Krishnamurti, Jiddu: 



Jiddu Krishnamurti was born a Brahmin on May 11, 1895 in the town of Madanapalle, near Madras in the south of India. He was the eighth child of a poor Brahman family. His father, Jiddu Narianiah, was educated at Madras University and worked as an official in the Revenue Department of the British Administration eventually becoming District Magistrate. By 1909 Narianiah had retired and was working as Secretary to the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society in Adyar, Madras.  It was here that Krishnamurti, with his brother Nityananda, was "discovered" by Charles W.  Leadbeater, an important Theosophist, who professed clairvoyance and other supernatural powers. He was struck by Krishnamurti 's aura - "the most wonderful aura he had ever seen, without a particle of selfishness in it." The President of the Theosophical Society, Annie Besant, confirmed this observation and both agreed that Krishnamurti was to become not only a great teacher, but the "vehicle" or incarnation of the Lord Maitreya. Maitreya, in Hindu tradition, was a divine spirit that incarnated on earth every two thousand years or so to found a new, up-to-date religion. In Buddhism, Maitreya is to be the next Buddha. According to the Theosophical extenuation of this tradition, both the Krishna and the Christ had been manifestations or avatars of Maitreya; and now the body of Krishnamurti was to be prepared for divine occupation. To facilitate this process, he was adopted by Annie Besant, and thereafter he remained in the comfortable care of the Theosophists.

Krishnamurti was educated privately in Europe; he attended lectures and London University and Sorbonne. He learned English, and later French, Italian, and Spanish, to some extent, and perhaps other languages as well. His physical training involved hygiene, yogic postures (asanas) and breathing exercises (pranayama). Now that a suitable vehicle had been found for the Lord Maitreya to occupy as the World Teacher, the Order of the Star in the East was founded -- nominally separate from the Theosophical Society -- to prepare the world for the Coming (also called "the Second Coming"), and Krishnamurti was named President.  For eighteen years Krishnamurti was prepared as the Vehicle and was encouraged to address Theosophical Society and Order of the Star in the East meetings and to write editorials for their respective publications, also writing or co-writing some very Theosophical-sounding books.

Finally, on December 28, 1929 he gave a famous speech dissolving the Order of the Star, proclaiming "Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect." The moneys and properties which had been given to Krishnamurti and to the Order of the Star in the East were either returned or put into trusts. The trusts Krishnamurti apparently continued to use for travel expenses, as he continued to address large audiences. Krishnamurti is internationally considered as one of the greatest thinkers of all time. He did not subscribe to any school of political, religious, spiritual or philosophical ideology. Krishnamurti pointed out the importance of recognizing that we are all human beings first, not reduced to nationality or creed. In doing so, he presented himself not as an authority, an expert or guru, but more as a friend. Krishnamurti’s contributions come from his own free of tradition observations into the human condition and the human mind.

For the total development of the human being, solitude as a means of cultivating sensitivity becomes a necessity. One has to know what it means to be alone, what it is to meditate, what it is to die; and the implications of solitude, of meditation, of death, can be known only by seeking them out. These implications cannot be taught, they must be learnt. One can indicate, but learning by what is indicated is not the experiencing of solitude or meditation. To experience what is solitude and what is meditation, one must be in in a state of inquiry; only a mind that is in a state of inquiry is capable of learning. But when inquiry is suppressed by previous knowledge, or by the authority and experience of another, then learning becomes mere imitation, and imitation causes a human being to repeat what is learnt without experiencing it. - From the Book, Life Ahead by Krishnamurti

Krishnamurti spent the rest of his life traveling around the world explaining to people the need to transform themselves through self-knowledge and not rely on any outer authority, including his. He wanted people to existentially question all claims and find out truth for themselves. Krishnamurti always forcefully refused to play the role of guru, urging instead his readers and listeners to observe the fundamental questions of existence with honesty, persistence and openness. He was also, however, the author of many books, including The First and Last Freedom (1954), with a forward by Aldous Huxley who had in fact encouraged Krishnamurti to write the book. But also Freedom from the Known (1969), The Only Revolution (1970), and many more.

At the age of 91 Krishnamurti was invited to address the UN on the issue of peace and consciousness on the occasion of his being awarded the 1984 United Nations Medal of Peace where upon reception of the prize, right after his talk, he walked away apparently refusing the award. Krishnamurti's last public lecture was held in Madras in India in January 1986, just a month before his death at his home in Ojai, California where he had also founded one of his schools. It is important to note that serious figures from various fields became interested in this notion of free perception. David Bohm, renowned quantum physicist, for example, found such interesting parallels between his own work and Krishnamurti’s point that he sought to meet with him to discuss things further. Krishnamurti and Bohm met during over course of many recorded dialogues for 20 years. David Bohm stated:

“What particularly aroused my interest was his deep insight into the question of the observer and the observed. This question has long been close to the centre of my own work, as a theoretical physicist, who was primarily interested in the meaning of the quantum theory. In this theory, for the first time in the development of physics, the notion that these two cannot be separated has been put forth as necessary for the understanding of the fundamental laws of matter in general.”

According to the contemporary analytic philosophy professor Raymond Martin, Krishnamurti's thought is quite different from academic philosophy, especially if we consider the analytical tradition. There are, however, at least clear similarities with the Socratic method and the original teaching of Gautama Siddhārtha (the Buddha). According to Raymond Martin, Krishnamurti's approach is more like a “guided meditation” than academic philosophy. Personalities from all fields and persuasions, moreover, report having been influenced by Krishnamurti: Joseph Campbell (1904-1987), Van Morrison (1945-), the Dalai Lama (1935-) described him as “one of the greatest thinkers of the age,” and more recently Eckart Tolle (1948-) and Deepak Chopra (1946-) as well many others have shown to be inspired by Krishnamurti’s philosophy. The famous American novelist and painter Henri Miller wrote the following about Jiddu Krishnamurti’s thought and language:

“Krishnamurti’s language is naked, revelatory and inspiring. It pierces the clouds of philosophy which confound our thought and restores the springs of action. He initiated no new faith or dogma, questioned everything, cultivated doubt and perseverance, freed himself of illusion and enchantment of pride, vanity, and every subtle form of domination over others. I know of no other living man whose thought is more inspiring.”