Krishnamurti was born into a Telugu Brahmin family in what was then colonial India. In early adolescence, he had a chance encounter with prominent occultist and high-ranking theosophist C.W. Leadbeater in the grounds of the Theosophical Society headquarters at Adyar in Madras (now Chennai). He was subsequently raised under the tutelage of Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater, leaders of the Society at the time, who believed him to be a "vehicle" for an expected World Teacher. As a young man, he disavowed this idea and dissolved the world-wide organization (the Order of the Star) established to support it. He claimed allegiance to no nationality, caste, religion, or philosophy, and spent the rest of his life traveling the world as an individual speaker, speaking to large and small groups, as well as with interested individuals. He authored a number of books, among them The First and Last Freedom, The Only Revolution, and Krishnamurti's Notebook. In addition, a large collection of his talks and discussions have been published. At age 90, he addressed the United Nations on the subject of peace and awareness, and was awarded the 1984 UN Peace Medal. His last public talk was in Madras, India, in January 1986, a month before his death at home in Ojai, California.
His supporters, working through several non-profit foundations, oversee a number of independent schools centered on his views on education – in India, England and the United States – and continue to transcribe and distribute many of his thousands of talks, group and individual discussions, and other writings, publishing them in a variety of formats including print, audio, video and digital formats as well as online, in many languages.
Jiddu Krishnamurti came from a family of Telugu-speaking Brahmins. His father, Narianiah Jiddu, was employed as an official of the then colonial British administration. Krishnamurti was very fond of his mother, Sanjeevamma, who died when he was ten. His parents were second cousins, having a total of eleven children, only six of whom survived childhood. They were strict vegetarians, even shunning eggs, and throwing away any food that the "shadow of an Englishman had crossed".
He was born on May 11, 1895 (May 11 according to the Brahminical calendar), in the small town of Madanapalle in Chittoor District in Andhra Pradesh, about 150 miles (250 km) west of Madras (now Chennai). As the eighth child, who happened to be a boy, he was, in accordance with common Hindu practice, named after Sri Krishna.
In 1903, the family settled in Cudappah, where Krishnamurti during a previous stay had contracted malaria, a disease with which he would suffer recurrent bouts over many years. He was a sensitive and sickly child; "vague and dreamy", he was often taken to be mentally retarded, and was beaten regularly at school by his teachers and at home by his father. Several decades later, Krishnamurti reminisced about his state of mind during childhood: "No thought entered his mind. He was watching and listening and nothing else. Thought with its associations never arose. There was no image-making. He often attempted to think but no thought would come." Writing about his childhood and early adolescence in memoirs he composed when he was eighteen years old, Krishnamurti described psychic experiences, such as "seeing" his sister, who had died in 1904, and also his mother, who had passed away in 1905.
Krishnamurti's father Narianiah retired at the end of 1907, and, being of limited means, wrote to Annie Besant, then president of the Theosophical Society, seeking employment at the Theosophical headquarters estate at Adyar. (Even though an observant orthodox Brahmin, Narianiah had been a member of the Theosophical Society since 1882). He was eventually hired by the Society as a clerk, and he moved his family there in January, 1909. Narianiah and his sons were at first assigned to live in a small cottage that lacked adequate sanitation and which was located just outside the Theosophical compound. As a result of poor living conditions, Krishnamurti and his brothers were soon undernourished and infested with lice.
It was in April of 1909, a few months after the last move, that Krishnamurti first met C.W. Leadbeater, who claimed clairvoyance. During his forays to the Theosophical estate's beach at the nearby Adyar river, Leadbeater had noticed Krishnamurti (who also frequented the beach with others), and was amazed by the "most wonderful aura he had ever seen, without a particle of selfishness in it". This strong impression was notwithstanding Krishnamurti's outward appearance, which, according to eyewitnesses, was pretty common, unimpressive, and unkempt. The boy was also considered "particularly dim-witted"; he often had "a vacant expression" that "gave him an almost moronic look". Leadbeater remained "unshaken" that the boy would become "a great teacher".
Pupul Jayakar, in her biography of Krishnamurti, quotes him speaking of that period in his life some 75 years later: "The boy had always said, 'I will do whatever you want'. There was an element of subservience, obedience. The boy was vague, uncertain, woolly; he didn't seem to care what was happening. He was like a vessel, with a large hole in it, whatever was put in, went through, nothing remained."
