Paul Saltzman was stoned—not on drugs, but on inner peace—as he sat cross-legged in an ashram bungalow in northern India. It was 1968, and across the room his new friend, the 24-year-old Beatles guitarist George Harrison, set down his sitar and the two of them talked about meditation, fame, and finding bliss within and without.
At the time, Saltzman was a 24-year-old documentary filmmaker from Canada. He had never imagined when he set out for India that he would find the world’s greatest band holed up in the very ashram to which he, too, was drawn. Eventually, John Lennon and Paul McCartney would invite him to join their entourage at a long table on a cliff overlooking the Ganges river in the foothills of the Himalayas. He’d hang with Harrison in his room as he practiced sitar.