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Charles Webster Leadbeater 1854-1934 
A Biographical Study
by Gregory John Tillett
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 Chapter 14: The Training of Krishnamurti

          Most members of the TS viewed the momentous potential of their work with grave seriousness and great enthusiasm, and approached Leadbeater and Mrs Besant with religious awe.   As George Arundale wrote to the members of the ES:

          "You know the level reached by our Chief [Mrs Besant] - for members of our Group she and Mr Leadbeater represent to us the ideals of life in the world, and the more we trust and follow them the quicker progress shall we make and the better service shall we render.... We are face to face with the world's most stirring period, a period which occurs but once every few thousand years;  are living in the midst - in the very midst so far as the Group is concerned - of all the preparations which are to precede the central point of the period;  we meet in the flesh member of that great Fraternity whom two thousand years ago we should have called Apostles;  we have our John the Baptist and other disciples of the beloved Rishis..." [1]

          The central point was, of course, the Coming of the World

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Teacher, known also as The Christ or the Lord Maitreya, into the body of Krishnamurti, the chosen Vehicle.   Krishnamurti's training for this role had very inauspicious beginnings.  After discovering his "transcendently interesting" past lives, Leadbeater made arrangements for the boy to be given some special attention in regard to his education,

          Ernest Wood recollected:

          "When we first knew Krishnamurti he was a very frail little boy, extremely weak, all his bones sticking out and his father said more than once that he though probably he would die, and he was having a bad time as school because he did not pay attention to what his teachers said.  He was bullied and beaten to such an extent that it seemed the boy might fade away from this life and die, and the father came to Mr Leadbeater and said:  'What shall we do?'  Mr Leadbeater said, 'Take him from school and I will inform Mrs Besant.'" [2]

          Leadbeater hoped to have Krishna and his brother, Nitya, removed both from school and from their father's control so that he could implement the instructions he had received from the Masters regarding their training and preparation.

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          However, Narayaniah vas reluctant to allow the boys' education to stop;  although Krishna was doing badly at school, it would have been impossible for him to obtain a reasonable job without a government school education.   It was Leadbeater's suggestion that Mrs Besant would assist with, and possibly provide for, their education in England that encouraged Narayaniah's interest in this radical step.

          After a brutal caning of both boys in October, 1909, which Leadbeater said had "very much disturbed their astral bodies", Narayaniah was persuaded to remove both boys from school.  Their private education on the Theosophical Estate was supervised by Leadbeater and undertaken by seven or eight members of the community.  The training seemed to consist mainly of lessons in English, physical exercise and a change of diet, accompanied by considerable concern for cleanliness and physical appearance.  Leadbeater taught them history, when he had the time;  John Cordes, an Austrian, instructed them in physical culture;   Don Fabrizio Ruspoli, an Italian naval officer, gave them lessons in cycling;  and Dick Balfour-Clarke, Ernest Wood and Subramania Iyer assisted with English, composition and other subjects. [3]

          The whole process was centred on strict regimentation, as Jinarajadasa, who was present at the time, recalled:

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          "Everything was by schedule - meals, study, games - to teach both boys alertness to time and circumstances." [4]

          The reasons for this were clear:

          "The boys came from a family without a mother, with most things needing to be done in a most slipshod manner.  The first essential was scrupulous cleanliness - not ceremonial cleanliness;  finger-nails and toes had to be kept without a speck of dirt.  The body, including the head, was well washed with soap, and each day the hair dressed with oil." [5]

          Even those things which seemed to be recreation - Indian clubs, parallel bars and cycling - were intended to produce precise effects on the boys:

          "Bicycling was not for the sake of mere exercise;  its aim was to teach self-reliance and quick reaction (most needed on Indian roads where men, carts and animals are 'all over the shop', and nobody knows if he will go on the right side of the road or the left or the middle).  There was

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also developed a slowly increasing resistance to fatigue as the outings (in which Hubert van Hook often joined) were slowly lengthened, once to Chingleput, 66 miles there and back." [6]

          Dick Balfour-Clarke was responsible for the cleanliness of the boys, and Leadbeater took a special interest in this.  He supervised their washing, making sure that they did not neglect to wash between their legs.   He disapproved of the typical, and ceremonial, Hindu way of bathing by merely pouring water over the body, still clad in a loin cloth.  His interest in washing was to cause considerable trouble in future.