Following his "discovery", Krishnamurti was taken under the wing of the leadership of the Theosophical Society in Adyar and their inner circle. Leadbeater and a small number of trusted associates undertook the task of educating, protecting, and generally preparing Krishnamurti as the "vehicle" of the expected World Teacher. Krishnamurti (or Krishnaji as he was often called) and his younger brother Nitya were privately tutored at the Theosophical compound in Madras, and later exposed to a comparatively opulent life among a segment of European high society, as they continued their education abroad. In spite of his history of problems with school work and concerns about his capacities and physical condition, the fourteen year old Krishnamurti was within six months able to speak and write competently in English.
During all this time, Krishnamurti had developed a strong bond with Annie Besant, and came to view her as a surrogate mother. Apart from his early close relationship with his mother, this was the first of several important and intimate relationships that Krishnamurti established with women during his lifetime. His father, pushed into the background by the swirl of interest around Krishnamurti, sued the Theosophical Society in 1912 to protect his parental interests. After a protracted legal battle, Besant took custody of Krishnamurti and his brother Nitya. As a result of this separation from his family and home, Krishnamurti and his brother became extremely close, and in the following years they often traveled together.
The Theosophical Leadership in 1911 established a new organization called the Order of the Star in the East, in order to prepare the world for the aforementioned "coming". Krishnamurti was named as its head, with senior Theosophists in various positions. Membership was open to anybody who accepted the doctrine of the coming of the World Teacher. Controversy erupted soon after, both within the Theosophical Society and without, in Hindu circles and the Indian press.
Mary Lutyens, in her biography of Krishnamurti, states that there was a time when he fully believed that he was to become the World Teacher after correct spiritual and secular guidance and education. Another biographer describes the daily program imposed on him by Leadbeater and his associates, which among other things included rigorous exercise and sports, tutoring in a variety of school subjects, theosophical and religious lessons, yoga and meditation, as well as instruction in proper hygiene and the ways of British society and culture. Unlike sports, where he showed natural aptitude, Krishnamurti always had problems with formal schooling and was not academically inclined. He eventually gave up university education after several attempts at admission. He did take to foreign languages, eventually speaking several (French and Italian among them) with some fluency. In this period, he apparently enjoyed reading parts of the Old Testament, and was impressed by some of the Western classics, especially Shelley, Dostoyevsky and Nietzsche. He also had, since childhood, considerable observational and mechanical skills, being able to correctly disassemble and reassemble complicated machinery.
His public image, as originally cultivated by the theosophists, "...was to be characterized by a well-polished exterior, a sobriety of purpose, a cosmopolitan outlook and an otherworldly, almost beatific detachment in his demeanor." And in fact, "...All of these can be said to have characterised Krishnamurti's public image to the end of his life." It was apparently clear early on that he "...possessed an innate personal magnetism, not of a warm physical variety, but nonetheless emotive in its austerity, and inclined to inspire veneration." However, as Krishnamurti was growing up, he showed signs of adolescent rebellion and emotional instability, chafing at the regimen imposed on him, and occasionally having doubts about the future prescribed him.
Krishnamurti and Nitya were taken to England for the first time in April of 1911. Between that time and the start of the First World War in 1914, they also visited several other European countries, always accompanied by theosophist chaperones. After the war, Krishnamurti (again accompanied by his brother) embarked in a series of lectures, meetings, and discussions around the world relating to his duties as the head of the Order Of The Star. In 1922, Krishnamurti and Nitya travelled from Sydney to California on their way to Switzerland. While in California, they lodged at a cottage in then relatively secluded Ojai Valley, offered to them for the occasion by an American member of the Order. At Ojai, the brothers also met Rosalind Williams, the sister of a local Theosophist, who eventually became close to them both. For the first time the brothers were without immediate supervision from their Theosophical Society minders; they spent their time in nature hikes and picnics with friends, spiritual contemplation, and planning their course within the "World Teacher Project". Krishnamurti and Nitya found the Ojai Valley to be very agreeable, and eventually a trust, formed by supporters, purchased for them the cottage and surrounding property, which henceforth became Krishnamurti's official place of residence.
