Jiddu Krishnamurti

Writing about Jiddu Krishnamurti something that haven't yet been debated seems impossible. He has today many active supporters around the world in India, England or the United States working to spread his teachings. They transcribe, distribute and publish many of his thousands of talks, writings, group and individual discussions in a variety of formats including print, audio, video and digital formats as well as online. 


Why would someone even think to write another article, following so many others, about such a huge personality? Perhaps because his legacy is truly limitless and there will always be found new assertion perspectives as well as fresh ways for people to find inspiration for their lives.


Many scholars believe that Krishnamurti is the greatest thinker and spiritual teacher of all times.  Dalai Lama boldly asserted that Krishnamurti is one of the most progressive thinkers of the 20th century while the Times Magazine wrote that he is “one of the 5 saints of the 20th century”. Many compared him with the famous Greek philosopher Socrates, saying that Krishnamurti is “the Socrates” of modern times.  


Jiddu Krishnamurti was born on 11th of May, 1895 (yet the date is still a matter of dispute) to a Brahman family in Madanapalle near Madras. He was the eighth child from eleven that his parents gave birth to, and from whom only 6 survived childhood. The family was Telugu-speaking Brahmin educated to follow very strict vegetarian rules, never even touching food that could have stood near an animal.

As a child he was really sensitive and had a fragile health. This is hard to believe, but at school he was sometimes taken as mentally retarded, partly due to his detached, loose attitude. From that time Krishnamurti had remembered and described in his memoirs some psychic experiences that he apparently lived such as having "seen" his sister after her death in 1904, as well as his mother who had died when he was ten in 1905.


At the age of fourteen, in 1909, he was discovered by Charles Leadbeater, the prominent occultist and spiritual friend of Annie Bessant the leader of the World Theosophy Society at that time. The Theosophical Society had been established in 1875 in America by Helena Blavatsky, Henry Steel Olcott, William Judge and few others and was aimed to "establish the core of a new Universal Brotherhood". It was the Society’s purpose to serve the Humanity, free of any distinction based on race, color, gender or caste and to promote the harmonization and unity of all the religions. To achieve its goal the society leaders were trying to find a new Messiah, a superior spirit ready for incarnation at the right time: Maitreya the teaching Buddha.

Leadbeater, a man who possessed clairvoyance abilities, was truly impressed with the bright aura and pure energy of the young Indian. He embraced the assignment of educating, protecting, and overall preparing Krishnamurti for the  mission of World Teacher.

Later in life Krishnamurti learned to decode his "discovery" by the Theosofists as a „life-saving event”. According to one of the most knowledgeable biographer and friend of Krishnamurti,  Mary Lutyens, he was asked once  what he thought would have happened with his life if he had not meat Leadbitter. He  unhesitatingly replied  "I would have died".  


In that period Krishnamurty started to build up a tide bond with Annie Bessant who played the role of surrogate mother and later in 2012 took custody of Jiddu and his brother, Nitya.

In 1911 the Theosophical Society established the Order of the Star in the East (OSE) with Krishnamurti as leader and with senior Theosophists assigned to different positions. The purpose of this Order was to gather people together regardless of religion, race or social position and get ready for the „coming” of the teacher.


The life changing mystical experience that happened to him  in 1922, while he was in California with brother Nitya, was just the beginning of his spiritual awakening, mental transformation and  physical  conditioning that continued throughout his life path. These mystical experiences continued and provoked him the lapse into unconsciousness, a kind of debauchery of personality climaxing with a sense of immense peace.

„…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."  


Krishnamurti started to develop his own vision of the world different from the Theosophical approach. After the passing of his brother in 1925 which caused him immense pain, he progressively felt doubts about the Theosophical spiritual values while his new vision and consciousness continued to develop.   Krishnamurti  chose to break with the Order of the East Star therefore,  in 1929  he dissolved the Order at the annual Star Camp in Ommen, the Netherlands, in front of Annie Besant and about 3000 members.  Following  the break he returned all the values and properties donated to the Order of the Star to their donors.

