Issue #65

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Issue 65—November 4, 1980 to December 17, 1980


Krishnaji and Mary are in India in this issue, and Krishnaji makes his first trip to Sri Lanka in fifty years. This trip to India is clearly physically demanding and draining for both Krishnaji and Mary, and Dr. Parchure is worried because Krishnaji is pushing his body beyond its limits.

The Memoirs of Mary Zimbalist: Issue #65

Mary: We pick our story back up on November fourth, 1980, and we’re in Madras. You may remember that we just arrived in India from England, and Qantas, the airline we flew on, had lost our luggage. ‘At 8 a.m., I went to the airport with Pama and a Qantas Airlines man. I got the luggage examined and released. There were endless forms to be filled and signed; then, with porters running, we rushed to the departure gate where, at 9:30 a.m., Krishnaji and the rest who were going to Colombo were waiting to board. Dr. Parchure, who forgot he had currency in his luggage, was stopped, fined, and couldn’t go on his flight, which was to go ahead with Parameshwaram, so he took two of our bags back to Vasanta Vihar. He will follow with Achyut, Ahalya, and Rajesh on Friday. There was a mob scene getting off.  I became a machine of passports, keys, and papers, no longer caring about how I looked. I wore slacks that I flew in from London and the same shirt, fortunately laundered, have washed my hair and brushed it. There is no way to set it, but luckily the short haircut in London makes it not too bad.’

‘We, at last, got onto the plane, and in not much over an hour we landed in Colombo. Krishnaji is again a guest of the state. Officials met him; and a minister, Dr. Adikaram, and he were driven into Colombo.’ Dr. Adikaram was a nice old man who was the head of the Krishnamurti Center in Sri Lanka, chancellor of the university, and had known Krishnaji forever. ‘Pupul, Nandini, and I were in a second car. We are staying at Acland House, a government guest house built by the British. It has large rooms with a dining room sixty feet long’ [chuckles]. ‘Parameshwaram oversees the food cooking and three young Navy bearers serve. Krishnaji has the largest and best bedroom with hot water and air conditioning. Pupul and Nandini share another room, but have only cold water. I have a small but adequate room, but it has an air conditioner. The weather is very hot and very damp (just as I feared). We are very near the equator’ [chuckles]. ‘Because it is a government naval place, there are difficulties about others visiting, like the Patwardhans, Asit, and Devi. Devi was told that her mother, Nandini, would have to come downstairs to see her; she can’t go up to Nandini’s room. Dr. Adikaram is caught in the middle.’ I can still see our arrival, because here I was not properly dressed, and of course all the other women were in beautiful saris.

Scott: Yes, and elegant.

M: Exactly, elegant. And the most elegant one of all was Krishnaji in his Indian clothes, and there I was [chuckles] in the slacks that I’d left Brockwood in. And luckily I’d bought that shirt and then, whatever it was, and it was laundered, so I was clean. But I was flanked by beautifully dressed Pupul and Nandini into this government limousine [chuckles].

S: Yes. And here you’re frantically looking after passports and bags and things like that and, of course, Nandini and Pupul don’t touch a thing.

M: No, they don’t do any of that.

S: No. They don’t even carry a handbag. I mean, they just have nothing. Somebody else—some underling—is doing all those things. [Laughs.]

M: I remember Nandini had a little bit of trouble leaving India. She had absolutely beautiful, heavy gold bracelets and because they were so large, it was suggested that she was getting gold out of India. And that was a problem in Madras. She said, “These have been on my arm for the last…”—I forget how many years, she’d worn them all her life—she never took them off. And in the end, they looked the other way. [Both laugh.]

‘Some bureaucratic knot has occurred as there are many rooms empty here but only four of us can stay. There is a government car for Krishnaji’s use, and we drove to a park and walked. I am at last in proper clothes and have the luxury of my toilet article box. Today is Election Day in the U.S.’ [Both chuckle.]

November fifth. ‘Some TV technician said that Reagan has won by a landslide. All our people were at lunch, and there was a long conversation. Krishnaji later said to me, “You can’t have this sort of conversation except in India.” I went with Pupul and Nandini, the Patwardhans, Devi, and a Ceylonese lady for a little shopping. Kleenex was the prize’ [chuckles]. ‘I walked with Krishnaji and Dr. Adikaram in the park. It was very hot. Krishnaji picks up a trail of admirers who march behind him, which he dislikes’ [chuckles]. ‘The heat bothered me. A cold bath seemed like a life-saving thing. Asit and Devi sat with Krishnaji and me at dinner, and later went out.’

The sixth. ‘The newspapers carried confirmation and some details of the Carter defeat by Reagan. McGovern and Birch Bayh are also defeated. Republicans have a majority in the Senate. At 9:30 a.m., Krishnaji went with Dr. Adikaram to see Prime Minister R. Premadasa. In India, the prime minister calls on Krishnaji, a religious leader being second to no one.’ But we were in another country.

S: A Buddhist country, yes.

M: Yes [chuckles]. ‘Krishnaji doesn’t consider this, but he felt somewhat uncomfortable there. Meanwhile, Devi, Nandini, Sunanda, Pama, and I went with a friend of Dr. Adikaram to see the Kalema Buddhist temple. At 4 p.m., Krishnaji was interviewed by Minister of State de Alwis for television.’

S: And that was for Colombo TV?

M: Yes. ‘At 5:30 p.m., Asit took Krishnaji and me for a walk by the sea. Krishnaji liked it better than the park, which he thinks irritated his eyes. The sea air is better. The air seemed un-refreshing to me; sticky and heavy.’

