Issue #59

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Issue 59—April 16, 1979 to June 19, 1979


This issue contains one of more interesting statements that Krishnaji made about himself. In several previous issues we have seen him question why he had remained so “vague” or “vacant” as a boy, how was he able to avoid the conditioning of his childhood. In discussing with Mary and Mary Lutyens material for the second volume of this biography that Mary L. was writing, Krishnaji, in this issue, questions the source of his insight. After dismissing the popular theories, he says that perhaps he “could not answer the question,” but that the two Marys might be able to, and if they did, then he would know if it was right. At another point, Krishnaji says that he didn’t think it was “right” for him to make certain investigations into that source of his nature. It seems sufficient to just witness that nature.

The Memoirs of Mary Zimbalist: Issue #59

Mary: Alright. We begin on April sixteenth, 1979. ‘I cleaned house because Elfriede’s not coming to clean as she leaves this week for a visit to Germany. A Mrs. Nicolosi and three young people lunched with everyone at Arya Vihara. The Bohms are here. In the afternoon, the Brockwood people who are here for the talks came for tea, and I brought them over to see the cottage. The Malibu Coast Highway is closed to all traffic because of rocks falling.’

The seventeenth. ‘Krishnaji gave the third public talk in the Oak Grove. Michael Mendizza filmed parts of it and had David Moody ask for the film, “What is the relation between love and freedom?” To this Krishnaji added, “Responsibility.” Walking out after the talk, Krishnaji passed Austin Bee, who was standing behind the cassette stand. Krishnaji stopped and asked, “Who are you, sir?” Bee gave his name, and Krishnaji shook hands with him.’ This needs a little background. Austin Bee was assistant and secretary of Rajagopal and ran the K & R office, and was consistently rude to Krishnaji the few times I ever met him. [Laughs.]

Scott: [Chuckles.] And Krishnaji didn’t recognize him.

M: No. ‘Bee gave his name, and Krishnaji shook hands with him. When I reached the car, a figure was standing there in the shade behind it. At first glance, I didn’t see who it was, but then as I was opening the car door, I saw it was Rajagopal, rather shrunken, face more wizened and monkey-like.’ He always had a simian look to me.

S: Yes, you’ve said that.

M: ‘He stared at me and I said, “How do you do, Rajagopal,” but didn’t go to him. Krishnaji was approaching and I introduced to him, before he reached the car, a Frenchman who was waiting to salute him. Krishnaji then went toward his side of the car, saw Rajagopal, but didn’t recognize him, either. He asked, “Who are you?”’

‘“I’m Rajagopal.” He gave Krishnaji a package and said, “This is for you.” Krishnaji took his hand and held it, and then Rajagopal said he must go, people were watching. He walked up the road and Krishnaji stood looking shocked and distrait[1] as he sometimes does after a talk. He had sent word to Blackburn to speak to him after the talk, but now he told Blackburn to meet him at the cottage.’ He was very often disoriented after a talk, somehow.

S: Yes, yes. I know. We’ve discussed this.

M: I wanted to keep people away from him. But he would chide me when I did that.

Mary and Scott at the time the discussion on this issue occurred. Copyright, Mary Zimbalist.

Mary and Scott at the time the discussion on this issue occurred.
Copyright, Mary Zimbalist.

S: I know. Still, he needed some kind of protection.

M: Yes. ‘He got in the car and urged me to drive away quickly. He looked at his hand, which had a scent that Rajagopal uses, and it disgusted Krishnaji. He said, “What is the matter with my hand? It is unclean. It is not my hand.” He held it out the window and said several times, “It is not my hand. It has touched something unclean. That man is evil.” He held it without touching anything, as he did in Bombay after the mob had soiled his hands.’ They used to grab him…

S: Yes, I know.

M: Yes, you know. And I would have to go in the bathroom, turn on the tap and get the soap so…

S: …he wouldn’t have to touch anything. Yes.

M: …he would wash his hands quickly with soap…

S: Yes.

M: …to get off this, this contact, and it was really not just imagined. Some people put his hand in their mouth. It’s disgusting. ‘The Blackburns were waiting when we got there, but he told them to wait outside. We went into the kitchen, I turned on the tap in the laundry and he washed the hand thoroughly before going out to tell Blackburn that whatever Blackburn is saying—he has now become a sort of guru and she does “healing”—that it has nothing to do with what Krishnaji is doing. We had lunch at Arya Vihara with Erna, Theo, Alan K., and Michael. After lunch, Krishnaji dictated a letter to Rajagopal suggesting they talk things over. The package turned out to be a quartz wristwatch. Krishnaji said, “He knows I don’t ever wear a wristwatch. I will give it to Narayan.” He felt clean again after the washing. Later we took a walk. The landslide at Big Rock outside Malibu is still raining rocks on the Pacific Coast Highway, which may be closed for weeks or longer.’

S: It’s really genuinely nutty for someone to give Krishnaji a wristwatch, knowing he never uses wristwatches; and a quartz one when he has those fabulous mechanical Patek Philippes which he so enjoys. It’s very strange.

M: Nothing coming from Rajagopal was ever too strange.

April eighteenth, ‘I was unable to get diesel in Ojai. I went into Ventura for kitchen things, marketed, etcetera, but got back for lunch at Arya Vihara. Ruth McCandless was there. Rajagopal had telephoned while I was out and called again during lunch. He said he just wanted to point out that the instructions for using the quartz watch are in the box. I asked him if he wanted to speak to Krishnaji after lunch. He said no. I asked him if he had received Krishnaji’s letter. He said, “What letter?” I said it had been posted yesterday and if he hadn’t received it, it was probably in his letterbox. Krishnaji made me rest after lunch. He claims I am overtired and this seems to irritate him. Later, he said I continue to make faces and hand gestures.’ He was always aware of when I fidgeted. [S chuckles.]  ‘Perhaps I do, but his irritability seems to be a sign of his own fatigue, too. Miranda was on the 7 o’clock ABC news, nationally reporting on the Hooker Chemical company abuses in Niagara Falls. We saw only the back of her head and hand holding the microphone doing the interview, but her voice was strong and incisive.’

