February 26, 2008


We've received a lot of comments about Gandhi, who appears in our current issue, on our Who Are We? page. We've moved all these comments over here to open up the discussion.

- Philip Ryan, Web Editor

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Nagasena's picture

Dear Editors,
Your article is a severe setback to Buddha Dhamma and all the values it contains. Our meditation has been disturbed by the images of Gandhi sleeping with naked women, the atrocities he commited and his inhumanism. Yes Editor. We Buddhists have been extremely disturbed and waiting for your apology. You owe us one. Please come out of your shell and tender an apology. After the apology you would need to take the Patimokka vows once more to be recognised by us as a Buddhist. Your apology will help stem the great and collosal damage you have inflicted on Buddha Dhamma.
If the apology is not tendered we Buddhists will boycott the Tricycle magazine and treat you as an Apostate. Imagine how much following and money you are gonna loose. Henceforth the name of Gandhi should be made Taboo and should never be mentioned in a positive light by all Buddhists in their publications all over the world. If at all Gandhi is to be mentioned it should be qualified with all the bad things he has done. Let us take this vow now and make it part of our daily ritual tilll it becomes a habit.

PRAVIN KR's picture

Exactly Raj and Saint.
Dear Editors. Entire Buddhist community here is eagerly awaiting your views.
If this magazine stands for equality, Panchasheel, Nobel Eightfold path,
justice, compassion, peace, truth OR
grave inhumanism, Slavery, Atrocities, Sexual pervertism.

Raj's picture

I agree with Dr. Saint. The purpose of this discussion is not to prove if people are pro or against Osho. I just responded to nonserious guy because Osho was quoted about neo-budhdists in his comments.

We can talk about Osho some other time. The ones who are criticising him have never read him, never understood him and most probably have not even thought about walking a single step to search spirituality. Result of their comments is their borrowed knowledge about Osho and we must stop Osho's topic here.

Let's focus on our purpose of what justifies to have Gandhi's picture on a Buddhist Review magazine

PRAVIN KR's picture

Yes Amaran. You are absolutely right.
Buddha has told us to see truth as truth and untruth as untruth.
Test it yourself.

Are you ready for it?
What kind of proof your 'Uncle's spoken words do you have for your beliefs?

Amaran's picture

Yes Lokamitra. And buddha was your uncle who told you all this in Secret.

Lokamitra's picture

To Osho was a criminal

"Osho might be running in some animal’s life here on earth!!!"

Osho was a crook no doubt. But it is clear that Buddha never believed in re-birth. Read the original pali sutras and you will know how fallacious this idea of rebirth and transmigration is. The idea of rebirth was introduced by Brahmins into the pali cannon after the first buddhist council. This was later elaborated in texts such as Vishuddhimagga by the Brahmin Ashvagosha. It is this belief in reincarnation and past lives that has resulted in the scourge of inequality and violence in India and elsewhere.

John Preston's picture


"Please read autobiography of Gandhi, see how inequality, violence, sexual indulgence and hatred was practiced by himself."

Where does Gandhi preach inequality, violence, sexual indulgence and hatred in his autobiography. I have read this book several times and Gandhi comes out as a man of honesty and compassion atleast from this book. One of the core messages of his autobiography is the idea of self restraint and it is quite far from the sexual indulgence you accuse him of.

"In his Ashram he propogated the inhuman ageold pychological slavery for the “untouchables” through this Hindu religion. "

Have you stayed in Gandhi ashrams and Kendras, where is discrimination practised there, do you have any proof. I have stayed and worked in more than ten Gandhi centres in India and I can without doubt tell from first hand experience that what you have said holds no substance. Gandhi had ensured by his actions and words that there is absolutely no discrimination in his ashram based on caste, creed, religion or color. This is followed quite religiously from the time of Gandhi till date.

"Gandhi also says intercaste marriages and intercaste dining will pollute the Hindu religion. I do not understand where are Buddhist ethics here"

There are atleast three instances of Inter-caste marriages which Gandhi presided. There might be more. Gandhi himslef dined and lived with all people irrespective of any caste or relgious bias. These are clearly recorded and part of known history with ample evidence.

"Under this gandhi’s ethics every year around 30k cases of atrocities are committed by caste hindus. "

This is a baseless accussation. Gandhi or Gandhian ethics are no way involved in any of the atrocities committed on Dalits. Not one of these perpetrators would probably even have known about Gandhi. Gandhi is not followed in India at all except the meaningless ceremonies on his Birthday by the politicians. The accusations on Gandhi can be made on great teachers of compassion like Buddha, Jesus ot Mahavira. They are also part of our history as much as Gandhi is. This shows you have clearly no understanding of Gandhi or Gandhian ethics and have selectively taken incidence and quotations out of context from Gandhi and created a propoganda of hatred against him. This exercise can be done on any of the famous saints and religious people. It is very easy to see the negatives in a person. A charachter like Gandhi, whose life was a open book had many flaws. But he did accept many himself and worked towards his goal of equality, compassion, non-violence and humanism. He ha also in turn inspired many people who have tread this path of equality and compassion.

Milinda's picture

Dear Restora

Please read autobiography of Gandhi, see how inequality, violence, sexual indulgence and hatred was practiced by himself.

He use to stay in Ashram in day and night time he use to stay at Birla's guest house(five star place).

In his Ashram he propogated the inhuman ageold pychological slavery for the "untouchables" through this Hindu religion.

He propogated division agenda, did not wear cloths to keep illussions for lower castes showing how much he cares for them. He asked people to perform the caste based (by birth decided )occupations with perfection to attain nirvana or birth in higher caste family in next life. So "untouchable" should take clean the shit of higher caste all the life. If Mr.Restora if you are from this "untouchable" caste will you take this shit from Gandhi. One need to wear unbiased glasses to understand the plight of victims.

Gandhi also says intercaste marriages and intercaste dining will pollute the Hindu religion. I do not understand where are Buddhist ethics here.
People in India who are victims of gandhis propogation of hinduism will understand how he manupulated the system to maintain the hierarchy. Under this gandhi's ethics every year around 30k cases of atrocities are committed by caste hindus. Gandhi strongly propogated these ideals.

Please come to India see wht is happening there, use your unbiased glasses and keep your mind open.


osho was criminal's picture

We (at-least i ) know Osho better, i have read much more on Osho, i agree that he has spoken much on Buddha. But how stupidly Osho claim that he is much more than Buddha!! No way he (a desirous person for sex, name etc ) can be near to Buddha.

People like Osho (desirous one) can never attain Nirvana. Take a simple example...

Suppose you have a container filled with water and you heat it up.The water after attaining a boiling point turns into water vapor and starts evaporating. Now suppose that you place a lid on the top of the container the water vapor cannot escape in the free space, instead gets condensed on the top of the lid and falls down as a water drop again in the container. If there is no lid placed on top of the container, the water vapor escapes and never returns back into the container.

Now suppose that the container is the world. The water is your life. The boiling point is the time you die. The water vapor is your consciousness. The lid placed on the top is your desire or Moha. Since you have desire in your mind you cannot attain enlightenment , instead you get trapped in the container as the water vapor and again become water. But if you remove the lid on the top of container, i.e., remove desire from your mind you will escape in free space and will escape the cycle of birth and death.

Water->vapor->lid-> come back to Container = It is rebirth,

Water->vapor->no lid-> not coming back to Container = It is Nirvana,

Osho might be running in some animal's life here on earth!!!

-- P.S.A.

osho was criminal's picture

We don't need a culprit to know Buddhism or Buddha. Keep that sex guru to yourself & don't try to make people fool.

Pardeep S Attri's picture

Why ambedkar rejected Hinduism?

Hinduism is the only religion in the world which divides it’s people authentically in the name of god. Our for fathers Ambedkar n Periyar had a thorough research over this religion n found some astonishing facts.

First, they stated that it is necessary that any belief which claims itself to be a religion should have facets like rituals, ethics etc. more so any religion generally has one scripture, one temple, one god n a process of conversion. None of these things r there in the so-called Hinduism. Each Hindu chooses his own scripture. Process of conversion was never there in its long history except the one called shuddi of the arya samaj which came into existence in late 19th century. There is no one central organization maintaining the purity n sanctity of its original n only one doctrine. Furthermore there is no god n joke on Hinduism is that there are so many gods n goddesses as the total number of people. Thus nobody has moral right to claim that there is only one pure Hindu religion vision.

A learned, scholar like S.Radhakrishnan went on record stating that Hinduism is a way of life n nothing more n nothing less. Swami Vivekananda remarked that “to talk of religion or god is insulting the poor man”

The difficulty with Hinduism is that it has no monolithic answer to the problem of suffering. By declaring everything in physical world to be nonreal, illusory, changing, transitory, it ends up with philosophical problems beyond measure…

Baba Saheb questions as, what has brought on this “illusion” of evil, if everything is part n parcel of the divine reality/ they do try to answer that…

Humorous story told by Sankara , India ’s leading philosopher. He had just finished his teaching the king on the deception of the mind n its delusions of material reality. The next day, the king let loose an elephant that went on rampage n the Sankara ran up a tree to find safety. When the king asked him why he ran if the elephant is nonreal, Sankara, not be outdone, said,” what the king actually saw was a nonreal me climbing up a nonreal tree!” one might add,” that’s a nonreal answer”.

Shocking verse in Upanishad:
Accordingly, those who are of pleasant conduct here- the prospect is , indeed they will enter a pleasant womb, either the womb of a Brahman, kshatrya or womb of vaisya. But those who are of stinking conduct here- the prospect is indeed, that they will enter a stinking womb of dog, or womb of swine or womb of shudras or outcast.
Chandogya Upanishad 5.10.8

Baba Saheb was infuriated with above verse n demanded explanation from Hindu scholars. But those people doesn’t have any answers.
Saheb questioned that

1.is the outcast people r equal with dogs n swines
2.what is the karma for the first janma
he says that Hinduism here conveys an inherited sense of wrong, which is lived out in the next life , in vegetable, animal, or human form. This doctrine is nonnegotiable in Hindu philosophy. There are passages in Upanishads that are rather jolting, when one reads them.

Here the evolutionary theory fails

Especially those who are given to vandalizing places of worship of other religion- may take Rama to be divine, but in much of the Ramayana , Rama is treated primarily as a hero- a gr88 epic hero- with many good qualities n some weaknesses, including a tendency to harbor suspicion abt his wife sita’s faithfulness. A pundit who gets considerable space in the Ramayana, called JAVALI, not only does treat Rama as a god, he called his actions ‘foolish’. before he is persuaded to with to withdraw his allegation, javali gets time enough in the Ramayana to explain in detail that ‘there is no after world, nor any religion practice for attaining that, n that ‘the injuction abt the worship of gods, sacrifice, gifts n penance have been laid down in the sastras by clever people, just to rule over other.” Ref (argumentative Indian by Amartya sen)

Many facts to come…

Ma prem Papaya's picture

To all those folks calling Osho a cult leader, Idiot and a fraud. Osho was so true that Buddha's teaching would not work for the traumatised, violent and tortured people. This blog is a mirror which showcases this. He had devised many meditations knowing fully well that the traditional means had failed.
Try some of Osho's meditations it might help in getting out of superiority complex, victim conciousness, povery conciousness and other cankers of the mind. You might even realize the noble truths the Buddha foretold.

Restora's picture

I was introduced to Gandhi and Buddhism through the writings of Mary Byles of australia. Mary Byles a gandhian was the first westerner to study Vipassana meditation in traditional Buddhist Monastery of Mandalay in Burma. You can read her book the "Journey into Burmese Silence". Marie lived both in Gandhi's commune and in the Mandalay Monastery. We also notice the existence of Caste system in the Buddhist Monastery in Burma where the clergy has special priveleges unlike in Gandhi's ashram where everyone were equal. In Mary's world the philosophy and practices of Gandhi complimented the practice of Buddhist meditation. Why do many people here want to deny this privelege to people like me to use the core of Gandhi's philosophy and ethical teachings and use it in my Buddhist practice. It all depends from what colour of glasses you see.

Abhi's picture

This is an old saying, O Atula; it is not of this day only. "They blame him who sits silent, they blame him who talks much, they blame him who speaks moderately in measured terms." There is not any one in the world who is not blamed.
There never was, nor will be, nor is there now to be found any one who stands wholly praised or utterly condemned.

-- Gautama the Buddha

Abhi's picture

Mahatma Gandhi explained the importance of studying the world’s religions as a way to better understand our fellow humans. He wrote: “I hold that it is the duty of every cultured man or woman to read sympathetically the scriptures of the world. If we are to respect others’ religions as we would have them respect our own, a friendly study of the world’s religions is a sacred duty.”

Gandhi specifically wanted us to use the insiders’ perspective to study each faith: “If you read the Quran, you must read it with the eye of the Muslim; if you read the Bible, you must read it with the eye of the Christian; if you read the Gita, you must read it with the eye of a Hindu. Where is the use of scanning details and holding up a religion to ridicule?”

dalitnation's picture

From Dalitnation the only authentic voice of Dalits

Many forests of paper has been spent in trying to find out why Babasaheb Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar converted to Buddhism and not to Islam or Christianity. We at Dalit nation have done research for 22 years on this subject. Babasaheb loved islam and loved Christianity also. They were his object of admiration all the time. But Babasaheb knew that without both the help of christianity and islam we could never defeat Hinduism. Babasaheb knew it very well. If Babsaheb had become muslim then we would have the christian against us and same thing if he had become christian the muslims would be against Babasaheb. Babsaheb then disvcovered Buddha. This buddha is not the Buddha created by Brahmins. But the real buddha. The brahmins had swallowed up Buddhism and ascribed to him all the qualities he did not preach. They taught meditation and non violence. But Babasaheb was the first person to show the world that Buddha was a social revolutionary and not a meditative non voilent saint. This is what the Brahmin pervesion had made buddhism into. Babasaheb hence converted all of us into real Buddhists. Because real Buddists beleive in equality which Hindu caste system does not. Even Islam and Christianity beleives in equality. Therefore they are all the same religions. Look at the genius of Ambedkar. He knew all the schemes and tacticts of Brahmins. Now Brahmins have no option. Babsaheb hats off to you, you have cornered them and they have nowhere to go. Jai Bhim

Anand Rao's picture

Gandhi is a prominent poster boy of the western media. Media needs poster boys who symbolize a certain ideal. Gandhi played the part so well that he has become synonymous with peace and non-violence.

There are certain aspects of Gandhi's life which were carefully forgotten when the legend of Gandhi was created. One of them is his tacit support of the caste system. Gandhi did not have the courage of conviction to ask for the abolision of the caste system as he would then alienate his main political support base of upper caste Hindus. He maintained that the caste system was a great institution and only the superiority and inferiority associated with the caste system should be abolished. However some marks need to be given to Gandhi for his work with the oppressed people whom he patronisingly renamed as Harijans. Although Gandhi maintained that his core teaching is equality, peace, reconciliation and non-violence, it did not manifest in some of his actions. The word is not the thing and ideals are not reality.
It should also be understood that Gandhi had undeniably the biggest following as compared to any other national leader (Nehru, Patel, jinnah, Ambedkar, Subash Bose or Bhagat Singh) of India during his times. Jinnah's support base was restricted to the Muslims, and some among the muslims supoorted Gandhi. Ambedkar's following was restricted to the Dalits and Gandhi had taken a major share of dalit (Harijan as he called them; the word Dalit came into prominence in recent times) followers from Ambedkar. Gandhi's main threat was Subhash Bose who he carefully aliented and voted him out to support his yes man Nehru. Gandhi patronised his disciple the atheist Jawahar Lal Nehru. Although there is nothing in common between these two. One a frugal irrational ascetic and the other a bohemian skeptic rationalist. Gandhi used Nehru as a shield to remove Subash Bose from the political arena. Subhash Bose left the anglophile congress party and went to Germany to get the Nazi hitler's support and he set up the first Indian National Army. The Hindu Mahasabha the original right wing Hindutva Brigade was almost a nonentity during the times of Gandhi. The Hindu mahasabha and RSS felt so powerless due to Gandhi's popular following and personal charishma that they finally resorted to killing him. Gandhi not asking for the pardon of Bhagat Singh's death sentence turned his whole philosophy of nonviolence upside down.

