Jiddu Krishnamurti

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J. Krishnamurti portrait in L. W. Rogers Building. Painted from a photograph in 1926 by Henry Schwartz. Image from TSA Archives.

Jiddu Krishnamurti (May 11, 1895 – February 17, 1986) was an author and lecturer on spiritual and philosophical subjects who had a major impact on Twentieth Century thought. He was "discovered" as a child in India by Charles W. Leadbeater, who prophesied that the then sickly and almost illiterate boy would become a great religious leader. From that point Krishnamurti and his younger brother Nitya were raised and educated by Theosophists at the Theosophical Society based in Adyar, Chennai, India. The Order of the Star in the East was established, to promote the idea that Krishnamurti was going to be the "vehicle" of the "World Teacher" or Maitreya. Eventually Krishnamurti rejected the title, disbanded the organization, but spent the rest of his life speaking around the world to all kinds of people about a spiritual life based on awareness, inquiry, and freedom.

Krishnamurti was referred to by his friends as "Krishna", "Krishnaji", and "K". His early writings were often published under his "star name," Alcyone.

Early years

Krishnamurti with his mother Sanjeevamma

Jiddu Krishnamurti was born a Brahmin on May 11 1895 in Madanapalle, Andhra Pradesh, near Madras in the south of India. He was the eighth son and, in keeping with tradition, was named after Sri Krishna, who was also an eighth son.

Although his father, Jiddu Narianiah, was educated at Madras University and worked for the British Administration, the standard of living of the family was not good. Only five or six of the eleven children of the family would survive childhood. When Krishnamurti was two years old he nearly died of malaria, and his mother, Jiddu Sanjeevamma, eventually died of it when he was only ten.

In 1907 his father was given a compulsory retirement. Having been a member of the Theosophical Society since 1882,[1] he eventually obtained a job at its International Headquarters in Adyar, Madras (now Chennai).


Young Krishnamurti
Krishnamurti, Nitya, and George Arundale, labeled with Star names. Ca 1913.

On January 23, 1909, the Jiddu family moved to Madras. In May of that year, Theosophical leader and clairvoyant C. W. Leadbeater noticed 13-year old Krishnamurti who was playing in the beach, and saw "the most wonderful aura he has ever seen, without a particle of selfishness". Leadbeater predicted that he would become a spiritual teacher and a great orator "much greater" than even Annie Besant. Krishnamurti's biographer Mary Lutyens wrote:

It could not have been Krishna's outward appearance that struck Leadbeater, for apart from his wonderful eyes, he was not at all prepossessing at that time. He was under-nourished, scrawny and dirty; his ribs showed through his skin and he had a persistent cough; his teeth were crooked and he wore his hair in the customary Brahmin fashion of South India, shaved in front to the crown and falling to below his knees in a pigtail at the back; moreover his vacant expression gave him an almost moronic look.[2]

During this time a group of Theosophists began to take care of him and his younger brother, Nityananda. They nourished them physically, and taught them hygiene, yogic postures, breathing exercises, and sports. Eventually they also took care of their academic education.

Soon, C. W. Leadbeater used clairvoyant means to research the past lives of Krishnnamurti and his brother Nityananda. He became aware of their past relationships with himself and the Masters. These accounts were published in articles in The Theosophist, and were eventually assembled into the book Lives of Alcyone. The individualities in these writings were identified by mystic names, called "star names." Krishnamurti was given the name Alcyone.

Annie Besant, who was abroad on a tour, met them for the first time on November 27, 1909. On March 6, 1910 she became their legal guardian.


C. W. Leadbeater reported that on the night of August 1, 1909, Master K.H. had put Krishnamurti on probation.

Then Leadbeater started taking him every night in his astral body to the house of the Master to be instructed for fifteen minutes. The next morning Krishnamurti would write down what he remembered, and these notes were later published as the book At the Feet of the Master.[3]

On December 31 he wrote to Annie Besant (then in Benares) an account of the astral visit to the Masters in which he was accepted as a disciple of Master K.H. after only five months of probation.[4]

He received his first initiation soon after this, on January 11, 1910, while he was at Adyar. After this he wrote an independent account of what he remembered.[5]

Higher initiations followed. The second initiation took place on the night of the full moon of May 1, 1912 during a retreat in Taormina on the island of Sicily. A third initiation took place in Ojai, California, on August 20, 1922, as described in the following section on Life-altering experiences. Krishnamurti underwent a fourth initiation in November, 1925 on a ship heading for India, after he had received the devastating news of Nityananda's death.

World Teacher movement

On January 11, 1911, George Arundale formed The Order of the Rising Sun to draw together those in India who believed in the near coming of a great spiritual teacher and prepare public opinion to receive him. At the same time a quarterly magazine printed at Adyar called The Herald of the Star was started. A few months later Besant and Leadbeater made this into an international movement called the Order of the Star in the East, of which Krishnamurti was the head.

On December 28, 1911, when Krishnamurti was handing certificates to new members of the Order, the following happened, as reported by C. W. Leadbeater:

All at once the Hall was filled with tremendous power, which was so evidently flowing through Krishna[murti] that the next member fell at his feet, overwhelmed by this marvellous rush of force. I have never seen or felt anything in the least like it; it reminded one irresistibly of the rushing mighty wind and the outpouring of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost. The tension was enormous, and everyone in the room was most powerfully affected. It was exactly the kind of thing that we read about in the old scriptures, and think exaggerated; but here it was before us in the twentieth century. After that, each one prostrated himself as his turn came, many of them with tears pouring down their cheeks. The scene was indeed a memorable one, for the stream of devotees was remarkably representative in character. There were members from almost every country in Europe, from America and from all parts of India. . . .[6]

Krishnamurti 2.jpg

After this Annie Besant made public the fact that Krishnamurti's body had been chosen by Maitreya to serve as his vehicle.

