Jiddu Krishnamurti

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Jiddu Krishnamurti (May 11 1895 Madanapalle, India - February 17 1986 Ojai, California) was discovered as a teenager by C.W. Leadbeater in India on the private beach that was part of the Theosophical headquarters at Adyar in Chennai. He was subsequently brought up by Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbetter within the world-wide organization of the Theosophical Society, who believed him to be a vehicle for a prophesied World Teacher (see Second Coming; Maitreya Buddha). He distanced himself from this destiny while a young man and eventually spent the rest of his life travelling the world as an independent speaker and educator on the workings of the human mind. His supporters, working through charitable trusts, founded several independent schools across the world - notably in India, England and the United States - and transcribed many of his thousands of talks, publishing them as educational philosophical books.

Krishnamurti's Youth

Jiddu Krishnamurti was born in a small town about a hundred and fifty miles north of Madras, India. His family were Telugu-speaking Brahmins. His father, Jiddu Narianiah, graduated from Madras University and then became an official in the Revenue Department of the British administration, rising by the end of his career to the position of rent collector and District Magistrate. His mother, Jiddu Sanjeevamma, died when Krishnamurti was ten years old.

His father Narianiah joined the Theosophical Society in 1881, while Helena Blavatsky was still its head in India. In 1909, the family came to live at the Theosophical Society headquarters in Adyar. It was a few months after this last move that he was discovered by Leadbeater, who believed him to be the awaited vessel.

Krishna, or Krishnaji, as he was often known, and his younger brother Nitya were educated at the Theosophical compound and later taken to England to finish their education. His father, pushed into the background by the swirl of interest around Krishna, ended up in a lawsuit against the Society to try to protect his parental interests. As a result of this separation from his family and home, Krishnamurti and his brother Nitya became extremely close and in the following years they often travelled together.

A Philosophical Awakening

His biographer, Mary Lutyens wrote a book about Krishnamurti's early life in India, England and finally in Ojai, California entitled "Krishnamurti: The Years of Awakening". She was a relatively close associate of his in the order, from the early days until the end of his life. This book contains many interesting insights into this period of his life about which he rarely spoke. In her book she says that there came a time when Krishnamurti fully believed that he had been indwelt by the World Teacher. The death of his brother Nitya in 1925 from tuberculosis, shook his fundamental beliefs and may have contributed to his disillusionment with his expected divine destiny. He had prayed for his brother's life to be spared and it was not.

This disillusionment became a crisis in 1929, when Krishnamurti rebuffed attempts by Leadbeater and Besant to continue with Theosophy. Krishnamurti ended up disbanding the Order of the Star of the East, which he headed. In his speech disbanding the Order, he stated that truth is a pathless land, and that following a guru or leader was antithetical to spiritual insight.

After disbanding the Order and disassociating himself from the Theosophical Society and its belief system, he spent the rest of his life holding dialogues and giving public talks on his observations on the nature of truth, sorrow and freedom. Krishnamurti did not accept followers, because he saw the relationship between a guru and a disciple as essentially exploitative. He asked people to explore together with him and "walk as two friends". Nevertheless, he accepted gifts given to him (his main residence being on donated land in Ojai, California) and continued with lecture tours and the publication of books for more than half a century. Many people continued to attend these lectures or private consultations with Krishnamurti, and read his books.

Criticism of J. Krishnamurti

Notwithstanding his insights and the clarity with which he usually expressed these, Krishnamurti has been criticized. For one thing, a number of people who knew him through the years pointed out that — despite having lived a large share of his life in Europe and America, and despite having a European education — Krishnamurti’s life transplants something of the Indian Brahmin lifestyle. For he was supported, even pampered, through the years by devoted followers and servants. Are his attitudes, therefore, conditioned by indulgence and the extreme privilege involved with not having to earn a living in some ordinary way? Was he in a unique position to “transcend conflict” or time?

