19 Nov 2011

Jiddu Krishnamurti – the reluctant ‘messiah’.


It has taken me about three-weeks of reading and listening to video material for 15 hours, to come to write this. So much in awe am I, about this great soul. I had read one of his books in my late teens and sadly did not realise at the time that he was alive. And even more sadly, did not know he had passed away in 1986. George Bernard Shaw had declared that he was the most beautiful human being he had ever met and Aldous Huxley became one of his close friends. What follows is a really amazing story – and I warmly invite you to follow it. It could be life-changing.

Krishnamurti (May 12, 1895 – February 17, 1986) was an extraordinary man, who made an important mark on this world – even if many do not know of him. Krishnamurti was born into a Telugu Brahmin family in what was then colonial India. It was the unique sequence of the death of Krishnamurti’s mother, when he was 10; his father, Jiddu Narayaniah, seeking post-retirement income – having left the colonial British Administration; his father’s association with the Theosophical Society (based in Adyar) that led his father to move Adyar in Madras – which all ‘triangulated’ to facilitate discovery of young Krishnamurti. Those events would lead to Charles Leadbeater of the Theosophical Society finding Krishnamurti, on behalf of Annie Besant (then president of the Society).

Early life history and development…

Wikipedia has done a really extensive write up on Krishnamurti. I’ve decided to give most references at the end so as not to cause too many distractions. In fact I’m adding references long after I’ve posted this. However, video is worth a zillion words! Click that on the left and there’s more below.

Below I continue to excerpt and crystallise key parts of a truly exceptional 90-year life history from parts of Wikipedia and elsewhere.

Hereafter Krishnamurti is referred to as K – as he was affectionately called by many a friend.

Defining himself
His father was initially reluctant to cooperate, but later acceded, recognising the advantage to his son, and that he could not independently acquire the means to place his son in the position of advantage that the Society were offering.
The Theosophical Society was actually in search of a new leader who would bring a new enlightenment to the world by unifying spiritual and religious movements. They were a western organisation with strong links in England. Charles Leadbeater of the Theosophical Society was said to have clairvoyant powers, and found K on banks of the river-village of Adyar, at the age of 14. Leadbeater asserted that Krishnamurti had one of the purest most innocent auras ever observed and selected him to become the next messiah. K was then selected groomed for that role.
Krishnamurti and his brother Nityananda were adopted by Annie Besant and taken to England in April 1911. K spent the next ten years of his life in England under a very carefully managed regime of exercise, education and meditation. His acquired command of English was astounding. He mastered English in about six months it was reported. He did not excel academically and failed to enter Oxford as it was intended by the Society. He was confronted by ridicule as in England about being the ‘chosen one’. He lived a luxurious life but without much privacy. He yearned to find peace and time to himself to think.

In 1922 on a trip to the United States, he found privacy and relaxation. He and his brother Nitya, found peach in the Ojai Valley in California. He was able to re-embrace nature and found a freedom he once had when running around on the beach in the Bay of Bengal at the mouth of the river Adyar. While he enjoyed that, there was growing expectation from the Theosophists that he would deliver their message. His skills in oration and use of English grew even more. The Theosophists created a separate organisation called ‘The Order of the Star in the East’ specifically to take care of his needs and to facilitate the Theosophical Society’s ultimate mission. K was never at peace with all this and he tried his best to say so.

On 17th August of 1922 K had unusual experience. It lasted three days and featured him feeling very hot, being intermittently confused, and regressed in his behaviour. There was a ball-like swelling in the base of his neck at the start of the first episode. On the second day he was according to three witnesses including Nitya, visited by Lord Maitreya. On the third day three unknown ‘figures’ were seen around him. They were not described further in Nitya’s notes. These episodes, referred to as ‘the process’  recurred at intervals until K’s death. But they had occurred almost every night between mid-August and December 1922. Nitya had made detailed notes of all these goings on and had sent a long narrative to Mrs Besant.

Nitya who had been suffering with intermittent bouts of tuberculosis, died suddenly and unexpectedly on 13th November 1929 due to complications of flu and tuberculosis. This shook K’s faith in Theosophy even more because he was assurances by the movement about Nitya’s health. Nitya was the only person he could speak with openly and in complete confidence. His passing away was said to break Krishnamurti – but not for long. Twelve days later K resiled and there was no hint that he was disturbed by Nitya’s death. However, it was clear that Nitya’s death shattered the last vestiges of faith he had held for the Theosophist’s grand plan.

Tensions continued to rise between K and the dyad of Annie Besant and Leadbeater. Long into the grooming process, on August 3rd, 1929, at the age of 34 – twenty years after he was selected and supposedly well prepared to take up ‘post’ -  he decided to dissolve his intended role and The Order of the Star of the East. This put a serious dent in the plans of the Theosophical Society. He returned all money and property to given to him by the Order, including a castle in Holland and 5000 acres of land to various donors.

