Issue #3

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Issue 3 – December 1965 to May 1966

Introduction to Issue 3

Mary quotes extensively in this issue, and they are quotes that are obviously being read from her diaries, not just remembered.

Going on “the full tour” (of Krishnaji’s travels to India, Europe, and the US) comes to an end in this issue, but there is no question in Mary’s mind that she will just continue. She realizes in India, that she has become a principal character surrounding Krishnaji, and has some role to play, although exactly what that role is remains vague to her. However, the net effect is that she sees more of Krishnaji, and as a consequence, we see more of what it was like to be in his presence.



The Memoirs of Mary Zimbalist: Issue 3


Scott: Let’s pick up where we left off, which is all of you at Rishi Valley, and Krishnaji staying in the old guest house.

Mary: At RishiValley there is what’s known as the old guest house. Krishnaji had two small rooms upstairs, and there was also a dining room and a kitchen and a big open place where meetings were held. Downstairs there were some guest rooms. Frances McCann and I had each a room downstairs and we shared a rather large bath. Alain was on the other side of the building in his quarters. We settled in, and eventually went to lunch. There was a special dining room for the visitors, and the food was less spicily prepared than for the school.

S: Was it that same dining room that’s up next to the student’s dining room?

M: Yes. Some of the staff ate there with us, just to be companionable, or maybe they preferred it. I was immediately struck with the beauty of RishiValley, which was entirely different from Madras. It was dry, and it has a wonderful feeling of being away from the whole world somehow, which I like. To the west there was the mountain which Krishnaji cared so much about called Rishi Conda. In the afternoon the students used to go to watch the sun go down behind Rishi Conda, which was a nice sight because they’d all had their bath after playing sports, and changed into little white pajama suits.

S: I remember.

M: All the boys with their black hair, their big eyes, and the white, clean and neat outfits, and very young. It was very, very nice to see. Krishnaji felt that there was something sacred about Rishi Conda. The legend was that once some hermit had lived up at the summit, a holy man, a Rishi. And he’d left some kind of something in the air, which Krishnaji felt, I think. He didn’t say he felt it, but he cared very much about Rishi Conda.

The way of our life usually there was as follows: In the mornings sometimes Krishnaji would talk to the staff, in which case we (meaning Alain, Frances, myself and any other guests) would sit in on the discussions.

S: And those discussions would take place in the room upstairs?

M: Yes.

On certain days there’d be a chanting in assembly when the students chanted, and Krishnaji would go. He usually sat among the students on the floor, cross-legged, and chanted with them. It was very beautiful, very moving. Some days I would go up the mountain by myself and lie in the sun and take a sunbath and feel a wonderful sense of being away from the whole rest of the world, in this ancient valley, sort of suspended in time and place. I loved it.

Usually, in the afternoon, I would walk, and very often I would be invited to accompany Krishnaji on his walk with maybe some other people. I met Narayan[1] then and walked with him and with Krishnaji. Other days I’d be walking on my own and sometimes meet him coming back from his walk and walk back with him and talk.

Somewhere in those weeks we were there, I asked Krishnaji for another interview. This time I felt much more relaxed in the interview with him. I remember the question that I had on my mind which, was one of relationship. I asked him if there is indeed any reality to relationship between people if they really don’t see each other a great deal. He asked me what I had in mind, what I meant. Well, what I was talking about was a niece of mine who was quite a young child then, and I was concerned about her but I hardly ever saw her. I was questioning whether there was any relationship just because you’re a member of a family. He asked me a little bit about it, the circumstances of the child’s life, where she was, etc. In effect he replied that probably there wasn’t any relationship, but there would be if there’s an exchange of some kind, either a conversation or by letter, or something. If I was to establish a contact verbally, then relationship can be real and can endure, but otherwise not.

Then he asked me what all this (by which he meant the really listening to him, the contact, etc.) was meaning to me.

I think I repeated what I’d said to him in an earlier conversation, which is that I was leery, as it were, of trying to measure where I was all the time because of the inclination to and danger of trying to achieve some aim. I saw that that wasn’t an intelligent way to go about it. He then asked me if I was fearful of anything. I replied, “Well, actually no, not at the moment, but I distrust that. It’s like a fear of not being afraid.”

He laughed a little bit, smiled at that, and said, “Don’t do that. Don’t make problems for yourself.”

I told him that once earlier I had said to him, “I’m very hesitant about asking for an interview with you because I don’t want to take up your time unnecessarily, and there are so many people who want to talk to you. So, I haven’t asked to speak to you in quite a long time. Also, it didn’t seem right, unless I have a crisis of some kind, I shouldn’t ask.

I remember his replying, “Now that we’ve talked a little bit and we know each other better, it will be easier for you to speak…” Also,  he didn’t want to have to tell me to come for my so-called treatment. You know, I had been sick in Madras, and I should just come when I thought it was necessary.

I said, again, that I was hesitant to bother him with anything like that.

He replied, “Well, now we know each other better, it will be easier.” [Laughing.] So, that was the end of that.

S: Was he still calling you Mrs. Zimbalist at this point?

M: Oh, he called me Mrs. Zimbalist for years! I’ve forgotten now when he changed, but I think that for about seven years he kept calling me Mrs. Zimbalist! [Both laugh.] He’d been my house guest for years, [S laughs] and he still was calling me Mrs. Zimbalist! [Laughs.] This is jumping ahead but, he switched from Mrs. Zimbalist to Maria. Well, there are so many Marys around—Mary Lutyens, Mary Cadogan—so he called me Maria.

S: I wondered always if it was because sometimes you spoke in Italian together.

M: We spoke French more, but sometimes in Italian. Yes, I think it may have had something to do with that. [S laughs.] Anyway, it was still Mrs. Zimbalist for quite some years.

S: Where did this interview take place? Up in one of his rooms?

M: Yes, he sat on the floor on a kind of a rug.

S: Was he sleeping in the little room in those days?

M: Yes. He slept in the little room. I think I was somewhat instrumental in changing that.  Anyway, we met in his big room.

