Issue #56

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Issue 56—November 25, 1978 to January 5, 1979


Mary and Krishnaji are in India throughout this issue, and the physical challenges are wearing on both of them. Mary’s pros in describing India are often extraordinary and lyrical.

The Memoirs of Mary Zimbalist: Issue #56

Krishnaji in Rishi Valley. Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

Krishnaji in Rishi Valley.
Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

Mary: So, we begin on November twenty-fifth, 1978. At this point we’re at the Rishi Valley School in India. ‘Evelyne and Sunanda arrived from Madras. Krishnaji, Narayan, and I lunched, and Sunanda joined us afterward. Krishnaji bore down very hard on what the Foundation is actually doing, and questioned what he is doing here. After more than forty years of talking, there is not one person “who will work at it, who will carry the flame through India.” Narayan suggested an order, such as a monastic order, but Krishnaji said, “He has said no disciples.”…“Don’t call it that.”…“Call it a group of people.” He said again that he probably has another ten or fifteen years and doesn’t want to just go around. He questioned whether he himself had been “irresponsible” in not meeting with just half a dozen people and seeing that they have this thing. It was a knife in me to hear him raise a question that it could be his fault. After all, he has poured out to others all these years. Toward the end of the conversation, it was tentatively planned that he should divide his time in India between Rishi Valley, Vasanta Vihar, and Bombay.’

Scott: Could we just stop and discuss something here for a minute, because I think what you were reading about how disappointed Krishnaji was, and saying that no one was carrying out what he talked about, etcetera, needs to be highlighted a bit.

M: Yes.

S: I think it’s important just to note for the sake of history that this is not something that Krishnaji was just saying in his last year just because he was ill, which some people in India have been saying in the years since. No. This is something that he had been saying for almost a decade.

M: Yes. That’s true.

S: And repeating it strongly and calling people to task and doing everything that he could.

M: Yes, and he used to say to all the places, in his last decade, “You’re not using me. I’m wasting my time. What am I going to do when I go to Ojai or Brockwood or something?”

S: Yes, but that was a different matter. He said that in all the places he went to in his last years, but this sharp criticism of India and of the Indians was not something that he had in the other two places, in America or England. There was an edge to his criticism of the Indians, what they were doing, and the lightness with which they were taking it all or something like that.

Krishnaji with Atchut. Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

Krishnaji with Atchyut.
Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

M: Yes, it was much sharper in India. And he felt they were taking it all for granted. Anyway, ‘Pupul, Nandini, and her daughter Devi, Achyut, Nelly Digby, and Eleanor Hawksley arrived in a van from Bangalore. Krishnaji went for a walk with Narayan and me, and met Jayalakshmi, her sister, and Narasimhan, who have come from Madras for one night. We continued to walk, and Krishnaji saw the newly thatched building at the rural school. Mr. Naidu’…Oh, he was a lovely man…

S: Yes! Yes.

M: He was the head of the garden.

S: He was the estate manager, really.

M: Yes, he was head of the whole place, physically.

S: Including running the farm.

M: I hope he’s well. Anyway, ‘Mr. Naidu, who is in charge of the farm, planting, etcetera, came along and pointed out new trees, and other rural developments. Krishnaji was pleased. Everyone but Krishnaji had supper in the visitors’ dining room.’

The twenty-sixth. ‘Krishnaji was sick to his stomach from midnight till 6 a.m. Others were similarly ill, Frances, Michael, Julie, etcetera. There was something in yesterday’s lunch, though Krishnaji ate here in the old guest house, while all the others ate in the visitors’ dining room. Parchure is trying to figure it out. Krishnaji stayed in bed all day. The teachers’ discussion was postponed. Jayalakshmi and Narasimhan had breakfast here with Narayan and me. They left in midmorning after seeing Krishnaji briefly in his room. I did letters, read, slept, and took a walk westward up the valley alone. Krishnaji felt better after his rest and the semi-fast. He got up at 5 p.m. and walked around outside the house. He seemed well by evening.’

The twenty-seventh. ‘I woke up at 1:30 a.m. with a migraine. Later, I took Dr. Wolf’s pills and Krishnaji put his hands on my head. It was a quiet morning. At lunch were Krishnaji, Evelyne, Nelly Digby, Narayan’s sister Indira, Prasad, and me. Earlier, Nandini said that Nelly was abusive to the houseboy in a British memsahib style.’ [S laughs.] ‘Krishnaji wants me to tell her that she cannot behave like that.’ [S laughs again.] And then I wrote one word: ‘Difficult.’ [S laughs again.] ‘Scott Forbes and Pama arrived from Madras having extricated from customs the video equipment Frances has donated to KFI, and which Scott has come to set up and show people how to use.’

S: Yes, just for the sake of history, Frances was, I think, the largest contributor, but not the only one by any means. I raised funds from several people for that. And it was an absolute nightmare getting all of the video equipment and videotapes through Indian customs.

M: I’ll bet it was.

S: So this was the introduction of the Indian Foundation to video recording Krishnaji’s talks and discussions. [Both chuckle lightly.]

M: The next day. ‘At 9:45, Krishnaji held a discussion with all the teachers, including Brockwood’s Kathy Harris and Scott Forbes and all the Foundations’ trustees. Afterward, Achyut and I had a long talk on the problems in Krishnamurti Foundations, and the tension between Pupul and Narayan. Achyut is friendly to both, but wishes Narayan had more of a feeling for the Foundation and working as a whole, not just for Rishi Valley. At lunch were Krishnaji, Narayan, Scott, Sunanda, Venkatraman (a math teacher), and me. At 4 p.m., there was a KFI trustee meeting. Krishnaji, Pupul, Nandini, Achyut, Sunanda, Pama, Narayan, and Rajesh. Krishnakutti and I were non-members invited to attend. Krishnaji asked whether he should become president of the KFI. Pupul had told him that she wishes to resign in his favor. She said she once opposed his being president, but now is for it with all her heart. Krishnaji said as things now stand, he is holding everything together, and there isn’t a spirit of cooperation. Why not? He said again that the schools have swamped the teachings. And he asked why was there division in the Foundation? Pupul made an attempt to bring her differences with Narayan into the open, but she did it in such a challenging manner that he flared up. There were questions on how differences are handled in the English and American Foundations, and I said they were discussed and never became issues.’ Well, I was being optimistic. [S laughs.] But this is 1978. More to come, obviously.

S: Yes.

M: ‘I said that Krishnaji is president in both the U.S. and the United Kingdom because, after Rajagopal, we were intent on his having as complete power as was legally possible. Beyond that, we feel totally responsible to him. Krishnaji spoke of cooperation, the feeling of cooperation coming first, and from that, everything must flow. Afterward, Rajesh Dalal and I talked about all the things surrounding the teachings here and walked to the road and back.’

