U. G. Krishnamurti



Average: 3.8 (57 votes)
Fast Facts
UG. krishnamurthi.jpg
Other Names and Nicknames: 
Uppaluri Gopala Krishnamurti, UG
Function: 
Spiritual Thinker
Traditions: 
Anti Guruism
Main Countries of Activity: 
India, Switzerland
Date of Birth: 
July 9, 1918
Place of Birth: 
Masulipatam, Andhra Pradesh, India
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
No
Date Left His/Her Body: 
March 22, 2007

Biography

Early life

U.G. Krishnamurti was born on July 9, 1918 in Masulipatnam, a town in coastal Andhra Pradesh, India, and was raised in the nearby town of Gudivada. His mother died seven days after he was born, and he was brought up by his maternal grandfather, a wealthy Brahmin lawyer, who was also involved in the Theosophical Society. U.G. also became a member of the Theosophical Society during his teenage years.

During the same period of his life, U.G. practiced all kinds of austerities and earnestly sought spiritual enlightenment. To that end, between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one, he undertook all kinds of spiritual exercises, determined to find out whether enlightenment was possible. Wanting to achieve that state, he also looked for enlightened people to check if they are genuine.

His time with Swami Sivananada

At that time, he spent seven summers in the Himalayas with Swami Sivananda studying yoga and practicing meditation.

Disappointment from Academic Studies

During his twenties, U.G. began attending the University of Madras, studying psychology, philosophy, mysticism, and sciences, but never completed a degree, having determined that the answers of the West to what he considered were essential questions were no better than those of the East.

Disappointment from the Meeting with Ramana Maharshi

In 1939, at age 21, he met Ramana Maharshi. U.G. related that he asked Ramana, "This thing called moksha, can you give it to me?" - to which Ramana Maharshi purportedly replied, "I can give it, but can you take it?". This answer completely altered U.G.'s perceptions of the "spiritual path" and its practitioners, and he never again sought the counsel of "those religious people". Later U.G. would say that Maharshi's answer, which he perceived as arrogant,put him "back on track".

The Theosophical Society Period

In 1941, U.G. began working for the Theosophical Society, in C.W. Leadbeater's library. Shortly, he began an international lecture tour on behalf of the Society, visiting Norway, Belgium, Germany and the United States.

Returning to India, he married a Brahmin woman named Kusuma Kumari in 1943, at age 25.

Disappointment from the meetings with Jiddu Krishnamurti

From 1947 to 1953, U.G. regularly attended talks given by Jiddu Krishnamurti in Madras, India, eventually beginning a direct dialogue with him in 1953.

The two had almost daily discussions for a while, which U.G. asserted were not providing satisfactory answers to his questions. Finally, their meetings came to a halt. He described part of the final discussion:

And then, towards the end, I insisted, "Come on, is there anything behind the abstractions you are throwing at me?" And that chappie said, "You have no way of knowing it for yourself". Finish -- that was the end of our relationship, you see -- "If I have no way of knowing it, you have no way of communicating it. What the hell are we doing? I've wasted seven years. Goodbye, I don't want to see you again". Then I walked out.

Lectures and the US period

After the break with Jiddu Krishnamurti, U.G. continued traveling, still lecturing. At about the same time he claims to have been puzzled by the continuing appearance of certain psychic powers.

In 1955, U.G. and his family went to the United States to seek medical treatment for his eldest son, and stayed there for 5 years.

Alone and penniless on the streets of London

He ultimately separated from his family and went to London where he lived a bleak existence, alone and penniless, wandering the streets, often depending on the charity of others for survival. While sitting one day in Hyde Park, he was confronted by a police officer who threatened to lock him up if he didn't leave the park. Down to his last five pence, he made his way to the Ramakrishna Mission of London where the residing Swami gave him money for a hotel room for the night. The following day, U.G. began working for the Ramakrishna Mission, an arrangement that lasted for a period of three months. Before leaving the mission he left a letter for the residing Swami telling him that he had become a new man.