November seventh. ‘At 11 a.m., Krishnaji held a press conference with about thirty journalists. Asit took photographs and then left for Bombay after talking briefly to me about Narayan in lieu of being able to talk to Krishnaji. After the press conference, Krishnaji talked individually for forty-five minutes to a Dutch journalist, Paul Marynis of NRC Handelsblad. Dr. Parchure, Ahalya, Achyut, and Rajesh arrived from Madras, and are all staying at the Ramakrishna Mission. I walked with Krishnaji by the sea. He told me that he’d had a good meditation in the night.’

The eighth. ‘Dr. Parchure came at 6:30 a.m. and resumed exercises, massage, etcetera for Krishnaji. After breakfast, he also massaged my still swollen foot. I went shopping with Devi, Ahalya, Pupul, and Nandini. Newspapers all carry articles on Krishnaji’s press conference. At 5:30 p.m., Krishnaji gave his first Colombo talk in John De Silva Memorial Hall. The audience was over 3,000 and overflowed the hall. They appeared stunned by the presence of Krishnaji. He came in slowly, resplendent, wearing a dhoti as he does for talks. Quietly climbed onto a settee, sitting cross-legged, putting his watch beside him. He made the namaste hands together greeting to the audience, which had risen in greeting to him. And then he sat for a while in silence. Majestic. Beautiful. Later, Dr. Adikaram said the audience felt overwhelmed as if in the presence of the Buddha. He began to speak very simply, as to an audience that knew nothing of his teaching. There were several interruptions. A man near where Pupul, Nandini, and I sat had an epileptic fit, and Dr. Parchure, also nearby, saw to him. Two men in the audience interrupted to ask what was being done for the sick, and a Buddhist monk wanted to say something. Krishnaji quietly suggested he come to the public discussion on Wednesday, and then continued his talk. Later, he said the lack of light in the hall made him unable to see the audience, except a man in the very front row who kept looking around, not listening. “I was in despair,” said Krishnaji at the dinner table.’ He liked to connect with the audience visually.

S: Yes, yes.

M: November ninth. ‘Krishnaji was disturbed about Rishi Valley and what he is told of Narayan’s shortcomings. Pupul irritated him at the lunch table discussing this. Her aggressive voice and manner and wagging finger.’ She was a great finger-wagger.

S: Yes.

M: ‘She repeats things over and over, and Krishnaji wants to find a solution. He came in later to talk to me about it. I suggested a less heavy-handed approach to Narayan to give him help and not tear him apart. At 5:30 p.m., Krishnaji gave a second Colombo talk on “reading the book which is you.” A very fine one.’

The next day—

S: Can we just stop and talk for a minute about this Narayan situation because, just to be fair, Pupul didn’t want Narayan to begin with.

M: No. No, she didn’t.

S: And she pretty much had it in for him and was looking for opportunities to ambush him. And Asit, being her nephew, just joined her in this.

M: Asit was not a person to have liked Narayan.

S: No. No. So I really felt, Narayan was just a sitting target with them waiting for him to make one false step, and when he did, Pupul was just going to be there at his jugular.

M: Exactly. You’re quite correct.

S: It was unfair because he was a nice man.

M: Yes. He was a nice man.

S: Anyway, go on. The next day, the tenth.

M: So, to continue, November tenth. ‘At 11 a.m., Krishnaji held a discussion with about sixty invited people. And at 4 p.m., another one with thirty Buddhist monks. The latter were dull and immature in Krishnaji’s view, though he was very patient with them. Afterward, he and I walked by the sea and were able to get TIME and Newsweek at Galle Face Hotel.’ Galle Face is a place, slightly, if I remember, south of Colombo.

The eleventh. ‘Pupul, Ahalya, and I left at 7:30 a.m. in an air-conditioned car that I hired’ [chuckles] ‘and drove to Kandy about three hours away. We visited the Peradeniya Gardens. There were marvelous orchids and trees from all over Asia, one of which was a 100-year-old great, spreading tent of a tree like a geodesic dome as big as an aircraft hangar in the middle of a field. I wanted to go under and inside it and found, to my  amazement, it was a Ficus benjamina, the houseplant of California.’

S: Right, just a little houseplant [laughs].

M: Yes, which is like these ficus trees you see out the window. And then at that point in my life I thought of Ficus benjamina as something you’d put on a table.

S: Exactly, yes.

M: ‘Driving there and back I saw five elephants. One was being scrubbed by four men in a muddy river and two were obviously walking home after their bath.’ [Both chuckle.] The air conditioning made the trip possible for me. For the first time here, I was cool most of the day. At 5 p.m., Krishnaji went with Dr. Adikaram to meet the president of Sri Lanka, a Mr. Jayawardene, who had invited him. He spent one-and-a-half hours talking to him. In the evening, Pupul, Nandini, and I watched the television broadcast of the interview between Krishnaji and the minister of state done here last Thursday.’

November twelfth. ‘After breakfast, Krishnaji talked to KFI people including Narayan, Rajesh, and a new doctor couple who are at Rajghat about the responsibility to people like them who have come for the teachings and not to work at schools, etcetera. Afterward, I went with Pupul, Nandini, Devi, and Rajesh to the Colombo Museum and to a tourist shop. At 4 p.m., Krishnaji held a public discussion at the university of which Dr. Adikaram is the chancellor. The hall was jammed with over 4,000 people. Krishnaji took spoken questions from an audience for one-and-a-half hours. Then, he and I left and drove to Galle Face Hotel, where we walked in the dark and rain along the sea walls. In the evening, Pupul asked Krishnaji how much his early life had influenced him. He replied, “Scarcely at all,” and went on to say that most change in him came about after he had left Rajagopal.


Editor’s Note: This is perhaps the greatest statement of praise that could be made of Mary, because Krishnaji could not have left Rajagopal without Mary’s support, and the court case that recovered Krishnaji’s copyright and the land and Pine Cottage in Ojai could not have occurred without Mary’s support.


