J. Krishnamurti

Religion

J. Krishnamurti

J. Krishnamurti

 (1895-1986)

"The moment you have in your heart this extraordinary thing called love and feel the depth, the delight, the ecstasy of it, you will discover that for you the world is transformed .... Don't let problems take root. Go through them rapidly, cut through them as through butter. Don't let them leave a mark, finish with them as they arise. You can't help having problems."

 

"Ganga may have a beginning and an end. But the beginning is not the river, the end is not the river. The river is the flow between. It passes through villages and towns, everything is drawn into it. 'It is polluted, filth and sewage are thrown into it. A few miles later, it is purified. It is the river in which everything lives, the fish below and the man who drinks the water on top. That is river. Behind it is that tremendous pressure of water, and it is this self-purificatory process that is the river. The innocent mind is like that river. It has no beginning, no end-no time." J.Krishnamurti, who was like a light, moving incessantly and transmitting luster made this statement. Many people regarded him as a preceptor who would enlighten them. A great philosopher and a teacher, Krishnamurti stressed the need for action, which proceeded from one's own inner change. Inner change, he said, was essential if the pervasive miseries of our time-individual, social, political, and economic-are to end. Though he repudiated any suggestion to place his teachings under the term ''Philosophy'', but if philosophy means love of wisdom he talked to us of the wisdom of the ages. Krishnamurti's approach to life is that of a philosopher. His teaching is like a finger pointing to the experience of wisdom, drawing upon human consciousness, and can be summed up in the word "Awareness".

 

Jiddu Krishnamurti was born on May 12, 1895. He was the eighth child of Jiddu Naraniah, a minor civil servant and his wife, Sanjeevamma, a devout and charitable woman. The ancestors of Jiddu Krishnamurti came from Giddu or Jiddu, a village that lies in the midst of the fertile paddy fields of coastal Andhra Pradesh in South India. The boy was born to Sanjeevamma in the puja room of her home. To a traditional Hindu, living amongst the snow-peaked Himalayas or in Kanyakumari in the deep south, the urban dwelling or village hut, the puja room is the sanctum, the heart of the home, where the griha devatas (the household gods) are enshrined. It is a room made auspicious with flowers and incense and the recitation of sacred mantras. Birth, death and the menstrual cycle are the focus of ritual pollution. That a child should be born in this room was unthinkable to Jiddu Naraniah and his wife Sanjeevamma. Since the child was born in the presence of ishta devata he was named Krishnamurti, symbolic of Krishna, the cowherd god who was also the eighth child of his parents.

 

Krishna, as he was known, was a weak child and suffered grievously from bouts of malaria. At one stage, he suffered from convulsions and for a whole year he was kept away from school because of bleeding from nose and mouth. He took little interest in the school and academic work, but spent long hours looking at the clouds, at bees, at ants and at insects, and at gazing into the vast distance. He was described as sickly and mentally undeveloped. His vagueness, few words, lack of interest in worldly affairs, and eyes that gazed out of the world, seeing beyond horizons, were mistaken by his teachers for mental retardation. He was always found in a lone room, totally absorbed in opening up a timepiece and refused all food and drink until he had minutely seen the clock. Krishna was deeply attached to his mother, who died in 1905, when the boy was 10-year old. The death of his mother left the child bewildered and bereft.

 

Krishna and his brother, Nityananda, were taken from the confines of their tiny house into the grandeur of the Theosophical Society headquarters building and its vast grounds, where Krishna came in contact with English culture and Mrs Annie Besant. Around 1907, Annie Besant and Charles Webster Leadbeater, who were considered to be occultists of a very high order, were working on the theory of past lives, carrying out occult investigations. While they were, thus, engaged, they discovered certain latent faculties in the two boys. They traced their past lives and found that Krishna had played a very prominent role in the life of humanity in his past lives, and was destined to be a vehicle for the divine manifestation in this age. In 1909, both Annie

Besant and Leadbeater offered to take Krishna in their care and his father agreed, though there was a legal dispute for sometime. This is how Krishna came to be associated with the theosophists and later with the Theosophical Society.

 

The ambience of Theosophical Society enabled Krishna to absorb himself enthusiastically in the expectation of the world-teacher, and he began preparing himself for being a worthy disciple. Under the instruction of the great masters he developed spiritually. In 1911, Annie Besant took Krishna and Nitya to Europe. Having been deprived of motherly love and affection, both the boys found in Annie Besant a source of inexhaustible affection and love. In Europe, Krishna came in contact with a group of theosophists. The boys were kept in the fond care of Lady Emily Lutyens and were initiated into the ways of Western culture.

