On 1st January 1979, someone asked Osho what his message to humanity was and here are some excerpts from Osho’s answer to that question [If you want to read the entire answer, please see his darshan diary, Zorba the Buddha.]:
“My message is simple. My message is a new man, homo novus. The old concept of man was of either/or; materialist or spiritualist, moral or immoral, sinner or saint. It was based on division, split. It created a schizophrenic humanity. The whole past of humanity has been sick, unhealthy, insane. In three thousand years, five thousand wars have been fought. This is just utterly mad; it is unbelievable. It is stupid, unintelligent, inhuman.
Once you divide man in two, you create misery and hell for him. He can never be healthy and can never be whole, the other half that has been denied will go on taking revenge. It will go on finding ways and means to overcome the part that you have imposed upon yourself. You will become a battle-ground, a civil war. That’s what has been the case in the past.
In the past we were not able to create real human beings, but humanoids. A humanoid is one who looks like a human being but is utterly crippled, paralyzed. He has not been allowed to bloom in his totality. He is half, and because he is half he is always in anguish and tension; he cannot celebrate.
Only a whole man can celebrate. Celebration is the fragrance of being whole.
Only a tree that has lived wholly will flower. Man has not flowered yet.
The past has been very dark and dismal. It has been a dark night of the soul. And because it was repressive, it was bound to become aggressive. If something is repressed, man becomes aggressive, he loses all soft qualities. It was always so up to now. We have come to a point where the old has to be dropped and the new has to be heralded.
The new man will not be either/or; he will be both/and. The new man will be earthy and divine, worldly and other-worldly. The new man will accept his totality and he will live it without any inner division, he will not be split. His god will not be opposed to the devil, his morality will not be opposed to immorality; he will know no opposition. He will transcend duality, he will not be schizophrenic.
With the new man there will come a new world, because the new man will perceive in a qualitatively different way and he will live a totally different life which has not been lived yet. He will be a mystic, a poet, a scientist, all together. He will not choose: he will be choicelessly himself.
That’s what I teach: homo novus, a new man, not a humanoid. The humanoid is not a natural phenomenon. The humanoid is created by the society – by the priest, the politician, the pedagogue.
The humanoid is created, it is manufactured. Each child comes as a human being: total, whole, alive, without any split. Immediately the society starts suffocating him, stifling him, cutting him into fragments, telling him what to do and what not to do, what to be and what not to be. His wholeness is soon lost. He becomes guilty about his whole being. He denies much that is natural, and in that very denial he becomes uncreative. Now he will be only a fragment, and a fragment cannot dance, a fragment cannot sing, and a fragment is always suicidal because the fragment cannot know what life is. The humanoid cannot will on his own. Others have been willing for him – his parents, the teachers, the leaders, the priests; they have taken all his willing. They will, they order; he simply follows. The humanoid is a slave.
I teach freedom. Now man has to destroy all kinds of bondages and he has to come out of all prisons. No more slavery. Man has to become individual. He has to become rebellious. And whenever a man has become rebellious.... Once in a while a few people have escaped from the tyranny of the past, but only once in a while – a Jesus here and there, a Buddha here and there. They are exceptions. And even these people, Buddha and Jesus, could not live totally. They tried, but the whole society was against it.
My concept of the new man is that he will be Zorba the Greek and he will also be Gautam the Buddha: the new man will be Zorba the Buddha. He will be sensuous and spiritual, physical, utterly physical, in the body, in the senses, enjoying the body and all that the body makes possible, and still a great consciousness, a great witnessing will be there.
The old man’s ideal was renunciation; the new man’s ideal will be rejoicing.
I teach a new religion. This religion will not be Christianity and will not be Judaism and will not be Hinduism. This religion will not have any adjective to it. This religion will be purely a religious quality of being whole.
Once we have brought this new man into existence, the earth can become for the first time what it is meant to become. It can become a paradise: this very body the Buddha, this very earth the paradise!”
I love Osho. I love the clarity of his thoughts. I love his wisdom which feels like the wisdom of life itself. I have learnt much from him.
And yet my mind questions. Is this new religion that Osho speaks about really a new religion? Hasn’t anyone else ever before attempted to create such a religion?
I know of at least one man who tried to create this religion Osho speaks about. And he lived a long, long time ago. Long before Islam was born, long before Christianity was born, long before Buddhism was born.
I am talking of Krishna. And I am sure Osho would agree with me when I say the religion Krishna tried to establish through the Gita is this new religion Osho is speaking about.
Krishna is the greatest rebel, the greatest revolutionary, the world of religion has seen. It is amazing when you read his Gita. He gives new meanings to every word he uses there!
For instance, sannyasa in Krishna’s days meant karma-sannyasa – and Krishna says karma-sannyasa is not true sannyasa, the only true sannyasa is jnana-sannyasa. Sannyasa is not giving up your duties and responsibilities; it is performing them with the right attitude, with the larger vision of life. It is our misfortune that five thousand years after Krishna’s time, we have still not understood sannyasa. For us even today sannyasa means giving up our family and our personal responsibilities and retiring from active life in search of God.
Take another word central to religion – tapas, usually translated as asceticism, penance. The moment we think of tapas, images come to our mind – of ascetics engaged in tapas on the mountains and other lonely places through extreme acts of self-denial, like giving up sleep or food, or bath or speech or maybe even all of these, piercing and in other ways torturing the body and so on. But Krishna sees tapas as something very different. He says there are three forms of it: bodily, of speech, and of the mind. Observance of cleanliness, simplicity, non-violence and a few other things like that form bodily tapas according to Krishna. Words which cause no agitation and which are truthful, pleasing and beneficial, as well as self-study and recitation of sacred literature, these form tapas of speech. Contentment, gentleness, silence, mental discipline and purity of thoughts and feelings – these form mental tapas, says he. He further goes on to divide tapas into sattvic, rajasic and tamasic. The tapas as we commonly understand it, according to Krishna, is the worst kind of tapas – tamasic. Rather than raising the performer to spiritual heights, says he, such tapas pulls man down into abysses of darkness.
