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Krishnamurti and Gandhi

Krishnamurti and Gandhi

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Published by cabralyc
by Prof. P. Krishna
Rector, Rajghat Education Centre, Krishnamurti Foundation India, Varanasi 221001, India

( Talk delivered at the Gandhian Institute of Studies in Varanasi on 8.1.1996. )
by Prof. P. Krishna
Rector, Rajghat Education Centre, Krishnamurti Foundation India, Varanasi 221001, India

( Talk delivered at the Gandhian Institute of Studies in Varanasi on 8.1.1996. )

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Published by: cabralyc on May 16, 2009
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KRISHNAMURTI and GANDHI
 
by Prof. P. Krishna
Rector, Rajghat Education Centre, Krishnamurti Foundation India, Varanasi221001, India 
( Talk delivered at the Gandhian Institute of Studies in Varanasi on 8.1.1996. )
Krishnamurti and Gandhi were two eminent outstanding personalities of thiscentury, both born in India, educated in the west, whose teachings andphilosophies have had a global impact and become the subject of muchinvestigation all over the world. Both persons were crusaders in the quest fortruth. Outwardly, in their life, they may appear to be very different but we have togo beyond the outer appearances to understand deeply the significance of eachone of them. I do not intend to compare Krishnamurti with Gandhi or try toevaluate who was greater or superior. It would be impertinent to assume that wehave the capacity to judge or measure either of them. Moreover, such anendeavour is trivial because it does not lead to any deeper understanding inourselves to try and compare two great men and try to place them in an hierarchy.To me, it seems more worthwhile to dwell on what we can learn from theirteachings and their lives. The objectives which Krishnaji and Gandhiji had setbefore themselves in their lives were similar and yet significantly different. Bothwere dissenters from the social norm that was prevalent around them and bothwere concerned with a deep inner transformation in man. To come upon areligious mind was their mission. Krishnamurti having explored into this questionvery deeply in his youth, set himself the mission of setting man free - free from hisshackles, his particular conditioning, his illusions - which was in a sense similar tothe objective which the Buddha had set before himself. Having realized the truth,he wanted to help fellow human beings to come upon it and see it for themselves.Gandhiji also was interested in this religious quest, but he had also set beforehimself very definite social objectives. He wanted to work for the politicalindependence of India, for the eradication of poverty and superstition, for socialreform in the status of women and of harijans, for the eradication of casteism andso on.Krishnamurti did not take up any such local issues, in any particular country of the world. His concern remained global. It is not that he was not interested insocial reforms but he said that real change in society can only come about througha change in the consciousness of the individual. It is not merely a question of adopting a particular religion, a particular philosophy or choosing to followsomeone in one's life. Nor does it come through following certain commandmentsor taking a vow and struggling to keep that vow - to him all this was not reform atall. He often said, " You are the world and the world is you", which means it isonly in reforming ourselves that the world reforms in actuality. This connectionbetween the individual and society, he explained in great detail. It was his viewthat so long as human beings are aggressive, violent, hateful, egoistic, no socialreform, no regulation, no government, no political system can create a society,which is peaceful, harmonious or non-violent. Society is composed of individuals,and if we have a society comprising of millions of individuals each one of whomis self-centred, ambitious, greedy, violent, you may organise it on Gandhian lines,or on communist principles or in capitalist manner, the violence that is therewithin the individual is going to find expression in society. You man contain it incertain directions, it will express itself in other directions. So we see that incommunist society there is tremendous violence and in capitalist, so-called free,society also there is tremendous violence, though it may be of a different kind. Hedid not think that mere control could result in any fundamental change. Hedemanded a total inner revolution in the psyche of man and that was the objectivehe set before himself. The consciousness of man must fundamentally change fromwithin and unless that takes place, we are merely playing with outer symptomsand making patch-work changes in the name of social reform. The very manner inwhich that social reform is performed itself contains elements of division,aggression, ambition, which has its own consequences. So, though it may appearthat the social reform has produced some order in society, that is an illusion,
KRISHNAMURTI and GANDHIhttp://www.pkrishna.org/K-Gandhi.html1 of 615/05/2009 05:25 p.m.
 