I remember that before that interview he wanted to cure me of something, and he said, “Do you want it before we talk or after?”

I said, “I think after.”

You could often tell with Krishnaji if you made the right answer. You felt it. [Laughs.] And also one always knew when an interview was over. His attention was turned off like a light. It was curious; not his total attention—he would still speak to you and all that, but that other quality went out. You just knew, that was that, you felt it was over. When I got up from the interview, he pulled out a chair for me to sit on. He washed his hands and came back and stood behind me very quietly for a while, and then, ever so lightly, he put his fingers on my eyelids. The touch of his fingers was extraordinary. It was as delicate as a leaf touching a pool of water. It was so unlike most human touch.

S: Yes, it was.

What were you wearing in those days? Were you wearing Indian clothes?

M: I wore Indian clothes. I didn’t wear saris. I had one time. I forget if I’ve described when Shakuntala dressed me in a in a white cotton sari, have I told that?

S: No, not yet.

M: It’s in this period. Shakuntala and Narayan had a little house down behind the guest house, and I was asked for tea with them. There was to be a puppet show in the school later that evening. The children of the lower school had made puppets of the story of Ulysses and the Cyclops; quite marvelous, great big puppets out of papier maché, and in those days Mark Lee was head of the lower school, and he had organized all this. At tea, Shakuntala asked. ”Why don’t you wear a sari? I’ll lend you one.” But, of course, I didn’t know how to put one on, and I’m still not any good at it. So, she literally dressed me in the sari. I stood there like a dummy! [Laughing.] We then walked over to where the puppet show was to be, and we were seated in the front row. Everyone was ready and then Krishnaji came in from the side, and he walked in, at right angles to where I was. He noticed me immediately [giggles], and he did something that was utterly un-Indian and very Western—he raised his eyebrows [S laughing] but didn’t say a word! However, when it was all over, when he’d said good night to everybody, he bowed to me and said, “I see you have a new dress.” [Chuckles and S laughs, too.] But most of the time I wore things that I had gotten in Delhi—cotton kurtas and trousers and sandals. Of course, the tailor in the school, who was so  heavily [laughing] patronized when the visitors came, made some kurtas and trousers for me.

I remember some nuns who were always asked for lunch up in Krishnaji’s dining room. I also remember Balasundarum’s[2] wife, Vishalakshi, I think, being a traditional Indian wife; she didn’t eat with everybody. She sat on a stool and saw that everything was properly done, but she didn’t eat. Very old-fashioned Indian style.

And Parameshwaram was the cook.

There was also a sort of house-man who took care of things if you needed something.

It was still the bucket system. You got a bucket of hot water in the morning.

S: When did Parameshwaram join the tour? He wasn’t in Delhi, I assume?

M: No. He was not in Delhi. In later years, he would go wherever Krishnaji was, and not this year. I can’t remember when he joined Krishnaji this year, but he was certainly in Rishi Valley because that’s where he was cook the rest of the year. He would come to cook for Krishnaji in the little kitchen upstairs.

Pongal occurred then while we were then in Rishi Valley. All the bullocks were dressed up with flowers and ornaments on their horns. Villagers came and played on flute-like things and drums, and the children had a lovely time dancing. Krishnaji came with his big umbrella to watch.

S: Krishnaji used that parasol because he had had sunstroke when he was younger, didn’t he?

M: That’s right. He called it not a parasol, but a sun umbrella. At some point in his early years, I don’t know when exactly, he’d had sunstroke in India, so he was sensitive to sun, which is why he used to walk always in the afternoon, when the sun wasn’t high.

S: What were Narayan and Shakuntala doing there? Were they just teaching there?

M: They were teaching, and Shakuntala had just become pregnant with Natasha. She was born the following May after this. This was in January.

It was a wonderfully peaceful time. I remember the combination of Krishnaji, his talks, the beautiful valley, the remoteness, the silence, children all around, and those funny hills. A great atmosphere there. I imagined suddenly leaving everything and becoming a kind of hermit there. Then, of course, there were the dance performances under the banyan tree. I think that the same Mrs. Moonlight lady—the demented lady—had come, too. So, again, we had to run interference for Krishnaji to keep her away from Krishnaji.

But overall, Rishi Valley was just lovely.

The next move was to Bombay but via Bangalore. Again, Alain, Frances, and I had a car, a school car this time, which took us to Bangalore. We had lunch, did a little shopping, and then we met Krishnaji at the airport and flew to Bombay. In Bombay he was staying with Pupul Jayakar…

S: At Malabar Hills?

M: Yes, in her house. Alain was staying with one of her sisters. Oh dear, what is her name? That I should remember, but I don’t at the moment.

S: Not Nandini?

M: No, not Nandini; the other sister, who was a more worldly person. She used to play bridge a lot, and would turn up now and again, but she wasn’t as close as Pupul and Nandini.

Frances and I stayed at the Taj hotel, and I think Alain eventually joined us. I was invited over to Pupul’s for lunch about the second day, and Krishnaji said, “Bring me the things that you want kept safely.” In other words, money, passports, and things like that. So, I brought them, and he took me through the bathroom into his bed-room, and [chuckles] he took my things and put them away, saying they were perfectly safe as no one would come in his room. He then said, going out through the bathroom, “When I got here they had all sorts of pictures on the wall of Indian statuary.” They were those [laughs, S laughs] ones, and they’d taken them down quickly after he’d got there. And he added, “But not before I’d had a good look!” All those erotic statuary. I remember Alain saying, “They were pornographic, weren’t they, sir?’ And Krishnaji replied, “Oh, no, they were religious!” [Both laugh!]

S: In his mock voice?

M: Yes. [Laughs again.]

I said that I didn’t feel that they could be pornographic because they all looked so happy! Well, it turned out as the conversation went on, that I hadn’t seen the ones that were on the bathroom wall; I’d only seen ones that are reproduced books—strange positions and so forth. Anyway, I had lunch there. Then Krishnaji began giving his talks. They were held in the usual place, in that college of art. He also held public discussions in the something like Khareghat Hall, which lots of people came to. You had to [chuckles] leave your sandals outside, and I remember one day I came out and all the sandals had been stolen! [Laughs.]

