I attended most of the sessions and so did Sumitra and partly my son Shreyas and mother. It was a a truly wonderful experience for all of us to be able to listen to you sitting in our home during the lockdown weeks. I am not surprised that the participants found it meaningful. In our home all of us did including amma who listened intently despite failing memory and would burst into nods of understanding and smiles at your questions and statements. Shreyae suddenly would join the listening with great intent. He found the part of religion and education most reaffirming as he often argues that when we say we belong to one religion we divide humanity.
Yours is a unique experience of having been in touch with K and being given a role by him. It is wonderful that these conversations are on record and available to posterity,.
K’s teachings pose an immense challenge – he does not permit repetition or following. And the gap between listening to the words and living the teachings is not bridgeable by resolutions, new ideas and wanting to be transformed. Sweeping away the entire gamut of practices in the religious and moral world and breathing awareness and observation of things as they are, beyond the word, with a relentlessness, does point to hard work of a kind that is difficult to comprehend through thought.
In times to come, people will ask, as many ask now, what happened to people who came close to K and how did they handle this challenge. Your videos will be a unique and valuable testimony.
I am happy to have been part of this satsang and I am so happy to see this mail going to Anuradha, Anjali, Sujata and Sumita as well…. Hello to you and my best wishes. It has been a long time since we met. I hope we will get am opportunity to see each other soon sometime.
G. Gautama, Director, KFI Palar Centre of Education, Tamil Nadu.
This is a rare book featuring interviews and dialogues with people in India who knew Jiddu Krishnamurti intimately over many years. It provides insight into what they understood about Krishnamurti the man, and his teachings.
Krishnamurti was both a friend and mentor to Professor Krishna who brings to his explorations a scientific, learned mind informed with insights gathered from his lifelong membership of the Theosophical Society.
The title of the book , A Jewel on a Silver Platter, is taken from a conversation between Krishnamurti and the author Professor Krishna on the occasion of the latter being offered the job of Rector of the Raghjat School in Varanasi. Krishnamurti declared that Professor Krishna was one of the few people who he trusted completely. The World Teacher and philosopher, as he was sometimes called, did not have long to live and it was imperative that he hand over his mission to those who would carry on his work. Professor Krishna made a considerable sacrifice in resigning from his job as physics professor at Benares University.
It is typical of the man’s integrity that he never looked back but dedicated himself to the task that Krishnamurti entrusted to him. To the present day he remains resident on the Rajghat campus and is called upon frequently to give lectures in USA, UK and India.
Readers familiar with Krishnamurti’s life story will recognize some of the people in the first section of the book. They include Dr. David Bohm, Achyut Patwardhan, Vilmar Thakar, Radha Burnier, Dr. Annie Besant and Mark Lee. The second section of the book is an in-depth study and examination of some of the major concerns in Krishnamurti’s teaching, including his views about education, relationships and the connection between the scientific and spiritual quests. The epilogue is particularly absorbing because it raises questions and problems which other authors tend to avoid. The fact is that nobody has a monopoly on truth. So readers who approach this book with the intention of confirming their own prejudices or interpretations of Krishnamurti’s teaching will be disappointed. This book at some point will challenge every reader and this is as it should be. The aim of Krishnamurti’s teaching was not to provide soporific comfort, but to set humankind unconditionally free. A Jewel on a Silver Platter makes a valuable contribution to this enormous endeavor.
Padmanabhan Krishna, Ph.D., a long standing member of the Theosophical Society, has written A Jewel on a Silver Platter: Remembering Jiddu Krishnamurti. The book is a collection of personal accounts about this modern spiritual teacher by the author and others who knew him well. Prof. Krishna not only is a trustee of the Krishnamurti Foundation in India and was Rector of the Rajgat Besant School in Varanasi, he also knew Krishnamurti for many years and has a deep grasp of his teachings. All this puts him in an ideal position to write this book.
The author first seeks to provide a sense of who Krishnamurti was, not just as a teacher on a platform, but as a person in real life. A record of personal interactions, especially those during the last months of the life of this renowned teacher, illustrates his responses in different situations, which always revolved around the primary motive of his life—a deep concern for the welfare of human beings. Interesting interviews with senior associates, such as Achyut Patwardhan, Vimala Thakar, Radha Burnier and Mark Lee, convey their experiences and their struggle to understand this extra-ordinary individual.These reports and a collection of anecdotes about Krishnamurti allows the reader to access intimate aspects of his personality that are not widely known.
The book also presents a fine collection of short essays written by Prof. Krishna that serve as a good introduction to Krishnamurti’s work.They examine either the fundamental aspects of his teachings or enquire into important matters of life in the manner Krishnamurti furthered. There is a glossary of terms provided that the novice student will find useful.