November twenty-ninth. ‘I called on Evelyne and then Nelly in the morning. In the afternoon, Krishnaji held another KFI meeting at which he again wondered if he was not being responsible in seeing that a few came to total understanding, and again spoke of the Buddha, who had only two disciples who understood him and they both died before he did. It is an ache to hear him wonder if it his fault after sixty years of pouring light on everyone. Narayan, Nandini, Devi, and I walked with him. A little village boy brought him a newborn goat.’ [Chuckles.] ‘Black and white and tottery.’ [Both chuckle.] ‘Krishnaji held it, and the brown mother bleated protectively. A tiny flute sound came from the rocks on the hills. The player was invisible, but it was a faint thread around our walk in the evening. Sitting, and talking with Krishnaji, I could hear it faintly somewhere.’ It was lovely, a little shepherd boy with the goats, and he would play his flute. It was just lovely.

S: Yes, very pastoral.

Krishnaji with Rishi Valley students. Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

Krishnaji with Rishi Valley students.
Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

M: November thirtieth. ‘Krishnaji spoke to the whole school in the assembly hall. Michael Mendizza filmed it. The young students spoke right up when he asked what they wanted to talk about. “Sir, what is will power?”’ [Chuckles.] ‘“Sir, what is desire?” The last from a tiny boy. Krishnaji talked on learning and comparison and got a young boy and girl to sit beside him. Both of them entirely unselfconscious. The little boy with heavy glasses was utterly serious and honest.’ What was his name? I used to know…Sanjay! ‘When Krishnaji asked if he saw something, he wouldn’t say he did until he’d considered it carefully. The children were wonderful, and Krishnaji enjoyed it. “Tell your teachers, no comparisons!”’ [S laughs.] ‘Scott, who did the sound for Michael, was laughing after Krishnaji’s talk ended. When I asked him why, he told me it was because Krishnaji had a battery mic under his kurta for the film, so Scott could hear the children afterward, clustering around Krishnaji, and telling on their teachers who do, of course, compare!’ [Hearty laughter by both.] I’d forgotten all that.

S: Yes, I’d forgotten it to until you just read this. [Still laughing.] And I can just see those little Indian students doing that too.

M: ‘In the afternoon at 4 p.m., Krishnaji held another KFI meeting, which got so heavily psychological, it got nowhere. Narayan spoke of an area of loneliness, which resists all awareness, while simultaneously insisting that nothing was wrong in his relationships. Pupul before breakfast told me of nightmares and fears that affect her. There seems to be a tendency to make things into abstractions, fill herself with concepts, and not look into the personal problems. In many ways, they seem remarkably unaware of themselves. Scott was on the walk with Krishnaji and me, and later Sunanda and Rajesh joined us. We met small, dark-as-twigs gypsy women crossing the fields, instant begging and chattering at us. Krishnaji pulled out his pockets, so did Scott and I, to show we had nothing, but they laughed and kept chattering. A second pair came along and the performance repeated itself…’ [S laughs.] Do you remember any of that?

S: I remember gypsy women were sometimes at Rishi Valley, but not that particular occasion.

M: ‘…the performance repeated itself, except that Krishnaji gave one his clean white handkerchief. On our return, Krishnaji talked to Vatsala, who was in a flurry of changing her mind.’ Do you remember who she was?

S: If I remember correctly, she hadn’t been a student at one of the schools, and was not quite a staff member, either. She might have been a university student and an expert on Heidegger, and that interested people in her.

M: Maybe.

S: A year before, or two years before, Krishnaji had given her some attention, talked with her, and people found her promising, but she was having some kind of metaphysical crisis during this year and then disappeared, and I can’t remember ever seeing her again. I think that’s who it is.

M: I can’t remember seeing her again. Well, I wouldn’t be in India every year. But I never heard another word that I can recall. Anyway, it says, ‘Rajesh has talked to her. Now she thinks she may join one of the schools, but doesn’t know, and is in confusion.’

‘After supper, nine village men danced outside the school’s dining hall. A tall man with a rattle moved in the center, calling the time, and the other eight danced in a circle around him, two older ones playing flutes with tassels on the end as they danced. The others had cymbals. Krishnaji came and stood watching. After about forty minutes, the students began to join in. At first, the older girls, then tides of little boys in their white pajama suits jumped in, then older people:’ [chuckles] ‘Karen and Chris from Brockwood, Kathy Harris, Devi’—that’s Nandini’s daughter—‘even Nandini for a few minutes. Krishnaji was laughing, alight with the fun. He urged Pupul to join, and with a burst of enthusiasm, for a few minutes she did. “I want to dance,” said Krishnaji and did it a little standing in the dark behind the circle of onlookers. At 9 p.m., we walked back to the guest house, and he was pleased and full of fun.’ Do you remember that?

S: Yes, I do. And I remember Krishnaji’s little almost invisible dance in the shadows.

M: The first of December. ‘A quiet day of resting for Krishnaji. I did desk work and dictated from my notes of Letters to the Schools to Mr. Hari Harumi…’

S: Oh, yes. He was a man who did secretarial work.

M: That’s right…‘so he could type them. Krishnaji walked with Scott and me and we met gypsies.’ Oh, so we met gypsies that day, too.

December second. ‘At 9:45 a.m., Krishnaji held a discussion for teachers, including some from Bangalore. It was mostly on comparison. I wonder how many understood. In the afternoon, there was a concert, Palghat Mani Iyer on mridangam, and an albino fellow on a little drum shaped like a Camembert’ [S laughs] ‘and Vasanta Kumari singing accompanied by a young woman on violin. The singing left me fairly flat, but Mani Iyer was very good. Krishnaji sat in the middle on a mat with the young students all around him, and enjoyed Mani Iyer. We walked afterward.’

