Jiddu Krishnamurti

After renouncing his own religion at the age of 34, Krishnamurti espoused learning the truth experientially, rather than through an organized belief system.

Born in Southern India in 1895, Jiddu Krishnamurti was "discovered" as a boy by Annie Besant and Bishop Leadbeater, leaders of the Theosophical Society. In 1911 they founded The Order of the Star in the East; Krishnamurti was named head of the Order and groomed to become the "World Teacher" that Theosophists were awaiting. However, in 1929, he renounced this role in an epochal speech before 3,000 assembled devotees. "Truth is a pathless land," he declared, "and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect." He nonetheless spent the years until his death in 1986 traveling the world giving talks, writing books (including Freedom from the Known, To Be Human, and scores more), and also founding schools for children.

He espoused a meditative approach to daily life, in which the individual strives always to be present, to know the truth (not in a belief system, but experientially), and to experience within himself or herself the universal essence of humanity. One of the first people to bring an Eastern perspective to a large Western audience, the prolific Krishnamurti has left behind more than 100,000 pages of written material, 2,500 audiotapes, and 600 videotapes. For more information, visit the Krishnamurti Foundation of America's Web site: www.kfa.org.