Osho in Court in Ahmedabad, India -
A Ruse by Moraji Desai saying Osho had hurt the religious feelings of Hindus
Once I was in a court in Ahmedabad in India, for absolutely ungrounded complaints against me — I was talking to a big rally of at least twenty thousand people who had gathered to listen to me — for the simple reason that Morarji Desai was the chief minister of Gujarat at that time, and he wanted me to be prohibited from entering Gujarat.
He could not convince his own assembly and cabinet that by preventing a person … they said, “You will be creating trouble for yourself and for the cabinet. What reasons have you got? What has he done against Gujarat? What crime has he committed that you can prevent him from coming to Gujarat? And it goes against the constitution, because the Indian constitution declares it as one of the basic rights that in India, every citizen of India has the right of movement. Now, you are preventing him from moving into Gujarat: you have to give some solid reasons; otherwise you will be in trouble.”
And the moment I heard I said, “Let their parliament decide — I will be there already in Gujarat.” So I was addressing the people, and while addressing them I mentioned a small story.
In Mahatma Gandhi’s ashram they used to read the story of Rama, the Hindu incarnation of God, every day. Each evening Acharya Vinoba Bhave would read the story of Rama, and Gandhi and all the followers — and there were not many, just twenty, thirty people — would listen to the story.
There comes a moment when Rama’s wife, Sita, is stolen by his enemy, Ramana. She is in difficulty: How to make Rama know by what path Ramana has taken her? She must have been an intelligent woman; she tried one strategy — she started dropping her ornaments. And Indian women, and particularly a queen, have so many ornaments; they weigh much more than she herself does.
She started dropping her ornaments one by one on the path so Rama would know exactly where she
had been taken. And Rama found them but he could not recognize whether they were Sita’s ornaments or somebody else’s.
His brother, Lakshmana, was with him. Lakshmana said, “You seem to be puzzled. What is the matter?”
He said, “I cannot recognize them because I loved her so much that whenever she was with me I looked at her, I never looked at her ornaments. I cannot recognize them — perhaps you can. Just look at the ornaments: if they are hers then we are on the right path.”
Lakshmana said, “Forgive me, because I can only recognize the ornaments that she used to wear on her feet.” Indian women wear ornaments on their feet, even on their toes. He recognized them. He said, “These are her ornaments.”
At this point of the story Mahatma gandhi said, “This is strange! I can understand Rama loved the woman so much he did not recognize her ornaments. But what about Lakshmana? — he was living with them for years. Ahead was Rama — because they had been expelled from their kingdom for fourteen years to live in the forest …. so ahead was Rama, in the middle was Sita, behind was Lakshmana, just to guard. It is strange that he could not recognize any other ornament.”
Vinoba, who was a celibate for his whole life — now he is dead — gave an explanation which appealed to Gandhi very much, so much so that just before this explanation, Vinoba was known only as Vinoba Bhave; but because of this explanation Gandhi gave him the title of acharya, a master.
The explanation was that Lakshmana never looked at any other part of Sita’s body. He was a celibate and to look at anybody’s wife is not right for a celibate. But because he used to touch her feet every morning, he had to see the ornaments on her feet, just out of necessity. What could he do? — he had to touch her feet every morning. The elder brother’s wife is just like a mother. She has to be respected, and the first thing in the morning was to touch her feet; so that’s why he could recognize the ornaments of the feet only.
This is an outlandish explanation, nowhere ever given before. The story is five thousand years old, and there have been so many commentaries on it, but nobody had even asked the question and nobody had answered it. Gandhi was immensely impressed, and said, “Vinoba is an acharya — just this simple explanation shows his insight into human psychology.”
Talking to the masses in the rally I said, “This explanation does not show anything about Lakshmana, it shows something about Vinoba Bhave. It is not Lakshmana’s explanation; obviously, it is Vinoba Bhave’s explanation, and it shows his mind. He is afraid to look at women’s faces, or the other parts of their bodies. It is his fear that he is projecting on Lakshmana.
“And if his explanation is true then Lakshmana falls in my eyes completely. If Sita was just like a mother to him, still was he afraid to look at her face? One has to be afraid of looking at one’s own mother? That means he must have been dreaming sexual dreams about Sita, fantasizing about her.
“This explanation is insulting to Lakshmana, and I reject it as an explanation. My feeling is that Sita was so beautiful — if she was so beautiful for her husband, what to say about others? If the husband himself was so hypnotized by her beauty that he never saw her ornaments, what to say of poor Lakshmana? He must have been hypnotized even more!
“A husband sooner or later gets fed up. In fact a husband stops looking at his wife’s face, her body: he looks at everything in the room except his wife. If you enquire into couples you can be convinced of what I am saying. Just ask any husband, `How long has it been since you looked directly into your wife’s eyes, her face?’ — and he will start scratching his head. `It is difficult; perhaps since the honeymoon I have not looked at her.’
“But Lakshmana …. And it is just one side, that your elder brother’s wife is equal to your mother. The other side is that the younger brother of a woman’s husband is known in Hindi as devar. Devar means her second husband. In case the husband dies he has the first right to marry her. Var means husband; devar means second husband.
“Just as there are presidents and vice-presidents — in case the president dies the vice-president becomes the acting president — devar is simply a ready-made husband in case of emergency.”
