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Srila Prabhupada’s England Visit

The journey with Swami Prabhupada has been the most satisfying aspect of my life.
His values of life has given a new dimension to the world and has helped people in all
the facets of life.


Advent
In the late 1960’s I first came in contact with practitioners of the Vaishnava tradition.
Several American disciples of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada had arrived in
the UK to establish a Radha Krishna Temple.

I was quite impressed with the depth of Vedic philosophy and especially with the
chanting of the Holy Names of God. Almost overnight I quit my entire Rock n Roll
lifestyle and my job and began my life as a Brahmachari. I soon found myself living at
John & Yoko Lennon’s eighty plus acre estate – “Tittenhurst” and ended up staying
there for six months.


A New Name
During this time I met and personally received Diksha or spiritual initiation from
Swami Prabhupada. I was, in fact Prabhupada’s first initiated European disciple.
Born as Colin I was now named “Kulasekhara Das”. I had been named after one of the
eight Alvars or mystic poets of an ancient Vaishnava line, and a great Emperor of

South India.
On September 11, 1969 Prabhupada arrived in London. After a short press
conference, he was driven to the Beatle John Lennon’s Tittenhurst Manor. John
Lennon had personally sent his white Rolls-Royce and chauffeur to drive Prabhupada
from the airport. After arriving at the Manor,Prabhupada’s first visitors were the
Beatles George Harrison and John Lennon and Yoko Ono. He took off the garland he
was wearing and gave it to George Harrison. George smiled welcoming him to England.

Prabhupada’s Simplicity
Prabhupada smilingly spoke,”You are anxious to bring some peace to the world. Every
saintly person should be anxious to bring peace to the world.” When John and Yoko
left Prabhupada’s room a short time later, they were overheard noting Prabhupad’s
simplicity. They said to each other, “Look how simply he’s living, could you live like
that?” In fact John and Yoko chanted Hare Krishna for a while.

In June 1969 a reporter from the Montreal Star asked them, “Where do you get your
strength?” John Lennon replied, “From Hare Krishna” and Yoko joined and said,
“That’s where we get it from, you know. We’re not denying it.”

Historic Chants: Hare Krishna
One day John Lennon walked into the kitchen as several devotees were cooking
breakfast. He greeted us, strolled over to the piano and began chanting the ‘Hare
Krishna’ mantra to a rock and roll tune. Then he switched into a blues version. We
stopped what we were doing and began to sing along. Joyfully John continued into a
bluegrass version of the mantra and even did a classical version. He also played
several Beatle tunes but rather than the normal lyrics he sang Hare Krishna.

This was like a dream come true for me. Here I was blissfully chanting Hare Krishna
with the Beatle John Lennon, one of the world’s most talented singers in the service of
my beloved Spiritual Master who sat a mere room or two away. These were indeed
historic times.

The Final Photo Session
Earlier just 3 weeks before the arrival of Prabhupada, the Beatles had assembled at
their last ever photo session. The Beatles’ company Apple Records wrote in this
regard,“On 22nd August 1969, The Beatles assembled for a photo session, their last
ever, at John Lennon’s new country estate, Tittenhurst Park, a Georgian manor house
set in 27 acres within the village of Sunninghill, near Ascot, Berkshire. One of the
photographs taken that day was used for the cover of their American compilation
album Hey Jude. With dark colours and muted tones, it shows The Beatles standing
in the doorway of what became known as The Temple. The name applied to the Radha
Krishna Temple, the central place of worship for members of the Hare Krishna
Movement in Britain. When the Radha Krishna Temple arrived, Tittenhurst Park came
alive with a new colour, the vivid saffron worn by male devotees that signified a chosen
path of abstinence. The temple members opted for a vegetarian diet, meditation, the
studying of scriptures, and the chanting of the holy names of Krishna.”
An Adventurous Morning Walk