Pupul talked about the book she is writing on Krishnaji in India. Krishnaji suggested she share chronology dates with Mary Links. At first, Pupul was reluctant, but later, when she realized she needed Western dates, she said they could exchange.’ [S chuckles.] ‘She said she was not going to answer so many of Mary’s questions about Rajagopal having taken all the contents, including silver, at Vasanta Vihar.[1] I was able to get her to look up whether Rajagopal was in India in November 1957 when, if I remember correctly, Krishnaji was bullied into signing over his copyright to KWINC. Mary Lutyens has no record of Rajagopal in India then. But Pupul says he was, and left Delhi in January 1958. He has not been back since.’

November thirteenth. ‘Krishnaji was to rest, but talked much of the morning. I went shopping with Nandini, Devi, and Ahalya. It was very hot. Pupul left for Delhi. Nandini, Mr. Ranganathan, and I walked with Krishnaji by the sea.’

The fourteenth. ‘I had a long talk with Dr. Parchure about Krishnaji’s disregard for his bodily health. His brain is full of energy but his body is tired. The swelling in his feet has not gone down. Parchure feels he should have adjusted to the heat by now, and wants him to have a cardiogram in Madras. He asked Krishnaji where is his “intelligence of the body that he speaks of? Either it doesn’t exist or Krishnaji is ignoring it. The body is dragging with fatigue, though the mind is very alert.” I asked how I can constructively back up Parchure’s suggestions to Krishnaji. Krishnaji feels I get emotional, and so discounts what I say. This makes for only partial frankness. If this is so, as it apparently is, I must quietly be rational in talking to him, no matter what I feel. Krishnaji is presently irrational about his own health and capabilities. It is as if his mind is given greater energy, which he regards as given for the purpose of his work, and he expects his body to do more than it should. I have to learn to act differently with him, offer only what will effectively reach his mind, watch carefully my reactions, and how I express things to him. It will take great care.’

‘Instead of resting this morning, he talked to Narayan, Sunanda, Pama, Achyut, Dr. Parchure, and me about Rishi Valley, the need for new teachers with a “global outlook.” Out of this came an idea for a center, but not at any of the schools, for people who come only for the teachings. And Krishnaji spoke of this leading to a “Renaissance.” He asked what I thought, and I said I doubted that people once said, “Let us make a Renaissance.” They simply did what they saw needed doing and then later it was called that. We must see what is needed now and do it. “Let’s do it,” he said. At 4 p.m., there was a tea for all members and helpers of the Krishnamurti Center in Sri Lanka who have done so much to arrange for Krishnaji’s visit. Krishnaji attended for an hour. Then he briefly saw the minister of education. Krishnaji, Nandini, and I, taking along Mr. Weeraperuna, went for a walk by the sea on the Galle Face green.’

November fifteenth. ‘Sunanda and Pama flew back to Madras. For most of the day, I stayed in my room doing letters and working on the chronology for Mary L. Krishnaji gave his third Colombo talk at 5:30. A very fine one on pleasure, desire, life, death. Dr. Adikaram, who was bitten by a dog several days ago, didn’t come to fetch Krishnaji. Another talkative man escorted Krishnaji and bothered him with questions. After supper with Nandini and me, he watched a TV English drama and looked very tired.’

The sixteenth of November: ‘Krishnaji rested as much as possible. I worked on the chronology for Mary, reviewing 1967, that astonishing and blessed year, especially May in Holland in the thatched farmhouse.’ That was a lovely, lovely farmhouse with thatch on the roof, and the Bois Boulogne house in Paris, and June in Gstaad. At 5:30 p.m., Krishnaji gave a fourth and last Colombo talk. I came back with him and Dr. Adikaram. Krishnaji and I dined alone as Nandini went somewhere with Devi and others. After a talk the Buddha only might have made, Krishnaji watched an old Perry Mason episode on TV, which relaxed him and he went to bed at nine.’ [Both chuckle.]

The next day, ‘several government ministers came to lunch. Krishnaji, Nandini, Devi, and I walked at the Galle Face Green in the late afternoon. I packed.’

The eighteenth of November: ‘After an early lunch at Acland House and a formal distribution of envelopes with tips to the staff of nine, we left. Krishnaji was driven to the airport by the minister of state, while another government car followed with Nandini, Devi, Mrs. Nataraj, and me.’ Mr. Nataraj is a nice man from Colombo who worked at Vasanta Vihar.

S: I remember him, yes.

M: ‘We then all sat in a special lounge, with various ministers making conversation with Krishnaji, and all the Sri Lanka Krishnamurti group sitting silently, staring at him. We were driven from the lounge to the aircraft stairs in the car of the Indian high commissioner, who was on the same flight. At last we left, and my spirits rose with the plane. Sri Lanka has much good, but not for me’ [both chuckle]. ‘The ringing wet heat is such that I’m physically struggling with it all the time, and there is little beauty to be seen except in the vegetation. I was delighted to leave the whole place. Dr. Adikaram is a rather touching little old man with some sense of what Krishnaji is about and says. But others in his group, though helpful, and endlessly kind to all of us, are nevertheless a very ordinary group. In Madras, it was arranged for Krishnaji to sail through immigration and customs, but he insisted on standing with me until all our four bags appeared. One was almost lost, but when it was recovered, we then went swiftly in Mrs. Santhanam’s car and were away. Krishnaji stared at the crowds of people on the roads. “India, I’m afraid, is hopeless,” he said. At Vasanta Vihar, there was Jayalakshmi with two large, black granite nandis she has had sculpted for the Ojai house. They are plump and quite engaging. Krishnaji is delighted with them. He petted them. She said she could have priests come and do something traditional to consecrate them. They are to guard the house.’ If you look out the window, you can see one of them.

Krishnaji having fun with all his garlands and the Nandis he received. Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

Krishnaji having fun with all his garlands and the Nandis he received. Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

S: Yes [chuckles]. They’re still on guard.

