Jiddu Krishnamurti was born on May 11, 1895 in Madanapalle, Madras Presidency, British Raj & died on February 17, 1986 in Ojai, California, was an Indian writer and speaker on philosophical and spiritual subjects. His subject matter included: psychological revolution, the nature of the mind, meditation, human relationships, and bringing about positive change in society. He constantly stressed the need for arevolution in the psyche of every human being and emphasized that suchrevolution cannot be brought about by any external entity, be it religious, political, or social.
Krishnamurti was born into a Telugu Brahmin family in what was then colonial India. In early adolescence, he had a chance encounter with prominent occultist and high-ranking theosophist Charles Webster Leadbeater in the grounds of the Theosophical Society headquarters at Adyar in Madras (now Chennai). He was subsequently raised under the tutelage of Annie Besant and Leadbeater, leaders of the Society at the time, who believed him to be a “vehicle” for an expected World Teacher. As a young man, he disavowed this idea and dissolved the worldwide organization (the Order of the Star) established to support it. He claimed allegiance to no nationality, caste, religion, or philosophy, and spent the rest of his life traveling the world, speaking to large and small groups and individuals. He authored many books, among them The First and Last Freedom, The Only Revolution, and Krishnamurti’s Notebook. Many of his talks and discussions have been published. His last public talk was in Madras, India, in January 1986, a month before his death at his home in Ojai, California.
His supporters, working through non-profit foundations in India, Great Britain and the United States, oversee several independent schools based on his views on education. They continue to transcribe and distribute his thousands of talks, group and individual discussions, and writings by use of a variety of media formats and languages.
He came from a family of Telugu-speaking Brahmins. In accordance with common Hindu practice, as the eighth child who happened to be male, he was named after the Hindu deity Krishna. Krishnamurti’s father, Jiddu Narayaniah, was employed as an official of the then colonial British administration. Krishnamurti was fond of his mother Sanjeevamma, who died when he was ten. His parents had a total of eleven children, of whom six survived childhood. As was common among pious high-caste Hindus, the family was keenly observant oftraditional customs and religious practices.
In 1903 the family settled in Cudappah, where Krishnamurti had contracted malaria during a previous stay. He would suffer recurrent bouts of the disease over many years. A sensitive and sickly child, “vague and dreamy,” he was often taken to be mentally retarded, andwas beaten regularly at school by his teachers and at home by his father. In memoirs written when he was eighteen years old, Krishnamurti described psychic experiences, such as “seeing” his sister, who had died in 1904, and his mother, who had died in 1905. During his childhood he developed a bond with nature that was to stay with him for the rest of his life.
Krishnamurti’s father retired at the end of 1907, and, being of limited means, sought employment at the Headquarters of the Theosophical Society at Adyar. In addition to being an observant orthodox Brahmin, Narayaniah had been a Theosophist since 1882. He was eventually hired by the Society as a clerk, moving there with his family in January 1909.
In April 1909, Krishnamurti first met Charles Webster Leadbeater, who claimed clairvoyance. Leadbeater had noticed Krishnamurti, who frequented the same beach on the Adyar river, and was amazed by the “most wonderful aura he had ever seen, without a particle of selfishness in it.” This impression contrasted with Krishnamurti’s outward appearance, which, according to eyewitnesses, was common, unimpressive, and unkempt. He was also considered “particularly dim-witted”; he often had “a vacant expression” that gave him an almost moronic look. Leadbeater was convinced that the boy would become a spiritual teacher and a great orator; the likely “vehicle for the Lord Maitreya”—in Theosophical doctrine, an advanced spiritual entity periodically appearing on Earth as a World Teacher to guide the evolution of humankind.
In her biography of Krishnamurti, Pupul Jayakar quotes him speaking of that period in his life some 75 years later: “The boy had always said, ‘I will do whatever you want’. There was an element of subservience, obedience. The boy was vague, uncertain, woolly; he didn’t seem to care what was happening. He was like a vessel, with a large hole in it, whatever was put in, went through, nothing remained.”
Following his “discovery,” Krishnamurti was nurtured by members of the Theosophical Society in Adyar. Leadbeater and a small number of trusted associates undertook the task of educating, protecting, and generally preparing Krishnamurti as the “vehicle” of the expected World Teacher. Krishnamurti (often later called Krishnaji) and his younger brother Nityananda (Nitya) were privately tutored at the Theosophical compound in Madras, and later exposed to a comparatively opulent life among a segment of European high society, as they continued theireducation abroad. Despite his history of problems with schoolwork and concerns about his capacities and physical condition, the fourteen-year-old Krishnamurti was able to speak and write competently in English within six months. Lutyens says that later in life Krishnamurti came to view his “discovery” as a life-saving event. Often, he was “asked in later life what he thought would have happened to him if he had not been ‘discovered’ by Leadbeater. He would unhesitatingly reply, ‘I would have died’.”
During this time, Krishnamurti had developed a strong bond with Annie Besant and came to view her as a surrogate mother. His father, who had initially assented to Besant’s legal guardianship of Krishnamurti, was pushed into the background by the swirl of attention around his son. In 1912 he sued Besant in order to annul the guardianship agreement. After a protracted legal battle, Besant took custody of Krishnamurti and Nitya. As a result of this separation from family and home, Krishnamurti and his brother (whose relationship had always been very close) became more dependent on each other, and in the following years often traveled together.
In 1911, the leadership of the Theosophical Society at Adyar established an organization called the Order of the Star in the East (OSE), to prepare the world for expected appearance of the World Teacher. Krishnamurti was named as its head, with senior Theosophists assigned various other positions. Membership was open to anybody who accepted the doctrine of the Coming of the World Teacher. Controversy erupted soon after, both within the Theosophical Society and without, in Hindu circles and the Indian press.