          Each day Krishna and Nitya were involved in a busy programme of activities.  They rose at five o'clock in the morning;  after the usual Brahmin ablutions they performed a morning meditation, and then went to meet Leadbeater in the octagonal room.  There they had hot milk, served by a caste servant so as not to offend orthodox feelings.  After this Leadbeater encouraged them to recall things which they had experienced in the night whilst out of their physical bodies, trying thereby to develop their consciousness of the astral and higher planes.  By seven o'clock they had set out on a bicycle ride, often accompanied by Leadbeater, though he was less expert in this

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activity than his young pupils.  They returned to warm baths, followed by academic studies, in which great stress was placed on correctness in all things, including handwriting, punctuation and grammar" [7]

          The afternoons were devoted to physical exercise, usually ending with swimming, and concluded with another bath.  The evening meal separated Leadbeater and his pupils, as Krishmamurti and Nitya at this time were still complying with caste regulations, and unable to eat food cooked by, or served in the presence of non-Brahmins.  The evening meal was followed by meetings on the roof of the headquarters building at which Leadbeater, or occasionally Mrs Besant, lectured on occult matters. [8]  The select few then retired to the Shrine Room for meditation and the chanting of a mantra by Sitaram Shastri. [9]  The boys were then supposed to go to bed, but more often spent some time with Leadbeater, who inevitably devoted long hours of the night to his literary work, answering letters, and correcting proofs for his numerous books - things which had to be put aside during the day because of the attention he was obliged to give to the training of Krishna and Nitya.

          Leadbeater was very concerned to eliminate any trace of fear from the boys, and he did this by recounting frightening stories of ghosts, vampires and such things, and

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by obliging the boys to deliberately face anything of which they were afraid.  On one occasion Leadbeater noted that Krishna, whom he was teaching to swim, avoided a particularly deep hole in the bathing area.  Later that day he took the boy back and made him find, and swim in, that hole.

          Despite the promise of Krishna's past lives and the great position that he was to occupy in the future, Leadbeater was often quite impatient with his pupil's apparent stupidity.  His found the boy's habit of standing with his mouth open especially annoying.  On one occasion it so annoyed Leadbeater that he slapped Krishnamurti quite sharply on the chin;  this cured Krishnamurti of the habit, but permanently changed his relationship with Leadbeater, for whom he never again felt the same affection.  Having been taken from the dirt and squalour of his home, and the cruelty and loneliness of school, Krishna found this violent act, in the midst of otherwise excessive kindness and concern, incomprehensible. [10]

          At this time Krishna was still technically living with his father, in what Leadbeater described as their "hovel", but apart from the two main meals of the day, and sleeping at night, he and Nitya spent almost their entire day with Leadbeater in a strange mixture of orthodox Hindu

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practice, English education and occult discipline.  In the middle of November, Mrs van Hook and her son, Hubert, had arrived et Adyar, and both took an instant liking to the two Indian boys, and, for a time, Hubert joined in their educational programme.

          Mrs Besant finally returned to Adyar on November 27, 1909, after a seven month tour and met Krishna for the first time.  Both he and his brother were at the railway station to meet her, and afterwards returned to Leadbeater's bungalow to be formally introduced.  Krishna later recalled:

          "After reaching Adyar we went back to Mr Leadbeater's bungalow and waited there for a long time while he was talking to Mrs Besant in the main building.  At last we heard the peculiar coo-ee by which Mr Leadbeater often called us.  He was standing on the Shrine Room Verandah which looks down upon his bungalow, and he told my brother and myself that Mrs Besant wished to see us.  We both felt very nervous as we went upstairs for although we were very eager to meet her, we had heard how great she was." [11]

          Leadbeater introduced the two Indian boys to Mrs Besant, and they prostrated before her.  A few minutes were spent in

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conversation before she went off to a meeting at which their father was also present.  Until her departure for Benares, and the annual TS Convention in December, the two boys visited her every day, and on December 5th she initiated them into the ES. [12]

          The Esoteric Section (or School as it was sometimes called) had originally been established by HPB, and after her death leadership was divided between Mrs Besant in England, and W.Q. Judge in the USA.  When Judge broke with the Adyar-based TS in 1895, Mrs Besant assumed sole authority over the ES.  In 1898 she closed it, and called in all the teaching papers which HPB had issued to members of the group.  In the following year Mrs Besant opened what she called the Eastern School of Theosophy with herself as Outer Head (in contrast to the Inner Head, who was the Master KH).  For the next few years she gave close attention to the organization and work of the ES.

          When, in 1907, she was elected President of the TS, she thereby came to hold the highest offices in both the exoteric and the esoteric organizations, whereas previously these had been divided between Olcott, as President of the TS, and HPB as leader of the ES.   Under Mrs Besant the authority of the ES was diffused throughout the world via a number of Corresponding Secretaries, usually one in each

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country. [13]   As Outer Head of the ES Mrs Besant was assumed to be in direct communication with the Inner Head, and with the Occult Hierarchy.  She proclaimed that the TS and the ES were "the immediate instruments of the Leaders of Evolution", and

          "The E.S. is the heart of the T.S.... the groups are to be channels through which the influence shed by the Masters may be passed on to the outer Society, and through it to the world." [14]

          The ES was, despite repeated claims that it was simply the private school of the Outer Head (with the usual Theosophical proclivity for initials, the OH), the elite, inner organization which actually wielded power in the TS, and progressively ES members were placed in all positions of authority within the Society.  This was increased under Leadbeater's influence as he declared that only those spiritually advanced enough to be members of the ES should be office-holders in the TS.  Jinarajadasa and Leadbeater both believed that the ES also had an important role in both the Coming and in the emergence of the new Root Race.