S: Really?!

M: Hundreds of pair of sandals where gone! [Both laugh.] Great consternation. [More laughter.]

S: Someone was selling slightly used sandals down the street someplace.

M: Yes [more laughing]. Then there were walks around the hanging gardens in Malabar Hills with a required number of laps around. Krishnaji one day (there were people milling around), and pointed to a couple on a bench with their arms around each other, sprawling, and he said, “What is this country coming to? You never would have seen that a few years ago.” [Both laugh.] He sounded quite shocked.

There was shopping obviously; one shops in all these places.

Krishnaji talked several times about Elephanta and the great statue of the Mahesh Murti. I rather vaguely said I’d like to see that again. To which Krishnaji replied, “No, no, it’s too tiring.”

I said, “Well maybe the boat ride would be tiring but, what if I hired a helicopter? Would you go by helicopter?”

“Oh no, no,” he said, “don’t bother, don’t bother.” So, of course, I went hunting for a helicopter. [S laughs.] And that wasn’t very easy, but finally I had one vaguely located which might be possible.

So, I went back and said, “I think I can get the helicopter. Will you go if I do?”

He replied, “No, no, even that’s too tiring.” So, I went with Alain.

S: By boat.

M: By boat. Yes, and I could see why that wouldn’t do for Krishnaji at all.

S: Yes.

M: You’ve seen it, haven’t you?

S: Yes, I have.

M: Well, we climbed up to the cave where it is, and in spite of the fact there were children running around playing music on radios, that extraordinary statue is something unforgettable.

S: Absolutely.

M: Much later, Krishnaji got a photograph of it, which I have in Ojai, and he said (and I felt the same way), “We’re not going to put it up because one mustn’t get used to looking at it, then one doesn’t see it.” To this day it sits on a shelf in the closet, and occasionally I take it out and look at it.

S: How nice, yes.

M: Really wonderful. What else?

S: Were there any private discussions in Pupul’s house?

M: Oh yes, there were. I was invited to several at Pupul’s, and I remember in particular the first one I went to. There were about fifteen people. Krishnaji asked the question, “What can the individual do in the face of the disintegration of society?” He made it something very interesting. He said that an individual cannot be changed by another individual. He made a distinction between individual consciousness and human consciousness: the individual consciousness is one’s own, but an individual can affect the totality of human consciousness, which of course he had said previously.

S: Yes

M: He said that if only two or three people ever could do what he talked so often about, it would make a change in the world. He was pointing that out in this discussion. The individual who has changed has a vast resonance, like a wave going out from the individual; if there’s really change in the individual it would spread out like a wave through the totality of human beings. He didn’t use those exact words, but that was the implication of what he was saying. He said one has to see this, but people don’t, aren’t willing to. It was one of those discussions which were frustrating because he would say something like that and then inevitably, as in all discussions, there’d be someone who would say, “But we don’t see that, Krishnaji!”

S: Oh, yes!

M: And then the discussion would go back as so many of his discussions did. So you’d go through a whole catalogue of what’s wrong, and it wouldn’t go forward. It was frustrating, somehow. If the discussion had flowed onward, people had gone with it, they would have seen something. Oh yes! [chuckling], there was one day, another private discussion, and he was a little bit late, which he usually never was; he came in laughing, and said, “I’ve just been scolded,” he said, “by a guru.” Apparently some guru took him to task for saying that gurus were no good! [S laughs.] Were a hindrance! [Laughs.] He was laughing at that so much! [More laughter.] I think he said that in a talk at which I felt that one occasionally gets a sort of insight, and then thought perceives that insight as a danger to itself because we perceive that as almost like death; because if we really went ahead…

S: The self disappears.

M: Exactly, the self would disappear, and that is perceived by the thought process as death,  and it’s so scary that you pull back, and don’t go ahead.

Anyway, he talked, and whatever I said, I said, and he said things back. But I had the feeling—many people have these feelings in talks with Krishnaji—that he was talking to me directly, not only words, but subconsciously. I could feel it coming at me, even when he was talking to somebody else or addressing some particular question. It was very strange. Afterward he came over to me for some reason and said, “You didn’t mind me pounding you in that talk, did you?” I replied, “No, of course not.” It was one of those times when there were different levels of communication going on.

S: In a way he was acknowledging your recognition of that different level by asking you that question, wasn’t he?

M: Probably.

I think it was in that talk that he said, as he so often did, “When you see that the road you’re on is the wrong road—you’re going north and someone comes and says that doesn’t lead anywhere; go south or east or west—why don’t you do it? Why don’t you see that where you’re going leads no place and stop?”

I remember saying, “But I can’t stop walking. My mind won’t stop. Even though I see it’s futile. It won’t go on.”

He replied, “Why do you say that? You think you can’t, but you can.” I remember that strongly. It was like, he didn’t say it then, but it’s like, “Stop thinking.” I had no—I’d never done that. I mean, I could stop thinking about a particular thing, but the mind would run on in some other way.

S: Were these discussions being recorded?

M: I don’t remember.

S: Alain would have done the recording, wouldn’t he?

M: Yes, he would. I don’t remember; they might have been, should have been, must have been. If they were, well now, anything that Alain recorded went to the Rajagopal. Whether they made an Indian copy and kept it, I have no recollection at all. Alain might remember, I’ll ask him, make a note; the next time I speak to him I’ll ask him.

S: Would you, in going for the walks, around the hanging gardens at Malabar Hills, would you meet him at Pupul’s house, and then go from there?

M: Yes, go from there, in a car. Car would drive him, and I’d go with him. At the end of the walk, I’d go back, I guess, to the house, and then go back to the hotel.

S: Who would be on the walks?

M: Well, Madhavachari would always be there, and sometimes Narayan. I don’t remember Nandini walking. Alain, always.

About this time, Krishnaji would call me to come and discuss whether this house in the south of France, that had been offered by Frances McCann, was a good thing to accept or not. And at that point it was still a possibility, so he called me to discuss it.