M: ‘How they will get from the veranda here to the patio in Ojai is an interesting problem; presumably, it will be done. Theo and Alan Hooker, who were due to arrive here, have not turned up. It was slightly cooler at Vasanta Vihar, and I feel better being here.’ [Both chuckle.]

The nineteenth: ‘Theo and Alan Hooker turned up in a taxi as we were finishing breakfast. They had been stuck in Bahrain. In the morning, Nandini, Devi, and I went with Prema to shop. I got two cottons for sari blouses and a sample for Krishnaji for underclothes. In the afternoon, the tailor came to measure; also a cobbler came to copy sandals. I went with Krishnaji and Radha to her house in the TS and from there walked on the beach. Pama went to invite Rukmini Arundale on Krishnaji’s behalf to lunch tomorrow or Friday. She said she had to consult her diary and would let him know.’ [Both chuckle.] Oh dear, dear, dear.

S: But she never showed up, did she?

M: No. She didn’t. [Both chuckle.] As I recall. I don’t remember.

S: I didn’t think she did.

M: The next day, ‘Radha came and sat with us at breakfast. She says her aunt Rukmini Arundale is afraid of Krishnaji.’ [Both chuckle.] ‘Krishnaji said, “She is? Good. I will exploit that,” with a look of glee on his face.’ [Both chuckle.]

S: Which, of course, he would never have done.

M: No [S laughs], but his attitude was…

S: I know, I know.

M: ‘Later, a message came. Rukmini Arundale had consulted her diary and cannot come for lunch. She has no free time. Kindly tell Krishnaji. End of subject. Sunanda will not invite her again. In the morning, Devi left for home. Nandini, Ahalya, and I went to the bank to cash travelers’ checks and to Spencer’s.’ That’s the name of that store I was trying to remember.

S: Oh, yes. That funny little department store.

M: Yes, kind of a department store. It was a very important store in Madras.

S: It was the only place you could get all kinds of Western things.

M: Yes, that’s right.

S: And it was a fun little hangover from English colonialism. I can remember the first time I went into Spencer’s, they were playing canned music. Obviously it was around Christmas time, and the music they were playing was, “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”—in Madras! [Both laugh.] It has never snowed there, probably not even during the Ice Age.

M: Oh, that’s funny. [Both laugh.] Well, anyway, ‘we went to Spencer’s and then to a bookstore. In the afternoon, Nandini and I went with Prema to a warehouse of Pupul’s firm, and to Radha Silks’—that’s a good store—‘where I got two-by-two thin cotton…’ Two-by-two has something to do with the weight, I think, wasn’t it?

S: No, I think it’s the weave of it.

M: The weave of it. I’ve forgotten all that.

S: Yes.

M: ‘…two-by-two cotton for three more kurtas. Krishnaji had gone with Radha and Achyut for a walk by the time I got back. Alan Hooker said he felt, and Dorothy concurred, when he paused en route at Brockwood from California, that Mark should come to the teacher meetings at Rishi Valley. Krishnaji agreed. Alan said he would anonymously pay for one ticket for Mark, but not for Asha and child. In the evening, Theo, Sunanda, and Pama telephoned first to Erna for her opinion—a yes—and then to Mark. He will come as soon as he can. Yesterday, Dr. Parchure was concerned about the swelling in Krishnaji’s feet not going down. To rule out causes like heart, kidneys, etcetera another doctor came and gave a cardiogram and relevant samples have been sent to a lab. As his heart is fine, the new doctor could not account for the swelling. So Dr. P. did simple remedies. In the afternoon, his legs were packed in cold mud and then his feet were put in cold water. Then pressure bandages were wound round and he went for his walk. The swelling subsided.’ [Both chuckle.]

The next day it just says, ‘Packed. Jayalakshmi at lunch said that the nandis are to be shipped to Ojai.’ [Chuckles.]

November twenty-second: ‘A hot night. I awoke at 2 a.m., got up at 3, and at 4:15 a.m. Krishnaji, Nandini, Dr. Parchure, and I left Vasanta Vihar in the Santhanams’ car, with all the luggage in the trunk and on a roof rack. Krishnaji sat in front with the driver, alert, watching every move all the way. Nandini and I dozed. The headlights, blaring horns, and diesel fumes make it a tortuous drive. Huge silent carts of hay pulled by patient diminutive bullocks loom in ghostly slow ways in the night. We reached Rishi Valley at 9:15 a.m. All of the school stood in a circle by the old guest house to greet Krishnaji. The rest of us were given bouquets. It was nice to see the changes upstairs. The suggestions I made two years ago had turned out well. The large end of the room is a fine bedroom for Krishnaji.’ He was sleeping in that little tiny miserable one.

S: Yes, that tiny dark back room. I remember.

M: ‘His old little room is now his dressing room. And the middle room has been changed to include the balconies at either side, giving an airy, much more pleasing room for meetings. I am in my old room downstairs, repainted with small attentions to make it nicer, all seen to by Usha Goenka. Her two sons are in the school here, and she lives in the Moorheads’ old house, working in the rural school, and seeing to a proper diet in the school’s food, better arrangements for guests, etcetera. We had breakfast. I unpacked and settled my things. Asit arrived from Bombay with his two daughters to start their term. He is staying here for ten days. At 5:30 p.m., Krishnaji, Narayan, and I walked to the school gate and west toward Rishi Konda and back across the fields and past the banyan tree. The valley is greener, though only medium rains have fallen this year. So many trees have been planted, and the ones we planted two years ago are growing. The strangely rocked hills seem to sleep. The urgency of Krishnaji’s planting, his enthusiasm, has made this place blessed and beautiful. He was persuaded by Dr. Parchure and me to have his supper in bed. Nandini and I went to the outdoor supper in the full moon. We ate with Mrs. Parchure, and after we went to where the whole school watched old Laurel and Hardy movies.’ [Both chuckle.] ‘Avalanches of laughter resounded in the valley.’ That was nice, I’d forgotten that.

