Historical Photos Shared With Foundation

Rita Zampese first started taking photographs of Krishnamurti, the people around him, and the places he visited, at the Saanen Gathering in 1968. A few years later, Krishnamurti invited her to join him on his travels around the world. For more than a decade she took photos showing a more informal side of Krishnamurti’s life and work. She decided to share them with the Krishnamurti Foundation Archives because, as she puts it, “it’s important that people see how Krishnamurti lived outside of his official talks. My photographs show much more informal connections with people that might be of interest.” Here we share with you twelve of her photos, which we feel have some historical significance, because of the people or places in them and because they convey a sense of what it was like to attend some of the gatherings. All captions were written by Rita.
Click here to listen to a brief interview with Rita Zampese about the photos and her motivations for sharing them.

After his talk to students and staff in the Assembly Hall in Rishi Valley, Krishnamurti came up to Frances McCann (on the right) and me (middle) and told me that Frances had dropped her camera and that it was damaged. He took my arm and held it with a strong grip while asking if I (who was to leave the next day) would help by lending her my camera so that she could continue taking pictures during her stay in India. This lovely picture was taken by Hamid, who was nearby and heard us.

When I first visited Brockwood in 1974, Dorothy Simmons, the first Principal of the School, welcomed me warmly and I enjoyed her very special friendship over the years. The picture above shows her in l983 in her office with an almost life size photograph of the young Krishnamurti. In the picture below she invites me to join her for tea, together with her guests including Trustees of the Krishnamurti Foundation Trust, David Bohm (middle) and Hugues van der Straten (right).

In January 1983 Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi came to meet Krishnamurti at the Krishnamurti Foundation India in Madras (now Chennai). Three of these pictures show Krishnamurti at the entrance of Vasanta Vihar, the building where he lived when in Madras (now a KFI Study Centre), with Sunanda Patwardhan, Radha Burnier and Pupul Jayakar waiting for Prime Minister Gandhi. The fourth picture was taken after their lunch with a small group of guests, showing Krishnamurti walking Indira Gandhi to her car.

When in Ojai, Krishnamurti walked daily from Pine Cottage through an orange grove to Arya Vihara (now part of the KFA’s Peppertree Retreat) for lunch. Here he is hosting Governor Jerry Brown of California in May 1985. Among the other guests are Erna and Theo Lilliefelt, Mary Zimbalist and Friedrich Grohe. After serving as the 34th Governor of California from 1975 to 1983, Governor Brown became the 39th Governor of California in 2011.

At the end of the year Krishnamurti used to spend several weeks in Rishi Valley where he regularly talked to students and staff, often inviting students to sit beside him on the platform. Still full of questions a group of boys and girls follow him as he leaves the Assembly Hall.

During Krishnamurti‘s stay in Rishi Valley, family and friends of Radhika Herzberger, then Director of Rishi Valley Educational Centre, used to come and meet him. This picture was taken on the veranda of her home and shows, from left to right, Sunanda Patwardhan, Radhika’s mother Pupul Jayakar, her aunt Nandini Mehta, and me replacing Radhika so that she could take this picture. The wall painting in the back is by Shashikala Devi, the Herzberger’s housekeeper.

Saral and David Bohm, in September 1985, sitting in the tent in Brockwood Park where Krishnamurti is about to give a talk (picture above). After the talk the audience was invited to a light lunch in a separate tent, which Krishnamurti attended. Here he is seen in the crowd talking to David and Saral Bohm.

At the Saanen Gatherings, people often used to queue from five or six in the morning. Here, at the Gathering in l984, a view of the crowd, shortly before entering the tent at mid-morning.

Dorothy Simmons and Narayan opposite the house in Madanapalle where Krishnamurti was born on May 11th, 1895 and where he spent his childhood until the age of eight. The house has recently been acquired by the Krishnamurti Foundation of India and turned into a study centre and library dedicated to the memory of Krishnamurti.

Dorothy Simmons and her husband Montague used to come to the Saanen Gatherings in their Land Rover and camped next to the river Saane a little way from the tent where Krishnamurti talked. Here they are seen in front of their mobile home always ready to meet friends and visitors.

On his 90th birthday, Krishnamurti gave a talk in the Oak Grove on the grounds of the school in Ojai and then attended lunch with a small group of friends at Arya Vihara. Helping clean up at the end of the meal by carrying a pot of soup from the lunch buffet to the kitchen, he is interrupted on his way by Pupul Jayakar and seems to be in intensive discussion with her.

When in his sixties, Krishnamurti was a patient at the world renowned Bircher-Benner Clinic in Zürich. Dr. Dagmar Liechti-von Brasch, niece and successor of the clinic’s founder Max Bircher-Benner, was chief physician at that time. In these photos (above with Mary Zimbalist and Krishnamurti; below with Krishnamurti), taken in September l982, she visited Krishnamurti at Brockwood Park where they met again after a long interval. She then went to his talks in Madras the following winter and attended all the Saanen Talks until his death, acting as his medical adviser in Switzerland. When at the end of his last talk in Saanen in August 1985 Krishnamurti announced that this was indeed the last talk here, it was on Dr. Liechti’s advice.


If you have any personal photos, video or audio recordings you feel might be of interest to the Krishnamurti Foundation Archives, please contact Duncan Toms at archives@kfoundation.org.