Who was J. Krishnamurti?
Jiddu Krishnamurti was born on 11 May 1895 to a pious family in Madanapalle, a small town in Andhra Pradesh, India. He was adopted in his youth by Dr Annie Besant, the president of the Theosophical Society, which had its international headquarters at Madras. Dr Besant and others proclaimed that Krishnamurti was to be the World Teacher whose coming the Theosophists had predicted. A World Teacher, according to various scriptures, takes a human form from time to time to bring salvation to mankind. To prepare the world for the coming of the World Teacher, a world-wide organisation called the Order of the Star in the East was formed within the fold of the Theosophical Society, and the young Krishnamurti was made its head.
In 1929, however, Krishnamurti renounced the role that he was expected to play, dissolved the Order with its huge following, and gave up all the money and property collected for this work.
From then, for nearly sixty years until his death on 17 February 1986, he travelled all over the world talking to people about the need for a radical change in mankind.
Krishnamurti is regarded throughout the world as one of the greatest thinkers and religious teachers of all time. He did not expound any philosophy or religion, but rather talked of the things that concern all of us in our everyday life the problems of living in modern society with its violence and corruption; of the individual's search for security and happiness; and the need for mankind to free itself from inner burdens of fear, anger, hurt, sorrow, and so on. He unravelled with great precision the subtle workings of the human mind and pointed to the need for bringing to our daily life a deeply meditative and religious quality.
Krishnamurti himself belonged to no religion, sect or country. Nor did he subscribe to any school of political or ideological thought. On the contrary, he maintained that these are the very factors that divide human beings and bring about conflict and war. He reminded his listeners again and again that we are all human beings first and foremost and not Hindus, Muslims or Christians; that we are like the rest of humanity and are not different. He asked that we tread lightly on this earth without destroying ourselves or the environment. He communicated to his listeners a deep sense of reverence for nature and all its creations. Thus his teachings transcend all man-made boundaries of religious belief, nationalistic sentiment and sectarian outlook. At the same time, they give a new meaning and direction to man's search for truth or God. His teachings, besides being relevant to the modern age, are timeless and universal.
Krishnamurti spoke not as a guru but as a friend, and his talks and discussions are based not on book knowledge but on his own insight into the human mind and his vision of the sacred. The result is that he always communicates a sense of freshness and directness although his message remained basically unchanged over the years. When he addressed large audiences, each one felt that Krishnamurti was talking to him personally, addressing his particular problem. In his private interviews, he was a compassionate teacher holding the hand of the man or the woman who came to him in sorrow and helping them heal themselves through their own understanding. Religious scholars and 'sannyasis' found his words throwing new light on traditional concepts. Krishnamurti took on the challenge of modern scientists and psychologists and went with them step by step, discussed their theories and also showed them the limitations of their theories. With the children of the schools he founded, he was both serious and playful and awakened their sensitive minds to the wider issues of life.
Krishnamurti has left behind a large corpus of literature in the form of public talks, answers to questions, writings, discussions with teachers and students and with scientists and religious figures, conversations with individuals, television and radio interviews, letters and so on. Many of these have been brought out as books, and many more remain recorded on audio and video tapes. The best way to understand his teachings is to go to his works directly instead of relying on commentators and interpreters.