At the Feet of the Masters, by Alcyone, or Jiddu Krishnamurti
Katinka Hesselink - updated February 2011
This theosophical classic is famous in the Theosophical Society - Adyar, because of its conciseness and its devotional character. It is one of three small classics: At The Feet of the Master, Light on the Path, by Mabel Collins and The Voice of the Silence, by H.P. Blavatsky.
Light on the Path was published first. It was reported to have been seen in a vision. The Voice of the Silence is supposedly a translation of a secret manuscript, and translated by H.P. Blavatsky in the last years of her life.
At the Feet of the Master was dictated to Krishnaji when he was still quite young.
He never (even later) claimed authorship of it. Krishnamurti often claimed to have written it, as proved by S. Lloyd Williams in the July-October 2010 double issue of Theosophical History, in an article on the authorship of 'At the Feet of the Master'. All in all these three booklets give the devotional student who wants to tread the path, more than enough food for thought and wisdom. At the Feet of the Master is written in easy language, probably because Krishnamurti was quite young when getting it dictated.
Rumours versus historical fact (2003)
There has been the consistent rumour over the years that C.W. Leadbeater had written At the Feet of the Master. I get a few e-mails a year to this effect. Having reviewed some of the historical evidence, and the text itself, I see no reason to support these rumours. There may be stray sentences in the booklet that resemble Leadbeater's writing, but this is no mystery as Krishnamurti learned English from Leadbeater, amongst others. Also I see no reason why Leadbeater would lie about this. According to Ernest Wood's testimony Leadbeater did not feel it wise to proclaim Krishnamurti the World Teacher at such a young age. Since writing and publishing the book At the Feet of the Master only strenghthented this claim, I don't see the point. And Leadbeater certainly did not need the extra publicity.
There is extra evidence in the fact that Krishnamurti, though not remembering much, did remember writing something, when still having trouble with his English (I read this recently, but can't find the quote). There are several people who have testified to seeing Krishnamurti write. There was Marie Russak, quoted on page 22 of "Krishnamurti, the Taormina Seclusion - 1912" and Dick Clarke, quoted on p. 21,22 of "Krishnamurti & the Wind" by Jean Overton Fuller. Though Dick Clarke quotes Leadbeater's book "The Masters and the Path" in saying that Leadbeater did "read it, altered a word or two here and there, and added some connecting and explanatory notes, and a few other sentences which I remembered having heard him speak." Jean Overton Fuller adds:
So there we have an innocent admission the words were not totally Krishna's. Leadbeater has done something more than correct spelling and grammar. That is where his own preconception of what the master would have been likely to have said, could have been allowed to leak in.
Still, there is an awful difference between having added one or two centences and writing the book. There is no testimony to the effect that Leadbeater wrote all of it. Though he typed it out, acting as secretary to The Lord. See once again Ernest Wood's testimony.
Unless one wants to simply disbelieve Leadbeater because of his bad reputation, one is always free to do so. But the fact does seem to be that Krishnamurti produced most of the book himself. The pseudonym Alcyone was hardly a pseudonym by the way, as he had been called that in "The Lives of Alcyone", by C.W. Leadbeater and everybody knew that Krishnamurti was the Alcyone mentioned.
In more detail (2011)
The problem is, apparently, that people WANT to believe Krishnamurti did not write this booklet, because it's teachings clearly aren't in agreement with at the very least the style of his later teachings.
While Ernest Wood at first confirmed Krishnamurti's authorship, years later he claimed that he knew it 'had been fathered on him'. The problem with this later evidence is that it makes everybody involved in this a lier, INCLUDING WOOD HIMSELF. Wood DID support the Order of the Star. In fact he became one of it's leaders.
BTW, there is little evidence that Krishnamurti was as aloof a leader of that organisation as has sometimes been claimed.
Krishnamurti did support people reading At the Feet of the Master: believing in it was a condition for membership of the Order of the Star.
What's left after reading the article 'Did J. Krishnamurti Write at The Feet of the Master?' by S. Lloyd Williams, is that Wood was a very sorry loser in the presidential elections in the TS in 1934, which caused him to lash out to a lot of people in 1936.