Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986) arrived in West: 1912
Krishnamurti's career was so strange and his persona so dignified and his teachings so nebulous and his friends and admirers so classy and the reverence that surrounded him so palpable that the complete uselessness of his teachings and the scandals of his life were rarely publicised. Virtually no overt scandal attached to him until his "daughter" Radha Rajagopal Sloss wrote Lives in the Shadow With J. Krishnamurti." It is possible that his early close association with Charles Leadbeater, who had secret homosexual paedophile relations with many boys may have affected his relations with women.
Krishnamurti was extemely fastidious in his surroundings, clothing and appearance, in old age he combed his hair in one of the most complex styles ever used to cover baldness. He was extremely shy and frightened of contact with people he didn't know well and seemed incapable of dealing with conflict in a reasonable manner. The consciousness of which he incessantly spoke did not seem to alter his normal human characteristics, he suffered the usual irritabilities, unhappinesses and disturbances of life as well as extra ones of hypersensitvity and emotional pressure.
Krishnamurti's life was a series of extreme breaks with those closest to him, his thirty year relationship with his business manager and confidant, Rajagopal, ended in protracted legal cases. In 1954 he summarily ordered the elderly Lady Emily Lutyens (whom he always called 'Mum') to cease publication of her autobiography because of the embarrassment his letters quoted within it would cause him and his "work". In 1969, he suddenly broke with his long time secretary, Alain Naude, and in 1973 with the long time administrator of his Indian society, Madhavachari.
From most perspectives, Krishnamurti was a reasonably admirable chap. Despite being almost worshipped by his close followers he did not indulge in overtly reprehensible behaviour. While living in discreet style, even luxury in youth and old age, he was a life long vegetarian who refrained from any drugs (even tea and coffee) and was generally admired and liked by those who met him. Most of the money he raised in donations seems to have gone to his schools and learning centre and supporting his proselytising although he had a long string of expensive cars. Following his teachings and example would probably produce worthwhile effects though no-one ever achieved the states of consciousness of which he spoke and his schools produced no classes of exceptional children. It's quite likely that a small book he supposedly wrote as a child, "At The Feet Of The Master" had more effect on people than everything else he said and wrote.
Jiddu Krishnamurti was born the 8th child on 11 May, 1895, at Madanapalle, a small village in south India. In 1909 soon after moving to Madras with his father (his mother died in 1905}, Krishnamurti was selected by Charles Leadbeater, the dominant occult figure in the Theosophical Society and a notorious, homosexual paedophile to be the next "World Leader". Despite the legal attempts by his father to regain custody of the boy he was taken to England and adopted by Mrs. Annie Besant, President of the Theosophical Society. She was convinced by Leadbeater that K was to become a great spiritual teacher even though K was not the first boy that Leadbeater had selected for this role. In 1912, she took him to England to be educated in preparation for his future role, unfortunately as she was already in her 60's and was devoting most of her energy to Indian politics Krishnamurti and his brother were left with unsuitable tutors and unsympathetic guardians. A second mother-figure in the form of Lady Emily Lutyens and a rich benefactor, Miss Dodge who gave him an annuity of 500 pounds per annum (a considerable sum in those days) ameliorated his boredom to a certain extent. An organization was set up to promote this messianic role, the Order of the Eastern Star, which at its height had 30,000 members. In 1929, after many years of questioning himself and the leaders of the TS, Krishnamurti disbanded this organisation, turning away most of his followers when he gave a speech he read from notes:
"Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organisation be formed to lead or to coerce people along any particular path."
If Truth was limitless then it seems that approaching it from an organised path would be as successful as any other way but logic was not one of Krishnamurti's strong points which is why it was Rajagopal who prepared all his books and edited his speeches. Most of the land held by the organisation was returned but some capital, his annuity, a small organisation of followers and more land and houses than most of us will ever own was retained. When questioned by a Reuter's reporter upon these events, K preferred to talk about his golf handicap of 2, which showed he'd been able to do more in the past 15 years than sel ct the most exclusive English tailors, shoe-makers and restaurants while failing all his university entrance examinations. Like all successful gurus, Krishnamurti attracted some wealthy disciples who made large donations to the cause to help promote his teachings.