The next day, ‘It was another beautiful day. Krishnaji held the fourth public discussion in the Oak Grove. It lasted one-and-a-half hours. We lunched at Arya Vihara. At 4 p.m., we had forty people to tea, mostly people who have come a long distance for the talks: New York, Canada, South America, etcetera. A letter came from Rajagopal, or rather an envelope addressed to me with JK initials under my name. It was a brochure on the watch.’ [Laughs.]

S: In case his gift wasn’t sufficiently appreciated? [Laughs.]

M: Yes, that’s right.

April twentieth. ‘I spent the day doing desk work, house work, and errands. Krishnaji did basins around the new orange trees, and we walked to the dip.’

April twenty-first, ‘Krishnaji says I still move my hands and mouth unnecessarily, and is determined to help me stop it.’ [S chuckles.] ‘He now sits opposite me on the floor and I’m absolutely still for some minutes. He says Brahmin boys used to be taught this.’ [Both chuckle.] ‘I find it very easy. At 11:30 a.m., Krishnaji gave his fifth Ojai talk in the Oak Grove after which we had lunch alone at home. Krishnaji napped briefly. Vicky Orfaly came by briefly to see the house, bringing a Scriabin recording. At 4 p.m., I went with Krishnaji to the formal dedication of the Oak Grove School buildings. We went through the main house with Mark and the architects, Ron Gammel, etcetera. It looked very nice. Then, with a large crowd looking on and helping, Krishnaji planted a sizable fig tree, the kind that becomes enormous, ficus macrophylla[2]. Next, with the architect Zelma Wilson joined by Max, we went through the school classroom building, also very good-looking.’ She designed that one. ‘Krishnaji wanted to designate where a wooden fence should go around the Oak Grove itself. So, we walked over there and he will make a statement for posterity that this part of the land must not be built upon or used for purposes other than quiet, serious ones, etcetera. We came back and showed Gammel and colleagues the cottage.’

April twenty-second. ‘Krishnaji gave his sixth talk in the Oak Grove, completing this year’s series, a very beautiful talk. Mrs. Vigeveno was standing behind the car when I came out. I went up to her and asked her how she was. She said she wanted to greet Krishnaji. She did so and gave him a note from Rajagopal, which said that he, Rajagopal, knew of nothing that needed to be settled between them, but that he wanted to see Krishnaji, “once more.” Krishnaji and I had lunch alone, and he rested. Lacerta and Bandi came by at 3 p.m.; they are staying with the Paxtons, who are friends of theirs.’ Those are two old friends of mine; Lacerta was German-born, I think. Bandi was the nickname of the husband of a friend of hers and a friend of mine, whose real name was Andrew Marton[3]; his nickname was Bandi. ‘Then, at 4 p.m., there was a KFA trustee meeting, mostly to discuss Fritz and the adult center. Krishnaji, Erna, Theo, Ruth, Alan, with David Bohm and Mark included. Krishnaji is uneasy about Fritz for he has no contact with him, and fears that this is all intellectual with him. He seems serious about the teachings but with no passion in it. Krishnaji suggests Margrete has lessened the spirit for the teachings that Fritz seemed to have when he joined us. Later Krishnaji and I watered all the plants.’

April twenty-third. ‘I did house cleaning, etcetera. John Rubel’—that’s an architect—‘brought clients of Charles Moore to see the house.’ Charles Moore was the architect of the new part of this cottage, and John Rubel was a colleague. ‘At 4 p.m., Krishnaji had an hour’s talk with Fritz. I went to the first meeting to be held in the main house at the school, where parents and staff talked to Brockwood people: Stephen, Wendy, Verna, Matthew Mitchell, Denise, and Francisco.’ Who was Francisco?

S: Oh, I remember him. He was a Brockwood staff member.

M: The twenty-fourth. ‘Krishnaji dictated letters, including one to Rajagopal in which he said that he was sorry that Rajagopal had again closed the door between them, that Krishnaji had wanted to talk over, among other matters, the archives, which were his and not Rajagopal’s. He said the door was always open, “wherever I am.” Balasundaram, who arrived for the last two talks and is staying with Colonel Noyes, had been invited to lunch at Arya Vihara. He arrived here at 11 a.m., so I had to spend a much-needed-for-other-things hour talking to him before Krishnaji appeared and we went to lunch at Arya Vihara at noon.’ Do you remember Colonel Noyes?

S: I do remember Colonel Noyes. His granddaughter came to Brockwood.

M: The next day just says, ‘I worked at the desk all day. Krishnaji mostly rested, but talked again to Fritz in the afternoon. We walked to the dip.’

The twenty-sixth of April. ‘Krishnaji helped me clean the living room,’ [chuckles] ‘he with the wide broom and I with a vacuum.’ He liked to push those big brooms. ‘Earlier, I had washed the floors of the kitchen and hall. Later, Erna told me that Laura would like to clean this house as a job, so she came over and we talked over her cleaning the floors, bathrooms, vacuuming, etcetera and she will start Monday at $5…$5 an hour’!? Times have changed.

S: [laughs] Yes, times have changed.

M: Who was Laura? [Pause.]

S: Well, before this, you mentioned that Ted had a girlfriend named Laura. Perhaps it is she.

M: That’s right. That’s who it was. It was nice for her to offer to do the house. ‘If this works, it will be an excellent arrangement. Elfriede will close and open the house, but cannot keep coming up here from Malibu every week in the future. Laura now lives in the back of the office and is very thorough besides being a nice person. If she does vacuuming, the bathrooms, and the floors once a week, I can do everything else easily. During lunch, Rajagopal telephoned me to ask what Krishnaji was doing during the next days. When was he leaving? I told him that Krishnaji was leaving on the fifteenth. Rajagopal said, “I hope I will see you,” and hung up. At 4 p.m., Krishnaji held a discussion mostly with David Bohm, but trustees and the Oak Grove School staff were present and some joined in. “Is separateness caused by desire?” was the question.’

April twenty-seventh. ‘I worked most of the day at the desk. Max came to put missing hardware on some of the doors and windows. I picked up our tickets for London for May fifteenth. Krishnaji had his hair cut at Meiners Oaks.’