S: Why don’t you explain that a little bit?

M: Well, Frances had lived in Rome, where she had one of the very beautiful old apartments in the old palaces, Palazzo down in the old part of Rome, Piazza Navona—that part of Rome. She’d lived there, and she had an art gallery, too, that she supported. She sold all this, and had a certain amount of money as a result. She wanted to buy what they call in the south of France, mas—a large farm house that could be a place where Krishnaji could retire, or use in whatever way he wanted, as he didn’t have a home really.

So that was still being discussed. In Bombay, he had said that he wanted to involve me in it. He wanted to make a committee of people who would be responsible for it. The idea was that Frances would look after it, but there had to be a group that would have jurisdiction.

He said that Alain should go and look for such a house when they got back to Europe after Bombay. Gérard Blitz[3] was involved in this too because he lived near there. He knew that part of France. He lived in, oh, what was it called? A community of rather luxurious houses. So, Blitz was going to help find it too. But there was to be a group of people—I think myself, Alain, possibly Vanda, I’ve forgotten who else, would be involved in it. We were still talking about all this. Krishnaji wasn’t sure that he wanted to do this. He was a little afraid that Frances might regret it, or he felt Frances wasn’t perhaps too stable, and that it would be a mistake to have a place like that which she had really provided. But at this point it was still on. As I recall, when we did get back, Alain did go and look for things. But it didn’t go any further. And, of course, it was after that, that the idea of a school came up. But we’re still in Bombay in 1966, two years before seriously looking for a school.

I remember another discussion. This was the final discussion. It was again on the subject of thought and the difficulty of letting go of thought. I found that impossible. Krishnaji said something quite extraordinary which made the whole thing clear to me. He used the metaphor of the drum that is silent—the silence was necessary.

S: He used to say that the drum had to be empty to make a noise.

M: Empty, that’s right. “Thought is the un-tuning of the drum,” he said. And he also said, “What happens when you put thought aside? Turn your back on it?” I again replied that I couldn’t do it and said, “How does one turn away even when the futility of that is seen?”

He said, “You mean you’re in thought and you can’t get out? Why do you insist on that?”

All I could do was just be stuck. And then he did something quite remarkable. All of a sudden he said to me, “Mrs. Zimbalist, is beauty thought?” And that broke it for me. I saw that. That isn’t thought. It was like a blinding light all of a sudden.

S: How many people would be at these discussions?

M: Not too many, about fifteen, sixteen, eighteen, something like that.

S: Who that we would remember would be there?

M: Well, there’d be Pupul, Nandini, Alain, I guess Frances must have been there, though I don’t remember her. There’d be, I guess, Sunanda, Pama, Madhavachari, some of the Bombay Indians. There was a group in Bombay that didn’t usually come elsewhere. I can sort of see the room and vaguely how many people, but I can’t see individuals.

I remember also that at the end of that discussion, he said, “If you could see the beauty of the empty drum tuned and that out of that action comes.”

I said, “Yes, I see.”

And then when he said goodbye, he said, “Hold onto that drum!” [Laughs.]

There was also a dinner party at Mrs. Mehta’s house, the mother of Nandini and Pupul. It was in their old family house, it was quite beautiful. Really marvelous food, extraordinary food, and everyone was wonderfully dressed in saris and things. There was a great sense of the affection that the family had for Krishnaji. In one of the discussions,  suddenly a door burst open and Nandini’s little grandchild, who later became a dancer…

S: Oh, yes, yes.

M: You remember her?

S: I remember her, yes.

M: Well, she was a little girl of about six or something then, she rushed into the room to Krishnaji, and he jumped up and kissed her on both cheeks and threw her up in the air to her delight. [S laughs.] There was such excitement in the child’s face, and his joy in seeing this little child. It was lovely.

So, then, the time for India was over.

S: What was it like for you to be there? What did you feel, Mary—can you remember? Did you feel like an outsider? Did you feel like someone on the fringe of something or…?

M: No. I must say everyone was absolutely charming to me, all the Indians. They were friendly, and went out of their way to help me with shopping or any of those things. I was invited to their houses. So I felt I was nicely treated as a guest, in a way.

But there was a kind of private relation that was between Krishnaji, Alain, and myself. I mean, he would talk with us about other non-Indian things—wanted to discuss for instance the house and whether he should accept the invitation to talk at Harvard and at the NewSchool and all those things. It was as though that was his private life apart from Indian things.

And I seemed to have become more and more a key person. In fact, I remember that when we were still in Rishi Valley, at the end of that discussion that I mentioned earlier, I went back to just mentioning the other interviews that he’d given me, which of course he didn’t remember, and I said, “Sir, I feel that, as I seem to be increasingly a fixture around you that you should look into what I’m like. You should ask me anything you want. You should know who the people are around you.” That was part of the thing when he said he was shy, but now that we knew each other better, etc. [Chuckles.] I said, “I’m shy too, but I think it’s only right that if there’s anything that you want to know about me, you would ask me, please.”

I didn’t feel strange in India. I mean, it was totally strange, but I didn’t feel alienated. I thought it was wonderful being there, and I felt I liked everything that happened to me there.

On the last day in India, I went over to Krishnaji’s, to Pupul’s house to collect my passport or whatever it was that I left with him. When I came in people were seated on the floor in a little sitting room just to the left as you come in. There was a dark bearded minstrel who held a stringed instrument, one string, and a little clicking castanet sort of thing. The minute Krishnaji came into the room, he started to play and sing. It was lovely, haunting songs. Apparently Krishnaji had heard him singing in the street and had him brought in to play.

We sat and listened to it. Krishnaji said that he’d heard the singing in the street and he knew that rich people who lived around there don’t hear it, only the servants would hear it. [S chuckles.] He also said that the man was from the south and spoke Telugu. When it was over, Krishnaji went and thanked him and put a gift of clothing on the floor next to him. I remember so clearly the grace with which he did something like that. It is rare for a person to be able to convey such human grace in everything he did.

