Jiddu Krishnamurti as Super Feminist

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Submitted: May 21, 2016

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Submitted: May 21, 2016





Annie Besant,(1847-1933) a powerful orator, women right’s activist and writer,


she became heavily involved with the Socialist and Marxist movements She fought for


causes that she believed that were right, beginning with freedom of thought, women’s


rights, secularism, birth control, Fabian socialism, and worker’s rights. Besant rose to the


peak of her power when she became head of the Theosophical Society in India, after the


founder Helena Blavsky, it was a renowned organization whose aim is to achieve


universal brotherhood. Annie Besant took Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986) and raised


him in the western education and culture, and declared and prepared him in the role as the


world teacher. Under the wings of a powerful feminist[i], “he was made head of her newly


formed worldwide religious organization, the Order of the Star in the East in 1911, but in


1929 after many years of questioning himself, he dissolved the Order, repudiated its


claims and returned all the assets given to him for its purpose. Out of his own spiritual


"process" experienced from 1922 onwards, he declared: ‘Truth is a pathless land and you


cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, and any sect.” [ii] After


dismantling of the Order of the East, Theosophical Society gradually collapsed.


Krishnamurti’s whole life, he traveled all over the world and gave lectures and talks with


students and teachers (religious leader and professors) alike, with his ultimate aim is to


to set man completely free’.



Feminism holds the aims of liberation of patriarchy (the bias structure) and


attaining more rights for women, but feminism has separate to many branches which each

of their own claim of how to approach the problem and understand the inequalities of


society structure itself. Three most prominent movement that generates some success are


the radical, ending domination or elitism in society; psychoanalytical, the belief that


gender inequality comes from early childhood experiences, which lead men to believe


themselves to be masculine, and women to believe themselves feminine; and Marxist


feminism, the class struggle is the feminist struggle and it is important to understand the


capitalist sources how oppression especially for women works.[iii]  Feminists suggest that


the relationship of men and women must be understood as one of unequal power,


specifically one of traditional subjugation and oppression of women by men. With these


three distinct feminism (radical, psychoanalytic, and Marxist), in this essay, I want to


show how Krishnamurti is a feminist in his own light through his own epistemology of


understanding the source of inequality as a whole, not fragmentary that is not just for the


women, but the direct root of it, with the help of a nonwestern feminist view, Uma


Narayan and a Marxist feminist, Nancy Hartsock, that Krishnamurti is a Radical Marxist-





In the Perspective of a Nonwestern Feminist Uma Narayan



Uma Narayan, an Indian feminist, agrees that the fundamental thesis of



epistemology is that the location in the world makes women more possible for them to


perceive and understand different aspects of human activities in ways that challenge the


male bias of existing perspectives.[iv] The women are regarded as the outsider whose


advantage is being able to look at the manifestations of a constructed social structure. In


the accounts of Narayan, she examines the enterprise of feminist epistemology poses

some political problems for nonwestern feminists that does not pose, in the same way, for


western feminists. Narayan states that the women who live under the oppressed tradition (


Hindu-native tradition), women are often praised, from their spiritual role model for their


husband and children, and it implicates that there is a hidden discourse behind this


oppressed tradition.[1] More importantly, as an outsider (nonwestern), Narayan claims, “As


an Indian feminist who live in the U.S., I often find myself torn between the desire to


communicate with honestly the miseries and oppressions that I think my own-culture


confers on its women and fear that this communication is going to reinforce, however


unconsciously, western prejudices about the “superiority” of western culture.”[2] This


implies also that the western feminists’ culture or cultivated approach also has an


oppression of its own, which contradicts their goal as a feminist which they are not even


alert of it, and she critically focus this through positivism, while nonwestern cultures are


mostly associated with non-positivist contexts. But Narayan does not suggest that all non-


positivists frameworks work.



One such claim she argues against is Jurgen Habermas “inter-subjectivity, that is


one suspending his belief”[3], and Narayan argues such a framework either ignores the


existence of such substantive differences among speakers or else assume they do not


exist, which may affect a speaker’s knowledge of the facts.[4] Lastly, an important claim


she emphasizes, as most feminist, have argued that there is an “epistemic privilege” of


oppresses groups or groups living under various forms of oppressions and are more likely


to have a critical perspective on their situation, and that this critical view is both


generated and partly  constituted by critical emotional responses that subjects experience. 


[5] Meaning, the oppressed (specifically point to women) has an epistemic advantage of


understanding the nature of inequality, that the structure of society (patriarch)


superimposes among its people, through their experiences. It is important to remember in


Narayan account that the nonpositivist approach offers a better awareness and the


oppressed offers an epistemic advantage.


