"My background is worthless: it can't be a model for anybody, because your background is unique. Every event in your life is something unique in its own way."

Uppalaura Goppala Krishnamurti is dead and gone, and there's not much to say about that. He himself desired no funeral, and instructed that no ceremony should be performed over his body. "You can throw it on the garbage heap, as far as I am concerned," he said, white hair still sprouting in waves from his wizened, curiously androgynous head. The day after he died — March 22, 2007, at the age of 88 — his friend Mahesh Bhatt had him cremated and scattered the ashes; Mahesh the storyteller, his biographer, couldn't bear his passing to go unmarked, and wept over the ashes of that empty shell. Mahesh, who never onced understood what U.G. was saying, because if he had understood it, he would, as U.G. said, have walked straight out of the door and never returned. Then U.G. would have been left alone.

"People call me an 'enlightened man' —— I detest that term —— they can't find any other word to describe the way I am functioning. At the same time, I point out that there is no such thing as enlightenment at all."

This man certainly had a life that could be made into a biographical narrative, although he resisted every attempt anyone made to rationalize what he saw as a series of unconnected incidents. That's why this is not a standard biographical narrative; that's not what he wanted. He denied every attempt to interpret the actions of his early life as resulting in the state in which he found himself. Was he enlightened? There probably was no single question that he was asked more often. He didn't evade the question, but sought to destroy its origin in the questioner. "There is no such thing as enlightenment," he would say to one person; then, to another, he would say "What you call enlightenment is the exact opposite of what you actually want." He would tell one person that nothing had happened to him and that he, U.G. Krishnamurti, was an ordinary man who had simply lost his mind; then he would describe in detail to another the physiological changes in his body that had taken place after the "calamity" in his 49th year of life. "I am in that state that they {the Buddhas and enlightened ones} describe. That is my state," he said to himself; then the question came, "How do I know that I am in that state?" This was the question that finally destroyed his mind.

"Since then I have no questions of any kind, because the questions cannot stay there any more. The only questions I have are very simple questions ("How do I go to Hyderabad?" for example) to function in this world —— and people have answers for these questions. For {the other} questions, nobody has any answers —— so there are no questions any more. "

Having denied everything all his life, he even denied his own enlightenment, and ended up lying on the couch of Valentin de Kervan, a kind Swiss lady who had taken him in, as his glands revolted and his skin glowed and pain wracked his body and he felt as if every separate cell was exploding. Afterwards, he said he was not a person any more but a mechanism.

"I no longer spend time in reverie, worry, conceptualization and the other kinds of thinking that most people do when they're alone. My mind is only engaged when it's needed, for instance when you ask questions, or when I have to fix the tape—recorder or something like that."

Because so many of the things he said seemed to be echoes of the statements of other so—called enlightened ones, he grew well—known in India, where such things are still important. People would come to see him. "I have nothing to offer you," he would tell them impatiently. "I have nothing to sell, I am not like those salesmen the gurus. This thing that happened me, I cannot give it to you, and if you understood it you would not want it." They continued to come, regardless, and he answered their questions as his mechanism saw fit. He wasn't a cruel man, after all; not immune to simple human contact. He would drink coffee with them and talk for hours and describe how he now functioned; what he called the "natural state".

"{The Natural State is} not a calamity to me, but a calamity to those who have an image that something marvelous is going to happen. It's something like: you imagine New York, you dream about it, you want to be there. When you are actually there, nothing of it is there; it is a godforsaken place, and even the devils have probably forsaken that place. It's not the thing that you had sought after and wanted so much, but totally different."

A guru sells a teaching; that is their product, and they act exactly as salespeople do in acquiring consumers who support the enterprise. Often they grow very rich by promising things that they never deliver. U.G. despised them all. He gave everything away, and took only this: to live on the mercy of his friends, occasionally cooking them poppadoms, crispy-fried and perfect. If too many people clustered around him he drove them away, or left; he lived between Switzerland, India and Italy. People wrote down his words and created books and a website, all full of this "teaching" that he denied existed — a teaching of negation of such concepts as perfect peace, perfect happiness, fulfillment. Negation of the idea that there was anything behind the abstractions and symbols of millennia of holy men and holy salesmen — "the con men" as he called them. He could not deny the existence of his words, so instead he disowned them in a statement on the front page of his website:

"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."

He always looked youthful, but after his "calamity" and through his sixties and seventies he looked like a man several decades younger, with only a feral intensity in his eyes unattainable by younger men telling the story of how long he had really been alive. Long enough to have abandoned his family in India, to have abandoned his entire previous life as a speaker and lecturer, a wise one, a Theosophical figurehead. Long enough to have met and finally rejected the friendship and teaching of his more famous namesake, Jiddu Krishnamurti. Long enough to have despaired of any purpose, and roamed the streets of London homeless until the remains of his money ran out and he threw himself on the kindness of the Indian consulate.

