The man I was talking about, his full name was Pandit Shambhuratan Dube. We all used to call him Shambhu Babu. He was a poet, and rare in that he was not eager to be published. That is very rare in a poet. I have come across hundreds of the tribe, and they are all so eager to be published that poetry becomes secondary. I call any ambitious person a politician, and Shambhu Dube was not ambitious.
He was not an elected vice-president either, because to be elected you have to at least stand for election. He was nominated by the president, who was just holy cow-dung, as I have said before, and he wanted some men with intelligence to do his work. The president was an absolute cow-dung, and he had been in office for years. Again and again he had been chosen by other cow-dungs.
In India, to be a holy cow-dung is a great thing - you become a Mahatma; and this president was almost a Mahatma, and as bogus as they all are, otherwise they would not be Mahatmas in the first place. Why should a man of creativity and intelligence choose to be a cow-dung? Why should he be at all interested in being worshipped? I will not even mention the name of the holy cow-dung; it is filthy. He had nominated Shambhu Babu as his vice-president, and I think that was the only good thing that he did in his whole life. Perhaps he did not know what he was doing - cow-dungs are not conscious people.
The moment Shambhu Babu and I saw each other, something happened; what Carl Gustav Jung calls "synchronicity." I was just a child; not only that, wild too. I was fresh from the woods, uneducated and undisciplined. We had nothing in common. He was a man of power and very respected by the people, not because he was a cow-dung but because he was such a strong man, and if you were not
respectful to him, some day you might suffer for it. And his memory was very, very good. Everybody was really afraid of him and so they were all respectful, and I was just a child.
Apparently there was nothing in common with us. He was the vice-president of the whole village, the president of the lawyers' association, the president of the rotary club, and so on and so forth. He was either the president or the vice-president of many committees. He was everywhere, and he was a well-educated man. He had the highest degrees in law, but he did not practice law in that village.
Don't be worried about the noisy devils working outside - after all they are my disciples. If I initiate devils into sannyas what can you expect? I have been taking all the disciples from Beelzebub.
That was the name Gurdjieff used to call the devil, Beelzebub. But I would like to tell Gurdjieff that Beelzebub is losing hundreds of disciples every day. But they have been with Beelzebub for so long that they have learned his technology. I am not against technology, I love it. That is why Beelzebub's disciples find it easy to become my disciples, very easy, because they continue the same work under me that they used to do for ugly Beelzebub.
So don't be worried if I am not. In fact all their noises give such a beautiful background to what I am saying to you... of course, a sort of Picasso background, a little nightmarish. But sometimes nightmares can be beautiful, and one can feel sorry when they are ended. And what they are doing may not sound beautiful, but they are doing my work. Naturally Beelzebub is very angry... they are his disciples and using all his technology for me.
Science is a little devilish. You are medically trained, so in a way you are part of Beelzebub's technology. Forgive those poor fellows - they are doing their best, and as far as I am concerned, when I am speaking nothing matters.
I was saying - look at the background, and the silence - if one knows, then one can use Beelzebub as a servant.
I was telling you about Shambhu Dube, Shambhu Babu. He was a poet, but never published his poetry while he was still alive. He was a great story-writer too, and by chance a famous film director became acquainted with him and his stories. Now Shambhu Babu is dead but a great film has been made using one of his stories, MUGLE AZAM - "The Great Mogul." It won many awards, both national and international. Alas he is no more. He was my only friend in that place.
Once it was decided that I would live there - it was planned for only seven years but I actually lived there for eleven years. Perhaps they told only seven years to persuade me to stay; perhaps it was their intention from the beginning....
In India in those days, the educational structure began with four years of primary education - it was a separate phenomenon, under the local authorities - then three years more if you wanted to continue in the same direction. That is seven years; and then you would get a certificate.
Perhaps that was their intention and they were not lying to me. But there was another way too, and that is what actually happened. After four years you could either continue in the same line or change: you could go to the middle school. If you continued in the same line you never learned English. Primary education ended after seven years, and you were fully educated in only the local
language - and in India there are thirty recognized languages. But after the fourth year there was an opening and you could change gear. You could go to the English school; you could join the middle school as it was called.
