India is not alien to the phenomenon of Godmen and Spiritual Gurus. Even in the current post-modern age, our country continues to churn out pseudo-intellectuals at an alarming rate. India has also been known to export a few Gurus to the west as well. Most notable of the lot is probably Osho, who, to this day, still occupies the mind share of a large number of Indians. But there is another Indian mystic – a contemporary of Osho himself – who was accorded a celebrity status in the west. But he is relatively obscure in India, especially when compared with the likes of Swami Nityananda, Baba Ramdev, Sadhguru and the like.
His name is Jiddu Krishnamurti.
Followers of Theosophy and other more nuanced new religious movements might have heard of him. But the fact remains that a large portion of Indians find his doctrine inaccessible. There are many reasons for Jiddu not finding the mass connect in India, while he used to find large crowds for his speeches in the West.
That’s mainly because the man himself was an oddity of sorts. Raised as a World Leader under the watchful eye of Annie Besant in the Theosophical Society in Adyar, Madras, he was expected to lead and champion the cause of an organisation called The Order of the Star of the East. He was christened “Maitreya”, used to refer to a prophet as per the Theosophical Order. However, the man renounced his allegiance to Theosophy, and dissolved The Order of the Star of the East.
He believed there was no place for an authority in anyone’s life. Spiritual life, or the aspiration of one cannot be nurtured by any Guru. He denounced all spiritual movements, religions and religious societies. Jiddu’s primary belief was that it was up to the individual and the individual alone to bring about a spiritual revolution. Of course, the world and its systems can change, he said, but they cannot change unless the individual changes from within. It was loosely akin to what Jordan Peterson says about cleaning one’s room before anything else.
According to Jiddu, the only arena for a spiritual revolution was the human mind. He was also a major supporter of meditation, but all his practices were rooted in psychology.
As intense and revolutionary as this line of thinking was in the mid 1900’\s, Jiddu remained largely unknown in India. Why?
Well Osho himself had a commentary on this-
“Krishnamurti failed because he could not touch the human Heart. Krishnamurti failed because he could not touch the human Heart. He could only reach the human head. The Heart needs some different approaches. This is where I have differed with him all my life. Unless the human Heart is reached, you cannot be over-repeating parrot-like words. They do not mean anything.
“Whatever Krishnamurti was saying is true, but he could not ‘manage’ and by managing I mean, could not take a particular form related to your heart. In other words, all I am saying is that, J. Krishnamurti was a great philosopher, but he could not become a Master. He could not help people; prepare people for new life, a new orientation.”
While they may seem disparaging statements, one should not read Osho’s comments in isolation. He respected Jiddu, and was known to have also quoted that he felt a deep sense of affinity toward Krishnamurti. However, his commentary is telling. You see, Osho believed that authorities were necessary in one’s life; more so, in one’s spiritual life. Jiddu did not. Also, Osho felt that touching the human heart is the best way to bring about change in one’s life, and to re-orient oneself. This is one of the main reasons for Osho’s mass appeal in India. By advocating the need for a Guru in one’s life, and putting an emphasis on human emotion and feeling, he was tapping into deep cultural codes in India – the collectivist need for community, for love, and so on.
On the other hand, Jiddu’s philosophy was largely based on self-reliance – You want to change your life? You want to end your suffering, and live more fully? Don’t look at me, dude. I can’t help you. I’m not a Guru. No one can help you but yourself. It’s all up to you! How you do it, is all up to you.
This dispassionate view is something that will not go well with most people. The overwhelming sense of isolation and the feeling of being lost, unmoored is disconcerting for all of us. Why are Jiddu’s teachings hard to follow? Because they need work. Lots of it. It’s not easy. And it’s all on you, and how you are better able to manage your own internal psychology.
We at indieA feel that Jiddu’s philosophy is criminally underrated in India. It’s also a pity of how little is known about the scope of his influence in the world. For instance, he is known to have influenced one of the greatest pop culture icons the world has ever seen- Bruce Lee.
That’s right, Jiddu influenced some of Bruce Lee’s most iconic philosophies.
We were so moved by our discovery that we made a video (above) on it as well.
It’s time for Indian youth to know more about Jiddu Krishnamurti.