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 became good friends and exchanged innumerable letters. Through the years, Krishnamurti shared with Nandini his thoughts and teachings, his compassion for her and her family.

Very little about the life of Nandini Mehta is in the public domain, 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. This booklet was subsequently translated into several languages, including Hindi, Marathi, Greek, and Portuguese.

At the time of its publication, it was not disclosed that the letters were written to Nandini Mehta, though those in Krishnamurti circles of 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 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 spirituality and
calmness, of the kind he sought to develop in all those who gathered to listen to his discourses.

Few understood the complex and beautiful friendship Nandini 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.

What is relevant and highlighted in this memoir is the way in which Nandini absorbed and understood Krishnamurti’s words, how they helped her, how she tried to live her life according to his teachings. This biography spells out her life, her struggles, her path to a peaceful, spiritual existence.

This manuscript is based on her diaries, extracts of letters Krishnamurti wrote to her, which she had copied into her diaries, and letters and conversations between Nandini and her daughter Devyani (Devi) Mangaldas. Through these words, the life and thought of Nandini Mehta unfold, as does her connection to Krishnamurti.

Three years after Krishnamurti’s death, when Nandini was 72, in her diary, she wrote him a letter. The letter nostalgically reminisces about the joys of walking with Krishnamurti in Bombay, Benaras,

Rishi Valley and Sri Lanka. It also recalls a distant memory of walking with him in Ooty, and watching the world through his eyes. The letter ends with a moment of epiphany, when Krishnamurti’s spiritual presence lifts her thoughts and mind. It is because of these last words she wrote to Krishnamurti, and the way in which she personally and metaphorically walked with him during her lifetime, that this memoir is entitled “Walking With Krishnamurti”.