Harrison leaves £20m to Krishnas

George Harrison left £20 million of his estate to the Hare Krishna faith which sustained him as he died of cancer.

The London Times/December 4, 2001
By Adam Sherwin

As the family of the former Beatle arrived in India for a ceremony in which his ashes will be scattered on the Ganges, details of his will emerged. He left the bulk of his almost £200 million fortune to his widow, Olivia, and son, Dhani, according to reports in the US.

He left instructions for up to 10% of his wealth to be distributed to the Hare Krishnas, whom he supported spiritually and financially for more than 30 years. It is expected to be distributed by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness to temples across the world. The sect will receive a proportion of future earnings from Harrison's music.

A significant proportion will go to Bhaktivedanta Manor, the Hertfordshire mansion bought by Harrison and donated to the Krishnas. A spokesman for the Manor said: "We are eternally grateful for all George has done for us. His generosity allowed the Krishna movement to take root in Britain."

Up to £5 million will be distributed to unnamed international and British-based charities which aid children in poor African countries.

In accordance with her husband's last wishes, Olivia Harrison will visit two Hindu pilgrimage sites in India today and scatter his ashes on the Ganges. In a tradition dating more than 3,500 years, Hindus are cremated on river banks and their ashes immersed in holy waters. Hindus believe this releases the soul from the body for its heavenward journey and frees it from the cycle of reincarnation.

Harrison's ashes will first be immersed in the Ganges at Varanasi, one of the holiest places in Hinduism and a popular site for cremations. Phoolan Devi, the criminal- turned-politician known as the Bandit Queen, was cremated at Varanasi after her murder earlier this year.

Harrison's family are expected to take another urn to the town of Allahabad, scene of the Kumbh Mela festival earlier this year. There they are to immerse his ashes in the Sangam, a holy confluence where the Ganges meets the Yamuna River and the mythical Saraswati River.

More than 1,000 Beatle fans braved the bitter cold in Liverpool city center last night for a vigil in honor of Harrison. They congregated in front of St George's Hall, where flags were flown at half mast, to listen to his music and pay their respects. Pupils from Harrison's former school, Dovedale Junior, gave a reading and a Hindu prayer was also read. The crowd took part in a minute's silent meditation.

Before the vigil, Dovedale pupils planted a tree in the Peace Garden behind the hall. The English oak is rooted a few feet from a tree planted in memory of John Lennon.

Note: George Harrison ultimately left nothing to the Krishna organization ISKCON.

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