One of the key questions in this blog is why did Ambedkar commit the blunder of accepting the Poona Pact. He should have held to his convictions and not yeilded to the blackmail of Gandhi. But we should understand the way Gandhi used his charishma and following to get the things done his way (in a so called nonviolent way). Ambedkar could do little except yeild. Gandhi used this strategy on many ocassions to get his things done. An irrational religious nut case Gandhi easily got his way through and won against the rational, intellectual and skeptic ambedkar. This is the tragedy of India.

The story of Gandhi is the story of charishma, irrational beliefs and emotional power over poeple. The use of religious symbolism and catering to the herd instinct of the ignorant Indian masses made Gandhi into the popular leader that he was. He took his sexual experiments to strenghten his chasity and maintenance of Celibacy to great heights. His acceptance of the sins he commited ( a la roman catholic saint augustine style confessions in his autibiography) added to his saintliness and charishma. Gandhi like many religious nut cases beleived that even natural calamities are preordained and due to the karmic effects. He proclaimed that a major earthquake in eastern India which caused large scale destruction was caused due to the ill-treatment meted to the untouchables. His irrational beliefs was poohpoohed by the poet Rabindranath Tagore. We also see that Gandhi was opposed by all the major thinkers and Intellectuals in India on many counts. But they had no answer for his power over mobilising people and all their dissent was quitened down.

Gandhi had little understanding of Buddhist teachings, its metaphysics and theology. Either way he could fit in his belief system into the Buddhist religious teachings by selectively picking up verses from the Buddhist scriptures and mapping it with his own self made religious system. He had done a similar exercise with other religions like Islam, Christianity, Jainism and Hinduism.

In the intrests of Rationality and Humanism Gandhi should not be made into a patron saint of the religion of non violence and peace.

Rahul's picture

Mr Gandhi supported khilafat movement but opposed babasaheb as he was becoming more influential in fight against untouchability.
This khilafat movement’s success led to partition of India. This prove that Gandhi was not at all patriot. For him cast system more important than country.
As all friends have mentioned he tried his best to suppress all his opponents inside (ex Subhash Chandra bosed) and outside(bhagat singh , babasaheb ambedkar ) of congress by his blackmailing techniques
He was cunning he used gullible Indian mass to become famous after his death Indian leader used his name to fool mass.

Saint's picture

Posts on Osho criminal and osho is an idiot!.

Thanks for your deligence and painful reading over those references to bring some insight about a Fradulant hindu man called Osho to this forum. Hope those Osho worshippers and lovers read all these real life events happened in Oregaon and Pune during1980s. Let us not waste our time in taling about Osho or such unrelated issues here.

This discussion is about Lord Buddha and Buddhism, we should not be sidetracked by talking about cults and frauds, ofcourse the Gandhi cult and Gandhian fraudulism is an exception, because, the very reason we are here to ask the founder and editors of this magazine about what is the relevance of publishing Gandhi in an Buddhist magazine.

Let us not deviate from this focus point, though it is good to know all other issues in the world.

I wish someone will do their deligence(like the author of Osho did) on Gandhi's involvement in murder of an American, Gandhi's racist involvement and Gandhi's so called pasting unto death (drama) and his sexual indulgence in the disguise of father of India, all these areas are all important issues to discuss, because an insight of all this topic will make a better understanding about this man, especially for those who believe he was a Maha....aatma (to someone like the founder of this tricycle!).

Thanks for the decent discussion and non abusive approach to this forum, except couple of of them here who is trying their hindutuva dramas, to the most part, this discussion is very frutiful and decent.


Osho - A criminal's picture

Yet former disciple Christopher Schnelle, in a long post on March 3, 2006 for the generally pro-Rajneesh forum rebelliousspirit.com, has written, in part, "What is more important – truth or feeling good?... I am writing about Osho because his lies and his deceit caused an enormous amount of pain for a lot of beautiful people. Most of these beautiful people have no idea that a sophisticated fraud was perpetrated on them and blame themselves for their deteriorating mental and physical health. Many of my sannyasin friends have great trouble sustaining this illusory happy fog and are taking more and more desperate measures to continue feeling good." (For the entirety of Schnelle's post, see further on, below.) At the same forum, Christopher Calder, Rajneesh's second Western disciple in the early 1970s, wrote on Oct. 19, 2005 and Aug. 18, 2007, "The Web is full of phony Osho propaganda sites that simply ignore all the scandals and the history of the cult. Most of the tell-all books are out of print and hard to find.... Will the next big cult use germ warfare as the Osho cult did, chemical warfare as the Aum Shinrikyo cult did? Or perhaps the next religious cult will graduate to nuclear warfare? Who knows? If human beings never learn that blind and unquestioning obedience to one 'perfect Master' or leader is dangerous and anti-evolutionary, then we will only have more disasters. [...] I am not saying Rajneesh was a complete fraud in the sense that he had nothing to offer. I just draw a clear line between what was good about him and where he went wrong, so that others in the future will not make the same tragic mistakes.."

The Rise & Fall of Osho - A criminal's picture

Seeing Red In Cattle Country

The Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (later known simply as Osho) was born Chandra Mohan in the village of Kuchwada in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh on 11 December 1931. Due to the grace with which the young boy carried himself, his family began calling him “raja” or “king.” By his own account, he attained the state enlightenment on 21 March 1953, though he kept it a secret for many years after. He taught briefly at a Sanskrit university and began traveling the country teaching. By the early 60’s he was conducting large meditation camps at locations such as Mt. Abu in 1964. In 1970, Rajneesh settled in Bombay where he began to give regular discourses to a growing number. It was in Bombay that Rajneesh initiated his first disciples giving his twist on the ancient India tradition of sannyas.

In 1974, the movement, under the management of Ma Laxmi bought land in the Indian town of Pune, north of Mumbai (Bombay). Laxmi was the first in a line of powerful female “personal secretaries” that would hold despotic control over the management of the business of running the religious movement. Rajneesh and his group of early disciples moved to Pune compound, located in the Koregon park neighborhood, and established the Acharya Rajneesh Ashram.

At the ashram, Rajneesh gave daily morning discourses (alternating Hindi and English) and held evening meetings, darshans, where he initiated new disciples and answered personal questions. Throughout the 70’s, the ashram attracted increasing numbers of international visitors and became one of the focal points of the spiritual tourism that flourished throughout the decade.

The topics of Rajneeh’s talks ran the breadth of the religious spectrum—from Indian teachers, through Jewish mystics to the wisdom of the Zen Masters. He introduced several revolutionary “active” meditation techniques, designed specifically for the western mind combining exorcise and mindfulness. In addition to a wide and varied selection of meditations, a multitude of therapy techniques and workshops arose at the ashram. By the late 70’s the “therapists” had become something akin to a priestly class within the movement.

In 1981, another female disciple, Ma Anand Sheela, displaced Laxmi as Bhagwan’s secretary. Under Sheela’s direction, they began searching for land large enough to establish a commune. Laxmi was effectively banished from the ashram, sent out to search for possible sites in India. Meanwhile, Sheela funneled several million dollars to a small New Jersey meditation center, Chidvilas. Later in that year, Rajneesh flew to the United States on a medical visa granted under the pretext that he was to receive treatment for his back. The group remained in New Jersey for a few months and then moved to Oregon where Sheela had purchased a defunct ranch known locally as “the Big Muddy.” The ranch consisted of 64,000 acres (126 square miles) of Oregon desert land and very few buildings. Though Sheela presented herself a shrewd business person, she paid $5.75 million for land that was assessed for the previous year’s taxes at only $198,000.

Over the course of the next three years, Rajneesh sannyasins would transform this unpromising parcel into a city that supported at its height 7,000 regular residents with 15,000 annual visitors (mostly concentrated into annual July-August “World Celebrations”). The city, incorporated briefly as Rajneeshpuram, Oregon, had its own post office, school, fire and police departments, downtown malls and restaurants. Its state-of-the-art reservoir even won an award for its innovative ecological design.

Change of this scale, of course, put stresses on the local community. The commune residents, especially the management, were very quickly at odds with the near-by town of Antelope. The Attorney General of Oregon, David Frohnmeyer maintained throughout that the incorporation of Rajneeshpuram violated the constitutional separation of church and state. His action against Rajneeshpuram was still working its way toward the Oregon Supreme Court in 1985. An “environmental” group 1,000 Friends of Oregon also fought the incorporation of Rajneeshpuram from the first public hearing onwards. Due to the questionable standing of Rajneeshpuram and the objections of 1,000 Friends to commercial use of the Ranch, the Oregon Land Use Commission suggested that the sannyasins locate their publishing and distribution business in the closest town, Antelope. The commune began to purchase real estate in the town and sannyasins registered to vote. Before sannyasins relocated there, the population of Antelope, OR was 40 mostly elderly and retired. Due to the influx of new residents, 3 sannyasins were elected to the 6 person town council. The 3 older councilors refused to sit in the same room with the newly elected sannyasins and effectively resigned their seats. Through default the Rajneesh followers took over the city government. Around this time the 40 original Antelope residents attempted unsuccessfully to disincorporate the town.

A similar chain of events occurred with the town school board. At the resident’s request, the sannyasins had agreed to educate their children at Rajneeshpuram and not Antelope schools. The school tax the residents of Rajneeshpuram paid, however, continued to support the Antelope school. Sannyasins were then elected to the Antelope school board. The previous board had gerrymandered the school district in an attempt to keep Rajneeshpuram outside of its boundaries. The county invalidated the election of the non-sannyasin board members, because in the redrawing of the district they had mistakenly drawn their own homes outside the new district. Not residing in the school district they were no longer eligible to be on the board. Again, the sannyasins “took over” by default.

Both of these occurrences and the sannyasin purchase of real estate in Antelope—the mayor herself working as real estate agent for most of the transactions—were used against the Rajneesh sannyasins. Attorney General Frohnmeyer, state congressmen, state senators Hatfield and Packwood as well as the “concerned citizens” of Oregon viewed these actions as a take-over and argued that the aggressive sannyasins would not stop short of attempting to take over the county and then the state. The sannyasin presence was quickly characterized as a threat to the very way of life of eastern Oregon. Sannyasin control of Antelope was seen as a coup de tat and not the democratic process at work. By many of the government players, the taking over of the school board was the moment that the tide turned completely against the commune and its residents.

Throughout this period, Rajneesh himself was entirely silent. When he came to America, he had entered a silent period—never speaking publicly, instead, he said, teaching through his presence. As the Oregon battle began to hit the national media, first appearing on an episode of ABC’s Nightline in 1983, the U.S. immigration service began arguing the invalidity of Rajneesh’s visa. His medical visa had been renewed as a teaching visa and, the authorities argued, one could not be a teacher if one did not teach, i.e. talk publicly. Ironically at the same time Oregon’s Attorney General was arguing that Rajneesh and his followers were a religion and as such were violating the constitutional separation of church and state.

Rajneeshpuram exemplifies both the best and the worst of modern cult phenomenon. The collective activity of the commune residents gave rise to the greatest intentional community experiment the modern age has seen. In an article in The New Yorker, journalist Frances Fitzgerald detailed some of the accomplishments the commune had managed by 1983: cleared and planted 3,000 acres of land, built a 350-million-gallon reservoir and 14 irrigation systems, created a truck farm that provided 90% of the vegetables needed to feed that Ranch, a poultry and dairy farm to provide milk and eggs, a 10 megawatt power substation, an 85-bus public transportation system, an urban-use sewer system, a state-of-the-art telephone and computer communications center and 250,000 sq. feet of residential space.

On the other side, the commune was a complex business structure built to centralize absolute power in one person, Ma Anand Sheela. She and her band of loyal supporters ran the commune with an extremely heavy hand and provided a combative public face that was readily and appreciatively displayed by the media. By 1985 there was increased hardship and unrest within the commune itself. Sheela and her coterie of female managers, known collectively as the “Mas,” created what Rajneesh himself would later refer to as “a fascist concentration camp.” Upon entering the U.S., Sheela had established the religion of Rajneeshism, created a bible in the three volume Book of Rajneeshism and began to style herself a high priestess. By 1984 she had begun wearing “papal” style robes. Bhagwan’s own silence lent de facto support to Sheela’s transformation of the movement.

It is without question, that power corrupted Sheela. She described herself as Queen (and Rajneesh was her king) and started to speak of sannyasins as “her people.” She relished confrontation and pursued rather than backed down from a fight—whether with the media, local officials, INS inspector or a fellow sannyasin. When she spoke, it was taken as if Rajneesh spoke. She was the metatron speaking for the silent, remote godhead.

During the later period of Rajneeshpuram, a tension arose between Jesus Grove, Sheela’s compound and Lao Tzu House, Rajneesh’s residence. In late 1984 Rajneesh began speaking again to small groups of sannyasins invited into his house. When Rajneesh informed Sheela he would begin speaking, witnesses report, she begged him no to. When he finally did begin talking publicly again, Sheela spent days in her room crying. Rajneesh’s talks were video-taped and later played to the full commune. During the summer of 1984, Sheela attempted to cancel the public display of the talks, claiming that they were interfering with the work of building the commune. A minor rebellion erupted and she relented, allowing the videos to be shown late at night when few of the exhausted sannyasins could manage to stay awake to view them.

Satya Bharti in her book Promises of Paradise, describes one night where the video was not shown. Sheela announced that the tape had been accidentally destroyed. In this talk called simply “number 20,” Bhagwan spoke out against Sheela and her management of the commune, saying that she had transformed paradise into a “fascist concentration camp.” He also outlined his concept of a world filled with autonomous communes where no person would have absolute power.

Ma Nirgun (Rosemary Hamilton), Rajneesh’s cook during the later commune period, relates her experiences of living in Lao Tzu House in Hellbent for Enlightenment. Under the pretext of security Sheela ordered the construction of a large fence, complete with guard towers, around Rajneesh’s residence. Guards armed with Uzi’s followed Rajneesh and his entourage everywhere. No one entered or left Lao Tzu without Sheela knowing about it. Nirgun tells of one day walking outside the house and realizing that the fence was not to keep attackers out, but to keep the residents in. “When I got back to LaoTzu, I suddenly saw it with new eyes: a prison. The high link fence, the gates that delivered a powerful shock; the guardhouse towering over us, manned round the clokc by two still figures holding guns—until this moment I had seen them as a deterrent to hostile outsiders. Now they seemed to be directed against us.” She also tells of a conversation she had with one of the sentries, a sannyasin who had previously been a friend of hers. She asked why the sannyasin attitude toward her had grown cold and distant. He replied, “Sheela’s orders.” Nirgun asked if Sheela had explained her order. “She says it isn’t good to get friendly with people you might have to shoot.”

During this time Rajneesh issued lists of “enlightened” sannyasins. These lists were interesting more for the people that they excluded rather than included. Sheela and her group were conspicuously absent. It’s my feeling, that Rajneesh was using these lists as a means of destabilizing Sheela’s power, which rested ultimately on her connection to the guru. Simultaneous with this, Rajneesh orchestrated a relationship between his personal physician Amrito and Ma Prem Hasya. The latter was a member of a wealthy clique of Hollywood-connected sannyasins. In this way, Rajneesh established a connection with an alternative to Sheela’s management team.

