Posted in India, J Krishnamurti, Philosophy

J Krishnamurti: A Life of Compassion beyond Boundaries

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.

Posted in Books, J Krishnamurti, Philosophy

J Krishnamurti : A new biography

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Jiddu Krishnamurti [1895-1986] is very relevant today, as he spoke about how the world could be transformed, through the transformation of each individual. It is when one looks deep into oneself, without self-praise or condemnation, when one sees oneself clearly, one’s motives, ambitions and desires, that a change takes place, through that very act of seeing.

Everyone wants to live in peace and harmony, but Krishnamurti points out that this cannot be achieved through social activism, but through a transformation of each person.

This biography presents his strange story, from his early life to his adoption at the age of 14 by Theosophists, who proclaimed this backward, Telugu speaking boy to be the new messiah, the coming world teacher, and further through the many difficulties he faced, as he became a teacher of a new philosophy, a philosophy that he travelled across the world to present to anyone who was interested in peace and transformation.

But was Krishnamurti himself transformed? What was Krishnamurti, the man like, was he different from Krishnamurti, the philosopher? This book looks at these and other questions, and also at the essentials of his philosophy, his educational theories, and some of the educational experiments in schools following his ideas.

Read more in this book.

 

 

 

Posted in book review., Books

Infinite Potential: The Life and Times of David Bohm

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David Bohm [1917-92] was something of a genius, a physicist always searching for parallels between theories of physics and the functioning of the universe. This biography by F. David Peat, is one of the best books I have read for a long time. Bohm delved into quantum physics with innovative theories that were not always appreciated by other physicists at the time. He should have won the Nobel Prize but somehow he was overlooked. From childhood he thought about the cosmos and created a world of imagination, imagining  a light that could penetrate matter.

Among Bohm’s significant theories was that of implicate order. Explicate order that we see around us reflects something that cannot be seen, that is, implicate order. Thus the dichotomy between mind and matter, brain and consciousness, could be resolved. He also proposed that information, like matter and energy, is a basic principle of nature.

On the whole he had a difficult and in some ways a tragic life. But he was lucky that his wife Saral was always there to support him. At first a communist, Bohm, born to an immigrant family in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, had to leave the US during the McCarthy years. He was teaching at Princeton, but even that elite university succumbed to political pressure. He went to Brazil, later to Israel, and finally settled in Birkbeck College in England.

Bohm, says his biographer, ‘took the world on his shoulders and agonised about what should be done. Corruption, political mistakes, and military actions he believed, were all evidence of deep errors in human thought and society. And since Bohm believed in the wholeness of the world and consciousness, these errors were also enfolded within his own thinking.’

Einstein had referred to Bohm as his ‘intellectual son’, and intervened several times to help him get a job, difficult because of Bohm’s communist past.

I came across Bohm through his Dialogues with J Krishnamurti. Bohm’s ideas were similar to those of Krishnamurti even before meeting him, and thus these dialogues are among the most profound. Yet  the relationship with Krishnamurti did not work out well. After many years of close association, one day Krishnamurti criticised him fiercely. Bohm, who had had episodes of depression earlier, sank into depression. He recovered from this, and even gave talks on Krishnamurti after the latter’s death, but heart problems and depression continued to haunt him.

This brilliant biography is for anyone interested in the world of physics, particularly new developments in quantum physics, and in the life of a man who suffered a lot, yet made immense contributions to the world.

 

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Posted in Books, Writing

Writing a biography

For the first time I am writing a biography, and began reading about the best biographies. I found two points to keep in mind, which are immensely useful.

Firstly, every detail of the person’s life does not need to be included.

Secondly, write after identifying with the person, try to see life and the world through his/her eyes. This second point definitely gave me a different perspective, instead of looking at the person through the accounts and views of others. It gave me a much better understanding of the person about whom I am writing.