December 09, 1985 12:00 PM

by Asit Chandmal

Both the text and photographs of this tribute to the Indian philosopher Krishnamurti provide an absorbing if somewhat worshipful view of one of the most popular spiritual teachers of the century, a kind of thinking man’s guru. Chandmal, an Indian disciple and businessman, leaves it to future biographers to write the definitive survey of Krishnamurti’s life and teachings. But he does describe in a short, intriguing essay Krishnamurti’s early life and career. A 14-year-old boy playing on the beach in a village in southern India, Krishnamurti was spotted by an English mystic on the hunt for a messiah-like figure. A member of a Brahmin family, the boy was shipped off to England with his younger brother Nitya to be groomed for his role as a world teacher; this included learning to speak English and French and playing golf. But in 1929 Krishnamurti divorced himself from the elaborate religious structure that had been created for him. In a now famous statement he said, “Truth is a pathless land.” Still Krishnamurti has never lacked for an audience, and over the years has lectured to packed houses, advocating self-reliance. George Bernard Shaw gushed that Krishnamurti was “the most beautiful human being” he had ever seen, and John Barrymore invited the Indian to play the Buddha in a film, but he declined the role. The most interesting passages concern Chandmal’s own relations with Krishnamurti, now 90. Over the years the two men have discussed sex, grooming (Krishnamurti is an impeccable dresser in the high English style), psychoanalysis and, inevitably, life and death. “I want nothing, from human beings or the gods,” Krishnamurti once said. “Nothing from anyone. If death came just now and said, ‘You go this evening,’ it would be all right.’ ” (Harry N. Abrams, $25)

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