I remember once at John Lennon’s estate, Prabhupada went out on his morning walk
and there were only 3 people with him including me, my fiance Visakha, and another
devotee. Normally devotees were over-protective of Prabhupada which he knew and so
he enjoyed finding himself with just the 3 of us. We came to a field where the golden
grass had grown up to about six feet tall. There were two tire tracks through this grass
and it created a small passage-way through the field. Prabhupada stopped at the
entrance and turned to me. He shook his head a little and asked pointing his cane to
the field entrance,”Can we go through here?” I thought for a minute, and decided that
if there was going to be a tractor coming through that field from the opposite direction,
we would hear it ages before it could reach us, as it was early morning and there was
nothing stirring. I said “Yes, Prabhupada!” And he beamed: AN ADVENTURE!!

The Magic Hour
We set off through this tunnel, completely surrounded by this golden grass. When we
got to the middle of the field, there was a small hill – right in the center of the field and
as we walked up we were standing about five feet higher than the grass in the field,
and it was very beautiful. The Sun had not risen yet. This period is what the
Photographers call the ‘magic’ hour. There is a special quality to the light at this time
that is especially great for photography due to the soft bright natural light.As we were
walking up the hill I asked Prabhupada what the song meant that we had recorded the
day before in his room.

The Mridangam Lessons
Every afternoon I would go to his room and he would teach me Mridangam and then
we would record. Sometimes with Purushuttom, sometimes just me and Prabhupada,
while sometimes Mukunda or Gurudas would sit in. The first of these recording was
the 18 minute Sikshastakam, where Prabhupada taught me the very first beat “Ghee
Ghee Tuk Ta.” I played it four times and he said “Good, now we will record!” It was 18
minutes, which is a lifetime in recording. I had no idea and tried to keep the beat. I
went off at some point very early on and was playing a mutated version of the beat
which somehow worked!

Treasurable Moment
In answer to my question Prabhupada replied, “That song was about Lord Chaitanya’s
Sankirtan party. They would go out for kirtan at this time. This is the time when Lord
Chaitanya would go out for Sankirtan. When the Sun has risen, yet is not yet in the
sky. And He would dance.” And then he hooked his cane over his forearm and raised
both hands in the air, and started dancing. Standing on one spot and swaying back
and forwards, putting one foot across the other with his arms up in the air in ecstasy,
and Prabhupada again said “And He would dance like this.”He beamed at me as he
danced there on that small hill in the middle of the field. The light reflected off the
golden grass made his skin look effulgent and golden. This has always been one of my
most treasured moments shared with my Guru Maharaja, and I miss him so much.

The Temple
Three or four times a week, Prabhupada gave public lectures in a building at the
northern end of the property. The building had previously been used as a hall for
chamber-music recitals, but now several of Prabhupada’s disciples, installed a small
Deity altar and a speaking dias for Prabhupada. The building never really had a name,
but after Prabhupada’s stay everyone referred to it as “The Temple.” And they still call
it “The Temple” to this very day.

Remuna Gopinath
In exchange for living at John Lennon’s manor we worked our tails off. Some of the
hardest graft I ever did. I had a look at Tittenhurst on Wikipedia, and it said that John
built the Studio there, and I thought that he never lifted a brick. It took 3 days to
sledgehammer through an old fireplace, the bricks were an inch thick, crisscrossed 3
feet thick and had been there since Shakespeare’s time. I once asked Prabhupada
what the place should be called and he said “Remuna Gopinath”.
I asked in return, “What does that mean?” He smiled widely and replied “That which
Krishna has stolen for his devotee!”

Recording Studio
The fireplace and adjoining wall had to be removed to build the Recording Studio. I
never saw any money. Not sure if the American’s did, or Prabhupada. As far as I knew
we were allowed to stay there in exchange for work, hard work and by no means a

Vacation Resort.
We had to sledgehammer our way through a couple of walls and a fireplace to build
the recording studio.

