Jiddu Krishnamurti

From New World Encyclopedia

Jiddu Krishnamurti, circa 1920

Jiddu Krishnamurti or J. Krishnamurti, (May 12, 1895–February 17, 1986) was a noted writer and speaker on philosophical and spiritual topics. For nearly 60 years he traveled the world, pointing out to people the need to transform themselves through self knowledge, by being aware of their thoughts and feelings in daily life. He maintained that a fundamental change in society can emerge only through a radical change in the individual, since society is the product of the interactions of individuals. Though he was very alive to contemporary issues through the decades, his answers were rooted in his timeless vision of life and truth. As such, his teachings transcend all man-made boundaries of religion, nationality, ideology, and sectarian thinking. Refusing to play the role of a guru himself, he urged his listeners to look at the basic questions of human existence with honesty, persistence, and an open mind.

Krishnamurti was born into a Telugu Brahmin family in Madanapalle, India, and in 1909 met C.W. Leadbeater on the private beach at the Theosophical Society headquarters at Adyar in Chennai, India. 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 a world-wide organization (the Order of the Star) established to support it. He spent the rest of his life travelling 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. When he was 90 years old, he addressed the United Nations on the subject of peace and awareness, and was awarded the 1984 United Nations Peace Medal. His last public talk was in Madras, India in January 1986, at 90 years old. He died the next month 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.


Family background and childhood

Jiddu Krishnamurti came from a family of Telugu-speaking Brahmins. His father, Jiddu Narianiah, was employed as an official of the then colonial British administration. 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 if even the shadow of an Engishman passed over it.

He was born on May 12, 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) north of Madras (now Chennai). As an eighth child, he was, following tradition, named after the god Krishna.

In 1903, the family settled in Cudappah where Krishnamurti in 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. In memoirs he wrote when he was 18 he also describes "psychic" experiences, having "seen" his sister after her death in 1904, as well as his mother who had died in 1905 when he was ten.[1][2]

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 260-acre Theosophical headquarters estate at Adyar. (Even though an observant orthodox Brahmin, Narianiah had been a member of the Theosophical Society since 1882[3]). He was eventually hired by the Society in a clerical position, and his family moved there in January, 1909.[4]

The "discovery" and its consequences

It was a few months after the last move that Krishnamurti was encountered by prominent occultist and high-ranking theosophist C.W. Leadbeater, who claimed clairvoyance. During his forays to the Theosophical estate's beach at the adjuting 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".[5][6] 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.[7]

Pupul Jayakar, in her biography of Krishnamurti[8], 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, wooly; 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."[9]

Writing about his childhood in his journal, Krishnamurti wrote: “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.”[10]

Following the "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 were tasked into educating, protecting, and in general preparing Krishnamurti as the "vehicle" of the expected "World Teacher".[11]

Subsequently in 1911, a new organization called the Order of the Star was established by the Theosophical leadership 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".[12] Controversy erupted soon after, both within the Theosophical Society and without, in Hindu circles and the Indian press.[13][14][15]

Krishnamurti (or Krishnaji as he was often called[16]) and his younger brother Nitya were privately tutored at the Theosophical compound in Madras, and later taken to a comparatively opulent life among a segment of European high society in order to finish their education. During all this time, Krishnamurti developed a strong bond with Annie Besant, a surrogate mother-son relationship. 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 legal custody of Krishnamurti and his brother Nitya.[17][18] 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 travelled together.

Growing up

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. Unlike sports, where he showed a 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 had also, 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 appear cosmopolitan, otherworldly, sober, intelligent and "…was to be characterized by a well-polished exterior, a sobriety of purpose, a cosmopolitan outlook with an almost otherworlkike detachment. From an early period, observers noted his personal magnetism, and found it easy to venerate him. However, as Krishnamurti was growing up, he showed signs of adolescent rebellion and emotional instability, chafing at the regiment imposed on him, and occasionally having doubts about the future proscribed him.[19]

In 1922, Krishnamurti and Nitya travelled from Sydney to California on their way to Switzerland. While in California, they lodged in a cottage in a secluded valley near Ojai, offered to them for the occasion by an American member of the Order of the Star. Eventually a trust, formed by supporters, purchased for them the cottage and surrounding property, which henceforth became Krishnamurti's official place of residence.[20]

There, in August 1922, Krishnamurti went through an intense, "life-changing" experience.[21] It has been characterized 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.[22][23] Witnesses recount that it started on the 17th, with extraordinary pain at the nape of Krishnamurti's neck, and a hard, ball-like swelling. 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".[24] The following day the symptoms, and the experience, intensified, climaxing with a sense of "immense peace".[25]

"…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."[26]

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 often reportedly "felt" by others present.