Again, it was a four-year course, and if you continued in that line then three years later you became a matriculate. My God! What a wastage of life! All those beautiful days wasted so mercilessly, crushed! And by the time you were a matriculate, you were then capable of going to university.
Again, it was a six-year course! In all, I had to waste four years in primary school, four years in middle school, three years in high school, and six years in university - seventeen years of my life!
I think, if I can make any sense out of it, the only word that comes to me, in spite of Beelzebub and his disciples doing great work - ex-disciples, I mean - the only word that comes to me is "nonsense."
Seventeen years! And I was eight or nine when I started this whole nonsense, so the day I left university I was twenty-six, and so happy - not because I was a gold medallist but because I was free at last. Free again.
I was in such a hurry that I told my professor, "Don't waste my time. Nobody can convince me to enter these gates again. Even when I was nine years old my father had to drag me in, but now nobody can drag me. If anyone tries then I will drag him out." And of course I was able to drag the poor old man who was trying to persuade me not to leave.
He said, "Listen to me: it is rare to receive a scholarship for a Ph.D. Do your Ph.D., and I promise you that you will one day be able to have a D.Litt."
I said, "Don't waste my time, because my bus is leaving." The bus was standing there at the gate.
I had to rush to catch it, and I am sorry that I could not even thank him. I had no time - the bus was leaving, and my luggage was already on it, and the driver - as drivers do - was honking like mad. I was the only passenger not yet on the bus, and my old professor was almost on his knees persuading me not to leave.
Shambhu Babu was well-educated. I was uneducated when the friendship began. He had a glorious past; I had none. The whole town was shocked by our friendship, but he was not even embarrassed.
I respect that quality. We used to walk hand in hand. He was my father's age, and his children were older than me. He died ten years before my father. I think he must have been about fifty at that time.
This would have been the right time for us to be friends. But he was the only man to recognize me.
He was a man of authority in the village, and his recognition was of immense help to me.
Kantar Master was never seen at the school again. He was immediately sent on leave, because there was only one month before his retirement, and his application for an extension had been canceled. This created a great celebration in the village. Kantar Master had been a great man in that village, yet I had had him thrown out in just a single day. That was something. People started respecting me. I would say, "What nonsense is this? I have not done anything - I simply brought the man and his wrongdoing to the light."
I am surprised how he continued torturing small children his whole life; but that is what was thought to be education. It was thought then, and many Indians still think, that unless you torture a child he cannot be taught - although they may not say so clearly.
So I said, "There is no question of respect, and as far as my friendship with Shambhu Babu is concerned, it is not a matter of age. He is my father's friend really. Even my father is amazed."
My father used to ask Shambhu Babu, "Why are you so friendly to that troublesome boy?"
And Shambhu Babu would laugh and say, "One day you will understand why. I cannot tell you now."
I was always amazed at the beauty of the man. It was part of his beauty that he could answer by saying, "I cannot answer. One day you will understand."
One day he said to my father, "Perhaps I should not be friendly to him, but respectful."
It shocked me too. When we were alone, I said to him, "Shambhu Babu, what nonsense were you telling to my father? What do you mean by saying that you should respect me?"
He said, "I do respect you because I can see, but not very clearly, as if hidden behind a smokescreen, what you are going to be one day."
Even I had to shrug my shoulders. I said, "You are just talking rubbish. What can I be? I am already it."
He said, "There! That's what amazes me in you. You are a child, the whole village laughs at our friendship, and they wonder what we talk about together, but they don't know what they are all missing. I know," - he emphasized it - "I know what I am missing. I can feel it a little, but I can't see it clearly. Perhaps one day when you are really grown up, I may be able to see you."
And, I have to confess, after Magga Baba he was the second man who recognized that something immeasurable had happened to me. Of course he was not a mystic, but a poet has the capacity, once in a while, to be a mystic, and he was a great poet. He was also great because he never bothered to publish his work. He never bothered to read at any gathering of poets. It looked strange that he would read his poetry to a nine-year-old child, and he would ask me, "Is it of any worth? Or just worthless?"
Now his poetry is published, but he is no more. It was published in his memory. It does not contain his best work because the people who chose it, none of them were even poets, and it needs a mystic to choose from Shambhu Babu's poetry. I know everything he wrote. There was not much, a few articles, and very few poems, and a few stories, but in a strange way they all connect with a single theme.