After this he would become more and more acquainted with the Masters on an independent basis. For example, on June 12, 1911, while in a lecture Annie Besant was giving at the Sorbonne, he claimed to have seen "the Count there",[7] referring to the Mahatma known as the Count de Saint Germain. Then, on June 27, 1911, while in England, he remembered going with George Arundale to the house of Master K.H., where the latter accepted the former as his chela. He received confirmation of this from C. W. Leadbeater, who was at Adyar.[8]

The last important experience recorded in this period was in January, 1914, while at Taormina, Sicily, when Krishamurti "suddenly looked up and said, 'The Lord Buddha is here'. His whole face changed completely and he rushed from the room. Soon he came back and told them that he had seen the Lord Buddha standing beside him."[9]

However, from 1914 to 1921, Krishnamurti became more and more absorbed by "mundane" pursuits, unsuccessfully trying to get to Oxford, Cambridge, and London University. He lost much of his enthusiasm for the work of the Masters and his role in it, and felt rebellious about it. His dear brother Nitya was increasingly ill from tuberculosis.

Life-altering experiences

After some years of disenchantment, his interest in Theosophy and the Order of the Star in the East slowly started to reawaken. On May 6, 1920, he wrote to Lady Emily:

Curiously all day I have been very dreamy, more dreamy than usual and in my heart there have been a continual thought of Lord Buddha. I was in such a state that I had to sit down and meditate. Think of me meditating. Extraordinary.[10]

And in March 1921:

I have been thinking a great deal about the Order & the T.S. mais surtout de moi-même [but above all about myself]. I must find myself and then only can I help others. In fact, I must make the Old Gentleman come down & take some responsibility. Probably he wants to but finds that the body & mind is not spiritual enough & now I must waken them for 'his' habitation.[11]

From this point on Krishnamurti started giving lectures and writing articles. In 1923 (after having taken his third initiation in 1922) Krishnamurti began to work actively for the Order of the Star in the East and Theosophy. He started writing articles, answering official letters, and giving lectures around the world. That year Nitya wrote:

The Convention [in Chicago] was a record success, thanks to K’s presence and I think the greatest thing that can be said is that he more than came up to everyone’s expectations . . . everyone whom Krishna has come into touch with feels a new revival of their enthusiasm. Krishna now talks like someone who has found his goal, and his purpose in his talks has been to make the existence of the Masters an intense reality and in this he is really inspired.[12]

In June, 1922, while visiting C. W. Leadbeater in Australia, Krishnamurti received a message from Master K.H. brought through CWL, advising him to be more tolerant of divergence of views and methods. This message produced a deep effect on him. From Australia he went to Ojai, California in a detour from a planned trip to Europe. He was trying to find a climate suitable for his brother Nityananda, who was suffering from tuberculosis.

The initiative came from Albert P. Warrington, head of the Krotona Institute of Theosophy, which he had founded in Hollywood a decade earlier. As it happened, Warrington knew a Theosophist who owned a weekend home in Ojai, then a well-known health resort for people with lung problems. Warrington suggested that Nitya might benefit from a relaxing stay there, before continuing on to Switzerland. Intrigued by America, and wanting to see more of it, the brothers accepted his offer. They traveled by train to Ventura and by automobile to Ojai, arriving on July 6. Warrington had arranged for them to share a rustic cottage amid the pine trees of the East End. They loved it, so much so that Besant arranged to buy the Pine Cottage for them, along with a nearby ranch house. (The brothers dubbed it Arya Vihara, Sanskrit for “Noble House.”) Alas, Nitya found no cure in Ojai; he would succumb to his disease within three years. But Krishnamurti would maintain a home here for the rest of his very long life.

With the future World Teacher now established in Ojai, Warrington decided that this was just the place for Krotona, too. In 1924 he moved the institute from Hollywood to a 118-acre ranch property atop a hill just south of Meiners Oaks. That set the stage for Besant herself, who came to Ojai in October 1926.[13]

In August he wrote to Lady Emily:

I have been meditating every morning for half an hour or 35 mins . . . & I meditate again before I go to sleep for about 10 minutes. All this is rather surprising you, isn’t it? I am going to get back my old touch with the Masters & after all that's the only thing that matters in life & nothing else does.[14]

In another letter, he explained in more detail his practice:

Ever since I left Australia I have been thinking and deliberating about the message which the Master K.H. gave me while I was there. I naturally wanted to achieve those orders as soon as I could, and I was to a certain extent uncertain as to the best method of attaining the ideals which were put before me. . . I set about to find out ways and means to achieve my aim. First I realized that I had to harmonize all my other bodies with the Buddhic plane [the highest plane of consciousness] and to bring about this happy combination I had to find out what my ego wanted on the Buddhic plane. To harmonize the various bodies I had to keep them vibrating at the same rate as the Buddhic, and to do this I had to find out what was the vital interest of the Buddhic. With ease which rather astonished me I found the main interest on that high plane was to serve the Lord Maitreya and the Masters. With that idea clear in my physical mind I had to direct and control the other bodies to act and to think the same as on the noble and spiritual plane. During that period of less than three weeks, I concentrated to keep in mind the image of the Lord Maitreya throughout the entire day, and I found no difficulty in doing this. I found that I was getting calmer and more serene. My whole outlook on life was changed.[15]