The author does not shy away from some very interesting aspects of Krishnamurti’s personality and life, which constitute what is sometimes referred to as “the mystery of K”. Prof. Krishna enquires into his role as the “World-Teacher”, something Krishnamurti typically refused to discuss in public. Several passages also show that Krishnamurti did not deny the existence of the Masters of Wisdom but, rather, challenged the misunderstandings of what they really are, and the consequent dependence this generates. For example, Prof. Krishna reports a dialog in which Krishnamurti asked Radha Burnier, then International President of the Theosophical Society, “Do you know what the Masters meant to amma (Annie Besant)? She would give her life for it! Knowing that, now tell me, do you believe in the Masters?” “Yes,” said Radhaji emphatically. Krishnaji held her hands and said, “Good!”
The book also explores Krishnamurti’s remarkable sensitivity, which brought to him perceptions and abilities most would regard as miraculous. There are accounts of instances in which he sensed invisible disturbances in places, perceived people’s thoughts, healed illnesses, and other related phenomena. Although he had these “occult abilities” he was not attracted to them because, as he stated, this is “another form of power, it has nothing to do with goodness.” As the author remarks, “To himfreedom from the ego was more essential than the cultivation of any power because the ego can misuse any power, including occult power.”
For students of Theosophy, Krishnamurti’s life is a concrete embodiment of many of the Theosophical principles. They may recognize in his attitude and, at times, cryptic statements, interesting and enlightening examples of how a person who knows first-hand “the hidden side of things”, acts in everyday life. For example, after finding out that a person they both knew had been arrested, Prof. Krishna tried to talk about it with Krishnamurti. However, says the author, “Before I could repeat the words I had heard on TV, he stopped me saying, ‘Don’t utter those words Sir! They attract evil. Just say poor fellow and move on.’ That was his level of purity.”Students of Theosophy familiar with the effect of negative thought-forms and their association to elementals and skandhas, will recognize in Krishnamurti’s attitude the same advice repeatedly given by H. P. Blavatsky, Annie Besant, and C. W. Leadbeater.
There are a few statements regarding the Theosophical Society that its members may find inaccurate. As the author states, this is a truthful record of actual conversations and they simply reflect the views of the speakers at that time. In fact, the book is written in a fair-minded spirit, true to Prof. Krishna’s personality, and certainly does not contain the kind of disparaging statements about Theosophical matters that one often finds in some books about the life of Krishnamurti.
A Jewel on a Silver Platter: Remembering Jiddu Krishnamurti is a valuable addition to the literature about this influential world-teacher. All those interested in his life, teachings, and approach to education, would do well to add to their bookshelves this significant resource.
JidduKrishnamurti (1895-1986) and his younger brother Nityananda came to Ojai in 1922 because they had heard that the dry, Mediterranean climate here might be conducive to arrest the development ofNitya’s tuberculosis. They were 27 and 24 years of age. Their plan succeeded until 1925, when Krishna went abroad to a Theosophical conference, and Nitya’s fever and other symptoms flared up and took his life.
Nevertheless, Krishnamurti made Ojai his primary home for the rest of his life. Although he spent his life travelling and speaking in all parts of the world, he made certain to come here to die.
Well before his death, in 1975, he authorized an official biography of his life, published by his long-time friend and writer Mary Lutyens. Years of Awakening (Harper and Row, 1975), was followed in 1980 by Years of Fulfillment, complemented by two subsequent books, The Open Door, Krishnamurti’s last years, and The Life and Death of Krishnamurti, a summary volume covering all of the preceding works.
Subsequent to Krishnamurti’s death, some two dozen other biographies and memoirs have been published about the man and his life. Now there appear two new books with fascinating new revelations about Krishnamurti and his life. One is by Mark Lee, the first director of Oak Grove School, calledKnocking at the Open Door: My Years with J. Krishnamurti(Hay House Publishers, New Delhi, 2015). The other is by a man equally close to and knowledgeable about Krishnamurti, Padmanabhan Krishna, entitled A Jewel on a Silver Platter (Plgrim Publishing,Varanasi 2015).
Mark Lee’s book is an account of his entire relationship with Krishnamurti, which spanned over two decades. The relationship began in Saanen, Switzerland, where Krishnamurti gave an annual series of public talks, and he invited Lee to lunch with him on several occasions. Soon Lee was on his way to serve as a teacher and associate director of Krishnamurti’s long and well established school in Rishi Valley, some 80 miles from Bangalore. He remained there for several years, and fell in love with India, as well as with Asha, the woman who would become his wife.
The relationship between the two men solidified, and Krishnamurti selected Lee to serve as the first director of the new Oak Grove School in Ojai in 1975. In that capacity, the opportunities for interaction between the two men were numerous and varied, and Lee recounts many interesting behind-the-scenes conversations.
As one who shared many of those years at Oak Grove with Mark Lee (and therefore is mentioned in his book) I can confirm the authenticity of much of Lee’s account. Some of what he recounts, however, took place in private, and there we must rely upon his word. What he describes corresponds with my general sense of Krishnamurti, with only a few exceptions.