Secondly, according to Radha Rajagopal Sloss, the daughter of his editor/business-manager D. Rajagopal, Krishnamurti kept certain aspects of his private life concealed — including a love affair of many years between Krishnamurti and Rajagopal’s wife, Rosalind, as well as other women. (Perhaps this matter should simply be considered in the light of the social conventions of the main period of his prominence, the 1920s-1950s.)

Krishnamurti's Teachings

A brief summary of his teachings is contained in "The Core of the Teachings", a five paragraph text which says in part:

Thought is time. Thought is born of experience and knowledge, which are inseparable from time and the past. Time is the psychological enemy of man. Our action is based on knowledge and therefore time, so man is always a slave to the past. Thought is ever-limited and so we live in constant conflict and struggle. There is no psychological evolution.

When man becomes aware of the movement of his own thoughts, he will see the division between the thinker and thought, the observer and the observed, the experiencer and the experience. He will discover that this division is an illusion. Then only is there pure observation which is insight without any shadow of the past or of time. This timeless insight brings about a deep, radical mutation in the mind.

A tremendous volume of material exists documenting the philosophical investigations of Krishnamurti (or simply "K" as he is sometimes referred to) mostly in the form of recorded conversations and talks, although K also wrote several series of short essays and kept a personal journal at least twice in his life. He had dialogues and personal meetings with a wide variety of people from all kinds of backgrounds. An example of the far-ranging and probing dialogues he had is a series of conversations recorded in 1980 with theoretical physicist David Bohm that resulted in the publication of The Ending of Time and The Future of Humanity. These conversations are also available on audio tape and a subset of them on video and DVD as well.

Further quotations of J. Krishnamurti

  • "Truth is a pathless land. Man cannot come to it through any organization, through any creed, through any dogma, priest or ritual, not through any philosophic knowledge or psychological technique. He has to find it through the mirror of relationship, through the understanding of the contents of his own mind, through observation and not through intellectual analysis or introspective dissection." [1] (http://www.kfa.org/teachings_core.htm), [2] (http://www.jkrishnamurti.org/the_truth.asp)
  • "If one can really come to that state of saying, 'I do not know,' it indicates an extraordinary sense of humility; there is no arrogance of knowledge; there is no self-assertive answer to make an impression. When you can actually say, 'I do not know,' which very few are capable of saying, then in that state all fear ceases because all sense of recognition, the search into memory, has come to an end; there is no longer inquiry into the field of the known."
  • "Obviously what causes war is the desire for power, position, prestige, money; also the disease called nationalism, the worship of a flag; and the disease of organized religion, the worship of a dogma. All these are the causes of war; if you as an individual belong to any of the organized religions, if you are greedy for power, if you are envious, you are bound to produce a society which will result in destruction. So again it depends upon you and not on the leaders – not on so-called statesmen and all the rest of them. It depends upon you and me but we do not seem to realize that. If once we really felt the responsibility of our own actions, how quickly we could bring to an end all these wars, this appalling misery! But you see, we are indifferent. We have three meals a day, we have our jobs, we have our bank account, big or little, and we say, 'For God’s sake, don’t disturb us, leave us alone'."
  • "the description is not the described"
  • "Freedom from the Known is death, and then you are living."
  • "To divide anything into what should be and what is, is the most deceptive way of dealing with life."

Observation without reward

Questioner: "I have listened to you for many years and I have become quite good at watching my thoughts and being aware of every thing I do, but I have never touched the deep waters or experienced the transformation of which you speak. Why?"

Krishnamurti: I think it is fairly clear why none of us do experience something beyond the mere watching. There may be rare moments of an emotional state in which we see, as it were, the clarity of the sky between clouds, but I do not mean anything of that kind. All such experiences are temporary and have very little significance. The questioner wants to know why, after these many years of watching, he hasn't found the deep waters. Why should he find them? Do you understand? You think that by watching your own thoughts you are going to get a reward: if you do this, you will get that. You are really not watching at all, because your mind is concerned with gaining a reward. You think that by watching, by being aware, you will be more loving, you will suffer less, be less irritable, get something beyond; so your watching is a process of buying. With this coin you are buying that, which means that your watching is a process of choice; therefore it isn't watching, it isn't attention. To watch is to observe without choice, to see yourself as you are without any movement of desire to change, which is an extremely arduous thing to do; but that doesn't mean that you are going to remain in your present state. You do not know what will happen if you see yourself as you are without wishing to bring about a change in that which you see. Do you understand?