It was during the 1920's at one of his homes at Ojai, California, that he began to have strange experiences that he called the "process". This consisted of extreme pain and bizarre changes of multiple personalities with mystical and ecstatic experiences. The "process" seemed at times to run on a nightly schedule and was especially pronounced if sympathetic young women or mother-figures were present but they did not deter his followers from looking upon him with increasing awe. After a period touring and giving speeches in the 1930's he settled in Ojai for the duration of the Second World War - he was a committed pacifist.
From the early 1950's until his death on 17th February 1986 at the age of ninety-one, he travelled round the world speaking, teaching - giving talks and having discussions. 'Discussions' or 'dialogues' are not really adequate terms as K was always the dominant speaker who spoke from a position of supreme authority accepted by those who came to hear and talk with him. While regularly claiming to be involved in a combined "search" for truth, only K could speak at public events and only people who were prepared to acknowledge his authority were allowed to see him in small groups. Gatherings of scientists or psychologists arranged by his followers for "dialogues" with K were judged as successful by the amount of acceptance of Krishnamurti by the participants whose input was considered almost impertinent. Most successful gurus are able to inspire those who hear them in public gatherings and there is no doubt Krishnamurti had this ability despite his great shyness and fear. He also had the knack of appearing to give his complete concentration to an individual when they were together and used this power to great effect, winning over people immediately and converting them to his cause.
Krishnamurti claimed to evolve his teaching from his own life and supernormal experiences for he had read no religious or philosophical literature. He claimed to have no memory of his early years when he came in contact with the ideas of Vedanta and Buddhism with which his ideas bear great similarity. He also had friendships with people like Aldous Huxley (Huxley hardly ever stopped lecturing K during their walks), Gerald Heard and numerous Indian pundits - however he did read large amounts of pulp thrillers and his taste in movies ran to adventure movies with Tarzan and Clint Eastwood among his favourites.
His stated aim was to set people psychologically free so that they might be in harmony with themselves, with nature and with others. He taught that mankind has created the environment in which he lives and that nothing can ever put a stop to the violence and suffering that has been going on for thousands of years except a radical, instantaneous transformation in the human psyche. Krishnamurti maintained that there is no path to this transformation, no method for achieving it, no gurus or other spiritual authorities who can help. He pointed to the need for an ever-deepening awareness of one's own mind in which the limitations of the mind could drop away. He believed that if only a dozen people were transformed, it would change the world. Unfortunately as he lived a long time it became more and more apparent that no people at all, especially not his long term and most devoted followers, had been transformed and K put more stress on his schools hoping that if children could be caught early enough then the transformation of which he spoke would become possible.
During his life he established several schools in different parts of the world where children could learn to see "their conditioning of race, nationality, religion, dogma, tradition, opinion etc., which inevitably leads to conflict, and then they might become a fully intelligent human being for whom right action would follow". He wanted the schools to be "real centres of understanding, of comprehension of life". Though the schools seemed to be very good, with particularly caring teachers, good resources and noble ideals none of the schools' students were interested enough or able to follow the "teaching" and "flower inwardly" and become like their patron. The schools were also full of the usual intense interpersonal bickering and problems, exacerbated by the obvious discrepancy between the ideals for which they were created and financed and their results.