The next day, ‘Krishnaji held another teachers’ discussion with the same group at 9:45 a.m. Much frustration. He said, “There is no distraction.” And, “Distraction is thought.” He seemed to me to take for granted one knew what he meant, and with, for instance, the subject of knowledge, which he discussed scathingly as “a means to livelihood and status” with teachers who have in part never heard him before and may not know he has a more nuanced view of it, this could be bewildering. He kept putting the question, “With ten students in front of you, how will you see that they have no distraction?” And at one point, he asked them how they will make the ten students understand the whole existence of man.’ [Chuckles.] ‘He is also intimidating in dismissing almost any reply they make with, “You’re not answering my question.” He made me feel at the end of one-and-a-half hours thankful that I’m not a teacher.’ [Both laugh.] ‘In the afternoon, he, Narayan, and I visited the dairy herd; graceful-eyed cows eating green hay, most of them a cross between Sindhi’—Sindhi is a breed of cow—‘and Jersey. Little calves were shyly friendly. We walked across the stream, turned left and westward along the rice fields on a tiny path. It was away from everything, truly country, and I felt the niceness of that, the way I feel less often in India. There is something in the air that is constantly unpleasant. Is it a smell, a kind of sourness, part of the mildew in the buildings, a gray in the water, which though it comes from a well and is said to be very pure, never seems quite clean either on my clothes or self. Have I become too finicky, overly fastidious? The blankets on my bed are musty. The pillow used who knows how long is inside a thin pillow slip, there is no pad on the rubber mattress, and inside the rag-bare sheet smells of damp.’ I’m sorry to go into all this…

S: No, no. It’s fine…and it’s very true.

Portrait of Krishnaji. Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

Portrait of Krishnaji.
Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

M: ‘I may be wrong in reacting, but there is what my mother used to call “feistiness”’… This is a word my mother made up, it’s something sort of ick.

S: [laughing] Yes.

M: ‘…what my mother used to call “feastiness” about it all. But we did have a nice walk, got back across the little stream by jumping, and clambered up the bank while I kept a cautious watch for cobras, and came back along the Tetu Road.’

December fourth. ‘At breakfast, Krishnaji talked vigorously about forming small groups of religiously committed people. He swept the value of the schools aside; he really was drastic. In the afternoon, he, Narayan, Nandini, Devi, and I walked about four miles.’

The next day, ‘Krishnaji gave his second students’ talk and discussion. The new video equipment brought and set up by Scott was used for the first time. Scott is training three teachers to man the three cameras, and one to be the director. Krishnaji again had a little boy named Sanjay sit beside him and a little girl on the other side. Very bright children. Krishnaji asked what causes fear, and Sanjay replied, “It is all in the mind, sir.”’ [Both chuckle.] ‘The older children don’t speak, but the young ones were quick and were really listening. At the end, Krishnaji asked everyone to sit quietly and asked if they understood why he suggested it. A little girl piped up, “Sir, it is to build up our energy.”’ [Both chuckle.] ‘At lunch were Narayan, Vatsala, Rajesh, and me. It rained, but we walked anyway at 5 o’clock. Evelyne gave me a letter sent by Lou about the geological report on my property, based on which the buyer called off the deal.’ I had a terrible time with the geologist on that.

S: Yes, selling the house.

M: ‘The report makes it appear that the land may go in a landslide. It said there are three slide areas. If the report is correct, the place could be unsellable. The letter is so drastic I simply read it with no reaction at all. I realize the financial implications can be considerable but can do nothing for the present. We’ll have to deal with it in February. Krishnaji said, “What will you do?” I replied, “I don’t know what I can do.”’

December sixth. ‘Nandini and Devi left early for Bombay. Sunanda and Pama went to Madras. Krishnaji held a meeting at 4 p.m. for some of the teachers. He spoke of seven things to give the studentS: 1. protection in freedom, 2. a sense of religious, righteous behavior, 3. an expectation of the highest excellence, 4. love and affection, which is security. Then, he added last year’s list, which was 1. a global outlook, 2. a concern for man, 3. a religious feeling. He kept asking what we can do as a group to give this to the children, how one is to have unyielding rectitude? He said that other groups have a belief, an authority to hold them together, to give them energy. But, he said, the very denial of authority and belief gives energy.’

‘Narayan spoke of a brotherhood of teachers and absence of fear.’

‘Krishnaji asked, “How will you bring this about? By working, you will not get it. You must get it, and then work at it.”’

‘Pupul brought up compassion as a central thing, and Narayan said, “If I see I am the world, there is a root of compassion.”’

‘Krishnaji asked, how will they prevent the children from being swallowed up by society? “Do you have a deep religious feeling? That is the rock, and from there you live.”…“Compassion means love, intelligence, an end to sorrow. Have you intelligence? You can’t give something you haven’t got. You have to have this quality of creation, newness, not innovation, or invention, but as an endless source, a river with no beginning and no end.”’

‘Krishnaji, Narayan, and I crossed the valley and climbed a stone path on the north side of the valley to a flat mesa. It was dark by the time we returned. Mr. and Mrs. Santhanam arrived. A Mr. Mueller had a run-in with me…’ Oh, that was that tiresome man.

S: Oh, yes, wasn’t he the one who made up stories about himself being a CIA agent, or being a spy?

M: Yes, he was weird.

S: Yes.

M: I don’t know what happened to him.

S: He was in Ojai for a while.

M: Yes, he was. And he was difficult wherever he was. Anyway, I had an argument with him on that day.

S: There was never a shortage of tiresome people.

M: No. [Laughter.]

December seventh. ‘Rain. Krishnaji talked to the students. The same two students sat with him on the platform and again the children were remarkable; they really think, and are unselfconscious. The ones about thirteen to fourteen years of age are the articulate ones. It was videotaped. I met Gita, a daughter of the dairy head, to whom the Moorheads are giving a year at Brockwood.’

S: Yes.

M: The Moorheads are an English couple. Have they appeared in this account yet?

S: Yes, they have. We’ve talked about them, and that they set up the dairy at Rishi Valley.

M: We did, alright. ‘The Moorheads were giving Gita a year at Brockwood. She came and asked to talk to me, and so we did. She’s seventeen years old, bright, serious, and has the makings of a teacher here. At lunch were the Santhanams, Pupul, Achyut, Narayan, and me. Later Ahalya, Upasini, and Mrs. Parchure arrived from Rajghat.’

S: Just to say for a minute that Gita, I think, spent two or three years at Brockwood and then…

M: She went to Australia.

S: …she met at Brockwood a young staff member; she was by then about twenty years old, and they got married. He was Australian, and they’re now living happily in Australia.

M: Yes. I used to hear from her.

S: I did, too.

M: But I haven’t heard in a long time.

S: I heard from her a couple years ago.

M: Yes, yes. She was a nice girl.

S: A very nice girl.

M: December eighth. ‘I woke up at 2 a.m. with a headache, but Bufferin fixed it. Dr. Parchure gave Krishnaji the pneumonia vaccine sent by Lailee’—that’s our doctor in California—‘which came via Evelyne. Jayalakshmi brought a violinist T. Krishnan, and he and Mani Iyer gave a concert.’ He was very good. I remember that well. You probably do, too.

S: Yes.

M: The next day just says: ‘Rain. Krishnaji spoke to teachers at 9:45 a.m. I dictated letters, etcetera.’

