Issue #82

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Issue 82—November 19, 1984 to December 31, 1984


Mary discusses with herself, in her diaries, the value of the record she is keeping. She remains in awe and extremely grateful that she is able to be in Krishnaji’s presence, and she sees the necessity and yet the impossibility of adequately describing that presence.

Krishnaji and Mary are in India throughout this issue, which covers less than a month and a half, and Mary’s health suffers. She decides she must cut her visit short for her wellbeing, but before she leaves, she gives us word pictures of Krishnaji in India that are extraordinary.

The Memoirs of Mary Zimbalist: Issue #82

Mary: Alright. We’re beginning on November nineteenth, 1984, and we’re in Rajghat.

‘Krishnaji spoke to the students in the morning. It was difficult, as they have insufficient English and no notion of his teachings. Afterward he rested while I did letters. Last night I asked him where, other than Vasanta Vihar, was there difficulty in working together as between the Patwardhans and Parchure. A religious center, which Krishnaji wants, could be created. Today Nandini, Sunanda, and Ahalya went shopping, and I felt a fourth trip to Benares was pushing my luck.’ [Scott chuckles.] ‘So I stayed here, and was at lunch with Krishnaji, Upasani, Sathe, Parchure, Maheshji, and Dr. Hira Lal. On a sudden decision, Krishnaji told them to come back at 4 p.m. He wanted to tell them two things. When we reconvened, he said that one, someone should be responsible for Krishnaji’s teachings among the students. Maheshji is to do this. Two, he spoke of a religious center for the north here at Rajghat: the five of them working together in the school is good, but it must also be for that. Parchure is to be based here during his time in India when he is not traveling with Krishnaji or in the West. He and the other four get on well and trust each other, and they pledged themselves to this. Krishnaji spoke at length and with eloquence about this working together. “If Sathe makes a mistake, it is my mistake because I let him make it.” Afterward he dictated to me, “A religious brain has no shelter. It is not scattered. It is unshackled. It has no schedule. It is non-comparative, utterly free from all ritual, dogma, faith. It is capable of cooperation because it is wholly free in independence.”’

‘Later there was chanting in the assembly hall. Krishnaji sat on the floor among the students, and nine South Indian Brahmin priests chanted.’ It was wonderful. ‘It is a harsh, compelling, ancient sound that seemed to come from deep in the unconscious of centuries. The sound of Sanskrit has some indecipherable depth and meaning to my totally uncomprehending ears. It went on intensely for longer than my bones on a hard seat liked, but Krishnaji was euphoric when we walked back with a flashlight. “That sound, the depth of that sound,” he kept saying.’ It was wonderful. Were you in any of those chantings?

S: Not that particular one. But I’ve been to others with Indian Brahmin priests, yes.

M: Just extraordinary.

Now the twentieth. ‘Pupul arrived from Delhi while we were still at the breakfast table. Prema rang from Madras and said that six or seven trees at Vasanta Vihar were felled by a heavy cyclone there. Pupul still has her government car and seems still at the center of things in Delhi. If Rajiv Gandhi wins the elections at the end of December, the Festival of India in the U.S. in 1985 will go ahead. If he loses, “I am on my way out,” said Pupul.’ [Chuckles.] ‘But she thinks he will win. Krishnaji asked her if she and Rajiv Gandhi were friendly, and Pupul smiled happily, “He is very fond of me.” At 10 a.m. Krishnaji held a KF India meeting and told them the two things he had discussed with the Rajghat group yesterday: his teachings have to be brought to the students in the school, and a religious center should be created here. He read them the paragraph on “A religious mind has no shelter,” etcetera. He said a similar center should come about at Rishi Valley and one at Vasanta Vihar. I dictated letters to Mr. Chandran in the afternoon, and walked with Krishnaji, Sathe, Nandini, and her friend, Bakul, three times around the playing field where boy students were playing cricket. The air pollution of Benares: dust, smoke, and who knows what, is beginning to grate in my nose and lungs.’

November twenty-first. ‘Pandit Jagannath Upadhyaya’—it’s pronounced “Upadhya,” but it’s written Upadhyaya. Don’t ask me why there’s a difference, but that’s the way it is [S chuckles]—’came after breakfast. Krishnaji asked him what the Buddha said about time and this led to a discussion in which Krishnaji said, “Change implies time, and so is not change.” I have a cold. I went for a walk with Krishnaji in the afternoon, but had supper in bed. There was noise all night of broadcast music from across the river.’

Krishnaji walking in Madras with Radha Burnier. Copyright Mary Zimbalist 2014.

Krishnaji walking in Madras with Radha Burnier. Copyright Mary Zimbalist 2014.

The next day: ‘Sunanda, Pama, and others left for Madras and Rishi Valley. I have a slight fever so stayed in my room and began a course of erythromycin. Krishnaji spoke to the teachers.’