It was in Ojai, in August 1922, that Krishnamurti went through an intense, "life-changing" experience. It has been simultaneously, and invariably, characterised as a spiritual awakening, a psychological transformation, and a physical conditioning. Krishnamurti and those around him would refer to it as "the process", and it continued, at very frequent intervals and varying forms of intensity, until his death. According to witnesses, it started on the 17th, with Krishnamurti complaining of extraordinary pain at the nape of his neck, and a hard, ball-like swelling. Over the next couple of days, the symptoms worsened, with increasing pain, extreme physical discomfort and sensitivity, total loss of appetite and occasional delirious ramblings. Then, he seemed to lapse into unconsciousness; actually, he recounted that he was very much aware of his surroundings and while in that state, he had an experience of mystical union. The following day the symptoms, and the experience, intensified, climaxing with a sense of "immense peace".
"...I was supremely happy, for I had seen. Nothing could ever be the same. I have drunk at the clear and pure waters and my thirst was appeased. ...I have seen the Light. I have touched compassion which heals all sorrow and suffering; it is not for myself, but for the world. ...Love in all its glory has intoxicated my heart; my heart can never be closed. I have drunk at the fountain of Joy and eternal Beauty. I am God-intoxicated.
Similar incidents continued with short intermissions until October, and later eventually resumed regularly, always involving varying degrees of physical pain to mark the start of "the process", accompanied by what is variably described as "presence", "benediction", "immensity", and "sacredness", which was reportedly often felt by others present.
Several explanations have been proposed for the events of 1922, and "the process" in general. Leadbeater and other theosophists, although they expected the "vehicle" to have certain paranormal experiences, were mystified by the developments, and were at a loss to explain the whole thing. The "process", and the inability of Leadbeater to explain it satisfactorily, if at all, had other consequences according to biographer R. Vernon:
"The process at Ojai, whatever its cause or validity, was a cataclysmic milestone for Krishna. Up until this time his spiritual progress, chequered though it might have been, had been planned with solemn deliberation by Theosophy's grandees. ...Something new had now occurred for which Krishna's training had not entirely prepared him. ...A burden was lifted from his conscience and he took his first step towards becoming an individual. ...In terms of his future role as a teacher, the process was his bedrock. ...It had come to him alone and had not been planted in him by his mentors...It provided Krishna with the soil in which his newfound spirit of confidence and independence could take root.Finally, the unexpected death of his brother Nitya on November 11, 1925 at age 27 from tuberculosis after a long history with the disease, fundamentally shook Krishnamurti's belief in Theosophy and his faith in the leaders of the Theosophical Society. According to eyewitness accounts, the news "...broke him down completely". He struggled for days to overcome his sorrow, eventually "...going through an inner revolution, finding new strength". The experience of his brother's death apparently shattered any remaining illusions, and things would never be the same again:
"...An old dream is dead and a new one is being born, as a flower that pushes through the solid earth. A new vision is coming into being and a greater consciousness is being unfolded. ...A new strength, born of suffering, is pulsating in the veins and a new sympathy and understanding is being born of past suffering - a greater desire to see others suffer less, and, if they must suffer, to see that they bear it nobly and come out of it without too many scars. I have wept, but I do not want others to weep; but if they do, I know what it means.
"You must become liberated not because of me but in spite of me." [Krishnamurti speaking at annual Order of the Star Camp, Eerde (Ommen), Holland, June 30, 1927].
In the next few years Krishnamurti's new vision and consciousness continued to develop and reached a climax in 1929, when he rebuffed attempts by Leadbeater and Besant to continue with the Order of the Star. Krishnamurti dissolved the Order at the annual Star Camp at Ommen, the Netherlands, on August 3rd, 1929 where, in front of Annie Besant and several thousand members, he gave a speech saying among other things:
"You may remember the story of how the devil and a friend of his were walking down the street, when they saw ahead of them a man stoop down and pick up something from the ground, look at it, and put it away in his pocket. The friend said to the devil, 'What did that man pick up?' 'He picked up a piece of the truth,' said the devil. 'That is a very bad business for you, then,' said his friend. 'Oh, not at all,' the devil replied, 'I am going to help him organize it.'
I maintain that truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. That is my point of view, and I adhere to that absolutely and unconditionally. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organization be formed to lead or coerce people along a particular path.