And the day after it just says: ‘A clear day. Krishnaji talked to teachers again at 9:45 a.m. Anantaswami V. Hari of Bangalore was at lunch. We go there Wednesday for the day.’

S: Now, Anantaswami, just to say, was a trustee of the Indian Foundation.

M: I think so. And he, I believe, put up a lot of the initial money for the school in Bangalore.

S: Yes, and his two children were lovely people who came to Brockwood.

M: Oh. I’d forgotten that.

December eleventh. ‘Pupul recorded a question-and-answer session with Krishnaji. Present were Ahalya, Upasini, Rajesh, Pama, Scott, and me. Toward the end, he said that there must be: 1. No comparison; 2. Problems must be solved instantly; 3. No sorrow. He said if someone were to ask why should one keep listening to K? He would tell them to listen to him constantly, as often as he could, because “The flower is always new.” At 6:15 in the evening, the school’s annual dance performance was held under the banyan tree. Krishnaji sat on a mat with the children. The ballet was not very good, but three little boys played mridangam fiercely during intermission.’ [Both chuckle.] Oh dear.

December twelfth, ‘Krishnaji talked to school. The children were excellent.’

The next day, ‘I was up at 4 a.m., bathed and dressed. Mr. Anantaswami came from Bangalore last night, and drove Krishnaji, Narayan, Pupul, and me to the new Krishnamurti school in Bangalore called The Valley School. Evelyne, Michael, and Dr. Parchure came in a separate car. We left at 5 a.m., and arrived at 8:15 a.m., and were given breakfast in The Valley School guest house by Mrs. Anantaswami and servants. We went to the school, and at 10 a.m. Krishnaji spoke to the students, after which we returned to the guest house, where he spoke to teachers. The children were under twelve years of age, but spoke right up.’

Portrait of Krishnaji. Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

Portrait of Krishnaji.
Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

Krishnaji: “Do you like your school?”’

‘Children: “Yes!”’ [Chuckles.]

‘Krishnaji: “Are you afraid of your teachers?”’

‘Children: ‘No!”’

‘Krishnaji: “What would you like?”’

‘Children: “To have a hostel.”’

‘Krishnaji: “Don’t you want to go home to your parents?”’

‘Children: “No!”’ [M and S both chuckle.]

‘The parents apparently are always busy. The teachers are new at this, but were intent on having a good school. They are leery of having a principal, but see the need for one. At the school, Michael Mendizza photographed Krishnaji with the children. After lunch at the guest house, there was a short rest. Then, Mr. Harry Khoday, who has paid for most of this school, and Pupul brought the First Minister of the state and a Mr. Urs to see Krishnaji. It was a sticky beginning.’ [Laughs.] I remember well, nobody spoke. Krishnaji sat on the sofa and the First Minister, a big portly man, sat on the right, and Pupul sat on the left, and I and whoever else was there were not part of the group—we modestly sat in the background. And nobody spoke! And I thought, well, it’s up to Pupul as she is supposed to have engineered this, and she’s the hostess type, but nothing happened. [Laughs more.] ‘Nobody spoke. Finally, Krishnaji began to question him on whether people in India will see what is happening to the world, etcetera, and are concerned. Krishnaji spoke with charm and intensity, and the Minister had the intelligence to appreciate it. Then, we left and were driven back to Rishi Valley by Mr. Khoday, who had most kindly not allowed Evelyne or me to pay for some silks from his factory that his brother brought, and which we wanted to buy. We reached Rishi Valley at 7 p.m. I went to bed without supper. Krishnaji has a boil forming above his left knee.’

The fourteenth of December. ‘Krishnaji spoke to the students. Again, it was very good. I took photos. The children, one of whom was Sanjay Ganapati Daychu’—spelling?—‘again sat beside Krishnaji, and it went very well. I took a roll of film of it. At lunch were Jayalakshmi, Dr. and Mrs. Parchure, Pama, and Narayan. In spite of his boil, Krishnaji walked down for a coconut tree planting. He planted the first one near the swimming pool. I planted one nearby. Then, he led a crowd across to the bridge and had each person plant one along the river. Jayalakshmi, Ahalya, Upasini, Dr. and Mrs. Parchure, Jayalakshmi’s sister, Rita Zampese, Mr. Deshpande, Indira, Narayan, and Scott. Most had to wade through the stream, Krishnaji urging them on from the bridge. Only Pupul evaded it by leaving.’

The fifteenth. ‘Pupul left for Delhi to see Mrs. Gandhi. The boil is hurting Krishnaji, and a Dr. Krishnamurti from Madanapalle came for lunch. Krishnaji stayed in bed but saw him. He and Dr. Parchure decided on an antibiotic, doxycycline, 100 milligrams, which Krishnaji took in the evening.’

There’s little for the next day. ‘Krishnaji’s boil is beginning to drain and soften. Krishnaji was able to sit in the other room and hold a teacher discussion. “A fact is never a fragment.” In the afternoon, I climbed the hill behind the playing fields.’

December seventeenth. ‘In the morning, Krishnaji again held a teachers’ discussion, and in the afternoon, he did one for filming, talking with Narayan, Prasad, Krishnakutti, Indira, Mrs. Major, and Venkatraman. Michael set it up in front of the guest house. Krishnaji’s boil is not draining properly. Ahalya and I packed Krishnaji’s clothes in metal trunks to take to Madras. Someone said that the U.S. and China have mounted an opening discussion of diplomatic relationship. News here is as remote as the moon.’ I always felt that in Rishi Valley, that one was way far away from the whole world.

S: I know. Yes, yes.

M: The eighteenth: ‘Krishnaji held a discussion with students of the two upper classes, with Narayan the only other person present. Afterward, Dr. Parchure cut open Krishnaji’s boil using a freeze anesthetic, which lasts such a short time that Krishnaji had considerable pain, but as soon as it was over and bandaged he said the pain was gone and it felt much better. His and the only question is why and how he got it. Dr. Krishnamurti was at lunch’—that’s that doctor from Madanapalle—‘and two teachers, Dr. Parchure, and me. Krishnaji spent the rest of the day in bed reading. I, too, read all afternoon, Newsweek and Time from Narayan, and then went for a walk alone. The sky was beautiful with round, piling clouds. A sparrow hawk fluttered in place over the rice field, dived but rose with nothing.’

December nineteenth. ‘In spite of the boil pain, Krishnaji insisted on talking to the students, and I packed in the afternoon. Mrs. Gandhi has been jailed for four days by Parliament, and was stripped of her membership in Parliament, denying her the seat she won in it a few weeks ago.’

