Issue #7

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Issue 7: May 1967 to September 1967

Introduction to Issue #7

This issue sees the first use of an editing convention mentioned in “Notes for the Reader”, namely the use of single quotation marks [‘] to denote that Mary is reading from her diary. The change in her tone of voice on the audio tapes makes this unmistakable, and a check has been made against her actual diaries.

This issue also sees Mary’s first experience of Krishnaji going through “the process.” It is beyond the scope of this project to discuss this phenomenon, and it has already been presented as fully and as well as possible in Mary Lutyens’s three-volume biography of Krishnaji. Suffice it to say that in 1922 Krishnaji began to have inexplicable experiences that appeared to be spiritual and continued intermittently for the rest of his life. The short-hand term for these was “the process.”

This issue also sees the decision to start a Krishnamurti school in Europe, and Dorothy Simmons emerges as the person to head this school.


The Memoirs of Mary Zimbalist

Mary: Well, as I don’t remember exactly where we left off, I’ll simply repeat. I know that it was in May 1967, and Krishnaji was giving talks in Amsterdam. He gave about six talks, and we were living in a really lovely place, which had been found for him by Anneke Korndorffer. It was a big farm-house that smelt faintly of farm life, which was rather nice. And a big room with a fire-place, and it was comfortable and it was very congenial for all of us, Krishnaji, Alain Naudé, Anneke, and myself.

Scott: Oh, Anneke lived there as well?

M: Well, she didn’t live there full time. She was mostly in her place in Oosterbeek where she really lived, but she came and went a bit.

S: Ah, ha.

M: Anneke and I cooked when she was there, and I cooked when she wasn’t there, and I did all the marketing, and so it was a kind of a home life, and very nice. And there was a beautiful privately owned park, but it had been arranged that Krishnaji could walk there, and it was ideal—winding paths through partly woodland and partly open fields, laced with canals on which there were all kinds of water fowl, and Krishnaji enjoyed looking at these very much. And there was nobody there, which made it perfectly lovely to wander about as though you were in the wilds somewhere.

Krishnaji was busy giving the talks, naturally, and also there were reams of young people collected largely by Alain at the talks. There were also groups of students from Utrecht, and he talked with them. But on the whole it was a very, very happy sojourn in Holland. We stayed until, I think, the end of May.

S: Mary, if I may just go back for a minute, because you’ve spoken about that time and Krishnaji remembering the ducks. It couldn’t just have been the diminishing number of ducklings that made it so memorable…the whole time…

M: Yes, the whole time was wonderful: it was a beautiful place, he was feeling well, and I was feeling very happy and well. It was just a terribly lovely time. I remember it that way. And I remember talks in the early morning with him. My job was to get the breakfast, and so I would get up early and go in the kitchen and start making breakfast. And he would be up early too, and he took to coming into the kitchen and talking, standing or sitting in his white bathrobe and chatting with me while I got the breakfast.

S: What would he chat about?

M: I don’t remember exactly, except it was sort of not too serious, joking a little bit, and just pleasant.

S: Mm.

M: I don’t remember exactly what we talked about. He may have asked me questions about myself. I don’t remember, really. I just remember the enjoyment of it, how nice it was.

S: Yes.

M: And he also was trying to help my bad leg [1] in those days.

S: Mm, hm.

M: In the afternoons or early evening he would give me a so-called treatment which, as I think I’ve described, he put his hands on your shoulder and something strange happened in the sense of a kind of tremendous…not tremendous warmth, though it did give a warm feeling, but he was sort of brushing away ill health and any pain. And it all was so…it was always something one felt very strongly afterward or during.

S: Now wait a minute. Can I just come back to this, too? Because you’ve described his healing you, or treatment with you in India.

M: Yes.

S: But could you describe it here in Holland? Because maybe if you recollect it again there’ll be something different.

M: Well, it really wasn’t what he did. I mean, from my point of view, what it felt like was not different. Although when I had the infection in India, he would draw his hands across the forehead and cheekbones where the infection was.

S: From the center of the face outwards?

M: Center of the face outwards, and then he would shake his hands.

S: Yes, like he was shaking something off.

M: Shaking off something bad, or getting rid of something.

S: Mm, hm.

M: But later on, when he was trying to help my bad leg, which was really the circulatory problem at that point, he would generally touch the shoulders, and again…shake his hands, sort of like wiping something away.

S: Was it from your spinal column out to your shoulders? That kind of…

M: No. Along the ridge of the shoulders.

S: Along the ridge, yes, but from the neck out to the ridge of the shoulders?

M: Yes.

S: So from the spinal column out, and then shake his hands again?

M: Yes, yes.

S: Did he put his hands on your leg?

M: I don’t think so, and he would always go and wash his hands afterwards. I don’t know if I mentioned that, as though there had been contamination from whatever the illness was. And he’d gotten rid of it, but he had to wash his hands.

S: Mm, hm.

And just again to clarify: when you say Krishnaji talked with you in the mornings in the farmhouse, would he be in one of the white toweling bathrobes made by Joan Wright?

M: Yes.

Anyway, the talks came to an end. There were immense crowds at the talks. The place was full, and there was usually a television screen in the lobby, so that the overflow that couldn’t get in could still watch it.

S: Even in those days? Because that was true in the later ones, in the ’80’s.

M: Yes. Yes.

S: Impressive.

M: And also, so many came to the young people’s discussions.

S: Mm. Where did the meetings with young people take place?