"This is no magnificent deed, because I do not want followers, and I mean this. The moment you follow someone you cease to follow Truth. I am not concerned whether you pay attention to what I say or not. I want to do a certain thing in the world and I am going to do it with unwavering concentration. I am concerning myself with only one essential thing: to set man free. I desire to free him from all cages, from all fears, and not to found religions, new sects, nor to establish new theories and new philosophies.
Following the dissolution, some Theosophists turned against Krishnamurti and publicly wondered whether "...the Coming had gone wrong". Mary Lutyens states that "...After all the years of proclaiming the Coming, of stressing over and over again the danger of rejecting the World Teacher when he came because he was bound to say something wholly new and unexpected, something contrary to most people’s preconceived ideas and hopes, the leaders of Theosophy, one after the other, fell into the trap against which they had so unremittingly warned others.
Krishnamurti had denounced all organized belief, the notion of gurus, and the whole teacher-follower relationship, vowing instead to work in setting man absolutely, totally free. Mary Lutyens notes that he never actually denied being the World Teacher; when asked, he insisted that the question was irrelevant. In correspondence with Lady Emily Lutyens, who was distressed over the ending of the Order and its World Teacher Project, he remarked: "You know mum I have never denied it [being the World Teacher], I have only said it does not matter who or what I am but that they should examine what I say, which does not mean that I have denied being the W.T." When a reporter asked him if he was the Christ, he answered "Yes, in the pure sense but not in the traditional accepted sense of the word." From that time, he began to disassociate himself from the Theosophical Society and its teachings and practices, despite being on cordial terms with some of its members and ex-members throughout his life.
Krishnamurti would only refer to his teachings as "the" teachings and not as "my" teachings. His concern was always about "the" teachings: the teacher had no importance, and spiritual authority was denounced.
"All authority of any kind, especially in the field of thought and understanding, is the most destructive, evil thing. Leaders destroy the followers and followers destroy the leaders. You have to be your own teacher and your own disciple. You have to question everything that man has accepted as valuable, as necessary.
Krishnamurti returned all monies and properties donated to the Order of the Star - including a castle in Holland and around of land - to their donors. He subsequently spent the rest of his life holding dialogues and giving public talks across the world on the nature of belief, truth, sorrow, freedom, death, the apparently eternal quest for a spiritually-fulfilled life, and related subjects. Following on from the "pathless land" notion, he accepted neither followers nor worshippers, seeing the relationship between disciple and guru as encouraging the antithesis of spiritual emancipation - dependency and exploitation. He constantly urged people to think independently and clearly, and invited them to explore and discuss specific topics together with him, to "walk as two friends". He accepted gifts and financial support freely offered to him by people inspired by his work, and continued with lecture tours and the publication of books and talk transcripts for more than half a century.
From 1930 through 1944, Krishnamurti engaged in speaking tours and in the issue of publications under the auspice of the "Star Publishing Trust" (SPT), which he had founded with a close associate and friend from the Order of the Star, D. Rajagopal. The base of operations for the new enterprise was in Ojai, where Krishnamurti, Rajagopal, and Rosalind Williams (now the wife of Rajagopal), resided in the house known as Arya Vihara. The business and organizational aspects of the SPT were administered chiefly by D. Rajagopal as Krishnamurti devoted his time to speaking and meditation. The Rajagopals' marriage was not a happy one, and the two became physically estranged after the 1931 birth of their daughter, Radha. In the relative seclusion of Arya Vihara, Krishnamurti's close friendship with Rosalind deepened into a love affair which was not made public until 1991.
Throughout the 1930s, Krishnamurti spoke in Europe, Latin America, India, Australia and the United States. In 1938, he made the acquaintance of Aldous Huxley, who had arrived from Europe during 1937. The two began a close friendship which endured for many years. They held common concerns about the imminent conflict in Europe which they viewed as the outcome of the pernicious influence of nationalism. Krishnamurti's stance on World War II was often construed as pacifism and even subversion during a time of patriotic fervor in the United States and for a time he came under the surveillance of the FBI. He did not speak publicly for a period of about four years (between 1940 and 1944). During this time he lived and worked quietly at Arya Vihara, which during the war operated as a largely self-sustaining farm, with its surplus goods donated for relief efforts in Europe.