These are just two examples. But as I said, Krishna gives new meanings to every spiritual term he uses.
For Krishna, spirituality is not the denial of life, but its total acceptance, its full flowering. You become religious not by saying no to life, but by living it intensely, totally. You do not become religious by keeping away from life, but by immersing yourself in it: with awareness, with your eyes open, with your heart open, with an awakened mind, filled with an overflowing sense of sanctity and gratitude, celebrating each breath we take.
Krishna is Zorba, and Krishna is the Buddha. Krishna is the meeting of Zorba and the Buddha. Krishna is their merger and their oneness.
And Krishna’s life is the proof for his philosophy. There is not one word in the Gita that he does not validate with his life. It is difficult to imagine a man more involved with life than Krishna was. Whether it is his life in Gokul and Vrindavan as a child and an adolescent as portrayed by the Bhagavata, or his life as an adult as we see it in the Mahabharata, Krishna is ever active, ever involved. There is not one major event of his day of which he is not a part. Long is the list the Mahabharata gives us of the wars he fought throughout his life to establish dharma and wipe out adharma. And in the middle of it all, he celebrates, and celebrates constantly.
Read the Harivamsha, which is traditionally considered the Khila Parva of the Mahabharata, an appendix to the epic, its nineteenth chapter. And you will see Krishna celebrating there – thoroughly. A warning: be ready to be shocked by what you will see.
Krishna is totally involved – and yet he is not corrupted by the world. That is what being truly religious means. That is true sannyasa. Krishna is a sannyasi in the truest sense of the term, a sannyasi of the highest kind. The kind he speaks of in the Gita. A true yogi.
Osho says it is religiousness he is interested in, and not in religions. There can be no higher example for religiousness than Krishna himself.
Osho is right when he says that the new man has not yet come into being. Krishna tried to make the new man possible. But Krishna was so far ahead of his times, the world was not ready for him.
Osho knows this. For no man has understood Krishna better than Osho did, no man has explained him more meaningfully than Osho has done. All you have to do to understand this is to read Osho’s talks on Krishna: Krishna Meri Drishti Mein in Hindi, or Krishna: the Man and His Mission in English.
I recommend the book in the highest possible terms.
Incidentally, Zorba the Greek is one of my all-time favourite books and its author Nikos Kazantzakis, one of my all-time favourite authors. I love his Odyssey: A Modern Sequel as much as I love Zorba the Greek, if not more. Odyssey: A Modern Sequel continues the story of the Odyssey from where Homer left it off.
Perhaps of all his books, the most controversial is The Last Temptation of Christ. Listen to what Kazantzakis has to say in the Prologue of the book about the conflict Osho is speaking about:
“My principal anguish and the source of all my joys and sorrows from my youth onward has been the incessant, merciless battle between the spirit and the flesh. Within me are the dark immemorial forces of the Evil One, human and pre-human; within me too are the luminous forces, human and pre-human, of God—and my soul is the arena where these two armies have clashed and met.
The anguish has been intense. I loved my body and did not want it to perish; I loved my soul and did not want it to decay. I have fought to reconcile these two primordial forces which are so contrary to each other, to make them realize that they are not enemies but, rather, fellow workers, so that they might rejoice in their harmony—and so that I might rejoice with them.”
Kazantzakis speaks of the antipathy between the spirit and the flesh: “It [the spirit] is a carnivorous bird which is incessantly hungry; it eats flesh and, by assimilating it, makes it disappear.”
Krishna is a man who had transcended the conflict between the flesh and the spirit – he had no such conflicts.
In fact, there is no such conflict. For anyone. The flesh and the spirit are not enemies of each other. The conflict is something we have created, because of our confusion. The flesh is as sacred as the spirit. The battle is not between them – they are at peace with each other. But we take sides and we make them fight.
Come to think of it, we had in India once a religion in which this conflict of the flesh and the spirit so characteristic of contemporary religions was totally absent. This was long before Krishna, but by Krishna’s time it had degenerated into a religion of conflict and dichotomy. I am talking about the religion of the Vedas, which was a religion totally different from what we commonly understand as religion today. The Vedas accepted life in its fullness. Here is what an authority has to say about the Vedas and the Vedic religion: “The malaise caused by the loss of balance between the primary biological instincts and man’s active and contemplative faculties is completely absent in them. There is no clash between the flesh and the spirit in the Vedas. Nor do we come across signs of repression or self-torture, accompanied by morbid sin-consciousness. No negative attitude to life, induced by disillusionment or frustration, no world-weariness as later religious thought in India and outside would show. Instead what we find is a sense of festivity, the celebration of life.”
That was the religion of the Vedas.
As I see it, what Krishna was doing was trying to regenerate, revive, that old religion to its original purity. Remember, the Mahabharata repeatedly refers to Krishna as an incarnation of the Vedic sage Narayana [of the famous Nara-Narayana pair].
And perhaps that is what Osho means too, when he says he is trying to create a new religion. Bring religion back to its original purity. Not a particular religion, but religion itself, religion as such.
Osho says the new religion will not have a name. Interestingly, the religion of the Vedas had no name.