Who Was
Nandini Mehta

Preface

Nandini mehta first met the philosopher and spiritual teacher Jiddu
Krishnamurti in Bombay in 1948, when she accompanied her father-in-law,
the mill-owner Sir Chunilal Mehta, to one of his meetings. Over the course
of the next 38 years, until his death in 1986, Nandini and Krishnamurti
exchanged innumerable letters, which cemented their friendship.

Through this correspondence Krishnamurti shared his thoughts and
teachings, his compassion for her and her family. Very little is publicly
known about the life of Nandini Mehta apart from what is in her sister
Pupul Jayakar’s biography of Krishnamurti, Krishnamurti: A Biography.
She remains an obscure figure, and other biographers of Krishnamurti have
mentioned her only in passing. Some of the letters Krishnamurti wrote to
Nandini Mehta became part of Jayakar’s book. An independent booklet,
based on these letters, entitled “Letters to a Young Friend: Happy is the
Man who is Nothing” was also published by the Krishnamurti Foundation.
These were subsequently translated into several languages, including
Hindi, Marathi, Greek, and Portuguese.

Have a family, a house, but do not be caught up in it or take shelter behind it. When death comes, go empty-handed, alone, unafraid, without a tremor, and there will be light. Krishnaji
says, ‘a tremendous light’… if not, you will be right back.

From the diary of Nandini Mehta, June 1975.

He wrote the following letters to a young friend
who came to him wounded in body and mind. The
letters written between June 1948 and March
1960 reveal a rare compassion and clarity…

At the time of their publication, it was not disclosed that the letters were written to Nandini Mehta, though those in Krishnamurti circles at the time knew that the “young friend” was actually her. This is how Pupul Jayakar introduces the letters: “He wrote the following letters to a young friend who came to him wounded in body and mind. The letters written between June 1948 and March 1960 reveal a rare compassion and clarity…”

The rather obvious question that is often asked is: Why did he write these letters? Why did he maintain such a long and dedicated correspondence? Obviously, Nandini became a close friend and associate.

She was important to him and he cared about her. Less obviously, he probably saw in her a certain spirituality and calmness, of the kind he sought to develop in all those who gathered to listen to him. Nandini was a quiet and gentle person. Few understood the complex and beautiful friendship she shared with Krishnamurti. One needs to understand Krishnamurti’s concept of compassion and understanding, only then can one fathom their bond and respect for each other.

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