of the book
Thus spoke U.G. Krishnamurti in
his uniquely iconoclastic subversive way, distancing himself from gurus,
spiritual ‘advisers’ , mystics, sages, ‘enlightened’ philosophers et al. UG’s
only advice was that people should throw away their crutches and free
themselves from the ‘stranglehold’ of cultural conditioning.
Uppaluri Gopala Krishnamurti
was born on 9 July 1918 in Masulipatnam, a coastal town in Andhra Pradesh. He
died on 22 March 2007 at the age of eighty-nine in Vallecrosia, Italy, at the
Villa of a friend. The effect that he had, and will continue to have, on
legions of his admirers is difficult to put into words. With his flowing
silvery hair, deep-set eyes and elongated Buddha-like ears, he was an explosive
yet cleansing presence and has been variously described as ‘a wild flower of
the earth’, ‘a bird in constant fight’, an ‘anti-guru’ and a ‘cosmic Naxalite’.
UG gave no lectures or discourses
and had on organization or fixed address, but he travelled all over the world
to meet people who flocked to listen to his ‘anti-teaching’. His language was
always uncompromisingly simple and unadorned, his conversational style
informal, intimate, blasphemous and invigorating.
This reader, edited by
long-time friend and admirer Mukunda Rao, is a compilation of UG’s Freewheeling
and radical utterances and ideas. UG unceasingly questioned and demolished the
very foundation of human thought but, as Rao says, in the cathartic laughter or
the silence after UG had spoken, there was a profound sense of freedom from
illusory goals and ‘the tyranny of Knowledge, beauty, goodness, truth and God’.
About The Author
Muknda Rao teaches English at Dr. Ambedkar College, Banglalore. He is the author of Confessions of a Sannyasi (1988), The Mahatma: A Novel (1992), The Death of an Activist (1997), Babasaheb Ambedkar: Trials with Truth (2000), Rama Revisited and Other Stories (2002), Chinnamani's World (2003) and The Other Side of Belief: Interpreting U.G.Krishnamurti (2005).He lives with his wiife and son in Bangalore.
U.G Krishnamurti, lovingly
called UG by his friend and admirers all over the world, died on 22 March 2007,
at 2.30 p.m., at the villa of friend, in Vallecrosia, Italy. A few days before
the end, his long-time friend, the noted Indian filmmaker, Mahesh Bhatt, had
asked, ‘How should we dispose of your body?’ In the same vein as had spoken
about death and the body over the years, UG replied, ‘Life and death cannot be
separated. When the breathing stops and what you call clinical death
takes place, the body breaks itself into its constituent elements and that
provides the basis for the continuity of life. So, nothing here is lost. In
that sense there is no birth and no death for the body. The body is immortal.'
Seven weeks earlier, UG had
fallen and this was the second such occurrence in two years.
Although he did not suffer a fracture, he did not
want such an incident to occur again which would make him further dependent on
his friends. He refused medical or other external intervention. He decided to
let his body take its own natural course. He was confined to a couch, surrounded
by friends, and his consumption of food and water became infrequent and then
ceased altogether. UG did not show the slightest signs of worry or fear about
death or concern for his body even at the end of his life.
Mahesh Bhatt, along with the
two American friends, Larry and Susan Morris, cremated the body in Vallecrosia.
There was no chanting from the sacred texts, no death ceremony or funeral
rites. Ten days before the end came, the large number of friends who had come
from all over the world to see him had been advised by UG to return to where
they lived. He had simply said, ‘Thank you all. It’s time to go.’
Two months before the
completion of his forty-ninth year, UG and valentine happened to be in Paris.
J. Krishnamurti was also there, giving his public talks. One evening, friends
suggested that they go and listen to JK’s talk. Since the majority, including
valentine, was in favour of the idea, UG relented and joined them, But when
they got there, and realized that they had to pay two francs each to get in, UG
thought it was ridiculous to pay money to listen to a talk however profound or
spiritual. Instead, he suggested, ‘Let’s do something foolish. Let’s go to
Casino de Paris.’
And to Casino de Paris they
went. What happened to UG at the Casino may sound stranger than fiction.
Sitting with his friend and among the fun-lovers watching the cabaret, UG says:
'I didn't know whether the dancer was dancing on the stage or I was doing the
dancing. There was a peculiar kind of movement inside of me. There was no division
there. There was nobody who was looking at the dancer.' Eventually, after his thymus gland was fully
activated, this was to become his everyday 'normal' experience; for instance,
while travelling in a car, he would feel the oncoming car or any vehicle as if
passing through his body.
A week after this experience,
one night in a hotel room in Geneva, he had a dream. He saw himself bitten by a
cobra and die instantly. He saw his body being carried on a bamboo stretcher
and placed on a funeral pyre at some nameless cremation ground. And as the pyre
and his own body went up in flames, he was awakened.