          The ES was open only to members of the TS of good standing for several years, who pledged themselves to abstain from meat, alcohol and tobacco, and from sexual

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relations outside marriage. [15]  They were also required to make a pledge of obedience to Mrs Besant as OH:

          "I pledge myself (a) to support before the world the Theosophical Society, and (b) in particular to obey, without cavil or delay, the orders of the Head of the Esoteric Section in all that concerns my relationship with the Theosophical movement, c) to work with her, on the lines she shall lay down, in preparation for the Coming of the World Teacher, and (d) to give what support I can to the Society in time, money and work." [16]

          In introducing the concept of the Coming into the ES Mrs Besant met some opposition, and therefore she provided a probationary order for those who were unable accept the idea.  The Esoteric School, the probationary order, constituted a preliminary group, members of which could join the Esoteric Section after a year's satisfactory membership.  Whereas in the ES prior to the discovery of Krishnamurti there were various disciplines which members might follow - including a Pythagorean, and a Christian Gnostic path - the whole Section was now restructured on eastern lines, with three disciplines:  Jnana Marga, Bhakti Marga and Raja Yoga.  The ES was further divided into a number of degrees, and great importance was placed within it

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upon past lives, as revealed by Leadbeater, and upon spiritual status, on which he was also regarded as an infallible authority.  It incorporated ceremonial admissions, and included badges and ribbons of different colours to enable members to identify one another's different spiritual status. [17]

          Much material brought from the inner planes or teachings direct from the Occult Hierarchy via Leadbeater were distributed throughout the ES, as was some material produced by Mrs Besant, and members of the ES were inevitably privy to the secrets of what was happening in the unseen worlds long before the ordinary members of the TS.  These teachings were communicated through small, privately printed pamphlets, reports of instructions given by Mrs Besant or Leadbeater, and copies of The Link, a quarterly journal for members of the ES only.  Some national ES groups also published journals.  Members were provided with portraits of the Masters, upon which they might meditate:  these were copies of the portraits found in the Shrine Room at Adyar. [18]  Members were also given a mantra upon which to meditate, and were required to keep a daily record of their meditational practices, and to submit quarterly reports to the Warden of the group to which they belonged. [19]  The Wardens were more experienced members who were to advise and guide those under their jurisdictions in the

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spiritual life.

          Having admitted Krishna to the ES, Mrs Besant departed for Benares.  Leadbeater was receiving messages from the Masters regarding the training of Krishna and Nitya, and said he had been ordered to instruct Narayaniah that his sons no longer belonged to him, and therefore he must no longer interfere in their lives.   Further, the Masters had ordered that the two boys were to be isolated from others boys, and to associate only with those who were under "Theosophical influence".  Leadbeater was most concerned about the influences affecting the boys, and would not even allow Hubert van Hook or anyone else to handle Krishna's bicycle or tennis racquet lest bad vibrations should pass into the objects and thence to Krishna.

          As Mrs Besant's instructions, following Leadbeater's directions from the Masters, the boys were now sleeping in her room, with their father's permission, and their lives were coming more and more directly under Leadbeater's control.  Their training kept them busy, and apart from each other, Hubert was the only boy with whom they were allowed to associate.  Leadbeater was still determined to gain yet further control over them, and to rid himself of the interference of their father.  He persuaded Narayaniah to allow the boys to eat at a new kitchen built

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especially for Mrs Besant and her friends, and he was also preparing to move the boys into a specially built room at Headquarters when Mrs Besant returned to Adyar.

          These plans caused considerable tension between Narayaniah and Leadbeater.   Both Krishna and his father were shocked by Leadbeater's bluff, insensitive manner, his frequent rudeness, especially to women, and his use of language considered improper in polite company.  Mrs Besant, however, employed a greater measure of diplomacy and tact in her relations with Narayaniah, who had a great respect for her and was much less antagonized by her requests than he was by Leadbeater's demands.  She had an opportunity whilst she was at Benares to convince Krishna's father that he should obey the Master's instructions received via Leadbeater.   These detailed all manner of things for the boys to do or not to do, and included a requirement that they should only be away from the TS Estate for an hour for the traditional ceremony on the anniversary of their mother's death, and that they must never again participate in this rite.  Even in this, Narayaniah agreed to follow Mrs Besant's direction.

          On December 31, 1909, Leadbeater telegraphed Mrs Besant at Benares informing her that the Master KH was going to accept Krishna as a pupil that night, and requested her

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to be present at the ceremony in her astral body.  In a short letter to her written the same day, Leadbeater noted that it had been the shortest period of probation of which he had ever heard (only five months) and referred her to an article in The Theosophist by the astrologer, G.E. Sutcliffe, in which an unusual conjunction of stars and planets was predicted for January 11th, and it was suggested that this might foreshadow the birth of Christ on that day.  Leadbeater commented:

          "If it were a little later might it not be the second birth of the body which the Christ will take?  But I suppose it is too soon to hope for that.  Still, things are moving with such a marvellous rapidity that nothing seems to good to be true." [20]

          The promise of Krishna's role as that "body" was finally and irrevocably settled by the events of December 31st - Krishna's acceptance by the Master KH of which he and Mrs Besant all had recollections.

          In his characteristic style, Leadbeater's description was detailed and dramatic:

          "Going as usual to the house of our Master Kuthumi,

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we found the Master Morya sitting in earnest conversation with Him.  We naturally stood aside for a moment, but the Master called us forward with His dazzling smile of welcome, and we made the customary salutation.  The first of our candidates, whom the Master had once called 'an ever-glowing Love-Star', is so full of love for his Master that he looks upon him as an Elder Brother, and is absolutely free and at home with Him, though he never speaks to Him without deep reverence.  It is indeed beautiful to see them together.  On this occasion our Master smiled kindly upon him and said:  'Have you finally decided that you will work under me and devote yourself to the service of humanity?'  The boy replied very earnestly that he meant to do so." [21]

          This was followed by a lengthy speech on unselfish love, kept pure from exaction or jealousy.  The Master then laid his hands on the heads of each of those who were present, saying:  "I accept you as my chela according to the ancient rite," drawing each into his aura, from which they emerged "looking inexpressably happy and noble, showing forth the special characteristics of the Master".

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          "And then speaking to all together:  'Come with me:  I must present you in your new character for official recognition and registration.'  So He took them to the Mahachohan, who looked them over keenly, and said:  'You are very young.   I congratulate you on reaching such a position so early.  See you live up to the level which you have attained.'  And He entered their names in the imperishable record, showing them the columns opposite their names which had still to be filled, and expressing a hope that He might soon have other entries to make for them." [22]

          On their way back from the visit to the Mahachohan, the boys were taken to the cave near the Master's house, and "watched Him dissolve into thin air the living images of themselves which He had made a short time before", since he no longer needed them.   Thus the boys had become outposts of the Masters' consciousness, as Leadbeater put it, extensions of him.

          Upon returning to the physical world, Leadbeater entered their names in the less imperishable record he kept of such matters:  both he and Mrs Besant possessed identical bound volumes, each known as "The Golden Book", in which

they inscribed the names of accepted pupils and entered

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details of their continuing occult advancements. [23]

          Krishna's memories were less detailed, and he seemed rather confused about which of the Masters had been present, adding the Master DK to the two mentioned by Leadbeater.   Mrs Besant wrote only to express her apologies for being "of so little use" and commented:

          " ...I am happy that [Krishna] is in such strong and loving hands as yours.   I should not be surprised if the initiation follows very quickly, perhaps on the 11th." [24]

          This intimation proved to be correct.  On January 8th telegrams flew back and forth from Adyar to Benares.  Leadbeater telegraphed:  "Initiation ordered for eleventh.  Surya [Maitreya] in person will officiate.  Ordered afterwards visit Shamballa.  Involves thirty-six hours seclusion." [25]  To which Mrs Besant replied:  "Close Shrine and my verandah locking stair door for time required.  Use my room, my secretary's and Mrs Lubke's as needed.  You hold my authority for everything." [26]

          And so, from the evening of Monday, January 10th, until the morning of Wednesday, January 12th, Leadbeater and Krishna were shut up in Mrs Besant's bedroom.  Nitya, Dick

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Balfour-Clarke and others kept a watch outside the bedroom door to prevent any disturbance.  Mrs Lubke, whom Leadbeater did not like, and whom he had been trying for some time to have removed from her room next to Mrs Besant's, had been evicted, and her room cleaned and whitewashed for use as a preparatory chamber for Krishna and Leadbeater.  Balfour-Clarke recorded that they were

          "away from their bodies during the best part of two nights and a day, but they did come back occasionally and then only partially, though sufficiently to absorb nourishment in the way of warm milk which we administered at their bedsides." [27]

          Krishna lay on Mrs Besant's bed and Leadbeater lay on the floor, occasionally breaking the silence with a few hints of what was happening on the inner planes.

