by Tim Cashmere
December 17 2009
Indian sitar master has spoken out about his disappointment with the
hippies that The Beatles attracted to him.
Speaking on Indian television, Shankar spoke fondly of the Beatles as
people, but explained that he never felt comfortable with the pop
star he became.
"All four [of the Beatles] came. All of them were very sweet but
George was so special. He would corner me and ask me about the
relation between spirituality and music, religion and music," he said.
"He met me a few times and then I started teaching him. And that news
spread all over. That did help me. When people say that George
Harrison made me famous, that is true in a way.
"Then what happened was that I became a pop star all of a sudden. All
young people, bearded, long hair, wearing beads and not normal. They
would behave like Naga sanyasis [joint smoking holy men] if they were
permitted and I was not happy at all. I would tell George, 'What have
Shankar was so disapproving of this kind of behavior that he actually
cancelled his performance at the Monterrey Pop Festival in 1967 after
he saw The Who smashing up instruments and claiming the festival was
"all drugs and nobody normal there and at Woodstock in 1969 he asked
"Who was listening to music? They were all stoned."
Shankar has often been associated with the 60s and his spirituality
has often been sought after by westerners destined to "find
themselves". These comments are sure to come as a shock to those who
think they were on the path to spiritual enlightenment.
I am somehow reminded of Shankar's performance at the Concert for
Bangladesh in 1971, when he and his band tuned their instruments on
stage to raptuous applause. Shankar remarked to the audience "Thank
you, if you appreciate the tuning so much, I hope you will enjoy the