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Jiddu Krishnamurti, Indian philosopher (1895 – 1986)
The admirers of Jiddu Krishnamurti admired him as the Buddha of the 20th century. But he said: "I am not a guru, nor have I any disciples." George Bernard Shaw described him as "the most handsome person he has seen in his life." Aldus Huxley exclaimed "I have not heard in my life such a remarkable speech as his!" But the essence of his teaching is that only through a complete change of heart in the individual can there come about a change in society and so peace to the world. He believed that this radical change could take place in every individual, not gradually but instantaneously. He traveled widely, spoke to groups small and large and even to individuals on meditation, human relationships, and how to bring about positive change in global society. He claimed that he had no nationality, no caste, no religion nor allegiance to any philosophy. There are more than 700 titles in his name, but he believed and said the images that the words create were unreal. He was Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895 -1986), noted Indian philosopher of the last century, author, speaker, traveler, educationist, founder of the organization styled 'the Order of the Star in the East', one of the early moving spirits of the Theosophical Society, he believed in his younger days that he was to become a 'world teacher', at least some of his well-wishers thought so about him. But as he grew up, he disowned all these claims and spoke clearly that most of our troubles and their solutions could be found in ourselves. His speeches attracted thousands wherever he went and he became something like a cult figure. But he said, "Whether one is a Catholic, or a Muslim, or Hindu, or a Communist, the propaganda of a hundred, two hundred or five thousand years is part of this verbal structure of images which goes to make up your consciousness. We are conditioned by what we eat, by the economic pressures, by the culture and society in which we live. We are that culture, we that society. Merely to revolt against it is to revolt against ourselves. If you rebel against yourself, not knowing what you are, your rebellion is utterly wasted. But to be aware, without condemnation, of what you are – such awareness brings about action which is entirely different from the action of a reformer or a revolutionary." His supporters formed non-profit foundations, called Krishnamurti Foundation in countries such as India, England and the United States and continued to work on a network of schools which were founded on his views on education, and collecting, editing, translating and publishing many of his thousands of speeches, discussions and other forms of communication in the formats of print, audio, video and the digital. This goes not just in English, but in many languages. And this keeps Krishnamurti a living proposition, even after his death in 1986.
Jiddu Krishnamurti was born in Madanapalle, a village in Andhra Pradesh, India, 150 miles from Chennai, as the eight offspring of Narainayya and Sanjivamma. The father was a revenue official under the colonial British rule of India. He contracted malaria as a child, and the disease would recur many times, and this made him an unimpressive, sickly child. He was not good as a pupil in class, but was sleepy, dreamy and indifferent. His teachers as well as his father thought that the kid was mentally retarded. But in his adolescence, as Krishnamurti himself described later, he used to have certain psychic experiences like seeing his sister who was dead long back and his mother who died when he was just ten. Narainayya was a member of Annie Besant's Theosophical Society. After his retirement he wrote to her expressing his desire to settle down somewhere near Adyar, the seat of the Society. The wish was granted and the family shifted to a small house near the Adyar river. Jiddu Krishnamurti was then around 14. One day he happened to come across C.W. Leadbeater, a person famous as one able to see to see the invisible. He said he noticed a special aura around the boy. While others found Jiddu Krishnamurti as a dull-witted boy of an unimpressive and vacant face, Leadbeater found that the boy had the inherent qualities of becoming "a great teacher" of the world. This chance meeting marked a turning point in Krishnamurti's life. The Society and Leadbeater took up the responsibility of educating and preparing the boy to become the expected 'World Teacher'. Soon Krishnamurti and his younger brother picked up a good command over English. He also acquired fluency in French, Italian and several other languages. And he familiarized himself with the Western literary classics. He developed interest in mastering mechanical skills too.
Jiddu Krishnamurti's father could not swallow his two sons are taken over by the Society and it ended up in a civil case in the court. But it was decided in favor of the Society. The two brothers were taken to Europe for a tour in 1911, always under the watchful eyes of the Society. Several trips followed and they visited many countries, and he gave lectures and had discussions with knowledgeable persons all over. Soon he became a famous speaker and was the cynosure of all attention. In Europe, American and Australia and other areas he became one of the most famous men and the demand for his lecture series was so high that he had to undertake tours quite often. Thousands of people waited for his arrival and lectures. Around this time, he became unhappy and uneasy about the immediate supervision of the Theosophical Society. A psychological change was taking place in him which was ushered in by certain physical convulsions too.
The death of Nityananda, his brother and companion at a younger age in 1925 became a shock and it made him almost a broke mentally and physically. He started moving away from all organizations like the Theosophical Society and he dissolved the 'Order of the Star in the East' of which he was the chief. And the transformation was complete. In one of his speeches he made things clearer: "All authority of any kind, especially in the field of thought and understanding, is the most destructive, evil thing. Leaders destroy the followers and the 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." He returned everything that was gifted to him. He was fed up with the publicity given to him as the incarnation of God and the Teacher of the World and such other things. And he said: "We do not need religions to have happiness. We do not need temples to love. We cannot find truth at the rostrums of speeches or from the cloistered dark alleys of temples. Neither the holy books or religions nor the religious rituals will lead us to truth…" Once a questioner asked him: Is there a god? Can I know God? I have asked this question of many saints both in India and here and they have all emphasized belief. 'Believe and then you will know; without belief you can never know.' What do you think? Krishnamurti answered: Is belief necessary to find out? To learn is far more important than to know. Learning about belief is the end of belief. When the mind is free of belief than it can look. It is belief, or disbelief, that binds; for disbelief and belief are the same: they are the opposite sides of the same coin. So we can completely put aside positive or negative belief; the believer and the non-believer are the same. When this actually takes place then the question, 'Is there a god?' has quite a different meaning. The word god with all its tradition, its memory, its intellectual and sentimental connotations - all this is not god. The word is not the real. So can the mind be free of the word? Jiddu Krishnamurti, who led humanity to the solitary walkways of truth breathed his last at California on February 17, 1986.