George Harrison, India, September/October 1966; screen capped from Living in the Material World

"When I went to India, I had a desire to know about the yogis. So it was like a parallel interest for me: Indian music and the yogis of the Himalayas were both high on my agenda at that time - and they still are now. The great thing for me is that I latched onto that when I was twenty-two years old, and it’s been consistent right through for the last thirty years. A lot of people might have thought it was a trendy thing - and for some people it was only a trend - but for me, I knew it had a certain intensity, and there was certainly intensity to my desire to pursue that.

In retrospect there’s a good chance I had a connection with India somewhere in the past, in a past life. In 1965 something happened that opened the door, or lifted the veil, and allowed me to realise: ‘Yogis of the Himalayas - and what’s this music?’ One by one we get awakened by the sound of Krishna’s flute. His flute works in many ways.

So I went to India, and I said to Ravi, ‘I want to know about the yogis.’ His brother Rajendra and he gave me all these books, and one book Raju gave me that was a great influence on me was Raja Yoga by Swami Vivekananda. Vivekananda says right at the beginning:

Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest that divinity. Do this through work and yoga and prayer, one or all of these means, and be free. Churches, temples, rituals and dogmas are but secondary details.

As soon as I read that, I thought, ‘That’s what I want to know!’ They tried to bring me up as a Catholic, and for me it didn’t deliver. But to read, ‘Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest that divinity’ - and here’s how you do it! - was very important for me. That’s the essence of yoga and Hindu philosophy.

Ravi also gave me the book Autobiography of a Yogi. The moment I looked at that picture of Yogananda on the front of the book, his eyes went right through me and zapped me, and to this day I have even under the spell of Yogananda. It’s a fantastic great truth.

When we were on the houseboat in Kashmir, owned by a little old guy with a white beard called Mr Butt, it was really cold in the night because it was on a lake right up in the Himalayas. Mr Butt would wake us up early in the morning and give us tea and biscuits and I’d sit in bed with my scarf and pullover on, listening to Ravi, who would be in the next room doing his sitar practice - that was such a privileged position to be in.

What I’m getting at is that pure essence of India. You could easily be diverted in India by the smell or the dirt or the poverty, but I was fortunate to have Ravi as my friend. The Indians I saw were the ones who got up early in the morning, had a bath and put their clean dhoti on, did their prayers, and then practiced their music for a couple of hours before they had their breakfast. The ones who had all the respect for the past. With the temples and incense and the music, the whole thing - it was like I got the privileged tour. All the people I met were the best musicians, and I didn’t have to go through the rubbish to find the gems. That in itself was worth a few years of saved time. And that’s what a guru is, anyway - the word ‘guru’ means ‘dispelled of darkness’.” - George Harrison, Raga Mala

However, the year [1974] was redeemed by some positive things. Undoubtedly, the saving grace was that George met his future wife and soul mate Olivia Arias: ‘I liked the music. I liked what he was doing. We just seemed like partners from the very beginning.’ Signifying that bond, a photo of Olivia’s eyes was on the label of one side of the LP record, while George is pictured on the other.


[…] Olivia worked in the Los Angeles office of George’s record company, which had been named after the, as yet unreleased, song ‘Dark Horse’. She recalls the hectic circumstances in which George began work on a follow-up to his American number knew album from 1973. ‘He started spinning the Dark Horse label plate and at the same time was doing Little Malcolm through Apple. Mal Evans had brought him the duo Splinter so he recorded an album with them. This coincided with his home studio at Friar Park being built. At the same time he was recording Dark Horse there, Indian classical musicians - some of the greatest exponents of their instruments - were at his home. He was organizing a tour for them and recording them in the daytime. The music that they produced for Ravi Shankar’s Musical Festival From India is just classic. He would go in the studio at night to do Dark Horse, then he’d get up in the morning and hear them rehearsing downstairs. He was really burning the candle at both ends.’

—  Dark Horse 2014 remaster liner notes by Kevin Howlett
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