Osho – Yesterday I called Gandhi a bania, a businessman, and some friends felt hurt about it. Gandhi was a businessman; he was a businessman in the same sense in which I referred to four types of men a little while ago. Somebody has said that I used a derogatory term to describe him. Some people think that “businessman” is a derogatory term.
Even the businessman feels so. But no word is derogatory. Businessman is a fact; he is a type of man. And I say that Gandhi is not a brahmin, not a warrior, nor a worker; his basic personality is that of a businessman. But it is just a statement of fact; there is no condemnation implied in it.
We have become so feeble in our thinking that we understand only the language of praise or condemnation; we do not accept a fact, that there is something like “fact”. If I say that so and so is suffering from T.B. he may say that I slandered him. But it is simply a fact that he is suffering from TB. — there is no condemnation involved in it. I called Gandhi a businessman just because he is a businessman. I did not mean to condemn him in the slightest. His whole personality was such. But the friend wants me to give a few more illustrations.
A thousand illustrations can be given, but I will mention only a few. Mahavir Tyagi has mentioned an incident in his book of memoirs. One day Gandhi visited his town and addressed a largely attended public meeting in the evening. At the end of the meeting he asked for donations from the audience. Many people gave money; women gave away their ornaments, like earrings, bracelets and anklets. Gandhi accepted them and piled them on the podium. Before he left the meeting he asked Mahavir Tyagi to carry the donations to his residence.
Tyagi arrived at Gandhi’s place at about midnight. He thought that Gandhi had gone to bed; he also thought that he himself could have waited until the next morning before he saw him. But he had no idea of the mind of a businessman — he never goes to bed before finalizing his accounts. And so he was surprised to see that the old man was wide awake at that hour of the night.
As soon as Tyagi arrived Gandhi enquired if he had brought everything from the meeting place, and immediately he opened the bag and examined it. He found one earring missing. “No woman will give only one earring; she will donate the pair. So go back to the meeting place and find the other,” he said to Tyagi. A tired Mahavir Tyagi returned to the meeting place at one in the morning and found the missing earring with the help of a gaslight. When he returned to Gandhi’s place he again thought that he had gone to bed, but no, he again found the old man awake. When he received the earring he was satisfied and said to Tyagi, “Now you can go; the account is okay.”
I did not say anything derogatory about Gandhi. This is also a kind of mind; there is nothing of condemnation about it. And if we had rightly understood the personality of Gandhi, it would have made a great difference in the life of India. Because if the leadership of this country was in the hands of a businessman, the danger was inevitable. It was really the job of a warrior which Gandhi, a businessman, undertook to do.
Bhagat Singh would have done it well; Subhas Bose would have done it still better. But it could not happen that way. And Gandhi did what his type was capable of doing. The country was partitioned and it was a mutilated and lifeless independence that we had, because the businessman is always for compromise; he cannot afford to be an extremist. He says, “Let us settle on the basis of fifty-fifty.” India’s partition was the result of Gandhi’s leadership. Because the mind of a businessman does not like fight, he chooses compromise instead. He believes in settlement on the basis of give-and-take. He avoids conflict and confrontation. Whether Gandhi said so in explicit terms is not the question. It was the mind of a businessman that the country acquired from the leadership of Gandhi.
This is precisely the reason why Gandhi found accord with the British, because they also are a community of businessmen. The British could not have found this accord with anyone else. It was impossible to have accord with Bhagat Singh or Subhas Bose. They had accord with Gandhi because their mental type was the same. The British were essentially businessmen, who by mistake became rulers of a country and wielded power. And the person who confronted them was, to their good luck, also a businessman. It is surprising to see that the British government provided every security to Gandhi, something no government on earth had ever done to their enemy. We could not save Gandhi’s life after the British left India, but he was alive as long as they were here. It is such an interesting episode of history.
The British gave full protection to Gandhi because it became clear to them that sooner or later he would prove useful to them, and so they should be on good terms with him. others in his place would have been difficult to deal with. There was a sort of inner communion between him and the British rulers of India. This relationship was bound to happen, because it was so natural — they belonged to the same category as far as their mental makeup was concerned. They could understand each other, and so a rapport was established between them.
That is why India could not win her independence; it was given as a gift, and such an independence is worse than slavery. Independence is wrested, it is achieved, it is not had by begging. Independence is not had through negotiations and compromises; it is always wrested from unwilling hands. And the freedom that is wrested is alive and dynamic; it has a verve and vitality of its own. And one that is granted and received as a gift is as good as a corpse. It was a lackluster independence that came to India in 1947; it missed the glory and grandeur that comes with it. And it came with all the ugly consequences that independence coming as a gift brings with it.