The twenty-third: ‘My fever is down but I spent the day in bed submerged in reading the only thing that is available as I’ve gone through what I brought. So I’m reading a novel from the school library.’

November the twenty-fourth. ‘I have had a cold and slight fever for two days and am taking no chances because this is India. I agreed with Dr. Parchure to start a course of erythromycin, which Lailee gave me for the trip. I have some weakness, but on the whole it was a bit of luxury to stay in bed. I got up this morning; I washed my hair and the rest of me with the one hot water bucket.’ [Chuckles.] You got very quickly used to using one bucket of hot water to wash your hair, your body, and do your laundry.

S: Yes. [Chuckles.]

M: Yes. ‘In the dark a muffled man at daybreak brings…’  He was always muffled and brings…

S: Yes, because he was cold.

M: …and came carrying up his heavy bucket, which he had heated on a little—

S: Brazier of charcoals. Yes, yes.

M: Something. And he staggered up the stairs with it in the early morning and that was your ration. ‘Got up this morning, washed hair and the rest in a hot bucket that the dark muffled man brings at daybreak. Parameshwaram brought a breakfast tray, but I was dressed, and so ready to walk over to the assembly hall for Krishnaji’s third talk here. He had come downstairs early to see how I was. I hope he was reassured by the lightness of my sickness, as his first reaction was that India is a perilous place for me. “You must outlive me, and it is not good for you here. I am used to it: the dirt, the noise, the food, the traveling.” He thought I should come to Rishi Valley and then return to the West. He left it on a “We’ll see” status. His talk this morning was mostly on time and thought. The past, present, and future are the same. The past creates the present and, slightly modified, becomes the future, so the future is now. He does not always insert “Unless you change” in the middle of this, and so to the newcomer it can sound rather hopeless. But he is now exploring change as being within time, and therefore not change. The key is attention. That total attention, at his depth, which he doesn’t let thought creep into. This real attention brings an energy, which is not thought. This energy, he said this morning, is love. It is intelligence and compassion. So, things are not changed into something else or better. If they are seen, they end, and that is instantaneous and not in time.’ This is what nobody seems to understand. These discussions we have go on endlessly.

S: I know, I know.

M: Not seeing, you’ve got to see it and the seeing—his idea of seeing is change. But they just see the words.

‘I walked back to my room, avoiding gravel in my sandals, Krishnaji ahead under his big Briggs sun umbrella, escorted by Upasani. Pupul and Nandini were at the talk. Pupul is not feeling too well. The shocks of the past weeks in Delhi are probably affecting her now.’

‘What am I trying to do in this spasmodically kept account? For what and for whose eyes? If my own, what will it lead to? I am in a constant inhibition of feeling I am counting sunlight when I write of Krishnaji, and it is only because of Krishnaji that anything should be noted. I am not interested in my own reactions. It should be about him or it is pointless. Yet the enormity of trying to write about him is overwhelming. Too much of it results in listing events as in the little blue Smythson’—that’s the little daily—‘diary that I keep each day. Where is the “perfume” of all this, as he sometimes says? Something has let me be witness to this extraordinary man as few others are or have been. Have I not a human duty in this, as he at times has implied, to be able to convey to others what “this man” was like? The record of what he teaches is all there, well documented. Is it important that I try to record that sunlight of the man? How yesterday he came to see how I was, and sat quietly on a chair, looking so silently, gently, overwhelmingly beautiful. When I said something of that, it had no more weight than if a moth had alighted for an instant on his sleeve and gone.’ [Chuckles.]

Copyright Mary Zimbalist 2014.

Copyright Mary Zimbalist 2014.

S: Mm, hm. Quite right.

M: That’s the way it was.

Click here to listen to Mary speak.

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November the twenty-fifth. ‘At 9:30 a.m. Krishnaji gave his fourth Rajghat talk in the assembly hall. He asked which of the long list of subjects he should talk about. Different ones were called in in heavy accents, and he chose to begin with desire, and went on to death and meditation. He spoke of the senses being fully alive, not suppressed. Four red-robed Buddhist monks in the front of me listened impassively. Their smooth Tibetan faces were like wax. Nandini and her friend Bakul left for Bombay. I didn’t walk but rested one more day.’

November twenty-sixth: ‘At 9:30 six Benares Brahmin pandits came with Pandit Jagannath Upadhyaya to discuss with Krishnaji. Upadhyaya speaks in Hindi, so there is an interpreter, but Pupul soon took over this job. Everyone sits on the floor in the upstairs room, including about twenty audience members, but Pupul sits in an armchair, cross-legged, looking rather monumental, and the cause of it all.’ [Chuckles.] Upadhyaya’s opening question to Krishnaji was on the difference in Krishnaji’s terms between brain and mind. By 11 a.m., it was still on brain. Tomorrow, perhaps, we will get to mind. The pandits were mostly middle-aged, wearing doti, kurta, and shawl; one, rather portly, had three rings. Men here tend to wear rings that women would in the West: a stone and band in gold. Upadhyaya has expressive, intelligent hands, the gray hair of a fox terrier, and the most unfortunate upper front teeth I have ever seen.’ And so he did. Poor man. They stuck straight out of his mouth and Krishnaji persuaded him to have them fixed. I don’t know if that will be in here because it happened after I’d left. Unfortunately, he didn’t outlive Krishnaji by very much:

Copyright Mary Zimbalist 2014.

