Osho on Mahavira
Question - Beloved Osho, I found the story you told us about Mahavira when he went begging very odd. That he should stipulate how existence should present his daily food seemed to me like a trip, and not the attitude of someone totally available to, and accepting of, life's ways. Probably I have misunderstood the whole point. You have said we need not be in a hurry in our search; but around you I always feel such a great sense of how precious time is, So I want to use it to the maximum. And to me at the moment that means asking all and any questions I once might have held back, from fear of appearing stupid. I really do want to stand before you, "naked, empty, and alone."Osho - The story of Mahavira has always been misunderstood -- it is not only you who have misunderstood it -- because we understand things according to our minds. If you were in place of Mahavira then perhaps it would be stipulating existence, but for Mahavira it is not so; it is not stipulating existence.
As far as Mahavira is
concerned, he simply wants a signal from existence -- whether he should
continue, or he is no longer needed. He never complains. At times he has
remained fasting for three months continuously, but not a single word of
Why did he make this decision after his morning meditation? -- simply not to be a burden on existence. Let existence decide. He is not stipulating existence; he is allowing existence to take total charge of his life, even of his breathing, of his food. Everything he is leaving in the hands of existence.
But how will he know? There is no linguistic communication between you and existence; there can be only a symbolic communication -- and that was nothing but a symbolic communication. He wanted a symbol. One thing has to be remembered, that these people like Mahavira, Parsunatha, Buddha, are very unique beings. They have their own ways, and their ways fit perfectly with their personality.
Now I will never do that kind of thing. I am a totally different person -- but I will not misunderstand Mahavira either. I accept his uniqueness, and I respect the way he lived his life -- always undemanding. This was not a demand -- that existence should fulfill this condition -- it was simply an agreement: "Because language is not possible, I will choose a certain symbol, and then it is up to existence." He is leaving himself in the hands of existence so totally that he does not want to breathe even a single breath on his own.
But I am a totally different person, almost the very opposite of Mahavira. I will never ask such a thing from existence. My whole way is of let-go -- and why bother? Once and for all, leave it to existence, and when existence does not need you, you will be absorbed into the universe. There is no need every day to ask again and again -- that is a kind of nagging. I have done it once, and that's all. I will not do it twice, because to do it twice means that the first time you were not total; otherwise who is doing it again? Let-go can be done only once.
When I was a child we used to have many puzzles, and
particularly we used to ask a teacher -- who was a little dumb -- simple
things, and he would get into such a nervous state.
In my understanding, let-go is only once. If you need it again, that means the first time... whom were you deceiving? And what is the guarantee that the second time is not going to be just like the first?
Let-go is an understanding.
Now, wherever the river leads you... you don't have to check every day; you simply go with the river. Some day -- any day -- you may reach the ocean, you may disappear. So I will not suggest to anybody to do what Mahavira used to do. But Mahavira has his own unique being.
His real name was not Mahavira; mahavira means "a great warrior." His real name was Vardhmana, but nobody remembers his real name for the simple reason that his whole approach is that of a warrior, a fighter. Even with existence he is in a constant fight. He is saying, "I can live only if I am welcome. I don't want to live even a single moment more if I am not welcome."
Deep down he was fighting, but his fighting had a beauty of its own. He was total in it -- that was its beauty. It was not a partial war, it was total. And the secret is, whatever is total transforms you; your let-go, if it is total, will transform you; your fight, if total, will transform you.
What transforms is neither let-go nor war, but your totality. Even today there are monks doing the same, who follow Mahavira. There are not many because as soon as Mahavira died there was a division. There were people who were not ready for such a fight. And that division has many monks. They have compromised on many points on which Mahavira would not compromise.
For example, they wear clothes; Mahavira remained naked. These people stay in homes; Mahavira never stayed under a roof. It may have been raining, it may have been cold, it may have been hot -- he was always under a tree. So the people who wanted to compromise could not compromise when he was alive. He was a tremendously powerful man. But the day he died, his followers divided.
So the orthodox ones, who still follow Mahavira... There are only twenty-two of them -- there were when I was in India; a few may have died, because they were all old people. And once one monk dies, it is very difficult to replace him.
The other party, the compromisers, have almost five
thousand monks -- and they go on growing. And they go on compromising.
I know about these monks, that whenever they have a
chance they take a shower; Mahavira never took a shower himself unless
the sky was raining and he was standing under a tree. I have seen in one
monk's place, where he was staying... he was very friendly to me, and he
was not worried that I would expose him.
But those who have followed Mahavira, their number has been getting less and less; one dies and is not replaced. Even they, in an underground way, have compromised. It is difficult to be exactly like Mahavira -- that's what I say, following is impossible.
These people also make, after their meditation in the morning, a certain condition that should be fulfilled. But those conditions are limited -- six or eight -- and everybody knows, so if they are staying in a city, then they will go to all the Jaina houses and all the Jaina houses will be fulfilling different conditions. And they have made very simple conditions.