Nancy Hartsock Marxian Feminist perspective



In addition, Nancy Hartsock, a feminist standpoint[6] theorist, claims that the


Marxian theory[7], is an important epistemological tool for understanding and a way of


opposing all forms of domination, and believes (sexual) division of labor forms the basis


for such a standpoint. [v]  She suggests like the lives of proletarians, women’s lives make


available a particular and privileged vantage point on male supremacy, and so a feminist


standpoint can allow us to understand and ground a powerful critique of phallocractic


institutions and ideology which constitute the capitalist form of patriarchy. [vi]  In the understanding


of Hartsock, the oppressed specifically the working class for the women, have a more epistemic


advantage, and the sexual division of labor of women may be the real structures of women’s


oppression. She infers a simple understanding or passage of Marilyn French in the Women’s


Room, “Washing the toilet used by three males, and the floor and walls around it, is, Mira


thought, coming to face to face with necessity. And that is why women were saner than men,


did not come up with the mad, absurd schemes men developed; they were in touch with


necessity, they have to wash the toilet bowl and floor.”[vii] This implies women are more in touch


with nature that is necessity and more feminine, versus the patriarch structure seeks control and


power through the weak, and assumes important general household duties would be done


before the husband comes back home. In Hartsock’s account it is important to remember (


feminist) standpoint, which  indicates a recognition of the power realities operative in a


community; a meditative process of understanding rather than immediate; and the understanding


the immoral ( bias/ patriarch) structures through the epistemic advantage and experiences of



the oppressed.



Epistemology of Krishnamurti



In both Narayan and Hartsock’s feminist accounts, the aim is to fully understand,


meditatively, the barriers of patriarch society, and both believe that the oppressed offers


an epistemic advantage of understanding of it, and a non-positivist framework may have


a better view or awareness. Krishnamurti may not be a woman, or so call himself a


feminist even though he was culturally raised by one, because he does not believe any


system or method can either lead to truth or freedom.  As long as the individual depends


on a particular way of thinking, or do what you are told in order to get freedom, he is in a


state of complete anxiety and a mechanical being, and such a being can not understand


clarity at all. [viii] Krishnamurti may believe that the oppressed do have an epistemic


advantage, but at the end it is up to that individual to transform himself, and no one can

do it for him. Krishnamurti’s aim is the same as for the feminist, the understanding of


inequality and setting mankind free from all bondage. Krishnamurti primary focus not on


the following or the consequences of patriarchy, but oppression or division itself, and that


is the root of the problem.  And many feminist-alike all failed because they overlooked


the root of the problem, because they always start with a belief. An example:


“There is a problem, and the individual is observing with a predetermined or a conclusion of looking at the problem, that is,’ what should I do about it’, and if the belief fails he blame himself or change the problem but we don’t respond to the challenge. And it is the problem will give the individual the facts, the individual doesn‘t have to bring the


facts.” [ix]


Meaning one must suspend his belief or disbelief in order to inquire the disorder, and the


first thing is the ability to ‘see’ the disorder; the observer who is in the past cannot totally


observe the thing itself as long he is thinks ‘I’ the past, while the problem demands you look


afresh because the problem always change. “Knowledge is a revelation, not creation; it is a


discovery not an achievement.” [x] It may sound as Narayan’s argument against of inter-


subjectivity, but it is quite different, it means the call for a mutual activity which is not to provide


people with another theory, and whether is it possible to live without accumulating beliefs and


inquire and solve the problem. [xi] The epistemology of Krishnamurti is the freedom from the


known, and often interpreted as a state of choiceless awareness or observation. “Choiceless


observation is an experimental and negative approach of 'perceiving' the fact without translating


it to knowledge, and allowing 'what is' to reveal itself as it exactly and essentially is, also


which Krishnamurti refers to true mediation.” [xii] It is the awareness without the division


as the observer and the observed and it is a holistic observation in which the observer 'is'


the observed. It is possible only in the silence of the mind, it is a state of experience in

which there is neither the experiencer, nor the experienced and only through self


knowledge it would bring understanding. One example of this state of mediation is, “


To “see” that mountain peak, so splendid with the evening sun, though one had seen it


thousand times, with the eyes that had no knowledge, was to see the birth of the new,”


and not let thought come about.[xiii]



Finally, Krishnamurti argues that the problem of knowledge is it is not useful,


because the world functions in knowledge but when one is going to have a relation with


another a division occurs, because if one has his beliefs or own methods and the other


person too, how can they ever agree on anything or produce an understanding of a


disorder that is total not fragmentary. “Freedom of the known is a state where it cannot be


caught in opinions, judgments, and values. In order to observe your whole being, you


must have a free mind, not a mind that agrees and disagrees, taking sides in an argument,


disputing over mere words but rather with intention to understand. Each of us has an


image of what we think we are or what we should be, and that image, that picture,


entirely prevents us from seeing ourselves as we actually are, and it is a division that will


inevitably bring conflict.” [xiv] When one understand that the “world is me, and I am the


world.”[xv] Meaning, when one understands that, one is neither a Hindu, or a Muslim, nor


Communist, but a human being without any class or division, he can operate in the field


of knowledge. It is not the change of society or structure will change man, but the


understanding of division, and bring about inward sense of change, that will naturally


bring a change in society.[xvi] Therefore, division itself, that is the image of ones


knowledge through relationship, I have my method and he has his method, brings a


natural division and a conflict naturally occurs. This is a basic law.






