“Here is one man of our time who may be said to be a master of reality. He stands alone. He has renounced more than any man I can think of; except the Christ. Fundamentally he is so simple to understand that it is easy to comprehend the confusion which his clear, direct words and deeds have entailed.”
~ Henry Miller, American Writer, in The Books in My Life.
12 May 1895 saw the birth of Jiddu Krishnamurti, a philosopher, author, thinker, and sage of the 20th century, who is considered among the “most profound impact[s] on human consciousness in modern times.” His discourses and discussions all around the world has had admirers across professions, including spiritual speaker Deepak Chopra, musician Van Morrison, author Aldous Huxley, football coach and manager Franz Beckenbauer, and the Dalai Lama himself. His teachings are considered universal and true to life. The biggest proof that Krishnamurti’s thoughts have reached far and wide is the fact that he was named “one of the five saints of the 20th century” by the Time Magazine, along with Mother Teresa and Dalai Lama.
Jiddu Krishnamurthi was born in Madanapalle (Andhra Pradesh), at half past midnight of 11 May 1895, which according to Western calculation is 12 May 1895. He was the eighth child of his parents, mother Sanjivamma and father Brahmasri Jiddu Narayaniah. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Krishna was the eighth child of his parents. This, along with the astrologer’s prediction that the new born would be a “gem of a son,” prompted his parents to name him Krishna.
Krishna, when young was physically weak, who would spend most of his time at home with his mother. Along with his devout Hindu mother, Krishna prayed in the “puja room” before Hindu Gods and Goddesses. After his mother’s death, he is believed to have seen visions of her around the house.
His father worked for the British in the Revenue Department. Despite following orthodox Brahmin traditions and rules at home, the Jiddu family was involved with the Theosophical Society, which was headed by Dr. Annie Besant. One of the most significant moments of Krishnamurti’s childhood life was, when he was spotted by Charles W. Leadbeater, an important Society member, at a beach in Adyar. Leadbeater is believed to have noticed an aura of pure unselfishness around Krishna. Eventually, the Theosophical Society adopted Krishna and his brother, Nitya, and Leadbeater personally looked over their education and development. He believed that Krishna could one day become a World Teacher.
The Theosophical Society and Beyond
Krishnamurti’s life took a turn after his adoption into the Society. He was sent to England for further studies. He was also given a generous allowance. Later, the Society set up an organisation named as the “Order of the Star in the East” in 1911, to promote his “messianic role.” Krishna’s first speech was in London, which was rather faltering and with lots of pauses. With time, Krishna learned to deliver a speech with confidence.
For the next 10 years, Krishna travelled to various countries in the world with his brother, including Australia and the US. He eventually settled down in the Ojai Valley in California (US), with the help of his supporters. There, he experienced a series of intense psychological changes in his mind. He called it a “process.” This was a rather strange condition, in which he went through psychological pain, heightened sensitivity to everything around, and physical discomfort. He was also in a delirious condition for days. In his journal, Krishnamurti also mentioned an intensified feeling of “overpowering force” and thereafter, serenity.
The Theosophical Society considered this condition as a “mystical experience” and decided to host a convention in 1925. Krishnamurti was not comfortable with such glorification. This along with his brother’s death, in the same year, took him away from the Society mentally. In 1929, he disbanded the Order, returned the donated money and property, and renounced the Society, saying “Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organised; nor should any organisation be formed to lead or coerce people along a particular path.” This move was not received well by the Society.
Krishnamurti consequently, became a speaker separate from the Society, and published his writings through Star Publishing Trust, which was founded and headed by his friend Rajagopal. He later wrote for other publications, newspapers and magazines as well. In addition, his talks and speeches were recorded and compiled.
Krishnamurti’s Philosophy and Teachings
Krishnamurti’s philosophy in his early years was influenced by the Theosophical Society. However, after his “mystical transformation,” he became more aware of the modern world and its issues. He travelled the world and met, and discussed the current events, with various personalities including Aldous Huxley, Dalai Lama, and Mahatma Gandhi. His philosophy was based on humanity and its modern problems. According to his biographers, Mary Lutyens and Pupul Jayakar, Krishnamurti did not subscribe to any ideology or political point of view. Free from all religious methods and boundaries, his teachings concentrated on respecting nature and human beings. His supporters consider his teachings as coming from a friend and confidante, rather than a guru. He believed that, “When we talk about understanding, surely it takes place only when the mind listens completely - the mind being your heart, your nerves, [and] your ears- when you give your whole attention to it.”
Some of his famous quotations are as follows :
“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.”
“Throughout life, from childhood, from school until we die, we are taught to compare ourselves with another; yet when I compare myself with another I am destroying myself.”
“Knowing the cause of something is not going to help you to be free of it.”
“Meditation is the emptying of the mind, of all the things that the mind has put together. If you do that -perhaps you won't, but it doesn't matter, just listen to this- you will find that there is an extraordinary space in the mind, and that space is freedom.”
Also on this day:
1926 – Viren J. Shah, the 21st Governor of West Bengal, was born
Jiddu Krishnamurthi - Official website
Jiddu Krishnamurthi: World Philosopher (1895-1986) : His Life and Thoughts by C. V. Williams