Jiddu Krishnamurti- The Freedom Fighter
Jiddu Krishnamurti (“Krishnamurti”) was born in Madanapalle, a small town in Madras Presidency, British India on 11 May 1895 to a Hindu-Brahmin family. His father, Jiddu Narayaniah, was employed as an official at British Colonial administration. When he was young, he contracted malaria, which had rendered him weak and sickly for many years. His unfortunate health condition made him a soft target for mistreatments from people around him, including his father and teachers, who thought of him as a frail and intellectually challenged boy. His mother, Sanjeevamma, was his only source of comfort during the difficult period. However, that too was taken away from him when he was 10 years old when his mother departed from this world.
In 1907, his father retired from his post in British Colonial administration, after which he found a new employment as a clerk at Theosophical Society headquarter in Adyar in 1909. The new occupation had given him and his family a new home in a small cottage located just outside the Society’s compound. This decision would later be proven to be important in Krishnamurti’s life.
In 1909, a life-changing event occurred in the young Krishnamurti’s life. As he was playing on the Society’s beach on the side of Adyar river, the great and clairvoyant leader of the Society, Charles Webster Leadbeater, had taken a great interest in him. Leadbeater recognized that Krishnamurti possessed “the most wonderful aura he had ever seen, without a particle of selfishness in it.” His discovery had led him to believe that in his later life, Krishnamurti would become a great spiritual leader and orator. Most importantly, Leadbeater predicted that he would be the “vehicle for the Lord Maitreya,” an advanced spiritual entity who appears on Earth as the World Teacher to guide the evolution of humankind.
After the discovery, Krishnamurti enjoyed the protection of the Society. He was educated, groomed and polished to fulfill what was believed to be his destiny. This unknown young man had become the center of attention in the Society. However, he had also caused a great stir within the organization as some people were not convinced by his validity as the vessel of Lord Maitreya. Those who disagreed broke off from the Society and created a new allegiance called the Anthroposophical Society in 1913, headed by Rudolf Steiner, the former General Secretary of the German/ Austrian division of the Theosophical Society.
Throughout the early years of his involvement in Theosophical Society, Krishnamurti was very subservient to the rules and orders of the leaders. For the first time, he believed that his life was meant for something great. Krishnamurti and his younger brother, Nityananda (“Nitya”) were privately tutored at the Theosophical compound in Madras and later overseas.
During this period, he had come to think of the second President of The Theosophical Society, Annie Besant, as his surrogate mother. However, his father, Jiddu Narayaniyah, who had initially agreed to transfer the guardianship of his sons to Annie Besant, tried to annul the agreement due to the realization of his sons’ potential fame and fortune. Ms. Besant fought Jiddu Narayaniah in court and finally won the custody of Krishnamurti and Nitya in 1912.
The Theosophical Society established the Order of the Star in the East (“OSE”) in 1911 to prepare the world for the expected appearance of the World Teacher and named Krishnamurti as its head. The membership of the organization was open to everyone who believed in “the Coming of the World Teacher.” Such formation had erupted great controversy amongst the inner working of Theosophical Society, Hindu circles and the Indian Press.
Since OSE formation, Krishnamurti had truly become the vehicle for the Theosophical Society. Leadbeater and his associates imposed rigorous exercise and sports, as well as various educational subjects to prepare him for the big role. In addition, the team gave Krishnamurti in depth teachings in Theosophical and religions, yoga, meditation, and proper hygiene in accordance with British society and culture. Leadbeater took on the role of the spiritual teacher for Krishnamurti. They had a high expectation for him to become a well-rounded World Teacher.
When he reached adolescence, he became rebellious and tired of the constant effort of the Society to create the perfect image of the World Teacher. Within his inner circle, he occasionally voiced his doubt about his destiny. However, he continued to be compliant by giving speeches and writings in accordance with the work of the Order to prepare for the Coming of the World Teacher. As he gave more talks, he became more proficient in sending the Theosophical messages across to his audience. His popularity grew and opened up the access to wealthy benefactors to support his mission.