M: At the house, they’d come to the house.

S: At the house, where you and Krishnaji were staying.

M: The sort of central room that you came in. You came in the front door and it was a big room, like going into a barn almost. High ceiling. And a fire-place on one long wall. So with people sitting on the floor, there was room.

S: Mm, hm. How many people would come at a time?

M: I don’t really remember, say thirty or forty.

S: Oh, a large discussion then?

M: Yes, something like that. And, of course, as you know, Holland is small so they could come from other places. Utrecht wasn’t so far away, so many came from there.

Anyway, the talks ended and we were packing, as always, horrid! [Both laugh.] And every day we went, rain or shine, for the walk. That was a special part of being there.

We left in the two cars, as usual. Alain was driving his station wagon with all the luggage, and I had my car with Krishnaji. We drove across Holland and into Germany and met in Cologne for lunch and went into the cathedral and looked at all that. And then we went on, through Bonn to a place called Königswinter, and we spent the night there in a hotel called Hotel Petersburg, way up on a cliff looking over the Rhine. Just one night.

The next day we drove along the Rhine to a place called Oestrich and lunched there. We  decided we were going to spend the night at Heidelberg, but we didn’t. We wanted to push on. It was difficult because you never can keep two cars together on a trip like this.

S: No. Quite so.

M: We went through Wiesbaden to Karlsruhe and then on to a place where I had booked rooms for the night called Ettlingen, which has a very, very good hotel, and particularly good restaurant. My father recommended it and he…

S: [laughs] He knew about restaurants!

M: Indeed! So we stayed the night at the Erbprinz Hotel in Ettlingen. We were tired. [Chuckles.] Krishnaji had dinner in bed that night, and Alain and I went to the dining room. The next morning we crossed into Switzerland.

S: Now let me just ask something. Did Krishnaji ever say anything about Germany? Or about how he felt in Germany or the German people?

M: Well, he was aware that I was uncomfortable in Germany, but I don’t think I told him that.

S: Well, you see Krishnaji never spoke in Germany that I know of, except once in Hamburg.

M: No, no.

S: And he never traveled in Germany. I mean he didn’t go to Germany.

M: No. He didn’t go to Germany. He picked up as he [chuckling] so easily did, he sensed what you felt. He sensed that I found being in Germany rather shocking in a way. I tried to explain it to him. I said that it’s not that I feel anything against German people, but I feel like I’m visiting the scene of a crime, the scene of something dreadful that happened.

S: Yes, that’s well said.

M: The atmosphere, at least in my mind, or the associations I have, are that something evil lived here, meaning the Nazi period.

S: Mm, hm. Mm, hm.

M: So, I just didn’t feel, you know, perfectly willing to go there. I had a kind of revulsion of the atmosphere, to me. Now maybe that’s just my projection, probably was. But I felt it.

S: But it is strange that Krishnaji didn’t speak there except that once in Hamburg. I just thought he might have said something because of, you know, traveling through Germany at that time.

M: Yes. Of course we saw nothing of Germany because it was the autobahn from the time we crossed the border till we got to Switzerland. In fact, at one point we needed petrol, and I was loath to get off the autobahn because I didn’t know where we were, or how to communicate with anybody. But we had to, so I drove off and, luckily, quickly found a petrol station and was able to fill up and get back on the autobahn because I didn’t have a map or anything. And with Krishnaji I didn’t want to go floundering around Germany, trying to find fuel.

S: Of course.

M: Anyway, so we got to Switzerland, and we lunched, I think, in Basel or Bale, if you prefer. We were going to stop in Bern, but we didn’t. We thought we’d push on to Les Caprices in Gstaad.

Now we’re on June third, and again this year, Vanda had the Chalet Tannegg apartments, but not until July. So, I’d gotten a little studio apartment for Alain, and Krishnaji stayed in the flat that I had before, which has two bedrooms and sitting room, kitchen, bath, etcetera. So he stayed there this time, and in a very little room, I’m sorry to say, but that’s what it was, and he seemed perfectly happy there. We settled again into a very quiet domestic life, me cooking and marketing and housekeeping and walks in the afternoon. We also, of course, went right away to fetch his car. Which was most important.

S: Of course. In Thun?

M: In Thun, where it had been in storage all winter. And, of course, I still had, in those days, a Jaguar.

S: Very inferior car!

M: Very inferior car. [Both laugh.] But anyway, he brought the Mercedes back and I drove my car. Alain went with him, I guess. The next day, in my car, we went to see Doctor Pierre Schmidt in Geneva, his homeopathic doctor. He and Alain had check-ups, and I did some shopping. Then we had lunch at what became the place we always had lunch from then on, which is the Amphitryon in the Hotel des Bergues. It was always a pleasure; very old-fashioned.

S: Yes.

M: I’ve always felt in another time there, on another continent. I was in “Europe” somehow. You know that feeling?

S: Yes, yes. [Chuckling]

M: Yes, it’s “Europe.” Middle Europe has that feeling more than Paris or London.

S: Yes, yes.

M: Lovely white table cloths and nice flowers on all the tables, a very formal mâitre d’hôtel and waiters, two, at least, to one small table. It was fitting for Krishnaji, if you know what I mean.

S: Yes, yes.

M: It pleased my sense of the fitness of things! Because the food was very good, and they were most attentive to vegetarian requirements. And he enjoyed it without talking about it. You could see things were nicely done.

S: Yes, yes.