A photo of Mary from 1935

A photo of Mary from 1935.

The next day, ‘Again, I spent much of the day doing desk work. Alasdair planted four more tall ceanothus and cut the hedge by the garage. At 4 p.m., there was a meeting with Krishnaji, Erna, Theo, Alan, Ruth, and me, plus Mark, Fritz, and Margrete, about the uses of Arya Vihara, which it was decided should now be called the Old House.’ We kept trying to call it that, but nobody did it. [S laughs.] ‘We discussed the activity there, who lives there, etcetera. Fritz and Margrete are going to move upstairs when Mark moves to Oak Grove.’ Mark and Asha lived upstairs in those days, where Doug now lives. ‘Michael remains where he is. The west room will be for the library where Krishnaji’s books will be available for visitors, the east room will be for tape listening, and the middle room will be a quiet room. There was talk of a need for a certain atmosphere. Also, it was raised by Krishnaji that we should decide whether visitors or teachers can share rooms with unmarried partners.’ [Chuckles.] ‘And it was decided that they could not.’ That’s an ancient, long-gone matter.

S: Yes. [Laughs.]

M: ‘Then it was decided that only permanent residents, i.e., Fritz, Margrete, and Michael, live there, except for times when Krishnaji’s talks are on and we have visitors from other Krishnamurti Foundations. Fritz and Margrete agreed to all this but perhaps too readily. Later Krishnaji was full of doubts about them. He doesn’t think Fritz understands the teachings; that it is all intellectual.’

S: Now, let me just recap here for a minute. This was an agreement reached by everyone that non-married couples would not stay together at Arya Vihara, and Fritz and Margrete were married by then.

M: Yes, I think they were by then, because we didn’t know he was planning to marry when Krishnaji offered him the job, and he went back to…where did he come from?

S: Germany, but she was Danish.

M: She was Danish, and he reappeared with her.

The twenty-ninth. ‘Krishnaji asked Erna and Theo over after breakfast to speak of the Fritz business. He feels strongly that it is not going to work out, that Fritz hasn’t a feeling for all this, has no communication with him, and that it is all talk. We questioned the whole adult center activity. Erna and I feel that we should let Fritz and Margrete have more of a try. Theo is more pessimistic. Both were at lunch, but walking back from the Old House, David Bohm told Krishnaji in confidence that Fritz is quite upset, and though Fritz didn’t say so, Dave feels they want to leave. We told this to Erna and Theo at 3:30 p.m. so that we could consider what to do with the Old House if they do leave. At 4 p.m., Krishnaji held a discussion with Dave, the rest of us, and Oak Grove School teachers. A continuation of Thursday’s meeting. “Is thought based on desire? Is there an action not based on this?” I spoke to my stepfather at Martha’s Vineyard. His eyes are bad and the lonely meals are hard on him.’

S: What was Fritz upset about?

M: I don’t know. I don’t think they liked the job, and felt things were not working.

S: He felt, if I remember correctly, and I might be wrong in this, but he seemed to have some notion that he was going to be more central.

M: What?

S: Well, he was the one who…

M: …who understood everything.

S: Yes, and who people would come to—to discuss things when Krishnaji was no longer there. So, he was expecting to be put into a position of prominence that never panned out.

M: In fact, he must’ve picked up, from all these meetings alone with Krishnaji, that things were not working.

S: Yes, he must’ve picked that up, and he was not being given the prominence and the accolades that he expected. I remember this; I’m pretty sure that what I’ve just said is correct. I wasn’t in Ojai at the time, but Fritz and I had several conversations at Brockwood and Saanen, and there was always that feeling, from Margrete, too.

M: Yes. And I think she rather encouraged that. Fritz wasn’t being treated with proper respect, though she didn’t say that, but that was the atmosphere.

S: Yes. Well, he had a Ph.D. in physics, and he should’ve been treated almost like David Bohm, who was looked up to by people.

M: Yes. The thirtieth. ‘Laura did the cleaning. Saral and David Bohm left for Canada after lunch. Krishnaji had a glaucoma pressure check, and was found to have no problems. At 4 p.m., Balasundaram came to see Krishnaji and talked for an hour. The geologist telephoned me with problems in getting a permit for the earth project in Malibu, so I talked to the county office. Krishnaji and I walked with Erna and Theo to the dip.’

The first of May. ‘Each morning, Krishnaji sits quietly opposite of me on the floor to teach me to be still,’ [S chuckles] ‘not move my hands, face, etcetera, unnecessarily. Then, he does a vigorous massage of neck and back to help circulation in my leg and keep away headaches. Sometimes he jokes when I thank him, “I must help my benefactress.”’ [Both laugh.] ‘This morning, he said, “I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t like you. Remember that.” Pause, then, “Well, I guess I would, but you know what I mean.”’ [Both chuckle.] ‘I did much laundry, but Laura Martin, having done the floors yesterday, a business arrangement between us that I hope will be permanent, was a considerable help. I worked at the desk most of the morning. Evelyne and the Mendizzas, the Bohms, and Michael were at lunch, and at 4 p.m., Krishnaji and I joined them by the school where Krishnaji was photographed walking, also in the Oak Grove. He is quite bored with this filming and luckily this was the final chore in it for him. It took almost two hours. But earlier after lunch, Michael Mendizza had shown us a few clips of the film, which made me feel it may turn out well. I said I would like to see the text of the narration when it is done and also the film itself before it is final. This could be on my return in November. They agree. A note from Rajagopal came for Krishnaji with a clipping of a sentimental poem on friendship and two lines underneath saying this is what he would feel all his life, and even afterward. Krishnaji was so disgusted he barely glanced at it. It was one of those “Friendship is when…etcetera, etcetera.” The temptation is to reply that friendship isn’t when one steals, etcetera, etcetera.’ [Chuckles.] ‘Balasundaram came and talked to Krishnaji for an hour yesterday. He had seen Rajagopal, and said that he had urged him to return the archives and be friendly before he dies. He said Rajagopal refused to discuss the archives, and was keeping things to defend himself, “in case they attack me,” and said, “They are hoping for my demise.” Balasundaram himself headed off Krishnaji’s asking him to return the Rishi Valley tapes he had made off with when he left Rishi Valley by weeping and saying that Krishnaji and his teachings meant everything to him. Devious fellows,’ I say. ‘In the evening I wrote a letter to the L.A. County about a permit to correct the Malibu landslide danger and posted it in hopes a permit will be issued and this mountainously complicated thing can begin. It has been one difficulty after another in Malibu since we left.’

