Issue #5

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Issue 5: July 7, 1966 to October 20, 1966

Introduction to Issue 5

Only three and a half months are covered in the twenty-eight pages of this issue, because Mary is reading her diaries as she speaks—sometimes reading out loud, and sometimes paraphrasing. So we see much more of the minutia of her daily life with Krishnaji.

However, these few months are critical, and changes occur that alter the rest of Krishnaji’s life. For the first time, Krishnaji’s speaking schedule is not being arranged by Rajagopal or people appointed by Rajagopal. Krishnaji returns to America for the first time since 1960. And Krishnaji stays with Mary in California for the first time, as he would continue to stay with Mary when he was in the U.S. for the rest of his life.

This period also sees the first moves toward having a Krishnamurti School someplace in Europe, and so we see the very beginnings of what would become the Brockwood Park Krishnamurti Educational Centre.

In this period, also, the break with Rajagopal begins. This break, which had been so long in the making, evolves for the next several years, and positively affects every aspect of Krishnaji’s life; and we see in this issue how easily it could have been avoided. In this period, Mary and Alain first come to realize just how terrible things have been for Krishnaji with the Rajagopals, and as we see it become clear in Mary’s eyes, it becomes clear in ours.


The Memoirs of Mary Zimbalist: Issue 5

Scott: We pick up our story in July of 1966.

Mary: Alright. Krishnaji had been staying at Les Caprices, in a little studio flat next to the one that I always had. He took his meals, et cetera, with me and Alain in the sitting room of my flat. This continued until Vanda arrived in Gstaad from Italy, and, of course, she had the ground floor in Chalet Tannegg again. Krishnaji moved up there on July seventh. Thereafter, I was very kindly invited to many meals by Vanda, so I was frequently up and down the hill between the two places. The day after Krishnaji went up there, I lunched with all of them and also present was Radha Rajagopal Sloss[1] with her husband and two youngish children, quite attractive children. I’d seen her before in Ojai.

S: How did she strike you?

M: Well, she didn’t make any special impression. She had a kind of proprietary air toward Krishnaji as though he sort of belonged to her as a child, a sort of hangover from that.

S: That’s really what I was asking about.

M: Yes. She both played up to him and treated him a little as though he was old and bumbling. There was much chatter at the table. The children were very nicely behaved, nice children.

S: How old would they have been? You said they were youngish.

M: I would imagine the girl was older. Tinka, she was called in those days. She was probably twelve or thirteen, something like that. I think the boy was a year or two younger, but I couldn’t swear to it. I’m afraid I have a rather dim memory of them.

On the tenth,  Krishnaji began his talks and, as usual, the tent was full.

S: Can I just come back to something for a minute?

M: Yes.

S: How did Krishnaji treat her?

M: He was very sweet with her and the children. You know, just normal. Nothing special. I really don’t remember too much. I remember that there was quite a lot of talk at the table, and he said something about, “How these Americans do get on,” which was an ironic remark [chuckles] considering the two Americans in question, Radha and me. We both sort of made chatter at the lunch table.

Let me read what happened next.

Ah, yes. Right after the second talk, Alain and I went to Divonne to hear Richter[2]. I remember it especially because Richter had appeared, at least in my awareness, the previous winter when he came to Los Angeles. I’d read a review of his playing in, I guess, the New York Times, which said this extraordinary Soviet pianist has come to the west, and gave such a review as I’d never read. By coincidence, when I was reading the review, I thought I recognized the name from material I used to get of people who were playing in Los Angeles. So, I went to hear him, and it just blew me through the ceiling. It was so wonderful.

So, I thought that Alain being a musician and a pianist to boot would be interested. I told him about this and, well, he wasn’t patronizing, but it was obvious that he was thinking that I was an amateur and he was a pro.

S: Yes, yes.

M: But I insisted, saying that he had to hear this man. So, when I heard he was going to play in Divonne, which is, as you know, right outside Geneva, I got tickets through the concierge at the Hotel du Rhône, where we always stayed.

Well, it was a big success. We had seats quite close to the stage, and Richter no sooner started playing, then I glanced at Alain, who rolled his eyes [laughs]. He saw immediately what it was.

S: How nice.

M: I think we spent the night in Divonne. I remember that Alain ran into Richter in the hotel hall and spoke to him in French. I don’t whether Richter spoke French, but he understood it. Alain said, “Monsieur, vous etes le seul pianiste,” and Richter sort of acknowledged that. [S laughs.] Anyway, it was a very successful outing.

Then we came back the next morning, in time to hear Krishnaji give his third talk. After the talk, Krishnaji brought his car down to Caprices because he wanted to keep it in the garage. With my rent, I had garage rights.

S: Ah ha.

M: And so we put it in Caprices.

S: And he didn’t have garage rights at Tannegg?

M: Well, there was some confusion over the garage rights.

S: Did Vanda drive him down to the talks?

M: Yes.

S: And what car did she have?

M: She had a Lancia that she’d had for years, and the last time I saw it, which was in 1986, it had died, but it was sitting on her lawn [both laugh] in Italy. She kept it like a monument! For all I know it’s still there!

But it was a very splendid Lancia, and she drove very fast and enjoyed driving.

S: Where would she park at Tannegg?

M: Well, there was a two-car garage.

S: Alright. I’d like to ask a little about some of what occurred just before the talks and then just after the talks, because it changed over the years. So, people would come up and shake his hand or say hello?

M: Well, a few, yes.

S: Before the talk?

M: No, after the talk. Never before. No.

He would, as you may remember, come to the tent at the very last moment…

S: Yes.

M: …and walk right in…

S: Yes, I remember it well.

M: …and start talking.

S: Or just want to be quiet.

M: Yes, be quiet, but he didn’t want to talk to anybody.

S: Yes.

M: He liked to get there, at least when I was taking him, in time to walk right in. He didn’t want to hang around. He would stand around afterward, and people would come up and greet him.

Also, Alain, again, arranged young people’s meetings. They were usually held at Tannegg. Filled the living room with young people, and I suppose they were taped. He was taping everything because he was responsible for the Nagra.

