Okay. Do you see the synchronicity? Simultaneously, I and Devageet said, "Okay." Of course he said it for one thing, I for something else; but the lines cross.
The moment before I came in I was listening to one of the greatest flutists, Hari Prasad. It stirred many memories in me.
There are many types of flute in the world. The most important is the Arabic; the most beautiful, the Japanese; and there are many others. But there is nothing comparable to the small Indian bamboo flute for its sweetness. And Hari Prasad is certainly a master as far as the flute is concerned. He played before me, not just once but many times. Whenever he felt he had to play really to his utmost, he would rush to me wherever I was, sometimes even thousands of miles, just to play his flute for one hour alone with me.
I asked him, "Hari Prasad, you could have played anywhere - why make such a long journey?"
And in India, one thousand miles is almost like twenty thousand miles in the West. The Indian trains - they still walk, not run. In Japan the trains run at four hundred miles per hour; and in India forty miles an hour is a great speed; and the buses, and the rickshaws. Just to play the flute for one hour alone in my bedroom... I asked him, "Why?"
He said, "Because I have thousands of admirers but nobody understands particularly the soundless sound. Unless one understands the soundless sound he cannot really appreciate.... So I come to you; and just that one hour is enough to enable me to play my flute for months before all kinds of idiots - governors, chief ministers, and the so-called ' great ones.' When I feel utterly tired and exhausted and fed up with the idiots, I run to you. Please don't deny me just this one hour."
I said, "It is a joy to hear you, your flute, your song. In themselves they are great, but particularly so because they remind me of the man who introduced us. Do you remember that man?"
He had completely forgotten who had introduced him to me, and I can understand... it must have been forty years before. I was a small child, he was a young man. He tried hard to remember but could not, and said, "Excuse me but it seems my memory is not functioning well. I cannot even remember the man who introduced me to you. Even if I forget everything else, at least I should remember him."
I reminded him of the man, and he became just tears. That is the man I would like to talk to you about today.
Pagal Baba was one of those remarkable men whom I am going to talk about. He was of the same category as Magga Baba. He was known just as Pagal Baba. Pagal means "the mad." He came like a wind, always suddenly, and then disappeared as suddenly as he had come....
I did not discover him, he discovered me. By that I mean I was just swimming in the river when he passed by: he looked at me, I looked at him, and he jumped in the river and we swam together. I don't know how long we swam but I was not the one to say "enough." He was already an established saint. I had seen him before, but not so closely, at a gathering, doing bhajan, and singing songs of God. I had seen him, and had a certain feeling towards him, but I had kept it to myself. I had not even uttered a single word about it. There are things which are better kept in the heart; there they grow faster, that's the right soil.
At this time he was an old man; I was not more than twelve. Obviously he was the one to say, "Let us stop. I am feeling tired."
I said, "You could have told me any time and I would have stopped, but as far as I am concerned I am a fish in the river."
Yes, that's how I was known in my town. Who else swims six hours every morning from four till ten?
When everybody was asleep, fast asleep, I would be already in the river. And when everybody had gone to work I would still be in the river. Of course at ten o'clock every day my grandmother would come, and then I would have to come out of the water because it was school time, I had to go to school. But immediately after school I was back in the river.
When I first came across SIDDHARTHA, Herman Hesse's novel, I could not believe that what he had written about the river I had known so many times. And I knew perfectly well that Hesse was only imagining... a good imagination, because he died without being a Buddha. He was able to create SIDDHARTHA, but could not become a Siddhartha. But when I came across his description of the river, and the moods, and the changes, and the feelings of the river, I was overwhelmed. I was more impressed by his description of the river than anything else. I cannot recall how long I had loved the river - it seemed as if I had been born in its waters.
In my Nani's village I was continuously either in the lake or in the river. The river was a little too far away, perhaps two miles, so I had to choose the lake more often. But once in a while I used to go to the river, because the quality of a river and a lake are totally different. A lake, in a certain way,
is dead, closed, not flowing, not going anywhere at all, static. That's the meaning of death. It is not dynamic.