Meeting Jiddu Krishnamurti again

About this time, Jiddu Krishnamurti was in London and the two Krishnamurtis renewed their acquaintance. Jiddu tried to advise U.G. on his recent marital troubles, but U.G. didn't want his help. Jiddu eventually persuaded him to attend a few talks he was giving in London, which U.G. did, but found himself bored listening to him.

End of Marriage

In 1961, U.G. put an end to his relationship with his wife, who had recently been suicidal (she later underwent shock therapy and died of an accident in 1963). Their marriage had been a largely unhappy affair, and by that time he described himself as being detached from his family emotionally as well as physically.

The Swiss period

He then left London and spent three months living in Paris and then went to Geneva.

After two weeks in Geneva, U.G. was unable to pay his hotel bill and sought refuge at the Indian Consulate. He was listless, without hope, and described himself as "finished" - he requested that he be sent back to India, which the consular authorities refused to do at the state's expense. At that time, he met a Swiss woman named Valentine de Kerven, who worked at the consulate. Valentine and U.G. became close friends, and she provided him with a home in Switzerland. It was the beginning of a life-long relationship.

For the next few years, the questions regarding the subject of enlightenment and spirituality did not interest him, and he did nothing to further his enquiry. But by 1967, U.G. was again concerned with the subject of enlightenment.

The Calamity Period

During that period U.G. once again attended a talk of J. Krishnamurti when the latter visited Switzerland. During the talk, Jiddu Krishnamurti was describing his own state and then suddenly U.G. felt as if it is now is own state described. Then he found himself wondering "How do I know I am in that state?".

The next day, on his 49th birthday, U.G. was again pondering the question with no answer forthcoming. Suddenly he realized the question had no answer and then experienced an unexpected physical, as well as psychological, reaction. It seemed to him like "a sudden explosion inside, blasting, as it were, every cell, every nerve and every gland in my body." Afterwards, he started experiencing what he called "the calamity", a series of bizarre physiological transformations that took place over the course of a week, affecting each one of his senses, and finally resulting in a deathlike experience. He described it this way:

I call it calamity because from the point of view of one who thinks this is something fantastic, blissful and full of beatitude, love, or ecstasy, this is physical torture; this is a calamity from that point of view. Not a calamity to me but a calamity to those who have an image that something marvelous is going to happen.

Upon the eighth day, he recounted:

Then, on the eighth day I was sitting on the sofa and suddenly there was an outburst of tremendous energy, tremendous energy shaking the whole body, and along with the body, the sofa, the chalet and the whole universe, as it were, shaking, vibrating. You can't create that movement at all. It was sudden. Whether it was coming from outside or inside, from below or above, I don't know, I couldn't locate the spot; it was all over. It lasted for hours and hours. I couldn't bear it but there was nothing I could do to stop it; there was a total helplessness. This went on and on, day after day, day after day.

The energy that is operating there does not feel the limitations of the body; it is not interested; it has its own momentum. It is a very painful thing. It is not that ecstatic, blissful beatitude and all that rubbish stuff and nonsense! it is really a painful thing.

U.G. could not, and did not, explain the source of the calamity experiences. In response to questions, he maintained that it happened "in spite of" his preoccupation with and search for enlightenment. He also maintained that the calamity had nothing to do with his life up to that point, or with his upbringing. Several times he described the calamity happening to him as a matter of chance, and he insisted that he could not possibly, in any way, impart that experience to anybody else.

In the introduction to Mind Is a Myth: it is stated that at age 35, U.G. started getting headaches and appearing younger, rather than older. According to that account, by the time of his 49th birthday, he appeared to be 17 or 18 years old, while after the calamity he started aging normally again, but continued to look far younger than his years.

Aftermath

After his calamity experience, U.G. remained primarily in Switzerland but often traveled to other countries around the world, holding discussions with small groups of people and with interested individuals.

Whenever people sought him for answers to their spiritual dilemmas, he emphasized that he had nothing to teach, and that no one can really learn about enlightenment by depending on someone else as an authority, teacher or guide.

He gave his only post-calamity public talk in India, in 1972.