The theme is life, not as a philosophical concept but as it is lived moment to moment. Life with a small "l" will do, because he would never forgive me if you wrote Life with a capital "L." He was against capital letters. He never wrote any word with capitals. Even the beginning of a sentence would always be written with small letters. He would even write his own name in small letters. I asked him, "What is wrong with capital letters? Why are you so against them, Shambhu Babu?"
He said, "I am not against them, but I am in love with the immediate, not the faraway. I am in love with small things: a cup of tea, a swim in the river, a sunbath.... I am in love with little things, and they cannot be written with capital letters."
I understand him, so when I say that although he was not an enlightened Master, not a master in any way, I still count him as number two, after Magga Baba, because he recognized me when it was impossible to do so, absolutely impossible. I may not have even recognized myself, but he recognized me.
When I entered his vice-president's office for the first time and we looked at each other, eye to eye, for a moment there was just silence. Then he stood up and said to me, "Please sit down."
I said, "There is no need for you to stand up."
He said, "It is not a question of need, and it makes me so happy to stand up for you. I have never felt that before - and I have stood before the governor and all the so-called powerful people. I have seen the viceroy in New Delhi, but I was not mystified as I am by you, I confess. Please don't tell anybody."
And this is for the first time that I have ever told it. I have kept it a secret all these years, forty years.
It feels like a relief.
This morning Gudia said, "You slept so late."
Yes, last night I slept, for the first time in many years, as I would like to sleep every night. During the whole night I was not disturbed even for a single moment. Usually I have to look at my watch once in a while just to see whether it is time to get up. But last night, after many years, I did not look at my watch at all.
I even had to miss Devaraj's concoction. That's what I call his special breakfast mixture. It is a concoction but it is really good. It is difficult to eat because it takes half an hour just to chew it, but it is really healthy and nourishing. We should make it available to everybody - Devaraj's concoction for breakfast. Of course it is not fast, it is slow, very, very slow. Can we call it a "break-slow"? But then it would not sound right.
I had to miss breakfast today for two reasons: first, I had to keep Devageet's time, and still I was five minutes late, and I don't like to be late. Secondly, if I had started that concoction it would have taken so much time to eat that by the time I had finished, it would have been lunch time. There would have been no gap, which is needed. So I thought I would miss it. But I really enjoy it, and in missing it, I really miss it.
Last night was one of the rarest for the simple reason that yesterday I spoke to you about Shambhu Babu, and it relieved me of a weight. I also talked about my father and the continuous struggle and how it ended. I felt so unburdened.
Shambhu Babu was a man who could have become a realized one, but missed it. He missed because of too much intellectuality. He was an intellectual giant. He could not sit silently even for a single moment. I was present when he died. It is a strange destiny that I have to see everyone I love die.
I was not very far away when he was dying. He phoned just before to say, "Come quickly if you can because I don't think that I can last long. I mean," he said, "that I can't last even a few days."
I immediately rushed to the village. It was only eighty miles from Jabalpur, and I got there within two hours. He was so happy. He again looked at me with the same look as when we had first met, when I had been about nine years old. There was a very eloquent silence. Nothing was said, but everything was heard.
Holding his hands I told him, "Please close your eyes, don't strain."
He said, "No. The eyes are going to close very soon of their own accord, and then I won't be able to open them. So please don't ask me to close my eyes. I want to see you. Perhaps I may not be able to see you again. One thing is certain," he said, "that you are not coming back to life. Alas, had I listened to you! You always insisted on being silent but I continued to postpone. Now there is no time even to postpone."
Tears came to his eyes. I remained without saying anything, just with him. He closed his eyes and died.
He had such beautiful eyes, and such an intelligent face. I know many beautiful people but it is very rare to have the beauty of that man. It is not man-made, certainly not made in India. He was, and still is, one of my most loved ones. Although he has not yet entered into a body again, I am waiting for him.
This is a multi-purpose ashram. A few purposes are known to you, and a few are known only to me.
This is one of the purposes unknown to the organizers of the ashram, that I am awaiting a few souls.