Krishnaji with Parameshvaram. Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

Krishnaji with Parameshvaram.
Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

December twentieth. ‘Up at 3 a.m. and we left less than an hour later for Madras. Krishnaji, Dr. Parchure, Parameshwaram, and I were in the Santhanam car. We arrived at Vasanta Vihar by 8:30 a.m. and learned that all the others (Evelyne, Nelly, Frances, etcetera, etcetera) were to have left by car and van at 7:30 a.m., but were prevented by dangers of riots over Mrs. Gandhi going to jail. She is stronger in the south, and her followers have attacked trains, newspaper offices, etcetera. Four people were killed in Bangalore where Achyut, Ahalya, Mrs. Parchure, Upasini, and Rajesh are; so they, too, are immobilized for the moment as trains had been attacked. It can’t last long as she will be out of jail in four days.’ Where were you in all that?

S: I was stuck in Rishi Valley, and I remember it well. I was loading all the video equipment into the van, and was about to travel by car with Michael Mendizza and some others, when we were told at the last minute that no one could go. Of course, everyone was worried that you and Krishnaji wouldn’t arrive safely.

M: Yes. We left so early, we didn’t…[chuckles].

S: Yes, but there was no word until we phoned and learned that you’d arrived safely.

M: ‘I’m grateful we took off early as I had had enough of Rishi Valley and am glad to be here in Madras. My mysterious luck or fortitude in not being sick came to an end in the afternoon. I went with Prema Srinivasan to a tailor with some saris she got me, but he was closed, so I got some detective stories for Krishnaji and Newsweek and Time. When I came back I began to feel queasy. I ate only fruit and went to bed, but was sick at night.’

The next day. ‘I felt weak but better, and had only a slight fever, 99.6. I slept most of the day, taking only fruit juice and tea. There is no news from Rishi Valley, but late at night the group who were in Bangalore (Achyut, Ahalya, Mrs. Parchure, Upasini, and Rajesh) arrived by train. I read a book just published called Krishnamurti’s Boyhood by Dick Clarke.’

December twenty-second. ‘I feel alright but am weak and eating only very lightly. The question is how to be adequately nourished between now and February, avoiding fried and spiced things, which make up almost all this cooking. Vediamo. Vediamo.’ That’s Italian for “we’ll see.” They say it all the time in Italy, “we’ll see”—vediamo.

S: Yes. [Both chuckle.]

M: ‘A letter came from Amanda saying a man is considering buying the Malibu house. This she has heard from Elfriede. Rajesh said he questioned some of the young men making trouble in Bangalore on what political party they represented. They said fifteen rupees a day, and an assurance they wouldn’t be arrested.’ So they were paid agitators.

S: Yes.

M: ‘News came in the morning that the Rishi Valley group is on their way. Dick Clarke lunched here and presented his book to Krishnaji. I asked him what he meant at the end when he said that Theosophy takes in Krishnaji and the Krishnamurti Foundations. He replied that the Theosophists believe Theosophy takes in everything.’ [Both laugh.] ‘I pointed out that this is oddly construed. In the afternoon, the Rishi Valley vans and car brought the missing persons. It seems that trouble began at 6:30 a.m. on the twentieth at Madanapalle when Ulrich Bruger, Gisèle Balley, and Mrs. Ridley were arriving there by car to take a bus to Madras, and a mob crowded in on the car threateningly. A man in the crowd said to let it go back to Rishi Valley, as no buses were running, but another group closed in and tried to force the doors open, telling them to get out of the car. The driver edged the car over a curb, as if to comply, then gunned the car and they escaped back to Rishi Valley.’ Were you in that?

S: No, no. And I’d completely forgotten about that incident. Mrs. Ridley was just an elderly woman enthusiast from Sheffield, and Gisèle Balley and Ulrich Bruger were just enthusiasts from Switzerland and not on any committee at the time. They were all going to get the bus from Madanapalle to Madras, because there weren’t cars for everybody, obviously. When they got back to Rishi Valley and told us what had happened, we knew it was dangerous for the cars and van to leave. That’s what I can remember now.

M: Yes, yes, yes. The mob closed in. ‘So, they escaped back to Rishi Valley, but they are now here. Evelyne had tea. Evelyne, Nelly, Scott, etcetera are staying in the annex.’

S: This might need to be explained a bit more, because this was the year in which India was hosting the international trustees’ meetings, and they were having Michael and company filming, and me recording and teaching them to make video recordings—they were having so many people that their normal facilities couldn’t hold everybody. So, although they had previously constructed a two-story annex of bedrooms and bathrooms in back of Vasanta Vihar, that was not enough, so they built special bamboo and coconut palm leaf shelters on the roof of the annex for people to sleep.

M: They did? I hope you didn’t have to sleep there, did you?

S: Yes. I did. I slept there. They didn’t have any other places. I can remember Upasini was in a bed next to me; there was just rows of beds for the men. I think the women had the better accommodation in the permanent structure beneath us. And then to eat, they couldn’t fit everyone in the dining hall, so they had to make a bamboo and coconut palm dining room. [Both laugh.] Anyway, continue.

M: ‘I went for a walk with Krishnaji and Pama, driving to the beach past the TS and Damodar Gardens, which KFI is thinking of leasing.’ That’s part of the TS compound and indeed they did lease it for Mrs. Santhanam’s Krishnamurti School. The School, they called it. ‘We walked along the beach toward the river, the wind blowing in from the Bay of Bengal was clean and so was the sound of the sea, but the wide beach is not. The fisher folk live in hovels on the beach and relieve themselves along the edge of the tide. So one can’t walk on the sand, but has to walk along an old disused road leading to the bridge across the river. Krishnaji strode along, vital, indomitable-looking, past the TS, past the part of the beach where he and his brother were noticed as boys and this strange story began. Krishnaji does not set foot on TS property and hasn’t since the 1930s when he was made to feel unwelcome. The road we took to the beach goes around the TS property. Coming back, we met Achyut, who is staying in Radha Burnier’s house. Back at Vasanta Vihar, Pupul had arrived from Bombay after a crowded time at the airport. Everyone, including Krishnaji, had supper at table in a coco-palm hut put up outside the dining room in the back garden.’ [Chuckles.]

December twenty-third. ‘I attended the KF of India trustee meeting. There was a discussion of Krishnaji’s becoming president of the Foundation instead of Pupul. I don’t see any big operational difference it would make, but it was decided that Krishnaji will give his answer tomorrow. Perhaps forming a small college at Rishi Valley was also discussed. Krishnaji spoke of the need for new good people. Rajesh said that the full sense of responsibility people start with seems to fade. Perhaps the enormity of the teachings causes this. Krishnaji said if he saw the truth of the teachings, he would start in a small way. “After all, it took (himself) fifty years.”’