Hanging Out at Apple Records
I was senior among the British devotees with some experience of show business from
the two years when I did psychedelic lighting for bands that included The Byrds,
Electric Flag and Pink Floyd.
Because of these considerations I was chosen to hang out at Apple Records and talk
to Rock Stars about Krishna. This was one of the best gigs I have ever had in my life!

Song Recordings
It was during this time that we recorded the “Radha Krishna Temple” Album. George
Harrison was in fact already aware of the devotees of Krishna before meeting
Prabhupada. He had purchased 20 copies of the “Happening” album, the first
professional recording by Prabhupada and his disciples. In 1969 George first met
Shyamasundar Das in the London offices of Apple Records, The Beatles’ record
company. George geeted him and said, “Where have you been? I’ve been waiting two
years to meet you fellas.” This initial meeting led to the recording of “Hare Krishna
Mantra”, credited to Radha Krishna Temple (London), with George, Paul, Linda
McCartney and Ginger Baker all in the studio helping. George produced the song and
further recordings, as well as attended an Apple-organized press conference for the
Temple in a park at Sydenham, South London and they made an appearance on BBCTV’s
Top of the Pops, where they performed “Hare Krishna Mantra”. The single reached
the charts in twenty countries, doing particularly well in Czechoslovakia and Germany
and was even sung one afternoon by 40,000 people at Wembley.

Yamuna Devi sang the lead with Shyamasundar singing back up. I played Tablas on
this and blew the conch at the end of the song. Earlier we had a 3 hour Kirtan at
George’s house as practice for this recording.
Billy Preston played keyboards. This took 34 takes to finally make it.

Govindam Prayers at ISKCON
In the late 1800s, the great-grandfather of the Hare Krishna movement, Bhaktivinode
Thakur, had predicted a day when the Maha Mantra and songs of Krishna would be
sung throughout the world in the local musical style and in the local language. George
Harrison would be the first to help towards making that prediction come true. When
Prabhupada first heard George Harrison’s orchestrated version of the Govindam
prayers, tears began streaming from his eyes. He then mandated that the song be
played every morning in each and every ISKCON temple, a tradition that continues to
this very day.

The ‘Hairy Krishna’ Incident
After recording the album we had to do a cover shoot. Paul McCartney was at the
back doing the engineering with George Martin. He came out once to adjust some
mikes and then came over to where I was sitting cross-legged on the floor, shaved-up
wearing robes, and said “I saw it on the News you know Hairy Krishna! Hairy
Krishna!” George flew down to the Woodstock – Isle of White in a Helicopter, with a
copy of 45, and played it for 4 hours straight before the concert! So it was broadcasted
on the news and they said “Hairy Krishna” because of all the long hairs.

We were all chanting the Hare Krishna mantra for four hours on that ride!” Then he went back
into the mixing room. After the session they all left except George and the rest of the
devotees arrived to record the ‘B’ side of the “Hare Krishna Single” and “Prayers to the
Spiritual Masters.”

The Girls Hive
After the cover shoot, George had sent Terry Doran – his driver/personal assistant to
get me from Apple Records and bring me to Abbey Road in his 600 Mercedes. It took
ten minutes to get through the gate due to 60 girls all over the carlike a swarm of
bees. Then one looked in through the windscreen and saw me and they all started
chanting “Hare Krishna.”
Memorable Moment at Apple
The 3 hour session which I did alone with George at Apple is one of my favorites. Here
I was 18 years old, doing lights for Pink Floyd, living with Prabhupada on John &
Yoko’s 87 acre estate. The 3 hour session was to overdub the 3 hour mantra rock jam
that we had in his house with Billy Preston on keyboards, George Harrison on Bass
etc. George also played tambourine and I played Tablas. We were alone in a 10′ X 10′
sound room in apple for the whole 3 hours straight and completed the whole tape in
one take. I sent a photo of this session to Prabhupada with my beads for initiation and
his servant Nanda Gopal told me that Prabhupada carried it with him in his spectacle
case.


