Who's Who in Adyar: Jiddu Krishnamurti

J. Krishnamurti (1895–1986) is acknowledged the world over as one of the most outstanding teachers of the modern age. His vision of life transcends all sectarian boundaries and his message has relevance for all.

Krishnamurti lived next to the Theosophical Society Headquarters at Adyar in Madras in his early adolescence. At Adyar, he encountered prominent Theosophist Charles Webster Leadbeater who saw in him “the most wonderful aura he had ever seen, without a particle of selfishness in it.” To the outside world, his appearance was unimpressive and his physical condition unconvincing. But Leadbeater on his part was of the firm belief that Krishnamurti would one day become a great spiritual teacher. Following this he was taken under the wing of the leadership of the Theosophical Society in Adyar.

In 1911, the leadership of the Theosophical Society at Adyar established a new organization, the Order of the Star in the East (OSE), to prepare the world for the appearance of the World Teacher. Krishnamurti was named as its head. Krishnamurti and his brother Nityananda, with whom he shared a close bond, were tutored at the Theosophical Society under the supervision of Leadbeater. He was imparted lessons in Theosophy, Sports, Hygiene, Yoga, Meditation and others. In 1911, Krishnamurti gave his first lecture in England and his first writings started to appear. Between 1911 and the start of the First World War, he embarked on a tour of several European countries accompanied by senior Theosophists. Post war he visited countries around world lecturing and writing extensively. His works revolved around the Order and they reflected Theosophical teachings and concepts.

Two life changing experiences shaped Krishnamurti’s future vision and consciousness. In 1922, Krishnamurti and Nityananda travelled to California enroute to Switzerland. They were put up at a place called Ojai Valley. They found the place agreeable and felt that it would be beneficial to Nityananda who was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Later in his life, this place was to become his residence. It was here that he experienced a condition, which later came to be known as “process”, when he developed a ball-like swelling at the back of his neck accompanied by extraordinary pain. This involved discomfort, varying degrees of pain and occasional loss of consciousness. Also during this period, Nityananda’s health problems resurfaced and he died in 1925. Krishnamurti had received assurances about his brother’s health and was all along made to believe by his Theosophy tutors that Nityananda was essential for his life mission and that he would not be allowed to die. Krishnamurti was shattered and it was hard for him to believe that his best friend, companion and the only person to whom he could talk openly was no more.

These two events shook his fundamental belief in Theosophy and its leaders. New concepts appeared in his talks and discussions that were progressively free of Theosophical teachings. Krishnamurti dissolved the Order during the Annual Star Camp at Ommen, the Netherlands, on 3 August 1929 in front of Annie Besant and three thousand other members. Following the dissolution prominent Theosophists openly or under various guises turned against Krishnamurti, including Leadbeater who stated, "The Coming had gone wrong". He soon disassociated himself from the Theosophical Society and its teachings and practices.

After the dissolution Krishnamurti completely denounced the teacher-follower relationship and proclaimed the notion of guru as false. Through his lectures he proclaimed that his intention was to set people “unconditionally free” unperturbed by illusions. This view of his was evident when he called his works as “The teachings” instead of “My teachings”. From 1930 through 1944 Krishnamurti engaged in speaking tours and in the issue of publications.

The exchanges that Krishnamurti had with English author Aldous Huxley in the late 1930s brought out their common concerns about the conflict in Europe. Both viewed the conflicts as an outcome of the influence of an extreme sense of nationalism.

Krishnamurti continued lecturing and speaking to people around the world. His first book “Education and the significance of life” was published in 1953. In the 1960’s Krishnamurti’s philosophy underwent another significant change. With changing audience and their outlook, his evolving philosophy was aimed more at the younger generation. He acquainted himself with physicist David Bohm, whose essence of the physical world and the psychological state of humankind found parallels in Krishnamurti’s philosophy.

In 1973, Krishnamurti established the educational institution “The school” in a campus in Adyar that was allotted by the Theosophical society. It is one of the 5 educational institutions across India run by the Krishnamurti Foundation India (KFI) that is located at Vasant Vihar on Greenways road.

When Mrs Radha Burnier became president of the Theosophical Society in 1980, Krishnamurti began to visit Adyar, where he had spent many memorable years. Four and a half decades had passed before that day on 3 November 1980 when he again visited the Headquarters of the Theosophical Society, where he was warmly welcomed.

Krishnamurti neither belonged to any religious organisation nor subscribed to any ideological or political thought. He was of the view that these are the very factors that lead to conflict and war. For close to 60 years, until his death in 1986, he travelled around the globe talking to people about the need to bring about a radical change in mankind.

Krishnamurti took his last walk in Adyar on 10 January 1986. He requested those who had accompanied him to go ahead and wait for him at the gate. He then turned to all the four directions and paused for a minute in a reverential farewell. That day he left India for California, and breathed his last on 17 February 1986 aged ninety years, at his home, Pine Cottage, in Ojai.

- Sudarshan N

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this blog post it actually couldn't have come at a better time for me !!

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