So, that evening, everybody went to the airport, and there were a whole mass of devotees who came to see him off. They were seated in a big circle in a room, and Krishnaji was seated on a chair, and there was dead silence. [Chuckles]. I remember that when I came in, he got up as he would if a woman came into the room, and you could feel a shock wave go around through the [S chuckles] whole of the Indian devotees that Krishnaji would get up for a woman.

S: Yes.

M: [Chuckles.] And finally, he got up and went out in the hallway, and the Parsee lady, she was a Parsee, that’s what she was, the mad lady, Mrs. Moonlight, she was after him. So, again, we had to protect him.

I should clarify, we had been in a sort of a sitting room that had been put aside for him as a waiting room, and then there was the open airport outside. So, I went along too, to protect him, until Madhavachari came, and then he kept her away. Krishnaji said to me, “I can’t stand sitting there and being stared at.” [Chuckles.]

S: Yes.

M: So, off we went. Alain and I were in tourist class, and Krishnaji was in first class, but he kept coming back to see us, and said, “I’m visiting the poor.” [Both laugh heartily.]

So that was the end of India that time.

We landed in Rome. Krishnaji went to stay with Vanda Scaravelli, at the house she’d rented in Rome, Via Casaletto, and I was in a hotel.

S: Was it a regular house that Vanda had in Rome?

M: She rented various ones, but at that point she’d rented that one several times. She later rented another one. This house was outside Rome and had a garden. Quite nice. Alain stayed there too. I stayed in Hotel Rafael, off Piazza Navona, which is a very nice little hotel, but I didn’t stay there long as I went back to the United States. This was the end of March 1966, and I didn’t see Krishnaji again until April, in London. Krishnaji stayed in Rome for a while. That may be the year where he went to Bircher Benner Clinic, in Switzerland, but I’m not sure.

S: I thought he was going to speak at Harvard.

M: That’s the next autumn. I saw him again in London, in April.

S: Okay. Well, let’s start there.

M: Alright. This is the end of April and, again, he was in a crummy little rented house in Wimbledon; not right in Wimbledon, but near there, in Kingston something, near the Kingston Bypass.

Alain telephoned me and said, “Will you meet us at Huntsman?” And of course, this entertained me vastly because it was the follow-on of the last time we were in London.

S: Of course. Where were you staying? Back at the guest house?

M: Anyway, there was much pouring over samples, and they ordered suits. Everybody was very happy. I was consulted on the choices, as my advice was really a Ph.D. advice! [S laughing, M with humor in voice.] Or so I was considered.

S: When I was talking with, or really interviewing, Mary Lutyens, she talked about how Krishnaji would go into Liberty’s and feel all the silks, and it’s just what I’ve seen him do at Huntsman’s, and in India and other placeS: he would tucks in his chin [M laughs], and he would feel and touch everything and look at everything with such extraordinary attention. It was a wonder just to watch him.

M: That’s right. And there was just the whole experience of going into Huntsman. They greet you with such ceremony; bow with, “Good morning, sir,” and he was always so pleased to be there.

S: Yes.

M: He used to say that Huntsman was “his club,” as he put it. [Both laugh.] Mr. Lintott…did you ever know Mr. Lintott?

S: Yes, of course, I did.

M: Well, Mr. Lintott, of course, was just as pleased to see Mr. Krishnamurti as Mr. Krishnamurti was to be there. So, all the “patterns,” as they called samples of materials, were brought out, and there was great discussion about what was needed. Then, of course, he had the added fun of deciding what Naudé “needed,” as he said. Krishnaji called him Naudé always; never called him Alain.

“Naudé should have a blue suit.”

So what kind of a blue suit, what weight of a blue suit? Where and what climates would he being wearing it, and what occasions? This was all a very serious matter. [Laughs.] And it entertained me greatly. I sat on that old leather thing by the window.

S: Yes, [laughs] with hundred-year-old magazines!

M: Yes, well, they had Country Life, of course. And so I would read the advertisements of the things for sale. “Oh, maybe, I’ll take that one,” I would pretend. [Chuckles.] It was fun.

S: I know something you left out.

M: What?

S: The shirt shopping in Italy.

M: I don’t think that on this trip…I might have my trips mixed up. I knew quite a bit about where to buy shirt material because of Sam. There was a place called Castel in an old part of Rome, and on one of the trips coming back from India, I went there with Alain. Krishnaji was then fascinated and wanted to go himself. I didn’t remember the address, but I knew where it was. I have a good sense of location so I could find it. We purchased yardage, and then it was made up by the good shirt-maker.

S: Where was it? Was it like in Morita, or…?

M: Oh goodness, you are digging into my brain. Oh…

S: Something beginning with “m”?

M: Marchetti. That’s it, but eventually, Mr. Marchetti retired and his business closed. That was the problem. But yes, it was Marchetti in those days.

S: That’s right.

M: So, we would buy the material, and then take it to Marchetti and he would make it up. That too was very serious business. [Both laugh.] And great fun!

S: Anyway, how did Krishnaji greet you? Because that was the first time you’d seen him for a couple of months, at Huntsman’s.

M: Yes, yes. By then I had ordered a car because I don’t think I had a car before that. Anyway, I’d ordered a Jaguar, not a Mercedes.

S: Shame on you.

M: Shame on me. [S laughs.] But I’d ordered it for delivery in London. Ordered it in California for delivery in London. I drove it out to the little horrid house by the Kingston Bypass. I remember Krishnaji looking out the window and rushing out to see the car. [S chuckles.] He looked it all over, but as it wasn’t a Mercedes, he didn’t say very much. [Both laugh.] I think it was that day that he gave his first talk at the Friends Hall on Euston Road, and we went to that in the Jaguar. It was a bigger and better hall than Wimbledon, but it’s still not such a great hall.

The next day,  in the car, I took them on their round of appointments, mostly shopping. [Chuckles.] I can still see driving them in and out from Kingston Bypass place, which was the point of the car.

S: Now what other shopping did they do?

M: Well, they looked at things, up and down Bond Street. Edward Butler, a shirt and socks, etc. place, and Sulka: we’d go there.