 

It was held in the theosophical circles that humanity, as a whole, is looked after by spiritual guardians called Masters who perceive the essential unity of Being and work incessantly in an organized way, forming a perfect hierarchy of just men made perfect. They live in the different regions of the world and have different spheres of work. They are headed by three great beings, who act as the King, the Teacher and the Commander- in-Chief for our earth. Of these three beings, the World-Teacher is responsible for the education of the entire humanity. In this background, it was claimed that the World Teacher, out of his compassion, decided to use Krishna's body as a vehicle for his work and for the manifestation of his being in order to give a new message to the humanity of our times. In India, there was a group of theosophists who saw the imminent possibility of the reincarnation of the Lord in the form of J. Krishnamurti. Under the leadership of George Arundale, Principal of the Central Hindu College at Varanasi, they founded an organization, known as Order of the Rising Sun which, on the advice of Annie Besant, was subsequently named as the Order of the Star in the East with Krishnamurti as the Head. Its aim was to bring about a New World of tomorrow by a change of spirit.

 

Around this time, a small booklet, At the Feet of the Master, was published which contained a report of the instructions received by Krishnamurti for his first initiation on the path of discipleship as given by his Master. In this, the Master explained the four qualifications for entering upon the path of perfection. These are: Discrimination, Detachment, Right Conduct and Love. The booklet lays down the essentials of spiritual life, which are clearly influenced by the Vedanta.

 

After 1921, Krishna began to live independently, think independently and observe independently. He travelled throughout India, Australia and America and cultivated innumerable friendships. He devoted most of his time in writing articles and editorial notes for the periodical publications of the Star and Poems. To be like his Master was his only obsession; to be worthy disciple his only desire, and attain the kingdom of happiness was his only goal. He concentrated only on one essential thing: freedom from the limitations of self-consciousness.

 

At the Star Congress held in Paris in 1921, Krishna met the national representatives and reviewed the work of the Order. It was decided that each country should, if possible, form four different groups for

Propaganda,

Meditation,

Study, and

Self-preparation.

 

The first three groups were made for members but the fourth group was to be entirely composed of those who have but one desire, one thought, and one purpose in life to tread the noble path that leads to glorious enlightenment and perfect peace.

 

On December 13, 1925, Krishna was deprived of his only companion, his younger brother Nityananda. He spent about one year in seclusion at Ojai, California. During this period, he is said to have had various spiritual experiences as a result of which he could decide the future course of action with confidence. Nityananda's death was the deepest sorrow for him to bear, understand and transcend. This shock gave an impetus to the unfolding of his genius. His mind was now fixed on the only goal, the Master, the Beloved, and the Truth. As a child, he used to see Lord Krishna with the flute, as his mother was a devotee of Lord Krishna. When he grew older and met Bishop Leadbeater and came in contact with Theosophical Society he began to see the Master in the form, which was put before him. Later on, as he grew he saw Lord Maitreya who is considered by the theosophists as the world teacher. Now, it was Buddha whom he saw, but, as he said, "my Beloved goes all beyond these forms." Thus, he set aside all controversies by declaring the Beloved to be beyond all forms, Buddha, Christ, Maitreya, etc.

 

The Order of the Star in the East was changed to Order of the Star. The objectives of the Order were: (1) to draw together all those who believed in the presence of the World- Teacher; (2) to work with Him for the establishment of His ideals. Krishnamurti was the Head of the Order and the International Star Bulletin was published from Ommen, Holland. Star Publishing Trust was created for the publication of Krishnamurti's writings and talks.

 

After having proclaimed that he was the teacher, Krishnamurti visited Hollywood, New York, London, Paris, Europe, Colombo, Chennai, Banaras, Mumbai and Allahabad during 1928-29. On August 3, 1929, at Oman camp in Holland he said: "The Order of the Star should be a bridge for new ideas, and should not be the embodiment of those ideas. If its members made of it an end in itself, then it should die." He declared that Truth couldn't be institutionalized. With these preliminary remarks he announced the dissolution of the Order of the Star and disowned any relationship with all religious organizations including the Theosophical Society. His views had such a profound influence on Mrs Annie Besant that she, all of a sudden, closed down the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society, but on the protestations of the leaders of the movement, dramatically reopened.

 

Ever since he declared himself to be the teacher of humanity, Krishnamurti dedicated his life to the one cause of setting man free from ignorance, from illusion and from fear and belief. His life became the eternal voyage of self- effulgent light cutting across the infinite void of dimly perceptible darkness of impenetrable space awakening the wandering souls to spiritual existence. He became the "century flower of divine perfume", whose fragrance spread far and wide to bring hope and solace to the struggling millions of the world. His life was a lighthouse for the misguided wandering ships tossed about by the stormy winds of craving and ignorance on the bottomless ocean of becoming.

