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Old Dec 02, 2004, 11:26 PM   #1
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Default Beautiful story from Ravi Shankar

We had this one before, but it is so beautiful

ENCINITAS, Calif. -- I feel I have been cheated by George. Why did he have to go so soon at such a young age when I really wanted to go first?

In moments like this, it is so hard to express the feeling of emptiness and sadness within. Like a film flashing by, everything comes to my mind since I met him more than 30 years ago. His childlike quality, his shy but naughty little smile, his passion for all the music he loved and the serious quest for religion, particularly the old Vedic Hindu tradition, always amazed me as well as attracted me.

The down-to-earth quality in George was something I could relate to with such joy. He would crack up when I told him all my jokes; we had such fun! We always competed with each other in punning. When I told him that I was known as a "pundit" because of my punning, he said something hilarious, connecting the old Hindu scriptures of the four Vedas (Rigveda, Samveda, Atharvaveda and Yajurveda). He said: "Do you know the four Wether brothers? They are Ric, Sam, Arthur and George Wethers."

The only solid lessons on sitar he had from me were in the summer and autumn of 1966, which he couldn't pursue as much as we both wanted. He was very talented and would have become a great sitar player if only he could have given some time. His love, knowledge and understanding of Indian music developed immensely over the years. I gave him a copy of the book "Autobiography of a Yogi" by Swami Yogananda, and my brother, Rajendra, gave him a book by Swami Vivekananda. He had such thirst for the knowledge and wisdom of Indian traditions. In many ways he was more Indian than many Indians.

Though I had been performing all over the world since 1954, my association with George attracted a whole young generation to sitar and to me from the mid-1960s. Even though I didn't make any records jamming with him or any other pop or rock star, I was treated like a superstar, being the Beatle George's guru. Then came Monterey, Woodstock and finally the big Bangladesh concert, which he totally handled in producing. Because of George we had Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Leon Russell and other eminent musicians.

After a year or so, when he spent time with me in Varanasi at my house, he suggested we make a couple of records and perhaps tour the United States. We did the first recording in the A&M Studios for his Dark Horse label. It was then that he met dear Olivia (whom he married in 1978). In the summer of 1974 the second album was recorded ("Festival of India") at his own studio. I'll never forget those couple of months when we worked on this album. I did all the compositions on the M4 while traveling from London to his home in Henley. George created such an atmosphere with such love and regard. We would start rehearsals in a beautiful large hall with a view to his lovely garden. We would have Indian food and snack between rehearsals.

The recording was finished with simultaneous editing, which George was doing himself, always asking me to hear when he was satisfied. After this period of creative joy we went to tour the United States, giving more than 30 performances. George had a special 737 Boeing jetliner completely refurbished for us to travel in.

What touched me so much was his worry about my health and well being. He would tell me always not to travel and exert myself so much. Then from the role of disciple and friend he became more of a son to me, especially after my own son Shubho died in 1992. He would fly and be with me whenever I was in the hospital or not well with my heart problems. His love and concern touched me deeply.

I'll never forget how much love, care and time he gave to another project he did for me while staying in our house here in Encinitas. He went through all the details, right from choosing all the artwork, to writing the notes, to producing the four-CD boxed set "In Celebration," selections from my 40 years of sitar performances and compositions. The last wonderful musical experience I had with him was when we made the CD "Chants of India." We did some songs in Madras and the major part at his own studio in his mansion at Henley. His nearness and attention in producing the record always inspired me so. Even the complex compositions came out of me so spontaneously.

Another one of many funny incidents was when George, Olivia and their son, Dhani, came to India in 1995 and spent a few weeks. We went to Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur. In Bombay, Delhi and Calcutta people recognized George and created a stampede, which George hated. But we had no such problem in Rajasthan and he enjoyed it so much. On our last stop, Udaipur, while we were walking in the busy main streets shopping ornaments of silver, colourful materials, dresses, turbans, having tea and snacks all of a sudden there was a big crowd which surrounded us. I was terrified thinking they had recognized George, but it was actually me they were after. Then the funniest thing happened. George, realizing the situation, immediately became my bodyguard. "Move, move. No, no. Don't bother Panditji." And cordoning me with both his hands, he brought me to our waiting car and saved me from those autograph hunters. The others were already seated, and when the car started, we burst out laughing.

My daughter Anoushka and my wife, Sukanya, also were so attached to him. He had a beautiful and loving wife in Olivia and a wonderful son in Dhani. He had a magnanimous heart and always cared so much. He was a fearless and beautiful soul always conscious of God. I loved him dearly. Though he is gone physically, he will always be alive and vibrant in my heart. ##
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Old Dec 03, 2004, 04:29 AM   #2
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Default Re: Beautiful story from Ravi Shankar

Wow. . . Reading something so positive reaffirms my faith that there IS still goodness to be found in the human race. Lovely story; thanks, FPSHOT!
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Old Dec 03, 2004, 04:37 AM   #3
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Default Re: Beautiful story from Ravi Shankar

Thanks for posting this again. It's always lovely to read. They really did have a special friendship .
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Old Dec 03, 2004, 09:05 AM   #4
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Default Re: Beautiful story from Ravi Shankar

This is lovely and deeply
moving indeed. This kind
of thing warms one's

I think Ravi Shankar beauti-
fully expressed just why so
many people love George and
Ravi. The two were good
influences on each other
and on those who were moved
by them.
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Old Dec 03, 2004, 01:37 PM   #5
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Default Re: Beautiful story from Ravi Shankar

How lovely, and the opening definitely is what a father would say about the loss of a son.. thanks FPSHOT
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Old Dec 03, 2004, 05:43 PM   #6
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Default Re: Beautiful story from Ravi Shankar

<font color="purple">Wow...wonderful that you posted that, FPSHOT! I think that it is such a beautiful tribute... Ravi is such a great man.... such beautiful words that he had for George... Reading that again is a great way to help us remember him... Thanks!</font>
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Old Dec 03, 2004, 07:23 PM   #7
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Default Re: Beautiful story from Ravi Shankar

I really think that Ravi and George
had a spiritual link. I wish I could
explain this better, but it is something
I honestly believe.
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Old Dec 03, 2004, 08:43 PM   #8
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Default Re: Beautiful story from Ravi Shankar

Oh, absolutely.