In September 1985, Sheela and a small group of core supporters abruptly left the commune for Europe. The day of her departure, Rajneesh held a press conference where he accused Sheela of stealing millions of dollars and attempting to murder him, several sannyasins and local politicians. He publicly repudiated Rajneeshism and his role as guru. “I don’t give them any commandments,” Rajneesh in a 17 July 1985 interview with Good Morning America. “I insistently emphasize that they are not my followers, but only fellow travelers.” He also called on the FBI to conduct and independent investigation. The FBI quickly found an extensive eavesdropping system that was wired throughout the commune residences, public building, offices and even Rajneesh’s own bedroom. Authorities also uncovered a secret lab where, according to later testimony, Ma Puja, the commune nurse referred to by some as “nurse Men gale,” had run a poison lab experimenting with biotoxins—including HIV and salmonella.

It was later revealed in court testimony that Sheela’s group had attempted to poison two local communities by dumping salmonella into salad bars of several local restaurants. According to a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the true cause of the mysterious outbreaks would never have been discovered if it were not for the testimony of conspirators. Salmonella sample disks discovered at Rajneeshpuram were subsequently matched to the strain of bacteria isolated from the salad bars. This episode has the unfortunate distinction of being the first instance of modern bioterrorism in the U.S. Sheela’s group also allegedly fire-bombed a county records office in The Dalles. One of the charges most heavily investigated was the poisoning of Swami Deveraj (later Amrito), Bhagwan’s personal physician. After the July 6 discourse, Ma Shanti Bhadra hugged Deveraj and jabbed him with a needle. The syringe contained a still unidentified poison concocted by Rajneeshpuram nurse Ma Puja. Deveraj became gravely ill and almost died at the Madras hospital.

In October 1985, Rajneesh himself was on a private plain headed secretly out of the country accompanied by his physician Amrito and new secretary Hasya. The plane was seized while refueling in Charlottesville, North Carolina, and all on board were arrested. This began a long process of returning him to Oregon to face immigration charges for allegedly arranging sham marriages. Rather than flying him to Oregon, federal authorities opted for driving him across country. For several days during the journey, even his attorneys did not know where he was.

Within a month, Rajneesh was again on a plane headed out of the country having entered an Alford plea to two counts of immigration fraud. He briefly returned to India and then onto Kathmandu. This began what his followers term his “world tour” which included refusals from more than 17 countries and forcible deportation from two, Greece and Uruguay. He and his followers maintained that the resistance of countries to allow his entrance was due to secret behind-the-scenes pressure from the Reagan administration—a charge not entirely lacking in credibility.

By the end of the Oregon experiment 25 sannyasins were charged with electronic eavesdropping conspiracy, 13 immigration conspiracy, 8 lying to federal officials, 3 harboring a fugitive, 3 criminal conspiracy, 1 burglary, 1 racketeering (RICO), 1 first degree arson, 2 second degree assault, 3 first degree assault and 3 attempted murder. A complex series of plea bargains followed. Sheela was fined $400,000 and ordered to pay $69,353 in restitution. She was sentenced to concurrent prison terms of 20 years for the attempted murder of Sw. Deveraj, 20 years for first degree assault in the poisoning of county commissioner William Hulse, 10 years for second degree assault in the poisoning of commissioner Raymond Matthew, 4ý years for the salmonella poisoing, 4ý for wiretapping and 5 years probation for immigration fraud. She served only 2ý years in a federal medium security prison and was released for good behavior in December 1988. Ma Puja also received concurrent sentences: 15 years for the Deveraj murder attempt, 15 for the Hulse poisoning, 7ý for the Matthew poisoning, 4ý for her role in salmonella poisonings and 3 years probation for wiretapping conspiracy. Puja also served only 2ý years of her sentence. Like Sheela, she served her sentence at the federal prison in Pleasanton, CA and was released in December of 1988. Rajneesh was charged with one count of criminal conspiracy (RICO) and 34 counts of making false statements to federal officials (INS officers). He entered his plea on two counts of immigration fraud and agreed to pay $400,000 fine. He was given a 10 year suspended sentence and ordered to leave the country and not return for a minimum of 5 years. Rajneesh corporations agreed to drop all appeals to the ruling that Rajneeshpuram’s incorporation was unconstitutional, abandon all claims to the money and jewels impounded in North Carolina, to pay $400,000 to the State of Oregon in compensation for investigative costs, $500,000 to the settle the claims of four restaurants who suffered losses due to the poisonings, an additional $400,000 to the restaurant owners, $5 million to the Oregon state victim’s fund and to sell the ranch. In exchange Dave Frohnmeyer agreed to drop all RICO charges against the corporations. (Carter, pp. 236-238)

Sannyasins in India finally reached a settlement with the Indian government concerning back taxes on the Pune ashram and Rajneesh returned to his homeland. Through the late 1980’s, Rajneesh dropped off the spiritual radar. He dropped the title Bhagwan and, later, even the name Rajneesh. His followers began calling him simply Osho, a Japanese honorific used when referring to a Zen master.

In 1989 Bhagwan again stopped talking publicly due to his failing health. His final discourse ended with the last word of the Buddha, samasati, “remember that you are all Buddhas.” In that year he instructed his followers to build him a new marble bedroom following his detailed design. He spent only a short time in this new space, before saying he preferred his old bedroom. In January 1990, Osho passed from his body instructing his physician to place his favorite socks and hat on him. When asked what they should do with him after he died, he said simply, “Stick me under the bed and forget about me.”

Through the course of the 1990’s, Rajneesh, now packaged as Osho, became again an important figure in the spiritual and New Age landscapes. His ashram in Pune transformed into a meditation resort (complete with an air-conditioned modern hotel and zennis courts) is now, once again, a popular destination for Western seekers. His books are again available in U.S. bookstores. The Indian government, once his adversary, now respects the potential tourist dollars represented by Osho and his resort. The library of the Indian congress has established a separate Osho collection, an honor only held by one other, Mahatma Ghandi. The Times of India named Osho one of its 10 most influential Indians of the 20th century.

The events that comprise the rise and fall of Rajneeshpuram raise many more questions than can be answered in a single introductory article such as this. Rajneesh stated that he wanted everything that happens after a religious teacher dies to happen while he was still alive. He often spoke of the mechanism that led from a Buddha to the creation of a religion and how that process destroyed the religiousness of the teaching. I think that the Oregon experiment was an attempt by Rajneesh to facilitate this process through the simulated death of his silence and ceding control to Sheela. In this way he could himself short-circuit the development of a religious orthodoxy and protect his sannyasins, later termed “fellow travelers,” from the deadening of meditative/devotional religiousness.

This obviously leaves many larger questions unaddressed. Most notably among these is the question of the responsibility of a master for his disciples. Rajneesh himself asked pointedly after the departure of Sheela, why the sannyasin residents of Rajneeshpuram had not done anything to stop her.

Perhaps the facts, lies and enigma surrounding Rajneeshpuram will permanently occlude the full appreciation of what attracted thousands of people to him. All else aside, Rajneesh’s teachings represent a post-modern synthesis neither equaled nor paralleled in the 20th century. The breadth of his knowledge and his deft interpretation of ancient masters is unique. His influence, mostly unacknowledged, has been wide spread throughout both modern devotional spirituality and the New Age movement. Many a Rajneesh therapist, dehypnotherapist, has become popular guru or teacher. When one reads in a biographical sketch that the teacher spent years in India studying under an unnamed guru, it is more often than not, Rajneesh to whom they refer.

The Pune resort is now run by a group called the Inner Circle, a body designed by Osho prior to his death. A second group of sannyasins have coalesced around the Delhi meditation center, led by Indian disciples Swami Chaitanya Keerti and Ma Yoga Neelam (Hasya’s successor as personal secretary and form Inner Council member). A multitude of issues mark the divide between these two groups over the role of the guru, devotion vs. meditation (“path of love” and “path of meditation”), the copyright of his books and art, the access to his teachings, the management of the commune/resort, etc. The articles collected in this issue, reflect voices from across the spectrum of sannyasin experiences centering both on the ranch experience and the time that followed.

Better Dead Than Red

In the course of four years, the followers of the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh did what no one thought they could. They raised a city from the desert. They established an almost completely self-sustaining community of several thousand on land that was though capable of supporting only nine head of cattle. Now almost 20 years later, it is evident that the episode of Rajneeshpuram stands for other things as well. The events of 1981-1985 expose the pervasiveness of American xenophobia and the potential for the American legislative and judicial systems to be used by a few, with the backing of the masses, to destroy a foreign, unfamiliar, minority.

Even before coming to the United States, Rajneesh was on the radar screens of the U.S. State Department. After the murders and mass-suicide at Jones Town, the U.S. government began to monitor gurus and religious groups that attracted a large American following. In the late 70’s, CIA agents were often rumored to be among the visitors at the Rajneesh ashram. At the very least, the American consulate in Bombay sent reports to Washington regarding the activities of Rajneesh and his Pune ashram. Those reports contained specific references to State Department concerns that Rajneesh would try to relocate to the United States.

In 1981 Rajneesh and a small selection of sannyasins rented the entire first class section of a commercial airliner and flew to New Jersey. Notable for her absence was Ma Laxmi who had been left behind in India with a directive to look for land suitable for building a large commune. At the time that Rajneesh traveled to the U.S., everything points to his visit being temporary and actually related to the medical concerns which had provided the reason for his visa. Ma Anand Sheela appeared to be the only person then working toward making Rajneesh’s stay permanent. Soon after the group arrived at the New Jersey meditation center, the recently purchased “castle,” Sheela set off to find land for a commune in North America.

From the moment that Rajneesh first stepped foot on American soil, he was a matter of “concern” for the U.S. government. By 1984, 17 different local, state and federal agencies were actively investigating the activities at Rajneeshpuram. White House documents show that Edwin Meese III, the “shadow president” of the Reagan administration, noticed the Rajneesh “situation” as early as 1982. The presence of the Rajneesh commune almost immediately created fear among the local Oregonians—especially the few remaining residents of Antelope. Destruction of the commune became a crusade for Oregon Attorney General David Frohnmeyer and the private activist group 1,000 Friends of Oregon (coincidentally founded by the Attorney General’s brother). In a 1984 interview in The Oregonian, congressman Bob Smith stated he had begun “pounding” the INS to resolve the Oregon-Rajneesh “issue” in April 1982.

As the old saying does: Just because you are paranoid, does not mean they aren’t out to get you.

From very early on, the town of Rajneeshpuram was tied up in a constant barrage of litigation. Numerous lawsuits were filed by 1,000 Friends, the Attorney General’s office and private citizens. In April 1983, a horse owned by Harry Hawkins, a former Jefferson county sheriff who had been hired as Rajneeshpuram’s first police officer, was killed by buckshot. On 29 July 1983, three bombs exploded at a Rajneesh owned hotel in Portland. Oregonians began wearing T-shirts that had a picture of the Bhagwan driving a Rolls Royce caught in the cross-hairs of a riflescope while another shirt read “Not Wanted Dead Or Alive.” The bumper sticker “Better Dead than Red” became a common sight throughout eastern Oregon. In 1985 several attempts were made to enact legislation that specifically attacked the legitimacy of Rajneeshpuram and sannyasin activity. The Oregon Secretary of State authored a ballot question, wording approved by Attorney General Frohnmeyer, that read “Shall City of Rajneesh (Antelope) charter be repealed, city cease to exist, and Wasco County assume city’s assets and liabilities?” (The Bend Bulletin, July 3, 1985)

One of the most persistent myths of Rajneeshpuram over the years following it’s dissolution is the assumption that the commune blew apart from the inside. This notion, that the commune simply disintegrated due to internal fractures and tensions, fits snugly within the popular conception of cults, that they are inherently fleeting, frenetic, fluid and unstable. The truth is that the commune suffered an unremitting and coordinated harassment from the local, state and federal government. This coupled with the tide of resentment and distrust in the local communities created a situation of extreme pressure on Rajneeshpuram and its residents. Sheela’s tactics and combativeness rose in direct proportion to the pressure exerted on the commune from outside. Her reactions, increasingly ludicrous, were generally the result of new attacks from authorities. Her strangle hold on control of the commune also increased in relation to these external forces. These threats also, ironically, became an element in her power providing the important element of us-against-them paranoia necessary for the success of an absolutist regime. This was only exacerbated when Rajneesh began speaking again in 1984—a fact which immediately began to work against Sheela’s power base.

Rumors and myths about the strangers in red began immediately after their arrival at the Big Muddy. The commune was spending tremendous sums of money on development and the creation of city infrastructure. This seeming limitless supply of ready-cash convinced federal law enforcement officials, that the money stemmed from illegal activity such as drug smuggling, gun running or both. In fact the cash was coming from a series of lucrative and highly successful business ventures abroad. Sannyasins operated almost half the vegetarian restaurants in Germany and Rajneesh discotheques were springing up all across Europe. These businesses coupled with the growing number of meditation centers and local communes were sending millions of dollars to support Rajneeshpuram.

Another persistent rumors of illegal activity at Rajneeshpuram remains that the sannyasins were stockpiling weapons. Media reports of the day often focused on images of Uzi toting sannyasins. By 1985 Sheela was always shown wearing a gun on her hip. The reports all failed to mention that the photographed sannyasins were members of the Rajneeshpuram police force—a state recognized law enforcement agency whose members had been trained at the State Police Academy. Sheela and other sannyasin spokespeople, such as mayor Krishna Devi, did nothing to dispel these rumors. Instead through 1984 and into 1985, they stepped up the rhetoric and counter-threats. Newspapers quoted Devi as warning that they would take 15 Oregonian heads for every sannyasin killed. Sheela repeatedly asserted that the residents of Rajneeshpuram were ready to defend themselves—use of the words “war” and “blood” were common. When federal agents searched Rajneeshpuram after the Bhagwan’s departure, no stockpile of weapons was discovered. Divers from the Navy Seals were brought in to search the two lakes at Rajneeshpuram. Media reports of the searches failed to mention that no cache of weapons was present. According to subsequent reports, the Rajneesh sannyasins did not possess any weapons inconsistent with a municipal police force.

In his book Passage to America, Max Brecher interviews two soldiers-for-hire who allege that they were offered money for killing Rajneesh. In both instances, the individuals were sure that the CIA was ultimately behind the payment offers. John Wayne Hearn, now serving three life sentences for three gruesome murders for hire, admits to working for the CIA on several covert operations, including running guns to Nicaragua and assisting in a plot to overthrow the government of French Guyana. Hearn claims to have been offered a significant amount of money to blow-up several trailers at Rajneehpuram in an attempt to scare the sannyasins. The second man Don Stewart recorded his conversations with his contact who went by the name Wolfgang. In these conversations, Wolfgang specifically mentions government agencies targeting Rajneesh. Wolfgang’s plan was to assassinate the Bhagwan during one of his daily drives. Once a day Rajneesh would drive his car along a commune road and sannyasins would line up to watch their guru drive by. For Wolfgang, and presumably his backers, the killing of a couple of hundred devotees was more than acceptable if Rajneesh was taken out. It is ironic that in both these instances, the soldiers turned down the offer due to the rumors they had heard about the commune being an armed camp. The prospect of being trapped by a couple of thousand armed zealots proved an unacceptable risk.

Under the guise of fighting terrorism, the President authorized the CIA to investigate foreign entities on U.S. soil, thus sidestepping the congressional mandate against domestic CIA operations. In December 1981, President Reagan signed Executive Order 12333 which authorized federal law enforcement agencies to hire outside people to conduct illegal break-ins for the purposes of obtaining evidence. The executive order specifically allowed that evidence thus collected could be in turn used to obtain a legitimate search warrant.