S: What’s he saying?

M: Well, he’s telling them if he was investigating the truth of the teachings, he would start in a small way. ‘“After all it took”’…and I put in parentheses (himself) ‘“…fifty years.”…“I can’t do anything tomorrow. If I want to do something, I want to do it today. If I had heard the Buddha, and his mind is too big for me, I would take what I can understand and keep moving.”…“He says, no time—I would work on that. I don’t know what he means. I would ask him.”…“He says I will do this, I say, no time. If I am angry, I end it now, not tomorrow. I won’t let anything enter into the field of time. I would ask, have I understood that—the word meaning, the inwardness of it? I can’t capture the immensity (of it all), but I can begin with that.”’ Now, I put “of it all” in parentheses, which I think are mine, but the rest is a quote.

December twenty-fourth. ‘Krishnaji at the KFI trustee meeting accepted the presidency but wishes that Pupul and Achyut as vice presidents should act as “buffers” with regard to legal and other matters in his absence, or during any period in which he delegates his powers to them. Achyut demurred because he has accepted to start religious centers all over India, and therefore feels he should not take on an official position. Pupul made a plea to Achyut to accept nevertheless as he is uniquely able to protect KFI in the country today.[1] Achyut wants to do the religious work on his own so that if he makes mistakes, they’re all his personally. Pupul refused to be a vice president without him. Krishnaji said that was blackmail.’ [Chuckles.]

S: Yes. [Both chuckle.]

M: ‘Krishnaji asked about his own responsibilities as president. He said the schools exist to carry out the teachings; the Foundations are totally responsible for the schools and so for the teachings. Under those circumstances, he asked Achyut to join. Achyut said he would do what Krishnaji wishes. Krishnaji said that was not enough. Then, Achyut accepted. Krishnaji then asked what we can do to make all the Foundations more responsible and active, creative, alive, and living the teachings. Are there too many members too casually involved? He is concerned with a separation if he dies. I asked about Krishnaji’s powers as president, and if he had their agreement that he can, at any time, whether he is in India or elsewhere, overrule the vice presidents. Krishnaji asked at length, what is the responsibility of the Foundation members and what do they do? “Am I spilling my blood on a rock? It is not worth it?” Krishnaji said our trust is in the teachings, “and that trust is your life.” It is the responsibility to see to each other and to keep in contact, not only verbally, but inwardly. At 5 p.m., Shankar drove Evelyne, Nelly, Julie, and me to the Music Academy, where M.S. Subbulakshmi sang. Shankar had invited me in Brockwood. We had to queue together, and it was a chance to observe the audience. High preponderance of what I think of as South Indian Brahmin faces, rather fine, slightly ovoid, with a certain dignity. It was a bit like the opening of the opera in New York: women in their most gleaming saris, dark, lustrous colors, diamonds in ear, and regrettably noses.’ [S chuckles.] ‘Subbulakshmi and niece Radha in brilliant yellow saris, surrounded by accompanists, sang for almost three hours marvelously. It was raining when we came out. Shankar drove Evelyne, Nelly, and me home before going back for the following concert at 8 o’clock. So passed Christmas Eve.’

Christmas day. ‘Between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., the monsoon poured over five inches of rain.’ That is a real downpour. ‘At 9:30 a.m., Krishnaji held the first of the combined Foundations meetings, the only non-Indian members being Nelly, Evelyne, and myself. We went into the responsibilities of the Foundations. Krishnaji said, “The religious mind is without illusion,” and later, “sorrow is illusion.” At 3:30 p.m., Sunanda, Pama, Pupul, Nelly, Evelyne, and I had a publication meeting. India has agreed to let Harper bring out the meditations book in the autumn of 1979 in time for Christmas, and their own book, now retitled Explorations and Insight, is to follow early in 1980. At 5 p.m., when the rain slacked a little, Lakshmi Shankar came to sing for Krishnaji. It was in the hall, about thirty of us were there. Jayalakshmi brought Mani Iyer, who sat beside Krishnaji like a carved ball of dark wood. Then, their combined presence evoked singing that was marvelous, all devotional songs, they seemed to come from deep inside, a reverie, substances of longing, sorrow, and supplication. Sitting in the dark hall, she became an ancient monument figure. It seemed deep inside whatever is the Indian mind and heart, a distillation of centuries. At the end, she came forward, touched her forehead to the ground before Krishnaji, and turned slightly to touch Mani Iyer’s feet, obeisance to God and to greatness. I talked afterward a little with Shankar’s’—that’s the student at Brockwood—‘mother, Mrs. Ramachandrin, and his sister. Shankar and his parents had talked to Krishnaji before the concert. The rain continued. That was that Christmas in Madras.’ It was wonderful when she sang.

S: Yes, yes.

M: December twenty-sixth. ‘The rain continues. It was heavy in the night and all day. There is flooding. Krishnaji wanted to have others come to the 9:30 a.m. meeting, the second combined Foundations meetings, but I pointed out that Krishnamurti trustees had come all the way from England and America for meetings on Foundation matters, and so the meeting was with them only. “Would you be more responsible if I went away?” he asked. He told them how he had often told me that he wanted to disappear.’

December twenty-seventh. ‘The rain is continuing. At 9:30 a.m., there was the third and final combined Foundations meeting. The subject was the subtleties of interpretation and what it means to spread the teachings. We must speak out of what we understand. It may not be the totality of the teachings, but what we have seen we can communicate. At 4 p.m., we finished the international publications meeting.’

The twenty-eighth. ‘The rain continues. In the morning, Pupul took Nelly, Evelyne, and me to the handicraft wholesaler where they proudly showed us their samples of lovely cottons, etcetera, but when we tried to buy some, almost all are unavailable. I did buy a green cotton full smock-like top for 4 rupees 25 ($2.94). In the afternoon, I went to town again with Evelyne and Scott, who were looking for presents. I bought some tussor silk for pants. The sights of the slums in the rain are numbing: women washing their cooking pots in street water, wet and filth everywhere. Outside the shop an old beggar angrily waved away a man with a child trying to keep the foreigners, us, for himself to beg. A snake charmer catching sight of me in the doorway waved his wretched cobra.’

S: Yes, yes. India.