Krishnamurti broke the hiatus from public speaking in May 1944 with a series of talks in Ojai. These talks, and subsequent material, was published by "Krishnamurti Writings Inc" (KWINC), the successor organization to the "Star Publishing Trust". This was to be the new central Krishnamurti-related entity worldwide, whose sole purpose was the dissemination of the teaching.
When in India after World War II, many prominent personalities came to meet with him, including Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. In his meetings with Nehru, Krishnamurti elaborated at length on the teachings, saying in one instance, “Understanding of the self only arises in relationship, in watching yourself in relationship to people, ideas, and things; to trees, the earth, and the world around you and within you. Relationship is the mirror in which the self is revealed. Without self-knowledge there is no basis for right thought and action.” Nehru asked, “How does one start?” to which Krishnamurti replied, “Begin where you are. Read every word, every phrase, every paragraph of the mind, as it operates through thought.”
Although Krishnamurti's subject matter had evolved to encompass several new and different directions, the fundamental notions remained unchanged. In late 1980, he took the opportunity to reaffirm the basic elements of his message in a written statement that came to be known as the "Core of the Teaching". An excerpt follows:
"The core of Krishnamurti's teaching is contained in the statement he made in 1929 when he said: 'Truth is a pathless land'. Man cannot come to it through any organization, through any creed, through any dogma, priest or ritual, nor through any philosophical 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. Man has built in himself images as a sense of security—religious, political, personal. These manifest as symbols, ideas, beliefs. The burden of these dominates man's thinking, relationships and his daily life. These are the causes of our problems for they divide man from man in every relationship.
In the 1970s, Krishnamurti met several times with then Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi, with whom he had far ranging, and apparently, in some cases very serious discussions. His true impact on Indian political life is unknown; however Jayakar considers his attitude and message on meetings with Indira Gandhi as a possible influence in the lifting of certain emergency measures Mrs. Gandhi had imposed during periods of political turmoil.
Meanwhile, Krishnamurti's once close relationship with the Rajagopals had deteriorated to the point where Krishnamurti took D. Rajagopal to court in order to recover donated property and funds, publication rights for his works, manuscripts, and personal correspondence, that were in Rajagopal's possession. The litigation and ensuing cross complaints, which formally began in 1971, continued for many years and were finally settled in 1986, shortly after the death of Krishnamurti.
In April 1985 he spoke to an invited audience at the United Nations in New York, where he was awarded the United Nations 1984 Peace medal.
In November 1985 he visited India for the last time, holding a number of what came to be known as "farewell" talks and discussions between then and January 1986. These last talks included the fundamental questions he had been asking through the years, as well as newer concerns related to then recent advances in science, technology, and the way they affected humankind. Krishnamurti had commented to friends that he did not wish to invite death, but was not sure how long his body would last (he had already lost considerable weight), and once he could no longer talk, he would have "no further purpose". In his final talk, on January 4, 1986, in Madras, he again invited the audience to examine with him the nature of inquiry, the effect of technology, the nature of life and meditation, and the nature of creation:
"...So, we are enquiring into what makes a bird. What is creation behind all this? Are you waiting for me to describe it, go into it? You want me to go into it? Why (From the audience: To understand what creation is[)]. Why do you ask that? Because I asked? No description can ever describe the origin. The origin is nameless; the origin is absolutely quiet, it's not whirring about making noise. 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, into the world of creation.
Krishnamurti was also concerned about his legacy, about being unwittingly turned into some personage whose teachings had been handed down to special individuals, rather than the world at large. He did not want anybody to pose as an interpreter of the teaching. He warned his associates on several occasions that they were not to present themselves as spokesmen on his behalf, or as his successors after his death.
A few days before his death, in a final statement, he emphatically declared that "nobody" - among his associates, or the general public - had understood what had happened to him (as the conduit of the teaching), nor had they understood the teaching itself. He added that the "immense energy" operating in his lifetime would be gone with his death, again implying the impossibility of successors. However, he offered hope by stating that people could approach that energy and gain a measure of understanding "...if they live the teachings". In prior discussions he had compared himself with Thomas Edison, implying that he did the hard work, and now all was needed by others was a flick of the switch. In another instance he talked of Columbus going through an arduous journey to discover the New World, whereas now, it could easily be reached by jet; the ultimate implication being that even if Krishnamurti was in some way "special", in order to arrive at his level of understanding, others didn't need to be.