May second. ‘I spent most of the day working at the desk. Balasundaram lunched with us at the Old House. Krishnaji discussed with Erna, Theo, Mark, and me about Fritz. My brother rang from New York. He and Lisa are going to San Francisco tomorrow on business and to see Liddy’—that’s one of my brother’s daughters.

May third. ‘Krishnaji talked with Fritz at 10:30 a.m. Then, Krishnaji, Fritz, Margrete, Mark, Erna, Theo, and I talked anew about the adult center and the use of the Old House. It was a different atmosphere and a more constructive talk. Krishnaji “really worked,” he said, at getting through to Fritz, and things seemed better. I had to skip lunch and go to the bank for a cashier’s check for the L.A. County engineer to put up a surety bond for each piling project at the “toe” of the hillside in Malibu in order to get a permit. Amanda and Phil arrived at 2:30 p.m. and we spent a pleasant time sitting and talking. Phil took the check to deliver for me to the county office in Malibu. After they left, Krishnaji washed the green car and I had a staggering estimate from some earth moving contractor in Topanga of $26,000. After a long discussion with him, I got it down to $15,000 to $17,000. It will be on a time basis. All this has become a mounting disaster.’

May fourth. ‘In the British election, Labor’s Callaghan is out and Margaret Thatcher becomes prime minister. Krishnaji cannot watch her on TV. “That awful bourgeois woman. He now has two bête noire in England, Thatcher and the Queen.”’ [S chuckles.] ‘At 11 a.m., Krishnaji, Erna, Theo, and I went in the green Mercedes to Santa Barbara where at the IRS office, in less than five minutes, we got Krishnaji’s tax clearance, which he needs as a resident each time he leaves the county.’ Well, he had no income, no nothing, so it was easy. ‘We stopped at the Danish store and bought teakwood oil for cleaning the furniture.’ The teakwood furniture needs oiling or it did then. ‘Then, we lunched at The Tea House, after which we drove pleasantly back along the beach and then through the mountains, which pleased Krishnaji. Lake Casitas was beautiful. At lunch, Krishnaji asked what each would do if we had a lot of money; “something extravagant” he was asking for. None of us could come up with a sufficiently frivolous answer.’ [Chuckles.] ‘Good works were out, taken for granted. But after them, what? Krishnaji, laughing, said, “I’d probably keep getting the newest Mercedes, not going anywhere, just washing it every week.”’ [Both laugh.] ‘I thought I might keep Rajagopal tied up in law courts until he handed over everything to Krishnaji and did penance.’ [S chuckles.] ‘We queued up for gas in Ojai with about ten other cars ahead of us. The shortage is beginning to tie up California. Balasundaram telephoned to say goodbye and to tell us that Rajagopal had rung him six times last night wanting to see Balasundaram again and asking if we had sent him as an emissary. I spoke to the geologist. The permit was finally issued this morning and the earthwork begun. The earth moving man, on his own, asked Phil and Amanda if some earth could be piled temporarily on their side of the bottom of the canyon, and they agreed. It is still a cliffhanger whether we will get a permit to move sufficient earth smoothly from Cal Trans’—Cal Trans is the California Transit Authority, the road people—‘as there is litigation over the Big Rock slide.’ That’s partway down the highway toward Santa Monica, which is always sliding. ‘Krishnaji wants to come with me to Malibu tomorrow. He wants to drive his car, and is shy to do it when the Lilliefelts are there, as today. He said, “They might worry.”’ [Chuckles.]

May fifth, ‘Lorna’—that’s my cousin—‘called about my stepfather’s health. Krishnaji and I left for Malibu at 10:30 a.m. in the green Mercedes, Krishnaji driving the usual part from the poplar trees on the Pacific Coast Highway. There was hardly a car on the road along the ocean due to the Pacific Coast Highway closure at Big Rock.’ Big Rock was to the south of Malibu, toward Santa Monica, but we come from the north, so we could get where we wanted to go. ‘We went right to the Dunnes’, and walked down their road to the bottom of our canyon, where I met the man from Topanga Unlimited, which is doing the earth piling. We discussed and signed an agreement for a $15,000-to-$20,000 cost. Walked back up with Krishnaji and ate a rice salad and fruit that we had brought, sitting on the terrace with Amanda and Phil. Krishnaji was amused by a newspaper column that Phil read about the fencing of California and of its Governor Moonbeam.’ Do you remember Governor Moonbeam? [Laughing.]

S: Yes, Brown!

M: That’s right. [Chuckles.] ‘We watched the Kentucky Darby on television…’ Derby, we say in this country, Derby. One has to be careful between the Darby in England and the Derby here. ‘It was won by Spectacular Bid. Then, Krishnaji and I went over to our side, saw Fred, and saw the deterioration of the earth. Cracks are eight to ten feet wide; in places, they go down six feet. I don’t know how to arrange it after the earth slide is arrested; but think planning should wait until it is certain that no more movement is expected, and my return in November. Except for the disaster area, the place looks so beautiful. Roses are enormous and in full bloom. I gathered an armful. We drove back. Krishnaji again at the wheel for the usual part. “May I talk seriously?” he said as we were away up the quiet, empty road.’ [Long pause.] ‘“Because of our relationship, I’d never leave you. That will never change. There is something sacred in it. People don’t understand this.” He’s thinking about what he will say tomorrow in the discussion with the staff on the business of relationships, and in particular, the not sharing of rooms by unmarried couples. He had been sorting out in conversations, the past few days, the differences in relationship seriousness.’ I’m surprised that there were such discussions.

S: I am, too.

M: Yes. I don’t remember them.