Several explanations have been proposed for the events of 1922, and "the process" in general.[27] Leadbeater and other theosophists, although they expected the "vehicle" to have certain paranormal experiences, were basically mystified at the developments, and 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. Subsequently, Krishnamurti felt more in control of his own destiny, more a subject than an object of the Theosophists' creation, even a 'teacher' in his own right, although not the 'teacher' that Theosophy took him to be.

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 and faith in Theosophy and the leaders of the Theosophical Society. They had assured him that Nitya was an essential part of his own "mission," and so would not die. When he did, it "broke him down completely" and he struggled for days to overcome his sorrow, eventually finding new strength through an "inner revolution".[28] His brother's death 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."[29]

Break with the past

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 3, 1929[30] where, in front of Annie Besant and several thousand members, he gave a speech[31] saying among other things that he considered "truth" to be "pathless," "limitless" and thus could not be organized: "nor should any organization be formed to lead or coerce people along a particular path."[32]. Nor did he "want any followers," because they would follow him, not truth. Rather, all people should be free: "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."[33]

Following the dissolution, Leadbeater and other Theosophists turned against Krishnamurti and publicly wondered whether "the Coming had gone wrong." 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. From that time, he began to disassociate himself from the Society and its teachings/practices, despite being on cordial terms with some members and ex-members throughout his life. As his biographer Lutyens notes, he was never to deny being the World Teacher, telling Lady Emily "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."[34] 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.

Krishnamurti returned all monies and properties donated to the Order of the Star - including a castle in Holland and around 5000 acres of land - to their donors[35]. 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 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 relentlessly continued with lecture tours and the publication of books and talk transcripts for more than half a century.

Middle years

From 1930 through 1944, Krishnamurti engaged in speaking tours and issued publications under the auspice of the "Star Publishing Trust" (SPT) which he had founded with his 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 Rajagopal's wife, Rosalind Williams Rajagopal, resided in the house known as "Arya Vihara"[36]. The business and organizational aspects of the SPT were administered chiefly by D. Rajagopal as Krishnamurti devoted his time to speaking and meditation. Throughout the 1930s, Krishnamurti spoke in Europe, Latin America, India, Australia and the United States.

In 1938, Krishnamurti made the acquaintance of Aldous Huxley who had arrived from Europe during 1937. The two began a long 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 Federal Bureau of Investigation. 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, 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.[37]

While 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.”[38]

Later years

Krishnamurti continued speaking around the world, in public lectures, group discussions, and with concerned individuals. In late 1980, he reaffirmed 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."[39][40]

In April of 1985 he spoke to an invited audience at the United Nations in New York, where he was awarded the United Nations 1984 Peace medal.[41]

In November of 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 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.

Krishnamurti was concerned that his legacy would be unwittingly turned into teachings that had been "handed down" to special individuals, rather than the world at large. He did not want anyone to pose as his "interpreter" of the teaching.

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".[42] 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.[43] 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.[44]

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 United States of America.

Who is Krishnamurti

In the later period of his life, Krishnamurti had a number of informal, in-depth discussions with close associates about himself, the source of the teachings, his life's work, and other people's perceptions of him and his teachings. According to his biographers and others, Krishnamurti was as "eager" as anyone "to make the discovery" of the source of the teachings and had pertinent questions himself;[45] however, these discussions, although far-ranging, did not produce final answers that were completely satisfactory to Krishnamurti or the other participants. He urged his friends and associates to keep exploring the development of his life and teachings for possible answers.