Beginning in 1983 and increasing through to the dissolution of the commune in 1985, military jets from Whidbey Island Naval Base conducted regular flyovers of Rajneeshpuram. In violation of FAA regulations, the plains routinely flew extremely low over the commune disrupting daily life and, in several instances, jeopardizing civilian air traffic at the Rajneesh airport. These flights were ostensibly routine training missions—at times even using the commune buildings as fake targets for bombing runs. The flights also included reconnaissance and surveillance. Twin-engine Mohawk surveillance plains from the reconnaissance unit in Boise, Idaho also conducted recons over the commune. In the taped conversations with Wolfgang, he also mentions participating in aerial surveillance. Both the INS and U.S. attorney’s office conducted aerial recons over Rajneeshpuram in 1985 as part of their preparation for arresting Rajneesh.

On 13 May 1985, the police of Philadelphia, PA dropped a C-4 bomb onto the headquarters of M.O.V.E., a back-to-Africa movement. The police had attempted to serve warrants on members of the movement and they were allegedly fired upon during the attempt. After a brief siege, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Gregore Sambor ordered the dropping of a bomb onto the headquarters building—one of several row houses in the Philadelphia residential neighborhood. (The New York Times, 14 May 1985) The ensuing fire destroyed 61 row houses and left 251 people without a home. (CNN, 24 June 1996) Following the bombing, Commissioner Sambor was reelected and U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III applauded the operation as a superb success for American law enforcement. By 1996 the city of Philadelphia had paid out almost $30 million in lawsuits resulting directly from the M.O.V.E. operation.

In the summer of 1985, Sheela retained a top immigration lawyer, Peter Schey, to represent Rajneesh in his ongoing battle with INS. Schey immediately began negotiating with U.S. District Attorney Robert Turner, who had already secretly convened a grand jury to investigate alleged immigration fraud at Rajneeshpuram. Schey wanted to insure that if indictments were handed down that the indictees would be allowed to surrender themselves to authorities at a location outside of Rajneeshpuram. Schey was confident that he had an agreement to this affect with Turner and that he, Rajneesh and any others indicted would be notified 24 hours in advance and be allowed to turn themselves in to the court house in Portland. Despite this, according to INS deputy counsel Mike Inman, Turner had no intention of allowing Rajneesh or anyone else to surrender peacefully. Instead, in Inman’s words, Turner was set on “storming the Bastille.” According to Inman, Turner wanted “to utilize the Oregon National Guard, the FBI and the Immigration Services Border Patrol, and storm the compound with force, and go through the barricades and fences.” (Brecher, p. 275) Turner had developed a plan, according to Inman and others involved, of serving the warrants unannounced. INS agent Joe Greene testified under oath that Turner no intention of allowing the Bhagwan to surrender at a neutral location. According to the plan, state and federal law enforcement, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, would show up unannounced at Rajneeshpuram and on a bull-horn inform the residents that they were surrounded and that the indictees had 1 minute to surrender. National Guard troops would be concealed in the nearby hills to provide back up if necessary. Given the then generally accepted rumors that the commune was a “militarized camp,” this plan would seem to have been intended to provoke an armed confrontation.

The government’s plan for Rajneeshpuram eerily foreshadows the later federal assaults on the Branch Davidian compound at Waco, Texas and Randy Weaver’s cabin at Ruby Ridge, Idaho. In these two instances, similar tactics, to those proposed by Turner, were employed with very tragic results. In these cases, the fear that stockpiles of weapons were present was used to justify the excessive force employed. Through the period leading up to the arrest of Rajneesh and again during the siege at the Branch Davidian compound, media pundits repeatedly raised the specter of Jonestown. The deaths of the Davidians is still often represented as mass suicide, rather than the consequence of the government’s assault. It is not difficult to imagine what would have happened, if Robert Turner had been able to proceed with his surprise entrance into Rajneeshpuram. One can also assume who would have been accused of “firing first.”

Turner’s plan was unexpectedly thwarted before it could be implemented, when on the afternoon of Sunday 27 October 1985, two privately chartered planes departed Rajneeshpuram Airport and began to make their way across the continent. Rumors were flying that arrests were imminent. In actuality sealed indictments had been handed to Turner the previous week. Rajneesh’s non-sannyasin attorney Peter Schey twice flew from Los Angeles to Oregon to discuss the rumored warrants and to arrange for the peaceful surrender of Rajneesh. On both occasions Turner denied the existence of warrants for Rajneesh or anyone other sannyasin. Turner claimed that he believed that a peacefull surrender was impossible and that by telling Schey he would be tipping Rajneesh off and allow him time to flee. Sheela had departed the commune the month before under a cloud of accusation and suspicion—the Bhagwan, himself, her principle accuser. Despite the fact that no indictments had been announced nor warrants served, frantic calls went out to law enforcement agencies across the country to apprehend the “fugitives.” The planes landed at a small airport outside of Charlotte, North Carolina for refueling. Agents were waiting and the Bhagwan and his entourage were arrested without incident. Though they had been warned that the passengers would be heavily armed with automatic weapons and armor-piercing bullets, the agents found only one small handgun on the planes. At Rajneesh’s bail hearing the next day, prosecutors were unable to present an arrest warrant from Oregon. Despite this discrepancy, the judge denied Rajneesh’s bail. An unsigned, incomplete Oregonian warrant was later presented to the Charlotte court. Court records in Oregon hold a different arrest warrant, however, one that appears to have been forged after the fact and pre-dated.

In a jailhouse TV interview conducted by Ted Koppel and aired live on ABC’s Nightline, Rajneesh asserted that he was not leaving the country or fleeing impending arrest. When asked by an incredulous Ted Koppel, if the Bahamas (their flight plans indicated North Carolina, but sannyasins were reported to have been inquiring about renting a plane capable of over-sea flight) was now part of the United States, Rajneesh claimed to not know where the planes were headed. He said, instead, that he trusted in his friends and all he knew was that they were taking him to some place safe. Given Rajneesh’s apparent lack of involvement in his travel decisions during his post U.S. “world tour,” it is not out of the question that he did not know where the plains were headed. He would simply go where they were headed like a Zen sage, he was where ever he was. One thing is certain, Rajneesh’s departure from Rajneeshpuram stemmed off the government’s plan for a major assault on the commune and, thus, likely spared several hundred lives. By late September 1985, 15 National Guard armored personnel carriers were positioned in the hills surrounding Rajneeshpuram. In addition to the many FBI agents investigating the allegations made by Rajneesh, the state was ready to commit 800 state troopers if conflict erupted and the National Guard had another 600 guardsmen on standby as backup. By September 30, the National Guard had three HUEY helicopters at Redmond airport ready to carry FBI agents and Oregon State Police SWAT teams into Rajneeshpuram. Turner also unsuccessfully requested U.S. Marshal’s Service Fugitive Investigative Search Teams (FIST) and Border Patrol from the U.S.-Mexico border to assist with “mass arrests.”

Even if one rejects his claim that he was not fleeing the country, one question does remain about this mysterious flight: why did they turn east rather than west? If they had chosen to fly out over the Pacific Ocean they would have very quickly been over international waters outside of U.S. jurisdiction. A Passage to America author Max Brecher asked this question directly to Rajneesh in 1989, “I left for Charlotte,” Rajneesh answered, “because for six weeks previously the National Guard was on standby around the commune, ready to enter the commune. Obviously, if they had arrested me there, the 5,000 sannyasins would not have tolerated it. There would have been bloodshed. To avoid this, I went to Charlotte. It was just to avoid bloodshed of the sannyasins. There was no sannyasins in Charlotte to be involved if I was arrested there. And there was a beautiful house in the mountains there for me to stay.” (Brecher, p. 289) When Weaver was asked about the government’s concern about a bloodbath of innocent sannyasins at Rajneeshpuram, if the commune was stormed by force, he simply stated, “It’s not the government’s job to make those guy’s jobs easier.”

In retrospect, Rajneesh's cross-country flight did not meet the legal definition of fleeing prosecution and he and the other passengers could not rightly be considered fugitives. U.S. District Attorney conceded in the Charlotte court that he lacked the evidence to support his claim that Rajneesh and co. were attempting to evade arrest. Despite Turner's contention to the contrary in court, the pilots filed flight plans that listed Charlotte as their final destination. According to account of the air traffic controller on duty that night, the pilots did not behave in a fashion consistent with someone who was either nervous or paranoid. Above all else, they could not be called fugitives since at the time of their arrests no warrant existed for any of them. The following morning, the federal indictment was unsealed but there is still no evidence that an arrest warrant was issued for Rajneesh or anyone else on the plane. The warrant that is currently on file in Oregon, though dated Oct. 28, was not clerked into the court house until two weeks after the arrest. The warrant also lists the North Carolina arresting officer, a fact that could not have been known at the time the warrant was supposed to have been issued, since Rajneesh was still in Oregon at that time. Despite these facts, Rajneesh's attorney's conceded that a warrant existed, without having seen it, and the magistrate denied Rajneesh's bail on the grounds that he was a flight risk.

A theory proposed by Max Brecher, and supported by the account of deputy INS council Inman, is that the federal authorities--the INS and the State Dept.--wanted Rajneesh to flee the country. Then they could use the existence of indefinitely active warrants to keep him from ever returning. This plan would have effectively prevented Rajneesh from ever entering the United States again without having to go through the process of lengthy deportation proceedings and the possibility a court could rule in his favor. This would help explain why the INS pulled their support for the U.S. District Attorney's investigation and ordered their field operatives not to assist in the arrest of Rajneesh, despite the fact that all the charges against her were for immigration violations. Turner takes full credit for the arrest. He and a Charlotte INS agent, working against the directives of his superiors, coordinated the bringing in of the U.S. Marshals and the subsequent arrests. It appears that Turner in his zeal to prosecute Rajneesh may have thwarted the governments quiet solution to the Rajneesh problem.

In 13 July 1986 a monument was dedicated outside the Wasco County Court House. Beneath the statue of a stately Antelope read the inscription “Dedicated to all who steadfastly and unwaveringly opposed the attempts of the Rajneesh followers to take political control of Wasco County: 1981-1985.” Below this, the plaque carries a quote from Irish politician Edmund Burke “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Above the statue flew a flag that had once flown above the U.S. Capital Building—a gift from Congressman Bob Smith. Were the residents of Rajneeshpuram really “evil” and were the Oregonians really “good”? What is true of erecting monuments is also true of history, they are constructed by the victors. The defeated almost without exception go down as villains within the orthodox historical record. Only two members of the commune could rightfully be described as “evil”—Ma Anand Sheela and Ma Puja. A few others committed evil acts.

Studies like the Zimbardo experiment have shown that even red-blooded, all American college students can commit the most atrocious acts if given absolute power over another. In the experiment designed by Philip Zimbardo, a group of male college student volunteers were randomly separated into two groups—prisoners and guards. The guards were given uniforms and dark glasses and no one was permitted to address another by name. A long list of petty prisoner regulations was provided to the guards. The experiment originally designed to last a fortnight had to be ended after only one week, due to an unexpected level of violence and humiliation inflicted on the prisoners by the guards. In his analysis of the experiment, Zygmunt Bauman observes, “clearly and unambiguously, the orgy of cruelty that took Zimbardo and his colleagues by surprise, stemmed from a vicious social arrangement, and not from the viciousness of the participants.” (Bauman, p. 167) In a separate study conducted by Stanley Milgram at Yale University, Milgram demonstrated that most humans possess the capacity of harming another if the instruction to do so comes from one that the subject holds as an authority figure.

Were all sannyasins indeed “evil”? This is certainly the explicit message of the Antelope monument. When the sannyasins first moved to Eastern Oregon, buying land that no one else wanted, they made serious efforts towards creating a positive impression on their neighbors. Sheela regularly held information meetings in 1981, where she presented a pleasant face and attempted to charm the wary Oregonians. The sannyasins went above and beyond in complying with local laws and state land use regulations throughout the creation of their city—a fact that infuriated their opponents in the 1,000 Friends of Oregon and the Oregon Attorney General’s office. Their comprehensive plan was even held up as an example for other municipalities to follow. At it’s outset the commune developers tried to get along with their neighbors and comply with all U.S. laws. They only moved into the neighboring town of Antelope when pushed by 1,000 Friends lawsuits and at the suggestion of the state Land Use Commission. At the time that the sannyasins began buying property in Antelope, the town was listed prominently on the list of Oregon ghost towns.

Throughout the creation of Rajneeshpuram, Sheela’s arguments and public appearances became increasingly vitriolic and provocative. Also through this time, the commune and its residents were the victims of an escalating bombardment of harassment and threats of harm. The threats and intimidation came from multiple directions and was fully supported by several arms of the federal government. Against this opposition and with the backdrop of the unwelcoming sagebrush desert, it is amazing that the Rajneesh sannyasins accomplished what they did—creating a sustainable, ecologically friendly city capable of supporting thousands of residents.

The history of the United States began with religious dissent—the puritans forging a life in the wilderness of New England to escape persecution. It is also a history of repressing religious difference. The same puritan pilgrims established a cluster of communities ruthlessly intolerant of religious difference—Cotton Mather and the Salem witch trials being but one example extreme among many. Attorney General Frohnmeyer asserted that a city founded by adherents of one particular religion was unconstitutional. If American history is to suggest anything, the opposite would certainly seem to be the case. Many U.S. cities were established by religious followers in an attempt to establish their own area where they could freely practice their faith. The settling of Utah and the incorporation of Salt Lake City is an obvious example. The anti-cult movement has been an equal and counter-running force within the history of religion in the United States. Just as so-called “new religious movements” have been common since before the revolution, anti-cult movements have been equally ubiquitous. It was this strain of intolerance that necessitated the moves which led to the establishment of new cities based on religious communities. Philip Jenkins argues in his book Mystics & Messiahs that anti-cult paranoia has frequently taken hold of the American mass psyche. Phillips notes that the arguments of this reactionary movement were solidly in place by the late 19th century—lurid stereotypes, xenophobia, accusations of mind-control and stories of sexual scandal. We can see all these elements displayed in the concerned voices speaking out against Rajneeshpuram. “When a modern critic attacks a deviant religious group as a cult,” Jenkins writes, “the images evoked are ultimately a mélange of rumors and allegations variously made against Catholics, Masons, Mormons, Shakers, radical evangelicals, and others.” (Jenkins, p. 25) He further argues that the concern over cults does not necessarily correlate to actual threats posed by the cult’s activities. Jenkins observes that “the level of public concern about cults at any given time is not necessarily based on a rational or objective assessment of the threat posed by these groups, but rather reflects a diverse range of tensions, prejudices, and fears.” (Jenkins, p. 20)

So, again, one has to ask, were the Rajneesh sannyasins “evil” for attempting to build their City on a Hill? Or were they simply victims of a cyclic resurgence of the pernicious hatred of difference that has run through the darkness of America since it’s earliest days?

The following books were used in the preparation of this article:

Bauman, Zygmunt. Modernity and the Holocaust. Cornell University: Ithaca, NY, 1989.

Brecher, Max. A Passage to America. Book Quest, Bombay, 1993.

Carter, Lewis F. Charisma and Control in Rajneeshpuram: The Role of Shared Values In the Creation of a Community. Cambridge University: Cambridge, 1990.

Fitzgerald, Frances. Cities On a Hill. Simon & Schuster: New York, 1987.

Franklin, Satya Bharti. The Promise of Paradise. Station Hill: New York, 1992.

Hamilton, Rosemary. Hellbent For Enlightenment: Unmasking Sex, Power, and Death with a Notorious Master. White Cloud Press: Ashland, OR, 1998.

Haney, Craig, Curtis Banks & Philip Zimbardo. “Interpersonal Dynamics in a Simulated Prison,” International Journal of Criminology and Penology vol. VI. (1968), pp. 69-97. Cited in Bauman.

Jenkins, Philip. Mystics & Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American History. Oxford University: Oxford, 2001.

Joshi, Vasant. The Awakened One: The Life and Work of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Harper & Row: New York, 1982.

Milgram, Stanley. Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View. Tavistock: London, 1974.

