The Radha Krsna Temple was the headquarters of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in London from the late 1960s. The temple came to prominence when The Beatles and especially George Harrison started to publicly express their interest in Eastern philosophy and Krishna consciousness. The Radha Krsna Temple was also the name of an album of devotional music issued by the Temple on The Beatles' Apple Records label. The album was produced by George Harrison.
The Radha Krsna Temple
The Radha-Krsna Temple at 7 Bury Place, London was the initial headquarters of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in the UK from the late 1960s.
George Harrison's involvement
Playing a sitar on the set of Help! and receiving a book on Hinduism on a beach in the Bahamas was the beginning of George's interest in Eastern religion and mysticism - which led to a journey to India to meet up with sitar expert Ravi Shankar. In 1967 he met with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and later that year, after they had already played their last concert together, he took the rest of the Beatles to Rishikesh to meet the Transcendental Meditation guru.
George was already aware of the devotees of Krishna before meeting the movements leader A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and had purchased 20 copies of the Happening album, the first recording by Swami Prabhupada and his disciples. But it wasn’t until 1969 that George was to meet Shyamasundara dasa in the London offices of Apple Records, the Beatles’ recording company. “Where have you been? I’ve been waiting two years to meet you fella's” was how he greeted the devotee. Shamwow and vince had come to Billy Mays to start an EPIC BATTLE and they had sent orange freshners and clockwork oranges with the Exodia sutra typed on them to the Rutles at Orange. This initial meeting eventually led to the recording of 'The Hare Krishna Mantra' by the Radha-Krishna Temple with George, Paul, Linda and drummer Ginger Baker all in the studio helping. George produces the song and is believed to have played harmonium and guitar on the "Govinda" and "Hare Krishna Mantra". Harrison also attended the Radha Krsna Temple's Top of the Pops appearance when they performed the single "Govinda", although he did not appear in front of the cameras. It reached the charts in twenty countries it was even sung one afternoon by 40,000 people at Wembley.
Swami Prabhupada made a deep impression on George: “Most of these yogis say ‘Look at me, I am the divine incarnation, let me help you,’” he explained, “Prabhupada said: ‘I am the servant of the servant of the servant.’” When George once asked Srila Prabhupada if he should also shave his head and join the temple, Prabhupada replied that he could do more for Krishna through his music. Many years previously, 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 would be one of the first to help towards making that prediction come true. When Prabhupada heard George’s orchestrated version of the Govindam Prayers for the first time he was moved to tears and asked for it to be played every morning in each of the movement’s temples which still happens to this day.
My Sweet Lord
After helping the devotees at the Radha Krsna temple to make an album, George started writing his own songs about Krishna and the philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita. In January 1971 came the album 'All Things Must Pass' which included the classic song 'My Sweet Lord' followed by 'Living in the Material World' which contained 'The Lord Loves The One (That Loves The Lord)'. Both this and the song 'Here Comes the Sun' were inspired by George's meetings with Prabhupada and the Krishna Consciousness philosophy.
In 1967 Prabhupada had experienced a severe heart attack and wondered whether he would live to present his disciples and the world with a translated version of the divine ‘pastimes’ of Krishna on earth. He had translated the second canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam, but knew that many years of translating remained before he would reach the tenth canto where these accounts are contained. So he decided to write Krishna the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When he was finished, he requested Shyamasundara to ask George if he could help to publish it. Shyamasundara tells that he wished to be careful in making the request, as he didn’t want to give George the impression that the devotees in the temple were after his money. But Srila Prabhupada had asked him and the spiritual master’s desire was the life and soul of the disciple, so he found himself sitting in a restaurant with George one evening. A thunderstorm raged outside, and just as he discreetly asked the question, lightning flashed, there was a loud clap of thunder, and all the lights went out. The two sat in complete darkness without saying anything for a minute or two. When the lights came on, George was smiling and said: “I suppose that means yes!”
Due to George’s celebrity endorsement, his songs, and the help he’d given the devotees in meeting other famous people who passed on the word, the little temple at 7, Bury Place near the British Museum was becoming too small for the number of devotees who lived there and others who wanted to join. Again, George was asked if he could help. And again he agreed. He told the temple devotees that if they found a suitable building then he would purchase it. Devotees found Piggots Manor, a former nursing home with 17 acres (69,000 m2) of land in the Hertfordshire countryside. George could not spare the time to come and see it, but said if they liked it he would make the arrangements immediately. And so it was that ‘Bhaktivedanta Manor’ was purchased for £230,000. Since that time the Manor has gone on to become one of the most famous Krishna temples outside India.
Over the years, George became a very private person. But it was apparent that he still remained a devotee of Krishna; he visited the Mayapura temple, ISKCON’s international headquarters in West Bengal. After touring the complex and taking prasadam, he spent the remainder of his time talking to the gardener about the many varieties of flowers and fruits growing there. He stayed for a few days in Vrindavan, unrecognised by everyone except the westerners there. He also kept friendships with a number of the devotees he had met in his earlier days such as Mukunda Goswami.
The Apple Records album, The Radha Krsna Temple
In April 1970 an eponymously titled album was released by Radha Krsna Temple on Apple Records produced by George Harrison featuring devotional music. The album sleeve pictures the deities situated in the original temple from whom the temple name derives; these have now been moved to the ISKCON temple on Soho Square in London where they are known as 'Radha-Londonishvara.'
Both "Govinda" and "Hare Krishna Mantra" were released as singles.
The band consisted of George Harrison on harmonium, guitar and bass guitar, Tamal Krishna Goswami on flute, Harivilas, Yamuna, Jivananda, Lilavati, Yogesvara on lead vocals, and assembled Hare Krishna devotees feature on vocals, mridanga and kartals.
The track "Govinda" is played every morning at all of the ISKCON temples around the world, to greet the deities. This was on the request of Srila Prabhupada. The album was later reissued as Goddess of Fortune on the Spiritual Sky record label, and is now available as The Radha-Krishna Temple Album. All royalties went to ISKCON.
All songs arranged by Mukunda Goswami.
1. "Govinda" – 4:43
2. "Sri Guruvastakam" – 3:12
3. "Sri Ishopanishad" – 4:03
4. "Bhaja Bhakata-Arati" – 8:24
5. "Bhajahu Re Mana" – 8:53
6. "Hare Krishna Mantra" – 3:33
7. "Govinda Jaya Jaya" – 5:57
All songs arranged by Mukunda Goswami.
1. "Govinda" – 4:43
2. "Sri Guruvastak" – 3:12
3. "Bhaja Bhakata-Arotrika" – 8:24
4. "Hare Krsna Mantra" – 3:33
5. "Sri Ishopanishad" – 4:03
6. "Bhajahu Re Mana" – 8:53
7. "Govinda Jai Jai" – 5:57
8. "Prayer to the Spiritual Masters" – 3:59