"I wanted some straight, honest answers about his {Jiddu Krishnamurti's} background, which he didn't give me in a satisfactory way. And then, towards the end, I insisted, 'Come on, is there anything behind the abstractions which 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."

He used to say that anyone who understood his words would walk out the door, as he walked out the door when he truly understood what J. Krishnamurti was saying to him. If he has nothing to offer, what is the purpose of it all? Therefore, his friends and those who tended to him as he weakened in his eighties were those who did not understand him. His oldest friend, Valentin de Kervan, asked him towards the end of both their lives, "U.G., what are you?" — a question to which they both knew there would be no satisfactory reply. Mahesh Bhatt was obsessed with finding out what U.G. was. A writer, Mahesh was obsessed with narrative, cause and effect, personality. This person acted thus and so these effects ensued. The exact opposite, therefore, of what U.G. was saying: that there is no person acting, no experiencer, and no cause for what had happened to him; no means, therefore, of transmitting it. All Mahesh knew was that this impossible man drove him insane. There is a video of U.G. annihilating one of Mahesh's endless questions, and Mahesh stands up, his eyes are bulging, his face is red, he begins to pace, he cannot contain himself. "Oh God, I am going mad," he says, and you feel for him, unable to get this anti-guru to give him what he needs, and yet unable to leave him.

"If anyone thinks he can help you, he will inevitably mislead you, and the less phoney he is, the more powerful he is; the more enlightened he is, the more misery and mischief he will create for you."

U.G. specialized in reducing people to tears and driving them away if they became too dependent on his conversation and his attention. He had no remorse and no sense of obligation to anyone who came to him seeking a solution to their problems, whatever they might be. He thought he was doing them a favour, in fact. This being India, they often came to him with gifts of flowers, food, books, incense, and depending on his mood he might graciously accept or he might meet them with rage and sarcasm. He specialized in disillusionment and disappointment. He wanted people to understand above all that he was no kind of example for anyone to follow.

"Nature is busy creating absolutely unique individuals, whereas culture has invented a single mould to which all must conform. It is grotesque...By using the models of Jesus, Buddha, or Krishna we have destroyed the possibility of nature throwing up unique individuals."

His last statement — his "Swan Song" — was gathered and edited and published on his website by Mahesh and others, supposedly as a summation of his views on life; in reality it is a final demonstration of what he said all along: that he had nothing to offer. It rambles, each statement disconnected from the last, or from any coherent thesis that one might try to glean from it. It contains nothing that he had not said before, hundreds of times over. There is no secret, therefore, that U.G. was concealing until his last breaths. He is gone, and the exact nature of his life will always be a mystery, since nobody experienced it but himself. Biographical details seem unnecessary and uninformative, like recording the number of wrinkles U.G. had, or the names of streets he passed by on his way to buy chai. We can say only that a man was born, lived and died, and was in all likelihood unique and unrepeatable.

"The Natural State is a state of great sensitivity — but this is a physical sensivity of the senses, not some kind of emotional compassion or tenderness for others. There is compassion only in the sense that there are no 'others' for me, and so there is no separation."

What's missing is the joy in his friends' faces in these videos when he makes them laugh by puncturing their ego and then salving it. He wasn't a cruel man. He could be cruelly honest, but it came with a charisma and a wit that left people feeling that although they had been skewered, they were better off for it. People gathered around him naturally like an atmosphere; he attracted, this strange old man. You can see something unusal in his eyes and the movement of his hands when he speaks — one moment forceful and aggressive, then next gentle and full of humour and something else. Something that he would probably be rather annoyed if he heard you call it love.

"My mission, if there is any, should be, from now on, to debunk every statement I have made. If you take seriously and try to use or apply what I have said, you will be in danger."

I don't recommend that you read his writing or watch his videos. If this kind of thing doesn't interest you, you won't find much of value; and if it does interest you, you will probably want to get something from it: answers to questions, or a new narrative for your life, maybe — things that U.G. would have told you to your face were useless delusions. Besides, the man was long gone before his body died. That was just a playful white-haired old mechanism answering silly questions for a time, while there was coffee and cream going, and while he felt like it, and now that the mechanism has wound down there's nothing left but all the friends who now want to tell stories, knowing all the while that they shouldn't: his story, their story, anyone's story, narratives and personalities that they couldn't let go while U.G. was alive and certainly won't now that he is dead.

"It is an act of futility to relate my description to the way you are functioning. When you stop all this comparison, what is there is your Natural State. Then you will not listen to anybody."

R.I.P. U.G. — I'll miss you, and I don't care that you don't care.


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