On March 22, 2007 Krishnamurti passed away at Vallecrosia in Italy. He had slipped and injured himself, and was bedridden for seven weeks before his death. Friends, including Indian film director Mahesh Bhatt, and Larry and Susan Morris, were by his side when he died.

Teachings

U.G. Krishnamurti's teaching is essentially a negation of all teachings and a "non-teaching" by itself. As he himself summed it up:

I have no message for mankind.

He denied completely spiritual concepts such as enlightenment, gurus and spiritual values and was consequently labeled many times as "anti-guru", "the nihilist of enlightenment", and "a spiritual terrorist".

According to U.G.:

A guru is one who tells you to throw away all the crutches that we have been made to believe are essential for our survival. He would ask you to walk, and he would say that if you fall, you will arise and walk.

U.G. refused to be called a guru, vociferously opposed all notions of enlightenment and spirituality, and attacked all aspects of human thought and thinking. To that end he even defied his own views, denying them any importance. In the preface to his book Mind is a Myth, he wrote:

My teaching, if that is the word you want to use, has no copyright. You are free to reproduce, distribute, interpret, misinterpret, distort, garble, do what you like, even claim authorship, without my consent or the permission of anybody.

U.G. emphasized the impossibility and non-necessity of any human change, radical or mundane. He insisted that the body and its actions are already perfect, and he considered attempts to change or mold the body or its actions as pure and simple violence.

The psyche or self or mind, an entity which he denied as having any being, is composed of nothing but the "demand" to bring about change in the world, in itself, or in both. Furthermore, human self-consciousness is not a thing, but a movement, one characterized by "perpetual malcontent" and a "fascist insistence" on its own importance and survival.

U.G. also maintained that the reason people came to him (and to gurus), was in order to find solutions for their everyday real problems, and/or for solutions to a fabricated problem, namely, the search for spirituality and enlightenment. He insisted that this search is caused by the cultural environment, which demands conformity of individuals as it simultaneously places within them the desire to be special - the achievement of enlightenment thus viewed as a crowning expression of an individual's "specialness" and uniqueness. Consequently, the desire for enlightenment is exploited by gurus, spiritual teachers, and other sellers of "shoddy goods", who pretend to offer various ways to reach that goal. According to U.G., all these facilitators never deliver, and cannot ever deliver, since the goal itself (i.e. enlightenment), is unreachable.

The articulation of this philosophy, at least in public, did not begin until U.G. was well into middle age, after his own life-long and fruitless search for, and about, spiritual enlightenment - and of people who may have attained it. Just prior to this public exposition, he underwent what he considered as a life-altering series of personal experiences, which he collectively termed "the calamity".

Locations

True to his philosophy that he has nothing to teach and that he should not be remembered after his death, there are no locations to visit, such as study centers, associated with U.G.

As U.G.'s body was cremated, there is no grave site.

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Books & Media

Recommended Books: 
Cover image

Mind Is a Myth

by U.G. Krishnamurti

(Paperback)

This is the story of a man who had it all – looks, wealth, culture, fame, travel, career – and gave it all up to find for himself the answer to his burning question, "Is there actually anything like freedom, enlightenment, or liberation behind all the abstractions the religions have throw at us?" He never got an answer. The book introduces readers to the unknown truth of life.

Pro Opinions

A good reminder to question everything

avi's picture

You don't have to accept all his negations but still he is a good trigger for us to not forget to question everything instead of accepting automatically.

hidden

SriSriYogiBaba's picture

I remember sitting infront of him while he was lying on a hammock, spitting insults to all who were just listening to words, I was mesmerized by the delightful, gentle, playful way he was swinging him

CONFUSING

santthosh kumaar's picture

More and more confusion and he provides brake fast launch and dinner for the mind.therfore mind struggles to understand what he saying. He is greatest critic of J.K.

I love this guy

B-friend's picture

There is so much that can be grasped when reading and contemplating U.G.

u.g. krishnamurthy

nrajan57's picture

By ridiculing the old concepts of Gurus, spiritual practices, enlightment etc., the person thus condemns such practices becomes a Guru of new order.