From August 17 to the 19th he started experiencing an acute pain in the back of his neck and eventually got prostrated, coming in and out of consciousness. Then, he had "the most extraordinary experience":

There was a man mending the road; that man was myself; the pickaxe he held was myself; the very stone which he was breaking up was a part of me; the tender blade of grass was my very being, and the tree beside the man was myself. I almost could feel and think like the roadmender, and I could feel the wind passing through the tree, and the little ant on the blade of grass I could feel. The birds, the dust, and the very noise were a part of me. Just then there was a car passing by at some distance; I was the driver, the engine, and the tyres; as the car went further away from me, I was going away from myself. I was in everything, or rather everything was in me, inanimate and animate, the mountain, the worm, and all breathing things. All day long I remained in this happy condition.[16]

On Sunday, August 20 he felt extremely tired and weak, and very sensitive. A. P. Warrington suggested that he should sit under the pepper tree which is near the house. The following is his statement:

There I sat crosslegged in the meditation posture. When I had sat thus for some time, I felt myself going out of my body, I saw myself sitting down with the delicate tender leaves of the tree over me. I was facing the east. In front of me was my body and over my head I saw the Star, bright and clear. Then I could feel the vibrations of the Lord Buddha; I beheld Lord Maitreya and Master K.H. I was so happy, calm and at peace. I could still see my body and I was hovering near it. There was such profound calmness both in the air and within myself . . . The Presence of the mighty Beings was with me for some time and then They were gone. I was supremely happy, for I had seen. Nothing could ever be the same. I have drunk at the clear and pure waters at the source of the fountain of life and my thirst was appeased. Never more could I be thirsty, never more could I be in utter darkness. I have seen the Light. I have touched compassion which heals all sorrow and suffering; it is not for myself, but for the world. I have stood on the mountain top and gazed at the mighty Beings. Never can I be in utter darkness; I have seen the glorious and healing Light. The fountain of Truth has been revealed to me and the darkness has been dispersed. 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.[17]

In a letter to C. W. Leadbeater he wrote:

After Aug. 20th I know what I want to do and what lies before me—nothing but to serve the Masters and the Lord. I have become since that date much more sensitive and slightly clairvoyant as I saw you with the President, the other night while I was sitting in the moonlight. Such a thing has not happened to me for over seven years. In fact for the last seven years, I have been spiritually blind, I have been in a dungeon without a light, without any fresh air. Now I feel I am in sunlight, with the energy of many, not physical but mental and emotional. I feel once again in touch with Lord Maitreya and the Master and there is nothing else for me to do but to serve Them. My whole life, now, is, consciously, on the physical plane, devoted to the work and I am not likely to change.[18]

C. W. Leadbeater and Annie Besant interpreted this experience as Krishnamurti's third Initiation, although was puzzled by the pain and sickness he went through. He wrote to Mrs. Besant:

It [the experience] was indeed marvellous and beautiful, though I wish that it had not been accompanied by so much physical sickness and suffering. I should like very much to hear your comment upon all this. We have ourselves passed through very similar experiences, except that, in my own case at least, there has never been any of these terrible physical symptoms, the body being usually left peacefully resting in a trance condition, or else fully awake and taking part in what was passing, but without any pain or sickness.[19]

After this experience the acute pain in his head and spine would continue, on and off, for nearly forty-years (although it tended to be milder as the years went by). He called this "the process".

The Process

In September, 1922, Krishnamurti described this "process" to Lady Emily as follows:

Every evening at about 6:30 I become semi-conscious; I have no food but go to bed; from 6:30 to 7:30 or 8, or even 8:30 it lasts. I toss about, groan & moan and mutter strange things, in fact almost behave like one possessed. I get up, thinking somebody is calling me and collapse on the floor; I rave considerably, see strange faces & light. All the time, I have a violent pain in my head & the nape of my neck & can’t bear the touch of anyone. Also during that time, I become very sensitive, can’t bear a sound, however small it may be. I feel so tired & exhausted, while the thing is going on. Sometimes the whole thing becomes very acute & force has to be used to keep me down & other times it is quite mild. After it is over, I remember some parts of the scene I had been creating; then I have my food & retire to bed. I don’t know what’s the cause, nor what it’s for; now it has lasted for nearly a month, practically everyday except when I went to Los Angeles. It may be that I may become clairvoyant when it is all over or merely that I am gradually going mad!!! For the last five or six days I have been seeing my dead mother. Whenever I shut my eyes & especially during the evening when Rosalind, who looks after me during that period, is with me, I see her very clearly, in fact, I call to her aloud & mistake Rosalind for my long lost mother. It may be that she uses R. or that R. is the reincarnation of my mother. I don’t know which it is, nor is it of any importance. While I am in that state, remember long-forgotten boyhood scenes, such as when I was ill with my mother, how I used to rest on her stomach!!, the beggars we used to feed & how I used to be waked up by her, & the going to the school etc. I can’t account for all this...[20]

In mentioning Rosalind, Krishnamurti is referring to Rosalind Edith Williams (later known as Rosalind Rajagopal), who had been recruited by Mary Gray to assist in establishing his new home in Ojai. Nitya described the process to C. W. Leadbeater in a letter of October 2:

Every evening about 6.30 to 8, Krishna has gone into a state of semi-consciousness when the ego seems to leave and the physical elemental is allowed enough consciousness to suffer, to talk and even transmit intelligently any piece of information that may be necessary. He complains of agonising pain while he is in this state, centering mostly in the spine; so we have surmised that his Kundalini is being awakened.[21]

During this process the physical elemental was left in charge of the body. The latter would speak and complain much in the way a child would. The elemental would talk of Krishnamurti as being a separate person, and sometimes even call him asking him to come back.