          On the 12th they emerged and Leadbeater wrote down an account of the events, as did Krishna:

          "When I left my body the first night, I went at once to the Master's house and I found Him there with the Master Morya and the Master Djwal Kul.  The Master talked to me very kindly for a long

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time, and told me all about the Initiation, and what I should have to do.  Then, we all went together to the house of the Lord Maitreya, where I had been once before, and there we found many of the Masters - the Venetian Master, the Master Jesus, the Master the Count, the Master Serapis, the Master Hilarion and the two Masters Morya and K.H.  The Lord Maitreya sat in the middle and the others stood round Him in a semi-circle.  Then the Master took my right hand and the Master Djwal Kul my left, and they led me in front of the Lord Maitreya, you [Mrs Besant] and uncle [Leadbeater] standing close behind me.  The Lord smiled at me, but He said to the Master:  "Who is this that you bring before me?"  And the Master answered:  "This is a candidate for admission to the Great Brotherhood." [28]

          KH vouched for Krishna's worthiness, and he was supported in this by DK.  Leadbeater and Mrs Besant undertook "to take charge of him and to help him on his upward way" in the outer world.  Then Krishna was shown, and had to identify a number of astral objects, and cases of difficulty in which he might be called upon to help.  His answers were satisfactory, and he was then shown an image of his schoolmaster, "my worst enemy, a cruel man whom I hated".

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          Asked if he would help even this man, he replied that he would.

          All the Masters agreeing to his admission into "the Brotherhood which exists from eternity unto eternity", one further approval was required:

          "Then the Lord turned away from me and called towards Shamballa:  'Do I this, O Lord of Life and Light, in Thy Name and for Thee?'   And at once the great Silver Star flashed out over His head and on each side of it in the air there stood a figure - one of the Lord Gautama Buddha and the other the Mahachohan.  And the Lord Maitreya turned and called me by the true name of my Ego, and laid His hand upon my head and said:  'In the name of the One Initiator, whose Star shines above us, I receive you into the Brotherhood of Eternal Life;  see to it that you are a worthy and useful member of it.  You are now safe forever, for you have entered upon the Stream;  may you soon attain the further Shore!'  Then He gave me the Key of knowledge, and showed me how I might always and everywhere recognize any member of the Great White Brotherhood when I met them;  but these things, He said, I must not repeat." [29]

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          The following night Krishna was taken to see the Lord of the World, the King, also know as Sanat Kumara, "the ever virgin youth", who represents on this planet the Solar Logos, "acting as his Viceroy".  According to Leadbeater, he is one of the Lords of Flame who came to earth long ago from Venus.

          "He is the Supreme Ruler;  in His Hand and within His actual aura lies the whole of His planet.  He represents the Logos, as far as this world is concerned, and directs the whole of its evolution - not that of humanity alone, but also the evolution of the Devas, the nature-spirits, and all other creatures connected with the earth.  He is, of course, entirely distinct from the great Entity called the Spirit of the Earth, who uses our world as a physical body." [30]

          To Krishnamurti this meeting was a wonderful experience:

          " ...for He is a boy not much older than I am, but the handsomest I have ever seen, all shining and glorious, and when He smiles it is like sunlight.  He is strong like the sea, so that nothing could stand against Him for a moment, and yet he is

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nothing but love, so that I could not be in the least afraid of Him." [31]

          Leadbeater said that he had assisted Krishna in writing down the memories of his Initiation, but only by

          "correcting his tenses where they were wrong, and supplying a word here and there when he could not express himself, but carefully not adding anything from my knowledge, or in any way modifying his expressions." [32]

          And of Krishna himself:

          "He is tired with the strain of it all, but very well and radiantly happy." [33]

          Even Krishna's father was overwhelmed by the occasion, and momentarily forgot his hostilities:

          "The father behaved capitally, embraced [Krishna] affectionately, prostrated himself before me, rejoiced exceedingly and generally acted like a human being." [34]

          Following the greeting of the new Initiate, his garlanding

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with flowers, and numerous prostrations before him and his mentor, the small group processed down to the sea-shore to hear an account of Krishna's inner plane adventures, returning to Headquarters for lunch.

          Leadbeater, in his account of the Initiation, noted that Krishna had forgotten to mention that "the Master admitted him to Sonship" which implied an even closer relationship than that between Master and pupil.  He concluded:  "We have very great cause for rejoicing all round."  And on the same day, Mrs Besant was writing to Leadbeater with her own memories of the occasion, vague and imprecise though they were in comparison with the detailed recollections written by Leadbeater and Krishna;  she concluded by foreshadowing the direction the boy was now to take.

          "So it is definitely fixed that the Lord Maitreya takes this dear child's body.   It seems a very heavy responsibility to have to guard and help it, so as to fit it for Him, as He said, and I feel rather overwhelmed, but we are together in it and your wisdom will illuminate." [35]

          Mrs Besant was going even further than her colleague, for he had only hinted about the Coming and the Vehicle until now.

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          Writing to Mrs Besant, Krishna expressed his delight in the "new world" he had discovered - "it is a different world for me," he wrote, "Even my father is different now, and everything is beautiful."

