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07th February, 2023

Pilgrimage for George: Meet the Special Guests

Ahead of our sell-out event 'Pilgrimage for George' on 25th February, learn about the very special guests you can expect to see during our panel discussion, Q&A session and live music sets.

An insight into Gurudas:

Gurudas is a prominent Hare Krishna devotee and one of Srila Prabhupada's early disciples. He was a trailblazer for the Hare Krishna consciousness in the UK and the USA, spreading the teachings of Krishna consciousness in the Western world. Gurudas was also a close associate of George Harrison and played a key role in introducing the musician to the ISKCON movement. The two formed a deep friendship, and Gurudas called George a "true friend" and "caring, sensitive, honest, a great conversationalist, deeply reflective, and spiced with a keen sense of humor."

Your host, Pradyumna Pradip Gajjar:

Pradyumna Pradip Gajjar was born in Walsall and as a young teenager became attracted to the songs of John Lennon and the Beatles. Learning of George Harrison's spiritual journey, he became fascinated by the meditational practice and the wisdom of ancient India. He became a student of the Bhagavad-gita and after completing university, he became a monk at Bhaktivedanta Manor - the UK HQ of the Hare Krishna community gifted by George Harrison back in 1973. After 10 years of serving at the Manor, he stepped back into the world, continuing his spiritual pursuit. He now leads the Hare Krishna community in Leicester, is married with two children and works as a leadership and well-being coach. 

Pradyumna Pradip Gajjar describes a time George Harrison visited Bhaktivedanta Manor…

“A name of inspiration

I tried to keep pace, following a group of older Hare Krishna monks as they crossed the courtyard, making their way towards the Manor house. Looking ahead, I got a glimpse of my hero, George Harrison. I could see his blue denim jacket and the back of his head, his hair bouncing as he bantered with his old friends. The monks escorted him to the mock Tudor country house, more of a large mansion that proudly stood on the 17-acre estate that George had gifted to the Hare Krishna community back in 1973. With a mix of saffron and white robes flowing ahead of me, the crowd around George increased, all eager to catch sight, get close and listen in on the conversation.  I tried to keep up in hope to get as close as I could. 

Suddenly the group ahead stopped. Some people moved across onto the lush lawn that dipped in front of the house. They were asked to make some space. And there he was, George. I had clear sight of him though still not close enough to catch his words or even say hello. He along with the monks then knelt down to remove their shoes, placed them on a rack and started to make their way into the house, which was now called a temple, a place of worship where the deity of Krishna is revered. I tried to come closer but saw the door close and through the window I watched the blue denim jacket fade into the dimly light reception room of the Manor. I had to remind myself, he's a celebrity, the quiet Beatle, shy and contemplative, just as I had read about him. I was lucky to get as close as I did.

This occasion at Bhaktivedanta Manor, the full name of this estate, was in 1993. The community was celebrating the 20th anniversary of its acquisition. Festivities, remembrances and story telling had been planned over a number days. The visit of George was a surprise feature. For me, he was an inspiration, a name on an album that drew me to the music, mantra, meditation and the Hare Krishna way of life. As a teenager pulling out an album from my fathers record collection, its name, the Goddess of Fortune, was a significant blessing. Now, August 1993, ten years later, I offered gratitude to the man whose name excited me to listen to the record. I didn't get to say a word to him, but in my heart I acknowledged a connection. 

'Thank you George!' But wait, I was called for something more special...”

 

More panel guests to be announced soon!

 

Musicians 

An interview with Mukunda Michael Murphy:

Mukunda Michael Murphy will be performing a set of George’s spiritual songs at Pilgrimage for George, following his appearance at the Philharmonic Hall’s ‘My Sweet Lord: The Spiritual Journey of George Harrison’ on the 23rd February.

Can you tell us a bit more about yourself and how you got involved in music?

My name is Michael Murphy, also known as Mikey and Muki (Mukunda) Mukunda is a spiritual name given to me by my Hare Krishna parents. I have been in a few bands playing guitar and bass guitar either as a lead vocalist or backing vocalist, one of which was The Inner Light George Harrison tribute band.

What inspires you the most about The Beatles and George Harrison and their/his music?

I think the biggest inspiration I can take from the Beatles and George Harrison's music is definitely the way they would structure their songs and their interesting chord progressions and key changes! Seeing the recent 'Get Back' documentary by Peter Jackson also gave such a great insight into the way they wrote songs and the relationships they had with each other. I was inspired particularly by how prolific Paul McCartney is at songwriting and the relationship between him and John Lennon.

George was also shown to be an equally great songwriter and that got even better when The Beatles spit up and he went solo and therefore his own creative freedom, and he went on to put out the masterpiece LP 'All Things Must Pass.'

Have you ever met George or any of The Beatles?