A biographer relates: "Krishnamurti was fully aware of the paradox - that he was caught between an acceptance and denial of mystery - and was as keen as any to explore it".[46]

Krishnamurti would only emphasize the importance of a vacant mind in probing the question. At Brockwood Park in 1979 he told his biographer Mary Lutyens, “we are trying with our minds to touch that.” To find out the truth of the matter, you have to have your mind empty…. If it is unique it is not worth anything, but it is not like that. It is kept vacant for this thing to say ‘though I am vacant, you-x-can also have it.’ It is vacant in order to be able to say that this can happen to anyone. You might be able to find out because you are writing about it. If you and Maria (a close associate) sat down and said, “Let us inquire, I am pretty sure, you could find out…. If I was writing it, I would state all this. I would begin with the boy completely vacant. I can never find out. Water can never find out what water is.”

Recurrent Themes


Krishnamurti constantly emphasized the right place of thought in daily life. But he also pointed out the dangers of thought as knowledge and mental images when it operates in relationships.

"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."[47]

Fear and pleasure

Fear and pleasure were lifelong themes in his public talks. The following is an excerpt from his talk in San Diego in 1970.

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.”[48]


Krishnamurti used the word meditation to mean something entirely different from the practice of any system or method to control the mind. At a public talk in Bombay in 1971, he spoke on meditation and its implications at length.

“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.”[49]


Krishnamurti founded several schools around the world. When asked, he enumerated the following as his educational aims:[50]

1. Global outlook: A vision of the whole as distinct from the part, and that it should never be a sectarian outlook but always a holistic outlook free from all prejudice.

2. 'Concern for man and the environment: Man was part of nature, and if nature was not cared for, it would boomerang on man. He said that only right education and deep affection between people, which was needed everywhere, would resolve many human problems.

3. Religious spirit, which includes the scientific temper: The religious mind is alone, not lonely. It is in communion with people and nature.


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 had remarked in 1929 at the disbanding of the Order of the Star, that he was not interested in numbers saying “If there are only five people who will listen, who will live, who have their faces turned towards eternity, it will be sufficient.”

However, anecdotal and other evidence suggesting that interest in him and "the teachings" has not abated since his death. A large number of books, 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.[51] 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 along their declared goal of "holistic education".[52] There are also active "unofficial" Krishnamurti Committees operating in several countries, in a role roughly similar to the Foundations.

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 for those modern 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, and even the Dalai Lama.

Krishnamurti was close friends with Aldous Huxley. Huxley wrote the foreword to The First and Last Freedom. [53]. Krishnamurti was also friends with, and influenced the works of, the mythologist Joseph Campbell and the artist Beatrice Wood. Author Deepak Chopra was also profoundly influenced by Krishnamurti.[54]

Live's album Mental Jewelry is based on Krishnamurti's philosophies.

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,[55] the spiritual teacher Anandmai Ma[56], 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. In a typical exchange, Anandmai Ma had asked him “Why do you deny gurus? You who are the Guru of Gurus” to which Krishnamurti replied, “People use the guru as a crutch.”[57]

As was often the case elsewhere, Krishnamurti also 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.[58] Several of these discussions were later published as chapters in various Krishnamurti books.

As already noted, Krishnamurti also met with influential people in the Indian political stage, including prime ministers Nehru and 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.

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.[59]

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.[60] Regarding this measure of influence or success, the last, and only, definitive public statement belongs to Krishnamurti himself. In a dismal prognosis, delivered ten 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 he exposed.


A number of people questioned whether Krishnamurti's attitudes were conditioned by indulgence and privilege, as he was supported, even pampered, by devoted followers starting as far back as his "discovery" by the theosophists. Nearing (1992) who had known Krishnamurti in the 1920s, made a similar assesment. She also thought that he was at such an "elevated" level that he was incapable of forming normal personal relationships.[61]. Krishnamurti had fallen in love with Helen Knothe in the 1920s; presumably her impression of his inability to forge personal relationships was a later development. Others have accused him of personal hypocrisy in concern to certain of his teachings. Krishnamurti himself rarely responded to such criticism; his constant pronouncement that the "teacher is unimportant" did little to silence the critics.

Sloss (1991), the daughter of Krishnamurti's associates, Rosalind and Desikacharya Rajagopal, wrote of Krishnamurti's relationship with her parents including the 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.