Gandhi never tired of preaching non-violence, because a businessman cannot afford violence. Have you cared to note that the Jain teerthankara Mahavira is a kshatriya, a warrior, but the community that gathered around him is entirely a trading community.
Mahavira is a warrior, and the twenty-four teerthankaras of the Jains are warriors, but not one Jain is a warrior — all the Jains are businessmen. What is the matter? There is no other reason than the fact that non-violence made a deep appeal to the merchant community. Mahavira’s non-violence made a great impact on the minds of the shopkeepers. Similarly, the businessman’s mind in India found itself in accord with Gandhi’s non-violence. It said that Gandhi was right: if we are not going to be violent with others, others will not be violent with us. It was because of Gandhi’s leadership that non-violence became the basis of a movement for independence. India had to go through tremendous misfortunes because of the non-violent character of its movement for independence.
It was a great misfortune that Gandhi did not allow the hatred and violence that naturally surged in India’s mind against the British to express itself. He suppressed it. Whenever a little violence showed itself, the businessman in Gandhi panicked and retreated, as if he thought aloud that shopkeepers could not afford violence, they were all for compromise. He always retraced his steps.
I remember a story; it is perhaps one of the folk tales of Rajasthan. The story says that there was a warrior, a kshatriya in a village, who was very proud of his mustache; it symbolized his brawn. He sat all through the day in front of his house twisting the ends of his mustache upwards. He had it announced in the village that nobody could pass his house twisting the ends of his mustache upwards.
One day a businessman, who had newly settled in the village and who sported a mustache, happened to pass the house of the warrior while twisting the ends of his mustache upwards. The warrior stopped him and said, “Listen, businessman, stop twisting the ends of your mustache upwards.” The businessman said, “Who are you to order me about?” The warrior stood up and handed the businessman a sword saying, “Then take this sword and let us settle the matter once and for all.”
The businessman was flabbergasted, he had not imagined that things would come to such a head. He said, “Okay. But before we fight a duel let us do one thing that is necessary. In case I die, my wife and children will suffer. And if you die your wife will be widowed and your children will have to beg. It will be better if both of us go back to our houses and finish with our dependents. And then we will settle our score.”
The warrior readily agreed. If he had been intelligent, he would not have made an issue of his mustache. The businessman went home, and so did the warrior. The warrior killed his wife and children and returned to his seat, twisting his mustache. When the businessman came back, he had no mustache at all; he had shaved it. And he said, “I thought there was no point in fighting to death for nothing, and I shaved my mustache!”
This is a type of mind; there is nothing derogatory about it. This is just to say that the warrior is like this and the businessman is like that. It is not a condemnation. Whenever Gandhi was in difficulties, whether it was the Chaurichaura incident or something else that turned violent, he at once beat a retreat. He thought it was better that he shaved his mustache. Why fight?
The result was that the hatred and violence of the Indian people against the British, which was simply natural, was repressed. And because of this repression, the two major communities of India — the Hindus and the Mohammedans — fought with each other, and bloody riots took place throughout the country. If India had fought the British openly — with swords — the Hindus and Mohammedans would not have fought among themselves. As we could not fight the British, the repressed hatred, the unspent violence, had to find an outlet somewhere. Where could it go? And it found an outlet in the Hindu-Mohammedan riots, in violent infighting.
It is generally believed that Gandhi tried his best to prevent the infighting between Hindus and Mohammedans. But I say that he was responsible for the whole tragedy. You can understand this easily if you are familiar with the findings of modern psychology. The feeling of hatred and violence against the alien rulers was so powerful — and very natural at that — that it could have set fire to the British regime and thrown it out of India. Such a tremendous energy was suppressed, and it had to find other ways to express itself. It could not have done otherwise.
For example, there is a petty clerk working in some office. One day his boss berates him He is so hurt that he feels like strangling his boss, but he simply cannot do it; it is unthinkable. So he suppresses his anger and puts a false smile on his face and goes about wagging his tail before the boss as usual.
Then the clerk leaves for home in the evening. Watch his bicycle; he is pedaling it with great force. Why? He is just giving vent to his repressed anger against the boss. He would have beaten him with his shoes, but he could not. Now it is as if he is beating the pedal with the same shoes. And he drives fast. Now his wife should know that the lord and husband is coming home after he had some trouble with his boss. But she does not know a thing. She is fondly expecting her husband home. The husband too is not aware of what he is going to do after reaching home. But you can know that he is now going to strangle his wife in the place of his boss. He will find a thousand and one excuses to punish her — the bread for his dinner was burned, the bed was not made, and so on and so forth. And he takes her to task, he thrashes her. In reality he had to thrash the boss, but he dared not. So the anger deviates and makes the wife its target.