For example, if on the door of a house two bananas are hanging, then the food will be accepted. And this is known, so every Jaina is hanging two bananas, and they come and they accept the food -- the condition is fulfilled. Just such small conditions which are known, and which must be made known by the monks.
They cannot eat food from anybody other than a Jaina family, so you will be surprised to see that they have renounced their family, one family, but when they are moving... And they are constantly moving. They cannot stay more than three days in one place, because this is Mahavira's understanding -- and I feel that he is right -- that after three days some kind of attachment starts growing.
For example, for the first day you will not find the place suitable to you. You may not sleep well, you may have a certain tension in you. But after the third day, things start settling; and after the twenty-first day you become well-accustomed to the place, as if you had been born in it.
A certain amount of time is needed for adjustment, so Mahavira does not allow more than three days. And in India, Jainas are very few, so there are many, many places where there are no Jainas -- so what will the Jaina monk do? So twenty families follow him with their buses and their cars and tents, and wherever there is no Jaina family they make a small campus of tents and bananas are hanging... and all eight conditions that are known are fulfilled. And every family has prepared food -- and the man must have made one condition out of eight -- so he will get food.
Now, formally he is following, but this was not what Mahavira was doing. That was a totally different thing. It was not let-go; he was not a man for let-go, he was a warrior. Truth has to be conquered, according to him, and to conquer it you have to fight totally. And the story I told you is part of his fight. His whole life is the path of fight.
I will tell you one story more. He remained for twelve years silent, till he became enlightened. Those twelve years are filled with great incidents. One day he is meditating... and his meditation is also not that of a relaxed way. The meditation ordinarily done in the East is in the lotus posture, and the lotus posture physiologically is the most relaxed once you have learnt it, because your spine is straight and the gravitation is the least, and that makes your body hang on the straight spine like a loose cloth.
Mahavira meditates standing. In his every attitude he is a warrior. There are people who meditate with closed eyes -- this is more relaxed. There are people who meditate with open eyes, just the natural way -- blinking. That too is not a fight. Mahavira meditates with eyes half closed and half open, and no blinking.
In those twelve years one day he is standing and meditating by the side of the river, and a man comes and says to Mahavira, "You are standing here, just watch my cows. I am leaving -- I have to go urgently to my home; my mother is sick and somebody has come to inform me that she is dying. So I will be back soon, but just... you are standing here for the whole day: just have a look so my cows don't get lost in the jungle."
And Mahavira, because he cannot speak, is silent. And the man is in such a hurry -- his mother is dying -- he does not bother that this man is not speaking. He simply takes his silence as a yes.
When he comes back after one or two hours, Mahavira is still standing there but all the cows are gone. Now, he gets furious. He says, "You seem to be a cunning man. So you were standing here the whole day just for my cows. Where are my cows?"
And because he does not speak, the man becomes more and more furious: "So you are trying to be dumb! I will make you speak!" And he takes two pieces of wood and forces those two pieces into Mahavira's two ears and hits them hard with a rock, so that he becomes deaf for his whole life. But still he will not speak, he will not blink.
The man thought, "He seems to be mad. Anybody would
have spoken..." And he goes and looks in the forest. In the evening the
cows come back, and when the man comes back, he finds they are all
sitting around Mahavira where he had left them before.
The story is beautiful. Up to this point it is factual, but it takes a mythological ending. In India there are many gods. India does not believe in one god -- one god seems to be like believing in a dictator; it is undemocratic -- India believes in many gods, actually thirty-three million. That was the population of India when they invented gods: one god for everyone. That seems to be right and fair.
Indra, one of the gods, feels terribly hurt and disturbed by what has happened to Mahavira -- a silent man who has done nothing. The cows moved themselves, came back again, and he is utterly innocent.
Indra came -- and gods can speak without words -- so he spoke to Mahavira, "I can give you two gods as bodyguards, because it is unthinkable, unbelievable! This should not happen." And to gods you may not speak but they can read your thought.
Indra reads Mahavira's thought: "Just leave me alone. I don't want anybody's help; I want to fight it alone. I don't want to be indebted to anybody -- forgive me. Whatever happens, I am going to fight this whole war alone until I am victorious."
Now, his victory will sound strange to anybody who has been listening to the idea of let-go, surrender to existence. But this is a good place to remind you: Be compassionate about others, their uniqueness. It does not mean that you have to follow their path; it simply means a deep understanding that people are unique; and if people are unique then their ways are going to be unique. And sometimes very opposite ways lead to the same goal.
It is very easy to misunderstand, but I would like you to understand different ways, different people, different uniquenesses. All that will help to broaden your heart, your compassion, your comprehension. And whatever path you are following, it will be helpful to it. This is broadness -- that it can contain contradictions.
Source - Osho Book "Beyond Psychology"
Related Osho Discourses: