Indian Threads & Influences

The school Brockwood Park was Established in 1968 as an educational charitable trust called the Krishnamurti Foundation and was set up as a school within 40 acres of land. The school was based on the teachings of Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986) who was a philosopher, speaker and writer.

Krishnamurti’s subject matter included psychological revolution, the nature of mind, meditation, inquiry, human relationships, and bringing about radical change in society. He constantly stressed the need for a revolution in the psyche of every human being and emphasised that such revolution cannot be brought about by any external entity, be it religious, political, or social. In his early life he was groomed to be the new World Teacher but later rejected this mantle and withdrew from the Theosophical Society.

“I think this teaching covers the whole of human existence. It covers the whole of human life, from the physical to the most inward depth of human beings. So there is nothing that sets it apart as a cult. I personally look at it as a marvellous thing, not because I have said it, but because it is something extra- ordinarily life-giving. And that life-giving thing can never go dry. Like a wellspring, it can never go dry.”

J KRISHNAMURTI

The influence of the teachings of Brockwood Park at the tender age of twelve had a profound effect on the way I perceived and thought about life. As students we often spoke with Krishnamurti and went to regular lectures while he was in England. The spiritual and intellectual ethos suffused the school. It became natural to grow up with a questioning mind and to seek a life with meaning and fulfilment.

At the end of my academic education at Brockwood Park in 1979 I travelled to India on a school exchange with the three Krishnamurti foundations in Bangalore, Madras and Varanasi. I remained for ten months teaching English, travelling and working in Calcutta. My memories are indelible and etched into my psyche of the time spent in India on both visits.

In 1993 aged 34 I travelled to India to paint and draw for three months living in an Indian Artist’s village outside Calcutta. I worked intensely alongside twelve Indian artists and held an exhibition in Calcutta with the British High Commission who were my sponsors. My Indian charcoal drawings can be seen on my website: www.arabellaross.co.uk

Here all the intensity of my passion burns and feels so alive. In 1993 after three months of working creatively in India and getting ready to leave I wrote in my journal “Will the India of my heart be buried in the earth and trees and sky and soil when I leave? I cannot bear to think of loosing this self that means so much to me. It is so upsetting I cannot reason with myself, I just want to sob and as I do, feel the pain slowly ebbing from my body”.

My experiences in India enriched my understanding as an artist of the importance of being connected to a true self, where passion, fluidity, energy, psychic upheaval and having an openness of spirit can all be directed into the paintings and drawings. In this state of connectedness there is always a sense of freedom and hope and a heightened sense of existence that transcends the minutiae of everyday life. My fascination with India and it’s history has never left me.

Travelling alone in 1993 across the open countryside of Maya Pradesh from Kipling camp I got stranded in the middle of nowhere waiting at a bus stop to take me on to the next stage of my journey. There were no cars in sight and I did not know how long I would be waiting. One hour, one day…There were a few mud hits huts and two men who appeared!

I explained my predicament and asked how I might get back to Calcutta? One of the men suggested that I ride on the back of the motorbike with my art materials to a bus stop that would take me to the Bombay mail – Howrah train.

When asked if I was not afraid to travel alone and be alone amongst Indian people, I told him that no I wasn’t and that his kindness was one example of why I had no reason to be afraid. I reached Calcutta that was in curfew late evening.

In 2009 I returned to India to trek in the Himalayas for two weeks with Rebecca Stephens, a close family friend and the first British woman to have climbed Mount Everest.

Uncle Lennox: Indian Army

St. Ouen’s Manor is in the parish of St. Ouen’s in Jersey. It is the ancestral home to the Mallet De Carteret family, one of the oldest standing Jersey families dating back to 1065. Phillip Mallet de Carteret was one of my mother’s trustees who looked after the trust fund set up for her by her Grandparents, uncle Lennox’s parents. Their names were; Herbert Stanton Brain born in England 1874 – 1966. He was Auditor General in Gibraltar and Palestine (Israel). Lennox’s mother Marie Usmiani was born in Cyprus 1876 – 1961. Marie was an educated Mediterranean and spoke four languages; Greek, English, French and Italian. She was a Greek Orthodox Cypriot Catholic. The Usmiani’s from her father’s family were related to the Baldesar’s family who were Italian immigrants to Cyprus.

My mother’s father Max Brain died (Lennox’s brother) when my mother was nine years old. From two years of age my mother had been brought up by her Grandparents (Lennox’s parents). With a Greek nanny my mother learned to speak fluent Greek, French and Italian. Phillip Mallet de Carteret was a work colleague of Uncle Lennox.

As a young girl my sister and I would travel with my mother to Jersey to visit Uncle Lennox and to pay occasional visits to St Ouen’s Manor.  Uncle Lennox; Hubert Gervais Lennox Brain was an officer in the Indian Army during the Second World War. He was Assistant Military Secretary to General Savary in New Delhi from 1040 – 1942. In 1943 he proved himself an outstanding C.O of the 9th Battalion 13 F.F.R. “In March 1943 a new Commanding officer arrived Lt. Col. H.G.L.Brain 6th Royal Bn. 13th Frontier Force Riffles, who quickly made the battalion his own and, by November 1944 when he left for higher Command, it was acknowledged to be one of the most efficient in the Army”.

Lennox came to Jersey after he left India in 1945 with India’s independence. He retired in 1947 when he gave up Command. His father told him that the Army would provide him with an adequate pension and that he would not need to work again. Casting aside his father’s advice he trained to become a stockbroker forging a very successful second career. He was also the chairman of the Commissioners of Income Tax.

During our visits I would sit with Uncle Lennox for many an hour while he showed me photographs from his collection of albums during his time in the Indian Army. These are assembled photographs in the private collections of former officers of the 9th Battalion, 13th Frontier Force Rifles 1941-1947. They are informal records of life in a war raised unit of the old Indian Army

Uncle Lennox had a huge collection of medals of which he was proud of and would bring them out to show me. There were photographs of lessons in Urdu at the training school, cadets at physical exercise and assault practice, rifle range and Bayonet exercises and stories of the crossing of the Irrawaddy river! I was always fascinated by his tales and looking through the photographs with him. He always had a twinkle in his eye and was a great raconteur.

After the First World War there was a growing realisation that Indians should have an increasingly significant role in the officer corps of the Indian Army. How this should be achieved was clearly a matter of debate and finally it was decided that a number of

infantry and cavalry units should become “Indianised”, i.e. no more British officers would be posted to them and instead Indian officers from Sandhurst, and later, the Indian Military Academy at Debra Dun would be posted to them. The 6/13 FF Rifles was selected to be one of these units. The impact of any form of “Indianisation” on the British officers of the time is difficult to reconcile with attitudes of today, but the result was a movement away from the units concerned by the British officers to other employment. Lt Colonel Brain (HGLB) became an instructor at the RMC Sandhurst in late ‘35’ returning in September. ‘38’. During his tour of duty at the RMC he was innovative in the introduction of the Indian Army to his cadets. The two photographs of the Indian Army room with the collection of Indian Army regimental and corps badges illustrate this.

He also prepared an album of photographs illustrating aspects of service in Indianregiments. This album, incidentally, was updated by Lt.Col A.D.Fitzgerald, one of his former cadets, to include the Indian units in the Second World War. This album is now in the National