Copyright Mary Zimbalist 2014.

he died soon afterward, about six months after Krishnaji died.

S: Yes, yes.

M: ‘His teeth are disguised by a mustache, but go straight out like a gopher. Krishnaji is trying to get something done about them as he thinks he cannot get properly nourished and is talking with him about having them fixed in Delhi. Pupul has a dentist in mind. It should have been seen to forty years ago. Otherwise, he has a nice, intelligent face, which lights up in speaking to Krishnaji. The pandits all stayed to lunch, their attention fastened on Krishnaji. I helped Ahalya pack Krishnaji’s trunk for Madras.’

The twenty-seventh of November. ‘Dr. Parchure left early by train for Madras. At 9:30 a.m. yesterday’s discussion resumed with the addition of Rinpoche Samshong.’ That’s our Tibetan Rinpoche. ‘Krishnaji went into what he means by mind, which he says is “totally different” from brain. An absorbing exploration in which he came to stating that when the brain is still and the self is not, then there is mind, which is love, intelligence, compassion. Because of thought and self-centeredness, we live in disorder. Death must be the most marvelous thing because it ends disorder, and so it brings order. I queried this and he said there is order in the universe and my perception (can’t say brain or mind) made the jump from the personal ending by death; so there remains the order of the universe. How far ahead he goes. Rinpoche stayed for lunch and Krishnaji, who had spoken eloquently of the highest use of all the senses during the morning discussion, several times asked why celibacy is insisted upon in various religions. Rinpoche did not respond very much to this, but he did describe the steps of the Tibetan Buddhist monkhood. Seven years of probation and many vows, etcetera. Krishnaji asked him about the Dalai Lama and his view of him. Rinpoche said that the Dalai Lama is in a guru position to him, as the Dalai Lama was involved in his ordination. He said he would obey the Dalai Lama, and Krishnaji took this up as obedience “is a terrible thing.” “Why should I obey? If I’m wrong, I’m wrong, and I will find out for myself.” He maintained that help is harmful because it weakens people. We all pointed out that he spends his life helping people. “Then why do you talk so much?” asked Rinpoche. Krishnaji says he does not want to help people—time in this for enquiries about what the Buddha said on this. “But Buddha continued to talk,” said Rinpoche after quoting the Buddha in similar lines to Krishnaji’s. He maintained that there is only pointing the truth, not help. The truth is the only authority. We walked four rounds of the playing field with Krishnaji.’

The next two days there is really nothing. People left and we packed.

November the thirtieth. ‘I felt normal on awakening, but was sick to my stomach shortly after. Krishnaji and I drove to the airport through dust and rough road to catch the noon plane. It was two hours late. We reached Delhi at 3:30 p.m. Pupul, who returned there two days ago, was at the airport with Mr. Jose and Murli Rao to meet Krishnaji. Krishnaji had a 4 o’clock lunch at Pupul’s, but I couldn’t look at food. Instead, I took a spoon of brandy in hot water, which quieted the stomach.’ I don’t know who prescribed that. I don’t like brandy. ‘Krishnaji kept glancing at me worriedly at the table, so I went and lay down until we had to return at 5 p.m. to the airport where Krishnaji and I took the 6:30 p.m. flight to Madras, due at 9:30 p.m. However, the weather made landing impossible, so the plane went on to Bangalore. I wondered how to look after Krishnaji if we had to get off there. But we were kept onboard for about forty-five minutes until the weather lifted and flew back to Madras. A cyclone is forecast for the coast. We circled before landing, but finally the pilot made a good landing. The plane was cramped and full. It was claustrophobic, but I had the sense to go throw up in the loo’ [chuckles] ‘and felt better. A car with Pama and others met Krishnaji when we landed, and it was a mercy to go right to bed at Vasanta Vihar; the nice clean bathroom, a welcome sight. The one at Rajghat was pretty bad. I would just as soon never go near Benares again.’ [Both chuckle]. I was feeling a little under the weather when I wrote that.

S: Yes. But Benares is rough. Why don’t you tell the rest of the story that you told me about maybe being stuck in Bangalore, as it’s not on record?

M: Was that off the record?

S: Yes, it was.

M: Oh well, on the plane I thought—I was responsible for Krishnaji, so I had to take him to a hotel if we had to stay in Bangalore. But how? I didn’t know Bangalore at all. So I looked around in the crowded plane and saw a sort of elderly man of knowledge and property, and I thought he will know the best hotel in Bangalore. But I don’t think I had asked him because we never left the plane, so it wasn’t necessary, [chuckling] but that is what I was planning, and that is what it was like for me in all the weird circumstances we faced.