Hatred is stored in his mind; it is bursting. If you close the drainage of your house, then filth will be all over the place. As a house needs a drainage, so also our violence needs a let-go. And if it is not allowed a right outlet, it will find a wrong one. And the violence expressed the wrong way will do you more harm than one expressed the right way. It proved to be so.
But the wife is also helpless; she cannot beat the husband in retaliation. Up to now the wife has not gathered that much courage… but she should. Husbands themselves have taught the wives that husbands are their gods. Now it is dangerous to beat a god, although the wife has her doubts too. What kind of a god is he that beats his wife without reason? But she has to believe what she had been taught to believe.
So the wife of the clerk, in her turn, waits for her son to return from the school. These are all unconscious deviations. The son is returning from school; he is not aware of what has happened between his father and mother. He comes home singing a film song. The mother immediately grabs him by the neck saying, “What a dirty song it is!” It was this very song he sang while returning home the previous evening and the evening before that. And the mother herself sang it, his father too. Their forefathers had done the same — there is nothing new about this song — but today the mother is about to strangle him on the grounds that he sang an indecent song.
Now what should the son do? Should he hit his mother back? But the world has not become that civilized yet. So he goes inside his room, picks up his doll and tears it to pieces.
The mind has its own energy. Gandhi caused deviations in the way of India’s natural energy by thwarting it, suppressing it. If India’s violence had been directed against the British — which was its natural course — a splendored country could have emerged out of that clean fight. Then India would not have been divided into two parts; it would have remained one and whole. A direct fight with the British power would have disciplined us as a people, given an edge and sharpness to our energy and a dignity and grandeur of our own. A straight and clean fight with the alien rulers would have filled us with hope and confidence, verve and vitality; it would have made our life lively, juicy and beautiful. But that could not happen.
But we had to use the sword nonetheless, and we used it against our own people. This is how the Hindus and Mohammedans clashed, and clashed like savages. And who is responsible for the massive violence that blasted this country after it became independent on August 15, 1947?
People are dishonest who say that the British government engineered the communal riots and infighting. Some people say that Mr. Jinnah was responsible for it. Others say other things. No, this is wrong. None of them, neither Jinnah nor the British were behind the holocaust. The real reason was that a volcano of hate and violence was smoldering in India’s mind, but it had no outlet. So when India was partitioned, the suppressed volcano found an opportunity and it erupted. The pain of hundreds of years of slavery found an outlet. The country was partitioned and a million people were killed. At the price of a million lives we would have wrested our freedom from the British a long time before. If one fine morning a million people had only shown readiness to die for their country’s freedom, the British government would have left the very next morning. But it could not be.
When I say that Gandhi was a businessman, I say it after due consideration. And I do not mean to slander him in the least. And it will stand you in good stead if you take him to be what he is — a businessman. Then you will be careful in relating with him in the future. If this country has anything to do with the shopkeeper’s mind, then it will never have that dynamism, that elan vital, without which we would be as good as a dead people.
The tradesman has his usefulness. He has a place in the society, and he is valuable. Similarly the warrior has a place in the society, and he is useful and valuable. The priest is equally useful and valuable. And the laborer also. They all have their distinctive usefulness and value. And in the humanist sense no one is more or less valuable than the other.
But it should be clearly understood that socialism is going to wipe out these distinctive types altogether, because it does not accept them. It says that all men are the same — but all men are not the same.
A friend has a question, and a few other friends have put the same question with some variations. They want to know on what authority I say that Gandhi was opposed to railways, telegraphs and airplanes. They also say that I am wrong to say so.
I wonder if you read anything at all.
If you only read Gandhi’s hind swaraj you will see that Gandhi denounced modern machines and technology a thousand times more than what I have mentioned here. But the book hind swaraj was written way back in 1905, and someone may say that it is not right to judge a person who died in 1948 from his writings of 1905. I will agree with him. But in this context there is a letter of Gandhi’s which he wrote to Jawaharlal Nehru in 1945. Nehru had asked Gandhi by letter if he still stood by his opposition to railways and telegraphs as he had written in his book hind swaraj.
Gandhi wrote back to Nehru — and this in 1945 — that he stood by every word he had written in hind swaraj. It appears that the questioners don’t read a thing. They have said that I am not aware of facts. But the truth is that Gandhi himself was not a well-read man, and his followers are still less so. In my understanding, Gandhi is the least-read man among the great men of this century. He was unaware of all the great findings of the present times. He knew nothing about Freud and Jung. And what he talked about celibacy was three thousand years old and now out-of-date. He had no knowledge of the studies done on birth control. He read Marx in jail in 1942, and I doubt if he read him fully. His grasp of Marxism, however, was never deep. He, of course, read the GITA and the RAMAYANA, but the GITA and the RAMAYANA are the textbooks for the ignorant villagers, not for the knowledgeable. Gandhi read poorly and thought poorly, and his followers, it seems, do not even read their leader’s writings.