S: I remember Sulka.

M: Yes, but it used to be up Bond Street a bit toward upper Bond Street.

S: Was Krishnaji getting his hair cut at Truefitt in those days?

M: Of course. Yes. Always.

S: I’ve been there with Krishnaji a couple times.

M: Krishnaji had a wonderful way in the car. We’d be chatting about anything, and he would suddenly say, “Do you mind if we talk seriously?” Naturally one agreed. And he would say something like, “Meditation can be extraordinary if you know how to do it.” And then he’d say, “What is humility?” And then he’d say, “It is without content, without any movement toward anything.” There were these extraordinary unrecorded little things, which luckily, I made some notes of these.

And then he would ask me, “Does it interfere with your driving if we talk seriously?” He wanted to discuss, “What is seriousness? What is it to you?” he would ask. And then I would say whatever I thought it was.

He replied, “There is decision in it.”

After he had talked to David Bohm[4], he said that David had said that he, himself, was not decisive. That word struck Krishnaji, that decision was a part of all this.

At that point, Naudé quoted something Krishnaji had said some time before about seriousness, but Krishnaji brushed it aside. He didn’t want to go back to something he had said, and he was looking at it anew at that moment.

At one point he asked me about someone we both knew, whether that person was serious. I apparently paused quite a while and then said, “No.”

He then asked, “What do you mean by that?”

I said that to me a person isn’t serious if they’re unwilling to go wherever the inquiry takes them; and that was why I answered “No” about this person.

He countered by asking, “Why do people do that?”

I felt that a serious person doesn’t chose or decide out of self-interest.

Krishnaji then asked me why they always act out of self-interest; to which I responded that I thought it is an impulse in people and they were “afraid of putting all their eggs in one basket,” as I put it.

He replied with something like, “But actually people would have much more, but they don’t see it.”

Then he asked me [chuckles] out of the blue, “Would you be serious if you married (god forbid), and had a family?” [M and S both chuckle.] I said it depended on the marriage and the relationship.

He said that people say they are serious about work and about the people they marry. “I am serious about the suit I’m going to fit.” [Both laugh.]

I said, “Well, is that because there’s no extraneous questions about that?”

He replied, “Have you self-interest in your car?” We were driving.

I said, “Yes, but were these things a measure of seriousness, or was it what the car meant to me? I am serious about the car to a point,” but I said, “not dependent on it.” That was the kind of conversation that would go on. All the time, he’s directing me through traffic. He was the greatest backseat driver…

S: [laughs] I know!

M: …that I’ve ever encountered, or heard of. He would, he would do hand signals.

S: Yes, yes.

M: There’d be a red light coming up, and with his hand, while still talking, he would slow me down. Occasionally, when we weren’t talking (so-called) seriously, he would say,  “There’s a red light ahead.” [Both laugh]. Oh dear.

S: Sometimes when I was driving him and he was in the back, there’d be a finger that would come and …

M: Yes, touch, yes.

S: …touch my shoulder if I was driving too fast. [Loud laugh.]

M: He did that to me when he sat in the back. Yes. He was slowing you down. [Both laugh.]

S: It’s like pushing the slow button.

M: Yes. [S laughs.] He did that to me, too. [M laughs.]

S: Now, Alain Naudé complained to some people, like the Digbys, for instance, apparently there’s some others, that Krishnaji never talked seriously to him. And George Digby used to ask me if Krishnaji ever talked seriously with me, which he did. And Krishnaji certainly talked seriously with you. Why didn’t he talk seriously with Alain?

M: I can’t believe that.

S: Alain could never get an appointment to talk with him, or to have serious discussions, or—this is according to…

M: Ah, there’s something fishy in that because they had many serious discussions, in which I was present. Also, Krishnaji dictated to Alain a lot, and he didn’t just take it down. They’d talk about it.

S: Well, maybe it was not about personal things or something.

M: I don’t know.

S: I remember both George and Nelly talking to me about this. But this doesn’t make sense to you?

M: It doesn’t make sense to me. I know they had very serious discussions.

Then one day we got on to the subject at the table with Anneke. I was there for a meal. Anneke brought up LSD, and Krishnamurti expressed surprise that I knew anything about it. He told us again about soma in ancient India and how he had discussed this with Huxley[5], and Huxley told him LSD wasn’t quite the real thing.

Krishnaji said, “It can’t be like the real thing.”

S: Was Krishnaji interested at all that you knew about LSD?

M: Not too interested. I had told him all about my being part of a scientific experiment with it. He rather dismissed it. Huxley had taken all these things at the time he knew Krishnaji.

S: When did Huxley die?

M: Huxley died the same day that Kennedy was killed.

I sat next to him at dinner shortly after there’d been a big fire. Huxley’s house was destroyed and he lost all his papers. It was terrible, and we talked about that because…

S: You must’ve known him outside of Krishnaji’s context?

M: I never knew him through Krishnaji at all. In fact, I didn’t really know him at all. I sat next to him at that dinner party, and during that dinner, I asked him whether Krishnaji’s knowledge of LSD and all that had come from him and whether that was why Krishnaji felt so much against it? Huxley gave an odd reply, which I don’t think is correct. He said, “Oh, well, it’s part of his vegetarianism.”

S: That’s strange.

M: Yeah, you know, sort of abstaining from meat and LSD apparently. [S laughs.] Well, that was all earlier.

Anyway, on this day, I ought to report that he wanted to go for a ride. So in the non-Mercedes Jaguar, we were going to go to Wisley again, but as we got toward Wisley, he said he didn’t want to go there. So, we went on to the Links’s[6]. He had told me all about how he’d known her since she was a baby, and that she and her husband Joe had  a house near Haslemere. So, we headed for Haslemere. We didn’t know where to go, but Alain inquired and we finally found the house, but there wasn’t anybody there. A farmer who was in a field said that he knew who we were talking about, and he thought that they would’ve been out for a walk. So we parked the car at the house, and we walked along the road, and met them coming back.