S: Right. [Both chuckle.]

M: So, the first of December. ‘I felt weak but normal on awakening. Sunanda had a doctor come, but I had no fever as I seemed recovered. I had a quiet day getting cleaned of Benares dust, etcetera, but Krishnaji went in the afternoon to see the storm along the beach.’

The second of December. ‘I feel better, though food is still repellent to me. I rested and repacked for Rishi Valley. I did manage to go with Krishnaji to the beach in the late afternoon and walked partially. Radha has had hepatitis but is up and around.’

December third. ‘The last two days were quiet at Vasanta Vihar. I began to get over the stomach upsets but felt weak on Saturday.’ This is written on a Monday. ‘With a big wind still blowing from the fringes of a new cyclone, Krishnaji went to see the sea and came back exhilarated, hair flying.’ [Chuckles.] ‘Huge waves close in the sand, he said. He had walked alone as Pama still has an injured ankle and Radha has come down with hepatitis, though she is now recovering. I had stayed in, weakly reading, but yesterday I went with him and walked a little slowly behind him. It was getting dark but he said he hadn’t minded. At Rajghat he had talked to me about his unease when it begins to darken. He has always felt this way, he said, “I feel like a skeleton wandering.” If someone close to him is there, he feels more protected.’

‘This morning I was up at 3 a.m., and at 4 a.m., in the Santhanam car, we left Vasanta Vihar for Rishi Valley and reached here at 8:40 a.m. In a drizzle with umbrellas, the school, Radhika, Narayan, Mrs. Thomas, etcetera were waiting to greet him outside the old guest house. Parameshwaram had breakfast ready. I settled into the same room I’ve had these latter years, next to the dining room and across from Krishnaji in the old guest house. I opened the accumulated mail. Krishnaji slept, and in the late afternoon he, Radhika, and I walked. There is great quiet in the valley; remoteness, and an ancient rhythm. There is also a drought as it is another dry year. The big old well is almost empty, and the streambeds are dry.’

Copyright Mary Zimbalist 2014.

Copyright Mary Zimbalist 2014.

S: Let’s just say for the sake of history, that the Santhanam car was significant because there was only one, I think it was in those days, one make of Indian car; and that was built on old machinery used for making a car in England in the fifties. The engine was awful, it handled like a truck, rode like a tractor, [M chuckles] and it was just awful. But there were a few imported cars, very few, and a person had to be very wealthy to own an imported car, and Santhanam was such a man.

M: Mm, hm.

S: So he would lend his good imported car and driver to Krishnaji for going to Rishi Valley and back, and even sometimes for going to the beach and back for the walks. But it was a great boon to have a decent car for Krishnaji to ride in because—

M: I wasn’t aware of all the car situation.

S: Oh, yes. Well, this is why I’m putting it down. This is important because it, you know, otherwise Krishnaji would have had to go in that awful car.

M: I think I went in an auto rickshaw once  when I was staying in Madras on my first trip many years previously.

S: Oh, yes, when you were staying in the house rented by Jayalakshmi.

M: Yes, she rented a house and rented all the furniture from that big department store in Madras, and lent us her Brahmin cook. I was staggered by such generosity, hospitality, and thoughtfulness. I know we’ve covered this. Anyway, I was sick, and Krishnaji, who knew about my condition, said that I was to come to him as soon as I didn’t have a fever, and that’s when I took the auto rickshaw.

December fourth. ‘I did Christmas letters and checks. The Parchure family came to see Krishnaji. At lunch, Krishnaji, Narayan, Narayan’s brother Krishna, a sister, Uma, Rajesh, Radhika, and me. We started for a walk in the afternoon, but showers caught us, and we came back.’

The next day. ‘Krishnaji rested. I continued to write Christmas notes and checks. At lunch, as yesterday, there was Radhika, Narayan with his brother, Krishna, and his sister, Uma, Rajesh, and me. Krishnaji pursued the question he put yesterday to Uma and others: “How do you regard K? Is he different from you? And if so, why?” He was asking the family members, but they had no answer to it any more than the rest of us. Krishnaji teases Uma about her sociologist point of view. She smiles and was restrained in her replies. In the afternoon, Krishnaji, Radhika, and I walked toward Tetu. One feels the valley most strongly there. The simplicity of the earth, the hills, sky, and a sort of stillness. “This would be a good place to die,” said Krishnaji. It was dark when we got back, but he didn’t mind because Radhika and I were with him. The valley is moist from yesterday’s rain.’

The sixth. ‘I worked almost all day at my desk. Krishnaji, Radhika, and I again walked on the Tetu Road as far as the little temple. Krishnaji is moved by the beauty of the country.  “One could die out here.”’ He said it again.

