I will never forget the moment when I heard that George Harrison had passed away, shortly after Thanksgiving in 2001. My strong feelings of separation surprised me—and made me think how important and dear George must have been to Srila Prabhupada and Sri Krishna. And I remembered my own little experience with George in Bombay.
In 1974, almost exactly forty years ago, George came to visit Srila Prabhupada at Hare Krishna Land, in Juhu. I took him around the construction site, and he expressed his appreciation for the work and encouraged us in our efforts. When at twelve-thirty we heard the conch shell blow for raja-bhoga arati, we proceeded to the small temple shed, where George chose a pair of karatalas and sang with the other devotees. Puri dasa, originally from Scotland, was doing the arati, and when he turned to offer the ghee lamp to the devotees and saw George, his hand trembled so much that, as he told me later, he was afraid the ghee lamp would fall.
After the arati, I arranged a full plate of maha-prasada for George and accompanied him to meet Srila Prabhupada in Prabhupada’s one-bedroom apartment. I left them together and returned to my office.
About two hours later, a pudgy ten- or twelve-year-old boy with glasses—the son of our friend and supporter Pranjivan G. Valia of the “Hare Krishna” house in the Juhu Vile Parle development—came to my little office at the back of the property. “I heard George Harrison is here,” he said. “Yes,” I replied, “he is.” “I want to see him,” he stated. “Well, you can’t. He’s meeting with Srila Prabhupada.” He looked me straight in the eyes—he was sizing me up—and concluded that he wasn’t going to get anywhere with me, then turned, dashed to the stairs, and bolted down the steps. “Oh my God,” I thought. “He is determined; he’s going to try to find him.” So I bounded down the stairs in hot pursuit.
I ran across to the next building, and when I reached the second landing, in front of Srila Prabhupada’s flat, I found the door ajar. The boy stood just inside, and beyond him George sat cross-legged with his back erect, like a yogi—like a perfect disciple listening attentively at the feet of his master.
With the abrupt appearance of the boy, Srila Prabhupada and George ended their meeting, exchanging some final words. George was very gracious and appreciative, and Prabhupada was very affectionate and kind.
I was upset that the boy had interrupted their meeting, but they took it as a matter of course. Maybe it was time for the meeting to end; maybe they took it as Krsna’s arrangement.
The next year, on a morning walk in Sanand, Gujarat, Srila Prabhupada recalled the meeting. “He is very nice boy—George. I have studied. Very good boy. He showed me in Bombay. He came to see me in Bombay, last year. He is keeping Jagannatha within his beadbag and chanting.”
I and many thousands—perhaps millions—of people are thankful to George for all the service he rendered to Srila Prabhupada and the Krishna consciousness movement, for making the holy name of Lord Krishna—the Hare Krishna maha-mantra—and the principles of Krishna consciousness so accessible to people all over the world and for attracting so many souls to the all-attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna.