Out of all The Beatles, John Lennon and George Harrison were the most spiritual. They were the most dedicated to meditation when the group traveled to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s retreat at his ashram in Rishikesh, India.
Then, George started reading about Hinduism, the Hare Krishna movement, and learning about mantras and chanting. He showed John, and he became interested too. They loved it so much that they once sailed through the Greek Islands chanting until their jaws ached.
John Lennon and George Harrison sailed through the Greek Islands, chanting to Krishna for hours
In 1982, George told a leader in the Hare Krishna movement, Mukunda Goswami (per the Guardian), that his spirituality started once he saw what was over the wall he’d hit at the time. He started reading about meditation, mantras, chanting, and Hinduism.
He showed John much of his findings. Then, they sailed through the Greek Islands, chanting to Krishna for hours. In the end, they both felt “exalted.”
“Before meeting Prabhupada [the founder of the Kare Krishna movement] and all of you, I had bought that album Prabhupada did in New York, and John and I listened to it,” George told Goswami. “I remember we sang it for days, John and I, with ukulele banjos, sailing through the Greek islands chanting Hare Krishna.
“Like six hours we sang, because we couldn’t stop once we got going. As soon as we stopped, it was like the lights went out. It went on to the point where our jaws were aching, singing the mantra over and over and over and over and over. We felt exalted; it was a very happy time for us.”
John and George’s chanting session wasn’t the only time George chanted for hours
John and George loved chanting through the Greek Islands. It changed them. After that, George never stopped and did it on another long journey. When Goswami asked him how he felt after chanting for a long time, George replied that he felt invincible after chanting for 23 hours straight during a trip from France to Portugal.
“I find that I sometimes have opportunities when I can really get going at it, and the more I do it, I find the harder it is to stop, and I don’t want to lose the feeling it gives me,” George replied. “For example, once I chanted the Hare Krishna mantra all the way from France to Portugal, nonstop.
“I drove for about 23 hours and chanted all the way. It gets you feeling a bit invincible. The funny thing was that I didn’t even know where I was going. I mean I had bought a map, and I knew basically which way I was aiming, but I couldn’t speak French, Spanish, or Portuguese.
“But none of that seemed to matter. You know, once you get chanting, then things start to happen transcendentally.”
He chanted to Krishna during a scary plane ride
Chanting isn’t only great for getting through long journeys. Goswami asked George if he’d experienced an incident where he felt God’s presence strongly through chanting. George replied that he felt Krishna was with him the strongest during a pretty scary moment on a plane around 1971. Chanting helped him through it. George believed that it saved his life.
“Once I was on an aeroplane that was in an electric storm,” George explained. “It was hit by lightning three times, and a Boeing 707 went over the top of us, missing by inches.
“I thought the back end of the plane had blown off. I was on my way from Los Angeles to New York to organise the Bangladesh concert. As soon as the plane began bouncing around, I started chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
“The whole thing went on for about an hour and a half or two hours, the plane dropping hundreds of feet and bouncing all over in the storm, all the lights out and all these explosions, and everybody terrified.
“I ended up with my feet pressed against the seat in front, my seat belt as tight as it could be, gripping on the thing, and yelling Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare at the top of my voice. I know for me, the difference between making it and not making it was actually chanting the mantra. Peter Sellers also swore that chanting Hare Krishna saved him from a plane crash once.”
John and George’s experiences with chanting were different, but it brought them together for a short time. It made them feel great, and that’s why George continued to chant until he died in 2001.