Key questions on my biography
1. Do you think the life and teachings of J. Krishnamurti have become more relevant today? If so, why?
1A. Though J. Krishnamurti’s teachings have always been relevant, they are even more so today, in a world divided by race, religion and caste. His understanding was that all human beings are essentially the same, as they are motivated by the same emotions, fears, ambitions and desires. All divisions, therefore, are superficial. He spoke against identifying with any nation or religion, as such identity created a divided world. At the same time, he showed how through self-knowledge, one could gain a different understanding, going beyond these common perceptions.
2. Why have the depictions of Krishnamurti been so divergent till now? On the one hand we have a huge following of his views and ways in the public and on the other hand, biographies, like those of Radha Rajagopal Sloss which are considered seminal works on Krishnamurti have such criticism about his life and relationships. What is your view on this and how do you tackle these differences in your book?
2A. Krishnamurti did not see himself as a guru, and did not want followers. Yet, those who closely follow his teachings venerate him like a guru. They do not want to know or hear anything about him that in public perception may be considered negative. Some biographies of those who had been associated with him, thus present a sanitised version of his life. Radha Rajagopal Sloss’s book is also very personal, and not entirely negative, but she did provide a critique of certain aspects of his life. She wrote this book in defense of her parents, Rosalind and Rajagopal, with whom Krishnamurti was once very close, though he later rejected them totally.
In my book, I have attempted to present a balanced view of the different aspects of Krishnamurti, the person, while at the same time recognising his immense contribution to the world.
3. Why did you feel the need to write a biography of the philosopher and educator when there were many accounts available of his life and teachings?
3A. There are indeed numerous biographies of Krishnamurti, and considerable analysis of his educational theories as well. But there is no other book that presents his life, his philosophy, and his educational theories in a single volume. In addition, a number of people associated with Krishnamurti have written their memoirs after his death, and for the first time aspects of these have been incorporated into a biography. As I am a historian, I went deeply into various sources to create an objective and historical view of his life and teachings, linking his early life and theosophical influence with his later philosophy. This is also something unique in this book, which thus transforms our views on him, presenting a composite picture of his life.
4. In the book we find interactions of J. Krishnamurti with a varied range of people from Theosophists, nationalists, writers, politicians and social reformers from pre-independent and independent India, and especially quantum physicists and psychologists. How do you think he negotiated such terrains and have meaningful conversations with people from such diverse fields?
Krishnamurti himself said he did not read much, and when he read, it was often detective fiction. But he did read articles in magazines on the latest theories and developments, and watched documentaries. His friends and associates also explained to him the finer points of topics he was interested in. But there was another dimension to his ability to have meaningful discussions with people from diverse fields, and that was his contact with some unknown source, a vast emptiness, through which he could grasp and understand the complexities of any subject.
5. How did your long association with J. Krishnamurti as a topic of research for a book emerge? What sustained your interest in him for so long?
5A . Ever since I read J Krishnamurti’s magical words, ‘Truth is a pathless land’, I never lost my fascination for him. Then, I came across many people associated with Krishnamurti and began to delve deeper into his philosophy, and also its application in practical terms. I met those who had changed through their association with Krishnamurti and his teachings, yet he himself said no one had completely understood or lived his teachings. There were also so many different and fascinating aspects of his life. What could it have been like to have been proclaimed a messiah at the young age of 14? In his case, truth seemed stranger than fiction, and that too held my attention.
6. While your biography also goes beyond the partisan views to depict him in a more humane way, what do you think was special about Krishnamurti ?
6A. Krishnamurti spoke about eternal truths in simple terms, without quoting other texts and without any jargon. Yet even while travelling around the world and speaking incessantly to disseminate his teachings, there were different and human aspects to him. Despite this, I feel Krishnamurti was a messenger of truth, urging people to change their consciousness, and providing a new way to do so.
7. What are the major contributions of a visionary like Krishnamurti to society and humanity? How can we understand his legacy better?
7 A. Krishnamurti wanted to bring about a new world, through the transformation of individual consciousness. Self-knowledge was the key to change. In every part of the world there are people who pray and meditate, yet act without any empathy or compassion. Krishnamurti saw the root of the problem, he pointed out how individuals constantly escape from themselves, through entertainment, ambition, and a desire to become something one is not. Could one look within and understand oneself? This is one of the key aspects of his philosophy, and if every person who desires a better world, could do this, the world would indeed be transformed. Even an attempt in this direction would help one to understand his legacy.