The Spiritual Awakening
In 1922, Krishnamurti and Nitya traveled together to California where they stayed at a cottage in Ojai Valley. Nitya had previously contracted Tuberculosis, and they hoped that the change in climate and air would be good for Nitya’s health. Seeing how much Krishnamurti liked the property, the Order set up a trust to buy the cottage and the surrounding properties for him This cottage would later become his private residence.
During his stay in Ojai Valley, Krishnamurti had undergone a profound spiritual awakening, a psychological transformation and a physical reconditioning. This experience started after a-three-week meditation to connect with Lord Maitreya. The meditation was filled with great physical discomfort and pain especially on his neck, this condition lasted from 17 to 20 August 1922 at its peak, leaving him almost unconscious while still realizing what was happening around him. On 19 August 1922, as he fell nearly unconscious, he had a vision of him being anything and anywhere, and there was no limitation for him. He was one with anything and everything. On the following day, he felt very weak and started to hallucinate, until the leader asked him to meditate on Lord Maitreya. As he was meditating, he could feel that his spirit was leaving his body and was accompanied by Lord Maitreya the entire time. He found profound peace and calmness. He felt that the Lord had always been beside him and protecting him the entire time. The experience assured him to not be afraid of pain and suffering because he had been freed by the supreme being. At that time he knew that he was never alone. This whole experience was later known as “the process.”
He later recalled the experience as written in a book by Mary Lutyens, Krishnamurti: The Years of Awakening :
“The Presence of the mighty Beings was with me for some time and then They were gone. I was supremely happy, for I had seen… I have seen the Light. I have touched compassion, which heals all sorrow and suffering; it is not for myself, but for the world… The fountain of Truth has been revealed to me and the darkness has been dispersed. Love in all its glory has intoxicated my heart… I am God-intoxicated!”
The news about his awakening reached Leadbeater and the other Theosophists. They were surprised by this development and became more assured that Krishnamurti had finally fulfilled the prophecy and become “the vehicle.” Prominent Theosophists tried to take credit for this development that “the Coming of the World Teacher” was indeed happening. Krishnamurti’s personal development had become the marketing pawn for the Society.
Meanwhile as his spiritual awakening news reached its peak in 1925, Krishnamurti experienced the most tragic loss of his life. He lost his beloved younger brother and his best friend, Nitya, to the complications of Influenza and Tuberculosis on 13 November 1925. He did not expect this to happen because the leaders of the Society had promised him that Nitya would not be allowed to die since he was a crucial aspect in Krishnamurti’s destiny to become the World Teacher. This shook his core belief on the Society and most importantly, his true destiny.
The Freedom Warrior
After the death of his brother, without the knowledge of the Society, Krishnamurti had started to develop his own individuality. Over the following years he had had given talks and writings that were outside the teachings of the Society. Finally, he openly rejected Leadbeater’s and Besant’s decision to continue OSE, and on 3 August 1929 he dissolved the Order during their annual Star Camp at Ommen, Netherlands. He gave a profound reason as to why he decided to exit the Theosophical Society.
“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 to coerce people along any 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.”
Krishnamurti did the honorable thing by resigning from the various trusts and other organizations that were affiliated with the OSE, including the Theosophical Society. He returned the money and properties donated to the Order, including a castle in Netherlands and 5,000 acres (20 km2) of land, to their donors.
He continued to persevere in his mission to free and revolutionize people’s life through the realization of inner self until the day he passed away. From 1930 until 1944, he went on speaking tours under Star Publishing Trust (“SPT”) with his friend and close associate, Desikacharya Rajagopal and Rajagopal’s wife at that time, Rosalind Williams. During this period, he stayed in Ojai with Rajagopal and Williams, in the house called Arya Vihara (i.e. righteousness in Sanskrit). The marriage of Rajagopal and Williams was not a happy one, and over time they became physically estranged.