Where are those tapes?

S: I’m not sure we know that.

M: They should be in Ojai because they would have gone to Rajagopal.

S: Rajagopal. Yes, but that could mean they’re in the Huntington[3].

M: Yes, they could be. I’ve seen a lot of tapes of Krishnaji there with Alain’s handwriting on them.

S: Mm, hm.

M: So, there was also yoga going on with Desikachar, for both Krishnaji and me.

And also, Krishnaji used to ask me to come driving with him in his Mercedes.

At one point, early on, in the middle of July, Krishnaji said that he was uneasy about staying with Mrs. Pinter in New York. He was going to speak there at The New School. Krishnaji knew that she was now old and not too well, and he felt that his staying there would be an imposition and difficult for her. Mr. Pinter had died since the last time he was there. As I had said I would find a place for Alain and me to stay in New York, Krishnaji wondered if he could stay wherever Alain was staying. So, I immediately got in touch with my brother, and asked if I could rent his flat. He was between [chuckles] marriages at that point, and alone in his flat. I asked him if I could I rent it for the time we’d be in New York. My brother could stay in our father’s flat in The Ritz Tower. My father had a little flat which Krishnaji and I later used in another year. But, with three of us, I needed a bigger flat than was my father’s.

S: Mm, hm.

M: My brother[4] immediately cabled me and said, “Yes, of course.” So, that was arranged.

At about this time I remember Mrs. Lindbergh came to lunch.

S: Ah, yes.

M: She was a friend of Vanda’s and had met Krishnaji before. Of course, she had written something for one of Krishnaji’s books. Was it an introduction?

S: This is Charles Lindbergh[5]’s wife?

M: Yes, Anne Lindbergh.

S: Mm. Did she write an introduction to one of Krishnaji’s books?

M: Yes. I think so, or something about it. She admired him very much.

S: How long had she known Krishnaji?

M: I don’t really know. I think she met him through Vanda. The Lindberghs had a summer house in Les Avants, I think.

S: In Switzerland?

M: Yes. So, she drove up for lunch. She was a very nice person.

On the twenty-second, there was another ninety young people for a discussion.

S: Ninety in that house?!

M: Ninety, yes. It was kind of crowded! [Both laugh.]

S: That’s an understatement!

Where did Alain find them all?

M: Oh, he went sort of trawling through the audience.

He had a great rapport with young people. He loved young people, and he would talk to them, and laugh with them, and they liked him. He was very good with young people. It was Alain’s doing that brought all the young people to Krishnaji.

S: Yes, I know.

M: That was a really good thing that he did.

Instead of us old ladies doddering in the front rows, tides of young people came. Of course, it was also the era when young people were wandering around Europe, with packs on their backs, and this was a place to go at that point, a hippie stop. [Chuckles.]

What else did we do? We went down to Evian to pick up Lobb shoes for Krishnaji and Alain. This was so we wouldn’t have to pay the customs duty in Switzerland on them! [Both laugh.] So we would drive to Evian and go to the post office where they had been sent, they would be sent…

S:…post restant!

M: …post restant, yes.

And there would be the shoes! Beautiful, gleaming Lobb shoes. [S laughs.] From there we went on to Dr. Pierre Schmidt in Geneva. Dr Pierre Schmidt was the dean of homeopaths, according to Alain.

He was the homeopath that had Krishnaji taking steam baths. I fiddled around while they did that [chuckles]. Then we came back the other way, through Lausanne, so we made a circle of the lake.

S: How nice.

M: We often used to have lunch at a place called La Grappe D’Or, which had very good food.

S: La Grappe D’Or, where is that?

M: Well I could drive you there, but I don’t know how to tell you. You know how part of Lausanne is on a hill?

S: Yes.

M: And it kind of goes down the hill a little bit. It’s there, about a block off the road that goes through town. Then we’d go back to Tannegg for supper.

On the twenty-eighth, there was the ninth Saanen talk. Lots of talks in those days.

And the next day there was the third young people’s discussion at Tannegg. I was invited to attend and stay for lunch afterward.

S: So the young people’s talks were in the morning?

M: Yes, this was a non-talk day.

S: So that meant that Krishnaji was talking every other day.

M: Yes. It was busy days. He had a bit of bronchitis but, as usual, he surmounted the bronchitis.

On the thirty-first was the tenth and last Saanen talk of that year.

Oh, yes, it says here I did some typing up at Tannegg.

S: How did you get a typewriter?

M: I always traveled with a little Hermes typewriter.

On August third, the public discussions began. Oh, that was also the day I got the cable from my brother saying that the flat in New York was ours. I went up that evening and told Krishnaji it was all set.

S: That must have pleased him.

M: Yes, he was pleased.

On the fourth there was the second public discussion—there was one every day at that time. But of more significance was the meeting at Tannegg with all the people who wanted to start a Krishnamurti school. The room was full. There must have been fifty people, at least, with many rather emotional ladies who were thrilled with the thought of starting a Krishnaji school. Krishnaji just listened, and then asked a couple of questions.

S: So he didn’t call that meeting?

M: No, they had been talking about wanting to do it, and he heard of it.

S: Who were the chief instigators?

M: I don’t know.

We also discussed that day about having a permanent hall at Tannegg instead of a tent. We went rather far with that, but in the end nothing came of it. It was too expensive. You see, by this time we owned the land. So, instead of paying an awful lot of money for a tent every year, we thought of putting up a permanent building, but it turned out to be far too expensive! [Chuckles.]

On the next day, after the third public discussion, Krishnaji sent for me. We went outside to a private place where we could sit and talk, and he discussed his and Alain’s staying with me in New York and in Paris the following spring. He wanted to talk to me because he was worried that I might be spending too much money. He talked to me very seriously about all that, as he was a bit worried. “Are you going into capital, Madame?” he would ask, and I would assure him it was alright. [Both laugh.] He kept coming back to that subject. When we came back to Tannegg, the Bohms were there, and there followed a long talk with Krishnaji, the Bohms, Vanda, and me.