Rajneesh, Bhagwan Shree (Osho). Krishna: The Man and His Philosophy. Rajneesh Foundation International: Rajneeshpuram, OR, 1985.

_____. The Last Testament: Interviews with the World Press, volume I. Rajneesh Publications, Inc.: Boulder, CO, 1986.

_____. The Perfect Way. Motilal Babarsidass: Delhi, 1993.

Shunyo, Prem. Diamond Days With Osho. Motilal Banarsidass: Delhi, 1993.

Reality of Osho - he was an idiot's picture

"Rajneesh/Osho is the worst thing that ever happened to spirituality in the west. He rode herd over a mob of naive, idealistic spiritual seekers, but definitely lacked the traits of an enlightened master.

"Enlightened masters are not drug addicts. They do not turn Dharma on its head -- like calling "sannyasins" those who adopt a path exactly opposite of Indian sannyas. They generally don't get arrested and have their mug shots taken, and ignomiously deported -- especially the Indian saints. (Christ was one notable historical exception to this rule.) A true saint, by his spiritual power, is never humiliated or bested. He has sufficient merit to receive protection and his honored in his lifetime.

"More to the core, an enlightened master does not encourage his disciples to abandon time-honored moral norms -- especially the dharma concerning sex restraint. Osho was basically a kind of pimp who used the base desires of average people, along with their beautiful hunger for real spirituality, to build a financial empire and a following of worshippers who would do whatever he asked.

"When I think back about that 'baby boomer generation' of sincere spiritual seekers -- all those intelligent, skilled young men and women of European descent like me -- it makes me so sad. What a harvest of potential saints that was! How much good might have arisen if all those young, idealistic westerners could have fallen in with a legitimate spiritual master -- say, a Vivekananda or a Ramakrishna. We will never know! I look at them today, and their condition, and they have missed the boat.

"Thousands of sincere western seekers were misled and harmed by the novel teachings of Osho. I have seen many of them in the aftermath. They always lack the satvic glow that comes from yogic sex restraint; they look like spent rakes aged well beyond their actual years. Even in their age -- when they might show some spiritual attainment -- many still crave sex, and all the ordinary base things. Despite Osho's "indulgence technique," they never got over sex addiction and lust.

"This was one of the Big Lies that Osho told: That by indulging your sex desire you would transcend it. The great sages of Yoga spoke the real and opposite truth: You get over sexual lust not by feeding it, but by restraining it until you encounter the higher thrill of meditative bliss. Meanwhile, it is only that renunciation -- the storing of the sexual energy -- that enables one to contact the transcendental bliss. This has been the message of the sages through all time, including Lord Buddha, who was frequently ripped off by "the Bhagwan." Osho's teachings, though sprinkled here and there with mystical truths, were dead wrong in the most basic ways, and ultimately spiritually destructive.

"The proof is in the pudding. Christ said that one can know a true Master by the "fruit" that emerges from him. Through his disciples Osho gave us moral and family breakdown, drug addiction, a disturbed childhood for many, and crime -- even terrorism. Osho set Yoga back in the west perhaps hundreds of years.

"The saddest thing is what happened to all those children of Osho followers. Osho wanted them to grow up not knowing who their Fathers were; raised by a mob, with no particular person as Parent. I can't think of anything much more ignorant, or more cruel. Krishnamurti was right: Osho was a criminal."


Anti's picture

Osho was no more other than an idiot & criminal. I just saw the posts on Osho, has Osho ever thought what would have been the condition of untouchables if Dr Ambedkar also went on fast like idiot Gandhi, as suggested by Osho? What if Gandhi or his followers didn't accepted the conditions of Dr Ambedkar? Osho is only watching one side of coin n ignoring other.

One more hidden fact about Osho is he never wrote or gave his own ideas as he was very much rich & was having many educated people those gave him ideas & thoughts which Osho used to speak.

Another thing he was no other than a porn star, he was desiring person & Buddha said not to desire so its rubbish to talk about Osho- a criminal.

Anand Rao's picture

Any religion, along with many political ideologies, can lead to barbarism because they enshrine certain concepts as being more important than the life and well-being of a single individual.

All religions (including Buddhism) share at least some common traits that can have negative social consequences, including: the rise of a privileged priest-class, the demand for large amounts of people's time and money with little social benefit, and the proscribing of genuinely beneficial social activities because they contradict some article of faith.

Adherence to a religion also creates one more group-label whereby people can indulge the natural human tendency towards tribalism. Creating divisions between neighbours who otherwise have everything in common.

In short, it is almost irrelevant how noble or innocuous the central tenets of a religion are. By implicitly rejecting the yardsticks of rationality and utilitarian ethics, believers can quickly turn them into weapons of oppression.

Om Shanti's picture

My Daddy can lick your daddy.

shams-e-tabriz's picture

Methinks Osho should be featured in Tricycle Blogs. He was instrumental in popularizing several Buddhist tradions and strains especially Zen. Maybe the editor can discount his teaching of sexual indulgence and affluence. Even the sixth dalai lama was highly indulgent. As buddhists we should focus on meditation and Osho was one of the finest teacher of Mindufullness and meditation in our age.

shams-e-tabriz's picture

Osho tried to bring in true religious mysticism and meditation to the masses. He was against politicians and organized religions. He was also against Gandhi. But one thing about Osho is that he can critize a person in some context and also praise him in another. There are many occassions where he has praised Gandhi. Unlike politicians Osho did not have firm views on people and contexts. He was completely against the politics of identity. Osho understood that reality is multifaceted and not just Black and White. Osho made sure that it becomes impossible for exploitative politicians to use his teachings to create religious and sectarian identities which create more violence. Hence his teachings looks jumbled up and incoherent for many people who try to seek religious and sectarian sanctions by taking his teaching out of context. But in a way Osho has done a great service by upholding the ideal of the 'New Man' who is free from the shackles of caste creed religions and political dogmas. I am firmly of the opinion that if Gautama Buddha had lived in this age he would have agreed with Osho. He would not have been caught up with 'isms'.

PRAVIN KR's picture

In #83, I guess a good attempt is made to understand the context of Poona Pact and the pressures underwent by Babasaheb Ambedkar.

How Gandhi sipped in blood of millions of untouchables with one glass of orange juice very well brought up.
Yes, it is very true that Gandhi learned this "womanly trick", could be from his wife or could be from his "experiments".

Having read 83, my opinion is #84 seems to be some personal grudge against organizations.
Before we proceed ahead, just a request to the several posts on this blog claiming Buddhist A, Buddhist B.
A kind suggestion is, pl. keep these groups/sects within your religion.

Buddhist principles anywhere in the world are based on liberty, equality, truth, justice and peace.

Regarding #84
> Could you pl. give details that just because 2500 years difference exist between Buddha and Osho, does it mean that one
is 'Bullock cart' and other is 'Rolls Royce'? Pl. bring out clear distinction between 'Bullock cart' and 'Rolls Royce'?

> There is a mention of conversion of several millions of untouchables, suppressed people from Hinduism to Buddhism is
MERE 'Change of Prison'.
It is very important to understand the context, life of people under the tyranny of "Divine slavery of Hinduism" for several 1000s years.

After going through the following speeches Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, I leave to the understanding of everyone, if it was a
-mere 'Change of Prison' OR
-A change from a 'Concentration camp' to 'Freedom, Equality, Manhood'.

The famous speeches by
Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar
LL.D (Columbia,USA),D.Litt.(Osmania,India),Bar-at-Law(London,U.K)

> 'Why go for conversion'?

> Speech at Deekshabhoomi, Nagpur on 14 Oct, 1956


In 1935 at Nasik district, Maharashtra, Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar had declared his firm resolve to change his religion. He had declared that he was born as a Hindu but will not die as Hindu. About a year later, a massive Mahar conference was held on May 30 and 31, 1936, in Mumbai, to access the impact of that declaration on Mahar masses. In his address to the conference, Dr.Ambedkar expressed his views on conversion in an elaborate, well- prepared and written speech in Marathi. Here is an English translation of that speech by Mr.Vasant Moon, OSD to the committee of Govt. of Maharashtra for publication of Writings & speeches of Dr.B.R.Ambedkar

Conversion is not a game of children. It is not a subject of entertainment. It deals with how to make man's life successful. Just as a boatman has to make all necessary preparations before he starts for voyage, so also we have to make preparations. Unless I get an idea as to how many persons are willing to leave the Hindu fold, I cannot start preparations for conversion.

For a common man this subject of conversion is very important but also very difficult to understand.

Class Struggle

There are two aspects of conversion; social as well as religious; material as well as spiritual. Whatever may be the aspect, or line of thinking, it is necessary to understand the beginning, the nature of Untouchability and how it is practiced. Without this understanding, you will not be able to realize the real meaning underlying my declaration of conversion. In order to have a clear understanding of untouchability and its practice in real life, I want you to recall the stories of the atrocities perpetrated against you. But very few of you might have realized as to why all this happens! What is at the root cause of their tyranny? To me it is very necessary, that we understand it.

This is not a feud between rival men. The problem of untouchability is a matter of class struggle. It is the struggle between caste Hindus and the Untouchables. That is not a matter of doing injustice against one man. This is a matter of injustice being done by one class against another. This "class struggle" has a relation with the social status. This struggle indicates, how one class should keep its relation with another class. This struggle starts as soon as you start claiming equal treatment with others...

Conversion not for slaves

The reason for their anger is very simple. Your behaving on par with them insults them. The untouchability is not a short or temporary feature; it is a permanent one .To put it straight, it can be said that the struggle between the Hindus and the Untouchables is a permanent phenomena. It is eternal, because the religion which has placed you at the lowest level of the society is itself eternal, according to the belief of the Hindu caste people. No change, according to time and circumstances is possible. You are at the lowest rung of the ladder today. You shall remain lowest forever. This means the struggle between Hindus and Untouchables shall continue forever. How will you survive through this struggle is the main question. And unless you think over it, there is no way out. Those who desire to live in obedience to the dictates of the Hindus, those who wish to remain their slaves, they do not need to think over this problem. But those who wish to live a life of self-respect, and equality, will have to think over this. How should we survive through this struggle? For me, it is not difficult to answer this question. Those who have assembled here will have to agree that in any struggle one who holds strength becomes the victor. One, who has no strength, need not expect success. This has been proved by experience, and I do not need to cite illustration to prove it.

Three types of Strength

The question that follows, which you must now consider, is whether you have enough strength to survive through this struggle? Three types of strength are known to man: (i) Manpower, (ii) Finance and (iii) Mental Strength. Which of these, you think that you possess? So far as manpower is concerned, it is clear, that you are in a minority. In Mumbai Presidency, the untouchables are only one-eighth of the total population. That too unorganized. The castes within themselves do not allow them to organize. They are not even compact. They are scattered through the villages. Under these circumstances, this small population is of no use as a fighting force to the untouchables at their critical moments. Financial strength is also just the same. It is an undisputed fact that you at least have a little bit of manpower, but finances you have none. You have no trade, no business, no service, no land. The piece of bread thrown out by the higher castes, are your means of livelihood. You have no food, no clothes. What financial strength can you have? You have no capacity to get redress from the law courts. Thousands of untouchables tolerate insult, tyranny and oppression at the hands of Hindus without a sigh of complaint, because they have no capacity to bear the expenses of the courts. As regards mental strength, the condition is still worst. The tolerance of insults and tyranny without grudge and complaint has killed the sense of retort and revolt. Confidence, vigour and ambition have been completely vanished from you. All of you have been become helpless, unenergetic and pale. Everywhere, there is an atmosphere of defeatism and pessimism. Even the slight idea, that you can do something does not enter your mind.

Muslim Example

If, whatever I have described above is correct then you will have to agree with the conclusion that follows. The conclusion is, if you depend only upon your own strength, you will never be able to face the tyranny of the Hindus. I have no doubt that you are oppressed because you have no strength. It is not that you alone are in minority. The Muslims are equally small in number. Like Mahar- Mangs, they too have few houses in the village. But no one dares to trouble the Muslims while you are always a victim of tyranny. Why is this so? Though there may be two houses of Muslims in the village, nobody dares to harm them, while the whole village practices tyranny against you though you have ten houses. Why does this happen? This is a very pertinent question and you will have to find out a suitable answer to this. In my opinion, there is only one answer to this question. The Hindus realize that the strength of the whole of the Muslim population in India stands behind those two houses of Muslims living in a village and, therefore, they do not dare to touch them. Those two houses also enjoy free and fearless life because they are aware that if any Hindu commits aggression against them, the whole Muslim community from Punjab to Madras will rush to their protection at any cost. On the other hand, the Hindus are sure that none will come to your rescue, nobody will help you, no financial help will reach you. Tahsildar and police belong to caste Hindus and in case of disputes between Hindus and Untouchables, they are more faithful to their caste than to their duty. The Hindus practice injustice and tyranny against you only because you are helpless.

Outside Support

From the above discussion, two facts are very clear. Firstly, you can not face tyranny without strength. And secondly, you do not possess enough strength to face the tyranny. With these two conclusions, a third one automatically follows. That is, the strength required to face this tyranny needs to be secured from outside. How are you to gain this strength is really an important question? And you will have to think over this with an unbiased mind.

From this, you will realize one thing, that unless you establish close relations with some other society, unless you join some other religion, you cannot get the strength from outside. It clearly means, you must leave your present religion and assimilate yourselves with some other society. Without that, you cannot gain the strength of that society. So long as you do not have strength, you and your future generations will have to lead your lives in the same pitiable condition.

Spiritual Aspect of Conversion

Uptil now, we have discussed why conversion is necessary for material gains. Now, I propose to put forth my thoughts as to why conversion is as much necessary for spiritual wellbeing. What is Religion? Why is it necessary? ... 'That which govern people is religion'. That is the true definition of Religion. There is no place for an individual in Hindu society. The Hindu religion is constituted on a class-concept. Hindu religion does not teach how an individual should behave with another individual. A religion, which does not recognize the individual, is not personally acceptable to me.

Three factors are required for the uplift of an individual. They are: Sympathy, Equality and Liberty. Can you say by experience that any of these factors exist for you in Hinduism?

No Equality in Hinduism

Such a living example of inequality is not to be found anywhere in the world. Not at anytime in the history of mankind can we find such inequality, which is more intense than untouchability... I think, you have been thrust into this condition because you have continued to be Hindus. Those of you who have become Muslims, are treated by the Hindus neither as Untouchables nor as unequals. The same can be said of those who have become Christians...

That God is all pervading is a principle of science and not of religion, because religion has a direct relation with the behaviour of man. Hindus can be ranked among those cruel people whose utterances and acts are two poles apart. They have this Ram on their tongues and a knife under their armpits. They speak like saints but act like butchers...

Thus we are not low in the eyes of the Hindus alone, but we are the lowest in the whole of India, because of the treatment given to us by the Hindus.

If you have to get rid of this same shameful condition, if you have to cleanse this filth and make use of this precious life; there is only one way and that is to throw off the shackles of Hindu religion and the Hindu society in which you are bound.

The taste of a thing can be changed. But the poison cannot be made amrit. To talk of annihilating castes is like talking of changing the poison into amrit. In short, so long as we remain in a religion, which teaches a man to treat another man like a leper, the sense of discrimination on account of caste, which is deeply rooted in our minds, can not go. For annihilating caste and untouchables, change of religion is the only antidote.

Untouchables are not Hindus

What is there in conversion, which can be called novel? Really speaking what sort of social relations have you with the caste Hindus at present? You are as separate from the Hindus as Muslims and Christians are. So is their relation with you. Your society and that of the Hindus are two distinct groups. By conversion, nobody can say or feel that one society has been split up. You will remain as separate from the Hindus as you are today. Nothing new will happen on account of this conversion. If this is true, then why should people be afraid of conversion? At least, I do not find any reason for such a fear...