M: And then all the usual errands that one does in Geneva: Patek Philippe…

S: Of course. Jacquet?

M: Jacquet. All of that. The ritual of that. Let’s see, I think we didn’t stay very long, and at that point the Israeli war broke out, you know, the Six Day War.

S: Oh yes. Did you come back, you came back straight or did you go by way of Divonne again?

M: Um, let me see. I don’t know. [Chuckles.] I don’t remember.

S: So the Six Day War broke out?

M: Yeah, and it was over so quickly.

S: Of course.

M: And that was very pleasing.

S:. That it was over so quickly?

M: It was over quickly, and Israel wasn’t defeated.

S: Yes.

M: At least for me. I don’t know, Krishnaji didn’t comment on it.

S: Yes.

M: Then, what happened? Desikachar came. Around June twelfth Alain went down to Geneva and met him. Desikachar flew in from India, and we had a room in Les Caprices for him, too.

Krishnaji would have his yoga lesson in the morning, and then he’d rest and then lunch. I’d do the marketing and the cooking, and we’d have lunch, all four of us. After lunch he’d rest again, and then walks in the afternoon. I don’t remember Desikachar walking so much; I think he did his own yoga. But, it was lovely. Gstaad was wonderful because there was nobody there in June. The crowds hadn’t started. Krishnaji didn’t feel, as he later came to feel, even that summer, he felt a sort of pressure of people’s…looking…attention. Almost a psychic pressure focused on Tannegg.

S: Yes.

M: But then it was lovely. Oh, [laughs] we went back to Thun for a fender repair on the Jaguar. Krishnaji, Alain, and Desikachar joined me there in Alain’s car. And, of course, Krishnaji began a sort of a campaign that I should have a Mercedes! [Both laugh.] So he engaged Mr. Moser, the garage owner, from whom he’d gotten his Mercedes in a conversation about what kind of Mercedes did he think would be pleasing to [both laugh] Mrs. Zimbalist? I wasn’t adverse to this, but I wasn’t leaping at it, either. [Chuckles.]

S: How did you get the bump in your fender?

M: Ah, how did I get my bump? I don’t remember.

S: Then, presumably it didn’t happen when Krishnaji was in the car because you would have remembered that, I’m sure.

M: I would have remembered that.

S: Right.

M: From Thun we went to a place along the lake we frequented often; Hotel Beatus in Beatenberg. It’s along the east side of the lake about half-way down. We lunched there frequently through the years.

S: Hm, I don’t know that place. Wait, is the hotel right on the lake with nothing else around it, and you go down a driveway to it because the road is higher?

M: A little, not very. Slightly, because it’s right on the lake. In fact the little steamer that goes around the lake stops at Beatus.

S: Yes, yes, I think I have been there, actually.

M: You probably have.

S: Anyway, continue.

M: So, back to Gstaad. This trip to Thun was on the eighteenth, and my notes say that on the twenty-third, Krishnaji thinks I should get a Mercedes. [Both laugh.] He decided. And so Mr. Moser brought one to test drive.

S: Yes.

M: And I could see, it was [laughs] going to happen. [S laughs.]

Gérard Blitz and his wife turned up in Gstaad, and they came to lunch. At some point he became a member of the Saanen Gathering Committee.

S: Oh.

M: And so was I. I was invited during this period. I think it was later in July when the other members, who were Doris Pratt, and Mary Cadogan, and de Vidas, I think, and a weird man called Perizonias. Did you ever hear of Perizonias?

S: No, no.

M: Sounds like a character in an Isak Dinesen story. [S laughs.] She’s a Dutchwoman, and she was in those days a member of the Dutch Stichting [2]. She was quite odd, and I can’t remember all the reasons that I thought her so odd. She eventually disappeared from the scene, but she was then sought for membership. I think she was quite influential in the Stichting. Maybe she was head of it; I don’t quite remember, but anyway she was there. And David Bohm came for lunch. I guess Saral was with him, though it doesn’t say so in my notes. But he was only there a short time.

S: What was the interest in Gérard Blitz, other than the fact that he was obviously very good in the business world, and had all those kind of capacities and abilities?

M: Well, I think in those days, Krishnaji thought that Blitz would be his sort of what he called un homme d’affaires. In other words, advise about finances.

S: Because on the surface of things he’s an unlikely character.

M: He’s an unlikely character.

S: From my meetings with Blitz, anyway.

M: Yes. But he was supposedly enthusiastic about the teachings, though I don’t know that it went very deeply. He was also very interested in yoga. In fact, as I think you know, he used to bring Desikachar to Europe, repeatedly for yoga demonstrations, and seminars, and lessons, and what all.

S: Yes.

M: On June twenty-ninth, Krishnaji had a fever in the night that went up as high as 101.8, which is a high fever for him. Alain got hold of Doctor Schmidt in Geneva, who prescribed some homeopathic remedy, and Alain went to Thun to get it. They didn’t have any in Gstaad. That was the afternoon that Krishnaji became, what I then called, delirious. But, he had warned us in the past, or told me, if his fever goes up high he’s apt to become unconscious. And sure enough he did. He was in bed, obviously, and I was sitting in a chair by the bed with him, and Alain had gone. He started looking around the room with sort of vacant eyes, and said to me, “Who are you?”

I said my name.

Then he asked, “You haven’t asked him any questions, have you?”

I said, “No.”

Then he said, “He doesn’t like to be asked questions.” And after a pause or two, he said, “Even after all these years, I’m not used to him.” Through all of this he had a child voice, a little, little, little child. High voice.[3]

S: Mm, hm.

M: And again he had these large eyes that didn’t recognize me or indeed anything, and it just stayed that way. I didn’t attempt to talk to him. I think I replied to him using his name, saying, “Yes, Krishnaji” or “No, Krishnaji,” but that didn’t seem to have any effect. It was as though he had gone away, but he wanted to be sure that I hadn’t questioned him about anything. He didn’t want that.

S: This is exactly identical to other peoples’ descriptions of “the process.”

M: Mm, hm.

S: At least in its manifestation.

M: Yes, it was. It was the process.

S: But it’s strange that it would happen when Krishnaji was ill, in a way.

M: Yes, well, he had said that it might, if his fever goes up high, he’s apt…it’s apt to happen. And it did. Eventually, Alain returned, and his fever was still high, but he was out of that, ah…

S: How long did this last?

M: Well, Alain was gone several hours. And it wasn’t that he immediately fell into that, but I’d say it lasted at least an hour with me.

S: Were you frightened at all?

M: No.

S: Did you feel that there was anything else in the room? Or anything strange about the…

M: No, I was so conscious of him that I wasn’t conscious of anything else.

And he fell asleep finally. And when he woke up he was himself. He was sort of quietly sleeping most of the time after that.

Click below to hear Mary speak.


The next day he still had a fever, and it was the same 101.8. He was very weak. There wasn’t any “going off” as it were.

S: No normal allopathic doctor was consulted or contacted?

M: No.

S: At Krishnaji’s request?

M: Well, I mean, it was…they were both so homeopathically minded and Schmidt was his doctor; we didn’t go into that.

Besides, he never called for a doctor. He wouldn’t have called for a doctor for this. He might have called for the fever, but the fever was presumably being taken care of. I think, as I recall, Alain brought back some medication, and also we had to make a kind of tea out of the stems of cherries. That was the remedy.

But he was very weak the next day. I sort of gave him bed care, which I knew how to do from working in a hospital during the war. You know, sponging him off and getting him clean and comfortable. Now this was on the thirtieth when he was so weak, but he didn’t have “the other,” and he didn’t want to cancel the Sunday meeting of the Saanen Committee, which was the second. So, in other words, two days before this meeting was to be held, he wouldn’t cancel it, although he was so weak he couldn’t get out of bed, really. Vanda arrived that afternoon, and he was to move up to Tannegg, but he obviously couldn’t that day. But he was better. She got in, in the late afternoon, and Doctor Schmidt was consulted, and he said it was alright for Krishnaji to be moved the next day to Chalet Tannegg. So, the next day, which was I think Saturday, his fever dropped to normal.

Alain went off to Geneva to meet a friend from South Africa who was arriving, a girl. So I took care of Krishnaji that morning, gave him lunch, and then after his nap I drove him up to Tannegg in his car.

S: Did you ever tell Krishnaji what happened? That he’d gone off like this?

M: Oh, yes. Yes.

S: And what was his response to it?

M: He sort of nodded, you know, it wasn’t…didn’t mean much to him. I mean, it wasn’t…

S: It wasn’t abnormal in the sense that it wasn’t…

M: No.

S: Did you talk about this with Alain?

M: Yes, I think so, must have. Must have.

S: So, but there was no attempt to explore what this meant or anything with Krishnaji?

M: No. None. I probably told Vanda too, though I don’t remember that. I took him up there in his car and had tea with her and talked to her. And then went back, and Alain had brought his friend, a very nice girl called Jenny somebody. Anyway, so that was on the first of July.

I went up to Tannegg the next morning, and Krishnaji was fine and held the Saanen Gathering Committee meeting there.

S: Isn’t that unusual? I mean, it’s unusual for other people to have a high fever like that and for it to just drop down, and then be fine.

M: When he had to do something, if he was ill, usually the fever went away, or the sickness. He would carry on. It was curious. The next day he was fine.

He made me a member of the Saanen Gatherings Committee, and I remember that the others were Alain, de Vidas, and Frasiea. Do you know Frasiea? Frasiea was an Italian, an old friend of Krishnaji’s, lived in, I think, Florence, or near Florence.

S: Frasiea, I know the name, I can’t remember if I’ve met him.

M: He used to come to Saanen, spend a few days, see Krishnaji. And he was also a member of the very vague Italian committee for a while.

S: [laughs.] Which remains vague to this day!

M: Yes! And ‘Mr. Perezonias was there, and Doris Pratt and Mary Cadogan. Blitz was to be added’, it says. Afterward I lunched with Vanda and discussed everything: Krishnaji, Alain, and whatever.

S: Am I right that Vanda had been with Krishnaji going through the process before?

M: Yes, yes.

S: So she knew about this phenomenon?

M: Oh, yes. She knew all about it. I suppose I discussed it with her. I don’t really remember too much. I must have because we were talking about his health and what had happened, and all that kind of thing.

S: I just want to put that down on the record that she actually had experiences herself of that with Krishnaji. So this was something known.

M: Yes, she did, that’s right. She’s written about it. There’s a record in the archives about that.

So, the next day there was another Saanen Gathering Meeting at Tannegg, and I was asked to stay for lunch, and Sacha de Manziarly was also there. Sacha was always fun, he had funny stories to tell, and he was very fond of Krishnaji, and he would regale everybody with funny stories. He was a nice man.

Then Vanda, who had just arrived, talked to me about Tannegg. She only came to open Tannegg, bring Fosca the cook, and was leaving the next day. In her absence she wanted me to look after things, and do whatever needed doing, so we talked that over.

S: Right.

M: A few days later we went back to Geneva Krishnaji, Alain, and I for Krishnaji to have a check-up by Doctor Schmidt. Again we lunched at the Amphitryon restaurant, which we liked, and then drove came back via Evian to Gstaad.

S: Mm. Now did you move up to Tannegg then?

M: No, I didn’t then, I stayed in the flat in Les Caprices. I did the marketing, helped Fosca, and things like that. And I also drove Krishnaji to the talks when they started. I also had my yoga lessons up there because by now Desikachar moved to Tannegg, the downstairs part.

S: So he stayed in the downstairs flat?

M: I think so. Must have. Anyway the lessons were up there for Krishnaji and whoever else had any.

Let’s see, what happened? Again there was a trip to Doctor Schmidt, this was on the seventh of July and we lunched with Sacha at the Hotel Richmond and then drove back to Gstaad. Alain remained in Geneva to meet Balasundarum [4], who was coming in. Krishnaji and I walked in the rain when we got back, and the next day we went to see the tent, where the talks were to be given, that was going up.

The first talk was on the ninth.

S: What was the tent like in those days? Was it the airplane hangar kind of tent?

M: It was still the geodesic dome, I think. I’m pretty sure, but not positive.

There were a lot of people at the first talk. It was a beautiful day and afterward at lunch there was Balasundarum and Sacha.

The yoga lessons were in the very early morning because I remember going up at 8 a.m. for a yoga lesson and then later drove Krishnaji to the talk.

In the afternoon on the eleventh, there was a Saanen Educational Meeting at my flat. [Giggles.] I don’t remember what that was! [S laughs.] My notes are rather vague. All sorts of people were there. Narayan was there, Mark Lee was there, Frances McCann, and Pupul arrived all of a sudden. I met her at the train station, and she spent the night at Tannegg. The next day Alain drove her back to Geneva, from where she went on to India. Alain met Nandini [5], and daughter, Devi Mangaldass, and brought them up to Tannegg by suppertime. They had the rooms downstairs, which were, in those days, the whole of the downstairs. Vanda rented part of it for guests. And so Nandini and Devi were downstairs and they hadn’t been to Gstaad before.

I usually suppered at Tannegg, and a couple of nights I stayed at Tannegg. I don’t remember why exactly, except that, it didn’t feel right to leave Krishnaji alone. The  others were downstairs, and of course Alain wasn’t there—he was down at Les Caprices. And later on during this summer, when he was alone up there, he began to feel that thing of people focusing on him. He often used to talk about going on holiday where nobody would know where he was. Because he felt some sort of, it was like a pressure. I can’t describe it, but I think I understand it. And occasionally he’d come back and use his room at my place at Les Caprices and sleep there so he could get a decent night’s sleep, and go back up to Tannegg in the daytime.

S: Mm, hm. Because he would physically feel the pressure of people focusing on Tannegg?

M: Yes. It was like beams of people’s attention, and he wanted to get out of the focus of it.

S: Mm, hm.

M: And quite a few times that summer, of course, Vanda wasn’t there then, although she came back, it was as though it pressed on him. I don’t know how else to say it.

S: Mm, hm. Mm, hm. Did he invite you to stay up at Tannegg because of that? Or just because it…

M: I don’t remember; I stayed a couple of times only. It was, I think, when Nandini arrived, and I was doing things and had to be there in the morning and so he…I don’t remember, really. It’s just my notes say, ‘stayed at Tannegg.’

S: Mm, hm. So do you think it might have been just more convenient because you’d have to be there early in the morning to do things for Nandini?

M: Later on, you see, Vanda had me stay there whenever she wasn’t there. It was sort of the beginning of that, too.

S: Mm, hm.

M: I was to look after things.

S: Was there any sense that having you there in the house somehow made it more bearable for this beam?

M: It might have diffused, yes.

S: It might have diffused this beam somehow…

M: Yes, yes. It might have. He didn’t really describe it too much.

S: Yes. I’m just trying to get your remembrance of it, or your sense of it.

M: I don’t really remember why I stayed. It was something inconsequential; I mean, it was some convenience.

S: Yes, but it may also have been related to this beam?

M: Might have been, because then he wanted to get physically out of Tannegg, and so he came by occasionally to Les Caprices.

S: Was there any sense later on as the talks grew and grew and everybody knew where Tannegg was, of it being difficult for him? Did Krishnaji talk about it?

M: He didn’t talk about it that way, but often, when people didn’t know where he was, as we were motoring across France or something, he would say that he had a sense of freedom, because there wasn’t that concentration on him.

S: How nice, yes.

M: When he talked about going on holiday, at times, it should be where nobody would know where he was so he wouldn’t feel that, and even the last summer, when we were talking about whether to go back to Saanen just for a holiday when he was only going to talk at Brockwood. He asked, “will it be alright” if nobody knew he was there?

S: I remember that. Yes.

M: Or we should go somewhere else.

S: I remember. I remember.

M: So there was that, that funny feeling that he had. I understand it.

S: Yes, yes. I do, too.

M: So, not that he ever answered the telephone, but I’ve had it in my own life where, you know, you go away, nobody knows where I am, the telephone won’t ring, or if it does it’s not for me. There is that, you know, escaping from pressure, I don’t know what else to say.

S: Yes, yes.

M: Anyway, I took Nandini and Devi shopping.

Ah yes, there’s a note about Fosca, my trying to help Fosca with various things. And Krishnaji met another educational group in the tent. Now, I don’t know whether that was young people, or people generally, or whether it was would-be school people.

Alain took Nandini and Devi to Geneva, and Krishnaji came down and had supper with me and stayed. It says here, ‘Krishnaji again stayed the night at Caprices, feels the pressure of people’s attention at Tannegg.’

It says for the twenty-fourth, ‘Krishnaji and Alain discussed going to the U.S. later in ’68 for a long holiday.’ He wanted a long holiday—get away from things.

Also, ‘we agreed to take the same house in Paris the next year. Marcelle Bondoneau and Gisela Elmenhorst came to talk to me about it.’ Let’s see who we had for lunch…? ‘Balasundarum, Dorothy and Montague[6]. Krishnaji discussed with Dorothy, Alain, and me, saying we’re probably going to have a school, probably in Holland’ [both chuckle], in those days. And again, ‘there was a meeting in the tent and it was announced plans for a school in Holland’!

I took Nandini and Devi to Interlacken. Krishnaji didn’t come. And it says here, ‘Extraordinary talk in the morning on the twenty-seventh,’ and, ‘Rajagopal telephoned from Ojai.’ It was probably some disagreeableness, and again Krishnaji came for supper with me and stayed at Caprices.

Then Krishnaji, Alain, Nandini, Devi, and I went to Geneva. Again ‘Krishnaji and Alain went to Doctor Schmidt’ [chuckles and S laughs], ‘and we all lunched at the Amphitryon and drove back via Evian, stopping at the Hotel Royale for tea.’

The big thing then was to go one way and come back the other way. And there was this splendid Hotel Royale up on the hill above Evian. Again, very Edwardian atmosphere, central European, Grande Luxe hotel.

S: Yes. It’s kind of belle époque.

M: Yes, that’s what it is. All the tables were out on a terrace looking over the lake, and it was very nice. We even thought of spending some time and staying there. We went and looked at rooms, but didn’t in the end. [S chuckles.] Possible holiday. [M laughs.] And now, let me see. The van der Stratens appear in the notes, again Rajagopal telephoned. Ah, Alberto arrived, Vanda’s son. Did you ever meet Alberto?

S: I’ve never met him.

M: Well, Alberto was very young then.

S: He’s running the estate now, isn’t he?

M: Yes, yes. A bright and pleasant young man then.

On the thirtieth was the final Saanen talk and…

S: How many people would come to the Saanen talks in those days, Mary?

M: Well, the tent was usually pretty full. Quite a lot. I actually can’t remember which year we changed tents, but I don’t think it was that early because the geodesic dome one was there for quite a while. And it wasn’t quite as big as the eventual one.

‘Spanish groups came.’ All those people who didn’t understand English came. (Chuckling.) And then he began in August his public discussions.

S: These became what was called “the question and answer sessions”?

M: Yes, yes.

On August second, the same day as the first discussion there was a meeting at Tannegg of those interested in a school in Holland. They all talked about what they wanted to do.

The next day there was another discussion about a school, and Anneke was there. Alberto brought a friend of his, a boy called Matthew Fox, and as Krishnaji liked to talk to young people, they went on a walk. Krishnaji then took Nandini and Devi for a ride in his car.

On August fifth was the fourth public discussion.

S: I think it’s important to talk about these discussions for a minute. I can remember them when I first attended them, and I found it was extraordinary that a man up on a stage, all on his own, was actually holding a discussion with the whole audience.

M: That’s right.

S: It was only later on when, they got so ridiculous, because of only about two people,

that they had to be changed into formal question and answer sessions.

M: Yes.

S: Talk about what those early discussions were like, because they weren’t video recorded, so people won’t know what it was like.

M: They were audio recorded. Well, first of all, one must say that when I first heard him speak, and that’s way back in the ’40s, he had written questions, and he’d read them and then answer the way he eventually came back to doing. But at this epoch, as you know, people would just stand up and ask a question. There would be several questions, from as many people as wanted to ask them. He would then do what to me was a fantastic thing of remembering each question. He would say something like “Let’s see if we can find an answer to all of them,” and he used to do just that, which was even more extraordinary.

S: Yes.

M: One answer that would answer each question.

S: Mm, hm. And people would get up in the middle of his sentences and make comments. So there was actually a lot of back and forth.

M: There was, there was.

S: Which was phenomenal.

M: It was only changed later when it became continuously disrupted by that Norwegian man, and that Indian man and his waspish wife. She and the Norwegian sort of teamed up. It got so disagreeable that at one point they almost broke up the meeting. You were probably there.

S: I was there, I was there.

M: But these earlier times he would take spontaneous questions from the audience, and it was quite extraordinary what he did.

S: Yes, it was.

Click below to hear Mary speak. 


M: So, there was another educational meeting on the sixth, and on the seventh there was the last public discussion.

And then, right away the next day, there began six discussions on education with teachers, etcetera.

S: Were those recorded?

M: Must have been. Alain had gotten the Nagra, and he was the recorder, and as far as I can remember, every time Krishnaji spoke to any groups, it was recorded.

Sometimes these education meetings were in the tent, and sometimes they were up at Tannegg.