On the seventh of August, Krishnaji called a meeting at the Biascoechea’s. Krishnaji picked out about fifteen people who’d been at the first meeting about starting a school. He decided the rest were not serious. He said I was to be part of it. I don’t know why, having nothing to do with education. But, he wanted to involve me in it, apparently. Anyway, he said to everyone, “Are you all serious?” This was the time when he really inquired into it.

There was the question of what country the school should be in. He wanted it to be an international school, and he wanted, at that point, the teaching to be in both English and French. The possible countries were France, Switzerland, England, and Holland. There was much talk back and forth. There were people from all those places. That was when he said, at the end of it, “Well, go and find out”—someone from each country was to go and find out “everything to do with what it takes to establish a school in your country, and come back here next summer, and we’ll talk about it some more.” So, he acted rather quickly on all that.

S: Who was going to find out about Holland? Who was going to find out about France?

M: Anneke was finding about Holland.

S:  So she must have been in that meeting?

M: She was at that meeting. Nadia Kossiakof was finding out about France. I don’t know who was doing Switzerland. And Dorothy was finding out about England.

Anyway, that was a decisive meeting. I remember driving him and Alain up the hill after it, and that was when Krishnaji gave me a definite “yes” that he would stay with me in New York, and for Paris the next year. We could go ahead with a plan for that. So that was settled.

S: Was Alain making the arrangements for the talks in New York?

M: Oh yes, yes.

S: Was he also arranging the talks in Paris?

M: No, the French committee did all that, but Alain was instrumental. I think, later this year, Alain went to Paris to look at what Marcelle and Gisela Elmenhorst, the two Paris people, had arranged.

The next day, things seemed to be moving fast. In the morning was the sixth discussion, and in the afternoon, there was a third meeting about the European school. I was up at Tannegg for a yoga lesson, and Krishnaji called me in to ask me to discuss where we’d stay in Holland the next year. So, my role in housing was growing daily [laughs]. He said to talk to Anneke, so I asked her for supper that night. I explained to her what Krishnaji had been doing up till then, and the difference in the Paris plans. She offered to find a place for all of us for the next spring—Anneke, Alain, me, and, of course, Krishnaji.

S: Can I come back to your yoga lessons with Desikachar? Now, you must have talked with Krishnaji quite a bit about the difference between Desikachar and Iyengar.

M: Oh yes, yes. Well, Krishnaji had already wanted Desikachar. The break with Iyengar had been made.

S: I know.

M: At one point, there was a bit of a situation because Iyengar came to Gstaad to do yoga with Menuhin[6] even though he wasn’t doing it with Krishnaji. Heretofore, Iyengar had taught Krishnaji, and he used be put up by a lady in the lower flat in Tannegg. He used to give his lessons there. The first yoga lessons I took were in that downstairs flat.

S: Uh, ha. You see, all this is information we didn’t winkle out of you before.

M: Well, it’s not exactly deathless historical lore! But anyway. [Laughs.]

S: No, but I see, I see. So then, this year that we’re now discussing, Desikachar was teaching yoga to you and Krishnaji upstairs, and Iyengar was teaching others downstairs!   [Laughs.]

M: Yes, except for Menuhin, to whom Iyengar would go. So, there was rather a coolness, shall we say, between the lower floor and the middle floor. Except for Vanda, who always was very loyal to Iyengar because she really got her knowledge of yoga from Iyengar. She got on with him and liked him.

S: Did you meet Menuhin at that time?

M: I met Menuhin the year before when I was taken by Iris Tree to call on Mrs. Menuhin. Did I talk about that in our last discussion?

S: No, you didn’t.

M: Well, Iris was a friend of theirs and mine, and Iris took me there to call on Mrs. Menuhin, and I remember [laughs] it was quite fascinating. First of all, they were all practicing for concerts in the rest of the house, so we sat in, I think, the dining room. Mrs. Menuhin carried on a flowing conversation mostly with Iris, and wrote letters at the same time! [Laughs.] I found the logistics of it interesting, because she had very large handwriting, and she was writing on little, bright, pretty blue note paper. This enabled letters to go off to friends all over that didn’t take long to write because the writing was so big and the page was so small. [S laughs.] I thought that was very clever of her! [M chuckles.]

S: Did it seem impolite to have a conversation and write letters at the same time?

M: No, not a bit! She just went on talking and large letters grew on the paper. [Laughs.]

S: Extraordinary.

M: So, I met him at the same time. We just shook hands.

S: So he hadn’t come over to see Krishnaji at that point?

M: Oh no, he didn’t, there was again a frost there.

Krishnaji had made probably one of those statements that genius and talent aren’t really creative.

S: Yes.

M: They got it second-hand [laughs], but the Menuhins all took offense. I don’t know because I wasn’t there, but I think it was the sister Hepsibar and her husband who used to go the talks, and they must have heard him say this and reported it.

S: Didn’t Menuhin go to the talks?

M: Not in my time. He had gone before.

S: Right. I remember, but, of course, my memory can be wrong on this, but I seem to remember Krishnaji telling me that it was actually in a conversation Krishnaji had with Menuhin that this occurred.

M: Well, maybe it was.

S: The conversation was about creativity and art and talent, and Krishnaji was saying things that Menuhin just could not stomach.

M: That may be true.

I didn’t hear this from Krishnaji, so whoever told me may have told me wrongly.

S: I had that from Krishnaji.

I’m sure that’s where I got it from. And as Krishnaji told it to me, he had that kind of chuckle he had when he was recounting saying something that was unpopular.

If I can try to recreate some history here: if Huxley died in ‘63, and Menuhin knew him well enough to be interviewed for that television program, then it must have been before 1963 that Menuhin first had contact with Krishnaji.

M: Well, remember that Krishnaji didn’t start talking in Saanen till what? ‘61 was it?

S: I think so. But Menuhin could have met him in California before that.

M: No, I don’t think so.

S: Well where, where did he know Huxley from? England?

M: No, he knew Huxley from California through Gerald Heard[7].

S: Could he have known Krishnaji then, too?

M: I don’t know, but remember Vanda was very musical. Her father started the Maggio Musicale in Florence. She knew all the leading musicians of her time.

