Pablo Sender


J. Krishnamurti (K) was a very important influence in the life of Radha Burnier (Radhaji). When she was born, K was about 28 years old and a good friend of her father, N. Sri Ram. Because of this friendship, K entered into Radhaji’s life when she was still a child. She once told me a little anecdote that illustrates this early relationship. For one of her birthdays, when she was a little girl, K gave her a tricycle. Radhaji said she could still remember how much fun she had as she rode it around, while K and her father talked on the porch of her house.

After K dissolved the Order of the Star Radhaji lost contact with him for some years until one day, when she was a teenager, she went to listen to one of his talks. Radhaji said in those early days she did not really understand what he was saying, but she was nevertheless drawn to his presence. After the talk she felt the need to be by herself in silence, and started to walk away from the crowd along a dirt road. Suddenly, she saw a big fancy car stop by. When the dust cleared, the back door opened and there was K, with a big smile, calling out to her. She was very surprised he had recognized her. And from that day on they shared a beautiful and deep friendship.

I was always interested in knowing about Krishnamurti through the eyes of somebody like Radhaji. When she visited Argentina in 2004 I prepared a series of questions about him and his relationship with the Theosophical Society (TS), for which I had the assistance of some friends in the Society. We interviewed Radhaji at our Theosophical Center in San Rafael and the result of this interesting conversation was published in The Theosophist, in August, 2005.

In the present article I will share four short personal stories Radhaji told me about K. The first one is written from a recollection of a conversation I had with her during the visit to Argentina I mentioned. The other three stories were told one evening, in late September 2006, to a small group of members that were having dinner with her at the Indian Headquarters of the TS, at Varanasi. Once the dinner was over I went to my room and wrote everything down, as accurately as possible. It is from these notes that I reproduce the stories here.

In all fairness I must confess that during this dinner I asked Radhaji why she did not publish these stories. They were very meaningful to me and I thought many others would feel the same. She told me she would not feel comfortable doing so because K was reluctant to let people know about this aspect of his life. Although many similar stories have already been published in different biographical accounts, I respected her feelings and kept them for myself. Now that Radhaji passed I share these stories, hoping they may bring the sympathetic reader a feeling of affection and closeness to these two great souls.


1. A curious offer

One day, during the course of her visit to Argentina, a group of TS members were about to have lunch with Radhaji at a residence. She finished reading a local newspaper she had requested and was waiting for the food to be ready. I sat next to her and asked if she had time to answer a question in connection to Krishnamurti. She nodded with a smile, and her eyes sparkled, which seemed to happen every time I saw her talk about him. I began by mentioning the following account found in Pupul Jayakar’s biography of K:

The atmosphere was pulsating, strong, alive. At one point he said, “They found me two angels—I have gathered many more through the years.” He was laughing; there was great laughter, and in between he kept on saying, “I am very serious.” He had not laughed like this in years. “Now I find that I can do without some of them.” He turned to Radha and said, “Can I give you two?” He was laughing, joyous, but deeply serious, suggesting something. (Pupul Jayakar, J. Krishnamurti: A Biography (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1986), 380)

I asked Radhaji if this report was true. She told me that when the conversation started, Pupul was somewhere else in the house and did not hear the whole thing. So she proceeded to complete the story.

She said that when John Coats (then International President of the TS) was at the hospital during his last days, K asked her if she would stand as a candidate for that office. She said she wasn’t sure she was good for administrative work, a response that K quickly dismissed. Then he told her: “When I closed the Order of the Star I was an 18° degree Mason. Before I left Amma [Annie Besant] came and conferred upon me the 33°. She did it because she had the power to do that [without any ceremony involved]. As a result of this, I was given two angels, but through the years I have gathered many more.” It was at this point that he offered to give Radhaji two of these, to help her in her future work.

On that day, he also promised her that if she was elected for the office, he would come back to visit Adyar.