Ravi seems such a sweet man. And I think he probably shared George's wicked and cheeky sense of humor too.
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Old Dec 03, 2004, 10:19 PM   #9
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Default Re: Beautiful story from Ravi Shankar

<font color="green">That is a beautiful piece ! I never read it before.

When I went to New Delhi I visited Rikhi Ram and Sons.
Here is a news article from 2001.
Melody makers for George Harrison


NEW DELHI, Nov. 30. — “What! George Harrison is dead. I don’t believe this. Are you sure?”
Mr BD Sharma was obviously shell-shocked. Not just because Mr Sharma is, like millions of others, a Beatles’ fan, but also because he was the man who supplied Harrison with sitars and sarods.
For the proprietor of a musical instruments shop, Rikhi Ram and Sons, on the outer circle of Connaught Place, the relationship with the Liverpool quartet began three decades ago.
The moment you enter the shop you are struck by the large number of Beatles’ photographs adorning the walls.
There is one where Mr Sharma stands flanked by Sir Paul McCartney and George Harrison.
“It was on 7 July 1966 when the Beatles first arrived in Delhi. In those days, not many people here listened to them. But the news that they had arrived and wanted to buy a sitar and a sarod from our shop spread like wildfire,” recalls Mr Sharma.
“They were staying at the Oberoi Hotel. When their manager saw a large number of people standing outside our shop, he told us to come to the hotel and show them some sitars and sarods” Mr Sharma added.
When he went to the hotel, he met the entire band. But it was George Harrison with whom Mr Sharma struck up an instant rapport. “George was heavily influenced by Indian music. And he considered Pandit Ravi Shankar his Guru”. The Fab Four bought a sitar and a sarod from him. And thrilled with the quality, they wrote a letter of appreciation and four signed it.
The laminated letter is one among many in a file, but it is definitely the most prized. “After the Beatles said they found the quality great, most foreign musicians have bought musical instruments from here,” said Mr Sharma’s son, Mr Sanjay Sharma.
Over a period of time Mr Sharma’s relationship with Harrison changed from a professional to a personal one. “He didn’t have a bloated ego and was very down to earth,” said Mr Sharma.

Ravi Shankar condoles death: Pandit Ravi Shankar tonight expressed shock over George Harrison’s death. “George was my student. But on the other hand he was a very close friend. His death has been a tremendous shock to me which cannot be expressed in words,” Shankar, who had taught Harrison to play the sitar, said in a statement here.

Melody makers for George Harrison

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Old Dec 04, 2004, 05:49 AM   #10
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Default Re: Beautiful story from Ravi Shankar

Anurag, thanks for posting that, it is really nice to read..

I did some additional search about this store and here is more about it with a picture of George and Paul visiting the store in 1966 according to the story above here

IT was a shop even the Beatles could not afford to give a miss in their roller-coaster Indian tour in 1966. For Bishan Das Sharma, the owner of Rikhi Ram Musical Manufacturing Company, the sudden showing up of the Beatles at this shop in Connaught Place, New Delhi, has been one of his most memorable moments. That was a day when while a crowd gathered outside, Sharma taught a thing or two about sitars to the Fab Four. "George Harrison ordered a sitar immediately, while Paul McCartney bought himself a tanpura" recalls Sharma.

But long before the Beatles visited the shop, its existence had been advertised to the world by none other than yesteryear Hollywood superstar Peter Sellers in the movie The Party. "Sellers played a sitar made by me," says Sharma. Big names have been coming to the Riki Ram Musical Instruments Shop. The proof is plastered on the three walls of the shop which are laden with photographs documenting the visit of famous persons to this shop. Standing prominent in them all is Bishan Das Sharma, the instrument-maker. One of the shops captures Sharma playing the sitar as the Beatles look on while another has him in deep discussion with Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt.

About his visits to india, George said in 1966
"Too many people have the wrong idea about India. Everyone immediately associates India with poverty, suffering and starvation, but there's much more than that. There's the spirit of the people, the beauty and the goodness. The people there have a tremendous spiritual strength which I don't think is found elsewhere. That's what I've been trying to learn about."
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Old Dec 04, 2004, 05:53 AM   #11
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Default Re: Beautiful story from Ravi Shankar

July 6, 1966;

Returning home, there was a refuelling stop in Bangkok after which The Beatles arrived in New Delhi, India, where they hoped to take a peaceful three day break. Unfortunately, 600 fans were already waiting at the airport when they landed and the Oberoi Hotel was soon under siege. They managed to sneak out the back way and do some shopping and sightseeing. They all bought Indian instruments from Rikhi Ram &amp; Sons, on Connaught Circle.

George: "It turned out to be a good trip, except that when we went out of town, in old Fifties Cadillacs, and walked around the villages, I realised that the Nikon cameras given to us in Tokyo were more than an Indian villager could earn in a lifetime."
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Old Dec 04, 2004, 08:55 AM   #12
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Default Re: Beautiful story from Ravi Shankar

Thanks for sharing everyone. Lovely stories.
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Old Dec 04, 2004, 09:02 AM   #13
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Default Re: Beautiful story from Ravi Shankar


Thank you again. This kind of thing really moves
me deeply. George not only was a lovable individual,
he inspired that response from others as does Ravi.
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