The song was inspired by AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder and leader of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), the Hare Krishna movement.
It also mentions Harrison’s former bandmates in The Beatles, with a reference to Ringo Starr’s given name Ritchie which may have been a pun on ‘riches’.
‘Material World’ is the influence of AC Bhaktivedanta Swami and the realising ‘we are not these bodies’, we are in these material bodies in the physical world. It does not mean ‘material’ purely in terms of money: the material world is everything which is gross, physical, or material as opposed to the subtle, astral or causal. It was written because it sounded good: MA-TE-RIAL WORLD – LI-VING IN THE MA-TE-RIAL WOrld.
It’s also a comedy song with a few jokes in case you didn’t notice!
Met them all here in the material world
John and Paul here in the material world
Though we started out quite poor
We got Ritchie on a tour
Hope to get out of this place…
By the Lord Sri Krishna’s grace
No matter how good you are you still need ‘grace’ to get out. You can be a yogi or a monk or a nun but without God’s grace you still can’t make it.
I Me Mine
‘Living In The Material World’ features tabla by Zakir Hussain, the eldest son of renowned tabla player and longtime Ravi Shankar collaborator Alla Rakha.