Krishnaji was delighted, and they were thrilled to see him, of course. I had the pleasure of meeting them for the first time.

We went in and we had tea, and immediately everybody was very congenial. Mary writes about it in her book: how she was pleased to see that Krishnaji had some fun in his life with two people who laughed and enjoyed things with him. On those drives, Krishnaji would remember places that he’d stayed in the old days. Apparently, he’d stayed all over England with various people.

S: I think so. That’s the impression I got. He’d just been everywhere.

M: Yes. He would explain it by saying that he was never allowed to go out by himself when he was young. He always had to have two initiates with him at all times. The reason being that Dr. Besant thought he’d be safer, but also because he would give all his money away. If he was alone, he’d just give it to someone who needed it. [Both laugh.] So, Dr. Besant said, as he said, “For god’s sake, don’t let him go out alone!” [Both laugh again.] And then he said, “My brother never left me,” which was nice.

S: Well, it’s true, if you think of Mary’s comment, when you and Alain were traveling with him, it was the first time he’d been with people for years who had some sense of fun.

M: Yes.

S: I mean, traveling with Rajagopal over the years must’ve just been ghastly! From everything I’ve heard, he seemed to just resent everything he was doing.

M: Yes, that was horrible. Constant complaining and criticizing. And Alain, actually, is very funny; has a great sense of humor. In fact, my friendship with Alain was based on the fact that we made each other laugh.

S: So I hear.

M: He’s very funny, has a great sense of humor. So, in fact, my friendship with Alain was based on the fact that we made each other laugh. During the time in Saanen, when he stayed at Caprice with me, at the breakfast table, I would tease him by enacting the part of a Viennese psychiatrist, psychoanalyst. [S laughs.] In a heavy accent, which I can no longer do, I would comment on his comments and his reactions and [S laughing more] while he was doing things. [Both laugh.] It was such fun. He was very companionable. [Chuckles.] So, for Krishnaji, it was a breath of fresh air. And of course, Krishnaji joined right in. It was not that we were so funny, but it was a shared amusement of things.

And also it seemed that anything was possible, you know. We sometimes used to talk and apparently it became an accepted thing in Krishnaji’s mind that we would all be together forever and ever, and there would be discussion about whether we should live in this country or that country, or a house here or a house there. These discussions went on. And whatever he would’ve suggested, I would’ve said, “Oh yes, let’s do that,” or, “How can it be done?”, whatever it was.

There were no problems about it all; to have something nice happen. It was such a pleasure to provide something pleasing to him.

S: Yes.

M: Some tiny thing, or some major thing, if he wanted, if one could. [Long pause.]

S: Hm.

M: Well now, where are we? Oh, yes, we’re still with the Linkses. That was a lovely day, just a lovely day. We drove back.

There was another drive, which is almost historic in a way because we decided to drive to the Cotswolds. I went with maps and an itinerary and everything, but when I got to the house, and it was decided that maybe that was too far. So we set out towards Winchester. And as I look back on it, we must’ve driven right past the road up to Brockwood, because from Kingston we went out the A3 and must’ve turned onto the A272 and drove right by. Nobody had any paranormal [S laughs] intimations of the future, and we got to Winchester. We looked at the Royal Hotel for lunch, but there wasn’t anything vegetarian. Alain went in and looked at the menu and found that it wouldn’t do. So we wound up at the Wessex’s.

S: Oh yes.

M: After lunch we went to the cathedral and looked around it. Then we drove on roads, I remember the names of Grateley, the Wallops! Do you know where the Wallops are?

S: Yes [laughing], Nether Wallop and Middle Wallop.

M: That’s right. And in the middle of Middle Wallop probably, we decided to take a nap. I had a big steamer rug in the back of the car, which we took into a field, and spread it out on the grass. Each person had a portion of the rug, and we lay down and snoozed a little.

S: How nice.

M: It was lovely. And then, refreshed, we drove on to Stonehenge, which in those days was so wonderful because it wasn’t surrounded by fence. There was nobody around. You could just go up to the stones. It was wonderful! We drove back by another route, I forget which way we went. Didn’t come back the way we’d gone.

In the car, Krishnaji said that a question by some young people he’d seen the day before had come back to him in the morning. He’d thought of it, and he said that, “Time is a like a river flowing, but we divide it into the past, the present, and the future. But one must see the whole of it, and then when you see it, then time has a stop.”

S: Had you been in that discussion with young people?

M: I don’t think so. Suddenly he said, “Yes, I see, but I mustn’t talk about it now.” Which meant that he’d seen something that he didn’t want to talk about because he’d talk about it in a public talk. Then quite suddenly he said, ”When my brother died, this person” meaning himself “fainted, went into a coma for several days, so Shiva Rao told me,” he said. He didn’t remember. And when he came to they all assured him he was alright—the Masters and all that. But though he cried out and it was a great shock, he never tried to move from that fact, to question what it all meant. He just suddenly came out with this thing about his brother. And then he was very intense and very elated by the idea of time, and said, “I wish I could give a talk right now!”

That night, I had supper with them. Anneke had it ready when we got there. He kept saying at the table, “I’m ready to talk now!” We were concerned that he wouldn’t sleep—it would be hard for him to sleep in such a mood, so he wouldn’t get enough sleep the night before a talk. So, we watched television as a soporific [both chuckle] to calm him down. Then I went back to Eaton Place.

S: Would you pick him up and take him to the talks at the Friends Meeting House?

M: Yes, yes. I think so. Must have, but I wouldn’t be able to testify under oath. However, as I had the car and they had no car, I must have. By this time, I was the chauffeur, so it would make sense. He was talking to David Bohm during these times. They were having discussions. Sarel and David would come on the tube to Sloane Square or somewhere near there, and I would pick them up there and drive them out. In one of the discussions, Krishnaji made the statement that, “there is, in effect, nothing to do but listen, listen with affection.” That’s the way he put it. He said that if a statement is made that is true, it has its own action if you listen. He illustrated this with that story of the robbers—he’s told it many times—of the band of robbers is made by their leader to close their eyes and ears as they go past a teacher who is teaching. The youngest robber steps on a thorn, and drops his hands, and hears the words, “stealing is evil,” which he truly hears, and he could no longer steal. [Chuckles.] So, he told that story. After these discussion we would walk in RichmondPark quite a lot, David, Sarel and Krishnaji and myself.