Krishnamurti's once close relationship to the Rajagopals deteriorated to the point that Krishnamurti, in his later years, took Rajagopal to court in order to recover donated property and funds, publication rights for his works, manuscripts and personal correspondence being withheld by Rajagopal.[62] The resulting litigation and cross complaints continued for many years, and were not resolved until after the death of Krishnamurti in 1986.[63]

David Bohm, after his falling out with Krishnamurti, criticised certain aspects of "the teaching" on philosophical, methodological, and psychological grounds. He also criticised what he described as Krishnamurti's occasional "verbal manipulations" in order to deflect challenges. Eventually, he questioned some of the reasoning concerning the nature of thought and self, although he never lost his belief that "Krishnamurti was on to something."[64]


  1. Mary Lutyens, Krishnamurti: The Years of Awakening. (1975)(Boston: Shambhala reprint edition, 1997. ISBN 1570622884), 5. Quoting from Krishnamurti's memoirs, "…'I may mention that I frequently saw her [my mother] after she died.'"
  2. Krishnamurti was very close with his mother (who he describes as also having psychic experiences) and highly affected by her passing. See Lutyens, 1975, 5
  3. Lutyens, 1975, 7, see "…Theosophy embraced all religions"
  4. Lutyens, 1975, 8
  5. According to occult/theosophical lore, "auras" are invisible emanations related to each individual's purported "subtler" planes of existence, as well as his/her "normal" plane.
  6. Lutyens, 1975, 21. Quoting Leadbeater's description to assistant Ernest Wood.
  7. Lutyens, 1975, 21. Leadbeater was a fascinating and complicated character who remained a mystery even to those close to him.
  8. Jayakar, 1986, one of the authorized biographers, and a close confidant of Krishnamurti, in chapter 2 questions at length the account of the boy Krishnamurti's physical appearance, implying that the cultural background of the English theosophists might have influenced their impressions. She considers young Krishnamurti "beautiful," based on contemporary photographs. Even if that was the case, it could be said that Krishnamurti was "chosen" despite the theosophists' cultural background, rather than because of it.
  9. Pupul Jayakar, Krishnamurti: A Biography. (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1986, ISBN 0062504010), 28. Krishnamurti in private conversations during his later years would refer to this "vacancy" often, considering it fundamental to his later development. Apparently, Leadbeater thought so too, although for different reasons.
  10. Krishnamurti’s Journal: 15.9.1973
  11. According to theosophical doctrine, the "World Teacher" is a "messianic" figure corresponding to, and combining aspects of, Christ, Maitreya, and the Avatar, among others. A founder of the Theosophical Society, H. P. Blavatsky, had divulged to select associates prior to her death that the ultimate purpose of the Society was to prepare the way for this "imminent" arrival.
  12. Lutyens, 1975, 46
  13. Jayakar, ch 3
  14. Lutyens, 1975, 56 & 59, also chapters 5 through 7
  15. Part of the controversy was Leadbeater's role. He had a history of being in the company of young boys, and there was gossip concerning abuses. This was vehemently denied by Annie Besant, but the gossip greatly disturbed Krishnamurti's father. See Lutyens, 1975, 15
  16. The suffix "-ji" in Hindu names is a sign of affection and/or respect.
  17. Jayakar, ch 3
  18. Lutyens, 1975, ch 7
  19. Lutyens, 1975 deals extensively with these issues, see especially chapters 10 to 15.
  20. Lutyens, 1983, 6
  21. Jayakar, 46 onwards