The river is always on the go, rushing to some unknown goal, perhaps not knowing at all what that goal is; but it reaches, knowing or unknowing, it reaches the goal. The lake never moves. It remains where it is, dormant, simply dying, everyday dying; there is no resurrection. But the river howsoever small, is as big as the ocean, because sooner or later it is going to become the ocean.
I have always loved the feel of the flow; just going, that flux, that continuous movement... aliveness.
So, even though the river was two miles away, I used once in a while to go, just to have the taste.
But in my father's town the river was very close. It was just two minutes walk from my Nani's house.
Standing on the top floor you could see it; it was there with all its grandeur and invitation... irresistible.
I used to rush back from school to the river. Yes, just for a moment I would stop to throw my books in at my Nani's house. She would persuade me to at least have a cup of tea, saying, "Don't be in such a hurry. The river is not going to leave, it's not a train." That's exactly what she used to say again and again: "Remember, it is not a train. You cannot miss it. So please drink your cup of tea, then go. And don't throw your books down like that."
I didn't say anything because that would have meant further delay. She was always amazed, saying, "At any other time you are ready to argue; but when you are going to the river, even if I say anything - whether it is nonsense, illogical, absurd - you simply listen as if you were such an obedient child.
What happens to you when you are going to the river?"
I said, "Nani, you know me. You know perfectly well that I don't want to waste time. The river is calling. I can even hear the sound of its waves while I am drinking my tea."
I have burned my lips many times just by drinking tea which was too hot. But I was in a hurry, and the cup had to be emptied. My Nani was there; she wouldn't allow me to go before I drank my tea.
She was not like Gudia. Gudia is special in that way; she always tells me, "Wait. The tea is too hot."
Perhaps it is my old habit. I again start taking the cup and so she says, "Wait! It's too hot." I know she is right, so I wait until she does not object, then I drink the tea. Perhaps the old habit of just drinking tea and rushing to the river is still there.
Although my grandmother knew that I wanted to reach the waters as soon as possible, she would try to persuade me to have a little something to eat - this or that. I would say to her, "Just give everything to me. I will keep it in my pockets and eat it on the way." I have always liked cashew nuts, particularly salted ones, and for years I used to fill all my pockets with them. All my pockets meant two in my pants, meaning shorts, because I never liked long trousers - perhaps because all my teachers wore them, and I hated teachers, and a certain association must have arisen. So I only wore shorts.
In India shorts are far better, climatically, than long trousers. Both my pants pockets were full of cashew nuts; and you will be surprised: just because of those cashew nuts I had to tell the tailor to make two pockets in my shirts. I always had two pockets in my shirts. I never understood the
reason why just one pocket was put on shirts. Why not only one pocket in trousers too? Or just one pocket in shorts? Why only one in shirts? The reason is not obvious, but I know why. The single shirt pocket is always on the left side so that the right hand can take things out and put things in, and naturally no pocket is needed for the poor left hand. What would a poor man do with a pocket?
The left hand is one of the repressed parts of the human body; and if you try, you will understand what I am saying. You can do everything with the left hand that you can do with the right, even writing, and perhaps better.
After thirty or forty years of habit, in the beginning you would certainly find it difficult to use your left hand, because the left hand has been ignored and kept ignorant. The left hand is really the most important part of your body because it represents the right side of your brain. Your left hand is connected to your right brain, and your right hand with the left brain, just like a cross. The right is really left, and the left is really right. To ignore the left hand is to ignore the right side of your brain - and the right side of your brain contains all that is valuable, all the diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, and rubies... all that is valuable - all the rainbows and the flowers, and the stars.
The right side of the brain contains the intuition, the instincts; in short it contains the feminine. The right hand is a male chauvinist.
You will be surprised to know that when I started writing, being such a nuisance, I started writing with my left hand. Of course everybody was against me; again, of course, except my Nani. She was the only one who said, "If he wants to write with his left hand what is wrong with it?" She went on, "The question is to write. Why are you all so concerned which hand he uses? He can hold the pen in his left hand, and you can hold the pen in your right hand. What is the problem?"