S: Yes, yes.

M: Casals and…

S: Stravinsky.

M: Toscanini, and all these people. And she would have known Menuhin, so I imagine that Krishnaji met him through Vanda, but I don’t know.

So anyway, we’re on the ninth, when Krishnaji had the seventh and final public discussion. In the afternoon Krishnaji, sent for me to tell me that he’d told Bonito de Vidas of the Paris plans, and his asking me to rent a place. I don’t know what de Vidas said, but de Vidas liked to control everything, so, apparently he didn’t like the idea much, but I don’t know. [Both laugh.] At the same time Krishnaji was telling me this, he again asked me if I was I spending capital. Again I said, “No” and not to worry about it. [Laughs.]

The next day there was a meeting with Alain, and Krishnaji, and Anneke about the Amsterdam plans. Again he called me back for a talk, and had Alain present. He wanted me to be sure that I wouldn’t regret what I was doing [chuckles]. He was concerned, and I gave complete assurance. He wanted once more to ask me, and I guess what I said satisfied him.

Then what? Alain wanted to stay at Caprices the next year, instead of at Tannegg. So, that was arranged.

Now that the talks were over, Alain and I went to Paris to look at different parts of the city to see where would be a good place to rent next year. While there, we met with Marcelle and Gisela.

S: May I just stop you here and go back for a minute to ask about something?

I know how concerned Krishnaji was with people not spending their capital on him. Often, when people made a donation, he questioned them on this.

M: Yes. He had some notion of what capital was as opposed to income. I don’t know where he got that! [Both laugh.] He was always worried about people’s capital.

S: Well, now did you ever have any sense that he’d had bad experiences with, you know, people having donated some of their capital and then regretting it later on?

M: Possibly, but I don’t know that.

S: He didn’t mention any of that to you.

M: No, no.

S: I just thought I’d ask, because I know that that was always a concern of his.

M: Yes.

Anyway, Alain and I went to Paris, and looked at different localities, but we wanted to be near the Bois[8]. In fact, from the house we eventually got, we could walk right into the  Bois, the south end of the Bois. It was near Longchamp, and then the bottom of the Bois was about two or three blocks from the house we had.

S: How nice.

M: Onze[9] Rue de Verdun. It was a nice house, sort of.

And then we flew to London. The amount of traveling we did in those days that felt like nothing; it was like going from here to the post office, [S laughs]—we flew to London because Alain wanted to get British citizenship, so we [laughs] flew to London. And, what did we do there? [Pauses to read her diaries.] We went to a Hitchcock movie, I remember. [Both chuckle.] And we had lunch with Fleur Cowles[10] at Claridge’s.

We were in England for only a few days, but we found time to drive down to Oxford to look around. And we saw the Digbys.

S: Mm. In London?

M: Yes, in London at their town house.

S: I remember their townhouse.

M: We also saw the Frys at their townhouse. And then we flew back to Paris and picked up my Jaguar, which had been in the Jaguar agency being, I don’t know, serviced in some way. And we drove to…

S: Hold on here, just to be clear. Krishnaji stayed at Tannegg, and you and Alain drove to Paris.

M: To look over the possible rental areas. Then we flew to London for a few days, and during that time the Jaguar stayed in Paris to be serviced, then we flew back, picked it up, and drove down to Switzerland through Chalon-sur-Soâne.

S: Yes, I know it well.

M: And what was the name of that person…there’s a sign there that this is the home of Nicéphore Niépce, that’s it. He supposedly invented the camera. [S laughs.] Funny name stuck in my head! I don’t know why. We spent the night at Chalon-sur-Soâne.

The next day we drove on all those little tiny roads that we like, through lovely country. We got back to Lausanne in time for lunch at the [chuckles] Grappe D’Or, and were back at Tannegg by four o’clock.

By now we’re at the end of August, and Krishnaji talked to Alain and me about his possibly speaking at Harvard after the New York talks, or around then. So we talked about that.

S: Who had arranged that?

M: Alain had arranged that. It seemed a good idea.

I took my car to Thun to leave it there for the winter, and came back by train and said goodbye to all of them, Vanda, Krishnaji, Alain.

The next day I went by train to Geneva and flew to New York, and then I flew to California and my house in Malibu. While I was there, Rajagopal telephoned me and asked me if I would drive Krishnaji when he came to Ojai for the talks, because he’d heard that I had been driving him around.

I said, “Well, yes, of course if you want.” I really had intended to stay out of things. I thought Krishnaji would be back in his own home territory and I would stay out of things. I would, of course, go to the talks, but I wouldn’t be involved in all the personal things as I had been in Europe. But Rajagopal wanted me to be the driver, and he said that if I would do that, would I like to stay in his old flat, which is the upstairs flat of the house next to Pine Cottage. The one you have stayed in.

S: Many times.

M: So I said, “Well, yes, thank you very much.” So, that was arranged.

S: And Krishnaji would stay in Pine Cottage?

M: Yes, he would stay in Pine Cottage. And Alain would stay in the apartment next to Pine Cottage, the one that we eventually destroyed. Hideous place! I’ll get to that when we get there.

Let’s see, what happened next. Well anyway, I went to see my mother but that doesn’t matter. And then on the fourteenth of September I flew to New York and…

S: Where was your mother?

M: Martha’s Vineyard.

S: Oh, so, you’d gone to Martha’s Vineyard and then back to California?

M: No, no. I went to California for a couple of weeks. And then I went back east to the Vineyard to see my mother, and then flew down to New York and moved into Bud’s apartment. He had moved out and went to Father’s apartment. I was getting the apartment ready, and then on the twentieth, my brother and I went and met Krishnaji and Alain at the airport.

All their luggage had been lost!

S: Oh dear!

M: [laughs] But we came back to the apartment, and Bud lent them pajamas and  whatever else was needed.

Luckily, the next morning, September twenty-first, TWA deposited the bags in the front hall [S laughs] to everyone’s great relief! [Laughs.]

S: Of course.

Now, just for the sake of history, what was Bud’s address?