The next day. ‘I spent almost all day doing desk work. I didn’t feel too well in the stomach but kept going. Dr. Parchure gave me pills for my stomach, and is also doing surprising therapy to the swelling in my bad leg, forcing me to move and break up the swelling.’

The eighth. ‘Krishnaji rested and so did I, most of the day. I had lunch and supper in the guest dining room where non-spiced food(?)’—big question mark in parentheses [S chuckles]—‘is provided.’

S: Yes, yes. Their vision of non-spiced food is uh…yes. [Chuckles.]

M: The ninth of December. ‘At 9:30 a.m. Krishnaji spoke to the teachers from the schools of Rishi Valley, Madras, Bangalore, and Rajghat. After his rest, I walked with Krishnaji, Radhika, and Mr. Naidu, seeing the silkworms in a new building for them.’ That was Mr. Naidu’s project. It was very interesting.

The tenth. ‘Krishnaji is feeling tired, so he rested. I wrote letters. We walked along the Tetu Road after seeing the dairy and the new bio-gas mechanism.’ They had an ingenious thing, maybe you can describe that better than I can.

S: It was then becoming current in India. It was called Gopi gas. [M chuckles.] Gopi after the cow herders. Well, they take all of the manure from the cows in a dairy, put it into a big tank—

M: That’s right.

S: And, of course, it gives off methane, which is then piped to different places, which burn’s like natural gas.

M: It’s a very good idea.

S: It is. Then, after the methane has all been expended, they just spread the manure on the fields.

M: A very good idea. We should have it in Ojai.

S: Yes, except that you don’t have any cows here.

M: No, we haven’t a cow in sight [S laughs]. Not in the whole valley, as far as I know, there isn’t a cow.

S: Yes, that’s a drawback. [Both chuckle.]

M: The eleventh. ‘Krishnaji held a second discussion with teachers from the different schools. Several of them were at lunch. Krishnaji walked with Radhika and me. My second suitcase finally arrived.’ I don’t know where it was lost, but anyway…

There’s really nothing the next day, but on December thirteenth, ‘At 9:30 a.m. Krishnaji held the third meeting with teachers. Nandini and Bakul arrived from Bombay. I did letters. I walked with Krishnaji, Radhika, and a teacher on the Tetu Road. Krishnaji, Radhika, Nandini, Bakul, and I had supper together in the old guest house.’

Again, nothing until December fifteenth. ‘At 9:30 a.m., Krishnaji held the fourth discussion with teachers, after which he saw a Spaniard, Thomas Fernandez, who was unwell, and he treated him. In the afternoon an Indian government film person photographed Krishnaji on the walk. At 6 p.m., there was a dance recital by students in the assembly hall. Heaters were put in Krishnaji’s room and mine.’

The next day, ‘Krishnaji treated the Spaniard again. I talked to him at some length. In the afternoon, Krishnaji was filmed walking about by the Indian government film people. Dorothy, Rita Zampese, and Friedrich Grohe arrived at 11 p.m.’

December seventeenth: ‘Mr. Naidu’s wife died of heart attack in the evening. Dorothy, Rita, and Friedrich breakfasted and lunched with Krishnaji. Krishnaji rested in the morning, then did the usual walk in the afternoon. Krishnaji put hands on the Spaniard Thomas Fernandez again. He also saw Kantilal Dalal.’

The eighteenth of December: ‘On the afternoon walk with Krishnaji were Nandini, Bakul, Radhika, and me. We went on the Tetu Road where days ago Krishnaji had said that he was so moved by the beauty of the country that “One could die out here,” but today, we went as far as the small temple, where the head and torso of a goddess is fashioned in clay on the base of a tree and where the villagers sacrifice goats. One other day we walked there, and Krishnaji asked us if we felt something about the atmosphere. Radhika said she felt nothing. Nandini said she had once walked there with her son, Gansham, and they had not wanted to stop near that temple. There is something unpleasant about it. I have always been drawn toward the country there because it is beautiful, totally country, with fields, orchards, and a red sandy road and Rishi Konda at the end of the valley. But I’ve always tread carefully, feeling alien in the eyes of the land and the dark Telugu faces, even though the children offer a handful of groundnuts as a present, and once some custard apples were offered by an old, bent twig of a man. I would walk there alone, but warily, somehow. Today, Krishnaji and the rest of us stepped into the temple, which is a stone box, not very deep, empty except for a row of lingam-shaped stones, and there, after showing Nandi and Bakul the statue of the goddess at the base of the tree, we turned back on the road toward the school. It was late afternoon. The sun had dropped behind Rishi Konda. The sky was pale gold, but dark was beginning on the path. About halfway back, Krishnaji asked me if I had felt anything behind us. I said I had felt I wanted to move away from the temple. He said he had felt something following him. He watched what he felt, and then he said to it, “Enough”…“I did something and told it to leave, and instantly it was gone.” He said the school land of Rishi Valley is peaceful, but the land beyond is not. “It is a dark land. There is danger in those villages. We must keep them at arm’s length.” Dorothy, Rita Zampese, and Friedrich Grohe arrived last night. Dorothy doesn’t look quite right, but it may be the strain of the trip. She’s going to return with Rita on the January thirteenth instead of later with me. This frees me to leave on my own when it seems best. Also, Friedrich, who leaves earlier, wants to travel with Krishnaji from London to California. This means I could go ahead to Ojai. I will have to think it out. Leaving India is a desirable thought. Something dogs me on this trip, though everything is done to make my visit pleasant with great thoughtfulness. There is something about the country that is, to me, what? As Krishnaji said, “it is a dark land.”’