A case was put against me, that I had hurt the religious feelings of the Hindus. In the court there were many problems. The first was that I was asked to take the oath in the name of God, or in the name of the constitution of India, that I would speak only the truth.
I said, “Before I take the oath I would like to ask you: What about freedom of speech? The oath goes against freedom of speech. You are binding me. You are telling me I can speak only the truth; then why in the constitution do you talk about freedom of speech? You should have said, `You are free to speak only the truth.’ Freedom of speech has no boundaries to it.
“How can I go against the constitution? I can take the oath that I will follow the constitution, use freedom of speech, but I cannot say truth or untruth, because that divides freedom of speech in two parts.”
The magistrate said, “This is a little difficult. I have been a magistrate for twenty years, I have been studying the constitution in every possible way, all its aspects, but that this oath is against freedom of speech never occurred to me.”
I said, “You don’t know what freedom of speech is. But,” I said, “I don’t want to change the subject, so just to continue I will take the oath. But remember, you can believe in my oath, but you cannot believe in my other statements. On what grounds do you make the distinction? If I am a person who lies, I can lie when I am taking the oath. Who prevents me?
“You know perfectly well that everybody takes the oath here and everybody is not speaking the truth. Both the parties fighting in a case take the oath; certainly both the parties are not speaking the truth. At least one party certainly is not speaking the truth; perhaps both are not speaking the truth. But both speaking the truth is not possible; otherwise how are you going to make the judgment?
“You accept my oath — on what grounds? Do you know me, that I speak the truth? That I will take the oath and will follow it? What gives you that guarantee? I will remain the same person as I was afterwards, so it makes no difference to me. I can take the oath just so that we can proceed, because there are so many problems.”
The judge said, “Problems? For you or for me?”
I said, “You have summoned me to the court” — and there were thousands of people who had come; they were in the court and outside the court. And that man who had put the case against me — a Hindu political leader, a Hindu chauvinist — became afraid seeing so many people sympathetic towards me.
I said to the judge, “Look: first, I was simply quoting a statement of Mahatma Gandhi, and an explanation of Vinoba Bhave. If anybody has hurt the feelings of Hindus, they should put cases against Mahatma Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave. I was just quoting them, without inverted commas.
“It was not my explanation. In fact I was offended by the explanation that Vinoba has given. Vinoba’s explanation means that he thinks that Lakshmana has some sexual interest in Sita. That is purely his explanation. Said in plain words, he is afraid to look at Sita’s face. Why? If he is not sexually interested he should not be afraid. Vinoba is trying to make an explanation which is insulting.
“I am saying that Sita was so beautiful — anybody would have been interested. I would have been interested. You would have been interested. Beauty is not something that one should not be interested in. It is one of the gifts of nature; it has to be adored. And my feeling is he was touching her feet every day because Sita was so beautiful; he was adoring her.
“And you know the meaning of devar — that he was the second husband. Now, if somebody is hurt, then he should put a case against the whole Hindu tradition, that this tradition is in a mess. On the one hand you say treat your brother’s wife as your mother — okay, treat her as your mother. But when the brother dies, then? — treat your mother as your wife!
“And this man who has complained against me and forced me to come from Calcutta to here, unnecessarily wasting my time — is he the only Hindu in Ahmedabad? These thousands of people are here — these are all Hindus. You ask those whose feelings are hurt to raise their hands. And if you don’t ask then I am going to ask.”
So the magistrate had to ask. Not a single hand was raised. I said, “Now you can see: nobody’s feelings are hurt. This man is a Hindu chauvinist.”
At that time the man became afraid and he told the magistrate, “I want police protection, because after the court this crowd can kill me.”
I asked the magistrate, “Do you want any more argument that nobody’s feelings are hurt? This man is afraid of Hindus, that they will kill him. They should kill me — I should ask for the protection of the court because I have hurt the feelings of Hindus, he hasn’t. Why should he be afraid?
“And why should I have been called to the court? Why is Vinoba Bhave not being called? Of course, Gandhi is dead — you cannot summon him, but he is not needed anyway. Vinoba is alive — why has he not been called to the court? Just because he belongs to the party who rules the country? Because he is a guru to all the politicians of the country, you didn’t have the guts to summon him?
“He was needed to answer whether I am quoting right or wrong. If he says that I am quoting wrong, then certainly I have to be answerable for it. And my advocate had asked you to summon Vinoba because it is most important and essential, what he says. Still you did not summon Vinoba. And still you go on saying that the courts are impartial?
“Just look at the fact: I was simply quoting him. It was the court’s duty to ask the man whether I am quoting him rightly or wrongly. You should have called him here; we could have argued in front of you and made it clear to Vinoba that he is sexually obsessed and he is projecting his sexual obsession on poor Lakshmana.
“I was protecting Lakshmana. Vinoba should put a case against me. And this man is simply an idiot: he does not understand even what I was saying. He does not know what it means. But Vinoba is not called. And,” I said, “I will not appear again in the court unless Vinoba is called.”
The judge had no guts — because the prime minister goes to Vinoba, the cabinet ministers go to Vinoba, the president goes to Vinoba. To call Vinoba to the court would incur anger from all sides. The judge dismissed the case. He could not do anything else — he simply dismissed the case.