M: 1115 Fifth Avenue. That’s on the corner of 93rd Street and 5th.

S: Oh, way up on 93rd.

M: Yes. Which is convenient because we could easily walk in the park around the reservoir every day.

M: So, as I said, they arrived on the twentieth. Then there was, as usual, a dentist appointment. They always were having their teeth fixed. So I arranged all that in New York.

S: But this must have been a new dentist for them?

M: Yes, he was recommended by the California one.

And then there was the usual round of people being asked for lunch. We also went to the movies. Krishnaji was interviewed by the New Yorker to do a profile of him, but it was never printed some reason.

S: Hm.

M: It’s a pity.

S: You said you had people over for lunch. Would you do the cooking for lunch? Or would you have lunch brought in?

M: No, my brother’s Vietnamese chef did the cooking! He was trained in Paris. Jaap was his name. He was a good cook! So it was lovely to have meals in, and he didn’t mind vegetarianism.

S: Great. Do you remember who came for lunch?

M: Some, yes! I remember Yo de Manziarly suddenly surfaced. She also went to the movies with us a number of times.

And who else? Oh, Mrs. Margot Wilkie [chuckles]. She lives at the Vineyard, and is a great friend of Rosalind Rajagopal’s. I asked her for lunch because I knew her from the Vineyard, or rather she knew Mother more than me. And she brought a Nancy Wilson Ross. Nancy Wilson Ross was a woman of that slightly society type, but she also wrote a book on Eastern religions.

And Blitz came for lunch. Gérard  Blitz was there.

S: Tell me why you made those noises? The “mm, hm.’

M: Well, because after Margot Wilkie came to lunch, she told Rosalind something nasty about me, which, of course, got back to me. [Laughs.]

Also, my mother and stepfather came down, and came for lunch once.

S: Mmm. How did they respond to Krishnaji?

M: He was charming with them and they were, you know, very polite and rather bewildered back. They also went to one talk, at the New School and [laughs] I don’t know what they got out of it! Nothing, probably.

But they’d seen him. You know, it was the seeing of what he’s like that mattered to them. I didn’t have much doings with them, so I don’t know.

S: Yes.

M: At this time Alain went up to Boston to arrange the Harvard business, and returned. Then Krishnaji began speaking at the New School. Now, the New School is way downtown. I don’t if you know it, it’s down near Washington Square.

S: Oh, near NYU!

M: It’s near there, very near NYU, but it’s separate.

M: We went to see Mrs. Pinter, and sure enough, she couldn’t have coped with Krishnaji.

And she had an awful, dreadful apartment! I don’t mean disrespect, but it was gloomy. She was, by then, a very old lady and very lame and it would have been much too difficult for her, and depressing for Krishnaji to stay there. But she very nicely sent a car for him each day to take him to the talks. So, I didn’t have to arrange that.

Now, comes the funny meeting [chuckles]…At one of the talks we got a message that Allen Ginsberg[11] had been there and would like to talk to him. So that was arranged, and, lo and behold, on the twenty-ninth Allen Ginsberg appeared, with Timothy Leary[12] in tow! [S laughs hard, M chuckles.] And also, a friend of his, and I suppose this is going to be indiscreet, but I’ll go ahead and tell you for the purposes of humor.

S: Of course.

M: I guess I was sort of naïve in those days. Names, you know, you don’t hear names, so I didn’t know who his friend was. But I thought, “How could any woman allow herself to be that unattractive?” Dirty jeans and long ponytail down the back. Just plain unattractive. Eventually it dawned on me it was not a woman at all; it was a man! [Both laugh heartily.] But I was, um…

S: [laughs] Yes, well, you weren’t a hippie, so you couldn’t know, not in ’66.

M: No, no. I was new to that. It wasn’t commonplace for a sort of scrawny young man to have long hair down the back, tied back. It was unusual, if you can remember that far back in history.

S: Yes, yes. I can, unfortunately.

M: But anyway, the young man never spoke. Ginsberg began all the talk, and I think he was against Krishnaji saying that drugs were not a [chuckles] good thing. And he went on about LSD, I think it was, and a religious experience or something. At one point Krishnaji said to Ginsberg, “You know what the symbol of the cross is.” And with that he made the gesture, with his hand of like crossing yourself with vertical stroke, and then horizontal stroke. Then he said that it stood for the negation of the ego.

And with that Leary sprang to his feet, [chuckles], silenced Ginsberg who was going to reply, threw his hands out, and said, “Yes, every night!”

It turned out that Leary was giving some sort of performances down in Greenwich Village on the stage. And he said, “I stand on the stage, and I throw out my hands, and I pluck the nails out of them and throw them onto the ground!” with a big dramatic gesture, in a loud voice, an enactment of Christ removing the nails from his hands. [Laughs.]

Krishnaji talked very quietly, and said something about Christianity, whereupon Leary sat down and agreed with Krishnaji, absolutely refuting what he’d been saying before.

I mean, he just turned around and agreed with Krishnaji absolutely. There was no discussion. [Both laugh] Really! They finally left.

S: I spent a few hours with Ginsberg in 1970, and I can’t even imagine a conversation between Ginsberg and Krishnaji. [Laughs hard.]

M: Well, you can’t imagine the one they had! [More laughs.]

S: Yes.

M: So, that was that. Anyway, the talks went on at The New School, and we went to the movies and the dentist. We walked in the park, around the reservoir. Nobody mugged us; they didn’t do that in those days. It was quite safe. People were jogging, but there were no muggers.

S: [chuckles] Was it the same kind of routine where Krishnaji would walk in the afternoon?

M: Yes. The same.

The last talk of Krishnaji’s at The New School was on October seventh. The next day, Alain brought a lot of young people up to the flat to have a discussion with Krishnaji.

Krishnaji also met Ralph Ingersoll. He used to publish a newspaper called PM, which was way before your time, but it was a very good newspaper, very, very liberal. He had a son, young Ralph, who I think we met in Switzerland before this. I believe he came up to Tannegg. Alain must have met him with the other young people. He came to see us in New York, and then his father and the father’s wife. I don’t know if she was his mother or step-mother, but they came for lunch. Hughes van der Straten[13] also came for lunch when we were there.