          But the difference in his father was short-lived, and Narayaniah began causing trouble as soon as he had recovered from the excitement of his son's initiation.  He disliked and distrusted Leadbeater, and knew something of his past, which was hardly likely to reassure him as the father of Leadbeater's closest pupil.  And his concern was encouraged by one of Mrs Besant's servants, Lakshman, who brought him stories of finding Krishna naked in Leadbeater's presence - an outrage for Hindu orthodoxy and a serious breach of caste rule.  Leadbeater was also seen, according to the servant, in a state of semi-nakedness, washing Krishna's hair while the boy was naked. [36]

          These stories, and the likelihood of trouble, reached Mrs Besant, who was determined that the solution was to have Krishna removed from his father's custody.  A document to this effect was drawn up by the Vice-President of the Society, Sir Subramania lyer, and signed by Narayaniah, apparently without great persuasion.  He obviously believed that by placing his sons in the legal guardianship of Mrs Besant they would be removed from the

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influence of Leadbeater.  Little did he know that this was the exact opposite of Mrs Besant's intention.  She, wisely, remained in India for the rest of 1910, and the boys shared a room next to hers, the unpopular Mrs Lubke having now been permanently removed.   This room was also occupied by Dick Balfour-Clarke.

          Leadbeater had moved from his octagonal bungalow, but was careful to occupy a room as far away as possible from that in which the boys slept.  The octagonal bungalow was still used by him as an office, and by the boys as a classroom.  During Mrs Besant's stay the boys' lives were quietly ordered;  the emphasis on English and composition continued, they still undertook early morning bicycle rides, played tennis and went swimming in the evenings.  And they were still completely under Leadbeater's control.

          The question of the extent of his dominance over the boys, and in particular over Krishnamurti, is an important one.  There is no doubt that, in following the orders of the Masters (which always coincided with his own wishes) he felt justified in doing virtually anything that would accomplish the required ends.   His strong Victorian sense of duty as the ultimate virtue did not leave room for personal wishes and feelings, either on his part on the part of his pupils.  There was some suggestion that he attempted

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to dominate Krishna by psychic means, thereby opening the boy to the influence of the Lord Maitreya, and breaking down the individual will which might otherwise have got in the way.  And he made sure he was fully informed on the boy's innermost thoughts and feelings, as Ernest Wood recalled:

          "In the early mornings, Krishnamurti was encouraged to write down his dreams, partly for practice in English, and partly for the sake of psychic training.  He had a little black book and also some exercise books in which he used to write.  I never looked into these, but it was said that the dreams were very coherent and of great interest.

          "Sometimes also Mr Leadbeater would experiment with thought-transference, putting his hands on Krishnamurti's temples and asking him what he saw, with, I understand, very interesting results." [37]

          Krishnamurti also experienced the appearances of the Masters regularly and listened to them as they taught him.  In later years he was asked about this by a close friend.  After a long time, he said, he had grown curious, and one day stood up, and walked towards the form of the Master who stood before him talking.  The Master continued talking, and Krishna walked straight through the form.   It disappeared, and he never saw the Masters again.  Leadbeater held that it

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was possible for a trained psychic to project thought, either consciously or unconsciously, with such strength that it assumes the quality of physical reality:

          "As a matter of fact, occultists of both the white and black schools frequently use artificial elementals in their work and few tasks are beyond the powers of such creatures when scientifically prepared and directed with knowledge and skill." [38]

          Mrs Besant went to Benares in April, 1910, and Narayaniah, who had been quiet and not interfered until then, took the opportunity to make trouble.  Leadbeater wrote to Mrs Besant suggesting that the man had lost his sanity, and fallen under the influence of "the Blacks".  He also provided her with a message from the Masters regarding the situation:

          "The work you are doing for me is of such importance that you cannot hope it will escape the attention of the darker powers, and the nominal father by his anger and jealousy offers them a convenient instrument.  I regretfully reiterate... the less he sees of the boys for the next few years the better.   He must kindly but

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firmly be made to understand that he must no more interfere with them in any way whatever than with their brother Hubert.... I approve the careful arrangements you have made with regard to bathing, eating and sleeping;  when any change is needed will myself tell you." [39]

          And again, within a few months, the Master ordered:

          "They have lived long in hell;  try to show them something of Paradise.  I want them to have everything the opposite of those previous conditions.  Instead of hostility, distrust, misery, squalor, irregularity, carelessness and foulness, I want them to be surrounded by an atmosphere of love and happiness, confidence regularity, perfect physical cleanliness and mental purity... Keep them as far as you can within your aura and Annie's, so that they may be protected from all evil and carnal thoughts... I want you to civilize them;  to teach them to sit at ease upon chairs instead of crouching on the ground, to sleep rationally on a bed, not in corner like a dog.  Long hours of sleep are especially necessary, but take care that they do not sleep in pyjamas that are responsible for so

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much evil in your civilization.  Underclothes must always be of silk, linen or cloth and no wool or flannel must touch the skin.  No undue tightness must be permitted anywhere, and the shape of the foot must on no account be spoiled.  Keep their heads always cool, and wherever possible uncovered." [40]

          This may well have been the Master's will, but it is strangely similar to Leadbeater's own attitude, strongly Victorian, with ideas of what constitutes civilization strangely different to those one would expect Indian masters to hold.  The boys were to become English gentlemen because, in Leadbeater's scheme of evolution, English gentlemen represented the pinnacle of human development.   These detailed instructions were implemented to the very letter - notwithstanding the hostility of the boys' father, who was outraged at the European custom of bathing naked and washing between the legs.