Although the speculation was that the process was part of the awakening of Kundalini, in the experiences of C. W. Leadbeater and Annie Besant it had not entailed so much pain. CWL shows his perplexity in a letter on May 12, 1923 to Mrs. Besant:

It is evident that in all higher matters the methods of progress differ for each individual. I do not understand why such terrible physical suffering should come to our Krishna. Surely the Brahmin body is exceptionally pure, and should need less in the way of preparation than the average European vehicle. In my own case I have no recollection of anything in the least commensurate with this when I was passing through the same stage, though there was certainly a great deal of excessive discomfort in the development of the Kundalini. It may be, as you suggest, that this is part of the preparation of that body for its Great Occupant, yet nothing has been said as to any hastening of the Coming. But it might well be that years must elapse after the completion of this preparation, in order that the body might fully recover from it before having to undergo the strain of the actual occupancy. The case is so unique that I suppose the truth is that we can only wait and watch.[22]

On September 20, 1923, after many days of the process, Krishnamurti brought through the following message from Mahatma K.H. that shows the Masters were involved in this process. Nitya wrote it down as follows:

Nitya Listen. This is finished here, this is the last night. It will be continued in Ojai. But this depends upon you. You both should have more energy. On what you do in the next month will depend the success. You have to be exceedingly careful. Let nothing stand in the way. You have both of you to put on more fat, in order to have more energy. Let everything be consecrated to the success of this. It has been a success here. But Ojai depends entirely on you, there it will be continued with much greater vigour if you are ready. . .
When you leave this place you have to be exceedingly careful. It is like a fresh vase, just out of the mould, and any bad vibration may crack it, and this will mean repairing and remodelling and this would take a long time.[23]

They went to Ojai and on November 20 Krishnamurti's process started again. It was so bad that even Nitya was worried. He wrote to Leadbeater saying that "They" were experimenting with performing the process while K. remained fully conscious. The pain was "fierce". On the 26th Krishnamurti's body repeated the following message:

The work that is being done now is of the gravest importance and exceedingly delicate. It is the first time that this experiment is being carried out in the world. Everything in the household must give way to this work, and no one's convenience must be considered, not even Krishna[murti]'s. Strangers must not come there too often; the strain is too great. You and Krishna can work this out. Maintain peace and [an] even life.[24]

Leadbeater answered that he did not know what was going on and was quite anxious about it. He couldn't understand why all this pain was necessary. He said he had not seen this coming "in the future that stretched itself before us in those happy days at Adyar so long ago". Later, he was greatly relieved when he received an answer from Annie Besant stating that the whole proceeding was being done under the authority of the Masters.

The process went on every evening for a few months. On February 27, 1924, he had the following experience:

I had an extraordinary evening. Whatever it is, the force or whatever one calls the bally thing, came up my spine, up to the nape of my neck, then it separated into two, one going to the right & the other to the left of my head till they met between the two eyes, just above my nose. There was a kind of flame & and I saw the Lord & the Master. It was a tremendous night. Of course the whole thing was painful, in the extreme.[25]

The process, which continued uninterrupted for about 110 days, finally ended early in April. On April 11 Krishnamurti was given a message from the Masters saying that what had been done so far was a good success, but that this was the beginning of many struggles. That now attention should be turned towards the recuperation of the body. "Plenty of food, plenty of open air and exercise should be sufficient."[26]

This process carried on intermittently for years.

Krishnamurti with A. P. Warrington and Nityananda

Death of his brother

Krishnamurti's brother Nitya had tuberculosis, and from time to time he was prostrated by it. At the beginning of 1925, when they were in India, Nitya became very ill and was several times on the brink of death. Krishnamurti was very worried about this. On February 10 he sent a letter to Annie Besant telling her the following recollection from one of his astral visits to the Masters:

I remember going to the Master’s house and asking & begging to let Nitya get well & let him live. The Master said that I was to see the Lord Maitreya and I went there and I implored there but I got the impression that it was not His business & that I should go to the Mahachohan. I went there. I remember all this so clearly. He was seated in His chair, with great dignity & magnificent understanding, with grave & kindly eyes. My futile description is so absurd but it’s impossible to convey, the great impression of it all. I told Him that I would sacrifice my happiness or anything that was required to let Nitya live, for I felt this thing was being decided. He listened to me & answered "He will be well". It was such a relief and all my anxiety has completely disappeared.[27]

On March Nitya somewhat recovered and they left for Sydney. On June they started their journey back to Ojai, which they reached in the middle of July. During the trip Nitya had been very sick and in danger of passing away. His health remained very poor in August but started getting a little better by the end of September.

In November, 1925, he caught influenza and became quite ill, while Krishnamurti was on a ship heading for India. When the news of his brother's critical condition came he told Shiva Rao that "if Nitya was going to die I would not have been allowed to leave Ojai".[28] However, on the night of November 13, 1925, a telegram arrived announcing Nitya's death.