The next day, ‘Sunanda and Pama returned to Madras. At 9:30 a.m. there was a discussion in the assembly hall between Krishnaji, Pupul, and Narayan. I worked on the new Filofax account book for 1985, then walked with Krishnaji, Dorothy, Rita, and Friedrich.’

December twentieth. ‘At 9:30 a.m. Krishnaji spoke to the school. He had seven children with him on the dais, and came back exhilarated by their interest.’ There are lovely photographs of that. ‘Mr. and Mrs. Thomas and Radhika were at lunch. Krishnaji walked with them and Friedrich Grohe to the mouth of the valley, while I went to see Mrs. Parchure, Mr. Naidu, and Dorothy. Krishnaji, also exhilarated by his long walk, asked me to have supper with him on trays in his room.’

There’s nothing of significance on the next day, but on December twenty-second. ‘Krishnaji had an extra discussion with students, at the students’ urging. As usual, the mid-aged ones were the talkers.’ That means twelve year olds. ‘He had six come to join him one after another on the dais. Unfortunately, the video equipment had gone to Madras and so, the lively, funny, and very good discussion was only on audio recording. Afterward Krishnaji was engulfed in children. “Can we talk again sir?” and “Why don’t you stay here, sir? You should be our principal, sir.”’ [Both chuckle]. ‘The older silent students now want a meeting, but they have waited too long, and Krishnaji will rest until he leaves on December twenty-sixth.’ The older students had that sort of adolescent embarrassment in making fools of themselves in their…

S: Yes, and superior, too. Yes.

M: And thinking they’re superior to the younger ones who chatted away and were wonderful. But when they finally decided they wanted to get into the act, it was too late. [S chuckles.] ‘I took photos as I have at other meetings. Krishnaji, later in the morning, saw Mr. Naidu with his three children. Mrs. Naidu died suddenly of a heart attack last Monday. She was only forty-two. Four students came to interview me for the school magazine. Krishnaji lunched in bed. I in the guest dining room. I slept only in spurts last night, and so took a half an hour nap after lunch, then went to call on Vatsala Parchure. Dr. Parchure sat through tea, Earl Grey, which he notices I drink in Switzerland, and then went out so that Vatsala and I could talk alone. She is as nice and as remarkable in her own way as her husband. She is housemother to twenty-five children, mostly the very young ones. She also teaches them general studies, Hindi, and handwork. In doing all this, she is growing as a person, liking it, learning new things to do better, and accepting his duties that keep him absent so much of the time. “I am a happy person,” she said, and it seems clear that she is. What a very nice couple they are. I came back in time to walk with Krishnaji, Narayan, Rita, Grohe, Radhika, and a male teacher, Alo, along the Tetu road, past the temple to the crossroad. Krishnaji strode purposefully around the back of the temple. And when later along the road I asked him if he had felt anything following him, and he said, “No, I went deliberately around the temple, did certain things, and said ‘You stay here. This is your place.’”’

‘Then I asked, “Did you feel a resistance?”’

‘Krishnaji, “It didn’t like it, naturally.”’

‘The school van eventually met us. We had probably walked three miles.

The twenty-third. ‘Pupul leaves today, so she, Radhika, and I had supper with Krishnaji last evening. During supper, there was a long talk about his life and some occult matters, and Pupul’s book on Krishnaji. She had given me an article supplied by Radha Burnier that Krishnaji had written sometime in the twenties after Nitya’s death. It describes his concept of Masters, not as remote, strange, beings, but as part of himself and his daily life. He said he had not seen them often and only “as the flash of a passing bird.” We spoke of whether Leadbeater could have made the vague dreaming boy imagine these things. Pupul says there is little direct testimony from Krishnaji in those days. Much of the accounts are by CWL. We even speculated whether Leadbeater might have given the young Krishnaji some drug that made him both sleepy and suggestible on the occasion of the “Initiation.” Radhika and I leaned to feeling that Leadbeater was an absolute charlatan. There was talk about the Ootacamund experience. Pupul and Nandini wanted to call a doctor, but Krishnaji refused. He said, “Both of you have had children. You can’t stop the baby from being born.” Pupul said that when she had returned to Bombay, on three nights running, she had gone to bed and felt death enclosing her as though in birth, and her body had fought back. It never came again. She also described the conversation in Asit’s flat in Bombay a few years ago when EXIT, the British society for suitable suicide, came up, and Nandini wouldn’t speak of it, rather emotionally.’

