New Canaan, Connecticut
Many thanks for your letter, and—maybe you know this
already very well. If not, I am sure you will be glad
to have it.
June here now!
the letter is a copy of The Star in the East Edition
of At the Feet of the Master (Chicago: E.W.
Richard, 1926) by J[iddu] Krishnamurti (1891-1986),
with a Preface by Annie Besant (see Letter 5 n.8).
A note on the back fly leaf of the book states that
Krishnamurti is the Head of the Order of the Star
in the East, an organization "founded in India
on January 11, 1911 . . . to
further the work of preparing for the coming World
Teacher. It is entirely non-sectarian, welcoming
without restriction adherents of all beliefs."
Interested readers are invited to write to Krishnamurti
at the American headquarters of the Order in Hollywood,
California. The note also claims that At the
Feet of the Master was written when Krishnamurti
was "thirteen years old," but it is now
widely believed to have been written by Charles
Webster Leadbeater, a leading figure in the Theosophical
Society (see Letter 20 n.4). It was Leadbeater who,
in 1909, discovered the Indian-born and Telugu-speaking
Krishnamurti at Adyar in southern India where his
father, Jiddu Narianiah, was an employee in the
international headquarters of the Theosophical Society.
At that time Leadbeater was collaborating with Besant
on Man: Whence, How and Whither (1922), an
investigation into the past lives of members of
the Society, and the pair became convinced that
Krishnamurti was the vehicle of the World Teacher
or Lord Maitreya who, two thousand years earlier,
had occupied the body of Jesus Christ. In 1911,
Leadbeater and Besant formed the Order of the Star
in the East, with Krishnamurti as Head (Alcyone),
to prepare for the coming of the World Teacher and
Besant formally adopted Krishnamurti and his younger
brother Nityananda. In 1912, the two boys were removed
to England to be inculcated with theosophical principles
and English manners, and, in 1922, after accompanying
Besant on a trip to Australia, they settled at Ojai
in southern California, where the climate would
benefit the sickly Nityananda and where, according
the Leadbeater and one of the prime movers of the
Theosophical Society, Madam Helen Blavatsky, a new
civilization was destined to develop. While Krishnamurti
was in Europe in 1925, the death of his brother
toppled his already shaky faith in Theosophy, but
in December 28 of the same year, under a huge banyan
tree in Adyar, he suddenly started using the first
person while speaking of the World Teacher, an event
that convinced Besant of his identity with Lord
Maitreya. In subsequent speeches, Krishnamurti increasingly
deviated from theosophical principles, however,
and in 1929 he dissolved the Order of the Star,
distanced himself from the Theosophical Society,
and declared that truth could not be approached
through any formalized sect, religion, or philosophy.
A succinct statement of his subsequent beliefs is
contained in the first of his later books and pamphlets,
Education and the Significance of Life (1953).
Several schools and foundations in India, England,
and California still embody and promote his ideas.
A Bibliography of the Life and Teachings of Jiddu
Krishnamurti (1974) by Susunaga Weeraperuma
lists his works to the early ’seventies, and recent
studies of his life and beliefs include Mary Lutyens’
Introduction to Krishnamurti: His Life and Death
(1990) and Hillary Rodrigues’ Insight and Religious
Mind: an Analysis of Krishnamurti’s Thought