A last word. Another friend has said that I did not illustrate my point when I said that there was contradiction in Gandhi’s professions and his practice.
I would like to give a few examples.
Gandhi preached non-violence throughout his life, but his own personality was violent, utterly violent. He never tired of talking of non-violence. You may ask how I say it. We need to understand this thing carefully.
If I point a knife at your chest and say that I w ill kill you if you don’t accept what I say, then you will say that I am a violent person. Now just reverse the process. Instead of pointing the knife at you, I point it at myself and say that I will kill myself if you don’t accept what I say. Do I now become a non-violent person? Does one become non-violent by just turning the direction of the knife, or changing its target?
All his life Gandhi used this threat, this coercion that he would kill himself if his point of view was not accepted. This is coercion, this is violence. Gandhi coerced Dr. Ambedkar through fasting. He could not bring about one change of heart, though he resorted to any number of fasts and fasts-unto-death. Not one heart was changed, although he always talked of”change of heart” as the object of his fasts. Ambedkar just gave in under duress and accepted Gandhi’s demands.
Later on Ambedkar said that Gandhi should not be under the illusion that he changed his heart. He still believed that he was right and Gandhi was wrong, but he submitted because he realized that it would be too much if Gandhi lost his life for his demand. His heart was not at all changed; he relented because of Gandhi’s coercion. Gandhi used this kind of coercion all along.
Whether you threaten to kill yourself or kill others, it is all the same and it is violence. Both kinds of threats are violent. But we fail to observe it, and we think that the threat to kill oneself is non-violent. Truth is otherwise; it is subtle violence. It is not non-violence. Non-violence is very different. Non-violence means that there should be no threat, no coercion whatsoever, to kill oneself or others. Ask the people who were associated with Gandhi. Ask his own sons. Ask Haridas Gandhi if his father was non-violent. If so, then why did he become a Mohammedan? If Gandhi was non-violent, why did his son take to drinking and meat-eating? If Gandhi was non-violent, why did he have to fight his father all his life?
It was because Gandhi’s non-violence was so sadistic, so torturous that he tortured his own sons. Haridas left home and ran away for fear of his father, that he would destroy him. Haridas did not know that the person who could not be a right father to his own son was going to become the father of a whole nation.
Really, it is easy to become the father of a nation; it is much more difficult to be a right father of a single son. Being the nation’s father you are really nobody’s father. Ask Haridas and you will know whether Gandhi’s personality was violent or non-violent. Ask Kasturba, his wife, about it. A lot is being written about the married life of Gandhi and Kasturba and it is trumpeted that they made a very ideal couple. It is sheer tall-talk; but in talking tall we are a matchless people.
In reality the married life of Gandhi was ridden with constant conflict and strife, but we claim that it was the ideal of ideals. Ask Kasturba; look at their whole life.But we don’t see at all; we are so skilled in shouting and slogan-mongering that we don’t need seeing.
Whenever they had a guest in their house in South Africa, Gandhi always asked Kasturba to clean the guest’s latrine. Once Gandhi saw that Kasturba was weeping while coming down the stairs with the guest’s chamber pot in her hands. He took her to task saying, “Don’t cry. Service should be rendered with a smile on your lips.” The poor woman is being forced to clean the latrine of others; she is not doing it for service. She is just in the trap of her husband who, in his turn, is in the trap of a set of principles. So he coerces his wife to clean latrines with a smile. Many times he took Kasturba by her wrist and threw her out of the house at midnight, on the grounds that she did not follow his principles.
This man is not non-violent; he is utterly violent. But he swears by non-violence; it is his ideal. And it is on account of his ideal of non-violence that it becomes so difficult to understand his personality.
Life is a very complex affair; it is not that simple. So when I say something don’t jump to a conclusion about it. Whatever I say is well-considered; I have given thought to it.
But Gandhi’s devotees think that they are protecting him by questioning me. They are mistaken to think so. The more questions they ask, the more vulnerable they make him to beatings. There is no place in my mind for Gandhi. I consider him to be an utterly diseased personality, so don’t get him beaten unnecessarily. It is not necessary to drag him in the midst of our present discussions. Right now I am speaking on the question of socialism and capitalism, and you bring him in for a beating. It is absolutely uncalled for.
I am grateful to you for having listened to me so silently, with love. And at the end I bow down to the God enshrined in the heart of each one of you. Please accept my salutations.