe this ritual releases the soul from the body for its heavenward journey, and frees it from the cycle of reincarnation.

"It is a great loss to us," said Vrijendra Nandan, a spokesman for the New Delhi chapter of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness. "When he was leaving his body, our devotees were chanting songs of Krishna by his bedside."

Hare Krishna officials said the ashes would also be sprinkled off Allahabad, where the Ganges and Yamuna rivers converge and according to Hindu tradition are joined by a third holy river, the mythical Saraswati.

London-based Hare Krishna devotee Mukund Goswami introduced Harrison to the movement's founder, Srila Prabhupada. Harrison later donated one of his studios, spread over 14 acres in London, to the Hare Krishnas. In one of his most popular songs, "My Sweet Lord," Harrison chants "Hare Krishna." In 1966, after the Beatles had stopped touring, Harrison came to India to study the sitar with Ravi Shankar. Mr. Shankar, whom Harrison helped make famous during the Beatles' visits to India, was present during Harrison's final hours in California.

In 1967, Harrison introduced the other Beatles to the teaching of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and all four took up transcendental meditation. Harrison and John Lennon traveled to Rishikesh, a holy city in northern India, to study with the Maharishi.

"George's music was wild before he met the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi," said Swami Shyam, a holy man drinking tea along the Ganges River who said he met Harrison at the Maharishi's ashram. "Bliss came much later, after he was associated with the Hare Krishna movement."

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