Book: The Kitchen Chronicles: 1001 Lunches with J. Krishnamurti
Krishnamurti telling a joke...
The following story I was told in India. You may have heard of Birla, the industrialist. He’s from Calcutta, tremendously rich, and for many years his company has had a virtual monopoly on passenger cars build in India, with the ambassador. They are not well-made vehicles, not very comfortable, and they often break down. So Birla dies and goes to heaven. St Peter meets him at the Pearly Gates and asks, ‘Who are you, please?’ ‘I’m Birla,’ he replies, slightly annoyed at not being recognized. St. Peter goes through his list of names. ‘B-B-Birla. I’m sorry, your name is not on the list. I don’t think you can enter heaven.’ Birla protests angrily, ‘I’m Birla, the industrialist. I must be on that list. Look again. B-i-r-l-a.’ St. Peter is taken aback by the man’s arrogance and says, ‘I don’t know anybody by that name.’ ‘By Jove,’ Birla exclaim, ‘everybody knows me—everybody. And you’re trying to tell me…’ Peter says politely by firmly, ‘Please, sir, don’t get excited. That won’t help you up here. Your name is not on the list. I’ve never heard of you, and I’m afraid that you won’t be allowed into heaven.’ For a moment Birla is crushed and falls into a morose silence. St Peter feels pity on him and says, ‘But perhaps you can provide us with a good reason why we should let you in.’ Birla immediately perks up and says, ‘I have helped the cause of many religions by spending millions upon millions for the building of temples, mosques and churches.’ St Peter replies, ‘That’s quite natural, all rich people do that: they want to become famous and save paying taxes. But that hardly qualifies you to enter the heavenly paradise.’ By this time Birla is feeling frustrated and shouts, ‘Now look here, my dear chap, there is nobody in the whole of India, maybe in the whole world, who has done so much for his workers and their families, built hundereds of hospitals, homes for orphans and the aged, schools and universities. St Peter says, I’m not sure whether that counts either. After all, these people have given their energy, their labor, their lives, so that you could become rich. No, no—none of that matters in heaven. What we ask, which is the real question: what have you ever done for God?’ Birla frantically searches his memory and finally brightens up, saying with satisfaction, ‘Well, sir, for decades we have been manufacturing the famous Ambassador car. And, whenever somebody opens the door to get into their car, they exclaim, ‘O my God!’”