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,
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