Revolution - Not Reform

Changing a religion is like changing a name. Change of religion followed by the change of name will be more beneficial to you. To call oneself a Muslim, a Christian, a Buddhist or a Sikh is not merely a change of religion but also a change of name.. Since the beginning of this movement of conversion, various people have raised various objections to it. Let us now examine the truth, if any, in such objections...

A congenital idiot alone will say that one has to adhere to one's religion because it is that of our ancestors. No sane man will accept such a proposition. Those who advocate such an argument, seem not to have read the history at all. The ancient Aryan religion was called Vedic religion. It has three distinct characteristic (features). Beef-eating, drinking and merry-making was part of the religion of the day. Thousands of people followed it in India and even now some people dream of going back to it. If the ancient religion alone is to be adhered to why did the people of India leave Hinduism and accept Buddhism? Why did they divorce themselves from the Vedic religion?... Thus this Hindu religion is not the religion of our ancestors, but it was a slavery forced upon them...

To reform the Hindu society is neither our aim nor our field of action. Our aim is to gain freedom. We have nothing to do with anything else.

If we can gain freedom by conversion, why should we shoulder the responsibility of reforming the Hindu religion? And why should we sacrifice our strength and property for that? None should misunderstand the object of our movement as being Hindu social reform. The object of our movement is to achieve social freedom for the untouchables. It is equally true that this freedom cannot be secured without conversion.

Caste can't be destroyed

I do accept that the untouchables need equality as well. And to secure equality is also one of our objectives. But nobody can say that this equality can be achieved only by remaining as Hindu and not otherwise. There are two ways of achieving equality. One, by remaining in the Hindu fold and another by leaving it by conversion. If equality is to be achieved by remaining in the Hindu fold, mere removal of the sense of being a touchable or an untouchable will not serve the purpose. Equality can be achieved only when inter-caste dinners and marriages take place. This means that the Chaturvarnya must be abolished and the Brahminic religion must be uprooted. Is it possible? And if not, will it be wise to expect equality of treatment by remaining in the Hindu religion? And can you be successful in your efforts to bring equality? Of course not. The path of conversion is far simpler than this. The Hindu society does not give equality of treatment, but the same is easily achieved by conversion. If this is true, then why should you not adopt this simple path of conversion?

Conversion is a simplest path

According to me, this conversion of religion will bring happiness to both the Untouchables as well as the Hindus. So long as you remain Hindus, you will have to struggle for social intercourse, for food and water, and for inter-caste marriages. And so long as this quarrel continues, relations between you and the Hindus will be of perpetual enemies. By conversion, the roots of all the quarrels will vanish... thus by conversion, if equality of treatment can be achieved and the affinity between the Hindus and the Untouchables can be brought about then why should the Untouchables not adopt the simple and happy path of securing equality? Looking at this problem through this angle, it will be seen that this path of conversion is the only right path of freedom, which ultimately leads to equality. It is neither cowardice nor escapism.

Sanctified Racism

Although the castes exist in Muslims and the Christians alike, it will be meanness to liken it to that of the Hindus. There

is a great distinction between the caste-system of the Hindus and that of the Muslims and Christians. Firstly, it must be noted that though the castes exist amongst the Christians and the Muslims, it is not the chief characteristic of their body social.

There is one more difference between the caste system of the Hindus and that of the Muslims and Christians. The caste system in the Hindus has the foundation of religion. The castes in other religions have no sanction in their religion ...Hindus cannot destroy their castes without destroying their religion. Muslims and Christians need not destroy their religions for eradication of their castes. Rather their religion will support such movements to a great extent.

Conversion alone liberates us

I am simply surprised by the question, which some Hindus ask us as to what can be achieved by conversion alone? Most of the present day Sikhs, Muslims and Christians were formerly Hindus, majority of them being from the Shudras and Untouchables. Do these critics mean to say that those, who left the Hindu fold and embraced Sikhism or Christianity, have made no progress at all? And if this is not true, and if it is admitted that the conversion has brought a distinct improvement in their condition, then to say that the untouchables will not be benefited by conversion, carries no meaning...

After giving deep thought to the problem, everybody will have to admit that conversion is necessary to the Untouchables as self-government is to India. The ultimate object of both is the same. There is not the slightest difference in their ultimate goal. This ultimate aim is to attain freedom. And if the freedom is necessary for the life of mankind, conversion of Untouchables which brings them complete freedom cannot be called worthless by any stretch of imagination...

Economic Progress or Social Changes?

I think it necessary here to discuss the question as to what should be initiated first, whether economic progress or conversion? I do not agree with the view that economic progress should precede...

Untouchability is a permanent handicap on your path of progress. And unless you remove it, your path cannot be safe. Without conversion, this hurdle cannot be removed...

So, if you sincerely desire that your qualifications should be valued, your education should be of some use to you, you must throw away the shackles of untouchability, which means that you must change your religion...

However, for those who need this Mahar Watan, I can assure them that their Mahar Watan will not be jeopardized by their conversion. In this regard, the Act of 1850 can be referred. Under the provisions of this Act, no rights of person or his successors with respect to his property are affected by virtue of his conversion...

Poona Pact

A second doubt is about political rights. Some people express fear as to what will happen to our political safeguards if we convert...

But I feel, it is not proper to depend solely on political rights. These political safeguards are not granted on the condition that they shall be ever lasting. They are bound to cease sometime. According to the communal Award of the British Government, our political safeguards were limited for 20 years. Although no such limitation has been fixed by the Poona Pact, nobody can say that they are everlasting. Those, who depend upon the political safeguards, must think as to what will happen after these safeguards are withdrawn on the day on which our rights cease to exist. We will have to depend on our social strength. I have already told you that this social strength is wanting in us. So also I have proved in the beginning that this strength cannot be achieved without conversion...

Political Rights

Under these circumstances, one must think of what is permanently beneficial.

In my opinion, conversion is the only way to eternal bliss. Nobody should hesitate even if the political rights are required to be sacrificed for this purpose. Conversion brings no harm to the political safeguards. I do not understand why the political safeguards should at all be jeopardized by conversion. Wherever you may go, your political rights and safeguards will accompany you. I have no doubt about it.

If you become Muslims, you will get the political rights as Muslims. If you become Christians, you will get the political rights as Christians, if you become Sikhs, you will have your political rights as Sikhs. In short, our political rights will accompany us.

So nobody should be afraid of it. On the other hand, if we remain Hindus and do not convert, will our rights be safe? You must think carefully on this. Suppose the Hindus pass a law whereby the untouchability is prohibited and its practice is made punishable, then they may ask you, 'We have abolished untouchability by law and you are no longer untouchables...

Looking through this perspective, conversion becomes a path for strengthening the political safeguards rather than becoming a hindrance. If you remain Hindus, you are sure to lose your political safeguards. If you want to save them, leave this religion. The political safeguards will be permanent only by conversion.

The Hindu religion does not appeal to my conscience. It does not appeal to my self-respect. However, your conversion will be for material as well as for spiritual gains. Some persons mock and laugh at the idea of conversion for material gains. I do not feel hesitant in calling such persons as stupid.

Conversion brings Happiness

I tell you all very specifically, religion is for man and not man for religion. To get human treatment, convert yourselves.

CONVERT -For getting organized.
CONVERT -For becoming strong.
CONVERT -For securing equality.
CONVERT -For getting liberty.
CONVERT -For that your domestic life may be happy.

I consider him as leader who without fear or favour tells the people what is good and what is bad for them. It is my duty to tell you, what is good for you, even if you don't like it, I must do my duty. And now I have done it.

It is now for you to decide and discharge your responsibility.

nonseriousguy's picture

To Raj,

"You have not understood “Osho’. Don’t just cut and paste Osho’s speech. Try to give some thoughts before you share with others. "

How have you understood that I have not understood Osho? Just curious to know if there is any kind of extra sensory perception is involved in your understanding. Would definetly like to know rational explantations for your judgement on your claim that I haven't read much about Osho before sharing his thoughts here. I have read in some other posts above from a 'Raj' who has quoted Kalama sutra of Buddha to not accept any thing on hearsay and pre conceived judgement. Are you the same person. If yes can you please explain your judgements about me in a rational and sane manner.

"Osho is not only talking about neo-buddhists here. In fact, he is talking about all including you too who don’t try to develop their inner consciousness regardless of which religion they belong to."

Osho is talking about the Neo buddhists here surely if you care to read and as per my normative cognitive faculties. He was not talking about me though as I was sitting in the Buddha hall in pune in 1988 while Osho was delivering this talk and was part of this drama. The neo-buddhists organizations issued death threats to Osho and we sanyasins living in the osho commune. They took out a procession in pune with an effigy of Osho sitting on a donkey. Osho in another subsquent speech requested not to torture a poor Donkey, which he called as a Bodhisatva. He also called for a debate with the Neo-buddhists for which these neo-buddhists chickened out.

"If you don’t know, let me tell you there are almost 3000 titles of books under Osho’s name."
Thanks for the information. But I already know this, I have involved in editing a website of Osho and partly instrumental in putting across 500 titles of Osho infringing copyright laws. You can reference that in the oshoworld website.

"You can start with anyone of his books you prefer and you will learn about ‘RELIGION’ which will help you to become ‘SERIOUSGUY’ instead of your title nonserious. You can’t judge Osho from one page of his speech."

Actually I took your advice 'Seriously' and picked up some books of Osho and started reading them seriously. These are some of the words I found there:

"Seriousness is a deadly disease. If you get it, your life is doomed"

"I have to tell jokes because you are all religious people, you tend to be serious. I have to tickle you so you forget your religiousness, you forget all your philosophies, theories, systems, and you fall down to earth. I have to bring you back to the earth again and again, otherwise you will tend to become serious, more and more serious. And seriousness is a canceric growth."

Needless to say I started dancing and fell down to earth. That was an hour ago. Now I want you to tell me whether I should be Serious or Non serious.

Shankara's picture

The “HINDU” profanity as used, as I myself have heard countless hundreds of times over the years, needs scrutiny. These so-called ‘buddhists’ use the term HINDU in the same manner the Nazi SS officers used the term JEW; not in referring to a peoples or (incorrectly in the case of the term HINDU) a religion, but something foul, unsavory, lowly, profane, miserable, disgusting.
These same ‘buddhists’ fear their precious faith would sink into the grounds of ancient Vedanta like water into the dirt, if they were to come close to even partially admitting Buddhism is absolutely no more anti-Vedic than Jesus was a Jew hater. One might equally and heretically proclaim that Martin Luther was against the Bible, or Christianity in that he but only spoke coarsely against the Catholic Church’s position, which he demonstrated via the Bible, was a commentarial religion too often adversarial to the principles in the Bible itself, such as confessions, relic-worshiping, fetishisms, and, in Luthers time, literally buying Heaven-insurance by donating coin to the Church.

It is a well established fact by experts in the religious history of India, that of Gotamas time, circa 500 B.C.E., the meaning of the already old-and-dusty principle Upanishads (much less the Vedas) was long lost and overcovered, as is the case in his admission: ." "I have seen" says Buddha, "the ancient path, the old road that was taken by the former all-awake Brahmins, that is the path i follow, lost long ago. Just like an overcovered path lost long ago is that which i have discovered" (SN 2.106). The only denial Gotama ever made in the suttas, was that one was never BRAHMABANDHU (born a Brahmin), but rather was one by wisdom, as Brahmin was not a birthright, but a spiritual marker of ones status for sake of wisdom.

Raj's picture

To Message # 84: nonseriousguy March 6, 2008

You have not understood "Osho'. Don't just cut and paste Osho's speech. Try to give some thoughts before you share with others.

Osho is not only talking about neo-buddhists here. In fact, he is talking about all including you too who don't try to develop their inner consciousness regardless of which religion they belong to. Each and every religion has people who are not at the same level of their religious head i.e Jesus, Mohammed, Guru Nanak etc. You can't expect each Buddhist to be at the level of Lord Buddha either.

Try to read rest of the speech of Osho on this too and also similar speeches of Osho on religion. If you don't know, let me tell you there are almost 3000 titles of books under Osho's name. You can start with anyone of his books you prefer and you will learn about 'RELIGION' which will help you to become 'SERIOUSGUY' instead of your title nonserious. You can't judge Osho from one page of his speech.

Aryansangha's picture

The outer and the inner cannot be separated and kept in watertight compartments, for they are constantly interacting upon each other; but the inner craving, the hidden pursuits and motives, are always more powerful. Life is not dependent upon political or economic activity; life is not a mere outward show, any more than a tree is the leaf or the branch. Life is a total process whose beauty is to be discovered only in its integration. This integra- tion does not take place on the superficial level of political and economic reconciliations; it is to be found beyond causes and effects. Because we play with causes and effects and never go beyond them, except verbally, our lives are empty, without much significance. It is for this reason that we have become slaves to political excitement and to religious sentimentalism. There is hope only in the integration of the several processes of which we are made up. This integration does not come into being through any ideology, or through following any particular authority, religious or political; it comes into being only through extensive and deep awareness. This awareness must go into the deeper layers of consciousness and not be content with surface responses.

nonseriousguy's picture

Osho on Ambedkar Buddhists

The Republican Party of India and the Dalit organization – both are organizations of the neo-Buddhists – have made a similar resolution to the government of India, that action should be taken against me because I have been comparing myself with Buddha. In the first place, I have never compared myself with Buddha. I have always said definitively that he is life-negative, and I am absolutely life-affirmative. There is no possibility of any comparison.He is a bullock cart, and you want it to be compared with my Rolls Royce? Of course, the basic principle of a bullock cart is the same – the four wheels – but still you cannot compare it with a Rolls Royce.
These organizations have told the government that their religious feelings are very much hurt.
In the first place, if you understand religion... it is in the transcendence of thoughts and feelings. There are no religious feelings at all! Only idiots have religious feelings.I have loved Buddha, just as I would have loved the inventor of a bullock cart; it was a great revolution. Buddha is the beginning of a great revolution, but only the beginning, not the end. Looking backwards, I can see he managed a little bit to go against the tradition, but not wholeheartedly.
I am absolutely against the past.

Although Buddha tried in every way... but he was at the beginning point; you could not expect him to create the whole science of transcendence. He has my respect, my love – but I cannot tolerate to
be compared with Gautam Buddha!

In fact, the government has to take action against these two organizations. Gautam Buddha is an escapist, and it is Gautam Buddha who is responsible for the poverty of this country. If so many thousands of people renounce the world, they become parasites on the society.

I don’t want you to renounce the world. My whole teaching is: Rejoice in the world. What comparison can there be between me and Gautam Buddha? Gautam Buddha is twenty-five centuries behind me. And as far as the allegation is concerned, that I have compared myself, it is an absolute lie! These organizations should understand that if even a little bit of Buddha’s experience had been their
experience, then this revengeful resolution asking the government to take action against me does not show compassion, does not show meditation. I want the government not to take any action against these two organizations. I, with all my friends, forgive them. The blind need forgiveness, the ignorant need compassion.
One thing should be understood definitively: I am a buddha in my own self – and the word ‘buddha’ is not the monopoly of anybody. It simply means the awakened one. It was not Gautam Buddha’s
name; his name was Gautam Siddharth. When he became awakened, those who understood his enlightenment started calling him Gautam Buddha. But the word buddha, according to Gautam Buddha too, is simply inherent in every human being, and not only in every human being, but every living being. It is the intrinsic quality of everybody.

