Book Review—A Jewel on a Silver Platter: Remembering Jiddu Krishnamurti

 Book Review, A Jewel on a Silver Platter, Remembering Jiddu Krishnamurti

Padmanabhan Krishna, Ph.D., a long standing member of the Theosophical Society, has written A Jewel on a Silver Platter: Remembering Jiddu Krishnamurti. The book is a collection of personal accounts about this modern spiritual teacher by the author and others who knew him well. Prof. Krishna not only is a trustee of the Krishnamurti Foundation in India and was Rector of the Rajgat Besant School in Varanasi, he also knew Krishnamurti for many years and has a deep grasp of his teachings. All this puts him in an ideal position to write this book.

The author first seeks to provide a sense of who Krishnamurti was, not just as a teacher on a platform, but as a person in real life. A record of personal interactions, especially those during the last months of the life of this renowned teacher, illustrates his responses in different situations, which always revolved around the primary motive of his life—a deep concern for the welfare of human beings. Interesting interviews with senior associates, such as Achyut Patwardhan, Vimala Thakar, Radha Burnier and Mark Lee, convey their experiences and their struggle to understand this extra-ordinary individual.These reports and a collection of anecdotes about Krishnamurti allows the reader to access intimate aspects of his personality that are not widely known.

The book also presents a fine collection of short essays written by Prof. Krishna that serve as a good introduction to Krishnamurti’s work.They examine either the fundamental aspects of his teachings or enquire into important matters of life in the manner Krishnamurti furthered. There is a glossary of terms provided that the novice student will find useful.

The author does not shy away from some very interesting aspects of Krishnamurti’s personality and life, which constitute what is sometimes referred to as “the mystery of K”. Prof. Krishna enquires into his role as the “World-Teacher”, something Krishnamurti typically refused to discuss in public. Several passages also show that Krishnamurti did not deny the existence of the Masters of Wisdom but, rather, challenged the misunderstandings of what they really are, and the consequent dependence this generates. For example, Prof. Krishna reports a dialog in which Krishnamurti asked Radha Burnier, then International President of the Theosophical Society, “Do you know what the Masters meant to amma (Annie Besant)? She would give her life for it! Knowing that, now tell me, do you believe in the Masters?” “Yes,” said Radhaji emphatically. Krishnaji held her hands and said, “Good!”

The book also explores Krishnamurti’s remarkable sensitivity, which brought to him perceptions and abilities most would regard as miraculous. There are accounts of instances in which he sensed invisible disturbances in places, perceived people’s thoughts, healed illnesses, and other related phenomena. Although he had these “occult abilities” he was not attracted to them because, as he stated, this is “another form of power, it has nothing to do with goodness.” As the author remarks, “To him freedom from the ego was more essential than the cultivation of any power because the ego can misuse any power, including occult power.”

For students of Theosophy, Krishnamurti’s life is a concrete embodiment of many of the Theosophical principles. They may recognize in his attitude and, at times, cryptic statements, interesting and enlightening examples of how a person who knows first-hand “the hidden side of things”, acts in everyday life. For example, after finding out that a person they both knew had been arrested, Prof. Krishna tried to talk about it with Krishnamurti. However, says the author, “Before I could repeat the words I had heard on TV, he stopped me saying, ‘Don’t utter those words Sir! They attract evil. Just say poor fellow and move on.’ That was his level of purity.”Students of Theosophy familiar with the effect of negative thought-forms and their association to elementals and skandhas, will recognize in Krishnamurti’s attitude the same advice repeatedly given by H. P. Blavatsky, Annie Besant, and C. W. Leadbeater.

There are a few statements regarding the Theosophical Society that its members may find inaccurate. As the author states, this is a truthful record of actual conversations and they simply reflect the views of the speakers at that time. In fact, the book is written in a fair-minded spirit, true to Prof. Krishna’s personality, and certainly does not contain the kind of disparaging statements about Theosophical matters that one often finds in some books about the life of Krishnamurti.

A Jewel on a Silver Platter: Remembering Jiddu Krishnamurti is a valuable addition to the literature about this influential world-teacher. All those interested in his life, teachings, and approach to education, would do well to add to their bookshelves this significant resource.

Pablo Sender

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You may it be also interested in the article “Interview with Prof. P. Krishna: Education, Science and Spirituality” published on September 15th: International Day of Democracy, in Global Education Magazine.

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