S: I had too. They played those old comedies often on weekends.

M: November twenty-third. ‘Krishnaji said he woke at 1 a.m. with something happening in the top of his head. It had to do with Rishi Konda.’ And I have in parentheses: ‘(the mountain west of Rishi Valley, a sacred something about it). After breakfast, Krishnaji talked to Asit a bit and then called me to join in. Then he spoke with Narayan about Usha and their relationship. Did they wish to marry? No. Then it was a private matter between them but they must undo the gossip that has sprung up. It is up to them to figure out how. They both seemed happy that Krishnaji had not been drastic. All this took the morning. After 5 p.m., Krishnaji, Naidu, Narayan, Nandini, and I walked all over the westernmost thirty acres, where Naidu has just planted a thousand more mango trees. We saw trays of silkworms devouring mulberry leaves. Little white worms smaller than a cigarette. They do this nonstop for five days and then spin their cocoons. Then a man brings them disaster.’ [S chuckles.]

S: We should just say here something that again pertains to Narayan. Narayan’s relationship with Usha was what Pupul was using to attack him.

M: Funnily, I don’t remember Usha.

S: I do, and I knew that’s what this was going to be about when you first started talking about her a minute ago. Pupul was insisting that Narayan’s and Usha’s relationship was bringing the school into disrepute, and that it was undermining the moral development of the students. But no one knew about this relationship until they were told by trustees about it. It was ridiculous. She was a nice woman. But eventually so much trouble was caused that she, I think, had to go.

M: Oh, dear.

S: I know. It was terrible.

M: For some reason, I don’t remember her. But I could tell from what I wrote that she had done all these good things. That she was a nice person, and I obviously liked her.

S: Yes, she was a nice person.

M: The twenty-fourth. ‘Krishnaji held a long talk over the breakfast table over the structure of the school. Asit was pointing out errors and Narayan was being defensive. As a result, Narayan, Asit, and Mr. Vethakan (now an administrator here) met the accountant and revised the system so that monthly accounts are presented. After lunch, Krishnaji talked with Mrs. Thomas and her husband about her becoming headmistress. She asked for twenty-four hours to think it over. At 4 p.m., Krishnaji talked to Rajesh, and offered him a job of running the junior school and being on the committee of three with Narayan and Mrs. Thomas to run the school. Krishnaji was tired, but had galloped through changes he wished to make. He, Nandini, Rajesh, and I took a late walk. Later, Asit spent two hours in the evening talking to Mr. and Mrs. Thomas about the school and expressing much criticism.’

November twenty-fifth: ‘Sunanda, Pama, Achyut, and Ahalya arrived from Madras. Pupul telephoned Sunanda that Mrs. Gandhi is coming here to see Krishnaji on December twentieth. Nandini and I visited the art department of the junior school in the morning. Nari Gandhi’—that’s the architect—‘Theo, and Alan Hooker were at lunch. Nandini and I called on Mrs. Parchure. Asit reported his conversation with Mr. and Mrs. Thomas to Krishnaji, and Krishnaji sent for me. Krishnaji is disturbed by the reported lack of discipline in the school, and the cynicism said to exist among the older boys, one of whom was heard to say’—I was the one who heard it—‘“Heil Hitler” when Krishnaji arrived. Krishnaji was shocked by this, feels great blame is attached to Narayan, and is going to call him to account tomorrow, but feels sad for him and wants him to succeed. The tension over all this has upset Krishnaji’s stomach. Though it was almost dark, Krishnaji, Asit, Nandini, and I walked down to the gate.’

The twenty-sixth: ‘After breakfast, Krishnaji had Narayan, Asit, and me in for a two-and-a-half hour discussion. Asit, who had cross-checked all his facts, laid them out without emotion for Narayan to answer. Narayan accepted all suggestions. Krishnaji slept two hours in the afternoon and went for only a very short walk.’

The next day: ‘It is Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. Krishnaji talked alone with the two senior classes of students, and in the afternoon held discussions with trustees and some of the teachers. We walked to the bridge as it was getting dark. I finished the chronology of 1967 for Mary L. and posted it to her.’

November twenty-eighth: ‘Krishnaji talked at breakfast about vision, what it is, and the need for it in the school. Then he rested for most of the day. Nandini and I went with Usha Goenka to visit the rural school. In the afternoon, Usha came to talk to me about her position in Rishi Valley, and I gave her cautionary advice. There was a walk with Krishnaji and Narayan up the hill behind the playing fields, where the government has planted eucalyptus trees.’

The twenty-ninth. ‘Perhaps a corner was turned today. Narayan was not defensive when Krishnaji questioned the fitness and his friend’s, Mr. Vethakan’s, use at Rishi Valley. When Krishnaji went to have his hair cut, Narayan spoke very openly and well to the rest of us at the breakfast table on school matters. Later, he and KFI members held a long meeting on the school finances and structure. I walked with Krishnaji and Theo. In the evening, Asit, who had talked at length with Usha, told Krishnaji he now feels very well about everything. Krishnaji was amazed and smiling, laughing at the turn in Narayan’s personal life. I suggested, as a turn away from all this pressure on Narayan, that tomorrow in front of us all, that Krishnaji tell Narayan that he is the person who can do the most essential and creative things in these schools, which is to talk about the teachings, and that Narayan should concentrate on this.’ Golly, what goings-on it was.

