Shankar, Ravi (1920-2012). Raga Mala: The Autobiography of Ravi Shankar, edited by George Harrison, Guildford: Genesis Publications, 1997. Limited edition, number 1667 of the 2000 copies signed by Ravi Shankar. Foreword by George Harrison. Bound in Indian silk, with gilt hand-tooling and gilded page edging. Silk-screened presentation solander box, blocked in gold leaf. Boxed with a packet of finest-quality Special Durbar Agarbathi incense sticks - the personal favourites of Ravi and George - and two compact discs, the first of which includes a track recorded with George Harrison and Ringo Starr, the second specially recorded for this project at Abbey Road Studios.
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Lot Essay

Pattie Boyd received this signed edition of Raga Mala as a gift from Ravi Shankar, the world's foremost sitar virtuoso and composer. One of the most well-known collaborations that Shankar had was with George Harrison, who christened him the 'Godfather of World Music'. After meeting Shankar in 1966, Harrison visited him in India where he studied the sitar for six weeks.

In her 2007 autobiography, Pattie Boyd recounts the trip: Ravi invited George and me to India, where he would be our guide for spiritual, musical, and cultural lessons. We flew to Bombay and I was overwhelmed by the noise, the heat, and the mass of humanity. The road between the airport and the center of the city was a seething tangle of cars, bicycles, carts, cows, dogs, tuk-tuks, and people all going somewhere; the noise of car horns and bicycle bells was relentless. We stayed in the Taj Hotel, a grand Victorian building opposite the Gateway of India, and from our window, safely away from the melee, watched men and women going about their business. Ravi arranged yoga classes every morning, to teach George how to sit and hold the sitar, followed by several hours of lessons and practice with him and his other students. After about a month we traveled together around India. Among many others, we met Ravi’s spiritual guru, Tat Baba, who explained the law of karma to us both - the law of action and reaction, or cause and effect. Ravi was respected all over India: his students would bow down at his feet. He gave concerts across the country and people would sit, sometimes until four o’clock in the morning, to listen to him play, accompanied by Alla Raka on tablar and harmonium, while his students kept time. They counted the beat, which confused me: it was unlike Western classical or even rock beat. I found it intensely moving: these were not just concerts - there was something profoundly spiritual about the experience. Ravi told us that sometimes he would go into a meditative state and not know consciously what he was playing. We visited many jewels of India with him - the Taj Mahal, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Agra, Delhi, temples with ancient carvings of gods and goddesses in love, fighting, and sometimes disguised as demons. We met some holy men who were more than a hundred years old, and sadhus who live in abject poverty. We visited the sacred ghats of Benares, where people are cremated and have their ashes scattered in the Ganges.

Harrison's experience with Shankar led him to incorporate the sitar in many of the songs that he wrote following the trip. It was a friendship and collaboration that led to numerous performances together, including The Concert for Bangladesh in 1971. In 1994, George Harrison persuaded Ravi Shankar to write his autobiography, to celebrate the great musician’s 75th birthday. Over two years later, after extensive research, interviews and writing, Raga Mala was published to great success. The edition features a remarkable collection of nearly 300 photographs in black and white and colour, a large number of which had never been published before. Further items such as letters, notes, news clippings and hand-written sheet music, are drawn almost entirely from the personal archives of Ravi Shankar and those of the book's editor, George Harrison.

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