Struggle and transformation

In August 1925, while at Huizen and Ommen, George S. Arundale claimed that he and others had taken several initiations and had been appointed as "Apostles" of the World Teacher. Annie Besant, who had given up her clairvoyant powers due to her political work for India, trusted Arundale. Krishnamurti was in Ojai at the time, and when arriving at London a few months later he was visibly upset feeling "that something infinitely precious, sacred and private had been made publicly ugly and ridiculous, cheap and vulgar" by the public announcement of these purported initiations.[29]

C. W. Leadbeater did not confirm all the initiations and was rather skeptical. On July 28, 1926, he wrote to Krishnamurti:

Our brothers Wedgwood, George, Oscar and Rukmini are younger and less experienced in the work of translating memories and messages from higher planes; therefore when their reminiscences do not support my own I simply suspend judgement and say nothing, except perhaps to them. I do not for a moment suspect any of them of intentional misrepresentation . . . to you as one of the innermost circle, I admit that there may have been some misunderstandings and exaggerations in their reports, because even at these higher levels it is more difficult than you can imagine entirely to eliminate the personal factor. . .[30]

In November Krishnamurti received the news that his brother died. This broke him completely and shattered his view of a future where Nitya was supposed to be a vital part of his mission. The next ten days on the ship were full of agony, which eventually led to a transformation. When reaching Colombo, he expressed:

An old dream is dead and a new one is being born, as a flower that pushes through the solid earth. A new vision is coming into being and a new consciousness is being unfolded.... A new thrill and a new throb of the same life is being felt. A new strength born of suffering is pulsating in the veins and a new sympathy and understanding is being born out of the past suffering. A greater desire to see others suffer less and if they must suffer to see that they bear it nobly and come out of it without too many scars. I have wept but I do not want others to weep but if they do I now know what it means.... I know how to weep still, but that is human. I know now, with greater certainty than ever before, that there is real beauty in life, real happiness that can not be shattered by any physical happening, a great strength which cannot be weakened by passing events, and a great love which is permanent, imperishable and unconquerable.[31]

When C. W. Leadbeater reached Colombo he greeted Krishnamurti saying: "Well, at least you are an Arhat", meaning that after the crisis he had received his fourth initiation.[32]

On November 27 while in Adyar, before the Jubilee Convention of the Theosophical Society, he was initiated into Co-Freemasonry and on December 21 he officiated a reformed Hindu ritual in a small Hindu Temple recently built in the Compound.

On December 28 the Congress of the Order of the Star in the East began. During its first meeting, at the end of Krishnamurti's talk a dramatic change took place. He had been speaking saying that the World Teacher "comes only to those who want, who desire, who long..." and then his voice changed completely and went on saying:

I come for those who want sympathy, who want happiness, who are longing to be released, who are longing to find happiness in all things. I come to reform and not to tear down, I come not to destroy but to build.[33]

At the end of the Congress Annie Besant remarked that this event had marked "the definite consecration of the chosen vehicle . . . . the final acceptance of the body chosen long before.... The coming has begun".[34] C. W. Leadbeater also expressed that there was not a shadow of doubt that the World Teacher had used the Vehicle more than once during the Congress.[35]

Krishnamurti also had no doubts that this had been the case. On January 5, 1926, he said:

I personally feel quite different from that day.... I feel like a crystal vase, a jar that has been cleaned and now anybody in the world can put a beautiful flower in it and that flower shall live in the vase and never die.[36]

From this time until late in 1929, Krishnamurti continued to lecture and write, and to participate in the Star Camps of the Order of the Star in the East in several locations each year.

Dissolution of the Order of the Star

Krishnamurti felt upset about G. S. Arundale's and J. I. Wedgwood's attitudes about the "Apostles affair" and the public talk about dubious initiations. In March 1926 he wrote to C. W. Leadbeater saying:

I have woken up so often with feelings of revolt and distrust that my impressions and intuitions are growing stronger and stronger and I feel that the events of the last ten months aren’t clean and wholesome. Of course there’s nothing to be done but wait for events to develop. Of course none of them are very important but this apostles business is the limit. I don’t believe in it all and this is not based on prejudice. With that we shall have difficulty and I am not going to give in over that. I think it’s wrong and purely George’s imagination. Anyhow it’s a trivial thing but other people are making a mountain of it.... Wedgwood is distributing initiations around ... Initiations and sacred things will be a joke presently.... I believe in all this so completely that it makes me weep to see these sacred things dragged in the dirt.[37]

All these happenings produced a mixed response in the press and the general public, arising suspicion, sarcasm, and idle curiosity.

Meanwhile, Krishnamurti continued to give talks and felt more and more in tune with his role. On February 9, 1927, he wrote to C. W. Leadbeater: "I know my destiny and my work. I know with certainty and knowledge of my own, that I am blending into the consciousness of the one Teacher and that He will completely fill me".[38] In April Annie Besant declared to the press "The World Teacher is here".

As people began to place more and more authority on him, Krishnamurti began to discourage people from taking him as a crutch. He wanted people to be independent and self-motivated. As he said in a talk at the end of June:

You must become liberated not because of me but in spite of me... all this life, and especially during the last few months I have struggled to be free—free of my friends, my books, my associations. You must struggle for the same freedom... You must not make me an authority. If I become a necessity to you what will you do when I go away?... Some of you think I can give you a drink that will set you free, that I can give you a formula that will liberate you—that is not so. I can be the door but you must pass through the door and find the liberation that is beyond it... I wish I could invent a new language but as I cannot I would like to destroy your old phraseology and conceptions.[39]

He then started simplifying his language and making it more abstract. He stopped talking about the Lord Maitreya and referred to "the Beloved" instead. He wanted to put less emphasis on the forms that lead to worshiping, to focus instead on the essence. His language began to be increasingly non-dualist at a time when this approach was virtually unknown in the West. At a Camp in the beginning of August, 1927, he said:

I have been asked what I mean by ‘the Beloved’. I will give a meaning, an explanation, which you will interpret as you please. To me it is all—it is Sri Krishna, it is the Master K.H., it is the Lord Maitreya, it is the Buddha, and yet it is beyond all these forms. What does it matter what name you give? ... What you are troubling about is whether there is such a person as the World Teacher who has manifested Himself in the body of a certain person, Krishnamurti; but in the world nobody will trouble about this question. So you will see my point of view when I talk about my Beloved. It is an unfortunate thing that I have to explain, but I must. I want it to be as vague as possible, and I hope I have made it so. My Beloved is the open skies, the flower, every human being. . . .
It is no good asking me who is the Beloved. Of what use is explanation? For you will not understand the Beloved until you are able to see Him in every animal, in every blade of grass, in every person that is suffering, in every individual.[40]

However, he was not denying the existence of the Masters or Maitreya as some people interpreted. He went on to say in that talk:

Till I was able to say with certainty, without any undue excitement, or exaggeration in order to convince others, that I was one with my Beloved, I never spoke. I talked of vague generalities which everybody wanted. I never said: I am the World Teacher; but now that I feel I am one with my Beloved, I say it....[41]

People who were expecting he was going to lend himself to be worshiped began to be upset, as did those who clung to concrete concepts and explanations. At the same time, new people who started gathering around Krishnamurti without a deeper understanding of concepts such as the Masters of Wisdom and Krishnamurti's relationship with them interpreted this attitude as a denial of their existence. A rift between the "Theosophical" view and the "Krishnamurtian" one began to be created by some of the listeners.

While Annie Besant and C. W. Leadbeater supported publicly the idea that Krishnamurti was acting as the vehicle of the World Teacher, G. S. Arundale and J. I. Wedgwood did not agree. People wanted Krishnamurti to publicly assert his own authority, something that he did not want to do:

In August 1928, at a Camp of the Order of the Star, he said: "Friend, do not concern yourself with who I am; you will never know.... If I say I am the Christ, you will create another authority. If I say I am not, you will also create another authority".[42] He said he would dissolve the Order of the Star if it "claimed to be a vessel that holds the Truth and the only Truth".[43]

As time passed Krishnamurti's non-dualistic position became more radical and a number of people began to side in agreement or disagreement with him.

During the next Camp of the Order of the Star at Ommen, on August 3, 1929, Krishnamurti made a speech dissolving the Order. Among other things, he said:

I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. That is my point of view, and I adhere to that absolutely and unconditionally. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organised; nor should any organisation be formed to lead or coerce people along any particular path.
. . .
Truth cannot be brought down, rather the individual must make the effort to ascend to it. You cannot bring the mountain-top to the valley.
. . .
If an organisation be created for this purpose, it becomes a crutch, a weakness, a bondage, and must cripple the individual, and prevent him from growing, from establishing his uniqueness, which lies in the discovery for himself of that absolute, unconditioned Truth.
. . .
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.
. . .
You are all depending for your spirituality on someone else, for your happiness on someone else, for your enlightenment on someone else; and although you have been preparing for me for eighteen years, when I say all these things are unnecessary, when I say that you must put them all away and look within yourselves for the enlightenment, for the glory, for the purification, and for the incorruptibility of the self, not one of you is willing to do it. There may be a few, but very, very few. So why have an organization?
. . .
"How many members are there in it?" That is the first question I am asked by all newspaper reporters. "How many followers have you? By their number we shall judge whether what you say is true or false." I do not know how many there are. I am not concerned with that. As I said, if there were even one man who had been set free, that were enough.
. . .
But those who really desire to understand, who are looking to find that which is eternal, without beginning and without an end, will walk together with a greater intensity, will be a danger to everything that is unessential, to unrealities, to shadows. And they will concentrate, they will become the flame, because they understand. Such a body we must create, and that is my purpose. Because of that real understanding there will be true friendship. Because of that true friendship–which you do not seem to know–there will be real cooperation on the part of each one. And this not because of authority, not because of salvation, not because of immolation for a cause, but because you really understand, and hence are capable of living in the eternal. This is a greater thing than all pleasure, than all sacrifice.
. . .
For two years I have been thinking about this, slowly, carefully, patiently, and I have now decided to disband the Order, as I happen to be its Head. You can form other organizations and expect someone else. With that I am not concerned, nor with creating new cages, new decorations for those cages. My only concern is to set men absolutely, unconditionally free.[44]

This, again, was naturally interpreted as a rejection of his role as a vehicle of the World-Teacher. However, as he wrote to Lady Emily five years later, on August 27, 1934:

You say, mum . . . that I have denied being the W.T. [World Teacher]. You know, mum, I have never denied it. I have only said that it does not matter who or what I am but that they should examine what I say. . .[45]

Years of teaching

Krishnamurti's life following the dissolution of the OSE involved more writing, lecturing, and travel worldwide. To read about these decades in detail, the best resource is Unconditionally Free: The Life and Insights of J. Krishnamurti by Michael Mendizza. During World War II, Krishnamurti remained in Ojai. He lectured twice weekly in the Oak Grove and in Hollywood. Working with Rosalind Rajagopal and Aldous Huxley, he founded the Oak Grove School.

In 1962, Krishnamurti began speaking annually in Saanen, Switzerland. Organizations were established in support of his work: Krishnamurti Foundation India at Vasanta Vihar, Chennai, where he first stayed in 1936; in 1968, the Krishnamurti Foundation Trust in England; in 1969, the Krishnamurti Foundation of America (KFA) in Ojai, California; and Fundación Krishnamurti Latinoamericana, Barcelona, Spain. There are also study centers in India, Sri Lanka, Britain, and the United States.