November thirtieth. ‘There was a meeting in the morning where Krishnaji set forth the new structure of the school. Mrs. Thomas is headmistress, Venkatraman heads the senior school, Rajesh heads the junior school. Narayan remains principal and is part of the group that runs the school. The group is Narayan, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas, Venkatraman, Rajesh, and a financial administrator to be found by Asit. Krishnaji enlarged on Narayan’s special responsibilities beyond principalship, which are to see that Krishnaji’s teachings are understood in the school and are a part of it. In the afternoon, Krishnaji held a small group discussion. Mark Lee arrived in the evening from Ojai. He brought Asha and the daughter Nandini, but only as far as Delhi.’

December first. ‘Mark came to breakfast. At 9:30 a.m., Krishnaji held the first teachers’ meeting. Most of the Bangalore and Madras teachers have come for these meetings; closing their schools for a week to do so. After the meeting, Theo read to Krishnaji and me a letter brought by Mark from Erna. It said that at Stanley Cohen’s office, she had signed legal papers starting legal actions against Rajagopal. We are now committed to another legal fray. Theo was in tears toward the end of Erna’s letter because of her being alone to face all this. He wants to leave immediately and go back to Ojai. Krishnaji asked if I should go, too. It was decided to wait two days, and then Theo would decide about his own leaving to support Erna. When Theo left, Krishnaji asked me if this is going to lead to a serious battle. I said it could and it should be realized that he may be subpoenaed, etcetera. “I’ll go at it,” he said. “I am much stronger and more able than I was ten years ago.” The compelling factor, according to our lawyer Cohen, is that if we do not act now, we will let go by default what we won in the earlier case. At 4 p.m., Krishnaji held a private discussion with trustees and a few teachers on the topic he and Asit had been discussing on and off since Ojai: What is intelligence? How does a human brain differ from a computer? Toward the end, Krishnaji spoke of the perception of beauty that is beyond and not related to taste, aesthetics, etcetera. Then we walked. In the evening, Pupul and Achyut arrived. Pupul is full of plans for Mrs. Gandhi’s visit here on the twentieth. This evening, I went with Nandini, Asit, Sunanda, and Pama to dine at Usha’s. She lives in the old Moorhead house. Radha Burnier is in Rishi Valley, too.’

The second of December: ‘Pupul was brought up-to-date at breakfast by Krishnaji, Asit, etcetera. At 4 p.m., there was another private discussion, but too many people slowed it down. Krishnaji, Radha, Asit, and I walked. At breakfast, Krishnaji said, “Ugliness is darkness.” Pupul spoke of gurus, and said that Krishnaji was essentially a guru. Krishnaji spoke of light, and he   disagreed. “There is only light. You don’t say, ‘I have come to light. I am that light.’ There is light. This has deeper significance; that other is too childish,” he said. “After all, goodness is that: to have total light. I think that is logical, sense. But gurus in the usual sense is leading you to light.”…“Light is compassion. See the difference. Jesus is supposed to have said, ‘I am the light.’”…“I shrink from that,” said Krishnaji. He then went on to ask how Rishi Valley can be made beautiful. Ugliness is darkness, and here they don’t see that. At 4 p.m., there was another small group discussion, which was held back by too many people. The walk was with Krishnaji, Radha Burnier, Asit, and me.’ All these quotes within quotes must be awfully hard to transcribe, I’m sorry.

S: That’s alright. It is hard, but that’s alright. We have a very brave transcriber.

M: The third. ‘I went to what the school calls “a chanting assembly.”’ The whole school chants. ‘At 9:30 a.m., Krishnaji held a second teachers’ discussion on what is learning. At 4 p.m., I went with Krishnaji to a recital in the assembly hall of North Indian singing by Pandit Jasraj. He teaches Usha. He sang marvelously. At 5:30 p.m., Krishnaji excused himself, and he, Asit, Radha B., and I went for a walk. On our return in the dark, we stopped outside the hall, listened to the continued singing, and finally Krishnaji went in and sat in front until the end of the recital, which was after 8 o’clock. I had supper upstairs with him. He told me “that face” has been with him for four days. Whenever he closes his eyes, it is there; and with his eyes open, he sees it in his room. On the walk, he wanted to stop, close his eyes and look at it. During the music, it was not there.’ You know this, “the face.”

S: Yes, “the face,” yes.

M: ‘He also showed me a small gold locket with JK engraved on it and a photograph of him when he was very young. He had me open it very carefully, and inside there were tiny jewels, the jewels that are in Pine Cottage. I made a necklace of thread so that he could wear it next to his skin for a couple of days. He had told Radha about the bad atmosphere in Adyar. She got the jewels and gave them in the locket to him, and when he returns them in their locket to her, they will go into the northeast corner of the main hall at Adyar.’

December fourth. ‘It rained gently all day. It was much needed. At 9:30 a.m., the small group discussion resumed on the difference between the computer and the human brain and what is intelligence. Krishnaji took it inevitably to the teachings and to a possible technological takeover of most functions, to genetic and biochemical maneuverings that will control man, and offer him an infinite state of pleasure and hence a deterioration of the brain through lack of use. Carrying this to its logical extreme, man will be destroyed by his technology. Krishnaji then said that all this is within the field of the known. All the computer, technology, and all human thinking. Only the unknown is outside of this. He stopped there for today, but for me the implications were enormous. Man remaining in the known will be destroyed. But unlike the computer, does not man have the ability to move into the unknown where thought is not? And is this not the central function of man? It was an absorbing discussion, a momentous one.’

‘Parchure came afterward to do my foot and said that Krishnaji is now too tired to do any exercise in the mornings, but will not hear of cutting down his activities. He is forcing his body to keep up with his mind, but at what cost? At 4 p.m., Krishnaji talked again, this time to the Bangalore school people, shaking them up, and taking the arrogance out of some. Why must he have to do this? When at 6 p.m. it was over, in the dark rain, he wanted to walk, so we sloshed down to the gate and back. I had supper alone with him upstairs.’

December fifth: ‘At 9:30 a.m., there was a teachers’ discussion on beauty, taste, etcetera. Krishnaji’s voice toward the end was deep, quiet, and filled with otherness. It rained at walk time, but we went anyway.’