The Garden of Remembrance 

Radhaji was eventually elected as International President and K fulfilled his promise to visit Adyar. They went to her house and then decided to walk around the compound. They started on the beach where he was “found”, and when coming back they walked along the Adyar River that K liked very much, especially during the rainy days.

When they walked by the Garden of Remembrance Radhaji told him it was there where they had buried the ashes of “Amma”. K looked around and said, “Something is wrong.” He then asked, “What ceremonies are being performed on the grounds?” (Here Radhaji commented that although people believe that K was against ceremonies, what he actually denounced was the dependence on the ceremonies). She started describing the different ceremonies one by one: “Bharata Samaj” [1], “Liberal Catholic”, “Co-Masonic”, and so on. K answered to each in turn, “That’s all right, that’s all right.” Radhaji finished enumerating them but K kept on saying “Something is wrong.”

At this point Radhaji paused her story and told us that when John Coats was International President there was a member with knowledge in architecture that wanted to help. He was given the task of improving the Garden of Remembrance and the Buddhist Temple. The Garden has two pillars: one dedicated to Surya and another one to Annie Besant. The architect decided to reposition the pillars, and when digging to move the one dedicated to Surya they found a container buried with magnetized stones inside. J. Coats called Radhaji by phone and asked her what they should do. She advised to put everything back the way it was.

Now, coming back to the story, when she told K about this, he exclaimed, “That’s it!” adding that magnetized objects, once placed somewhere, should never be disturbed. According to Radhaji “he could see that the magnetism was not there anymore.” Then K asked her to get seven stones “with the colors of each of the Rays”—remarked Radhaji—which he would magnetize to help the compound. He also directed that they should be buried in a central place.

Radhaji procured the gems and put them inside a pendant that said “J.K.” This was placed in a metal jar and buried in a proper place.


A conversation on the beach

On another occasion Radhaji and K were walking on the beach at Adyar and the conversation turned to a certain person. When he asked her who this person was, she answered that although he had met her once, he would probably not remember her. As Radhaji remarked, K did not have a good memory for these things. A little later K asked her if this person lived at such and such address. Radhaji said, “Yes”. Then he asked if her sister lived in such and such country, was named so and so, and if she worked for the Krishnamurti Foundation there. Radhaji, surprised, said he was correct, and then asked him, “Krishnaji, how do you know this? You never remember any of these things.” But he did not answer. He only smiled and kept walking.

A few days later, when K was leaving Madras (now Chennai), Radhaji and a group of people were with him at the airport. Before departing he called her away from the group and told her, “What happened the other day was not memory—I saw it in your mind.” Radhaji replied that at the time of the conversation she was not thinking of the sister of this person, but he said, “It doesn’t matter, everything is there, in the mind.”


The power of affection

The last story goes back to the time when Radhaji was younger, before she became President of the TS. K was scheduled to attend a meeting at one of the Krishnamurti Foundations and then to give a talk to those present, in a small auditorium. He invited Radhaji to attend. At the time she was not a Trustee of the Foundation, and was not sure it was her place to be there, but she told him that if he was inviting her she would certainly go. When she arrived some people got upset and asked her pointedly, “What are you doing here? Aren’t you a member of the Theosophical Society?”

This attitude troubled Radhaji and when K started his informal talk she was feeling upset. During the course of the talk (which was most likely a kind of dialogue with those present) he turned to Radhaji and said something to her. She told us she did not remember what his words were, but she never forgot how, suddenly, her inner reaction to what had happened completely vanished. At the time she thought this could have been a coincidence, or something produced by her own mind.

When the talk finished K started walking towards the exit. As he was passing Radhaji he approached her and asked, to her astonishment, “Is your problem solved?”

Radhaji told us, “All this was done with so much affection that even today I feel moved when recalling it.”

And as she finished her story, you could indeed see in her eyes the love and devotion she held for this remarkable human being.

The Indian Theosophist, May 2015



[1] This is a reformed, non-sectarian Hindu ceremony performed at Adyar. The first to officiate at the ceremony was J. Krishnamurti in 1925.