The speech he gave to the audience was in the spirit of his new vision and values.

 „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."

“Everyone has to transform himself to transform the world."

The Step Back

In the same time he made a step back from the Theosofical Society and started to dissociate from its teachings and practices, yet he kept cordial relations with some members and ex-members throughout his whole life. Following the separation Krishnamurti  started to engage himself in speaking tours and issued publications under the brand of "Star Publishing Trust" (SPT) which he had found with his close associate and friend from the Order  D. Rajagopal. All through the 1930s, Krishnamurti traveled a great deal in the whole world (Europe, Latin America, India, Australia and the United States) and militate for liberating the man from conditioning and fear, and everything  that prevents him from seeing reality. One of the principles he lectured along his life was that we should look for truth in ourselves by letting go of what we think as being the truth "Let's get rid of what we think we  know," he said. This new philosophical vision made him gain the admiration and friendship of many intellectuals, scholars and physicists of that time.  

The Teaching

Over the last two decades and a half of his life, Krishnamurti  dedicated himself to pedagogy and even has found several schools in India, England and America. "We have to teach young people how to use their minds with the help of meditation" he said. 


One of the major subjects of his teaching is freedom, as he thought that through learning man has the power to free himself from any preconceptions, from the dogmas and ideologies of the past. Krishnamurti's teaching was a constant invitation to individuals to work for achieving self-knowledge, which in his system equals thinking. By means of self-knowledge we get the ability to release all conflicting tensions, and this is the way to the tranquility associated with  profound understanding.

 "I have only one purpose: to make man free, to urge him towards freedom, to help him to break away from all limitations, for that alone will give him eternal happiness, will give him the unconditioned realization of the self. Because I am free, unconditioned, whole–not the part, not the relative, but the whole Truth that is eternal–I desire those, who seek to understand me to be free; not to follow me, not to make out of me a cage which will become a religion, a sect. Rather should they be free from all fears–from the fear of religion, from the fear of salvation, from the fear of spirituality, from the fear of love, from the fear of death, from the fear of life itself.”

The other major theme of Krishnamurti’s teaching is love. He used to urge people to raise their thoughts to the peak of love. According to his system the essential cause of suffering resides in the way people allow their consciousness to be affected by confusion and disorder. The solution to this profound dysfunction  is the self-knowledge, understanding the mechanism that prevents us from being free. He named this state of  enlightenment "creative passivity". Krishnamurti did not accept to be seen as a mystic when he speaks of "creative passivity" because he considers that the state of love is a state of being.

He stated that his highest wish is to see all people achieving the joy of living and invites everyone to live a simple and natural life in the spirit of the supreme “nature of things”.

In the last two decades of life his ideas came into contact with much of the intellectual and scientific elite of the time. Starting 1974 he used to meet  twice a year, once in England and once in California, the most illustrious contemporary scholars such as Fritkjoff Kapra, D Bohm, physicists, neuropsychiatrists in total more than 50 personalities.

On February 17, 1986, at the age of 90, Krishnamurti died in Ojai California. He let as a  testament to his friends not to be deified, not to build a temple or museum  which would be in complete contradiction with his teachings.  


Krishnamurti gave to the world more than 40 volumes being translated in more than 47 languages. His spiritual and cultural heritage is  enormous, there are 8 colleges and 22 associates named after him, a prestigious cultural foundation and a library containing books and videotapes destined to thousands of friends spread all over the world. Krishnamurti  didn’t associated his teaching with any philosophical school or mystical thought. He addressed to all people, ordinary people.  To understand him the only thing needed  is the total abandon of the  prejudices that bind us. All his work is a sound call to the develop a deep self-knowledge and self-awareness  by using the mind, the tought. Krishnamurti's work does not ask us to understand his teaching but to understand ourselves!


Related Information:

Jiddu Krishnamurti; The First and Last Freedom,  preface by ALDOUS HUXLEY ("about K ")