Krishnamurti schools

Early in his career Krishnamurti showed a concern about education. In 1912, when he was only 17, he wrote the book Education as Service in which he described "the life of an ideal school where love rules and inspires, where the students grow into noble adolescents under the fostering care of teachers who feel the greatness of their vocation".[46]

He founded several schools. The first, in 1934, was Rajghat Besant School in Varanasi, India. During the 1940s he worked with Aldous Huxley, Robert Logan, the Rajagopals, and Dr. Guido Ferrando to develop the Happy Valley School on land purchased in 1926 by Annie Besant. In 1969, Brockwood Park School in Hampshire, England was established, and in 1975, Oak Grove School in Ojai, California. Other Indian schools include Rishi Valley Education Center, "The School" at Damodar Gardens in Chennai, Haridvanam in Bangalore, Sahyadri School in Pune, and Pathashaala in Chennai. He said, "The purpose, the aim and drive of these schools is ... to create the right climate so that the child may develop fully as a complete human being. This means giving him the opportunity to flower in goodness so that he is rightly related to people, things and ideas, to the whole of life."

These are some principles of Krishnamurti schools:

  • School focus is on the development of the whole human being.
  • Students learn to observe the world and act in the world without conditioning or self-centeredness.
  • The school tries to establish an environment in which this kind of education and self-development can take place.
  • Faculty work together to develop themselves as human beings who are capable of maintaining the educational environment.
  • There is no fixed curriculum or method.

Teacher training for the older schools consisted primarily of conversations between Krishnamurti and the teachers in which he attempted to help with self-development. Many of these dialogues were transcribed in books such as Beginnings of Learning and A Flame of Learning: Krishnamurti with Teachers.

Masters of Wisdom

After the dissolution of the Order of the Star Krishnamurti referred to the Masters very seldom. When asked in public about them he tended to dismiss the question as an unimportant one, or would answer by asking the person why he wanted to meet a Master, what he thought a Master was, etc. In this way he made the questioner look into his motivation.

Some interpreted this as a denial of their reality. However, in some of his private conversations, he would admit their existence and even his relationship with them.

This attitude is consistent with what Master K.H. wrote to A. P. Sinnett in October 1884, in one of his letters:

For years to come the Soc[iety] will be unable to stand, when based upon "Tibetan Brothers" and phenomena alone. All this ought to have been limited to an inner and very SECRET circle. There is a hero-worshipping tendency clearly showing itself, and you, my friend, are not quite free from it yourself.[47]

Later connections to the Theosophical Society

Throughout his life Krishnamurti maintained relationships with numerous Theosophists whom he had known from his youth, including Annie Besant, Fritz Kunz, Beatrice Wood, Robert Logan, Frank Gerard, A. P. Warrington, C. Jinarajadasa, and many others. Krishnamurti visited the Theosophical Society in Adyar several times. In November 1980, he spent time with TS President Radha Burnier and Vice President Surendra Narayan, and was warmly welcomed by many workers and residents. In 1982, he planted a tree.

Quotation in Krotona Sanctuary


The teachings of Krishnamurti can seem nebulous to listeners who are accustomed to the specific instructions on how to follow a spiritual path found in religious traditions. He talked often about how conditioned people were, and how there is really no teaching except by personal experience, insight, and direct perception. Here are a few examples of viewpoints that his "followers" have identified as "teachings":

Truth is a pathless land

The most famous and basic teaching of Krishnamurti is that "Truth is a pathless land." He said this in Ommen on July 3, 1929 when he dissolved the Order of the Star in the East:

I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. That is my point of view, and I adhere to that absolutely and unconditionally. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organization be formed to lead or to coerce people along any particular path. If you first understand that, then you will see how impossible it is to organize a belief. A belief is purely an individual matter, and you cannot and must not organize it. If you do, it becomes dead, crystallized; it becomes a creed, a sect, a religion, to be imposed on others.

Religion and its expressions

Krishnamurti rejected all organized religion, dogmatism, religious authority, ritual, and ceremony. He believed that religion conditioned people to be separated. True religion seemed to him closer to science:

Religion is a form of science. That is, to know and to go beyond all knowledge, to comprehend the nature and immensity of the universe, not through a telescope, but the immensity of the mind and the heart. And this immensity has nothing whatsoever to do with any organized religion."[48]

When the scientific mind breaks through the limitations of the known — then perhaps it approaches the religious mind.

Prayer was useless in his view. He saw prayer as supplication to a higher external authority, rather than recognizing the possibility that some people use prayer as dialog with their inner Self.

God as a human invention

Krishnamurti regarded the concept of an anthropomorphized God as inadequate, but recognized a holy supreme reality as "the nameless," "the life," "the source," or "my beloved."

I have never said there is no God. I have said that there is only God as manifested in you... but I am not going to use the word God... I prefer to call this Life.....

It is no good asking me who is the Beloved. Of what use is explanation? For you will not understand the Beloved until you are able to see Him in every animal, every blade of grass, in every person that is suffering, in every individidual...

To me there is God a living, eternal reality. But this reality cannot be described; each one must realized it for himself. Anyone who tries to imagine what God is, what truth is, is but seeking an escape, a shelter from the daily routine of conflict.[49]


The body of published works by and about Krishnamurti is vast. For thorough listings of his works, see these resources:

Theosophical publications

Over 800 articles are credited to J. Krishnamurti in the Union Index of Theosophical Periodicals and another 13 articles are signed as Alcyone. He personally wrote most of the titles in The Herald of the Star and The Star. A large number of articles published in the International Star Bulletin, Krishnamurti Australia Bulletin, Krishnamurti Foundation (Trust) Bulletin and other periodicals consist of lecture transcriptions, reprints of other articles, and inspirational quotations.