          In September, 1910, Mrs Besant took the boys to Benares, where they met George Arundale, Principal of the Central Hindu College there.  Krishna selected him and four other close followers of Mrs Besant as the nucleus of the "Yellow Shawl Group", which he constituted the first group of his disciples.  He wrote to Leadbeater asking him for

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notes of his own teachings for the period between his probation and his acceptance, based on Master KH's instructions.  Leadbeater's manuscript of these notes was despatched, and reached Krishna while he was on a brief tour of Lahore and Delhi with Mrs Besant, Nitya, Mrs van Hook and Hubert.

          Leadbeater later described how the notes came to be made:

          "Every night I had to take this boy [Krishna] in his astral body to the house of the Master, that instruction might be given him.  The Master devoted perhaps fifteen minutes each night to talking to him, but at the end of each talk He always gathered up the main points of what He had been saying into a single sentence, or a few sentences, thus making an easy little summary which was repeated by the boy, so that he learnt it by heart.  He remembered that summary in the morning and wrote it down... The boy wrote them down somewhat laboriously, because his English was not then very good.  He knew all these things by heart and did not trouble particularly about the notes that he had made.  A little later he went up to Benares with our President.  While there he wrote to me, I being down at Adyar, and asked me to

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collect and send to him all the notes that he had made of what the Master had said.  I arranged his notes as well as I could, and typed them all out.  Then it seemed to me that as these were mainly the Master's words I had better make sure that there was no mistake in recording them.  Therefore I took the typewritten copy which I had made to the Master Kuthumi and asked Him to be so kind as to read it over.  He read it, altered a word or two here and there, added some connecting and explanatory notes, and a few other sentences which I remembered having heard Him speak to Mr Krishnamurti.  Then He said:  'Yes, that seems correct;  that will do';   but He added:  'Let us show it to the Lord Maitreya.'  And so we went together, He taking the manuscript, and it was shown to the World-Teacher Himself, who read it and approved it.  It was He who said:  'You should make a nice little book of this to introduce Alcyone to the world.'  We had not meant to introduce him to the world;  we had not considered it desirable that a mass of thought should be concentrated on a boy of thirteen, who still had his education before him.  But in the occult world we do what we are told, and so this book was put into the printer's hands as soon as possible." [41]

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          Mrs Besant, upon receiving the manuscript of the book and Leadbeater's comments about the Master's instructions, replied enthusiastically:

          "We are so delighted about the approval of the Master and the Lord Maitreya of the first literary effort of Alcyone.  We must print and bind it very prettily - his first gift to the World." (42j

          She had already read the text of the book to a private meeting on November 27th, and George Arundale had been using it as a text for talks at special meetings of the ES in Benares in October.

          The first edition of the book, entitled, at Mrs Besant's suggestion, At the Feet of the Master, appeared in December, 1910, bound in blue cloth, and with the latest photograph of Krishna as the frontispiece.  At his request all proceeds from the book went to Mrs Besant.  The cover bore the symbolic design of a path leading through an Egyptian gateway.  A copy of the first edition, specially bound in blue leather, was sent to the Master KH to be placed in the occult museum;  Krishna placed it under his pillow one night before going to sleep, and by morning it had disappeared.

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          At the Feet of the Master expounded a pleasant occult-spiritual morality, and was seen as a guide for the pupil seeking spiritual and occult development;  in this regard it fitted in with Light on the Path and The Voice of the Silence. [43]  It began with the statement:

          "These are not my words;  they are the words of the Master who taught me.  Without Him I could have done nothing;  but through his help I have set my feet upon the Path." [44]

          And it concluded with the poem:

          "Waiting the word of the Master,

          Watching the Hidden Light; 

          Listening to catch His Orders

          In the very midst of the fight;


          Seeing His slightest signal

          Across the heads of the throng;

          Hearing His faintest whisper

          Above earth's loudest song." [45]


          The body of the book is essentially a commentary on the opening statement, which summarizes its theme:

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          "Four Qualifications there are for this pathway:



          Good Conduct


          What the Master had said to me on each of these I shall try to tell you." [46]

          At the Feet of the Master was an immediate success, sold thousands of copies, and passed through five English and twenty-two foreign language editions in its first year.

          "Numbers of people, literally thousands, have written to say how their whole lives have been changed by it, how everything had become different to them because they read it... A wonderful work has been done by it.  Above all, it bears the imprimatur of the coming World Teacher, and that is the thing that makes it most valuable - the fact that it shows us, to a certain extent, what His teaching will be." [47]

          The book remains in print in numerous editions and in many languages, and continues to sell well.