The next day. ‘At 4 p.m., Krishnaji held a continuation of last Sunday’s discussion with the staff. The discussion was on the relationship in which there is no self. Max and his brother, Alan Tansill, were also there. I told Max about Malibu and he is going to take a look on Wednesday. Afterward, Theo brought Krishnaji five little silver boxes gilded inside and put in each tiny pieces of jewels. This is Theo’s gift and project, and he is very intense about it. We sat around the table as he arranged it all before Krishnaji. Then, Krishnaji stayed alone with them for about five minutes and did whatever he does while we sat in the living room. Krishnaji closed the boxes, then called us back and the boxes were put in a bag, which Krishnaji will keep on his person for some days. Later, one box will go in the school building in some secret place, and one in the Grove. The others are to be kept for the future. There is, of course, one in this house, put in the foundation by Theo when it was being built, and one similarly in the school main house. This is an ancient Indian notion of bringing a certain atmosphere, a religious quality to a place. Krishnaji jokes about it lightly, but it was his idea to do it, eagerly accepted by Theo as his task. At 10 p.m., I telephoned Filomena in Rome. It was May seventh in Rome and her birthday. She said she’d fallen and broken her hip last week, but she is not in a cast and she is alright. Her voice sounded strong and well.’

S: I wonder where Theo put the others.

M: I don’t remember. How many were there? [Pause.] It says five little silver boxes he brought.

S: Yes, but then one was…

M: One was…well, he’d already put the one in this house.

S: He’d already put those in, yes. And he’d already put the one in the schoolhouse.

M: In the schoolhouse, and one in the Grove.

S: So, I wonder what happened to them?

A fashion photo of Mary.

A fashion photo of Mary.

M: I don’t know. Erna would’ve had them when Theo died. I don’t know. That was Theo’s project.

The next day there isn’t anything but desk work and housework.

The eighth of May, ‘I left early for errands in Los Angeles, to Bamberger about taxes, and payments for the earth piling in Malibu; then to Helen for a haircut, and finally bought a new suitcase. There were long lines at all gas stations. I heard that the Pacific Coast Highway, which has been open for three days, had to be closed again after another slide at Big Rock. Got back to Ojai before 5 p.m., but joined a queue at the Chevron station, and after forty-five minutes, was able to fill the diesel in the Mercedes, so at least it will have fuel when I return in the autumn. Krishnaji was watering the plants. Alain Naudé called; he plans to drive down here from San Francisco tomorrow in his new Honda if he can get gas. He has his U.S. citizenship.’

The next day, ‘Krishnaji dictated letters, including a reply to Rajagopal’s sending him a corny clipping on friendship. Alain rang in the afternoon, saying he had to turn back to San Francisco for lack of gas.’

May tenth, ‘Automatic sprinklers were put in along the walk up to the front door here. Dr. Geschickter, who years ago was assistant to Dr. Bloodgood’—Bloodgood was the head of orthopedics at Johns Hopkins who prescribed the experimental radiation treatment for the tumor in my leg in 1931, and has followed my case—‘came to tea with his sister-in-law and her husband. He gave me some useful advice on the leg, including not to let blood sugar levels drop, i.e., if suddenly tired, eat something. And said that radiation of the leg wasn’t the kind that is accumulative in the body, but to avoid X-rays. Krishnaji received a letter from Rajagopal and had me telephone him to review his accusations that when KF India had published the collective works, it was “in complete violation of the letter and the spirit of the settlement.” Also, he affirmed his statement that he had not removed anything from the archives. What ensued was an interminable, impossible conversation. I tried to make the points that the KF India had not published any collected works. The only collected works I knew of in India were by Chetena.’ Do you remember that other publisher, Chetana? ‘That I had met the head of Chetena in Bombay and asked him if he were publishing without Rajagopal’s permission and he said he hadn’t “up to a point.” Rajagopal didn’t pursue this and said, “Never mind about it.” I then spoke of his denial of removing archives material, and asked if that meant he was restoring the missing material?’

‘Rajagopal: “All the letters that you and others have been claiming do not belong to the archives. Everything that belongs in the archives are there.”’ That means he had them at his house. ‘He said the archives were not defined. I said, on the contrary, they were spelled out in the legal agreement, etcetera. He denied that the letters, Krishnaji’s manuscript, and materials sent by Jinarajadasa for Krishnaji belong to the archives. He said if there is anything specific Krishnaji wants to see, he should list things specifically, and then he would make a copy’—meaning he, Rajagopal—‘he denied that he had withheld part of Pupul’s account of events in Ootacamund even though Pupul says much of it is missing in the copies that Rajagopal gave. He said if Krishnaji wants something, which he remembers and which might be there, he will be glad to make a copy, but he must know exactly what it is, and it still may not be there. Rajagopal said, “I don’t claim anything is mine, but everything which has been sent for the archives is already in the archives.” I asked if he once said original manuscripts had been destroyed by him. He replied, “I said ‘may have.’” He said, “If they are gone, I have not got them. I can’t produce them. For the last fifty years I have been doing this work. What is the reason you question me now?” I said he was not giving sensible answers, and asked if he had the manuscripts, was he willing for Krishnaji to look at them?’

‘Rajagopal: “He can see anything he wants to in my house.” He said there were only typewritten manuscripts, not in Krishnaji’s handwriting.’

‘I asked what happened to the original; they are the most valuable and precious part of any archive material.’

‘Rajagopal: “He can see whatever there is, but he must ask exactly what manuscripts, not generally this or that. He must be specific. Whatever is not there cannot be produced. If you don’t believe me, I am sorry.”’

‘I asked again about Pupul’s statement. And he said, “Why should you accept her statement? She may have forgotten. Anyway, nothing can be done about it. I can’t produce them, and if you don’t believe it and he doesn’t believe what I am telling you, it is too bad. I do not wish to talk to him indirectly. There is no point in talking. For ten years, I’ve been trying to talk to him, not in connection with these things. I have been treated as someone who has done something wrong. I am not coming to him as a penitent. I am talking of that. It is not possible to divorce the work I am doing, to live completely isolated. There are things which are of concern to both of us.”’

‘I said, “We are all trying to find some way so that things can be sorted out in a friendly, amicable way and establish an amicable relationship between us.”’ These are the kind of conversations I used to have with him. [S chuckles.] Absolutely intransigent; lying and so forth.

