2016-06-30

Mukunda: What else helps you to fix your mind on God?

George: Well, just having as many things around me that will remind me of Him, like incense and pictures. Just the other day I was looking at a small picture on the wall of my studio of you, Gurudasa, and Syamasundara, and just seeing all the old devotees made me think of Krishna. I guess that's the business of devotees--to make you think of God.

Mukunda: How often do you chant?

George: Whenever I get a chance.

Mukunda: Some people say that if everyone on the planet chanted Hare Krishna, they wouldn't be able to keep their minds on what they were doing. In other words, if everyone started chanting, some people ask if the whole world wouldn't just grind to a halt. They wonder if people would stop working in factories, for example.

George: No. Chanting doesn't stop you from being creative or productive. It actually helps you concentrate. I think this would make a great sketch for television: imagine all the workers on the Ford assembly line in Detroit, all of them chanting Hare Krishna Hare Krishna while bolting on the wheels. Now that would be wonderful. It might help out the auto industry, and probably there would be more decent cars too.

Mukunda: You know, Srila Prabhupada often said that after a large number of temples were established, most people would simply begin to take up the chanting of Hare Krishna within their own homes, and we're seeing more and more that this is what's happening.

George: I think it's better that it is spreading into the homes now. There are a lot of "closet Krishnas," you know. There's a lot of people out there who are just waiting, and if it's not today, it will be tomorrow or next week or next year.

Back in the sixties, whatever we were all getting into, we tended to broadcast it as loud as we could. I had had certain realizations and went through a period where I was so thrilled about my discoveries and realizations that I wanted to shout and tell it to everybody. But there's a time to shout it out and a time not to shout it out. A lot of people went underground with their spiritual life in the seventies, but they're out there in little nooks and crannies and in the countryside, people who look and dress straight, insurance salesmen types, but they're really meditators and chanters, closet devotees.

The Hare Krishna Record

Mukunda: In 1969 you produced a single called "The Hare Krishna Mantra," which eventually became a hit in many countries. That tune later became a cut on the Radha-Krishna Temple album, which you also produced on the Apple label and was distributed in America by Capitol Records. A lot of people in the recording business were surprised by this, your producing songs for and singing with the Hare Krishnas. Why did you do it?

George: Well, it's just all a part of service, isn't it? Spiritual service, in order to try to spread the mantra all over the world. Also, to try and give the devotees a wider base and a bigger foothold in England and everywhere else.

Mukunda: What effect do you think that tune, "The Hare Krishna Mantra," having reached millions and millions of people, has had on the cosmic consciousness of the world?

George: I'd like to think it had some effect. After all, the sound is God.

Mukunda: When Apple, the recording company, called a press conference to promote the record, the media seemed to be shocked to hear you speak about the soul and God being so important.

George: I felt it was important to try and be precise, to tell them and let them know. You know, to come out of the closet and really tell them. Because once you realize something, then you can't pretend you don't know it any more.

I figured this is the space age, with airplanes and everything. If everyone can go around the world on their holidays, there's no reason why a mantra can't go a few miles as well. So the idea was to try to spiritually infiltrate society, so to speak. After I got Apple Records committed to you and the record released, and after our big promotion, we saw it was going to become a hit. And one of the greatest things, one of the greatest thrills of my life, actually, was seeing you all on BBC's Top of the Pops.

I couldn't believe it. It's pretty hard to get on that program, because they only put you on if you come into the Top 20. It was just like a breath of fresh air. My strategy was to keep it to a three-and-a-half-minute version of the mantra so they'd play it on the radio, and it worked. I did the harmonium and guitar track for that record at Abbey Road studios before one of the Beatles' sessions and then overdubbed a bass part. I remember Paul McCartney and his wife, Linda, arrived at the studio and enjoyed the mantra.

Mukunda: When you come across people who are spiritually inclined but don't have much knowledge, what kind of advice do you give them?George: I try to tell them my little bit, what my experience is, and give them a choice of things to read and a choice of places to go--like you know, "Go to the temple, try chanting."