He continued his life’s work in humility – never seeking accolades or awards, never accepting followers or worshippers, seeing relationships between the ‘disciple and guru’ as potentially exploitative and creating dependence. He provided doubt, scepticism and tools for looking within. He travelled the world extensively and shared his thoughts. He accepted gifts and financial support from people who felt inspired by his work. He left behind a staggering set of writings, video and audio.

In his later years, K  acknowledged the strange turn of events in his childhood and said that if Leadbeater had not found him, “I would have died”. A lot of stuff went on in K’s life.. too much to cram into this blog.

K gave his last talk on 4th January 1986 his last words in that talk were: “Creation is something that is most holy. That’s the most sacred thing in life and if you have made a mess of your life, change it. Change it today, not tomorrow. If you are uncertain find out why and be certain. If your thinking is not straight, think straight, logically. Unless all that is prepared, all that is settled, you can’t enter into this world of creation.
It ends.
“ (The last two words were barely audible and would not have been heard by the audience, but recorded on tape).

Fascinating -  that K in his last public talk, told people to recognise where their thinking was not straight and to do something about it. I cannot help but connect this to my own thoughts on Inefficient Thinking.

K’s death
Krishnamurti died ten minutes after midnight on 17th February 1986. He was not alone. He had contracted cancer. He was losing much weight in December 1985 and January 1986. Tests subsequently confirmed a cancer of the liver and/or pancreas. K was in severe pain and treated intermittently with morphine. He came to realise the end was nigh and he coped with it masterfully.

On the morning of 7th February 1986 K was asked a question written to him by Mary Cardogan, ‘When Krishnaji dies what really happens to that extraordinary focus of understanding and energy that is K?’ K swiftly responded, "It is gone. If someone goes wholly into the teachings perhaps they might touch that; but one cannot try to touch it.’ He paused and added, “If you all only knew what you have missed – that vast emptiness.  Later that morning it appeared that the question lingered in his mind. He recorded the following, his last recorded words:

“I was telling them this morning – for seventy years that super-energy – no – that immense energy, immense intelligence, has been using this body. I don’t think people realise what tremendous energy and intelligence went through this body – there’s twelve-cylinder engine. And for seventy years – was a pretty long time – and now the body can’t stand any more. Nobody, unless the body has been prepared, very carefully, protected and so on – nobody can understand what went through this body. Nobody. Don’t anybody pretend. Nobody. I repeat this: nobody amongst us or the public, know what went on. I know they don’t. And now after seventy years it has come to an end. Not that that intelligence and energy – it’s somewhat here, every day, and especially at night. And after seventy years the body can’t stand it – can’t stand any more. It can’t. The Indians have a lot of damned superstitions about this – that you will and the body goes – and all that kind of nonsense. You won’t find another body like this, or that supreme intelligence operating in a body for many hundred years. You won’t see it again. When he goes, it goes. There is no consciousness left behind of that consciousness, of that state. They’ll all pretend or try to imagine they can get into touch with that. Perhaps they will somewhat if they live the teachings. But nobody has done it. Nobody. And so that’s that.”

Note carefully that he refers to seventy years four times. This was clearly not his 70th year!! His intellect was fine until the end. It is unlikely that he would that mistake four times in a row. I think that something happened when he was around 20, that is unknown or undiscovered by many of us. K was the sort of person that left you to discover, he did ‘teachings’ but did not see himself as a teacher – recall that he avoided being a leader, guru or person in authority. Note also that he said ‘..it’s somewhere here, every day, and especially at night’; referring to something that of tremendous energy and intelligence that had been ‘using’ his body. I think that the events between August and December 1922 were probably what he was alluding to – because it appeared that something so powerful overtook his body and mind that he was in agony repeatedly at that time. And note that most of the episodes he had ‘endured’ occurred at night. However, his states of altered consciousness were seen as a driver for his exploration of the mind and the human condition.

selflessness and his new brand of philosophy or spirituality, made a deep impact on millions of lives across the world. That impact was probably much less extensive than if he had held to his predestined path, as was planned by the Theosophical Society. However, Krishnamurti’s steely determination never to impose truths on people or to lead them as a guru, would set a rock-solid foundation for those who were of similar determination, to find reality. Uncharacteristically, K said, “.. there is no teacher.. no pupil..there is no leader...” – a set of views that would fly in the face of many organised Eastern and Western spiritual groups and religions. He further asserted that It is said by Wikipedia that “Krishnamurti's lasting influence is hard to gauge in an objective way; there is no organizational or other entity based on his philosophy, whose progress can be measured. His insistence that there be no successors or interpreters has so far  prevented any individual or group from claiming to represent a continuity, or a unique understanding, of his philosophy.” It’s not for me to decide upon that. I am simply thankful for Krishnamurti's life and his ‘light’. Where and how I shine that light is up to me – as he would probably have said.


  1. Wikipedia – Krishnamurti
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