because that order will inevitably break and you will require a new reform toovercome the new disorder and this is an endless process. There have been greatreformers, there have been revolutions and yet man has again established a newtyranny and then had to revolt against the new tyranny. Temporarily it mayappear that one has broken the old tyranny but so long as the human beings aretyrannical they will establish a new tyranny and therefore he felt that anyfundamental reform in society can only come through an inner change, it cannotcome merely through an outer change that one tries to bring about in society.He objected to people calling themselves Gandhians or Krishnamurti-ites or evenChristians, Buddhists and so on. He said "What does it mean ?" What does itreally mean when I say, I am a Christian or I am a Gandhian ? We must examinethat question deeply, because we often accept a very superficial definition of words which is prevalent in society. What exactly does it mean to be a Gandhian? Does it mean wearing Khadi ? Does it mean believing in non-violence as apolitical means ? Does it mean coming upon a deep understanding within oneself of the love and compassion which Gandhi had ? Does the proclamation of anintention make me Gandhian ? What does it really mean to be a Gandhian ? Canone really practice non-violence or decide to practice non-violence so long as oneis violent within, inwardly ? To Krishnamurti violence went far beyond itsexternal manifestation, he did not accept the definition of non-violence as nothitting anybody else physically. To him anger, aggression, greed, possessivenesswere all forms of violence and he said so long as these are there within, what doesour decision to be non-violent mean ? One of his famous statements is that virtuecannot be practiced. It is a state of mind, either one has come upon that state of mind or one has not come upon it. If the mind is self-centred, aggressive, thennon-violence is merely a decision and decisions are unimportant things, they arehypocritical things in the field of consciousness. Because if you do not feel lovefor your neighbour, what does it mean to decide to love him ? Does it mean thatwhen he comes you will be warm to him, you will smile at him and you willexpress that you love him ? Inwardly you do not really love him, you dislike him,you are irritated with him, you are envious of him, but outwardly you show love,because you have decided to love him and this creates hypocrisy. One isprojecting oneself outwardly, differently from what one is inwardly and hypocrisyis certainly not a virtue. Similarly, one can decide to become a vegetarian, not tohit anybody, to help old people across the road, to care for someone who is hurt,one can do these actions because one has decided to do them and yet inwardlyone may be very violent and cruel. The violence will express itself in other ways.One may be dominating over other human beings, in the management, in theoffice. One may hurt psychologically, though one does not hurt physically andone may be sadistic, one may enjoy another person's discomfiture. We see thisprocess going on in the name of non-violence in our society today, when peoplegherao an individual, do not permit him to go to the toilet, do not permit him toeat his food and consider that they are non-violent merely because they are notattacking him ! So, this kind of triviality enters when one decides to practice avirtue and defines the virtue in terms of a few actions which have been specifiedand then performed. Those actions in themselves do not constitute the virtue.To be religious is not merely a question of going to the temple, performing someritual, lighting a lamp or bathing in the Ganga. These things are easy to do,anybody can do them and after doing it, one can feel that one is religious withoutbeing religious. Krishnamurti pointed out this danger of conveniently feeling thatone is virtuous without actually coming upon virtue. You cannot come uponvirtue except through self-knowledge, through a deep understanding of theworking of your own consciousness, of your own mind, which is the quest fortruth. To him religion was such a quest for truth. It was so for Gandhiji too,because he called his life itself an experiment with truth. So, in a deep sense, bothKrishnamurti and Gandhi regarded religion as the quest for truth. A truly religiousmind is a mind that is in quest of truth. The differences that one sees betweenthem are more in the mission which they took up as the objectives of their life andwork. In my view people often misunderstand and consider that there is somedichotomy or fundamental difference between Gandhi's approach andKrishnamurti's approach. To me, they appear to be complementary. Thedifference is in the outer manifestation but at the deeper levels the need for aninner transformation, the need to come upon a religious mind, not to posit thereligious mind as a Hindu mind or Christian mind or a Buddhist mind, to comeupon virtue through self-knowledge -- all this was deeply the mission of bothGandhi and Krishnamurti. I do not think Gandhiji's reforms and his public lifecould have been what they were if he did not have this inner strength. That is, if Gandhiji did not really love the British, if he was not really non-violent fromwithin, if he had not freed his consciousness of hatred of any human beingirrespective of his attributes, if he had not freed himself of fear, I do not think merely the outer manifestations of his actions would have succeeded. In other