Later, Rajagopal and Williams divorced, after which Krishnamurti and Williams developed a discreet relationship that lasted for 25 years. His love affair with Williams turned sour when Krishnamurti was involved in the legal proceedings against her former husband, Rajagopal, to recover donated properties, funds, publication rights of Krishnamurti’s works including manuscripts and personal correspondences that were kept by Rajagopal. This legal battle continued until shortly after his death.
Since then, for nearly sixty years until his death on 17 February 1986, he traveled the world and gave talks to large audiences to promote the freedom of the mind from inner burdens of fear, anger, hurt and sorrow by enhancing consciousness. He was very outspoken on the subject of independence. He believed, human beings are responsible for attaining freedom for themselves, instead of using external factors such as religions, sects or political affiliations to define them. According to Krishnamurti, being affiliated with an organized entity will only hinder the growth of the mind, if not completely taking away the mind’s true destiny to be free. He believed that people can only be free if the initiation and effort came from themselves. He applied his principle in his actions. He liked to present himself as an independent speaker instead of being a part of organization. This mind revolution is the only way for human beings to eradicate sufferings in this world.
In addition to mind revolution, he had a profound interest in nature and education. He promoted ideas for his audiences to care for themselves and the nature. His commitment to promote these ideas was shown through his extensive work in the form of numerous books, speech recordings and countless quotes. He and his associates also had built several schools to promote his holistic educational philosophy. One of the famous schools was Brockwood Park School, an international educational center in the United Kingdom.
He delivered his “farewell” talk in India on 4 January 1986 in Madras, prior to his death. Krishnamurti died of pancreatic cancer on 17 February 1986 at the age of 90. Not wanting to let his teachings be misused by individuals or organizations, he made a strong statement that he did not want anybody to pose as an interpreter of the teachings or to represent his teachings.
Krishnamurti’s strong commitment to promote sound consciousness and independence materialized in the form of publications of more than 75 books, 700 audio cassettes and 1,200 video cassettes. Many of the books written on Krishnamurti were originated from his talks during his lifetime, such as “Freedom from the Known”, “The Book of Life: Daily Meditations with Krishnamurti”, “The First and Last Freedom”, “The Awakening of Intelligence”, “Total Freedom: The Essential Krishnamurti”, “Think on These Things”, and many other publication that further reinstated his belief.
Since he first started to realize about the power of his mind through meditation in 1922, he had become one of the greatest supporters of meditation. As he wrote in the book titled “Total Freedom: The Essential Krishnamurti”:
“One has to know what it is 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 learned.”
He put much emphasis on meditation because only through meditative state our mind can be still, and thus the path to clarity could be built. When our mind is clear, we can start seeing our problems from divine perspective that is independent from the races, religions, sects and organizations we may associate ourselves with. We can finally think as ourselves, human beings who had been given the ability to think independently. That very concept was the main fuel in Krishnamurti’s life.
Throughout his lifetime, Krishnamurti was against joining organized groups such as religions, political parties and sects. He was famous for saying: “When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.”
In his other book, titled “The Book of Life” he stated that “The very first thing to do, if I may suggest it, is to find out why you are thinking in a certain way, and why you are feeling in a certain manner. Don’t try to alter it, don’t try to analyze your thoughts and your emotions; but become conscious of why you are thinking in a particular groove and from what motive you act… It will be real only when you are intensely aware at the moment of the functioning of your thought and emotion; then you will see their extraordinary subtlety, their fine delicacy… Then, as a flower blossoms forth of a morning, so intelligence happens, is there, functioning, creating comprehension.”
He wants people to realize that they may not have reached their full potential, but it is within their reach at their own effort and time. His words and books have touched many people and helped them to reach their full potential. Krishnamurti will forever be remembered as a man who dared to let go of his messiah status in order to dedicate his life to free people’s mind. That in itself is a definition of a warrior.
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