Bud lent me his car, so we went out to the country for lunch one day.

S: What kind of car did he have?

M: He has a very old Rolls-Royce [chuckles].

S: Oh, how wonderful. How old?

M: Ohh, I don’t know. Very old.

On the fourteenth Alain and I visited the Stock Exchange with Bud, my brother, because Alain wanted to see it. And Radhika Herzberger came for lunch with her new-born baby. I  remember we put it down in the room I stayed in while we had lunch, and Krishnaji was struck by the fact that I paid attention to this little baby. He didn’t know that most women behave the same way [S laughs], when a little baby is present. He seemed to think my attention was significant. [Both chuckle.]

It says in my notes that Allen Ginsberg came back to see Krishnaji, but I don’t remember the second time.

On the sixteenth of October, we flew to Boston and stayed in a hotel in Cambridge that was close to Harvard. We could walk there.

Krishnaji met Harvard students at something called Lowell House.

S: How did that discussion go?

M: Well, they asked questions, but those kind of dull questions. They hadn’t done their homework. It was alright, but nothing special. Then we flew back to New York.

S: You weren’t tempted to take Krishnaji to the Vineyard?

M: No! [Laughs.] Heavens no! What a dreadful thought!

S: Oh yes, [laughs] I’d forgotten about the family; I was just thinking of the lovely island!

M: Oh yes. Well, if it’d been Bud[14] that would have been different, but it would have been Mother in those days.

Actually, Krishnaji had already been to the island with Margo Wilkie’s mother, many  years before. What was her name…Mrs. Loyns, who was an early friend, and I think she lived up island at Seven Gates Farm.

S: Oh, yes, I know where that is.

M: Then on October eighteenth, we flew to Malibu. It was their first time there, and I had the pleasure of driving in the gate with both of them, and cooking supper for them in my own kitchen.

S: How nice.

M: And Filomena was there. It was just lovely.

S: So that was the first time Krishnaji had been to your house in Malibu?

M: Yes. It was the first time he’d been back in California since 1960.

S: Oh that’s right, he hadn’t been back!

M: He started to give those talks in 1960, but they had to be curtailed because he wasn’t well. And I had an interview with him that year.

S: Yes, I remember that.

M: And the reason he hadn’t gone back all those years was that it was so disagreeable with Rajagopal. There was awful trouble going on, and this visit in ’66 was supposed to reconcile things, or at least be peaceful.

S: Yes. Had Krishnaji talked to you about these problems?

M: Somewhat. I’d caught on the previous summer when I found out that Krishnaji couldn’t give permission to listen to an audio-tape, and that only Rajagopal could do that. I thought that was rather odd, but I didn’t say anything about it.

S: But you must have found it odd that Krishnaji hadn’t gone back to California in all those years. You must have spoken with someone about it, no?

M: Well. No. But I do remember that when Krishnaji arrived in New York, on the very first day, Rajagopal telephoned him. Alain and I were with Krishnaji in his bedroom, which was my brother’s, the main bedroom in the place. Alain and I were in the room when the call came, and inside of two minutes Rajagopal was yelling at him on the phone and then hung up on him.

That was my first sense of how things were with Rajagopal, and the welcome back to United States from Rajagopal. So I was aware that it wasn’t good between them.

S: Right. So Rajagopal actually didn’t do anything for any of those talks on the East Coast?

M: No, he didn’t. In fact he was cross because the invitation came directly to Krishnaji, how it came I don’t know.

S: From The New School?

M: Yes, from The New School. It came directly to him. And he called me in, it had to be the previous summer, and he asked me if I thought he should accept.

S: You did talk about that?

M: Yes, I know I did because I said that, yes, I thought he should. When he said, “Why?” I said, “Well, all I know about it is that it’s a serious and good place, and that um…” oh, what’s-his-name oh, “had agreed to be on the board.” Uh… religious writer, very serious man. And he died right after he’d agreed to go. Oh dear, this is awful name trouble. It’s on the other tape. I know I talked about it.

So Alain then got in communication with them on Krishnaji’s behalf, and this was why we came to New York.

S: So this really was then the start of the liberation of Krishnaji from Rajagopal, because suddenly talks were being arranged without Rajagopal.

M: It was really the first time. I mean, the talks in Europe were all arranged by de Vitas and Miss Pratt and Anneke. Rajagopal didn’t have anything to do with them. But in the United States, this was the first. And The New School was the first and then, of course, subsequently, at Harvard. Krishnaji went later on this trip, I think, to Brandeis; he spoke at Brandeis. Again arranged directly with Krishnaji via Alain. Alain handled it.

So Rajagopal didn’t like it. He wasn’t controlling things. So he was rude, hung up on Krishnaji on the telephone.

S: Mm, hm.

Anyway, you had Krishnaji and Alain for dinner for the first time in Malibu.

M: Yes, I cooked them dinner. [Chuckles.] I did all the cooking in those days.

S: And they spent the night there?

M: Oh yes. They were in Malibu all the time, except when they were in Ojai for a talk.

S: I see. I see. So then they were, they were your guests for…

M: They were my house-guests for all that time.

S: So how long was that?

M: Well, until they went back to India that winter.

S: Hm. Oh, I see.

So then that was a real liberation because then Krishnaji didn’t have to stay at Pine Cottage under Rajagopal’s control.

M: Exactly. He only stayed there when we went up to Ojai for the talks. Well, we’ll get to that because…

S: Okay, okay. So what day was it that you all arrived in Malibu?

M: We arrived there on the eighteenth of October.

There were some dental matters, and on the twentieth we drove up to Ojai. I had, in those days, a Ford or something, I don’t know what. Rajagopal arranged that Rosalind[15], who was living somewhere else, come to Arya Vihara[16] and supply meals to us. So we went up and drove right to Arya Vihara for lunch. Krishnaji had to show me where it was.

He guided me there through Ojai. And then after lunch we drove around to the other entrance and into Pine Cottage, where Rajagopal was waiting.