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words, it is not merely a question of the social reform which one undertakes, butthe inner motives which propel that social reform are fundamentally important. If it comes about as a natural manifestation of an inner state, it is a totally differentthing from a calculated plan thought out by a clever and cunning mind.In the West I have often been asked the question whether Gandhiji's strategy of non-violence was not part of tactics, because the British were infinitely morepowerful and violence could not have, by any means, succeeded against apowerful adversary like the British empire. So did he choose non-violencebecause violence could not have succeeded ? They do not know whether Gandhitook this decision out of seeing the situation and then deciding what will succeedor it was a religious decision for him, irrespective of whether it succeeds or not.For a religious mind, if that is intrinsically the right thing to do, then that is theonly way to go, there is no choice and it does not matter if it succeeds or not. Theend does not justify the means.So did it come out of an inner strength within him because of the religious mindand heart which he had or did it come as a strategy to be followed ? Many of ourpoliticians today, including our student leaders and so on, adopt it as a tactics andit does not serve the same purpose. Christ said, in the Sermon on the Mount that if somebody hits you on one cheek show him the other also. Is it just the action thatmatters ? If you just show the other cheek also, but are inwardly feeling hatefuland angry it will have no effect. What brings about the transformation in the otherhuman being is not the act of showing the other cheek also, but the inner love andcompassion from which this must follow as a spontaneous consequence. Then youdo not retaliate, do not meet violence with violence nor hatred with hatred. Wehave another instance of this when the Buddha meets the murderer Angulimal. Itis the inner state of the Buddha that is important. It was not a fearful Buddhausing non-violence as a tactics in order to overcome Angulimal. It is not thetactics which works, it is the religious quality which acts. So, was Gandhi'snon-violence an outcome of his inner religious perception or was it merely apolicy ? When we call ourselves Gandhians are we wanting to come upon thatinner consciousness or are we accepting only the tactics ? If we are accepting thetactics, it is superficial, it is only the outer manifestation. If it is born out of aninner perception then you are sharing in the consciousness of Gandhi.In the same way one can ask who is a true Christian ? What does it mean to be atrue Christian ? After all Christ came upon love and compassion and he spoke outof that truth, that inner state, and he wanted to express that. But the followers didnot come upon his love and compassion, they merely picked up the outer detailsand converted them into rituals. Then came the differences in opinion about howthese should be performed, how which commandment should be followed and towhat extent. So they divided themselves as Catholics and Protestants, both of whom claim to be Christians and yet for the last 50 years they have been fightingand killing each other in Ireland ! Can a man who is killing other human beings inthe name of religion be a Christian ? Therefore, being religious has nothing to dowith these outer manifestations and so long as we give to the outer forms atremendous importance, we do not come upon a religious mind. The strength of both Gandhi and Krishnamurti, lay not so much in the course of action which theyadopted but in the consciousness from which they acted.I once came in close contact with some people who claimed to be Gandhians.They stood for certain ideals which they thought were Gandhiji's ideals. Theywore khadi and lived simply and all that. They wanted to do social reform of villages which Gandhiji had also done. But they came into conflict with otherpeople working with them and they were extremely contemptuous of thosepeople. They came to discuss their problems with me as they were idealistic,sincere persons. I asked them what they had picked to emulate in Gandhi -- thekhadi, the Charkha, the ideals of social reform ? What about the fact that Gandhijiworked with Nehru and Patel, who were extremely different from him and yetthere was a tremendous bond of affection and co-operation between them ? Iasked them, "Have you learned to work like that with your colleagues ?" Is notthat a requirement to be a Gandhian or are only the outer things and theintellectual pursuits required to be a Gandhian ? So we must ask ourselves whatdefinition we give to being a Gandhian ? When you deeply inquire into that youwill find that to be a true Gandhian is the same as being a true Christian, is thesame as being a true Buddhist, is the same as being a true Hindu, is the same ascoming upon a religious mind. These divisions which we see and which we havecreated by calling ourselves Krishnamurti-ites, Gandhians, Hindus and Muslimsare all an outcome of a superficial understanding of religion. The problem is notwhether one is a Gandhian or a Krishnamurti-ite or whether one is a Christian or aMuslim, --the real problem is superficiality. Both Gandhi and Krishnamurti foughtagainst superficiality and fought against accepting tradition blindly.
KRISHNAMURTI and GANDHIhttp://www.pkrishna.org/K-Gandhi.html3 of 615/05/2009 05:25 p.m.

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