Osho and Baba Hari Giri
An Early dispute with a leading Sikh, Osho speaks of the Encounter.
The Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab, is the main Sikh temple. One man in Punjab was the most famous saint in Punjab, known as the Lion of Punjab, Baba Hari Giri. He was not aware of me, and it was just a coincidence that we met in a conference. In Amritsar they have every year a Vedanta conference, and we met there.
It was just a coincidence that he spoke and I was to speak after him. And I criticized him point by point. The organizers were simply frozen to death, because that man was respected in Punjab. Thousands will be ready to die for him. I was not known in Punjab at all, that was my first time to be in Amritsar.
And I criticized him so totally, even on small points, that they were afraid that there is going to be a riot immediately. And I don’t have not even a single person who knows me. An ancient Vedanta story he has told. The story is that ten blind men cross a river, and after passing the river they think it is better to count. Perhaps somebody the river has taken away. The current is strong and it is rainy season. So they start counting. But the count always comes to nine, because everybody leaves himself out. He starts from the other, ends with the last, does not count himself. Naturally, it is nine.
One man sitting on the bank was watching the whole scene. It was hilarious what they were doing. They started crying and weeping that, “One friend is lost.” That man came and he said, “Don’t be worried. I will find your friend. You stand in a line. I will hit the first man on the head with my stick and you say one. I will strike the second man twice, you say two. Third three times, you say three. You count how many times I strike and you speak the number.” And they were immensely happy because the last man is found. The tenth man got ten hits.
This is an ancient Vedanta story told for centuries. Nobody has ever raised any question about it. I asked the people, “This story is absolutely idiotic, because how did these people know that they were ten? Had they counted before entering the stream? If they knew how to count before they entered the stream, how did they forget it? How did they know that they were ten? And Hari Giri has to answer it, otherwise?, telling such idiotic stories and making them into great philosophy!”
He became so furious, knowing perfectly well that now there is no answer. If these people count themselves before entering the stream, then naturally they will be able to count afterwards. If they had not counted, then how did they come to know that they are ten?
He simply walked from the podium, and I told him, “This escape will not help. I have discussed every single point that you have raised. If you have any guts? and you are known as the Lion of Punjab, the whole pride of Punjab is at risk? then don’t escape. Come back.”
And he would not come back. He simply escaped. And I asked the people, “This man you still want to call the Lion of Punjab? And I will be here ten days and for ten days I will wait. If he wants, this challenge is open for ten days. I am ready to fight on every ground.”
And the problem is that I am not against the essential message of the Upanishads. But what these people are doing has nothing to do with the essential. They are making the nonessential more important, because the nonessential helps them to exploit people. The essential will not help to exploit anybody.
The man simply escaped. Ten days I was there in the conference, and even the organizers were surprised that not a single Punjabi stood in favor of him. I asked that anybody, if he wants to accept the challenge in place of his guru, his Master, I am ready. Those one thousand people? one hundred thousand people just remained silent. In ten days time I was able to manage that what I am saying is the real essence of Vedanta, and what you have been told up to now is not the real essence.
The real essence is the same whether it is Vedanta or Zen or Sufism or the songs of Baul or Kabir. It doesn’t matter. If anybody who has really attained, experienced, then he will agree with me.