The Lasting Impression
Prabhupada had made a lasting impression on George Harrison.
George later explained that most of these yogis say ‘Look at me, I am the divine
incarnation, let me help you,’ while Prabhupada said, ‘I am the servant of the servant
of the servant.’ When George once asked if he should also shave his head and join the
temple, Prabhupada advised him not to and insisted that he could do more for
Krishna through his music.

The Uncanny Approval
In 1967 Prabhupada had experienced a severe heart attack and all wondered whether
he would live long enough to finish his translation of the 10th Canto of the Srimad-
Bhagavatam. He had translated the second canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam, but
knew that many years of work remained. He decided to immediately write the book
entitled “Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead”. He then asked Shyamasundara
to request George Harrison to publish it.
Shyamasundar was concerned and did not want to disturb his friendly relationship
with the Beatle by asking him for money. Prabhupada had instructed him not to ask
much of George or from any other wealthy or famous personality. However
Shyamsundar knew that he had to follow his Gurudeva’s order. Thus he sat with
George one evening and skirted the issue.A thunder-storm raged outside, and just as
he brought up the courage to discreetly ask the question, lightning flashed. George’s
face grew livid with a sense of hurt.

Suddenly there was a loud clap of thunder and all the lights went out. The two sat in
complete darkness with-out saying anything for a minute or two. The lights came on.
George looked at him stunned and said: “I suppose that means Yes! Who can argue
with Krishna?”

Letter of Thanks
Prabhupada later wrote George Harrison thanking him for his sponsorship of the
printing costs of “Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead”.
“My Dear George, Please accept my blessings. I am so much obliged to you for your
valued cooperation in spreading my movement of Krishna Consciousness throughout
the whole world. I beg to acknowledge receipt herewith of your contribution of
nineteen thousand dollars for publication of my book, Krsna, now going to the press
within the week. Please note that every farthing of this money will be employed in the
service of the Lord, and the Lord is so kind and grateful that He will bestow upon you
benediction at least ten times more than that you have done for Him…I know that
both you and John are very good souls. Both of you are pledged to do something for
the peace of the world. By the grace of Krishna, you have already realized to some
extent about the necessity and importance of Hare Krishna movement in the world.
Similarly, if John also does so, it will be a great event. John and his wife were very
kind upon me when I was staying at Tittenhurst Park as their guests. I always prayed
for them to Krishna for understanding this great movement.
Please inform him this message on my behalf. I have dreamt something very nice
about John which I shall disclose in proper time. In the meantime, please ask him to
cooperate with this movement as you are doing, and he will be very happy.”

Homage and Gratitude
These times with the Beatles and my beloved Gurudeva, Prabhupada represent a
historic moment in time. While many are familiar with the 1960s counterculture and
the societal breakdown that is associated with it, few scholars or historians have
investigated the impact of India’s spiritual traditions upon the times. The fact is that
India’s ancient Vaishnava culture was at the epicenter of the entire 1960’s
phenomenon. any famous songs can be directly linked to the ancient philosophy and
outlook of the Saints of India.
Many common concepts such as Yoga, Mantra Meditation, TM, Karma, Vegetarianism,
Animal rights and diversity of religion began to find wide acceptance throughout the
World during the 1960s.
This influence can be directly linked to the efforts of the great Saints and Traditions of
India like Srila Prabhupada and Vaishnavism. Undoubtedly the world owes a great debt
of gratitude to the people of India for maintaining and preserving this great treasure
house of wisdom and culture.

Colin Jury (Kulashekara Das)
Colin Jury was born in Barking, Essex, England. He was the youngest person
accepted at the British School of Film Technique in 1964, however he was too young
to start and worked in film as an apprentice and projectionist. In 1969, he took
spiritual initiation from His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Colin was named “Kulasekhara das”. Named after one of the eight Alvars or mystic
poets of their line, – great Emperor in South India

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