On the ninth  we had a big lunch at Tannegg for twelve people, and Alan and Helen Hooker [7] cooked it. At 4 p.m. the Saanen educational meeting with Krishnaji was held at Tannegg, and it was decided that the school was going to be in Switzerland! [Chuckles.]

Again he came down that night for supper and stayed. He said, it says, ‘has difficulty sleeping at Tannegg, as if people’s attention is concentrated on him. He feels a target, but he has privacy down at Caprices.’

He was still working very hard because he held the last educational meeting on the thirteenth, and it was an extraordinary meeting. My notes say, ‘it left me dazed.’ This is August thirteenth.

We went for a drive up the mountain in Rougemont. Then at 4 p.m., Krishnaji had a talk with young people at Tannegg.

S: It was pretty relentless.

M: Very relentless. And again, on the fifteenth, there was another young people’s discussion at Tannegg.

On the sixteenth, we drove in his Mercedes to Lausanne. Lunched at Ouchy and came back via Vevey, Montreux, Aigle, etcetera. The three of us had dinner and talked.

The next day I lunched with them up at Tannegg, and we went for a walk and talked of having a house for all of us in Gstaad. [S chuckles.] I remember there was a piece of land that we looked at. But it was incredibly expensive! I’ve forgotten now what it was, but something like $40,000 dollars for a little tiny piece of land you would just build a house on. But we were talking about all living together all the time.

S: Mm.

M: Presumably, the three of us, and then Vanda whenever she wanted to be there, the four of us, would share a place, but it didn’t come to anything. [Laughs.] But we went on for several days discussing this building in Gstaad and somehow it was nice. We also went to look at some land near the Sonnenhof, you know up that way.

S: Yes, I know it.

M: I’d forgotten that. [Laughs.] Then Saral and David turned up, and they came for lunch, and walked, and talked, and everything.

On the twenty-second, Vanda came back from Rome. And then one day Krishnaji, Alain, and I went to Lausanne where they both went to the dentist, and I did errands. We had lunch at the Grappe D’Or. We don’t want all these details, do we?

S: Well, it doesn’t hurt. [M laughs.]

M: My notes say that on the twenty-sixth, I went with Mr. Graf to look at chalets and land we won’t buy! [Both laugh.] And then with K for a drive in his car toward Gsteig, and we walked there. Do you remember Edgar Graf?

S: Yes, of course. So Edgar Graf was on the scene as early as ’67?

M: Yes.

S: Uh, huh.

M: Then one day, interesting, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Lippmann came for dinner at Tannegg. And later I took them to the Menuhin concert. They owned a house, a moulin [8], actually, near Fontainebleau, which they wanted to sell. So there was talk about that. On the next trip to Paris we went and looked at it. But we didn’t like it.

S: Mm, hm. [M chuckles.] Were either of the Lippmanns interested in the teachings?

M: Well, they had met Krishnaji, and they knew Vanda, and so she invited them.

S: It was more social, then.

M: They happened to be in Gstaad. It was more social. But I think both of them had a considerable feeling of Krishnaji and what he talked about.

S: Mm, hm.

M: Here’s one day when Krishnaji appeared at Caprices before lunch. His Mercedes wouldn’t start. [Both laugh.] So he kept it down at Les Caprices. Some of the time he kept it down there, and sometimes he kept it up at Tannegg. So, we drove up in the Jaguar, and met the Bohms for lunch. My diary says ‘came down after reading what K had written this morning on meditation and ecstasy. He wrote more here [at Les Caprices] while waiting for his car to be fixed. Later walked with him and Alain, and talked of Fontainebleau.’ Fontainebleau is the new idea, you see.

S: This is the Lippmann place.

M: Yes, the Lippmann place. ‘Again the next day the Lippmanns came for tea at Tannegg. And we started packing. Krishnaji came down to pack all his things that are here,’ which means at Les Caprices. He left things in both places. Again ‘we went to Lausanne, dropped Sacha, and then Krishnaji and Alain went to the dentist, and then on to Geneva for Alain to get his Indian visa. To Patek for Krishnaji’s watch and back to Gstaad [chuckles]. Then we went to Thun and left Krishnaji’s Mercedes for storage, and I ordered a Mercedes for April delivery’! [Both laugh.]

S: What did you order?

M: The first of the grey ones, like the one I have.

S: Was it the same, a 280 SE?

M: Yes, yes. [Chuckles.]

The Lindberghs came for lunch on September third at Tannegg. They had known Krishnaji and Vanda, and they had a house, over the mountain where Noel Coward and Joan Sutherland had a house. It was interesting to meet them.

On the fourth I drove to Lausanne, met Alain there, stopped for his tape recorder, and then I drove on to Paris via Saint-Cergue, Champagnole, Poligny, Dijon. [Laughs.]

S: And where’s Krishnaji?

M: Well, he stayed in Gstaad, but the next day, I went out to Orly and met K arriving on a flight from Geneva. Alain drove in his car to Paris. We stayed at the Hotel Westminster in Paris, which is a rather uninteresting hotel. It says here, ‘We went to Lobb’s.’ [Chuckles.]

It also says, ‘We went out to look at the Lippmann house, which we didn’t like. [Laughs.] Came back and walked in the Tuileries, lunched at Le Pre Catelan, walked in the Bois, and went to Lobb for a fitting.’ Only you will enjoy this! Anyone listening to this tape in the future will be bored stiff!

S: [laughs.] That doesn’t matter; I’m thoroughly enjoying it!