S: It must’ve been inconvenient for you to be all the way in from Eaton Square when Krishnaji was out in Kingston on Thames or whatever.

M: Well, the funny thing is that what would seem to be inconvenient to me today, seemed nothing to me in those days [laughing]. Sometimes when I’ve gone over the notes of past events, I think, “Oh my god, how did I do all that in one day?” That also characterizes a lot of the time of living in Malibu. I’d run into town with some list of things to do and come back, cook lunch, and have it ready. I don’t know how I managed all that, but I did. Youth! Or comparative youth. I wasn’t so young during all this! [S laughs.] It sounds as though I was twenty years old. I was…let’s not say how old at the moment. [S laughs.]

And then, of course, fittings went on.

Also, Krishnaji started asking questions about “that boy”—meaning himself—why, despite everything, he wasn’t conditioned. He was talking about that an awful lot in the car.

S: You must have also have had many more discussions about the mas in the south of France.

M: Mmm. It sort of…I’ll have to think back, I can’t tell you at the moment, when he made the decision not to do that. I’m sure I have it my notes. Another time when we make a recording, I’ll look it up. Because they hadn’t found a house, the whole idea calmed down.

Anyway, we again went to Mary and Joe’s in the country one day. It was pouring rain, and we took a picnic to eat on the way down, but we ate it in the car because of the rain. I remember that I made a ratatouille—I don’t know—must have made it in the house in Kingston. [Chuckles.] Things you remember. Anyway, we went and had tea with Mary and Joe and had another lovely walk because the rain had gone away.

So, we come now to May, I think the tenth.We were to drive the car to Paris, so we drove to Lydd, which is where they had a way of flying cars over.

S: Oh, yes.

M: From Lydd to Le Touquet.

S: Oh, yes. You would put your car on the airplane. An extraordinary thing. What part of the airplane came down to take in the car?

M: Like a big mouth, it opened, and you drove the car in. Then you went around and you sat in the cabin.

S: Before we go to France, because we’re going to run out of tape in a few minutes. How did you perceive Krishnaji’s relationships with Mary and Joe, and his relationships with Doris and Anneke, and Mary Cadogan?

M: How do you mean how did I perceive? Mary and Joe were old friends. I took an immediate liking to both of them, and they seemed to like me, too.

S: But, Joe didn’t have an interest in the teaching.

M: No, but he liked Krishnaji and enjoyed his company, and they laughed together.

S: And on the other hand, there was someone like Doris who was almost the opposite, but had a tremendous devotion to the teaching.

M: Yes. Doris was a character, and you immediately saw her as a character, and the things that were both good and bad, were part of her character, and these made her Doris. You just appreciated all of that.

S: But for the historical record, this should be explained somehow because things are interesting; like, for instance, Mary who grew up with a personal affection for Krishnaji, and yet she had no relation to the teachings or anything religious for a long time.

M: That’s right.

S: Then became interested in the teachings, then dropped it all and just kept an affection for Krishnaji. Joe had no interest in the teachings at all, but had a personal friendship with Krishnaji.

M: Yes.

S: And Doris who was as unlovable [laughs] as you can get, in a way, but that was part of her charm.

M: Part of her charm was her crankiness and her funny qualities.

S: Yes, and being devoted to the teachings. Anneke was some place in between.

M: Well, Anneke was also fun. Anneke loved to laugh. She and Alain and I, when Krishnaji had gone to bed in Holland, used to sit up and laugh—I forget now what about, but some funny thing that had happened. Anneke was a jolly person, and she, obviously, loved looking after Krishnaji. Everything was heaven for her, and she liked Alain because he was funny and there was much laughter. She liked me for the same reason.

S: What did Doris and Anneke do?

M: Well, they cooked and they cleaned, and Doris structured the day, recording appointments, and all those things. Krishnaji had to see people, and she handled all of that. Anneke probably did most of the cooking and housework. There was also, oh, the lady from South Africa.

S: Joan Wright.

M: Yes, Joan Wright. Joan Wright was somewhere in all this. Before I was the chauffeur, Joan Wright would take Krishnaji into appointments, or drive him to a talk, I think.

Are we running out of tape?

S: Yes. It’s just important to talk about these characters because otherwise, they’re just names and a hundred years from now, people will have no idea who they are.

M: Joan Wright’s chief sterling quality was her ability to sew.

S: Yes, made Krishnaji’s bathrobes.

M: Yes, and also he’d bring beautiful silk back from India, that sort of heavy, cream-colored silk, and she’d make his nightshirts, because he wore nightshirts. And, you can’t buy nightshirts that easily, especially made of heavy Indian silk. She made all those things for him.

S: We’ve… I think we’ve run out of tape now. Alright, so we’ll continue on the way to Paris in ’66.

M: May, yes.



[1] Krishnamurti’s nephew, who later became head of the Rishi Valley School. Back to text.

[2] Balasundarum was the head of the Rishi Valley School. Back to text.

[3] Gérard Blitz was an entrepreneur who started Club Med, a promoter of yoga, and an enthusiast for Krishnaji’s work. Back to text.

[4] He is widely considered one of the most significant theoretical physicists of the 20th century, as well as a philosopher. David was also an enthusiastic supporter of Krishnaji’s work, a Trustee of the Krishnamurti Foundation Trust in England, and a Trustee of the Brockwood Park Krishnamurti Educational Centre. Back to text.

[5] Aldous Huxley was a famous writer, and one of the most prominent intellectuals of his time. From the 1920s, Huxley was an admirer of Krishnaji’s work, and in 1929 helped start a school with Krishnaji and others in California. Back to text.

[6] Mary Link’s maiden name, and the name she used in her writing, was Mary Lutyens, so she is known in Krishnamurti circles under both names. Back to text.

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