J. Krishnamurti died on February 17, 1986, at the age of 90, from pancreatic cancer. His remains were cremated and scattered by friends and former associates in the three countries where he had spent most of his life: India, England, and the United States of America.
"How is the mind which functions on knowledge – how is the brain which is recording all the time – to end, to see the importance of recording and not let it move in any other direction? Very simply: you insult me, you hurt me, by word, gesture, by an actual act; that leaves a mark on the brain which is memory. That memory is knowledge, that knowledge is going to interfere in my meeting you next time – obviously. ... Knowledge is necessary to act in the sense of my going home from here to the place I live; I must have knowledge for this; I must have knowledge to speak English; I must have knowledge to write a letter and so on. Knowledge as function, mechanical function, is necessary. Now if I use that knowledge in my relationship with you, another human being, I am bringing about a barrier, a division between you and me, namely the observer. That is, knowledge, in relationship, in human relationship, is destructive. That is knowledge which is the tradition, the memory, the image, which the mind has built about you, that knowledge is separative and therefore creates conflict in our relationship.
"The brain has been trained to record for in that recording there is safety, security, a sense of vitality; in that recording the mind creates the image about oneself. And that image will constantly get hurt. Is it possible to live without a single image about yourself, or about your husband, wife, children, or about the politicians, the priests, or about the ideal? It is possible, and if it is not found you will always be getting hurt, always living in a pattern in which there is no freedom. When you give complete attention there is no recording. It is only when there is inattention that you record. That is: you flatter me; I like it; the liking at that moment is inattention therefore recording takes place. But if when you flatter me I listen to it completely without any reaction, then there is no center which records."
"The brain is the source of thought. The brain is matter and thought is matter. Can the brain – with all its reactions and its immediate responses to every challenge and demand – can the brain be very still? It is not a question of ending thought, but of whether the brain can be completely still? This stillness is not physical death. See what happens when the brain is completely still.
“Fear is always in relation to something; it does not exist by itself. There is fear of what happened yesterday in relation to the possibility of its repetition tomorrow; there is always a fixed point from which relationship takes place. How does fear come into this? I had pain yesterday; there is the memory of it and I do not want it again tomorrow. Thinking about the pain of yesterday, thinking which involves the memory of yesterday’s pain, projects the fear of having pain again tomorrow. So it is thought that brings about fear. Thought breeds fear; thought also cultivates pleasure. To understand fear you must also understand pleasure – they are interrelated; without understanding one you cannot understand the other. This means that one cannot say ‘I must only have pleasure and no fear’; fear is the other side of the coin which is called pleasure.
Thinking with the images of yesterday’s pleasure, thought imagines that you may not have that pleasure tomorrow; so thought engenders fear. Thought tries to sustain pleasure and thereby nourishes fear.
Thought has separated itself as the analyzer and the thing to be analyzed; they are both parts of thought playing tricks upon itself. In doing all this it is refusing to examine the unconscious fears; it brings in time as a means of escaping fear and yet at the same time sustains fear.”
“A mind that is in meditation is concerned only with meditation, not with the meditator. The meditator is the observer, the senser, the thinker, the experiencer, and when there is the experiencer, the thinker, then he is concerned with reaching out, gaining, achieving, experiencing. And that thing which is timeless cannot be experienced. There is no experience at all. There is only that which is not nameable.”
“You know, in all this there are various powers like clairvoyance, reading somebody’s thought – which is the most disgusting thing to do: it is like reading letters that are private. There are various powers. You know what I am talking about, don’t you? You call them siddhis, don’t you? Do you know that all these things are like candles in the sun? When there is no sun there is darkness, and then the candle and the light of the candle become very important. But when there is the sun, the light, the beauty, the clarity, then all these powers, these siddhis – developing various centres, chakras, kundalini, you know all that business – are like candlelight; they have no value at all. And when you have that light, you don’t want anything else.”
"Meditation is one of the greatest arts in life-perhaps the greatest, and one cannot possibly learn it from anybody, that is the beauty of it. It has no technique and therefore no authority. When you learn about yourself, watch yourself, watch the way you walk, how you eat, what you say, the gossip, the hate, the jealousy-if you are aware of all that in yourself, without any choice, that is part of meditation.