Writings about Krishnamurti

Over 760 articles about Krishnamurti appear in the Union Index of Theosophical Periodicals. They include biographical sketches, book reviews, accounts of his teachings, and reports about his movements and lecture tours. Another 71 articles about Alcyone are listed.

Dozens of biographies, films, and recordings have been compiled treating various aspects of Krishnamurti's life and work. These are some of the best resources:

Additional resources


  • Scott H. Forbes, "Jiddu Krishnamurti and His Insights into Education" at Infed.org. From a presentation at the first Holistic Education Conference, Toronto, Canada, 1997.
  • "Krishnamurti's Inner Life" by David Edmund Moody. Quest 103.4 (Fall 2015): pg. 143-147.
  • Krishnamurti, Jiddu in Theosophy World.


Numerous books have been written about Krishnamurti.

  • Blau, Evelyne. Krishnamurti: 100 Years. New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1995. Dozens of interviews with people who knew Krishnamurti have been compiled a rich collection of photographs and quotations from Krishnamurti.
  • Fuller, Jean Overton. Krishnamurti & the Wind. London: Theosophical Publishing House, 2003.
  • Jayakar, Pupul. Krishnamurti: a Biography. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1986.
  • Lutyens, Mary. Krishnamurti: The Years of Awakening. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1975.
  • Lutyens, Mary. Krishnamurti: The Years of Fulfilment. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1983.
  • Lutyens, Mary. The Life and Death of Krishnamurti. London: John Murray, 1990.
  • Lutyens, Mary. The Boy Krishna: the first fourteen years in the life of J. Krishnamurti. Bramdean: Krishnamurti Foundation Trust, 1995. Pamphlet.
  • Mendizza, Michael. Unconditionally Free: The Life and Insights of J. Krishnamurti. Ojai, Calif.: Krishnamurti Foundation of America, 2020. This volume draws upon the vast resources of the KFA to give a panoramic view of K's life. Beautifully printed, with a highly useful timeline of the events in K's life juxtaposed against world history. There are extensive quotations of K's dialogues with David Bohm.
  • Michel, Peter. Krishnamurti, - Love and Freedom. Woodside, Calif.: Bluestar Communications,12 1995. An excellent independent analysis of Krishnamurti and his teachings.
  • Ross, Joseph E. Krishnamurti: the Taormina Seclusion--1912. ‎ Edwin House Publishing Inc., 2004. "ye-witness accounts of Krishnamurti's three months training in the esoteric arts by mentors Leadbeater, Besant, and Arundale on the island of Sicily in 1912. With a Foreword by International Theosophical Society President Radha Burnier, this book is an important historical document as all the contents are original accounts, letters, reports by those present" at the time."
  • Ross, Joseph E. Krotona, Theosophy & Krishnamurti, 1927-1931. Krotona series Volume 5. Ojai, Calif.: Ojai Printing & Publishing Co., 2009. "Archival documents reveal Theosophical conversations from the period when Krishnamurti broke away from the organization of Theosophy.
  • Sloss, Radha Rajagopal. Lives in the Shadow with J. Krishnamurti. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 1991.
  • Vernon, Roland. Star in the East: Krishnamurti: the Invention of a Messiah. New York: Palgrave, 2001.
  • Williams, Christine V. Jiddu Krishnamurti, World Philosopher (1895–1986): His Life and Thoughts. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 2004.



The Life of Krishnamurti YouTube Channel offers several videos, including:




  1. Mary Lutyens, Krishnamurti: The Years of Awakening (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1975), 6.
  2. Lutyens, 21.
  3. Lutyens, 28.
  4. Lutyens, 33-34.
  5. Lutyens, 35-38.
  6. Lutyens, 55.
  7. Lutyens, 51.
  8. Lutyens, 51.
  9. Lutyens, 81.
  10. Lutyens, 119.
  11. Lutyens, 127-128.
  12. Lutyens, 171.
  13. Ojai Pilgrims by Mark Lewis, posted December 19, 2019 at OjaiHub.
  14. Lutyens, 152.
  15. Lutyens, 157-158.
  16. Lutyens, 158.
  17. Lutyens, 159-160.
  18. Lutyens, 159-160.
  19. Lutyens, 163.
  20. Lutyens, 165.
  21. Lutyens, 165.
  22. Lutyens, 171.
  23. Lutyens, 178.
  24. Lutyens, 182.
  25. Lutyens, 186.
  26. Lutyens, 187-188.
  27. Lutyens, 199.
  28. Lutyens, 219.
  29. Lutyens, 218.
  30. Jean Overton Fuller, Krishnamurti & the Wind (London: Theosophical Publishing House, 2003), 121.
  31. Lutyens, 220-221.
  32. Lutyens, 221.
  33. Lutyens, 223-224.
  34. Lutyens, 224.
  35. Lutyens, 225.
  36. Lutyens, 224.
  37. Lutyens, 228.
  38. Lutyens, 241.
  39. Lutyens, 248.
  40. Lutyens, 250.
  41. Lutyens, 250.
  42. Lutyens, 262.
  43. Lutyens, 261.
  44. Truth is a pathless land at J. Krishnamurti Online
  45. Lutyens, 30.
  46. Lutyens, 59.
  47. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 130 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 432.
  48. Jiddu Krishnamurti, Krishnamurti to Himself (San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1993), 127.
  49. Lutyens, Awakening, 205-206.