The next day, ‘I am mostly doing desk work. Sprinklers continue to be put in. Rajagopal telephoned me to acknowledge that Krishnaji’s letter came to him.’

May twelfth is ‘Krishnaji’s eighty-fourth birthday, though, as always, he waved away any mention of it. It was a very hot day, but the adobe walls keep that wing cool and comfortable. I did desk work all day, including writing a letter to Rajagopal, putting on paper what I had said variously in Thursday’s telephone conversation.’

The next day, ‘It is a hot day in the nineties. The air conditioning in the old part of the cottage is not working. I spent much of the day packing. Talked to Bud, Miranda, etcetera. Krishnaji washed the green car.’

And for the following day I am still, ‘Packing. Krishnaji washed the gray Mercedes before Dieter came to put both cars up on blocks for the summer. I telephoned my stepfather at the Vineyard, and said I would come to see him in November.’

The next is both May sixteenth and seventeenth as we were crossing time zones. ‘I finally finished packing, and did all the laundry I could. Rajagopal telephoned to say he was “verbally acknowledging” my letter, and also to ask if Krishnaji and I were going to New York. “I just wondered in case I want to telephone.”’ [Chuckles.]

S: He was nutty

M: Completely nutty. ‘There was a noon lunch at Arya Vihara, and at 1:30 p.m., Krishnaji, Mark, and I left in the school van. We went the inland way as the Pacific Coast Highway is closed again by the Big Rock slide. We got to LAX by 4 p.m., and checked in. I sat with the hand luggage, while Krishnaji and Mark stood looking at the aircraft.’ Krishnaji used to wander around in airports, and I was afraid to leave the hand luggage in case it’d be stolen. And he would go off, and I…[both laugh] was afraid I’d lose him, or something.

S: Yes.

M: It was very frustrating. [S chuckles again.] ‘Krishnaji and Mark stood looking at the aircraft, a 747, and Krishnaji noticed a crack near one of the doors. Pretty soon some ground crew noticed it too, and instead of boarding and taking off at 5:30 p.m., we sat till 9 p.m., and left in a substitute plane, which stopped to refuel in New York at 5 a.m. where Krishnaji and I walked around for exercise for forty-five minutes. It was too early to telephone my brother. So, on we flew and landed at Heathrow at 6 p.m., a relatively quiet time there. So, a porter and luggage were quickly had. Dorothy, in her Cortina, took Krishnaji and me, and Ingrid and Stephen took the luggage. It was 9 p.m. when we reached Brockwood, but still light. The students and staff were on the driveway to greet Krishnaji. He and I had supper quickly, alone in our little kitchen. “How quiet it is,” said Krishnaji. How green Brockwood is—the spring has been cold and late, so the leaves on the beech trees are just beginning. I went straight to bed and deeply to sleep.’

May seventeenth, ‘I woke up a little after 4 a.m., and felt like getting up, so I unpacked, bathed, dressed, and all was in order before getting breakfast. A satisfaction. Krishnaji slept most of the morning, but got up for lunch. Narayan,Venkatraman, and Mrs. Premilla Rajan were here from Rishi Valley. Dr. Parchure arrived from Bombay in the evening. I talked to Mary Links; she and Joe are just back from Venice.’

The eighteenth: ‘In the morning, I talked in the kitchen to Dr. Parchure at length. Edna Cleeve came to clean. I ran the washing machine, which leaked, and the ceiling in the hall below fell in. The rug is badly spotted.’ [Laughs.] There was always a leak!

S: I know [laughing].

M: ‘Krishnaji, Dorothy, and the dogs and I walked across the fields. I feel again the wordless love for and beauty of this land. Went to the staff meeting at 5 p.m., and eased into Brockwood life as if it were an uninterrupted thread from Ojai, which, of course, it is.’ [With great feeling in her voice:] I love Brockwood so much.

S: Yes, I do too. I do too.

M: I want to cry when I read about it.

S: Yes.

M: The nineteenth. ‘I did desk work. There was a long discussion at lunch about the purposes of the schools. We walked.’

May twentieth.‘Krishnaji talked to the school. John McGreevy…’ Oh, he was the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation man who did that film with Krishnaji walking through the garden and Krishnaji never liked that thing.

S: Was that the one that Krishnaji was speaking through the glass of the window?

M: Yes.

S: That was a terrible film.

M: Yes, anyway, ‘John McGreevy, who did the Canadian Broadcasting Company film on Krishnaji, and his colleague Jennifer Pancher came to talk and lunch. He has just done a series on various cities of the world seen through the eyes of individuals. For example, he did one on Leningrad with Peter Ustinov, and just completed one on London with Jonathan Miller. McGreevy said that Miller is going to do a series of his own and should talk to Krishnaji. At 6:30 p.m., the students put on Anouilh’s Antigone in the Assembly Hall. Daphne Maroger played Antigone. Krishnaji attended and stayed for all of it; he thought they were very good. There was a “Greek” supper afterward. The whole school seemed happy and united.’

S: Kathy produced that. I think that was Kathy’s first drama production at Brockwood.

M: Oh, yes, I remember she did that.

S: It was one of the best, that and the other play that she did were the two best plays that we had ever done at Brockwood.

M: She should’ve gone on doing that.

S: I know.

M: May twenty-first. ‘Krishnaji slept poorly. We’re changing his supper menu from soup to a cooked vegetable. Krishnaji saw Shankar Ramachandran, a student, after lunch. We walked a little. There was a school meeting.’

The next day. ‘I went to Winchester on errands, and Krishnaji spoke to students. We walked in the afternoon, then I telephoned Vanda.’

May twenty-third was ‘a quiet day. I worked at my desk and walked in the afternoon with Krishnaji. The car was given a new battery and put in running order. I telephoned Filomena in Rome.’

