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Jiddu Krishnamurti -- New Book by Vernon

May 06, 2001 10:49 AM
by ramadoss

Here are some editorial reviews of the book.


A Star in the East :
Krishnamurti, the
Invention of a Messiah
by Roland Vernon
Hardcover - (March 2001) 336 pages

Editorial Reviews
Roland Vernon's biography of Krishnamurti, subtitled The Invention of
a Messiah, could also have been called simply Understanding the Man.
Krishnamurti's life has been well chronicled, but Vernon keeps his sights
on the people and events that shaped Krishnamurti's life. We learn about
Charles Leadbeater, the allegedly pedophilic discoverer of and tutor to
Krishnamurti; Annie Besant, the notorious social activist and
Krishnamurti's second mother; and the mysterious and painful "process"
that brought Krishnamurti to enlightenment. Besides the influences on his
public persona, Vernon is also fascinated by the sometimes contradictory
and less well-known private side of Krishnamurti. He had close ties to his
brother Nitya, whose death galvanized Krishnamurti to forsake the
organization that created him. And he carried on an extended clandestine
affair with Rosalind Williams Rajagopal, his early companion and later
wife of his friend and business partner. Not quick to pass judgment,
Vernon looks at various perspectives of these people and events,
unafraid finally to come down with his own well-reasoned opinions. Star
in the East depicts Krishnamurti as a complex man who encouraged
everyone to think for themselves. --Brian Bruya

From Publishers Weekly
Vernon, a professional writer educated at King's College, Cambridge,
offers the most comprehensive Krishnamurti biography to date, promising
"water-tight impartiality." He presents detailed accounts of the New Age
teacher's life (1895-1986) and career in chronological order, using
primary and secondary sources scrupulously quoted as well as
unattributed interviews with students, friends and colleagues. However,
Vernon's objectivity is a fairly unreflective one that often fails to
systematically interpret and connect the details of Krishnamurti's life and
career to important trends of his time. Vernon fails to recognize, for
example, that Krishnamurti's story does not so much herald the arrival of
Eastern mysticism in the West as it clearly describes and anticipates the
construction of a unique Eastern mysticism by the West. Also, Vernon
does not detect the apparent influence of Victorian notions of sexuality
and hygiene on Krishnamurti's early trance inductions and later physically
punishing purification experiences (known collectively as the "Process").
The custody and training of young Krishnamurti by the Theosophist
Charles Leadbeater clearly involved what would today be viewed as
child sexual abuse, and the author's reluctance to acknowledge it as such
precludes a more comprehensive and accurate psychological
interpretation of Krishnamurti's important religious experiences.
However, this biography is still the best available, providing a wealth of
detail that will be appreciated by followers of Krishnamurti.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal
Vernon offers a compelling account of the legendary Krishnamurti,
groomed from childhood as the Theosophical Society's messiah and
spiritual savior of the world. With penetrating analysis, the author sifts
through controversies surrounding Krishna's tutelage under the notorious
Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater, who initiated the transformation of
a shy and apathetic boy into a dynamic and spiritual genius. The author
carefully handles Leadbeater's infamous sexual perversion, misogyny, and
various deceits (such as forging "At the Feet of the Master," purportedly
penned by Krishna). The author candidly but fairly examines the life of a
molded messiah whose travels, emotional development, and maturing
spiritual views culminated in his astonishing 1929 dissolution of the Order
of the Star, declaring that "Truth is a pathless land, unapproachable by
any path, religion, or organized belief." This is a balanced study of a
world teacher who, in denying his own messianic role and spiritual
authority, became, ironically, even more influential and left behind a
legacy of schools in the decades to come. Recommended for all libraries
to fill the void of comprehensive treatments of this figure. Loren Rosson
III, Nashua P.L., NH

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Book Description
The extraordinary story of Krishnamurti, hailed early in life as the messiah
for the 20th century, is told here in the light of a century of changing
spiritual attitudes. It is a tale of mysticism, sexual scandals, religious fervor
and chicanery, out of which emerged one of the most influential thinkers
of modern times. Krishnamurti was "discovered" as a young boy on a
beach in India by members of the Theosophical Society, convinced that
they had found the new world leader, a spiritual savior as historic and as
influential as Jesus himself. By the 1920s he was attracting worldwide
press attention and people flocked to his talks in the thousands. In 1922,
Krishnamurti broke with the society and set out on a teaching mission of
his own as a secular philosopher of spirituality. He ultimately had a career
that spanned six decades, founded seven schools, published 50 books
and encompassed thousands of talks. This extraordinary story is told for
the first time by Roland Vernon in the full light of 20th-century attitudes in
a narrative that is as compelling as any novel.

About the Author
Roland Vernon lives in Somerset, England with his wife and children.

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