 

On August 15, 1947, India became independent but independence in India also brought a bitter aftermath. The new rulers of India were suddenly called upon to bring order to a continent in flames and to deal with the refugee problem, the like of which had never been witnessed before. Krishnamurti returned to India two months after Independence. His first act was to take of this Western clothes and take to indigenous dress. His personality, attitudes and responses changed. With the long vision of the seer, Krishnamurti sensed the seething unrest. He was feeling his way into the landscape of India, delving into the minds of men and women, observing, questioning, probing the environment, laying his hands on the tensions and conflicts that were corroding minds and hearts. "The house is burning", he passionately told those who listened, but the intensity and urgency were absent in those who heard him. Out of his passionate concern and his vast perception were born major insights central to his teaching. He addressed a large number of congregations and reacted to the audience on several occasions. People largely attended his discourses from far off places. The true purpose of life, he said, is to cultivate happiness within one self and in those around one. True happiness is neither selfish nor negative. It is intelligence, the choice less awareness in all experience. That's the truth which is eternal, he said.

 

From August 1950 to December 1951 Krishnamurti went into a complete retreat disallowing any interviews, public or private discussions or public talks. He returned from the West in the autumn of 1960, having sensed the volcanic energies being released in the new scientific and technological mind. On his return, he spoke of the challenges facing mankind and said that the crisis was of a different dimension to that faced earlier. In his talks in Bombay (now, Mumbai) he penetrated deeply into the nature of the scientific mind and the religious mind. He still probed it further and said: "The scientific mind with its logic, its precision, its enquiry, investigates the outer world of nature, but this does not lead to an inward comprehension of things; but an inward comprehension brings about an understanding of the outer."

 

In his talks to the children and teachers, which later appeared in Krishnamurti on Education, he questioned the place of knowledge in the transformation of man. He emphasized the two instruments available to the human mind: knowledge, which enables one to gain mastery over the material environment; and intelligence, which is born of observation. To the child he said: "A new mind is only possible when the religious spirit and the scientific attitude form part of the same movement of consciousness." To him, they were not separate movements that had to be fused, but a new movement inherent in intelligence and in the creative mind. He introduced the child to self-knowing and meditation. He spoke with the same directness to the teacher as he did to the child. He saw the school as an oasis where the teaching could be cherished and kept alive, whatever the disorder and violence in the world. He wanted a new generation, the new mind to come into being. For this not only had the teacher and the taught to have listening minds and eyes that could see with clear vision, without identification and fragmentation, but the ground had to be ploughed and the seed sown, the land made holy with benediction.

 

When the Chinese attacked India, Krishnamurti was distressed. By 1963, he expressed a general dissatisfaction with India. He had started asking questions which were to persist for many years. He felt the need for action and ruthlessly questioned himself and those around him. He said that he had been speaking in India for thirty years and nothing had happened. ''There is not one person who is living through the teaching." He appeared impatient with the old and felt the need for young people around him. In 1963, a young man Alain Naude, a South African musician, came in contact with Krishnamurti and joined him by 1965 as his secretary. Naude arranged for Krishnamurti to speak at some of the great universities. The youngsters were in revolt against the existing American culture and wanted "instant nirvana". Electrified by Krishnamurti's presence, they flocked to hear him. Then, unwilling to accept the austerity and rigour of self-knowing, and denied psychogenic experiences of consciousness, they drifted away to more amenable gurus who promised them bliss. For him and his followers, 1967 was a year of gloom. He appeared critical. Very soon, Krishnamurti Foundation was registered in England with Krishnamurti as the President, and a Krishnamurti Centre was set up in Chennai with Smt. Jayalaxmi as his Indian representative. In August 1969, Naude left.

 

The war with Pakistan in 1971 and the formation of Bangladesh had been a traumatic experience for the subcontinent. Krishnamurti spoke with passionate concern about the war. On November 19, in New Delhi, he said, "It is one of the greatest sorrows in the world that one wants to convey something tremendous with one's heart and mind and you don't receive it. That is sorrow not only to the speaker, but to you who listen." Sensing the increasing violence that lay in the future, Krishnamurti spoke of man as being caught in the corridors of opposites-hate and love, violence and non - violence.

 

Most people consider a good mind to be a mind that has read a great deal, that is full of knowledge about many things. But to Krishnamurti, a good mind did not mean good life. The scientist may be a great scientist, but as a human being he may be a disaster, he said. To him, "Good must be related to action, to relationship. It must be related to depth .... A good mind must have compassion .... a great sense of beauty and be capable of action .... And yet logic is essential."