S: So Rajagopal wasn’t at lunch?

M: No, no, just Rosalind.

S: How was the relationship between Krishnaji and Rosalind?

M: Well, she just said “hello,” kind of thing; but it became a nightmare, so much so that I had to stop taking my meals there. I have never heard such nagging in my life. I finally just gave up. I couldn’t go to the meals because I was getting an ulcer listening to it all. Krishnaji sat at one end of the table, and she sat at the other, and Alain and I sat in between. She would say things like, “Why aren’t you finishing your food? What’s the matter? Don’t you like it? That’s good for you, you should eat that. That’s good for you. Finish that.” That’s the way she talked to him. Like to an errant child.

S: Hmm.

M: And when she would bring the food in, or when we’d sit down she’d say, “Well I suppose you all won’t like this but here it is.” Chipping, chipping, chipping through the whole meal.

S: Jesus. [Deep sigh.]

M: One night things were so bad with Rajagopal that Krishnaji couldn’t sleep. He had about three hours’ sleep, and then he had to give a talk in the morning. When we got back after the talk for the lunch, Krishnaji mildly said that he hadn’t slept much the night before, and she said, “Oh?! Why?! Why not?!” in a tone of voice as though he was a child and had to be reproved for having done something awful.

She was unbearable! I thought, how could he put up with this dreadful woman?!

S: Hm.

M: That was before I knew how dreadful she’d been all through the years.

S: Yes. Now, let me just go back here. So the dining room in Arya Vihara was where? In the front, where people now eat?

M: Yes, the same. The same as it is now.

S: Okay. Alright. So, Rajagopal was waiting there at Pine Cottage when you arrived.

M: Yes, and I remember vividly the two men. Krishnaji got out of the car and went over to him, and they both sort of embraced and put their arms around each other. Rajagopal was facing me, and I remember that he averted his face from Krishnaji as though he was both moved and repulsed. It was unfriendly, horrid. I also remember that he insisted, before he took Krishnaji and opened up Pine Cottage, that I be shown where I was to stay. So he alone took me up the steps to the little flat above, and when we got there…

S: Leaving Krishnaji standing in the driveway?

M: Yes, with Alain. When we got to the door there was a garter snake by the door, and he said, “I hope you don’t think I put it there on purpose.” [Chuckles.]

S: Mm, hm.

M: So, he opened it, and I went in. He showed me where things were. That was before we enlarged it. It was just a tiny bedroom with sort of half the sitting room, which you may remember. Anyway, then he went over and unlocked Krishnaji’s flat, and then he went and unlocked the other one where Alain was staying. The two places had no interconnecting door; they were separate.

S: Where was the other flat located?

M: Well, Krishnaji’s apartment was the way it is now, except that it was slightly enlarged when we redid it. The other one had a separate entrance, but shared a wall. It was what they call here semi-detached.

S: Mm, hm. So, looking at the front of Pine Cottage, at the balcony, what side was it on?

M: It was on the left. And it effectively ruined Pine Cottage and had been done when Krishnaji was off in India, and he was never told about it until he came back. Instead of his little cottage, which he had great feeling for, there was this hideous thing with cork floors and high windows like in a prison that you couldn’t see out of. And it had a small kitchenette and a bathroom and a small bedroom and a big office when you went down a step.

It was unbelievably ugly. But Alain was in there. After Rajagopal went away, Krishnaji then showed us around a little, showed us the pepper tree. Krishnaji came with Alain up to where I was, and I remember his coming in the door and just looking around. He said that he hadn’t been there in many years since once when he went up there, Rajagopal had chided him for having brought dirt in on his shoes. [S sighs.] So Krishnaji never went back! Rajagopal was one of those neatness obsessives.

S: Mm, hm.

M: You know, everything had to be lined up just so. Clearly an obsessive and he had every symptom of paranoia that I’ve ever read of in any book. [Both laugh.]

Anyway, Krishnaji looked around the flat. There were some paintings that Rajagopal had done on the wall, little tight sort of paintings. Krishnaji looked at them and sort of nodded and said, “He’s very deteriorated.” Not about the pictures but from having talked to him.

S: Mm, hm.

M: Then he showed us more of his cottage, including…that was when he showed us the cupboard off the back porch where he said…

S: Tell the whole story, as Krishnaji told it to you then. I’ve heard it, but it should be on tape.

M: Yes. This story took place many years before, when Krishnaji used to live in that cottage, and Rosalind and Rajagopal stayed in Arya Vihara. One night Krishnaji lost his key to his apartment, so he couldn’t get in. It was cold, I guess it was winter. California houses of that era and kind usually have the water heater outside in a kind of closet, so that if it leaks it’ll leak not into the house but where it won’t do any harm, in this case under the porch and onto the ground. So Krishnaji spent the night standing up next to the water heater, which was just a few inches, just barely room to cram in. I was horrified when he told me this!

I said but why didn’t you go and ask him for another key, and he said, “Oh, I couldn’t have done that. They would have been too angry.”

S: Mm, hm.

M: This was a horrendous revelation to me. It showed just how terribly wrong things were.

S: Mm, hm. So this situation is now all sinking in for you.

M: That really was like a blinding flash.

S: Yes.

M: And the next day, Rajagopal came over and talked to Krishnaji. Alain and I sat in Alain’s flat, which, mind you, had no doors leading from one flat to the other. And in no time at all we heard Rajagopal’s voice, angry voice coming right through the wall. We couldn’t make out what he said, but we heard this angry, raging voice. Pretty soon he left.

S: You and Alain must have been talking about this?

M: Of course. We were appalled, really appalled.

S: And Alain didn’t really know about this beforehand?

M: He knew, sort of. He knew there’d been difficulty, but nothing like what it was when we got there.

Alain had also arranged for the talks in Ojai to be filmed through KQED, the public broadcasting station in San Francisco. They’d written to ask if they could record the talks on film. We have those now. Again, it was without Rajagopal’s permission, so he didn’t like that.

