The Hare Krishna Mantra, also referred to as the Maha Mantra, is a 16 word mantra that first appeared in the religious text The Kali-Santaraṇa Upanisad. The mantra became popular in India around 1500 CE. It’s likely that Pete Best’s parents, living in India until 1945, would have heard the mantra. It’s also possible that Pete himself would have heard it being chanted by Krishna devotees when he was a toddler.
The other Beatles would have first heard the mantra in the late sixties being chanted by Krishna devotees in London. The Fugs recorded the mantra with Allen Ginsberg in 1968. The Beatles referenced the Hare Krishna Mantra in their 1967 song I Am The Walrus. They sang the mantra in India in 1968. Paul sings a mock version (Harry Pinsker) during the Let It Be sessions in 1969. The Radha Krsna Temple recorded the mantra and released it as a single on the Apple label in 1969. The song was produced by George Harrison and Paul McCartney. The recording features George Harrison on guitar, bass and harmonium.
George went on to use the Hare Krishna mantra in the backing vocals of his song My Sweet Lord. He also references Krishna in a number of his solo songs including Living in the Material World, It is ‘He’ (Jai Sri Krishna), Sat Singing and Life Itself. George also co-wrote It Don’t Come Easy with Ringo Starr and the words ‘Hare Krishna’ can be heard in the backing vocals. John Lennon referenced Krishna in his songs Give Peace a Chance, I Found Out, and Serve Yourself.
Now Hear This : I Am The Walrus – The Beatles (1967)
Hare Krishna Mantra – The Radha Krsna Temple (1969)
Give Peace A Chance – Plastic Ono Band (1969)
My Sweet Lord – George Harrison (1970)
I Found Out – John Lennon (1970)
It Don’t Come Easy – Ringo Starr (1971)
Living in the Material World – George Harrison (1973)
It is ‘He’ (Jai Sri Krishna) – George Harrison (1974)
Sat Singing – George Harrson (1981)
Life Itself – George Harrison (1981)
Serve Yourself – John Lennon (1998)