One of Krishnamurti’s personal characteristics consisted of meticulous attention to good grooming, good taste in clothes, and all the aspects of personal appearance. This trait could possibly be attributed to vanity, but he regarded it as a courtesy to other people. He felt it reflected respect and sensitivity to others to look one’s best in public. Rajagopal, his business manager, used to complain that Krishnamurti would make sure not to have a hair out of place when he stepped onto the platform to give public talks. But he did so not out of vanity, but rather consideration and respect for the people in the audience who had come to watch him speak for an hour or more.
His concern for good grooming extended to those around him as well. In my role as director of his school, he felt I too should take care with my appearance. He was particularly concerned, I realize now, with the way I managed my hair. In my thirties, I subscribed to the philosophy of what advertisers called “the dry look” as a model for what I aspired to. The applications of gel I had applied in my teens were now out of the question. I washed my hair every morning, indifferent as to whether with shampoo or hand soap and used a blow dryer to make it conform to some semblance of shape.
Krishnamurti must have regarded the net effect with a certain degree of concern. He gave me a plastic bottle hand-labeled “Hair Oil,” filled with a thick, creamy, fluid substance. He suggested I apply it at night before going to bed and rinse it out the next morning. Some weeks later, he saw I was not using it, and he asked me why. I said it left oily stains on my pillowcase. He said I should wrap a towel around my head while I slept so I could protect the pillow and still apply the oil. This was inconceivable to me, and I never so much as tried it even once.
On the other hand, I was honored and somewhat flattered that he would give me a gift of any kind, especially one that had evidently been prepared specifically for him. So I kept the plastic bottle, still filled with hair oil, in my medicine cabinet for years. The sight of it always gave me a little jolt of pleasure. It was only much later that it dawned on me how foolish I had been not to take his concern to heart, and find some way to care for my hair that would have met with his approval, and shown him a little respect!