The next day: ‘At breakfast were Krishnaji, Pupul, Nandini, Achyut, Sunanda, Asit, and me. Krishnaji talked of the need for a sense of sacredness, which he feels in Rishi Valley is being nurtured. Narayan came in and sat during the whole discussion, which lasted till 12:40 p.m. Krishnaji told of the jewels put in the Ojai house and the atmosphere there. He told too of his having worn them for Radha this week so that she can place them in Adyar. Pupul said similarly they had been placed in the assembly hall here. “Then why are they not working?” Krishnaji asked. He felt it has been spoiled by activities—by playing drums, etcetera, and that Visalakshi’—that was Balasundaram’s wife—‘had practiced black arts there. Something sacred must be respected, not begged for help. Then it can act. They talked of putting jewels somewhere else—at astachal’—that’s, you know, where…

S: Yes, where the school goes to watch the sunset.

M: Yes. ‘Asit then asked if this sacredness, which can be given to stones, could be given to a living thing, a tree. And if a tree, why not a person? “I think so,” said Krishnaji. He said he was not positive, but it might. There was much discussion of this. Pupul recorded part of it on a cassette and Sunanda made shorthand notes and will give the transcription to each of us present.’ Did we get a copy?

S: Yes. It’s in the archives list.

M: I don’t remember getting a transcript.

S: Well, you might not have gotten one. It’s on the archives list, so the archives has a copy.

M: Good. ‘Krishnaji described the time he had pain and had me place my hands on his head while he placed his hand on mine. He also spoke of liking to stay here in Rishi Valley, that he couldn’t, but would like to. All of them were for this. I listened without reaction, though my own feelings are very different. Krishnaji spoke of energy which, at one level, is in both the good and the bad, but beyond is the unlimited energy, which is the source of everything—the universal energy and beyond good and bad.’

December seventh: ‘Krishnaji says he thought over in the night what he had said yesterday and it is not possible: A human being is different from a jewel. He said this briefly en passant. When I asked him later what had made him change his mind, he said, “It is obvious: Human beings are too corrupt to receive it. And if they are not, then they have no need of blessing. They have it already.” A sequel to that tape needs to be made. If not amended, it can cause much misconception. In the morning, he held a last teachers’ discussion. Most of them left after lunch. Theo went to Bangalore with the Bangalore group in their van. He wants to telephone Erna from there. He has been unable to get through from here. Ahalya left for Rajghat. Krishnaji and I walked in the late afternoon. Nandini came a little way, but was tired.’

The eighth: ‘Nandini and Asit left early for Bombay. Krishnaji spent all day resting in bed and had meals on a tray. I ate in the dining hall. Sunanda and Pama left for Madras. Around 6:30 p.m., a message came that Mrs. Simmons was telephoning  Krishnaji, and would he telephone Brockwood Park? This surprised and worried him, as Dorothy knows Krishnaji never takes calls. Narayan took me to his house and at 6:45 p.m., put the call into the operator to make the call to England. He had supper brought to me while we waited. Meanwhile, a Kathakali dance group from Kerala, sent by Jayalakshmi, gave a performance under the banyan tree. It took so long to get a connection to England that I joined Krishnaji and everyone there for part of the dance performance. There were extraordinary costumes and makeup. I used the Nikon F3 to photograph it, then went back and waited, but the call couldn’t go through. Krishnaji came there and waited with me until 11:45 p.m., but finally we gave up. He must have been upset by it, for he was awake all night.’ Oh, lord.

December ninth: ‘Krishnaji was awake until 5 a.m. Being up late, and the phone call disturbed him. The call to Brockwood was put in again in the morning. It was after 3 p.m. when the connection was finally made and I spoke to Dorothy. It was a very poor connection. I could barely make out what she was saying, but she was asking Krishnaji to cable Frances McCann the following: “Please leave Brockwood immediately until everyone feels you are fully recovered. Be guided by Mrs. Simmons.” Krishnaji okayed the cable, and it was sent immediately, double express. Krishnaji spent the whole day in bed resting and catching up on sleep.’ Frances had had a mental breakdown.

S: Yes. It’s astonishing she wasn’t in India. She normally went to India.

M: Well, at some point, given her increasing frailty, Krishnaji had told her that she shouldn’t go to India, that it was bad for her, that India made her worse. I don’t remember when that was, but I know that he said it to her.

S: Right, right.

M: December tenth. ‘Krishnaji slept well. In the morning, he called Narayan and me and began by telling Narayan of his affection for him. “I have known you for thirty years. You are not my relative, I have no relatives,[2] but I have affection for you.” Narayan seemed moved by this and was able to talk to Krishnaji without the nervousness he said he has always had in the past in talking to Krishnaji. The situation with Usha was gone into and later Narayan went to fetch her to join in the discussion. Afterward, she talked again to me alone. It went smoothly, perhaps too smoothly. Does she really want to live and work in Rishi Valley? I hope so. After lunch, Krishnaji told me of the curious occurrence when he lay down to rest: “There was a sudden sense of power.” I asked if it were different from the energy that he had felt so strongly here last year. “That was energy, this was power; and I said, ‘Be careful, watch it—it can be dangerous.’ I looked at it very carefully.” Krishnaji, Pupul, Narayan, Achyut, and I walked over the proposed route for Krishnaji to walk with Mrs. Gandhi on the twentieth. Security necessities are an issue.’

December eleventh. ‘Pupul left early for Delhi. At 10 a.m., Krishnaji spoke to the school. The children, who were silent at first, then became responsive. On the walk, I asked Krishnaji if the sense of power was still there. He said it was, but he is very careful about it.’

The next day, it just says that Krishnaji rested and that Theo returned from Bangalore.