Nathyogi's picture

Guru Of New Order?

You have made a nigura a Guru.

How far it is truthful and wise to follow or accept the teachings of him or her who has followed or accepted the teachings of none?

Nathyogi | Sun, 08/03/2014 - 08:25

Self Enquiry

nrajan57's picture

Those who are blessed with calm and serene mind, fully devoted their heart to God can do "who am I " Enquiry and surely attain god realisation through the blessings of Sri. Ramana Maharishi and Sri.

Con Opinions

An Invincible Foe

Nathyogi's picture

UG Krishnamurti failed to realize the Self and he thought propelled by ego that none can realize or there exists no soul.

A grumpy man

mika's picture

Sorry but I'm not that impressed anymore by people who negate everything. It looks to me that it was his way to channel his own personal frustration while satisfying some need for attention.

Nothing

NIDHI PARKASH's picture

Person couldn't complete graduation when he remained enough engaged in philosophical and other studies etc.

B-friend's picture

You do yourself no favors either...

...posting shallow and redundant nonsense about someone you know nothing about and choose not to comprehend, because you saw someone give a guru opinion. Can you not see this silliness? Who are you to condemn U.G., whom you know nothing about, after someone said something positive referring to him? It's silliness friend..and very cumbersome for others.

B-friend | Thu, 11/12/2009 - 13:48
NIDHI PARKASH's picture

> You do yourself no favors either

This the posting is a statement which may be either true or false according to the thinking ways of various kinds of persons but the principles of natures are applicable uniformly over all objects of name & form which is called Dharma(Religion) as it has been ancient definition of righteousness (Dharma) and the still ruling the whole universe through its aspects called physics, chemistry, biology as well as philosophy, psychology etc.
Prior to go in private mode for the questioning/answering on U.G., please mention what is positive referring to such Indian, the lecturer of philosophy, in view of your understanding the negativity of shallowness, redundancy the non-sensing, silliness, cumbersome on society; whether the society be kept in abeyance as far as truth concerned.

NIDHI PARKASH | Tue, 11/17/2009 - 11:14
B-friend's picture

Sensibilities

Hi Nidhi..We all are entitled to our opinions and perceptions. Thank you for sharing yours.

If someone were to say to a newly born child, "what a beautiful child you are" and upon hearing this an elder sibling took offense to the attention given, for whatever the reasons, and hit the newborn, should that child not be corrected? One could argue this in many different ways.

As it is, the action of the complement continued with the action of the offense so the complement is to be held with responsibility.

And as far as U.G. is concerned, who is to comprehend him anyway? One can look at his life as a case study though. Yes, he was once a lecturer, but his life was more than that. Simply, he was a person who annihilated what was left of his ego which left him as he says, "finished", i.e; done, cooked. He says his "calamity" happened "in spite of" his actions rather than because. For one who has spent a considerable amount of time trying to destroy ego and all that ego creates and perceives, his example can serve as a reference of what can become of such an individual. Examples such as his are rare and perhaps valuable to some.

Today's spiritual mumbo jumbo speaks often of the necessity to annihilate or destroy ego and is often misunderstood and taught incorrectly, leaving many in a crippled state, of which, U.G.s example demonstrates up to his calamity.

The nature of the "calamity" and what U.G. became afterward is truly a rare study of such a being. Yeah, U.G. was seemingly extremely abrasive, but he was one emptied of such sensibilities anyway and cared nothing about the illusions and sensibilities of others as well..Which makes for much more efficient communication as he didn't care to talk or teach anyway. He was just unable to say no, as he put it.............Thanks again for your views.

B-friend | Wed, 11/18/2009 - 01:36
NIDHI PARKASH's picture

reg. sensibilities

Thank you for the sensibility, which you have hereby submitted for sharing in view of which still 11+5 private questions have been sent for your answering. Please answer as you have been devotee of U.G.

NIDHI PARKASH | Wed, 11/18/2009 - 18:49