Narayan and Hartsock both have their outlook on understanding the structures of


society, which is focusing types of oppressions that may maximize one epistemic


advantage; and the non-positivist framework or nonwestern point of view may offer a


new light. However,  Krishnamurti argues that everyone, man and women and even the


authorities are oppressed because they are fundamentally divided, with their images of


inclinations, conclusions, and beliefs. Therefore, everyone has an epistemic advantage


only when one is serious and willing to approach the problem without suggesting any


conclusions beforehand or argumentatively discuss about the how to approach the


problem, it is only when one see what is preventing clarity may we understand the totality


of structure. And feminists has this advantage because they have many outlooks what is


preventing clarity in order to understand inequality but do not know how to begin, and


generally they look at problems according to some other feminist’s or not point of view.


It is the holding on to beliefs that makes agreement or resolution impossible.


Krishnamurti points out in his negative approach, freedom from the known; it is the


individual’s responsibility to have no images of oneself, free from all authorities, even


the authority of Krishnamurti’s concept of choiceless awareness. It is the division itself


the root of all problems, not the following, that are looking at types of oppressions.


Therefore it is a state where one is completely absent, without the “I”, a state of


nothingness without having to choose but ‘totally’ inquiring about problem, and the


understanding this known and division, the true state of mediation, then action is


completely transformed.



[1]  Narayan, 215

[2]  Narayan, 216

[3]  see also the Principle of Charity by Donald Davidson

[4]  Narayan, 217

[5]  Narayan, 218

[6]  Hartsock, “A standpoint is not simply an interested position (interpreted as bias) but is interested in the sense of being engaged. A standpoint carries with it the contention that there are some perspectives on society from which, however well -intentioned one may be, the real relations of humans with each other and with the natural world are not visible”  pp 36-37

[7]  the struggle between the proletariats, the workers, versus the bourgeois, the owners


[i] Bibliography


 Feminist theory aims to understand the nature of inequality and focuses on gender politics, power relations and sexuality. While generally providing a critique of social relations, much of feminist theory also focuses on analyzing gender inequality and the promotion of women's rights, interests, and issues. Themes explored in feminism include discrimination, stereotyping, objectification (especially sexual objectification), oppression, and patriarchy (Chodorow, 1989; Gilligan, 1977; Lerman, 1982).




[ii]  KFA foundation Krishnamurti Foundation of America, accessed 4-30-07 at  http://www.kfa.org/index.php, “ Truth as a pathless land” was his grand theme after leaving the Order, also can be found http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiddu_Krishnamurti ( biography)




[iii]  Gimenez, E. Matha, “Marxist Feminism”, 1998, accessed at 4-29-07 From http://www.cddc.vt.edu/feminism/mar.html




[iv]  Narayan, Uma, “The Project of Feminist Epistemology: Perspectives from a Nonwestern Feminist,” from Gender/Body/Knowledge: Feminist Reconstructions of Being and Knowing, Rutgers, 1989 reprinted in ed. Sandra Harding, The Feminist Stanpoint Reader: Intellectual and Political Controversies ( Routledge, 2004), p. 213




[v]  Harstock, Nancy, “The Feminist Stanpoint: Developing the Ground for a speciically feminist Historical Materialism,” originally appeared in eds. Merrill Hintikka and Sandra Harding Discovering Reality ( Kluwer 1983). Reprinted in the Feminist Standpoint Theory Reader, pp 35



[vi]  Hartsock, 36



[vii]  Hartsock, 43




[viii]  Live video conversation between Krishnamurti and Dr. Huston Smith, “ Is it Possible to Live with Total Lucidity” KPA Studio, 2005


[ix]  Live video conversations with Prof. Allan W Anderson and Krishnamurti, San Diego, 1974, discussion on “ What is communication with others?/ What is a responsible human being? Wholly Different Way of Living, 1974




[x]  Sardesai, Arundhati, “Epistemology of J. Krishnamurti” , Indian Philosophical Quarterly: Journal of the Department of Philosophy -University of Poona, vol. 23, no. 3-4, , July-October 1996, pp 461




[xi]  Martin, Raymond, On Krishnamurti, Wadsworth Thomson Learning, 2003, pp 16




[xii]  G.VEDAPARAYANA, “Choiceless Observation” accessed at 5-1-07 from http://www.midimusic.de/HERE_NOW/eng/the_philosophy_of_jiddu_krishn.htm




[xiii]  Krishnamurti, Jiddu, “A Walk With Krishnamurti”, Current Periodicals Parabola, the search for meaning, Coming to our senses. Vol. 31, no.1, Spring 2006 ISSN03621596, 37-41



[xiv]  Krishnamurti, Jiddu,“ Freedom from the Known”, Total Freedom. HarperSanFrancison ( Harper Collins ) 1996, pp 111




[xv]  Conversation with Prof. Allan W. Anderson and Krishnamurti on ” Knowledge and the Transformation of Man”




[xvi]  Conversation with Prof. Allan Anderson and Krishnamurti, “Knowledge and Conflict in Human Relationships”


































Daniel Chung


Feminist Epistemology


“ Krishnamurti as Super Feminist”






© Copyright 2018 Daniel Wren Chung . All rights reserved.

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