M: December twenty-ninth. ‘I woke up at 1 a.m. with stomach trouble. Dr. Parchure says it is a “chill in the stomach.”’ [S chuckles.] ‘Whatever the cause, the two pills of something called Intestipan worked instantly, but I felt dead tired and weak all day. I stayed in my room, read, slept, and ate nothing but tea and toast. Nandini arrived last night. David Shainberg and son both arrive this evening. The rain continues. There have been fifteen inches since Monday.’ That’s in five days. ‘Tomorrow the first talk is scheduled. Krishnaji says even a little sun will dry it out. He is bored with all this rain and inaction, and wants to talk.’

December thirtieth. ‘Wisps of sunlight gave hope in the morning. Krishnaji and I walked down to look at the driveway, and a lake there had diminished considerably. But later the rain began again. Shainberg was at lunch upstairs, and later at supper, too. I feel better today and was at all meals. I slept after lunch. By 4 p.m., it was obvious the talk could not be held in the garden, so Krishnaji held a discussion in the hall. It was so crowded, I sat out in the landing on the staircase.’ That’s a big hall; it can hold a lot of people.

The last day of the year. ‘Sun at last! A clear, beautiful day. I did some ironing on a stool with a towel on it and a tiny electric iron that has to be switched off after sitting and heating, and then on again when it cools, or there is a shock. At lunch, there was Krishnaji, Sunanda, Nandini, me, and a Dr. Ravindra, an Indian professor of physics and religion at Halifax University.’ He’s a nice man.

S: Yes.

M: ‘In conversation, Krishnaji said a person with a total view could not be concerned with a particular one, i.e., such a person could never be a scientist, artist, etcetera. He or she would only be concerned with the totality; he would teach that, nothing else. I put forth a question of a person of genius, Beethoven, as Krishnaji likes him so much’ [both chuckle], ‘who might be an egocentric man but at moments of creation that ego was not functioning, was in suspension, a crack of light coming through. I said I wasn’t discussing whether that light was the same as the total light but only whether the act of creation could come about in a non-ego instant. This led to relationship versus affect, between truth and actuality. Actuality cannot touch truth, hence there is no relationship, as Krishnaji defines it, but truth can affect actuality. At 5 p.m., Krishnaji held this year’s first Madras public talk in the gardens of Vasanta Vihar. End of 1978.’

S: Terrific.

Portrait of Krishnaji. Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

Portrait of Krishnaji.
Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

M: January first, 1979. ‘Krishnaji came down early as he does each morning to wish me a good morning, but today he wished me a Happy New Year. He picked a little white blossom from the vine off the veranda and gave it to me. These have an intense, sweet smell. It was another clear, sunny day and a quiet one as Krishnaji rested until his second Madras talk in the garden at 5 p.m.’

The second. ‘At 9:30 a.m., Krishnaji held a discussion in the Vasanta Vihar hall with a small group who actually did the discussing sitting in a circle while a large group sat around as observers. The subject was: What is a religious life? Participating in the small group discussing with Krishnaji were: Achyut, Pupul, Sunanda, David Shainberg, Evelyne Blau, Nelly Digby, Narayan, Rajesh, Krishnakutti, and me. In the afternoon, the ever-around-the-corner stomach symptoms hit me again, but Dr. Parchure’s pills controlled things, and I was able to go at 4 p.m. with Nandini and Pupul to tea at Mrs. Jayalakshmi’s. Though it is only around the corner, she came quite formally to take us in her car. It is a different house, though nearby the one I went to in 1965. Her house is in the back, and her son and daughter-in-law live in one in the front. A pretty garden of flowering shrubs and stone statues separates the two houses.’ That was where I first saw a collection of Nandis…’

S: Ah, Nandis, yes.

M: ‘…which led to my admiration and her asking, “Do you think Krishnaji would like one for Ojai?” I said, well, I can’t speak for him, but I should imagine he would be delighted, but ask him. So, she did, and he said, “Oh yes.” So, she had made what you see outside this house.[2] And then at some point later, when I wasn’t there in India and the first one was delivered, he said, “Oh, that’s nice. It’d be nice to have two of them.” Well, you know, it’s quite an investment [S laughs] because it’s big, as you know.

S: Yes, and they’re carved out of granite.

M: …made out of black granite. So, he had spoken, and that was it.

S: [laughs again] And a second one was produced.

M: We will get, if we live so long as to finish these discussions, to another trip when I was there when they were delivered, and they were put, if you remember, there was the office, and then some steps down to the ground, and there were two…

S: Ah, yes, ledges. On the level of the top step.

M: Yes. And so, they were placed there. And when we came out in the morning, they’d been garlanded in marigolds. [Laughs.]

S: [softly] Yes, yes, I remember. I was there that year as well. [Chuckles again.]

M: As I said, ‘…a pretty garden of flowering shrubs and stone statues separates the two houses. Parameshwaram was there to serve. “He belongs to me,” said Jayalakshmi.’ [S laughs.] ‘Apparently, she employed him first and one feels each plays the correct and pleasing role in the other’s life. This has been some kind barrier between Jayalakshmi and Pupul and Nandini.’

S: Yes.

M: ‘I brought this meeting about by asking if I could come to see her and bring Nandini and Pupul. She showed us photos of Krishnaji at my request, which led to looking with admiration at her collection of bronze and stone statues. But what really broke the ice was our asking to see her saris.’

S: Yes. She had extraordinary saris, I remember.

M: ‘She brought out superb South Indian saris of heavy Kancheepuram silks.’ Kancheepuram is where they were made. Both Pupul and she knew the very weavers of some. She knew Pupul’s knowledge of them equaled her own, and her face lit up talking about them. We were a proper audience. I spoke of one she wore last weekend, a beauty of dark blue and turquoise, and she gave it to me! It is splendidly beautiful, and with Nandini’s help, I wore it in the evening. Nandini put it on me, then we went upstairs for Krishnaji’s inspection. He looked very critically, walked around me, and said, “Excellent, you can wear them.”’ [S laughs.] ‘I relaxed into the sense of wearing something beautiful and therefore felt at ease. I was told I looked right by the critical eyes of the ladies, so I abandoned my assertions that Western women look to be in a costume when they wear saris.’ That’s what I always felt, Western women looked idiotic in saris.

S: That’s true. And I have said to many people that you’re the only Western woman I ever saw who could wear a sari.

M: I’ve seen others, but I can’t think who.

S: You’re the only one I’ve seen.

M: Well, I don’t do it very often. In fact, I don’t do it anymore. I’m wondering where this particular sari is. I had it at Brockwood. Anyway, ‘So, I abandoned my assertion that Western women look to be in costume when they try to wear saris and went off in this one to a dinner at Prema Srinivasan’s. All but Krishnaji went. Her house is so like a Beverly Hills home, with flowers and sandalwood. A woman sang before dinner. We dined at tables on a terrace. The food was excellent, and Prema’s taste and care were in everything.’