I am going to take an example and work it out, and you will see. Let us say I am violent, as most people are. Our whole culture is violent; but I won't enter into the anatomy of violence now, because that is not the problem we are considering. I am violent, and I realize that I am violent. What happens? My immediate response is that I must do something about it, is it not? I say I must become non-violent. That is what every religious teacher has told us for centuries: that if one is violent one must become non-violent. So I practise, I do all the ideological things. But now I see how absurd that is, because the entity who observes violence and wishes to change it into non-violence, is still violent. So I am concerned, not with the expression of that entity, but with the entity himself. You are following all this, I hope

Now, what is that entity who says, `I must not be violent'? Is that entity different from the violence he has observed? Are they two different states? Do you understand, sirs, or is this too abstract? It is near the end of the talk and probably you are a bit tired. Surely, the violence and the entity who says, `I must change violence into non-violence', are both the same. To recognize that fact is to put an end to all conflict, is it not? There is no longer the conflict of trying to change, because I see that the very movement of the mind not to be violent is itself the outcome of violence.

So, the questioner wants to know why it is that he cannot go beyond all these superficial wrangles of the mind. For the simple reason that, consciously or unconsciously, the mind is always seeking something, and that very search brings violence, competition, the sense of utter dissatisfaction. It is only when the mind is completely still that there is a possibility of touching the deep waters.

6th public talk Ojai, 21st July 1955 from the booklet "Surely, Freedom From the Self is the True Function of Man"

Partial list of published works

  • First and Last Freedom, The, ISBN 0060648317.
  • Education and the Significance of Life
  • Life Ahead
  • Beyond Violence
  • Truth and Actuality
  • The Wholeness of Life, Harper & Row, 1978, ISBN 0060648686
  • Exploration into Insight
  • Meditations
  • From Darkness to Light
  • Krishnamurti on Education
  • You are the World
  • Commentaries on Living, ISBN 0835603903.
  • Think on These Things, ISBN 0060916095.
  • Freedom From the Known, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1969, ISBN 0060648082.
  • Light in Oneself, The, ISBN 1570624429.
  • The Awakening of Intelligence, ISBN 0060648341.
  • Meeting Life: Writings and Talks on Finding Your Path Without Retreating from Society, ISBN 0062505262
  • The Ending of Time (with David Bohm), San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985, ISBN 0060647965
  • The Future of Humanity (with David Bohm), ISBN 0060647973
  • Limits of Thought: Discussions.(with David Bohm) London: Routledge, 1999. ISBN 0-415-19398-2
  • Krishnamurti's Notebook, San Fransciso: Harper & Row, 1982. ISBN 0060648414, LoC B5134.K765A34 1982 . personal journal, 1973-1975, is one of the few books that Krishnamurti actually wrote himself (the majority of titles actually being transcripts of talks and discussions). Written as a diary, which ends as suddenly as it begins, it describes Krishnamurti's world from the inside - in particular his experience of the manifestations of a state which he refers to as 'the otherness'.
  • Krishnamurti to Himself: His Last Journal


  • Pupul Jayakar, Krishnamurti: A Biography, San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1986
  • Mary Lutyens, Krishnamurti, the Years of Awakening, London: John Murray, 1975
  • Mary Lutyens, Krishnamurti: The Years of Fulfiillment, London: John Murray, 1983
  • Mary Lutyens, The Life and Death of Krishnamurti, ISBN 0-900506-22-9
  • Helen Nearing, Loving and Leaving the Good Life, White River Jct., VT: Chelsea Green, 1992
  • Radha Rapagopal Sloss, Lives in the Shadow with J. Krishnamurti, London: Bloomsbury and Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1991

See also

External links


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