December thirteenth. ‘In the morning, Krishnaji talked to the school about robot technology, which was just reported at length in TIME magazine, and what it will mean in their lives. Dorothy, Mary C., and Scott Forbes arrived via Bangalore from London.’

S: Yes, I knew I wasn’t at that first walk of Krishnaji’s through the TS that you talked about before. But then he must have had another “ceremonial” walk or something like that, because I was there. I remember it, you know, Dick Clarke on the bicycle and the whole thing.

M: I know you were there.

S: Also, I remember Usha and all the difficulty made about her and Narayan.

M: So you came to Rishi Valley on the thirteenth.

S: I guess so. I was also there when Indira Gandhi came, and I remember meeting her and Rajiv.

M: Yes, we’re coming to that. ‘Dorothy told Krishnaji and me of Frances’s deterioration, which necessitated the cable from him—which was just two days before. ‘She was talking of black magic, brushing imaginary toads off people’s shoulders, lying down in the halls, and refusing to leave Brockwood. Krishnaji’s cable was effective, and she has gone to stay with the Carneses in Yorkshire. This is hardly a solution, but it enabled Dorothy to leave yesterday. Frances refuses to go to her sister’s, who was informed, but is hostile to all of us. Dorothy and Mary are in the back rooms here in the old guest house. Krishnaji took them, Mark, Theo, and Hooker for a walk, ending up at 6 p.m. at the assembly where there was a very boring performance by the rural school children.’

S: It was the Carneses, Esme and George Carnes, staff members at Brockwood, who Frances went to stay with.

M: Yes.

The fourteenth: ‘It was a quiet day on the whole.’ [Chuckles.] ‘At 4 p.m., Krishnaji called the Rishi Valley committee, i.e., Narayan, Mrs. Thomas, Mr. Thomas, Venkatraman, Rajesh, plus Achyut and me, to discuss school affairs.’

The next day, ‘Krishnaji spoke to the school. At 3 p.m., I met with U.S., English, and Canadian trustees to talk over things. Krishnaji and most guests walked to the rural school to see the crafts the children had made, and then we went on with a walk.’

December sixteenth: ‘In the morning, Krishnaji spoke to the upper two classes. At 3 p.m., I went to another meeting with Dorothy, Mary C., the Siddoos, Theo, Hooker, Scott, and Mark. We finally went into and settled the question Scott has posed about an international endowment fund. Most think it is too cumbersome and feasible in only a few countries, and the American trustees feel the KFA would be affected adversely. In the end, it was agreed that Mary Cadogan suggest that committees inquire if they can get tax-exempt status for donations in their countries and thereby be able to make contributions to the schools. These get-togethers and discussions amongst ourselves have made a good ambience. Krishnaji walked with Asit and me. Dr. Parchure feared Krishnaji was catching a cold, but Krishnaji wanted to walk. We went on the path he may or may not use with Mrs. Gandhi. It has been nicely prepared by government people, but both her security and some of us would prefer there would be no such walk. In the evening, Krishnaji said to me, “Love has no death,” and that he must go into that.’

December seventeenth: ‘At 9:30 a.m., Krishnaji spoke to the school. It was a very lively meeting. I had lunch in the guest dining room, then went in the van with Mark, Dorothy, Mary C., the Siddoos, Scott, and Hooker to Madanapalle to see the house where Krishnaji was born. Mr. Joythi, who runs a yardage store nearby, had the key because he said he was buying the house to keep until the Foundation bought it, and he took us there. This time I saw what Pupul had described as the puja room where his mother chose to give birth to Krishnaji.’ That turned out to be untrue, you know.

S: Yes, I know. [Chuckles.]

M: ‘It is a tiny room about six feet across. Today it is used to store wood and the door opens onto the street. In those days, there was a door into the interior of the house, the front room, but this appears to have been walled off. We had to step into it one by one, so small is it, and crowded with debris. It is hard to put that house and that distant day into any context with Krishnaji. There was such a strange feeling to go through the whole house, climbing up to the uppermost roof. Some women sat on the floor, on the ground floor, and smiled back when I greeted and thanked them. The floor above is called a tutorial school. The walls are solid, with heavy plaster, thick, like the older houses here. The floor is cement. It cannot have changed, except in details, since Krishnaji’s childhood. According to Mary’s book, he lived there until he was about eighteen months old, when the family moved to Cuddapah, where Krishnaji nearly died of malaria. Later, in 1907, the father brought his family back to Madanapalle, and Krishna and Nitya went to school there until the father retired in 1909 and went to Adyar. The house is on a side street, has open drains along the base of the buildings. Nearby, we went to Mr. Joythi’s store and bought Kerala towels, refusing offers of tea, and a “lady’s convenience”’ [both M and S chuckle]. ‘Later, the same group and Theo drove in the van to Horsley Hills. On our return, Sunanda, Pama, and Merali had arrived from Madras.’

S: We should just say something about Horsley Hills because that was a special school.

M: It still exists.

S: Yes, it probably does. It was started by an Englishman who had worked for a long time at Rishi Valley, I think.

M: There was some connection. I don’t remember what.

S: Rishi Valley was a private school for the children of parents who could afford such things, and he wanted to start his own school but for poor village children, and it was really a model school. It was beautiful, well run; really a wonderful little rural school.

M: Well, I’m told that now, I’m not sure how, but it’s still going and Rishi Valley has a stronger connection.

S: Probably. We’ll have to end it there for today, Mary.

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[1] Presumably, Rajagopal didn’t sneak downstairs in the middle of the night and put things, like the silverware, in his suitcase; he must have had help from people there to ship things to him in Ojai. This refusal of Pupul’s to answer these questions from Mary L. is curious. Back to text.

[2] Narayan was Krishnaji’s nephew; the son of a brother from whom he had been estranged since Krishnaji was adopted by the Theosophists at the age of fourteen. Back to text.