It was a prelude to his
'clinical death' on his forty-ninth birthday, and the beginning of the most
incredible bodily changes and experiences that would catapult him into a state
that is difficult to understand within the framework of our hitherto known
mystical or enlightenment traditions. His experiences were not the blissful or
transcendental experiences most mystics speak of, but a 'physical torture'
triggered by an explosion of energy in his body that eventually left him in
what he calls the 'natural state'
For seven days, UG's body
underwent tremendous changes. The whole chemistry of the body, including the
five senses, was transformed. His eyes stopped blinking; his skin turned soft;
and when he rubbed any part of his body with his palm it produced a sort of
ash. He developed a female breast on his left-hand side. His senses started
functioning independently and at their peak of sensitivity. And the thymus
gland which, according to doctors is active throughout childhood and then becomes
dormant at puberty was reactivated. All the thoughts of man from time
immemorial, all experiences, whether good or bad, blissful or miserable,
terrific or terrible, mystical or commonplace, experienced by humanity from primordial times (the whole 'collective
consciousness') were flushed out of his system, and on
the seventh day, he 'died' but only to be reborn in 'undivided
consciousness'. It was a terrific journey and a sudden great leap into the
primordial state untouched by thought.
UG insists that this is not the
state of a self-realized or god-realized man. It is not the ‘Satori’ of Zen
Buddhism nor 'Brahmanubhava' of the Upanishads. It is neither 'emptiness' nor ‘void'.
It is simply a state of 'non-experience', but the inevitable sensations are
still functioning. The reactivation of the thymus gland seems to enable him to
'feel' these sensations without translating or interpreting them as good or
bad, for the interpreter, the self, ‘I’ doesn’t exist.
UG says. People call me an
"enlightened man"-I detest that term- they
can't find any other word to describe the way I am functioning. At the same
time, I point out that there is no such thing as enlightenment at all. I say
that because all my life I've searched and wanted to be an enlightened man, and
I discovered that there is no such thing as enlightenment at all, and so the
question whether a particular person is enlightened or not doesn't arise ....
There is no power outside of man. Man has created God out of fear. So the
problem is fear and not God.' Further, he says, 'I am not a saviour of mankind.
I am not in the holy business. I am only interested in describing this state
(the natural state), in clearing away the occultation and mystification in
which those people in the business have shrouded the whole thing. Maybe I can
convince you not to waste a lot of time and energy looking for a state which
does not exist except in your imagination.’
With his long, flowing
silver-grey hair, deep-set eyes, Buddha-like long ears showing through his
thinning hair, and fair complexion, UG looked a strange pigeon from another world.
Speaking in non-technical language in a simple conversational style, informal
and intimate, at times abusive, serene or explosive, his hands rising and
moving in striking mudras, he carried the 'authority' of one who had literally
seen it all.
Uppaluri Gopala Krishnamurti
was born on 9 July 1918 in Masulipatnam, a small town in the state of Andhra
Pradesh. His mother, who
died seven days after he was born, is believed to have told her father, T.G. Krishnamurti
that her son was born with a high spiritual destiny. T.G. Krishnamurti was a
prosperous lawyer and quite an influential person in the town of Gudivada.
Taking his daughter's prophecy seriously, he gave up his lucrative career to
bring up his grandson. He was a great believer in the theosophical movement and
contributed huge sums of money for its various activities. The walls of his
house were adorned with pictures of theosophical leaders, including one of Jiddu
Krishnamurti, who was then looked upon as the 'World Teacher'.
But this theosophist was also a firm believer in the Hindu Brahmincal
tradition. He was a 'mixed-up man' in the words of UG. And so UG grew up in a
peculiar milieu of both theosophy and Hindu religious beliefs and practices.
Hindu gurus visited the house frequently and chanting and readings from the
scriptures were held on a regular basis. There were days when readings from the
Upanishads, Panchadasi Naishkarmya Siddhi and other such religious texts would
start in the early morning hours and go on until late in the evening. By the age
of eight, UG knew some of these texts by heart.
With all this religious
practice and exposure to theosophy at quite an early age, UG grew to be a
passionate yet rebellious character. Brilliant and sensitive as he was, he
could see through the games the elders played. They spoke of high ideals and
principles, but their lives were in direct contradiction to what they spoke.
One day, he saw his grandfather rush out of his meditation room in fury and
thrash a two-year-old child because she was crying. The supposedly deeply
religious grandfather’s behavior was quite upsetting to the young boy. Once,
when he was hardly five years old, his grandfather, infuriated by his
misbehavior, had hit him with a belt. Living with anger, the boy had grabbed
the belt from his grandfather and hit him back, shouting, 'Who do you think you
are? How can you beat me?' The grandfather never again dared to raise his hand
against the boy.