But nobody would allow me to use my left hand, and she could not be everywhere with me. In school, every teacher and every student was against me using my left hand. Right is right, and left is wrong; even now I cannot understand why. Why should the left side of the body be denied and kept imprisoned? And do you know that ten percent of people would love to write with their left hand; in fact they had started writing like that but were stopped.
It is one of the most ancient calamities that has happened to man, that half of his being is not even available to him. A strange kind of man we have created! It is like a bullock cart with only one wheel:
the other wheel is there but kept invisible; used, but only in an underground way. It is ugly. I resisted from the very beginning.
I asked the teacher and the headmaster, "Show me the reason why I should write with my right hand."
They just shrugged their shoulders. I then said, "Your shrugging will not help, you have to answer me. You would not accept me if I shrugged my shoulders; then why should I accept you? I don't take any notice of it. Please explain properly."
I was sent to the school board because the teachers would not understand me, or explain to me. In fact they understood me perfectly. What I was saying was plain: "What was wrong in writing with the left hand? And if I write the right answer with my left hand, can that answer be wrong - just because it has been written with the left hand?"
They said, "You are crazy and you will drive everybody else crazy. It is better that you go to see the school board."
The board was the municipal committee which directed all the schools. In the town there were four primary schools and two high schools, one for girls and one for boys. What a town - where boys and girls are kept so absolutely apart. It was this board that made decisions about almost everything, so naturally I was sent there.
The board members listened to me very seriously, as if I were a murderer and they were sitting like judges, to hang me. I said to them, "Don't be so serious, relax. Just tell me what is wrong if I write with my left hand?"
They looked at each other. I then said, "That won't help. You have to answer me, and I am not easy to deal with. You will have to give it in writing because I don't trust you. The way you are looking at each other appears so cunning and political that it is better to have your answer in writing. Write what is wrong in writing a right answer with the left hand."
They sat there almost like statues. Nobody even tried to say anything to me. Nobody was ready to write either, they simply said, "We will have to consider it."
I said, "Consider. I am standing here. Who is preventing you from considering in front of me? Is it something private like a love affair? And you are all respected citizens: at least six people should not be in a love affair - that would be like group sex."
They shouted at me, "Shut up! Don't use such words!"
I said, "I have to use such words just to provoke you, otherwise you would just sit there like statues.
At least now you have moved and said something. Now, consider, and I will help you, and not hinder you at all."
They said, "Please go out. We cannot consider it in front of you; you are bound to interfere. We know about you, and so does everybody else in the town. If you don't leave then we will leave."
I said, "You can leave first, that is gentlemanly."
They had to leave their own committee room before me. The decision came the next day. The decision was simply that "The teachers were right, and everybody should write with their right hand."
This phoniness is dominant everywhere. I cannot even comprehend what kind of stupidity it is. And these are the people who are in power! The rightists! They are powerful, the male chauvinists are powerful. The poets are not powerful, nor the musicians.... Now look at this man Hari Prasad Chaurasia - such a beautiful bamboo flute player, but he lived his whole life in utter poverty. He could not remember Pagal Baba, who had introduced him to me-or is it better to say, ' me to him' - because I was only a child, and Hari Prasad was a world-recognized authority as far as the bamboo flute is concerned.
There were other flutists also introduced to me by Pagal Baba, particularly Pannalal Ghosh. But I had heard his playing and he was nothing compared to Hari Prasad. Why did Pagal Baba introduce
me to these people? He himself was the greatest flutist, but he would not play before the crowd.
Yes, he played before me, a child, or before Hari Prasad, or before Pannalal Ghosh, but he made it a point that we should not mention it to anyone. He kept his flute hidden in his bag.
The last time I saw him he gave me his flute and said, "We will not meet again. Not that I don't want to meet you, but because this body is not capable of carrying itself any longer." He must have been about ninety. "But as a memento I give you this flute, and I say to you, if you practice you can become one of the greatest flutists."
I said, "But I don't want to become even the greatest flutist. To be a flutist is not what can fulfill me.
It is one-dimensional."
He understood and said, "Then it is up to you."
I asked him many times why he tried to contact me whenever he came to the village, because that was the first thing he would do.