“Man, in order to escape his conflicts, has invented many forms of meditation. These have been based on desire, will, and the urge for achievement, and imply conflict and a struggle to arrive. This conscious, deliberate striving is always within the limits of a conditioned mind, and in this there is no freedom. All effort to meditate is the denial of meditation. Meditation is the ending of thought. It is only then that there is a different dimension which is beyond time.”
“Meditation is the emptying of the mind of all thought, for thought and feeling dissipate energy. They are repetitive, producing mechanical activities which are a necessary part of existence. But they are only part, and thought and feeling cannot possibly enter into the immensity of life. Quite a different approach is necessary, not the path of habit, association and the known; there must be freedom from these. Meditation is the emptying of the mind of the known. It cannot be done by thought or by the hidden prompting of thought, nor by desire in the form of prayer, nor through the self-effacing hypnotism of words, images, hopes, and vanities. All these have to come to an end, easily, without effort and choice, in the flame of awareness.”
Krishnamurti founded several schools around the world. When asked, he enumerated the following as his educational aims:
1. Global outlook: A vision of the whole as distinct from the part; there should never be a sectarian outlook, but always a holistic outlook free from all prejudice.
2. Concern for man and the environment: Humanity is part of nature, and if nature is not cared for, it will boomerang on man. Only the right education, and deep affection between people everywhere, will resolve many problems including the enviromental challenges.
3. Religious spirit, which includes the scientific temper: The religious mind is alone, not lonely. It is in communion with people and nature.
According to Krishnamurti, many problems in the world such as poverty, war, the nuclear threat, and other unfortunate circumstances, have their roots in our thinking. In his view, as we live and behave according to our thinking so wars and governments are also a result of our thinking. We each have our own particular beliefs, conclusions, and experiences, to which we cling, thereby isolating ourselves from others. Self centered activity is expressed outwardly as nationalism and religious intolerance, creating a world divided, in which we are willing to kill for the sake of belief. Understanding our relationship with the world crisis is necessary to understand ourselves.
Along with the influence of our thinking on the world and the way society functions, there is also a reciprocal influence from society on our thinking. This mainly manifests itself as the process of our adapting to society. Independent thinking becomes almost impossible when one feels forced to adapt to society, but as such thinking is necessary for intelligence to operate, the impasse creates a problem.
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. Krishnamurti himself remarked in 1929, at the dissolution of the Order of the Star, that he was not interested in numbers, stating: "If there are only five people who will listen, who will live, who have their faces turned towards eternity, it will be sufficient."
However, there exists, anecdotal and other evidence suggesting that interest in him and "the teachings" has not abated since his death. Many books, as well as audio, video, and computer materials, remain in print and are carried by major online and traditional retailers. The four official Foundations continue with the maintenance of archives, dissemination of the teachings in an increasing number of languages, new conversions to digital and other media, development of websites, sponsoring of television programs, and with organizing meetings and dialogues of interested persons around the world. According to communications and press releases from the Foundations, their mailing lists, and individuals' inquiries, continue to grow. The various schools and educational institutions also continue to grow, with new projects added alongside their declared goal of holistic education. There are also active "unofficial" Krishnamurti Committees operating in several countries.
Since his death, biographies, reminiscences, research papers, critical examinations, and book-length studies of Krishnamurti and his philosophy have continued to appear. Cursory (and necessarily incomplete) examination of internet search traffic and group discussion forums indicates that among similar topics, interest on Krishnamurti remains high.
Because of his ideas and his era, Krishnamurti has come to be seen as an exemplar of those spiritual teachers who disavow formal rituals and dogma. His conception of truth as a "pathless land", with the possibility of immediate liberation, is mirrored in teachings as diverse as those of est, Bruce Lee, Barry Long, and the Dalai Lama.
Krishnamurti was friends with, and influenced the works of, the mythologist Joseph Campbell, artist Beatrice Wood, and author Alan Watts. Authors Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra were also profoundly influenced by Krishnamurti. Writer/philosopher Iris Murdoch also met with Krishnamurti, while Live's album Mental Jewelry is influenced by Krishnamurti's ideas.