One day I drove Alain to the Oak Grove to look at the sound system. Rajagopal met him there and explained how it all worked. Afterward, Rajagopal wanted to talk to Alain. So they sat in my car and I went and sat in the grove. They talked for two hours. I finally got so cold that I had to go break it up. Later on, Alain told me that Rajagopal had wanted him to report to him about who Krishnaji saw, and when Krishnaji gave interviews to arrange to tape them. It would have been like bugging a confessional, because people often wanted to talk to Krishnaji about very personal things.

S: Of course.

M: But that’s what he wanted Alain to do. I was appalled. Can you imagine?

S: Hm. From what I know about the man, yes, I can imagine it very easily.

M: Yes. So, as things got worse and worse, Alain and I came to feel that Pine Cottage was probably [chuckles] bugged. Whenever we talked about anything we wanted to keep private, the three of us went outside so it couldn’t be picked up.

S: Mm, hm. That you felt you had to go and talk outside about anything serious is terrible.

M: Yes, yes. I mean it was our suspicion; we never found a bug or looked for one actually, but it was that bad. And we knew that he used to surreptitiously tape things.

S: Wow.

M: Then there was another meeting in the old office, where the vault now is[17].  Krishnaji had sent Rajagopal a letter when we first got to Ojai saying that he, Krishnaji, wanted to be reinstated on the board of KWINC[18]. He also wanted the board enlarged. He wanted me on it, and he wanted accounting of what happens to money coming in. Krishnaji had also stated that KWINC shouldn’t be run just by Rajagopal; there should be some other arrangement. So, in this meeting taking place in the old office, Krishnaji said, “You haven’t replied to my letter.”

Rajagopal replied, “No, why should I? I don’t take orders from you.”

Krishnaji then said, “You don’t understand, Rajagopal. This is a very serious matter, and if you don’t reply and we don’t come to some arrangement, I shall have to take measures.”

At this Rajagopal flew into a rage and said, “What is this? Is this a Brahmin curse? You’re cursing me. Well, I’m a Brahmin too, and I curse you more than you could ever curse me.” And then he went on and apparently said things that Krishnaji wouldn’t tell us about, but he said things against, as Krishnaji put it, “the Other[19].” The minute Rajagopal talked about “the Other,” Krishnaji left and went back into his own cottage.

We heard the door slam when Rajagopal left. The lights in the office, which we could see, went out, the door slammed, and then the car drove off. And then we went in to Krishnaji, and he told us what had happened.

S: Had anyone suggested to Krishnaji that he might put these things in a letter?

M: No, he made a list of what he wanted.

S: So this was entirely from Krishnaji?

M: Oh yes. He made the list. And it was all utterly proper.

S: Of course, yes.

M: These are things he should have had.

S: But they are also powerful things.

M: Yes.

S: You see, it shows that Krishnaji really knew all the right things to be asking.

M: Yes. And I think it was the day after that that he called Vigeveno, because Vigeveno was the Vice President of KWINC. Vigeveno came over, and Krishnaji showed him a copy of the letter that he’d given to Rajagopal, and which Rajagopal wouldn’t show to Vigeveno. Vigeveno knew there was a letter but hadn’t been allowed to see it. So Krishnaji showed it to him. He was trying to get him to act as the Vice President. “You’re responsible” Krishnaji told him. But Vigeveno, of course, did nothing.

S: Well, you say, “Of course, did nothing,” and I understand the “of course,” but I’m thinking of other people who in the future will listen to this. It has to be explained that Vigeveno was really in Rajagopal’s pocket.

M: Rajagopal only allowed people around him who were in his pocket.

S: Now, wait a minute. Isn’t there some story about Vigeveno…Rajagopal pulled Vigeveno and his family out of Germany just before Hitler, or something like that. They were Jewish.

M: Yes, that was the story, why they were loyal to him. Rajagopal had told them it wasn’t safe for them to stay in Holland. He was Dutch, not German. Annie was, I think, German. But they lived in Holland, and they had an art gallery there. Rajagopal said, “You’ve got to get out,” and persuaded them to leave.

They were able to get their money out and so forth.

S: And so they were eternally grateful.

M: They felt their lives were saved by Rajagopal.

S: Right.

M: Are we running out of tape? Perhaps we better stop.

S: Yes.


[1] Rajagopal’s and Rosalind’s daughter who had largely grown up around Krishnaji. Back to text.

[2] Sviatoslav Richter. Back to text.

[3] The Huntington Library in San Marino, California received most of the archives that Rajagopal had collected. Back to text.

[4] Bert Taylor. Mary usually calls him Bud. Back to text.

[5] A famous aviator who was the first to make a solo, non-stop flight from the U.S. to continental Europe. Back to text.

[6] Yehudi Menuhin was considered by many to be one of the finest violinists of the twentieth century. Back to text.

[7] Gerald Heard was a highly published historian and philosopher . Many credit him with starting the Consciousness Movement that has become widespread since the 1960s. He was a great advocate for Krishnaji’s work. Back to text.

[8] Bois de Boulogne. Back to text.

[9] French for 11. Back to text.

[10] An artist, editor, writer, and long standing friend of Mary’s. Back to text.

[11] An American poet, one of the leading figures of the Beat Generation, and an advocate of the counter culture of the ‘60s. Back to text.

[12] A psychologist and professor of Harvard who was an advocate for psychedelic drugs for therapeutic and recreational use. Back to text.

[13] And industrialist from Belgium who later became a trustee of the Krishnamurti Foundation Trust and the Brockwood Park Krishnamurti Educational Centre. Back to text.

[14] Mary’s brother built a house on the island in the 1980s. Back to text.

[15] Rajagopal’s first wife. Back to text.

[16] This is the name of a house about fifty meters from Pine Cottage, and is where Krishnaji’s brother Nitya died in 1925. Back to text.

[17] This office is ten meters from Pine Cottage. Back to text.

[18] Krishnamurti Writings Incorporated, which had, over the years, come to own all the land and buildings given for Krishnaji’s work, as well as all the money donated and accrued from publishing, and owned all the copyrights of Krishnaji’s work, past and future. Back to text.

[19] This is a term Krishnaji used to signify, what might be thought of as, something sacred. Back to text.

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