May twenty-fourth. ‘We took the 10:20 a.m. train to London. Mary and Joe met us at Waterloo and drove Krishnaji to Huntsman. I went to the bank and then met Krishnaji at Truefitt where he had his hair cut. Then we walked to Fortnum’s where Mary joined us for lunch. She told Krishnaji she will do the second volume of his biography. She has just finished a book about her grandfather, Edward Robert Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Earl of Lytton and Viceroy of India, and will next do one on her father, the famous architect, Sir Edward Lutyens, and then do Krishnaji’s. She says she’s figured out a way to do it without a whitewash of the troubles with Rajagopal. It will be on the teachings and much less personal material than the earlier one. Krishnaji was very pleased, and I feel a huge sense of something good happening. I feared she didn’t want to take on the second volume. I have a deep sense of good in her making the decision to do it. Joe kindly drove Krishnaji to the dentist. I did some more errands and then went to Portland Place’—that’s where the dentist was—‘in time for Joe to take both of us back to Waterloo.’

The twenty-fifth, ‘I met Mary Cadogan at 11 a.m. at Petersfield. She stayed to lunch. Krishnaji talked to the staff in the afternoon at 5 p.m.’

Then there’s not much for the next two days except that on the twenty-seventh, ‘Krishnaji spoke to school at noon.’

May twenty-eighth. ‘Krishnaji dictated the thirty-second Letters to the Schools to be mailed out next December fifteenth. I talked to Ginny Travers’—that’s Virginia McKenna. ‘She’s in rehearsal for the opening of The King and I with Yul Brynner.’

The next day. ‘Krishnaji spoke to students while the staff had a meeting. After lunch, I took Narayan, Shakuntala, Natasha, and Premilla Rajan to Winchester.’

May thirtieth. ‘I telephoned to Dr. Scheef to tell him we won’t go to Bonn this year, but he said he will send medication for us to someone in Germany who will bring it to Saanen. I made our travel reservations for London to Geneva for July first. In the afternoon, Krishnaji discussed student exchanges between Brockwood and India with Dorothy, Narayan, Dr. Parchure, Venkatraman, Mrs. Rajan, Scott, Kathy, Julie Desnick, and Kathy Harris.’

May thirty-first. ‘Krishnaji, Narayan, and I took the 10:23 a.m. train to London. Joe met us, dropped Narayan in Piccadilly, and Krishnaji and me at Huntsman. We later took a taxi to Mary and Joe’s, and lunched with them at their flat. Krishnaji talked a bit to Mary about the biography, especially the question of what gives him his insight. Is it the Maitreya theory, Krishnaji’s own development, or is there some other thing manifesting? Krishnaji says he doesn’t know. He has feelings that he shouldn’t ask, but perhaps in going into it with Mary and me, we can find an answer.’ That’s when he made that curious statement. ‘Mary is eager to talk to him on these matters, and will come down to Brockwood Monday. Joe took Krishnaji to Mr. Thompson at 2:45 p.m., and took me later to join him. Thompson operated on Krishnaji’s upper right gum, cleaned out some infection, and sewed it up with a pack. It took about an hour.’ He had horrible things happen to him. ‘Joe took us back to Waterloo where we caught the 4:20 p.m. back to Petersfield.’

June first. ‘Krishnaji is not in too much pain, he says. But he chews only on one side. He is laughing at the TIME magazine saying that some calls Mrs. Thatcher “Attila the Hen.”’ [Both laugh.] ‘I took Premilla Rajan to Winchester. We walked along the river Itchen, did an hour’s tour of Winchester College together, then I took her around, saw the cathedral and we were back in time for lunch. I went alone to Petersfield afterward to get plants, etcetera, for the house. Radha Burnier arrived just in time to attend a staff meeting with Krishnaji, a discussion of what is opinion.’

June second. ‘Dorothy drove Krishnaji, Radha Burnier, and me to London. We had a picnic hamper and intended to have lunch in Hyde Park, but it was crowded. So, we went looking for a quiet place on side streets and wound up at a free parking space in the shade opposite Mary and Joe’s. We ate our picnic nicely in the car and then went to see the Indian film highly recommended by Pupul, Satyajit Ray’s The Chess Players.’ [Chuckles.] Did you ever see that?

S: No.

M: ‘Not marvelous, but alright. Got back by 7:30 p.m. Radha and I had supper in the West Wing kitchen. On my way back, Krishnaji intently quizzed us on “What has man done in these thousands of years?”’ [Light chuckle.] ‘Developed outwardly but not inwardly. How true.’

S: Yes.

M: June third, ‘The Marogers, Jean-Michel, Marie-Bertrande, Diane, and cousin Pauline de Grémont arrived.’ Do you remember her?

S: Oh, yes.

M: She was nice. ‘Krishnaji spoke to the whole school at noon. In the afternoon, he treated Diane, and then had a long talk with Jean-Michel, Marie-Bertrande, and me about Diane. Her bones are getting stronger, but she has not grown in length. She is now twelve-and-a-half and her classmates in school are shooting up. Her parents are obviously very concerned. Krishnaji was very intense. He said, “I would give my life to her if I could.” I had been silently thinking the same. Krishnaji talked at first as if he were telling the parents what Diane faces, something they live with every day, worry over, and have faced all these years. He told them about Isabelle Mallet, who was disabled and fell in love with him, and asked to be loved, etcetera. This is when he was young. He said, “I was too young to understand what she really wanted. I liked her, went to see her every day, but was too innocent to understand.” He told about the woman in Madras with a broken hip whom he saw and she was cured, and Fresia, whose cardio X-rays changed overnight. “What we need is a miracle,” he said.’

June fourth, ‘Mary Links and Amanda came at 11 a.m. We sat in Krishnaji’s room and he talked about the biography. What had kept him “vacant” as a boy? Either some power that wished to manifest—like the Maitreya theory. Or was there an innate something in the boy, an evolution through incarnations, which Krishnaji said is superstition. Or was there a power of goodness, which entered the boy. “I’ve always felt protected,” he said. And then, “If I enter an airplane, it will not fall.” But he kept asking and asking the question of how was the boy vacant and what kept him that way? We stopped while he dressed, and Mary and I talked alone in the drawing room. Then, after lunch we resumed with Krishnaji continuing the same inquiry. I took partial notes. Toward the end of the discussion, he said that perhaps he could not answer the question, but perhaps Mary or I could, and if we did, then he would know if it was right.’ This is that well-known conversation.

S: Yes.