‘Krishnaji had then gone on about “cleansing” the apartment of a presence. He then spoke of what he had done on the walk in the afternoon. He said he does and says certain things that he never was taught but has come upon it by himself. He spoke of cleansing the room in the hospital at Cedars-Sinai when we went there for his operation. He said someone had died in that room. I and he felt it, and he acted on it. He said he does things to the car before a long trip like Madras to Rishi Valley. He asked Pupul if she knew a “real mantra,” and she and Radhika spoke of a mandala, which means a protected space. Krishnaji spoke of violence in the villages, animal sacrifices. What seems to make this killing of animals more dark than the usual widespread killing for food, etcetera is that this is done for religious ends. Radhika said that she uses what she calls “alertness” as a protection. Krishnaji said he would have difficulty in walking from here, the old guest house, to her house in the dark.’

‘Once in Ashdown Forest’—that’s in England—‘he had a bad time at night. When he had been speaking of his young days, there came into the room that curious atmosphere that so many times has seemed to appear when something innately concerned with him and his origins is discussed. “Do you feel the atmosphere?” he asked. Even Radhika said that she felt it, but when we began to speak of evil, it vanished, and instantly Krishnaji spotted it. He said that to speak of evil invites it. That good attracts evil, that one shouldn’t discuss evil in a room but out of doors, and not at night. He said he has never discussed what he does to dispel evil but asked Radhika if she would want to know, bearing in mind that there is danger in it. She backed away, and said she wouldn’t ask. This morning, I asked him if the same offer was open to me. He thought for a moment and said, “No.” I asked if it was offered to Radhika because she must protect this place. “Yes,” and that I would want it only to protect him, and something larger is protecting him. One cannot protect oneself. He said also that I am not always sufficiently, deeply attentive, and therefore it would be dangerous for me to know these things. That is something I must ponder. He said I must not get mixed up in these things. I said I was not interested in occult things, was not afraid. But he said the danger would be “if it gets into my mind without my realizing it,” so we left it at that. But he said that last night he had gone around and cleansed this whole house. The real protection is to be without anger, antagonism, envy, hatred, and self.’

See, these things—

S: Are wonderful.

M: Yes, and they would be lost if I hadn’t kept this account.

S: I know, I know—and if you weren’t reading them out now. [Both chuckle.]

Copyright Mary Zimbalist 2014.

Copyright Mary Zimbalist 2014.

M: December twenty-fourth. ‘Later yesterday we took what was planned as a long walk. Krishnaji is still exhilarated by having been able to walk to the mouth of the valley the other day, and seems rather pleased, as a child might, with his powers. So Dorothy was invited. “Can you stand a long walk?” she was asked, which arouses her mettle and also her wish not to be regarded by Krishnaji as old and enfeebled. Rita and Grohe, both long-distance walkers, Narayan, Radhika, and I went. The plan was the Tetu Road to where another branches to the right and joins the main road to the valley, if one can call it that. Passing the horrid temple, Krishnaji walked purposely, with a dominating stride around it, and told me later, “I have pulled its sting.” We turned right, where a wide road appears. The school van met us, but Krishnaji wanted to go on, so we walked as far as the village on the main road. He didn’t want to walk through that, so we all came back in the van. About his meeting with Mr. Naidu and his children, he told me that he had said to them, “Don’t hang onto it,” (the mother’s death) “finish with it.” This afternoon, we walked to look at a site where Grohe is going to build two cottages, one for his own use, and for a study ashram. He is enthusiastic about Rishi Valley. As a detail, he has just bought ten bicycles for the school. On the way back, we ran into Merali, who arrived a week ago but has been ill and invisible. This is Christmas Eve, and I had supper on trays with Krishnaji. Dr. Parchure came and gave his nightly massage to the swelling in my leg. Now, I can hear the students singing carols. “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” is energetically coming through the Indian night.’ [S chuckles.] ‘The stars are diamond bright and very close.’

The twenty-fifth. ‘I had breakfast alone with Krishnaji, and went to the teacher’s midmorning tea break. I called on Parameshwaram’s wife and packed. Dr. Parchure has diagnosed parasites.’ I guess I had parasites. ‘I walked with Krishnaji in the late afternoon, and had supper with him on trays.’ That was Christmas and Rishi Valley.

S: Yes, you’ve got parasites. Merry Christmas. [Both laugh.]