In India, with its long tradition of wandering "holy" men, hermits, and independent religious teachers, Krishnamurti attracted the attention (and occasionally the unwanted admiration) of large numbers of people in public lectures and personal interviews. He was, and is presently, considered a "great teacher" by such diverse religious figures as the respected mystic Ramana Maharshi, the spiritual teacher Anandamayi Ma, as well as figures more well-known to the West such as Osho. Although Krishnamurti had a special tenderness for the true sannyasi or Buddhist monk, his criticism of their rituals, disciplines, and practices was devastating.
As was also often the case elsewhere, Krishnamurti additionally attracted the interest of the mainstream religious establishment in India. He was friendly, and had a number of discussions with, well known Hindu and Buddhist scholars and leaders, including the Dalai Lama. Several of these discussions were later published as chapters in various Krishnamurti books.
Twentieth-century gnostic philosopher and occultist Samael Aun Weor praised Krishnamurti's teachings, stating that his "inner spirit" was a "highly realized Buddha", although he questioned his handling by the theosophists and its effect on his spiritual development.
Any discussion of influence, however expansive, deserves to be weighed against Krishnamurti's own measure of success i.e., whether individuals really understand, and therefore "live and breathe", the teaching. Regarding this measure of influence or success, the last, and only, definitive public statement belongs to Krishnamurti himself. In a dismal prognosis, delivered 10 days prior his death in 1986, his words were simple, and emphatic: "nobody" – among his associates or the world at large – had understood Krishnamurti, his life, or the teaching.
A number of people questioned whether Krishnamurti's attitudes were conditioned by privilege, as he was supported, even pampered, by devoted followers starting as far back as his "discovery" by the theosophists. Helen Nearing, who had known Krishnamurti in the 1920s, made such an assessment in an autobiographical volume (Loving and Leaving the Good Life, see Other Biographies section below). She also thought that he was at such an "elevated" level that he was incapable of forming normal personal relationships.
In her 1991 book, Lives in the Shadow with J. Krishnamurti (see Other Biographies), Radha Rajagopal Sloss, the daughter of Krishnamurti associates Rosalind and Desikacharya Rajagopal, wrote of Krishnamurti's relationship with her parents, including a secret affair between Krishnamurti and Rosalind which lasted for many years. The public revelation was received with surprise and consternation by many individuals, and was also dealt with in a rebuttal volume of biography by Mary Lutyens (Krishnamurti and the Rajagopals, also see Other Biographies).
Apart from a few noted exceptions - see subsection below - the majority of Krishnamurti's books are edited transcripts of his talks and discussions, arranged either thematically, chronologically, by location, or in a combination of the above. Unless otherwise specified, the entries have been arranged by the publication date provided. (Format: Title, year of first publication, different editions: ISBN, notes)
As noted previously, various official Krishnamurti-related entities have published, and continue to publish, transcripts of Krishnamurti's talks and discussions. These verbatim reports and transcriptions are not included here. See also Collected Works section below. The following is not a complete listing.
This series consists of previously published talks, discussions, question and answer sessions, and other writings, covering the period from 1933-1967.
Arranged alphabetically by author, then by publication date.
A fair number of biographical works have been published. Most are by people who knew Krishnamurti at some point in his life, or/and were close associates for varying lengths of time. Some mention Krishnamurti only in passing; others are posthumous scholarly works with or without the co-operation of the people close to him.
A number of books, monographs, research papers in various disciplines etc, have appeared through the years examining different aspects of Krishnamurti. An indicative selection follows. Krishnamurti himself accepted no interpreters, contemporary or future.
During 1969 and 1970, Krishnamurti and his associates established several foundations - in the UK (1969), the United States (1969), India (1970 - originally established as The Rishi Valley Trust in 1928), and Argentina (1970 - now relocated to Spain) - with a two-fold purpose: the dissemination of Krishnamurti's talks, discussion and writings, and the facilitation of meetings and discussion on the themes of his philosophy.
Beginning with the Rishi Valley School in India in 1931, several primary, elementary- and secondary-level schools have been established under the guidance of Krishnamurti, and posthumously under the guidance of the Foundations. The following schools (partial listing) are affiliated with Krishnamurti Foundations.
For a more complete listing, please see kinfonet.org
Roughly according to the chronological order of the events described or the date of publication.