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Rajesh Dalal (1953-2014)

In his last email dated the 17th of February - K's death anniversary and little more than a week before he himself passed away - Rajesh Dalal sent three questions he wanted KFI Trustees to address: 

‘1. Are we capable of meeting and exploring the teachings, completely putting aside all reference to K and KFI? What are the implications of the above, both when we are able to so forget and when we can't?

2. What is the teaching according to me? Have I defined it in some way? How do I hold my understanding? Am I resisting others' definition? Am I trying to live by my definition/expecting others to live by it? What actually is happening to me and my friends in this most important domain?

3. How can a group of people explore TOGETHER? What comes in the way of such exploration? What factors assist it?’

Rajesh’s challenge to the Trustees, covered by the questions he posed, was to simultaneously examine their relationship with Krishnamurti and to their own authentic selves; they emerged from a consciousness that had internalized fundamental aspects of Krishnaji's teaching and echoed Krishnamurti’s own demands of his Trustees. Unfortunately, he did not live to see the inquiry that might have emerged from his demand.

Rajesh Dalal's tenure as a member of the Foundation was longer than any other individual member’s today, even though he counted among the youngest in age.  His encounter with Krishnamurti ‘s writings in his student days had made a deep and immediate impact on him and as soon as he finished his engineering degree at IIT Kanpur in 1976 he joined the school at Rajghat. His first meeting with Krishnamurti and his many subsequent conversations and travels with him fully shaped the direction of his life and work. He was invited to become a member of the Foundation while still in his twenties. He remained a passionate inquirer into the teachings throughout his life, and sought no other options.

At Rajghat, Rajesh was given charge of a house with a set of young boys. He took on the responsibility of living with them, educating them in academic subjects, while also nurturing in them deeper values. His earnestness blending naturally with an unusual and wonderful playfulness made him a brilliant and successful teacher.   His students were introduced to life questions and complex thinking skills. They were also captivated by the magic tricks, puzzles, tongue twisters and riddles that he so much enjoyed sharing with them.

In 1980, at Krishnaji’s behest, Rajesh moved to Rishi Valley to head the Junior School.  Many of the boys in his charge at Rajghat accompanied him to Rishi Valley. Apart from expending much creative energy in making the junior school a more vibrant space for its teachers and students, he played a crucial role in the new Management Team that was formed to administer Rishi Valley School. He was instrumental in giving shape to the concept of a ‘middle school’ at Rishi Valley, a structure that was later adopted by many of the KFI schools.

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After eight years at Rishi Valley Rajesh moved on to the KFI headquarters at Vasant Vihar, where he helped build the Study Centre. He gave talks on Krishnamurti at various educational institutions in the city and invited school students and young people to engage with life questions at Vasant Vihar. He also initiated with his wife, Saraswati, a long-term project of bringing up and educating a small group of young boys from Ladakh.

In 1996, Rajesh, along with Saraswati, was invited to move with these boys to a new site in the Bhagirathi valley, near Uttarkashi, in order to revive a small KFI school that had been established for rural Himalayan children. With a small team of dedicated individuals who gathered here, they together developed a wonderfully creative educational project, renamed Nachiket. Though the school had to eventually be closed down, many of the children, who had grown up in its closely-tended and vital atmosphere, travelled with Saraswati to other locations in India and have continued with their unique education, with full support from Rajesh.   

During this period, Rajesh was also requested to return to the Rajghat Education Centre as its Rector. This was a huge challenge that he grappled with for 5 years, even as the Nachiket project continued to function actively in the hills.

In 2007 Rajesh decided to shed further organizational responsibilities within the KFI, and took to travelling and meeting with new groups of persons interested in self-inquiry.

Over several decades, Rajesh had committed himself to primarily one challenge -- transformation of consciousness through inviting, asking, nurturing and deepening fundamental questions of human existence. He was invited to international conferences and gatherings as special guest or keynote speaker and traveled widely throughout India, parts of Europe, the United States and Russia.  During the last phase of his life he reached out to increasingly diverse kinds of audiences hungry for a deeper understanding of the human predicament in the 21st century. He shared with them, as a ‘co-traveler’, his insights and discussed the possible resolution of complex human issues. Some of his most impressive talks are now available on YouTube.

All through this time Rajesh remained closely connected with friends and associates in the KFI, bringing whatever impetus he could to deepening the dialogue among trustees, as also among principals and teachers of KFI schools. He remained deeply concerned about the possibility that persons and places Krishnamurti had nurtured in his life-time may grow into centres of light in a darkening world. 

Rajesh Dalal through youth, middle age and the beginnings of old age never lost the boyishness innate to his being.  The secret of his being, if one may be allowed to venture a guess of this kind, was an unshakeable faith in human nature and a total absence of malice.

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Radhika Herzberger
Alok Mathur