M: Boxing Day, the twenty-sixth. ‘I was up in time to leave at 4 a.m. with Krishnaji, Narayan, and Dr. Parchure in the usual Santhanam car. I felt carsick and had to stop and vomit somewhere or other on the dark road. I felt prostrate in the car trying to hold off nausea while Krishnaji all the way put his hands to help me. We arrived at Vasanta Vihar by 8:30 a.m., and I went right to bed. I slept and stayed in the room all day, though I felt better and able to unpack in the afternoon and put everything in order. Dr. Parchure gave me parasite pills to take for three days. Dorothy, Rita, Grohe, Dominique, and Yen Yang came in the school bus. The air conditioner I urged for Dorothy’s room is making a big difference for her.’ Dominique and Yen Yang were from Brockwood.

December twenty-seventh. ‘I felt better and got up, and went shopping with Rita and Dorothy to buy books for Krishnaji. Then slept in the afternoon and walked on the beach off Radha’s house in the late afternoon with Krishnaji, Pama, and Grohe. In the night, I decided not to stay in India till Krishnaji goes to Bombay but to go with Dorothy and Rita on January thirteen/fourteen. My spirits lightened. I’ve had enough of India. I am weary of the difficult food, the weather, the sights, the sounds, the tastes, and the smells. Nothing seems clean to any of the senses. Even the sea, the rolling surf off the Bay of Bengal, smells polluted to me. There seems no freshness in nature. Everything seems smeared with human insensitivity, soiled. The site of an old woman sweeping in the filthy streets with bare hands sickens me. So does the tolerance of it all. I cannot imagine wanting to stay alive in the conditions of life that millions and millions endure in this part of the world, and I am past the human capacity, if I ever had it, to do anything but shrink from all this. So I will flee to my infinitely cleaner, luckier, safety of life where atomic annihilation is as likely, but meanwhile, clean, sweet smelling fields, bed, house, food, and air is possible. Will I ever not wonder, as I have since childhood, why I have been so lucky, so blessed, really? And the supreme blessing is Krishnaji. How have I been allowed that?’ It’s true; ever since I was a child, I thought, “Why am I so lucky?”

S: Yes. Your have often said that to me.

M: Why have I got a clean bed to sleep in and enough food and beautiful things around me? I always felt that I’d have to pay for it some day, that life would even things out.

The twenty-eighth of December: ‘I went with Rita to Lufthansa, where I changed my ticket to fly out of Bombay early on the fourteenth, leaving here on Indian Airlines on Sunday the thirteenth. It rained in the afternoon, but between showers, I went with Krishnaji, Pama, and Grohe to the beach for our walk, as usual. Krishnaji’s optimism that the showers let up for the walk was correct. In the evening, news began of the counting of the election. Rajiv Gandhi is winning in a landslide.’

December the twenty-ninth. ‘It is Sunanda’s birthday, and I have given her a cotton sari she admired. The day was quiet and reasonably sunny, but just before 5:30 p.m., as we all sat in the garden waiting for Krishnaji’s public talk, a heavy shower suddenly plunged down. Krishnaji had not come out, luckily; but when he eventually did, he gave a strong, hard-hitting talk. The first of the Madras four. He came to the supper table later but scared me a bit by going out on the street for a walk by himself right after the talk. Luckily, Narayan saw him and caught up with him.’

The thirtieth of December. ‘Again, the day was quiet for the second talk, which Krishnaji was due to give at 5:30 p.m. The day had been damp as always, but reasonably sunny. Then at 5:30 p.m., this time, just after Krishnaji had sat upon the platform, rain began and then increased and then poured. The sky showed no hope of clearing and everyone was drenched. I had to change completely, and then went up to find Krishnaji in bed with a warm blanket and a hot water bottle. He had been intending to change into dry clothes and go back to give his talk, but Dr. Parchure had pointed out that the audience was soaked and would have had to sit in pools of water on the tarmac. So Krishnaji agreed to a cancellation. Many of us sat in the big hall and talked until supper time, when Krishnaji came down and we went to eat.’

December thirty-first. ‘I asked Krishnaji if his meditation has come to him here in India. He shook his head and said, “Too busy. One must be quiet for it to come.” There were showers on and off all day. All very unusual for this time of year, say the local people. I did letters. We were able to walk on the beach, though, Krishnaji, Radha, Pama, Grohe, and I. At 7 p.m., Grohe went off to the airport to fly back to Switzerland. He spent a long time talking to me about building in Rishi Valley and at Brockwood. He thinks it is “bon marché” to build in Rishi Valley, so he is financing two bungalows, one for his own use when he is there and one for Krishnaji, even though Krishnaji says he prefers the old quarters. And the balance needed to build an “ashram” or study. He seems to think I can expedite having all this done by next year. I went with Prema and him Saturday to see a local architect’s work, and also another house. But I had to point out that this is India’s project and I would be intruding. He is curiously impractical.

I recognize that I have other people’s efforts and concern lavished on me right now, but I do not expect it or contrive at it, and take nothing for granted. So this year is ending tonight, with hardly a mark of its passing. It is just a night. I have said goodnight to Krishnaji and say only to myself how extraordinary is the grace and wonder of another year with him.’ Signed thirty-one December, 1984, Madras.

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