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          The question of the authorship of At the Feet of  the Master is a vexed one.  Mrs Besant was certain that it was indeed Krishna's work, but others suggested that Leadbeater was responsible for it.  Krishna's original notes did not survive, and accordingly there was no way of measuring to what extent Leadbeater had revised or altered the original words.  Ernest Wood had been present at Adyar when Leadbeater typed up the manuscript, and was the first person to see it.  Leadbeater asked him to take it home with him, to read it and deliver an opinion.

          "I delivered my opinion - a delightful little book, but extremely simple.  Would the instructions contained in it be sufficient to bring one to the 'Path proper', to the First Initiation, which Mrs Besant had described in her book (The Path of  Discipleship)?   Yes, said Mr Leadbeater, more than that, if completely carried out these instructions would lead one to Adeptship itself.  I remarked that there were one or two curious things about the manuscript.  It was very much in Mr Leadbeater's own style, and there were some sentences which were exactly the same as in a book of his which we had already prepared for the press [i.e. The Inner Life].   He told me that he wished

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indeed that he might have been able to write such a book himself.  As to the sentences I mentioned, he had usually been present when Krishmamurti was being taught, and had made use of them in meetings with Theosophists;  I had noted them down and incorporated them into the material of his book.  As to style, it was but natural that he himself should have adopted something of his own Master's style after himself being taught by him for so many years." [48]

          One of Wood's friends at Adyar later stated that he was present when Krishna's father questioned him about the book.  The boy, it was said, denied writing it, and had said, in his native language, Telugu:  'The book is not mine;  they fathered it on me.'  The witness, having repeated this story until it reached Mrs Besant, was told by her that he must either recant, since Krishna would never have said anything so false, or leave the TS Estate.  He regretted that he could not deny what he had heard, and left." [49]

          The boy's father also denied that his son could have written the book, given his poor English, even had he said he had done so.  Lady Emily Lutyens, who was probably closer to Krishna than anyone else for most of his early years, was sure that Leadbeater was the "real inspiration"

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for the book:

          " ...I am equally convinced that Krishna himself never understood all that was being claimed for him.  There is no doubt that he firmly believed in the Masters and in the fact of discipleship, and it would have been easy for C.W.L. to impress upon the mind of the dreamy boy sentences which the Master was supposed to have given him." (50]

          Dick Balfour-Clarke, one of Krishnamurti's companions at the time the book was written, believed At The Feet of The  Master was based on the Viveka-Chudamani, or Crest-Jewel of  Wisdom, an Indian text on the Vedanta by Sri Samkaracarya (or Sankara)(788-838), which Leadbeater had adapted.  The Viveka-Chudamani had been translated by Mohini Chatterji (1858-1936) in the early days of the TS, and the translation was first published in The Theosophist between 1885 and 1888.  It was not published in book form until 1932. [51]

          But, regardless of who wrote it, the book developed into something of a cult focus, selling hundreds of thousands of copies, being translated into more than twenty-seven languages, and passing eventually through more than forty editions.  At The Feet of The Master is currently available in a number of editions, and numerous languages,

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throughout the world.

          While Leadbeater remained at Adyar, Krishna and Mrs Besant returned to Benares, and Krishna continued teaching his "Yellow Shawl Group", within which he had now developed an inner group, known as the "Purple Order", because its members wore purple shawls, purple sashes, heavily embroidered with gold and with the letters "J.K." inscribed on them, and a silver badge suspended round their necks on a purple ribbon. [52]  Mrs Besant and Leadbeater were the Protectors of the Purple Order, and Krishna was its Head.

          It eventually developed into the Order of the Rising Sun which was made public in January, 1911, and had as its aim the drawing together of all those in India who believed in the Coming of the World Teacher, and intended to work to prepare the country for his Coming.   A journal, The Herald of the Star, appeared in January, 1911, with Krishna as its nominal editor, and by July, 1911, Mrs Besant had taken the idea of the Order of the Rising Sun and extended it into an international movement, the Order of the Star in the East.  This was quickly established throughout the Theosophical world, with national representatives and organizing secretaries in all countries which had active Theosophical Societies.

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          Although some nominal distinction was always maintained between the Theosophical Society as such and the Order of the Star in the East (which quickly came to be known as the OSE) and the occult adventist activities associated with Krishnamurti, the movements were virtually one and the same.  The same people held high offices in both of them, the same people attended meetings, and the meetings tended to be held in the same premises.

          In response to objections from those Theosophists who held that Mrs Besant had no right to impose such opinions upon the Society, she declared that HPB had

          "regarded it as the mission of the T.S. to prepare the world for the coming of the next great Teacher, although she put that event perhaps half a century later than I do." [53]

          Some members, indeed whole sections of the Society, disagreed, and departed.

          Leadbeater was now determined that Krishna should be educated in England.   The Masters, who spoke through him, agreed, and within six months Krishna and Nitya were in England.

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Charles Webster Leadbeater 1854-1934 
A Biographical Study
by Gregory John Tillett
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