Why hasn’t India produced one outstandingly creative individual?

J. Krishnamurt
J. Krishnamurt

Krishnaji (J. Krishnamurti) was very well-informed, but he read very little and also slowly. I have never seen him read any religious books.

Becoming very serious once when Life magazine produced a statistical table after the 1968 Olympics showing India at the bottom of the scale, he said: ‘Has it occurred to you why this country has not produced one outstandingly creative individual in so many years in science, art, music, and so forth, and this for a country which has all these beautiful sculptures and temples?

Why did it not produce a single truly creative individual lately who is internationally known?’

He went on badgering me. He used to address me as ‘Old boy’, or ‘Balasundaram’, or ‘Sir’, it meant you were in for the cudgel. He continued ‘Have you not thought about it? How can you educate people if you are not aware of this?’ Then I threw the question back: ‘What would you say?’

He replied that it was an old trick to throw the question back, but added: ‘I’ll tell you, watch.
Whenever there has been a great efflorescence of art, music, poetry, and so forth, it appears after a great religious period.

What do we see after the Buddha appeared? The Ajanta and Ellora caves! If anyone creates nowadays something like that he would be acclaimed worldwide. Anonymous people did that!’ He went on viewing the whole world and then said: ‘True religious feeling is the mother of all creativity. This country has let it go.’ He was very serious about it.

He was affectionate, but could also be explosive at times. It was so when he said: ‘You have to do something.’ I replied: ‘What can one man do?’ Then he turned round and said: ‘Do not ever say that again: What can one man do? Napoleon was one man. Hitler was one man, the Buddha was one man. So for good or evil things have been changed by one person. You have to go to the root. If you do not discover the root, you can do only something on the periphery. This goes for education and for everything.’

Krishnaji had a tremendous presence that affected some people that way. Other people were not affected in the same way, one cannot say why. Often I have seen villagers and people who did not know him at all stand back and bow to greet him when he walked by.

Rom Landau says in his book God is My Adventure, when he went to see Krishnaji in 1934. At that time he used to smoke regularly, but he wrote: ‘I forgot to pick up a cigarette in those fifteen days, because I forgot that I was a smoker.’
Scriptures say that one of the major causes of man’s illusion is dehãtma-bhãva, believing that you are the body. But in Krishnamurti this was never there. He used to treat his body as a separate entity which he had to look after, clothe, bathe, feed with the right kind of food and so forth. Krishnaji used to treat it as though it was a precious instrument to look after.

Reproduced from “The Theosophist” December 1996 issue. Dr Balasundaram is a former Secretary of the Krishnamurti Foundation India.

S. Balasundaram