September 19, 2021

Selfie that helped spark The Beatles love affair with India: Snaps show George Harrison’s 1966 trip


The selfie that helped spark The Beatles’ love affair with India: Unseen snaps reveal George Harrison’s 1966 spiritual trip that influenced Fab Four

  • Guitarist took a trip to India to stay at the Maharishi Maheesh Yogi’s yoga retreat and returned with the band 
  • Pictures of his original stay show him and his wife, Patti Boyd, spending time with sitar player Ravi Shankar 
  • Being sold alongside the images at auction is a quilted orange jacket George wore in India on 1967 visit 

By Rory Tingle For Mailonline

Published: 11:22 EDT, 1 October 2019 | Updated: 12:03 EDT, 1 October 2019


The selfie that helped to spark The Beatles’ love affair with India is among a set of never-before-seen pictures now up for auction.  

Photographs of George Harrison’s spiritual trip that influenced the rest of The Beatles to later visit have been unearthed more than 50 years later.

The guitarist found his 1966 pilgrimage to the sub-continent liberating and persuaded the rest of the band to go back with him 18 months later.

Their famous stay at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s yoga retreat had a significant influence on the music the Fab Four went on to produce.

George Harrison is pictured taking a selfie with the sitar player Ravi Shankar on a beach near Goa as they visited the south-western coast of India. The guitarist’s trip marked a seminal point in his artistic development and he returned to the country in 1967, bringing the rest of The Beatles with him 

George Harrison is pictured staging a selfie on a holiday he found so inspiring that he returned the following year with the rest of The Beatles. The band’s relationship with Indian music notably changed their sound, as they broke out of the traditional boundaries set by blues-oriented pop music 

Pictured: George Harrison, second from the right, with his wife Patti Boyd, second from the left, and sitar player Ravi Shankar (centre) as they visited ruins on his first trip to the country. The lead guitarist found the visit so inspiring that he returned with the rest of the band in a trip that would greatly influence their music 

Pictured: George Harrison relaxes on the beach with sitar player Ravi Shankar (right) in pictures that have given an intimate portrait of his trip 50 years after he first went to the country 

Six colour photos, slightly faded by time, show George with his wife Patti Boyd with sitar player Ravi Shankar and friends sitting among ancient ruins and a selfie of him on a beach. Being sold alongside the snaps is a quilted orange jacket that George wore in India and left behind in 1967.

The three-quarter-length coat was put away in a trunk by a Jai Guru Dev, an assistant of the Maharishi after The Beatles left.

Pictured: The quilted orange jacket that George wore when he returned to India with the rest of his band a year after the trip that is pictured in the collection of photos 

Almost 30 years later the Beatles author Geoffrey Giuliano visited the ashram retreat and purchased the trunk and its contents.

Even then, Mr Giuliano asked Mr Dev to look after it for him until he returned to India to collect the trunks – in April this year.

The coat has now been put up for sale for £3,000 while the unpublished photos are worth £1,500. The auction is being held by Omega auctions of Newton-Le-Willows, Merseyside.

A spokesman for the auction house said: ‘The Beatles’ relationship to India, transcendental meditation, Ravi Shankar and the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was very significant, not just for the group personally but for their musical output, which clearly benefited from it.

‘These photos show George’s first visit to India and clearly depict in just a few images how relaxed and happy he was.

‘George was clearly the driving force behind the group’s relationship with India and this visit was certainly an important factor.

‘George said later that it was the first feeling he had ever had of being liberated from being a Beatle. I certainly think that feeling of liberation comes across in these photos.’

The jacket, along with many other belongings, was left behind by George when he and the other Beatles departed the retreat in 1968.

The spokesman added: ‘The belongings were carefully put away and stored by one of the Maharishi’s assistants until very recently. A signed and detailed letter of provenance is provided with the coat written in both Hindi and English.’

In the letter Mr Deb wrote: ‘When Mr John (Lennon) and Mr George and their wives left the ashram they did not collect several of their personal items which were forgotten in their bungalows. I carefully put away there property with great care.

Ravi Shankar is pictured with George Harrison’s wife, Patti Boyd, during the couple’s visit to India in 1966. It is being sold as part of a collection of photographs that will be auctioned off along with a jacket that Harrison wore during his return to the country, when John, Paul and Ringo came with him

‘In the 1990s I met with Mr Giuliano who was very knowledgeable about The Beatles and purchased the trunks and contents and asked me to continue looking after them. To my surprise and pleasure he came to India in April 2019 to retrieve the contents after so many years.

‘Included were articles of clothing belonging to Mr Lennon and Mr Harrison as well as undergarments, socks even some old cans of beans either purchased in Delhi or brought from England.’ The items are being sold on October 8. 


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