K's life falls naturally into three parts, his childhood and early manhood under the domination of the Theosophical Society, his middle life dominated by his years at Ojai and his later years when he had became a reasonably famous, peripatetic author and lecturer. His close followers believed he was completely unique and he often reinforced these beliefs with enigmatic remarks. Looked at objectively he seems to have had a pretty easy life living in aristocratic, elegant and expensive simplicity, travelling widely and having prolonged "holidays" when he gave no public talks. Despite practising Hatha Yoga for an hour and a half a day, doing eye-exercises for ten minutes and taking long walks in beautiful countryside he had a very extensive record of ill health. This didn't prevent his close followers believing he was able to heal others from even serious conditions even though he couldn't heal his own chronic or acute sicknesses. On the other hand he did live to be 91 though he often frightened those close to him by telling them how close he had been to "dropping his body" during his strange states of consciousness.
However, judged from the perspective of which he spoke, Krishnamurti has many of the defects of the old style gurus he inveighed against. The discrepancies between the public and private personas must cast extreme doubt on the authenticity of his experience of life and ergo his message. He set himself up as the fount of authority and knowledge and produced a system of teaching which he claimed would allow others to achieve the same exit from the stream of suffering, the awakening to the completeness of life, the ending of thought, freedom from fear and awakening of intelligence he claimed to have realised.
None of them have and neither did he.
Most of the information available about Krishanmurti's life comes from those who were his devoted followers, the above critique came from close reading of these sources.
I later came across the book 'Lives in the Shadow With J. Krishnamurti' by Radha Rajagopal Sloss.
The shocking picture it portrays of Krishnamurti appears to be authentic as other sources confirm Krishnamurti's role in her and her mother's life. Although Krishnamurti broke with her father in a bitter and protracted legal case the picture she offers of her parents, Krishnamurti and their long time close followers has internal consistency and shows her parents' lives in ways that no-one could imagine a daughter portraying unless she believed the portrayal was true.
Krishnamurti, 100 years (1995)
Krishnamurti: A Biography (1986)
Krishnamurti's Notebook, foreword by Mary Lutyens (1976)
Krishnamurti: The Years of Awakening (1975) Krishnamurti: The Years of Fulfillment (1983) Krishnamurti: The Open Door, Krishnamurti: His Life and Death (1991)
Lives in the Shadow With J. Krishnamurti (1981)
Sloss, Radha Rajagopal,
The Inner Life of Krishnamurti (1999)
Sanat, Aryel aka Miguel Sanabria
The Theosophical Society Strikes Back. Sanat has trawled through the huge archive of Krishnamurtis' recorded statements to find any mention of the 'Masters' to try to prove that Krishnamurti really thought he was an initiated Master who was the Theosophical Avatar. Trying to find a completely logical storyline for K,'s life is a Sisyphean task but as none of his devotees have attained the realisation of which he spoke, they have plenty of time to fill. I thought I would never again read the words "Master Koot Hoomi" used seriously.
Krishnamurti and the Rajagopals
As a young man I was mildly interested in Krishnamurti and heard him speak on a few occasions and read some of his books. As I didn't expect to be the first person who emulated his "enlightenment" I was not particularly interested in him or his teachings. Forty years later I read Mary Lutyens' 3 volume biography out of interest and then came across Radha Sloss' book in the library. When I read it, I responded as I imagine most people who knew something of K. did, with shock. But I was not as shocked as when I read "Krishnamurti and the Rajagopals." This is a nasty piece of work that reflects badly on Ms Lutyens. It contains much nitpicking at minor mistakes of dates and details that Ms Sloss understandably makes. She wasn't born when these events occurred and she has written a memoire not an academic history. Furthermore, Ms Lutyens' defense of K makes no sense unless you accept he was some sort of World Teaching Avatar. This is a man who preached for most of his comfortable if not luxurious life on the credibility and publicity given to him because of his youth and at the end acknowledged not a single person had made the radical revolution in consciousness he talked about. If Ms Lutyens had just said, "Yes we knew about the affair(s) (though the plural is uncertain) and didn't consider them important enough to make them public but credit to Ms Sloss for writing about another aspect of him and giving a more rounded description of Krishnamurti's life" then I'd say "Fair enough."
The Shadow Side of Krishnamurti - Tricycle magazine
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