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HomeNewsA Centenary Plus, Retold 

A Centenary Plus, Retold 

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#jiddu Krishnamurthy

Narasimhan Vijayaraghavan 

It was hundred and ten years to the day on May 25,1914 that the Privy Council, London, which was then the highest judicial authority  in colonized India, pronounced its verdict in Mrs. Annie Besant v. G. Navayaniah. The adoption of Jiddu Krishnamurti by Annie Besant was upheld by the Privy Council in 1911. The Council found that the adoption was legally valid and in the best interests of Krishnamurti, as it provided him with a better education and greater opportunities than he would have had with his biological parents.

The Council also found that Besant had acted in good faith and with the best interests of Krishnamurti in mind when she arranged the adoption. The Council rejected the arguments of Krishnamurti’s biological father, who had challenged the adoption on the grounds that he had not given his consent.

The Council’s decision established a legal precedent for adoption in British India, where previously adoption had been governed by religious and customary laws. The decision also paved the way for Besant to take on a more active role in Krishnamurti’s education and spiritual development, which would ultimately lead to the founding of the Order of the Star in the East.

Mahakavi Subramania Bharati, a Tamil poet and freedom fighter, played a small but memorable role in the adoption of Jiddu Krishnamurti by Annie Besant. In his newspaper, “India”, Bharati wrote a satirical piece called “The Fox with the Golden Tail,” which used the metaphor of a fox with a golden tail to criticize Besant’s decision to adopt Krishnamurti. 

Bharati argued that Besant’s adoption of Krishnamurti was a ploy to gain control over the young boy’s spiritual potential and reap the benefits of his supposed enlightenment. He likened Besant to the fox in the fable who stole the golden tail of a peacock, only to realize that it was useless to her and caused her more trouble than it was worth. 

Despite this criticism, Besant went ahead with the adoption, and Krishnamurti went on to become a prominent spiritual teacher and philosopher. Bharati’s “Fox with the Golden Tail” remains a well-known piece of Tamil literature and a reminder of the tensions and controversies that surrounded Krishnamurti’s adoption and early life.

Bharathi was scathing in his diabolical  diatribe against the Page 3 culture in media, of focusing far too much on this adoption case and ignoring India’s national cause for freedom. Bharathiyar argued against our skewed priorities, as a nation, which has not disappeared even today. Bharathiyar wrote, “It is unnecessary pifle and avoidable sizzle that takes and makes our day and I wonder if even Parasakthi knows whether it will cease”. 

(Writer is practicing advocate in the Madras High Court) 

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