Mary in 1979, at Brockwood. This is the year covered in this issue. Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

Mary in 1979, at Brockwood. This is the year covered in this issue.
Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

M: ‘He said the Maitreya or reincarnated body prepared over a number of lives theories were “suspect.” It would mean that it was restricted to him, and the teachings say that all can achieve it or “It is not worth it otherwise.” At 4 p.m., he saw Diane. Then the walk was with Narayan, Dorothy, and me. In the evening he talked to Narayan with Dr. Parchure and me present. He is concerned that Narayan might become authoritarian and set in his ways, as others have before him.’

The next day it just says:‘Krishnaji spoke to students. I went to a staff meeting. Krishnaji treated Diane.’

June sixth. ‘I took the 9:23 a.m. train to London, determined to use the Underground and, on it, got to Connaught Street, where Mr. Gordon of Mayfair, Mary’s hairdresser, cut my hair acceptably. Then I went to Diemel on Bond Street and got some underthings for Krishnaji, including trunks, as they are called, that don’t have elastic. They button.’ [Chuckles.] Didn’t you inherit some of his Diemel undershirts?”

S: Yes, I did, and have them to this day.

M: ‘I fetched new eyeglasses. Then went to see Betsy, who has taken Liz Pringle’s small house off the Fulham Road. A nice little house with a tiny garden and very nice Jamaican maid. Betsy is intent on buying a flat in London. I caught the 4:20 p.m. back to Petersfield. Had supper on a tray with Krishnaji and watched Dave Allen on TV,’ [both chuckle] ‘a very funny man. Krishnaji had treated Diane.’

June seventh, ‘Krishnaji and I went to London on the 10:23 a.m. train. Joe Links, once again, kindly met Krishnaji and drove us to Huntsman. We shopped for a present for Vanda, and found a beige jersey at Peal’s. We bought some books at Hatchards and then lunched with Mary and Alain Naudé, who arrived from San Francisco yesterday. He is going on after a week to see Vanda in Florence, then to Zurich to see Dr. Künzlı, who was an orthopedic whiz, about a homeopathy book translation.’ Alain had translated one of those bible homeopathic things.

S: I remember.

M: ‘A pleasant, talkative lunch, but Krishnaji feels he has lost touch with Alain. “He has left us.” I think he means the teachings, as well as us, though on the surface we are friendly and have much to laugh and chat about. Joe again, the endlessly kind man, drove Krishnaji and me to Mr. Thompson, where the stitches from last week’s gum operation were removed in fifteen minutes, and we were off to Waterloo.’

June eighth. ‘I worked at the desk most of the morning while Krishnaji rested. He saw Diane, and at 5 p.m., talked to the staff about thinking together.’ [S chuckles.] Does that ring a bell in your brain?

S: Boy, does it ever. [M chuckles.]

M: The next day just says, ‘Krishnaji dictated letters, treated Diane at 4 p.m., and talked to Gizelle Questiau. We walked in a rapture of flowers.’ [S laughs.]

June tenth.‘Krishnaji talked to the school. Balasundaram arrived in the afternoon to spend three days. He and Narayan have not met or spoken in some years, not since Narayan took over the principal-ship from Balasundaram at Rishi Valley. Probably it is good for them to be thrown together here. Krishnaji saw Diane and asked the Marogers to stay on another three days. He told me that when he treats her, the room becomes filled with something. We walked. I moved the Marogers up to the West Wing dining room, as Radha is still in the guest room.’

There’s nothing of note for the next day, but for the twelfth it says: ‘I did desk work, but Krishnaji spoke to students, while there was a staff meeting, which I attended. The Marogers left. I put Narayan in the West Wing dining room.’

June thirteenth, ‘I went to London alone for Krishnaji’s Swiss visa and miscellaneous errands, taking the Tube and walking. Yesterday, Elfriede rang me from Malibu, but I was on a walk and not given the message till just as I was leaving this morning. So I went into Claridge’s and called her from there. She is just back from a six-weeks holiday in Germany, and wanted permission to have Calvin do the weeds, which are too much for Lorry. The earth has sunk so that the leach field has to be relocated. She said a prospective buyer has been around. I was too tired to go to the museum as I had intended. So I went back to Brockwood, and early to sleep.’

The fourteenth. ‘Sarjit Siddoo, her husband, and her child are here. Balasundaram left. I took Radha Burnier to the Petersfield train station in the afternoon. Krishnaji talked to Sarjit Siddoo’s husband. It rains and then it rains.’

June fifteenth. ‘It is a cold day. I spent most of it doing desk work. Krishnaji talked to the student, Shankar, after lunch. We had a short walk, then he talked to the staff at 5 p.m.’

The next day, ‘There is some sun. I typed Letters to the Schools. Krishnaji talked to Shankar again in the morning, and the staff had a meeting with Shankar in afternoon. He has decided to go to a U.S. university. Krishnaji, Dorothy, and I walked across the fields. Betsy telephoned. She has made an offer on a flat.’

The seventeenth, ‘Krishnaji talked to the school. I typed Letters to the Schools. At 4 p.m., Krishnaji did a discussion, which Scott videotaped, with five teachers: Harsh, Stephen, Wendy, Brian Nicholson, and Matthew Mitchell. We walked afterward.’

The next day just says, ‘I worked on typing the Letters to the Schools and doing housework. Walked across the fields. A warm day.’

June nineteenth. ‘A warm day, the first one here. Krishnaji spoke alone with the students at noon, while I went to a staff meeting. Krishnaji saw Denise Sullivan after lunch.’ Who was Denise Sullivan?

S: She was a teacher.

M: Oh. ‘And later, he, Dorothy, and I pruned rhododendron blossoms in the grove, but Krishnaji began to feel hay fever and returned to the house. I talked with Fleur in London.’

S: Okay. We have end it there, I’m afraid.

M: Alright.

S: We’ve run out of tape.

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[1] French for “faraway,” “vacant,” “abstracted,” etcetera. Back to text.

[2] Interestingly, a type of banyan tree that he was so fond of in India. Back to text.

[3] A film director, producer, and editor who, as second unit director, directed the chariot race in Sam’s film, Ben Hur. Back to text.