S: I remember that dinner.

M: Yes. Yes, I do, too.

January third. ‘Again, the small group discussed at 9:30 a.m. with Krishnaji while a large group listened. I stayed out of it this time because Michael was to film it. But because of complaints about the lights, he didn’t. At lunch were Krishnaji, David Shainberg, Professor Ravi Ravindra, Nandini, Pama, and I. At 5 p.m., Sunanda, Pupul, and I went to Prema’s to look at sample saris she is collecting for an October showing in Bombay. She works with weavers in Kancheepuram, and I ordered a very pretty one, and Sunanda gave me a creamy cotton one she had from the last sale. Dr. Sudarshan, sat in with Krishnaji at supper.’ Have we met him in this? I don’t think so. He was a physicist.

S: That’s right. Wasn’t he eventually at the University of Texas, or something like that?

M: I think so.

The fourth of January. ‘At 9:30 a.m., there was again a small group discussing with Krishnaji in the hall with a large group listening. I rejoined the small group. The theme was still what is a religious life, but a professor from Madras University slowed it down with questions on technique. During the discussion, Evelyne received a telephone call from Lou that her sister had died suddenly of a heart attack in New York. Evelyne was very upset. Lou urged her to fly home now, but after telephoning the family, she hesitated, wanting to finish the film work here. Her mother has not been told. I arranged for her to use the telephone in Sunanda’s room. Krishnaji came in with me, telling me, “You be there when I see her,” and said to her that he was sorry, holding her hand with both of his. She didn’t come to lunch but made a decision to complete her work here, and then fly back. Shainberg was at lunch, but later flew with his son Steven to Delhi and on to New York. In the afternoon, Krishnaji and two cars of us drove with Padma Santhanam to a beach south of Madras where there is land to build an enlargement of The School.’ That’s the Krishnamurti Foundation School in Madras. Krishnaji didn’t like it at all: a flat expanse of sand, no trees or vegetation, too far to bring children, etcetera. We came back past the TS Damodar Gardens, which is for sale, and Krishnaji is now keen for that. Evelyne joined us for supper.’

S: I remember that the first version of The School before it was moved to the Damodar Gardens. It was made mostly out of bamboo, with a banana and coconut leaf roof. It was beautiful. It was just so charming, so sweet, and I was so impressed with it because these wonderful flimsy little buildings were so elegant with these beautiful little children in them.

M: Yes.

S: It was just magical. [M chuckles.]

M: January fifth. ‘At 8 a.m., while Krishnaji spent the day resting, three cars of us drove to Kancheepuram. Evelyne didn’t come. I was with Nandini, Prema, and Scott. Prema was very informative historically, and she had arranged the day. We visited a big temple first, and saw the temple elephant confined with leg chains as he is on a must…’ You know?

S: Yes. And I remember him holding up his leg with his chain.

M: Yes, it was terrible.

S: And just looking so piteously at us, showing us his terrible situation. It was really, really awful.

M: ‘We threw him a large bunch of bananas, which he ate as if it were one. And he seemed to sense our sympathy, holding up a leg that seemed to have a sore. I had my first glimpse of Brahmin priests, heads shaven to a pigtail or bun in the back, earrings in the right ear, of course the sacred thread, complicated dhoti swaddling them, then a large v of white ash with vertical red line on the forehead, chest, and each upper arm. We were shown by the light of a paper dipped in oil, the statues of a deity in a dark shrine. Then, the head priest, a hugely fat one, put in our cupped palms water with saffron and camphor to touch with lips and pour remains on one’s head. A round crown was touched to each head. Then some leaves in each palm, all this a blessing. Prema had arranged a showing of the temple jewels’—that was fascinating—‘which were carried forth in chests and taken out one by one for us to see but not touch. A crown for the god in gold inlayed with uncut diamonds, huge emeralds, smaller goddess crowns, some long necklaces, and most exquisite, a little hand, a palm of blessing about five inches high, all gold, and the palm encrusted with diamonds.’ Do you remember that?

S: Yes, very much so.

M: ‘All these are shown on certain festivals when they ornament the statues of the deities. We then went into another temple with a large and splendid Nandi facing it. Inside the courtyard, there were niches with bas-reliefs of Shiva and Parvati. Many of Shiva dancing, a smile on his face, right leg straight up alongside his ear, and a bashful Parvati…’ That was the consort of Shiva.

S: Yes.

M: ‘…kneeling beside him. This was something about Shiva’s dance, when he out-danced his wife.’ [Chuckles.] ‘Everything he did, she did, until finally he won by raising the leg up.’ She was too bashful to do that. [Both chuckle.]

M: ‘In one most charming niche, there was a Nandi dancing beside Shiva, all smiles. One can see fragments of the paint that was on all these, but it is largely gone.’ They are restoring some of the statues, but it is ugly, fake-looking restoration. ‘We then went to a sari shop for the famous Kancheepuram heavy silk saris.’ That’s where those all come from, very South Indian. Apparently, if you know about such things, you can tell by looking at a woman’s sari where it came from, or if it came from there. ‘A pre-Pongal sale was on, so there was not too much choice left. But I bought one for Mrs. Parchure, and one for Evelyne, who didn’t come, and green and red one for me.’ I don’t remember it; I’ve given away most of my Indian clothes. ‘Then, amazingly, we were served lunch brought by Prema in a back room. Lunch for fourteen, even water and towels and soap to

wash our hands were brought. After lunch we went to the weavers where the saris are made, and Pupul was greeted as an empress.’ [S chuckles.] She knew all of these when she was doing the handcraft business. ‘The best weaver of all, now retired, was sent for, and came quickly to greet and be greeted. They showed their present wares, and Pupul saw how the level had deteriorated in the short time since she gave up all this. There were three saris left from her designs. Nandini bought two, and I bought one as a present for Sunanda. We drove back to Vasanta Vihar. Krishnaji came, and inspected the loot with interest and approval.’

S: Yes.

M: ‘Mrs. Parchure was very shy, but I think was pleased with her sari. So was Evelyne with hers, a red, very traditional one, and wore it to the Santhanams, where all of us except Krishnaji, including the Brockwood people, Frances, Eleanor, Kathy, Julie, were invited. I wore a gray print sari. Nandini brought it and helped me to put it on. The food was very good and simpler than we have had. The house was large and comfortable with a large garden.’

S: We have to end it there as we’re out of tape.

M: Alright, we pick it up from here next time.

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[1] Achyut was a nationally acclaimed freedom fighter for many years, fighting for India’s independence. Back to text.

[2] They were at the remodeled Pine Cottage during this recording. Back to text.