 

Krishnamurti's teaching integrated and included the teachings of the Buddha and Vedanta, but he never claimed credit. He said: "Look what religions have done: concentrate on the teacher and forget the teachings .... The teacher may be necessary to manifest the teaching, but beyond that what? The vase contains water; you have to drink the water, not worship the vase," he said.

 

Even at the age of ninety, Krishnamurti's day started with yogic asanas andpranayama. For thirty-five minutes he did his pranayama (breathing exercises). He spent forty- five minutes on yoga asanas (the physical stances) toning the body, the nerves, the muscles and the cells that form the skin tissue, the opening of every cell of the body so that it breathes naturally and in harmony. He had a simple breakfast, asked for international news and of India, and held dialogues with various people on international affairs, scientific discoveries, war, nuclear disarmament and its insoluble problems. His span of attention was formidable. Sannyas, Buddhist, monks, siddhas, and wandering yogis converged on him, seeking answers or solace. The saffron or ochre robe of the ascetic evoked deep compassion within him.

 

On January 10, 1986, Krishnamurti left for Los Angeles. In Ojai, his condition grew critical and his illness was diagnosed as cancer of the pancreas. His highly vulnerable body, so carefully protected through the years, was ravaged by the violence of cancer of the pancreas. He expressed his desire to be taken in a wheelchair to the nearby tree. There he sat alone and bade farewell to the mountains of OJai, the orange groves and the many trees. On February 9, the tumour restarted its relentless attack and he was back in his bed. On February 17,1986 at 12.10 in the midnight he went to eternal sleep at Pine Cottage, Ojai. He breathed his last while in the room facing the tree, under which, sixty-four years ago, he underwent v a s t transformation of consciousness. He was cremated in Ventura, California, and his ashes were divided into three parts: for Ojai, India and England. There were no rituals after his death, no prayers, no great ceremonial processions, as he had desired. However, he enjoined on his associates that the Foundation that bore his name in India, the United States, and England should continue.

 

Krishnamurti's talks are available in Commentaries on Living, published from London in three volumes, The First and the Last Freedom (1964) and Krishnamurti on Education, reprinted by Orient Longman in 1974. His goal, in his talks, in his books, and in his living, had been self- know ledge. As one listened to him, one was struck by his genuine concern for the human condition and by the lucid, analytical style in which he dissected man's perennial problems. He did not talk in a customary manner as the speakers generally address their audiences. His talks were exercises in self-analysis. In a process of thinking aloud he probed the depths of the human mind and attempted to unravel its intricacies. As a renowned "non-Guru", he differed fundamentally from most philosophers in that he resisted the tendency to weave his insights into a philosophical system. He was a great philosopher, if by the word we mean somebody who makes us see the dark and hidden facets of things apparently familiar, who showed us the wonderful and unexpected in the happenings most common. There was something strange, even bewildering, in the transparent clarity of his style. In a few words, apparently simple and innocent, he managed to condense the entire mystery of the universe and our own mystery too. In his speeches, he was solely concerned with the inner transformation of his audience and cared little for methods and doctrinal elaboration.

 

Heralded as an avatar (incarnation) by a worldwide organization, Krishnamurti had to find his way out of an intolerable situation alone and unaided. By repudiating the estate in Holland, which was intended for his permanent home he gave plausibility to the strength of his character. Life, he said, manifests and fulfils itself in action. Canons, creeds, systems, formulae, are all crystallization of spent actions-the living, willing and thinking of long ago-and should, therefore, be transcended lest the house should confine the spirit. Nor should we build "more statelier mansions" by "organizing new spiritual mansions" and movements, but rather "live under the naked sky of love and truth". "My teaching is neither mystic nor occult," he affirmed, "for I hold that both mysticism and occultism are man's limitation upon truth. Life is more important than any beliefs or dogmas, and in order to allow life its full fruition you must liberate it from beliefs, authority, and tradition. But those who are bound by these things will have a difficulty in understanding truth."

 

To conclude, the story of Krishnamurti' s life is one of the strangest that one can imagine. Men have given up many things for the sake of Truth: money, power and even life itself. The Buddha renounced throne to become a monk and walk in streets with a beggar's bowl. Krishnamurti set aside deliberately the allegiance, the devotion of a well-organized band of a hundred thousand followers for the sake of coming down the steps of the spiritual throne erected for him by Mrs Annie Besant and Leadbeater. All the resources which Annie Besant's organizing ability could secure were freely provided. He gave back the money and returned to its owner the estate in Holland intended for his permanent home, stopped the publication of the magazine devoted to his promotion and through his talks probed the depths of the human mind with an attempt to unravel its intricacies. Despite all his fame, he remained intensely human. It is India's great fortune that men like Krishnamurti are born on its soil to speak to the world and offer it a set of alternative values.

 

 

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