I am even preparing couples to receive them. Shambhu Babu will be here before long.
There are so many memories concerning this man that I will have to refer to him again and again.
But today, just his death.
Strange that I should talk about his death first and the other things later on. No, as far as I am concerned it is not strange, because to me the moment of death opens a man as nothing else does.
Not even love can do that miracle. It tries to, but lovers prevent it, because in love two people are needed; in death only one is enough unto oneself. That's because there is no disturbance from the other. I saw Shambhu Babu dying with such a relaxed joyous attitude that I cannot forget his face.
You will be surprised to know that he had the face of - guess who? - almost the same face as the ex-president of America, Richard Nixon! But without the ugliness hidden in every cell and fiber of Nixon...! Otherwise Shambhu Babu would have been the president of India. He was far more intelligent than the so-called president of India, Sanjiva. But I mean photographically he looked very similar to Nixon in his younger days. Of course, when a different soul is there even the same face has a different aura, a different - how to say it - a different, altogether different significance. So please don't misunderstand me, because you all know Richard Nixon while only I knew Shambhu Babu, so misunderstanding is bound to happen.
Please forget that I said that they looked alike, just forget it. It is better that you don't know Shambhu Babu's face at all rather than you start thinking of him as Richard Nixon. But I must confess that I have a soft spot for Richard Nixon, just because he resembles Shambhu Babu. You have to forgive me that; I know he does not deserve it, but I cannot help it either. Whenever I see his picture all I see is Shambhu Babu, and not Nixon at all.
When Nixon became president of America, I said to myself, "Aha! So at least a man resembling Shambhu Babu has become president of America." I would have loved Shambhu Babu to be the president of America; of course that was not possible, but the resemblance consoles me. When Nixon did what he did, I felt ashamed, again, because he resembles Shambhu Babu. And when he had to resign the presidency I was sad, not because of him - I had nothing to do with him - but because now I would not see Shambhu Babu's face again in the newspapers.
Now, there is no problem because I don't read the newspapers any more. I have not read them for years. I used to finish reading four newspapers within one minute, but for more than two years I have not even looked at one. And I don't read any books. I simply don't read. I have become uneducated again, just as I always wanted to be. If my father had not dragged me into that school... but he did drag me. And what all those schools and colleges and university did to me took so much energy to undo, but I have succeeded in undoing it all.
I have undone everything that society did to me. I am again just an uneducated, wild boy from - you don't use the word in English.... In Hindi, a man from a village is called a gamar. A village is called a gam, and the villager is called a gamar. But gamar also means "fool" and they have become intermixed, so much so that nobody now thinks that the word gamar means villager; everybody thinks it means fool.
I came from the village utterly blank, with nothing written on me. Even while I was away from that village I had remained a wild boy. I have never allowed anybody to write anything on me. People are always ready... not only ready but insistent that they write something on you. I had come from the village empty, and I can say now that all that has been written in between I have erased, and erased completely. In fact I have demolished the wall itself so you cannot write anything on it ever again.
Shambhu Babu could have done this too. I know he was capable of it, of becoming a Buddha, but it didn't happen. Perhaps his very profession - he was a lawyer - prevented it. I have heard of all kinds of people becoming buddhas, but I have never heard of any lawyer becoming a Buddha. I don't think anybody from that profession could become a Buddha unless he really renounced all that he had learned. Shambhu Babu could not gather that courage, and I feel sorry for him. I don't feel sorry for anybody else because I have never come across anybody else who was so capable and yet did not take the jump.
I used to ask him, "Shambhu Babu, what is the hitch?"
And he would always say the same thing: "How can I explain it? I don't know exactly what the hitch is, but there must be something preventing me."
I know what it was, but he also knew it although he never recognized that he knew it. And he knew that I knew that he knew it. He would always close his eyes whenever I would ask the question - and I am a stubborn man; again and again I would ask him, "What is the hitch?"
He would close his eyes, just not to face me eye to eye, because that was the one situation where he could not lie. I mean he could not be a lawyer... liar. But now that he is dead I can say that even though he was not a Buddha, he was almost a Buddha, which I will never say about anybody else again. I will keep this special category, of almost-a-Buddha, for Shambhu Babu.