Perhaps the most puzzling of the quotes Lee attributes to Krishnamurti revolves around the role of “intellectuals” in the school. He quotes Krishnamurti as advising him not to hire teachers who are intellectuals: “. . . they are driven by ideals and have political minds” (p. 171). Yet some of the most important people in Krishnamurti’s life were towering intellects, including Annie Besant, Aldous Huxley, PupulJayakar, and David Bohm. In addition, he appointed to prominent positions in his organizations many strongly intellectual individuals. In a school dedicated to excellence in all areas, including academically, it is hard to comprehend that he could have wanted to exclude intellectuals altogether from the faculty.
Mark Lee has an extraordinary memory for the names of people, places, buildings, plants, and every other kind of proper noun. This background information colors and enriches the main theme of the book, his relationship with and observations of Krishnamurti. Lee’s sensitive use of language and his appreciation for the fine nuances of events and circumstances also contribute to a fascinating narrative. In essence, this is the story of his life, and it does credit not only to Krishnamurti, but to the author as well.
Padmanabhan Krishna’s book is equally interesting, but for rather different reasons. Although he includes a wealth of direct observations of Krishnamurti himself, the primary focus of his narration are the teachings, the philosophy that Krishnamurti articulated. In addition, Krishna includes lengthy interviews with several individuals close to Krishnamurti. Supplementing these main themes are accounts of Krishnamurti’s relationship to Theosophy, jokes he liked to tell, as well as a glossary of important words in the teachings, such as awareness, conditioning, intelligence, love, and meditation.
In the last year of his life (1985-6), Krishnamurti selected Krishna to serve as head of one of his oldest and largest schools, the Rajghat Education Centre located in Varanasi. In order to accept this position, Krishna had to resign as Professor of Physics at the Banaras Hindu University. But Krishna’s interest in the teachings had begun many years earlier, in 1955, at the age of 17. Krishna’s scientific training and outlook, coupled with his long-standing interest, have resulted in an uncanny ability to articulate and summarize the meaning of a philosophy that many listeners find compelling but somewhat elusive.
Some of what Krishna recounts, such as the lengthy conversation in which Krishnamurti hired him, consists of transcripts from recorded conversations, and so we don’t have to rely upon the accuracy of his memory to confirm the validity of the quotations. Also in the category of recorded conversations is the whole of Chapter Three, which consists of a dialogue Krishnamurti conducted with three scientists: Krishna, theoretical physicist David Bohm, and computer scientist AsitChandmal. Krishna begins the inquiry by pointing to a “vicious circle”: any voluntary effort to attain clarity of perception represents an action of the ego, which therefore blocks perception. But in the absence of voluntary effort, the ego still remains. “Where does this circle break?” he asks. The ensuing conversation is fascinating to anyone with an interest in the teachings.
Professor Krishna visits Ojai annually in order to give talks open to the public at Krotona and at the Ojai Retreat. In these talks, as in his book, his ability to articulate the essential meaning of the teachings is always a revelation.
As anyone who has studied the teachings will testify, they are complex and subtle, and they reward close study for many years. In addition, the man himself lived an extraordinary life, and had a remarkably strong effect upon all those who came within his orbit. Although he is no longer present in person, there is no doubt that his influence will continue to grow in the years ahead.
For these reasons, we have good reason to be grateful to those who take the time and trouble to recount their close observations of Krishnamurti. The two books under review here represent excellent additions to an already sizable and growing literature. Mark Lee and Padmanabhan Krishna have done a valuable service, not only for us, but for generations to come.
A jewel on a Silver Platter: Remembering Jiddu Krishnamurti, by Prof P Krishna will help us understand Krishnamurti as a man and a mystery. This book opens up with the author’s maiden meeting with Krishnamurti and subsequent encounters which finally culminated in the author joining the school. The interactions have a lot of warmth in them and also give us a glimpse of Krishnamurti’s eye for detailing.
The first part of the book throws light on many aspects of Krishnamurti as a man. Apparently, Krishnamurti goes across as a serious and very intellectual thinker but this book introduces us many light-hearted and gentle moments in his life through many interactions and anecdotes. Krishnamurti quoting, “I have not left the Theosophical Society. They didn’t want me there.”
The most profound part of the book could be the interviews that the author has conducted with close associates and friends of Krishnamurti, Achyut Patwardhan, Vimala Thakar, Radha Burnier and Mark Lee. Through these interviews, Krishnamurti unfolds before us as an extraordinary man. Here we know Krishnamurti which a phenomenon, a mystery and something that can be described as ‘beyond sense perception’. The book indeed encourages us to study Krishnamurti without any prejudices and conditioning. This makes readers more curious about the mystery and phenomenon called Krishnamurti than deepening the enigma. Moving on, we would like to see this jewel stupendously shining and studded with the latest expositions from the author on the subject.
Thanks to P Krishna ji for the wonderful book
I cannot put into words the impact of the dialogue with the three scientists. Why is it that what K says is always absolute and explosive?