Everybody has the birthright to become a buddha. These poor Buddhists don’t understand at all the message of Gautam Buddha. How can they understand me? I have gone far beyond Gautam buddha. I have been teaching you all to be buddhas, but nobody as to be a Buddhist. To be a Buddhist is again falling into another prison. They have escaped from the Hindu fold, and now they have fallen into another fold. The names of the prisons are different, but you are all the same a prisoner. You were a Hindu, you were a prisoner; you can be a Christian... The prison will change, but not your slavery, not your consciousness.
People go on changing their prisons. That does not help any transformation in your being. You don’t achieve freedom by changing prisons.I teach my people freedom as the ultimate value. You should not belong to any organization, to any organized religion. It does not matter whether it is Buddhism, or Christianity, or Hinduism – these
are different names. Perhaps the architecture of the prisons is different, but you will be all the same a prisoner.

nonseriousguy's picture

Get a life Guys

Osho on Ambedkar and Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi was the uncrowned king of India. For the simple reason that he was able to torture himself more than anybody else could. For any small reason he would go on a fast "unto death." Every fast was "unto death," but within three, four days, it would be broken -- there were methods to break it -- and soon there would be a breakfast; everything was arranged.

But people can be deceived very easily.... He goes on a fast, and the
whole country prays to God that he should not die. All the great leaders rush towards his ashram and pray to him to stop but he won't listen unless his conditions are accepted -- any conditions,
undemocratic, dictatorial, idiotic -- any conditions.

For example he fasted against Doctor Ambedkar who was the head of the untouchables. Ambedkar wanted the untouchables to have their own constituencies and their own candidates, otherwise they would never be represented in any parliament anywhere. Who would give votes to a shoemaker? In India a shoemaker is untouchable -- who is going to give him the vote?

Ambedkar was absolutely right. One fourth of the country is
untouchable. They are not allowed in schools because no other student is prepared to sit with them, no teacher is ready to teach them. The government says the schools are open, but in reality no student is willing.... If one untouchable enters, all thirty students leave the class, the teacher leaves the class. Then how are these poor people --one fourth of the country -- going to be represented? They should be given separate constituencies where only they can stand and only they can vote.

Ambedkar was perfectly logical and perfectly human. But Gandhi went on a fast, saying, "He is trying to create a division within the Hindu society." The division has existed for ten thousand years. That poor Ambedkar was not creating the division, he was simply saying that one fourth of the people of the country had been tortured for thousands of years. Now at least give them a chance to advance themselves. At least let them voice their problems in the parliament, in the assemblies.
But Gandhi said, "I will not allow it while I am alive. They are part
of Hindu society, hence they cannot have a separate voting system" -and he went on fasting.

For twenty-one days Ambedkar remained reluctant, but every day... the pressure of the whole country. And he started feeling that if this old man dies then there is going to be great bloodshed. It was clear -- he would be killed immediately, and millions of the untouchables would be killed everywhere, all over the country: "It is because of you that Gandhi died." When the whole arithmetic of how it would work out was explained to him -- "You figure it out soon, because there is not much time, he cannot survive more than three days" -- Ambedkar hesitated.

He was perfectly right; Gandhi was perfectly wrong.

But what to do? Should he take the risk? He was not worried about his
life -- if he was killed it was okay -- but he was worried about those
millions of poor people who didn't know anything about what was going on. Their houses would be burned, their women would be raped, their children would be butchered. And it would be something that had never happened before.

Finally he had to accept the conditions. He went with the breakfast in
his hand to Mahatma Gandhi, "I accept your conditions. We will not ask for a separate vote or separate candidates. Please accept this orange juice." And Gandhi accepted the orange juice.

But this orange juice, this one glass of orange juice, contains
millions of people's blood.

I have met Doctor Ambedkar. He was one of the most intelligent men I have ever met. But I said, "You proved weak."
He said, "You don't understand: the situation was such that I knew I
was right and he was wrong, but what to do with that stubborn old man? He was going to die, and if he died then I would have been responsible for his death, and the untouchables would have suffered."

I said, "That is not the point. Even an idiot could have suggested a
simple thing to you. You should have gone on a fast unto death. And
you are so overweight." He was a fat man, four or five times heavier
than Gandhi. "If you had asked me.... A simple solution: just put
another cot by the side of Mahatma Gandhi, lie down, and fast unto
death. Then let them see! I promise you that Gandhi would have
accepted all your conditions within three days."

Ambedkar said, "But this idea never occurred to me."

I said, "You are a fool if this idea never occurred to you! That was
the idea with which that man was controlling the whole country -- and
it never occurred to you. The only difficulty would have been to go on
a fast -- particularly for a man like you: fat, eating four times a
day. Naturally you would not have been able to manage it. Gandhi has practiced his whole life, he is an experienced faster; and you may not have ever missed a single breakfast."

He said, "That is true."

I said, "Otherwise if it had been my problem and he was being so
illogical, I would have just lain down, even if I was going to die,
and let him be responsible. He would not have allowed that, because my death would have taken away all his mahatmahood, all his aura, all his leadership of the people. He would not have allowed me to die; he would have accepted my conditions.

"But unfortunately I am not an untouchable, and anyway why should I be bothered with you two idiots? To me both of you are idiots. You have one fourth of the country in your hands and you can't do anything; that man has nothing in his hands -- but just by fasting.... He has learned a womanly trick. Yes, I call his whole philosophy a feminine psychology."

That's what women do every day. Gandhi must have learned it from his wife. In India women do it every day. The wife will fast, she won't
eat, she will lie down. And then the husband starts shaking. He may be right, that is not the point.

Now there is no point of right or wrong; now the point is how to
persuade her to eat? Because she is not eating, the children are not
eating -- and who is going to do the cooking in the first place? Is he
also going to fast? And the children are weeping, and they want food,
and the wife is on a fast -- so you agree. She needs a new sari, you
bring it. First you bring the sari, then she goes into the kitchen.
This is an old Indian strategy of all women in India. Gandhi must have
learned it from his wife, and he used it really very cleverly.

But there is some strange side of the human mind which is impressed by anybody who is capable of torturing himself.
For some strange reason.... I know what the reason is. The reason is
your own fear -- you cannot do it. You go to the circus to see a man
jumping from sixty feet high, pouring spirit on himself, setting fire
to the spirit. Burning, he drops from sixty feet; he falls into a
small pool of water, and you see it with your breathing stopped. At
that moment nobody breathes.

I have watched it -- people were watching a poor circus fellow; I was
watching the people -- was anybody blinking, anybody breathing? No, nobody blinks an eye, they completely forget. Even an unconscious process that goes on automatically -- you need not blink, your eye blinks; you need not breathe, your chest breathes. But even the automatic processes of blinking and breathing simply stop, you are in awe.

"I may not agree with what you say, but I shall defend to death your
right to say it." - Voltaire

Saint's picture

This is a Paragraph from the Book:




everyone who is illustrious about Gandhi as a saint or savior must read this book, for your convenience and benefit, I think, the whole book is available online at the following url.


Thus ended the second chapter of what the Congress has done to the Untouchables. The regrettable part of this tragedy is the realisation of the fact how Mr. Gandhi has learned to find unction in illusions. Whether Mr. Gandhi likes to live in a world of illusions may be a matter of doubt. But there is no doubt he likes to create illusions in order to use them as arguments to support his cherished proposition. The reason he has given for not taking personal responsibility for the uplift of the Untouchables furnishes the best evidence of this habit of Mr. Gandhi. To tell the Untouchables that they must not act against the Hindus, because they will be acting against their kith and kin, may be understood. But to assume that the Hindus regard the Untouchables as their kith and kin is to set up an illusion. To ask the Hindus to undertake the removal of untouchability is good advice. But to go to the length of assuring oneself that the Hindus are so overwhelmed with a sense of shame for the inhuman treatment they have accorded to the Untouchables that they dare not fail to abolish untouchability and that there is a band of Hindu Reformers pledged to do nothing but remove untouchability is to conjure an illusion to fool the Untouchables and to. fool the world at large. It may be sound logic to argue that what benefits the whole also benefits the part and that one need not confine himself to looking after the part. But to assume that a piece, as separate as the Untouchables, is a part of the Hindu whole is to deceive oneself. Few know what tragedies the Untouchables as well as the country have had go through on account of the illusions of Mr. Gandhi.


24th June 1945.

22, Prithviraj Road,

New Delhi.

PRAVIN KR's picture

Could you pl. explain what do you mean when you say
> "Just examine some of your generalized comments on Hindus (A huge community of millions of people amounting to a substantial amount of world population)"

Does it mean that he took your name, so it has become hate politics and affected ALL Hindus?
Pl. give specifics.

>"representation of the hate politics".
Could you explain how has Babasaheb Ambedkar[Babasaheb] spread hatred?
With context to 22 vows of Babasaheb also, I would like to understand hatred politics.

>Hindu saints have worked 'very' hard to remove untouchability. Pl. give details to what they have done, and what made the suppressed people of 'Divine slavery of Hinduism' to become man.

>I understand you are the TRUTH seeker.
Do you think any religion or its scripts are infalliable?
Do you mind testing the religion you follow in scientific the way?

> You have undergone thru' the message of Milinda and Christopher Queen. Could you comment on it?

Gowtham Kamath's picture

The post above by Saint is steeped in contradictions. It is again a representation of the hate politics he subscribes to. In all your posts you display a violent sectarianism. Claiming to represent athe downtrodden and suffering and abusing those whom you perceive as meteing out this injustice.

Just examine some of your generalized comments on Hindus (A huge community of

millions of people amounting to a substantial amount of world population) and you

are creating a strawman out of them.

"People like Vasu and few more disguised with Buddhists names like Bhikku and

Gowtham cannot imbibe the truth, ongoing reality and current happenings right in

front of their eyes."

First on the names, I am not sure about the others, this is the first time that I am

hearing that my name is a disguised buddhist name. I was named after my Grandfather

whose name was Gowtham Kamath, Gowtham is a common name in India and I am not sure

how people like saint claim a monopoly on those names. There are many popular

Gowtham's in India. The Buddha was called the Gowthama. There is also a famous vedic

rishi called Gowthama. Anyway whats in a name. And Mr. Saint under what name are you

disguising your Saint(hood).

Next,You say "Gowtham cannot imbibe the truth, ongoing reality and current

happenings right in front of their eyes "-

An ad hominem argument, you know nothing about me, the work I do or have done. Neither do you know about what is happening right in front of my eyes. You are trying to abuse and project something upon me for which you have no proof or idea. So much for your purported rationalism and where is Mr John Dewy's pragmatism and empiricism here. You are once again proving again and again how much of hatred you are espousing on a huge group of people. Anway what makes you think you have a monopoly over imbibing truth and ongioing reality. Even the Buddha never made such an exclusive claim.

"The Buddhism revival was set in India by these great dalits long time ago, first it

was set by Iyothi Dasar from Tamil Nadu, later it was set by Dr.Ambedkar and others"

I would be the happiest if Buddhism and Buddha's teaching became pervalent in India.

I have respect for Ambedkar as a great thinker and I have read quite a lot about

him. But I tend to disagree that AMbedkar's version of Buddhism has the eminent

qualities of Buddhism that the Buddha preached. HE misrepresented many things and he also gave in to a lot of cheap scandal mongering and was quite abusive (I can provide you many instances where he has abused the physical chareacterstics of many sections of Indians in his 'annhilation of caste'). But since Ambedkar was born in an "oppressed and backward caste" community all this was absolved.

I saw in our university 'an ongoing reality', 'right in front of my eyes' of the violent acts and attacks based solely on caste carried out by these neo-buddhist followers of ambedkar. These have been even reported in the newspapers and television. Again, these people might be a few factions among the neo-buddhists. But a survey of their literature provides a straight forward claim and a call towards violence and so called retribution.

There are many groups involved in the 'actual' Buddhist renewal in India - The mahabodhi soceity (which is increasingly being targeted and tured into a hate group of sectarian buddhism), the dalai lama and S.N. Goenka who started the vipassana meditation movement in India. There are many non denominational Gurus and sects who have increased the awareness of Buddhist teachings in India. Ambedkar Buddhism has created a sectarian movement which goes by the name of Buddhism.

"It is perplexing to see how severely disabled the hindu’s mind, a non-working

hindu’s mind is more dangerous than a beast (saint). After all these years of

experiments, growth, progress, scientific advancements, hindu’s cannot understand

the basics of suffering, but they will go to any extend to disguise, mask and

sabotage the brilliance of great people like Ambedkar, the modern Buddha."

ANother instance of your hatred and name calling - "disabled", "beasts". "Hindu's

cannot understand suffering". Again I don't want to venture and try to prove and

give instances of "Hindu's" who are not beasts and who have understood suffering.

What makes you think you have the monopoly over not being 'disabled', 'a beast' and

understand suffering. Just being born in a certain community or caste or social

circumstance or adhering to a philosopy of 'ambedkar buddhism' would not enable a

person to be insightful. It takes more than that.

In fact I was surprised that your post doesn't have at the end (after all the

violent abuses) with "Metta, saint". Lot of people in this blog have used the metta and we can hardly see any maitri in their words. This is unconcious behaviour where your words and intent do not match.

"If Vasu or some disguised Buddhist’s named hindu’s on this message board really

think for one minute by putting themselves into the 360 million dalits shoes who

undergo the most dangerous atrocities ever committed on the earth such as carrying

out works like “human scavenging (carrying human excreta), laboring and toiling in

the agricultural lands as bonded labors for pennies, sweating in the middle of the

day in construction sites for pennies, and those thousands and millions working in

the man holes and janitorial jobs, they will at least know what is suffering means?.


What makes you think you have answers for the suffering of these people. Again, what

makes you think that "disguised buddhists" like me haven't really put one minute

into understanding the injustice and atrocities meted out against people. I don't

want to give any proof in this regrad other than letting you know that apart from my

day job I work for an organization present in four indian cities which run a Blind

school and three orphanages. This is again not aligned to any religious or

sectarian philosophy. The modern social structure in which I am accidentaly born into can be predominantly described as a democratic capitalistic system and I am quite aware that this soceity results in oppression in many quarters and sections of soceity. I am also of the opinion that most of the commentators here belong to this same society of free market economy and capitalism. I am still trying to figure out as an Individual how as being part of this structure I contribute towards social oppression. Of course I do not have the courage of a Buddha to radically drop greed and desire of security and money. This is one reason why I have a fascination for people like Buddha, Mahavira, Gandhi (quite questionable but atleast he tried), many ascetics, saints and sanyasis who dropped out and adopted voluntary poverty and a simple lifestyle. The main point Ambedkar missed in his analysis of Marx and Buddha is that Buddha tried to find answers from within and marx from the without. Ambedkar equated the Buddha's sangha as a kind of marxist eaglitarian commune. However in reality (reality as we read from the core buddhist texts which is part of accepted history - not the 'buddha and his dharma' of ambedkar) the Buddha's sangha was predominantly an order of male monks (Women were in very less numbers and came much later into the Sangha) involved in meditational practices. They lived by begging for food and were not productive.

That apart, what makes you think you represent the manual scavenger, and

the labourer toiling in the soil. Does subscribing to your view absolve me of the

guilt tyou are trying to create in me of not "giving one minute" for these people. Your talk reminds me of the corrupt indian politicians who have epiteths like 'the "son of the soil" and "lower caste politicain" and all the while wallowing in their millions of rupees of ill gained wealth. I have also evidenced in india people who run organizations and NGOs exploit the atrocities on people to score political points and obtain funds and gain political power. There are some genuine NGOs though who have done great work in India for abolishing manual scavenging like sulabh toilets and legally fought for the marinalised and victims of crime. Anyway why do you want to use the suffering and atrocities on people to abuse me and a huge group of people. Let me ask you this what are you doing for the millions of people suffering, oppressed and killed in India, Iraq, Bosnia, Serbia and all over the world. What have you done for millions of farm animals killed everyday. What can we all do. Other than being not part of it and render service possible within our capacity.

"a society riddled with human discrimination (suffering of the highest order) in the name of caste, religious belief and god worshiping, that is not only unacceptable to Buddhist but this is one of the major area of Buddha’s work, he preached and practiced that all humans are equal."