  22. The world at large, first found out details and first hand descriptions of "the process" in 1976, with the publication of Krishnamurti's Notebook, which consists of a journal that Krishnamurti kept between June 1961 and March 1962.
  23. Krishnamurti and the others with him (Nitya, two prominent theosophists, and Rosalind Williams, a young American who would play a significant role in Krishnamurti's life) each gave detailed, near contemporary accounts of the 1922 incident
  24. "…There was a man mending the road; that man was myself; the pickaxe he held was myself; the very stone which he was breaking up was a part of me; the tender blade of the grass was my very being, and the tree beside the man was myself. …I was in everything, or rather everything was in me, inanimate and animate, the mountain, the worm, and all breathing things. All day long I remained in this happy condition." Lutyens, 1975, 158. Quoting Krishnamurti's written account, now in the Krishnamurti Archives, Krishnamurti Foundation America
  25. Nitya and R. Williams also had ecstatic experiences of their own, described in their accounts.
  26. Lutyens, 1975, 159-160. Quoting Krishnamurti's written account, now in the Krishnamurti Archives, Krishnamurti Foundation America
  27. The one most frequently put forth is the view that it represented the so-called "awakening of kundalini," a process that, in Hindu mysticism, culminates in transcendent consciousness (see Jayakar, 46, footnote). Others view it in Freudian terms. A theory, expounded in the Harvard Theological Review ("Mystical Union and Grief: the Ba'al Shem Tov and Krishnamurti," (July 1993): 86 n3), contends that this was basically a projection of Krishnamurti's accumulated grief over the death of his mother. Still others, have viewed it as a purely physical event centered on sickness or trauma. As far as Krishnamurti was concerned, he had encountered Truth.
  28. Lutyens, 1975, 220
  29. Krishnamurti writing in the bulletin of the Order of the Star (The Herald of the Star, January 1926)
  30. Some sources erroneously list the date as August 2nd
  31. "The Dissolution of the Order of the Star," Krishnamurti Information Network, The Dissolution of the Order of the Star. kinfonet.org. retrieved 18 May 2007
  32. Lutyens, 1975, chapter 33
  33. Krishnamurti Information Network, The Dissolution of the Order of the Star. kinfonet.org. retrieved 18 May 2007
  34. Mary Lutyens, The Life and Death of Krishnamurti. (London: John Murray, 1990. ISBN 0719547490), 83
  35. Mary Lutyens, Krishnamurti: The Years of Awakening. (1975) (Boston: Shambhala reprint edition, 1997. ISBN 1570622884), ch 34, also Jayakar, 79–85
  36. Meaning Noble Monastery in Sanskrit, Arya Vihara was part of a later addition to the Ojai property that was Krishnamurti's official residence. See Lutyens, 1975, 7
  37. Lutyens, 1983, 59-60. Initially, Krishnamurti (along with Rajagopal and others) was a trustee of KWINC. Eventually he ceased being a trustee, leaving Rajagopal as President - a turn of events that according to Lutyens, constituted "…a circumstance that was to have most unhappy consequences."
  38. Jayakar, 142
  39. J. Krishnamurti, Total Freedom, edited by Mary Cadogan et al. (HarperSanFrancisco, 1996), 257. [This excerpt is from the original 1980 version of the statement. The statement was later minimally edited by Krishnamurti]
  40. The Core of Krishnamurti's Teaching krishnamurtiaustralia.org. retrieved 18 May 2007
  41. J. Krishnamurti, J. Krishnamurti's talk to The United Nations where he was presented with the United Nations 1984 Peace medal krishnamurtiaustralia.org. retrieved 18 May 2007
  42. Lutyens, 1990, 206. Quoting Krishnamurti from tape-recording made on February 7th, 1986: "I was telling them this morning – for 70 years that super-energy – no – that immense energy, immense intelligence, has been using this body. I don’t think people realize what tremendous energy and intelligence went through this body. …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. ...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."
  43. Lutyens, 1983, 119
  44. This line of reasoning could be thought of as again affirming his statement that there exists no special method, education, or technique in the pursuit of understanding the teaching. See Lutyens, 1983, 119, for Columbus reference
  45. Lutyens, "Fulfilment," Farrar, Straus hardcover, p 225
  46. Vernon, "Star In The East," (Palgrave), 251
  47. Krishnamurti, The Urgency of Change (NY: Harper & Row, 1970), 187
  48. Krishnamurti, Beyond Violence (NY: Harper & Row, 1973. ISBN 9780060648398), 66
  49. Krishnamurti, Meditations, edited by Evelyne Blau, (Boston: Shambhala, 2002, ISBN 9781570629419), preface
  50. G. Narayan and Chandramouli Narsipur, As the River Joins the Ocean: Reflections About J. Krishnamurti. (Ojai, CA: Edwin House Pub., 1998, ISBN 9780964924758), 64.
  51. A relatively recent practice of the Foundations, the publishing of "compilations" of Krishnamurti quotes and short passages revolving around a similar theme but from disparate texts, has generated complaints from some people who feel that such treatment reduces the teachings to easily digestible "soundbites." See also the discussion page of this entry.
  52. One of the newer projects is a Teacher's Academy, at the Oak Grove School at Ojai, an introduction to the holistic educational philosophy of Krishnamurti targeted at educators.
  53. J. Krishnamurti, The First and Last Freedom (San Fransisco, CA: HarperSanFransisco, 1975, ISBN 978-0060648312)
  54. Evelyne Blau, Krishnamurti: 100 Years (NY: Stewart, Tabori, and Chang, 1995, ISBN 1556706782), 233.
  55. According to his associate Maurice Frydman, Maharshi agreed that "like the Buddha's," Krishnamurti's teaching was "…beyond expression." From Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, 155. Frydman, (spelled Friedman by Jayakar in "Krishnamurti"), became a long-standing close associate of Krishnamurti.
  56. A female guru with large following in North India, see Jayakar, 144
  57. Jayakar, 144
  58. The two men had a good rapport and mutual admiration. The Dalai Lama characterized Krishnamurti as a "wonderful soul". Krishnamurti very much enjoyed the Lama's company, and by his own admission could not bring up his "anti-guru" views, mindful of the Lama's feelings.
  59. Samael Aun Weor, Fundamental Notions of Endocrinology & Criminology (NY: Thelema Press, 1959). chapter, "The Krishnamurti Case"
  60. It is not clear how such an assessment of an individual's state can presently, or ever, be made in a manner that is neither subjective, nor based on artificially constructed criteria.
  61. Helen Nearing, Loving and Leaving the Good Life (White River Jct., VT: Chelsea Green, 1992, ISBN 9780930031541)
  62. Rajagopal was head of "Krishnamurti Writings, Inc.," a corporation set up after the dissolution of the Order of the Star, to publish Krishnamurti's talks, discussions and other writings
  63. Mary Lutyens placed the preponderance of responsibility for the acrimony of the lawsuits and resulting damage to Krishnamurti's reputation on the personal animosity of the Rajagopals resulting from their loss of influence in Krishnamurti's life.
  64. F. David Peat, Infinite Potential: The Life and times of David Bohm (Addison Wesley, 1997, ISBN 9780201406351). Bohm was also distressed when Krishnamurti more or less abruptly distanced himself, with the implication that Bohm had become too dependent on him. According to his biographers, Krishnamurti reportedly often employed this tactic in similar situations of perceived dependency. See also online interview with F. David Peat linked in the External Links/Specific Subjects section



  • Krishnamurti's Notebook. Ojai, CA: Krishnamurti Publications of America, 2003. ISBN 1888004630. (Published journal that Krishnamurti kept between June 1961 and March 1962). With the publication of this book, for the first time the general public was informed about the so-called "process," a strange condition that having started in the 1920s, intermittently affected Krishnamurti throughout his life.
  • Krishnamurti's Journal. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1982. ISBN 0060648414 (A personal journal, written from 1973 to 1975).
  • Krishnamurti to Himself: His Last Journal. San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 1993. ISBN 0062506498 (Transcribed from audio tape recordings made at his home in the Ojai Valley).

The Collected Works of J. Krishnamurti

  • Volume I (1933-1934): The Art of Listening. Ojai, CA: Krishnamurti Foundation of America, 1991. ISBN 0840363419
  • Volume II (1934-1935): What Is the Right Action?, edited by Edward Weston, Ojai, CA: Krishnamurti Publications of America, 1991. ISBN 1888004320
  • Volume 3 (1936-1944): The Mirror of Relationship. Ojai, CA: Krishnamurti Foundation of America, 1999. ISBN 9781888004199
  • Volume 4 (1945-1948): The Observer Is the Observed. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing, 1991. ISBN 0840362374
  • Volume 5 (1948-1949): Choiceless Awareness. Ojai, CA: Krishnamurti Foundation of America, 1991. ISBN 9781888004175
  • Volume 6 (1949-1952): The Origin of Conflict. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing, 1991. ISBN 0840362625
  • Volume 7 (1952-1953): Tradition and Creativity. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing, 1991. ISBN 0840362579
  • Volume 8 (1953-1955): What Are You Seeking? Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing, 1991. ISBN 0840362668
  • Volume 9 (1955-1956): The Answer is in the Problem. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing, 1991. ISBN 0840362609
  • Volume 10 (1956-1957): A Light to Yourself. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing, 1991. ISBN 0840362684
  • Volume 11 (1958-1960): Crisis in Consciousness. Dubuque, IA: Kendalll/Hunt Publishing, 1991. ISBN 0840362722
  • Volume 12 (1961): There is No Thinker, Only Thought. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing, 1991. ISBN 0840362862
  • Volume 13 (1962-1963): A Psychological Revolution. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing, 1992. ISBN 0840362870
  • Volume 14 (1963-1964): The New Mind. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing, 1992. ISBN 0840362889
  • Volume 15 (1964-1965): The Dignity of Living. Ojai, CA: Krishnamurti Foundation of America, 1992. ISBN 084036282X
  • Volume 16 (1965-1966): The Beauty of Death. Dubuque, IA :Kendall/Hunt Publishing, 1992. ISBN 0840363079
  • Volume 17 (1966-1967): Perennial Questions. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing, 1992. ISBN 0840363141

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

Principal biographies

  • Jayakar, Pupul. Krishnamurti: A Biography. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1986. ISBN 0062504010. (Official biographer).
  • Lutyens, Mary. Krishnamurti: The Years of Awakening. (1975) Shambhala reprint edition, 1997. ISBN 1570622884. (This first volume of a three-volume biography covers years from birth to 1935).
  • Lutyens, Mary. Krishnamurti: The Years of Fulfilment. London: John Murray, 1983. ISBN 071953979X. (Covers 1935 to 1980).
  • Lutyens, Mary. The Open Door. London: John Murray, 1988. ISBN 071954534X (Covers 1980 to 1986, the end of Krishnamurti's life).
  • Lutyens, Mary. The Life and Death of Krishnamurti. London: John Murray, 1990. ISBN 0719547490, also published as Krishnamurti: His Life and Death. St. Martins Press, 1991. ISBN 0312054556. (An abridgement of her trilogy on Krishnamurti's life).

A Selection of other biographies/memoirs/reminiscences

  • Balfour-Clarke, Russell. The Boyhood Of J. Krishnamurti. Bombay: Chetana, 1977. (Reminiscences from one of the young Theosophists trusted with the boy Krishnamurti's upbringing)
  • Blau, Evelyne. Krishnamurti: 100 Years. NY: Stewart, Tabori, and Chang, 1995. ISBN 1556706782.
  • Field, Sydney, and Peter Hay. Krishnamurti: The Reluctant Messiah. NY: Paragon House Publishers, 1989. ISBN 155778180X.
  • Holroyd, Stuart. Krishnamurti: the man, the mystery & the message. Shaftesbury, Dorset: Element, 1991. ISBN 1852302003.
  • Lutyens, Mary. Krishnamurti and the Rajagopals. Ojai, CA: Krishnamurti Foundation of America, 1996. ISBN 1888004088. (Contains a detailed refutation of the allegations contained in the Sloss book above, by one of Krishnamurti's authorized biographers).
  • Narayan, G., and Chandramouli Narsipur. As the River Joins the Ocean: Reflections About J. Krishnamurti. Ojai, CA: Edwin House Pub, 1998. ISBN 9780964924758.
  • Patwardhan, Sunanda. A Vision of the Sacred: My Personal Journey with Krishnamurti. Ojai, CA: Edwin House, 1999. ISBN 9780964924765.
  • Sloss, Radha Rajagopal. Lives in the Shadow with J. Krishnamurti. London: Bloomsbury, 1991. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1991. ISBN 9780201632118. (A critical look at the private life of Krishnamurti)

External links

All links retrieved August 1, 2022.


Specific subjects

General information


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