M: [laughs again.] ‘Then we went to a movie, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

S: Oh, yes. Oh, yes.

M: The next day ‘I left Hotel Westminster, Paris, at 6:45a.m., drove to La Touquet, 153 miles in three hours. Breakfasted and took the air ferry across the channel to Lydd. Drove to London in two and a half hours.’ [Chuckles.]

On September ninth, ‘I got to Kingston Vale and a house rented by Mary Cadogan and Doris Pratt for Krishnaji. It was rather dreary. [Both laugh.] We had three bedrooms and one bath upstairs, and downstairs there was a sitting room, dining room, kitchen.’ I remember that if you wanted to wash any clothing the idea was to hang it over the stove in the kitchen, which I find squalid! So, it wasn’t great, I must say. Anyway, we got there, and ‘the Cadogans and Jane [9] were there, and we went over the house. Later I had supper with the Cadogans in an Indian restaurant in Wimbledon.’ [Laughs.]

The next day, ‘We went to the Heathrow and met Krishnaji and came back to the house by 3:30 p.m.. Went for a long walk in Richmond Park.’ That was next door, more or less.

The next day Mary Cadogan came for lunch.

On the twelfth, ‘Alain arrived in his Volkswagen in time for lunch.’ [Laughs]. Alain must have stayed with Krishnaji in Paris, and then taken him to the Paris airport, and I met him at Heathrow. That makes sense. [Chuckles.]

Then, on the thirteenth ‘we went to Huntsman, and I ordered my first suit there, after which we lunched at Mary Links’s flat. I then went to the airport to meet Adrianna.’ Adrianna was an Italian maid who Vanda had working in Tannegg. I asked her to take care of the house and cook the meals while we were in England, which didn’t work too well, but anyway.

S: Mm, hm.

M: ‘Rosalind Rajagopal was in London, and she telephoned Krishnaji and was invited to the house. She came an hour late, and talked to Krishnaji alone and disagreeably.

S: What do you remember of it?

M: I wasn’t present so I didn’t know directly, but I know she was being troublesome, saying that Krishnaji must make friends with Rajagopal. She was always on Rajagopal’s side.

S: Do you remember the kind of atmosphere she brought in with her? Was she disagreeable when she came in?

M: I just remember that she was disagreeable. My impressions were formed previously that she was a dreadful woman.

Then, Krishnaji started giving his talks in Wimbledon. Every day we walked in Richmond Park.

One morning Krishnaji said that Alain and I should come into his room, and we’d all three meditate together.

S: What did he mean by that?

M: I don’t know! [Chuckles.]

S: Did you do it?

M: Yes.

S: What did you do? Describe that.

M: I just sat there. [Both laugh.] Nothing whatever came into my mind.

S: Now were you sitting on the floor?

M: Cross-legged on the floor.

S: And how long did you sit for?

M: I don’t know. Not very long. A while.

S: Was it special for you? Or was it…

M: I don’t know; it was sort of an experiment, but I don’t think anything came of it.

S: What did Krishnaji say about it?

M: I don’t know, he didn’t say anything. [Both chuckle.]

S: What did Alain say about it?

M: There’s no record in my memory. It was like an experiment, but there was no result from the experiment. [Laughs.] But we did it again: ‘On the twentieth, meditation with Krishnaji and Alain.’ It was just sitting quietly and watching, as it were.

Again, there was Huntsman, different people came to lunch. This is all boring!

S: Was Mr. Cummings at Huntsman in those days?

M: Yes, but Mr. Lintott was still alive, so everything was Mr. Lintott. Mr. Cummings was in the background. I had a second fitting, but my suit was not a success. They can’t make women’s clothes, at least for me. [Chuckles.]

On September twenty-third, Krishnaji said, “You are not responsible just to yourself anymore. You must be very careful.”

S: Yes, he told me that, too, later.

M: Yes, he did.

S: We’re running out of tape, so this might be the point to end.



[1] Mary was a very early recipient of radiation treatment to cure what the doctors thought was bone marrow cancer when she was about twelve years old. She had severe radiation burns and both muscle and bone damage. For the rest of her life she was in constant pain, but few people ever knew that. Back to text.

[2] The name of the Krishnamurti Committee in Holland. Back to text.

[3] From Mary’s voice, it seems she is partly telling me the story, and partly reading it from her diaries. Back to text.

[4] The head of the Rishi Valley School in India. Back to text.

[5] Nandini was the sister of Pupul Jayakar, and had been close to Krishnaji since the 1940’s, and remained so for the rest of his life. She became important in the various Krishnamurti organizations in India and started a school for poor children in Bombay under the Krishnamurti Foundation of India. Back to text.

[6] Dorothy Simmons was picked by Krishnaji to be the head of a Krishnamurti school in Europe, so she eventually was the founding Principal of The Brockwood Park Krishnamurti Educational Centre. Her husband Montague taught history at the school. Back to text.

[7] Alan and Helen Hooker started a famous gourmet restaurant in Ojai. Alan also published the first gourmet vegetarian cookbook. When The Brockwood Park Krishnamurti Educational Centre opened, he came for a year to start the kitchen and train other cooks. Back to text.

[8] A windmill, inside of which there is a house. Back to text.

[9] Jane Hammond contributed to Krishnamurti’s work in England and Saanen, and eventually became a Trustee of the Krishnamurti Foundation Trust and the Brockwood Park Krishnamurti Educational Centre. Back to text.

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