The Self Realization Fellowship in Encinitas was a sea of white Thursday as hundreds remembered at the age of 92.
Roses, fluttering flags and clothing were all white—a traditional color of mourning in India.
Shankar, a 20-year Encinitas resident was known for popularizing Indian music in the west. He died Dec. 11 following surgery at Scripps Mercy Hospital to replace a heart valve.
Brother Chidananda, a Monk of the fellowship’s Los Angeles headquarters, spent time with Shankar.
“It was always a joy to receive him here, meditate and just enjoy his mutual fellowship,” he said.
Chidananda, a fan of Shankar’s music, saw a bit of the man in his music.
“He had a universal spirit. For him, there was no East, no West. There was just the human race, the human spirit and that spoke through his music,” he said.
Shankar collaborated with George Harrison and led the late Beatle to play the sitar in a couple of songs by the "Fab Four.”
Olivia Harrison, George’s widow, met Shankar in 1974—weeks before meeting her future husband.
The friendship between the musicians flourished, she told attendees.
“His relationship with George is a story that encompasses so many things that went on to inform and change the world we grew up and grew older in: it’s music, beliefs, lofty realms of thought, multiculturalism, and the power of friendship,” she said.
Director Joe Wright—who is married to Shankar’s musician daughter, Anoushka—remembered watching Shankar being wheeled into one of his last surgeries. The lifetime sitarist gestured as if he was still making music.
“His fingers were still going. I never, at any moment with him, saw his fingers not playing—not beating a rhythm,” he said. “He was still playing music, even in the face of death.”
Shankar’s legacy will live on locally, Encinitas resident Sylvia Villalobos said.
“He was the music, the music was him,” she said. “His ripple of his life will be part of this community for a very, very long time.”
—City News Service contributed to this report.