No, I haven’t! Although I believe if George was still alive, there may have been a possibility that I could have because my dad has actually met him on a few occasions due to George’s involvement in Krishna. My dad also met Paul on a few occasions too and a few others such as Cat Stevens, Jim Kerr and Chrissie Hynde who also herself came to be involved with the Krishna devotees. We had her over for dinner once at my house which was super exciting!

How do you think George’s music changed after his visit to India, and into in his solo career? 

Well, I believe it was this trip to India which first peaked his interest into a more spiritual path, he met several yogis but it wasn't until he met Srila Prabhupada and the Krishna devotees where he really connected with them, especially with Mukunda Prabhu and Shymasundar Prabhu who were some of the early American devotees of Srila Prabhupada.

These two devotees can be seen fairly early on in the 'Get Back' Documentary after George had invited them to a few sessions. I think his music always had that classic Beatles sound and I don't actually think it changed too drastically apart from the addition of some Indian instruments such as the Sitar and of course that trademark slide guitar! So I think the biggest change was lyrically as he became more inspired and involved with the devotees and he started to preach about God (Krishna) through his music.

Why do you think George became interested in spirituality and does that reflect with your own?

I think that George had become a bit fed up with all the materialistic things that this world offers, unfortunately all bad for you i.e. smoking, drinking and drugs. Someone who engages in these activities will soon realise that all of it starts to become unenjoyable, so people tend to seek something different. It happens with a lot of today's devotees where they become dissatisfied with all the temptation and decide to seek something new to help their mental health. This is why many gravitate towards a more peaceful and spiritual life in much the same way George did.

For me, having come from the opposite side, having been born in the movement, as I was growing up, I wasn't so interested in spiritual life. Even today, like many of us, I am drawn to the materialistic and tempting things that life has to offer as well as some other things that happened as I was growing up which pushed me away from pursuing a more spiritual path. It's always there in me though and I feel like I have a good grasp of what life is all about and why we are here on this Earth, even if I don't fully follow all the religious principles that becoming fully self-realised entails.

What is your favourite George song and why?

Well, all the classics of course 'My Sweet Lord,' 'Here Comes the Sun,' 'Something.' I guess a personal favourite away from the more popular ones would be 'Beware of Darkness.' This song has really great lyrics and gives the warning of permitting illusion from getting in the way of a person's true purpose and that spiritual concerns override all material things.

What contemporary artist/s are you inspired by today and why?

Well in stark contrast to George’s music, I’m a big Muse fan! The main reason being their music is so epic-sounding and they are one of the best live rock bands around in terms of the huge effort they put into their stage productions. Also, I’m a fan of artists like The Police (& Sting,) Peter Gabriel, Simple Minds, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys and Wolf Alice who are brilliant! Also I’m a big fan of blues guitarist and singer Joe Bonamassa. Loads more but too many to list here!

 

The Cavern Club’s Clark Gilmour:

 “Growing up as the son of Stars In Their Eyes contestant and Paul McCartney impersonator, Lawrence Gilmour, Clark was hooked on Rock ‘n’ Roll from an early age and had seen the likes of Carl Perkins, Gerry Marsden, The Merseybeats and the Swinging Blue Jeans, as well as Macca himself, before even picking up a guitar. The first song he learnt was Buddy Holly’s ‘Oh Boy’ and his first gig was performing ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’ on a bill that featured Jet Harris of The Shadows.

Becoming a Beatles tribute artist was an inevitable career path and after the dissolution of his own band, The Down & Outs, in 2009, Clark initiated the steps to find likeminded mop tops and started Them Beatles, playing the role of John Lennon. Known for their huge repertoire of hits and obscurities, and strict attention to detail, Them Beatles went on to have 7 successful years touring the world and playing International Beatleweek on five consecutive occasions from 2012-2016, including headlining the Liverpool Philharmonic in 2013.

At the end of 2015, Clark relocated to Liverpool, taking over the role of Artist Liaison for International Beatleweek and continues to be involved in booking acts for Beatleweek and the Cavern Club, where he can now be seen performing on Thursday at 1:15pm on the Front Stage, playing all things Beatles related as well as a mix of his other favourite artists old and new.”

The Cavern Club, Liverpool (www.cavernclub.com)

 

We look forward to welcoming you on the 25th February! If you weren’t lucky enough to secure tickets to our sold-out event ‘Pilgrimage for George,’ we’ll be live-streaming the panel discussion and live music on our Facebook page!

And don’t forget, we’re encouraging donations to George Harrison’s charity ‘The Material World Foundation’ as part of our #George80 celebrations! If you can, please consider donating at: www.materialworldfoundation.com/ and support their vital work, including their work in the Liverpool area supporting LIPA and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.

 

Mason Griffiths

Mason is the Content and PR Manager at The Beatles Story.

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