He said, "Why? You should ask it the other way around - why do I come to the village? Just to contact you... I don't come to this village for any other reason."
For a moment I could not say a word, not even "thank you." In fact in Hindi there is no word which is really equivalent to "thank you." Yes, there is a word which is used, but it has a totally different flavor, dhanyavad: it means "God bless you." Now, a child cannot say "God bless you" to a ninety-year-old man. I said, "Baba, don't give me trouble. I cannot even thank you." To say that I had to use an Urdu word, shukriya, which comes closer to the English, but it is still not exactly the same. Shukriya means "gratitude," but it comes very close.
I said to him, "You have given me this flute. I will keep it in your memory, and I will try to practice too.
Who knows? You, you know better than me; perhaps that is my future, but I don't see any future in it."
He laughed and said, "It is difficult to talk to you. Keep the flute with you and try to play with it. If something happens, good; if nothing happens then just keep it in my memory."
I started playing on it, and I loved it. I played it for years and became really proficient. I used to play the flute, and one of my friends - not really a friend, but an acquaintance - used to play on the tabla.
We both came to know each other because we both loved swimming.
One year when the river was in flood, and we were both trying to swim across - that was my joy, to cross the river in the rainy season when it used to become really enlarged; flowing with such force that it used to carry us at least two or three miles downstream. Just crossing meant we had to be ready to travel three miles back, and to cross back meant traveling three miles further, so it was a six-mile journey! And in the rainy season...! But that was one of my joys.
This boy, Hari was his name too. Hari is a very common name in India; it means "God," but it is a very strange name. I don't think any language has a name for God like Hari because it really means "the thief" - God the thief! Why should God be called a thief? Because sooner or later He steals your heart... and the sooner the better. The boy's name was Hari.
We were both trying to cross the river in full flood. It must have been almost a mile wide. He did not survive; he drowned somewhere on the way across. I searched and looked, but it was impossible:
the river was flooding too fast. If he had drowned, it would have been impossible to find him; perhaps someone further down the river would find his body.
I called as loudly as I could, but the river was roaring. I went to the river every day, and tried the best that a child could do. The police tried, the fishermen's association tried, but not even a trace was found. He must have been taken by the river long before they heard about it. In his memory I threw the bamboo flute that Pagal Baba had given me into the river.
I said, "I would have liked to throw myself but I have other work to do. This is the most precious thing that I have, next to myself, so I throw it. I will never play this flute again without Hari playing on the tabla. I cannot conceive of myself ever playing again. Take it, please!"
It was a beautiful flute, perhaps carved by a very skillful flutemaker. Perhaps it had been made specially for Pagal Baba by one of his devotees. I will talk more about Pagal Baba because so many things have to be said about him....
What is the time?
"Ten twenty-three, Osho."
Good. The time today will not suffice, so we will have to leave Pagal Baba for some other time.
But one thing perhaps I may forget later on, that is about the boy Hari, who died.... Nobody knows whether he died or escaped from his home, because his dead body was never found. But I think for certain that he died, because I was swimming with him, and suddenly at a certain point in the middle of the river I saw him disappearing. I shouted, "Hari! What's the problem?" but there was nobody to answer.
To me, India itself is dead. I don't think of India as a living part of humanity. It is a dead land, dead for so many centuries that even the dead have forgotten that they are dead. They have been dead so long, somebody has to remind them. That's what I am trying to do, but it is a very thankless task, reminding somebody, saying, "Sir, you are dead. Don't believe that you are alive."
That's what I have been doing continuously for these twenty-five years, day in, day out. It hurts that a country that has given birth to Buddha, Mahavira and Nagarjuna is dead.
Poor Devageet - just to hide his giggle, he had to cough. Sometimes I wonder who is taking the notes. Coughing is okay, giggling is also forgiven, but what about the notes? I used to deceive my teachers by just scribbling, pretending that I was taking notes, and fast. And I used to laugh when they were deceived. But it is impossible to deceive me, and it is good that you cannot. I am watching you, even though you think my eyes are closed. Yes, they are closed, but open enough to see what you are writing.
This is beautiful. I hit you so hard and yet you...
... Stop it now.