A sense of disgust with
religious rituals came early to UG. This happened when he was fourteen, during
the death anniversary of his mother. He was in a rage at the hypocrisy of the
priests who performed the rituals. He was expected to fast the whole day, as
were also the Brahmin priests who performed the death memorial rituals. After a
while into the chanting of mantras and rituals, UG saw a couple of priests get up and go out. Out of curiosity he followed
them and noticed the priests, who were also expected to fast, sneak into a
restaurant. Rushing back home, UG
removed his sacred thread and threw it away, then went
and announced to his grandfather that he was leaving home and needed some
‘You are a minor. You cannot
have the money,’ replied the grandfather harshly.
‘I don’t want your money. I
want my mother’s money,’ demanded the grandson.
‘If you go on this way, I’ll
disown you,’ the old man tried to scare the little boy.
The little boy, whose mind had
grown much beyond the boys of his age, said coolly, ‘You don’t own me. So how
can you disown me?’
If UG was difficult
for his grandparents to handle, he was kind and affectionate to his school friends and servants at home. As a boy
he detested the caste discrimination practiced at home. He observed that the
domestic workers, who came from the lower caste, were fed with the leftovers of
the food cooked the previous day. When his protest against such a practice had
no effect on his grandmother, he went and sat with the workers one mealtime and
insisted upon being served the same cold food. He was also quite sensitive to
the problems of those of his school friends who came
from poor families. With the pocket money he received or the
money he occasionally stole from his grandfather, he would pay their tuition
fees, and at times, even buy them school textbooks and shoes.
grandparents put up with his eccentricities because they knew he was precocious
and believed that he was destined for higher things. In fact, UG says that he
used to be constantly reminded about his great piritual destiny by his
grandfather. It is quite possible that UG also took his mother's prediction
quite seriously and looked upon himself as a great guru in the making.
When he was about
fourteen years of age, a well-known Sankaracharya of the famous Sivaganga Math
visited T.G. Krishnamurti’s house. The young boy was quite fascinated by the
pomp and glory that surrounded the pontiff, and the great reverence he
commanded from his disciples and admirers. He decided he wanted to be like the
pontiff when he grew up. He was ready to throw away all his little desires, quit
his studies, bid goodbye to his grandparents and follow in the footsteps of the
pontiff, and hopefully become the head of the famous Math. He even dared to express his wish to join
the pontiff. The pontiff only smiled and politely
turned down his request. He was too young for the hard life
of a sannyasi, and leaving home at his tender age would only cause unnecessary
unhappiness to his grandparents, he said. However, he gave UG a Shiva mantra.
UG took the pontiff's advice seriously and chanted the mantra 3000 times
everyday for the next seven years. Keen on achieving spiritual success and
greatness, the boy chanted the mantra anywhere and everywhere, even in his
classroom while the teacher chugged on with the lessons. What spiritual benefit
the chanting had on him is not known, but it certainly did affect his studies
and in the final exams of his SSLC, he failed in the Telugu language paper.
Durgamma, played as important a role as the grandfather in his upbringing,
although she remains on the margins of UG's story. She was a woman of strong
feelings, and made no secret of her likes and dislikes. She was illiterate, but
a virtual repository of mythical stories and native intelligence. Giving an
instance of it, UG says that it was from her he learnt the original or the
etymological meaning of the concept of maya and other such Hindu
concepts. But as a boy, it seems that he often used to be quite irritated and
angry with her. He never called her 'grandma' .The more she pleaded with him to
at least once call her 'Ammamma-Grandma', the more stubborn he would become and
even refuse to speak to her. Exasperated, once she is believed to have said
that he had 'the heart of a butcher'. True enough, one day he got so irritated
with her begging and cajoling that he screamed at her, letting fly a string of
abusive words in English he had picked up at school. A stunned grandfather
later sighed thus with relief 'Thank god she doesn't understand English!'
In the story of UG, it is the
grandfather who stands out as an imposing, formidable figure, who had to be
demolished and reduced to nothing. But, in point of fact, he was a man of great
strength and determination. If he had not taken his daughter's prediction
seriously, if he had not loved his grandson, he couldn't have abandoned his
lucrative career and devoted himself to the upbringing of this little maverick. He threw open his house to holy people not
merely for his own satisfaction or spiritual pleasure, but because he must have
believed that an early exposure to things spiritual would have a positive
effect on the boy. Further, he not only took UG along with him every time he
visited the Theosophical Society at Adyar, he also took young UG to various holy
places, ashrams and centres of learning in India. He was a wealthy man all
right, but he was no miser and spent generously on his grandson. It was surely
because of his encouragement and supports that for seven summers, and a few
more times in between, UG could travel to the Himalayas to learn classical yoga
from the famous guru Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh. Ultimately the old man's
efforts might not have led to the result he expected. That is a different
matter. But, in hindsight, one can say that he did play an important role in
the life of his grandson, in providing him with the necessary financial support
and social security so that the young UG could pursue his interests without any
Throwing Away the Crutches
Laughing with UG
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