There are many saints and sages who have practised that all humans are equal. They have belonged to all religions Hinduism (yes yes I can give you a lot of instances) included. Buddha is not exclusive in this he has many who will support it from different religions, traditions and no-religions as well.

"We have reached a stage where we can use a single gene transfer or eliminate a gene to carry out gene therapy for some debilitating disease (we are close to)!?"

we are not close. The genome is too complex and we are still in the very beggining of this. Still a long way to go before Genetic engineering gets into altering human behaviour and become the world religion. Where is Buddhism here. If this happens maybe the majority christians would alter our genes to impose christianity through gene mutation. Hard wire the ten commandments in our genes.

Saint's picture

Thanks for the insight on Buddha, John Dewey and Dr.B.R.Ambedar (I am familiar with and have great respect to these great humanitarians), also about Marx (I am not so much familiar with Marx nor I read about him, so I can't comment on Marx).

Here we are talking about the "human sufferings" the means and ends of it at a time point of the human civilization where we can reach a single gene and modify a behavior or treat a disease or change a trait of a cell or a living organism (just the amount of knowledge we developed in the recent centuries).

We have reached a stage where we can use a single gene transfer or eliminate a gene to carry out gene therapy for some debilitating disease (we are close to)!?, at such a time point of the history of this world or universe, at this same era, there are uncivilized society, a society riddled with human discrimination (suffering of the highest order) in the name of caste, religious belief and god worshiping, that is not only unacceptable to Buddhist but this is one of the major area of Buddha’s work, he preached and practiced that all humans are equal. The Hindus and some Indians (whether Hindu, Christian or Muslim, they are all hinduised to a greater extent and practice caste discrimination in India and abroad, even today!?).

This very practice that is ongoing full pledged at this era of human civilization should not be tolerated by any humans, let alone by Buddhists- the peace lovers and good humanitarians.

The extent and severity of hindu's practice of human discrimination and the ill treatment and humiliation they perpetuate on poor and innocent Indians and woman is just beyond any words can express (which is the greatest form of human suffering forced upon by ill minded people).

More than half of India lives below poverty line, besides being subjugated and humiliated as lowly creatures in the name of caste and barbaric religious beliefs. The hindu's continue to do everything possible to oppress further, Vasu like people with there shallow knowledge, lack of grasp of truth, narrow understanding and lack of insights will do their best to make derogatory remarks on such a great scholar and humanitarians like Dr.B.R.Ambedkar, if he or she opens up their mind and read about Dr.B.R.Ambedkar, their whole life will change for better and they can make a difference in other's lives, but I am certain that their corrupted mind is destined to believe in certain things is hard wired, there is no room for change, improvement or reorganization as to respect other humans with dignity, but only belief they have is to to believe as upper and lower castes, they can not make a single progressive step further with such attitudes and mind framework. They would come here to even stop such an open and democratic discussion of issues of what is relevant to a Buddhist and what is not?.

People like Vasu and few more disguised with Buddhists names like Bhikku and Gowtham cannot imbibe the truth, ongoing reality and current happenings right in front of their eyes.

The Buddhism revival was set in India by these great dalits long time ago, first it was set by Iyothi Dasar from Tamil Nadu, later it was set by Dr.Ambedkar and others, this revival process is a growing exponentially in the Indian continent as we speak and so outside India too!, while Buddhism became a national religion in many south east Asian countries that was brought from India, it is almost facing a demise in the native of India where the Buddhism was born.

Thankfully, the effort and perseverance of great humans like Iyothi Dassar and Dr.B.R.Ambedkar who dedicated their life to bring the Buddhism back to India is full pledged now...!!. This fact/truth is not tolerable to hindus and even many Buddhists are not aware of this progress in India, they do not know how important it is to revive the Buddhism in India. It is of great importance mainly because of the extent of suffering that these innocent Indians undergo in the name of caste system, this is happening even after 2500 years after Lord Buddha's death. Who spent his major part of life to civilize the Indians to not to hurt each other in the name of mythical believes and insane god beliefs, we need to bring the Buddhism back to this land, we need to alleviate the human suffering in this land, whatever the suffering format may be, it should be in every Buddhists mind.

It is perplexing to see how severely disabled the hindu’s mind, a non-working hindu's mind is more dangerous than a beast (saint). After all these years of experiments, growth, progress, scientific advancements, hindu's cannot understand the basics of suffering, but they will go to any extend to disguise, mask and sabotage the brilliance of great people like Ambedkar, the modern Buddha. If Vasu or some disguised Buddhist's named hindu's on this message board really think for one minute by putting themselves into the 360 million dalits shoes who undergo the most dangerous atrocities ever committed on the earth such as carrying out works like "human scavenging (carrying human excreta), laboring and toiling in the agricultural lands as bonded labors for pennies, sweating in the middle of the day in construction sites for pennies, and those thousands and millions working in the man holes and janitorial jobs, they will at least know what is suffering means?. Will they, I doubt, what are they doing here in a place where mind, ethics, humanity and suffering is being discussed?. What are they doing here?. Hope they actually go through the enriching amount of information put together in this message board.

Again, Thanks for your brilliant compilation Melinda and Atrocity News.


Milinda's picture

Dr Vasu is a voracious fan of Atrocitynews articles. We would like to bring in front of larger audience his angered comments on Dr Ambedkar’s leadership in contemporary world wherein Dr Vasu castigates Dr Ambedkar’s approach towards Buddhism as ’sham’. NO wonders; Dr Vasu represents elite (celebrated brahminical) Buddhist camp who have least time to see change that is been brought in the lives of millions of millions by Dr Ambedkar’s deeds. His life and thoughts will continue to inspire modern world as a Modern Buddha; despite elite Brahminical clouds casting on the way.

Here Atrocitynews EDITOR of the WEEK clears the clouds set in by Dr Vasu’s ignorance. ATN Editor replies him pointwise; readers may add on:


ATN Editor: It is good to read your comment, Dr VAsu on Atrocity News. Thank you so much, but without knowing your position and sources of your information on Dr. Ambedkar, Indian Buddhist movement, Indian ‘classed and treated as the untouchables’ and Indian situation, we did not publish it on the public forum. Your content is highly biased and in this light, it will be very important to deal with it on a personal basis first as one of the factors in writing that content can be your ignorance about situation in India and also lack of practice and study of “Buddhism”, needless to say, that of Dr. Ambedkar and his movement. Please follow my comments in blue below:

Dr Vasu: Ambedkar’s Buddhism is the very anti-thesis of the actual Buddhism taught by Gautama the Buddha and his enlightened followers in the different traditions.

ATN Editor: The myth of actual Buddhism: No one can safely claim what is the “actual Buddhism”, there is a basic Buddhism, which one can begin to use in one’s life to further one’s progress on the path of enlightenment. Even it is very difficult to come to “Basic Buddhism” and it will need a lot of digging in the debris of accumulated from the past and interpretations and commentaries by many individuals. In this light, if as a Buddhism, we should see what works for us in a given situation, which will help us to free from the “nagative” and “destructive” emotions. However, it is also important to deal with the ideas that entrap us perpetually and bind us to the speculative theories of “origin of the world” and “God” and “Soul”. This is what the Buddha is doing in many Sutras, including the famous Kalama Sutta in which the Buddha is asking humanity to look into their beliefs. The Buddha is also challenging us to look into how the languages and words can tyranise the humanity. Therefore, the basic Buddhism, is something that challenges our intellect, ideas and concepts and makes us deal with the real situation, which is the “existence of suffering” and way out of it. The Buddha asserted that suffering is not something personal, but it is also social and spiritual (Spiritual in terms of our inability to see the things the way they are). Gautama Buddha was a practical man and concerned with ending the suffering of humanity on various levels. And so was Ambedkar, however the reality of suffering that Ambedkar was dealing with was very different from that of the time of the Buddha. In a way, Dr. Ambedkar’s whole life and mission is nothing but fight against ending suffering of humanity. As a Metta Bhavana practice, here is an exercise for you. Imagine yourself carrying human excreta on your head and feel the feeling that might well in your heart. Try to bear with it. Try to deal with it and you will realise the brilliance of Ambedkar as to how he was dealing with the problem in India. If you say that Ambedkar’s Buddhism is anti-thesis ro actual Buddhism, the same statement can be easily extended to Nagarjuna, who made so many speculations about Shunyata, when the historic Buddha did not really talk much about it. Same with the Zen Buddhists, who would ask you to “kill” the Buddha. My point is to explain that there are various modes of communication, depending on the audiences and situation. Had this not been the case, the Buddha would have given only a few discourses. Buddha gave discourses in order to make people enlarge their experiences.

About Basic Buddhism, I have my own set of ideas and you can share your own set of ideas as to what might be the “actual Buddhism”. The threefold practice of ethics, concentration and wisdom is the basic. Not believing something which can not be experienced directly, such as God and Bramhan and Atma. Not to speculate but deal with how suffering originates and how it can be dealt at that instant of time, without speculating about the “arrow” and also make arrangements that “the arrow” will not hurt the humanity again and again. The “arrow” of caste is affecting Indian minds and even today many people are dehumanised and killed in the name of caste. The study published in 2006 proved that untouchability is still practiced in India. It will be wonderful to see how you will aproach the situation as it is today.

Dr Vasu: The unequivocal first premise of Buddhism that can be explicitly deciphered from the tripitaka pali canons and the later scriptures in the theravada and mahayana traditions is that hatred can never be conquered by hatred and the end do not justify means. This is the unique message of the Buddha. Ambedkar buddhism is highly steeped in hatred, revenge and victim conciousness. Ambedkar’s buddhism is much closer to marxist interpretation of relgion with the substitution of class with caste than with Buddhism. Ambedkar literature is rife with hate speech, machiavellian politiking and sectarian propoganda to garner power than with genuine concern and compassion for the weak and suffering.

ATN Editor: This is begging the question and a case of creating a strawman. Had Ambedkar wanted not to cease hate by non hate, he would have as a reactionary methods, converted to Islam or Christianity and the whole Indian subcontinent would have been a zone of unending hatred. When Ambedkar is talking about caste system, he is very direct to speak against such an inhuman institution that dehumanises humanity and also treats human beings less than the animals. Ambedkar never justified violence, he said it time and again and you can refer to his famous speech “Buddha or Marx”. He criticises Marx for supporting violence and in fact he called Marxism, to use, Carlyle’s term, Pig’s philosophy, however he did not oppose Marx on “Exploitation” of one class by another class, but Ambedkar enlarged the scope and said that more than exploitation the Buddha is concerned about “Dukkha” or “human suffering”. If we accept the testimony of Tripitaka, the way our historic Buddha criticised the bad practices in the society can be just like Ambedkar’s so called hate speech and sectarian propaganda. The purpose of the historic Buddha and in our times that of Ambedkar is to awaken the humanity from its “deep slumber”. You cant be compassionate and sleeping at the same time.

Dr Vasu: The next myth perpetuated by Ambedkar and his followers is that the Buddha never beleived in the Law of Karma. The law of karma is the cornerstone of Buddhism as can be evidenced from the traditional buddhist literature and also through the current living traditional teaachings in the different schools of Buddhism in china, thailand, Sri lanka, tibet, japan, korea and many others.

ATN Editor: Ambedkar very much supported the doctrine of Karma, but it was a doctrine of Karma taught by the Buddha and not by other teachers of his times. The interpretation of Ambedkar makes Buddhism more practical and brilliance of Ambedkar lies in making Karma (ethical action/ or unethical action) a practical teaching. For him the Karma is not a ritual action, or not a residue of past that is clinging to you like a muck all the time, but it is a dimension of your consciousness that can be effectively used to make oneself an instrument of removing suffering of one’s own and that of society. Traditional Buddhists have begin to understand this now, I would like you to refer you to the great Thai Bhikkhu, Buddhadasa, who wrote a criticism of Buddhaghosha and tried to make even ‘Paticcasamuppad’ into a practice of ending suffering. Buddhists are now asserting that the consciousness is natural and the birth is biological and not just karmic!! A Buddhist will not accept the transmigration of “substance” from one birth to another at all.

Dr Vasu: The third myth perpetuated by Ambedkar and his followers is that Buddhism was a social movement against Brahmins. Indeed Buddha condemned the rituals, practices of discrimination in any form and the caste system. However majority of the buddha’s disciples were from the Brahmin Clergy as they were more exposed to the theological discourses of the times and were the first people to accept and follow the Buddha. Also among the later Buddhist masters we find many Brahmins like Nagarjuna, Naropa, Saraha, TIlopa and many others. Esentially Brahmin was a caste of the clergy and the theologicians and Buddhists were the Monks and Nuns. The people who were drawn into the fold were brahmins, kshatryias and many other castes. Read also the ‘Canto of the brahmin’ from the Dhammapada, wherin the buddha extols the ideals of a Brahmin and also condems the false practices of purported Brahminism. Infact the lifestyle and rituals of so called Brahminical yogis, vedantis, Jains and some other sects have an overbearing similarity with the buddhist asceticism. Note also the respect, awe and reverence that Buddha is held in the ancient and modern yogic, vedantic and tantric traditions of Hinduism.

ATN Editor: One of the aspects of the movement was against discrimination and it is still against the discrimination. The Buddha would have not founded the Sangha, had he not dreamt of an ideal society, which is casteless and classless. This is evident in one of the five dreams that Siddhartha saw before his enlightenment. The four birds of different colours (symbolising the four Varnas) coming in contact with the Buddha and becoming “white” birds. This is a Buddha’s dream of a casteless and classless society, we can further say that it is also a dream of raceless and genderless society. The Buddha described the Bramhins as the Kutadanta means sharp teeth-ed ones, just like vampires who suck the blood of the common people. Far from awe, the Bramhins hated Buddha so much that they have often called him thief and maya.

Dr. Vasu: The fourth myth is that ‘hinduism’ or the culture of indians at that time which worshipped such gods as indra, brahma, shiva were antithetical to the Buddha’s teachings. Infact the Buddhist worldview and cosmology is quite similar to the popular traditions of vedas, yoga, sankya except for finer technical details which can be no subject for political discourse but rather belongs to the realm of ontology. This can be evidenced in places where buddhism was exported from India like in Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, China and Japan. They have a host of ‘hindu’ gods, myths, stories which is also part of the buddhist package.

ATN Editor: One can clearly note that the Buddha was up against the supernatural powers and the self proclaimed gods on the earth. Wherever possible he used the helpful myths of his time to communicate the highest truth to the masses, per se he never advocated that they are essential elements in the process of enlightenment. In short, it can be said that its a brilliance of enlightened mind to use and also not use what is beneficial for the humanity. This is what Ambedkar did. In the modern society, these myths are not helpful at all, because the scientific methods teach us the most uptodated cosmology. We can not say that Mt. Meru is the centre of the universe, it is a mythical cosmology. The sooner the humanity gives it up, the better. We should examine the past clearly and let it not become the rival of the present.

Dr Vasu: The essence of Buddhism is social transformation through individual transformation by transcending the conditioning imposed by society like caste, class, creed, nationality, ethnic identities and so on. Ambedkar’s Buddhism just reinforces conditioning to a far greater extent and can be no means of liberation to either the followers or the ones who are targeted by them. In a nutshell the Buddhism of Ambedkar is a sham.

ATN Editor: You are right in pointing to the essence of Buddhism very clearly. However without a particular society, individual transformation is an impossibility for the masses. Had Buddha not created a society, it would have been difficult for us to even walk the path of the enlightenment. If you see it clearly, then you will realise that “outer” conditions are very important, if not essential for individual liberation and therefore right form of society or creation of it is as important as individual transformation. The Buddha was a social critique and he challenged all the notions that entrapped humanity, he was also called sham by the people, who could not understand his vision, of his times. You are right in judging Buddhism of Ambedkar as “sham” because it is clearly evidenced from your content that you have not read Ambedkar fully, nor you are aware of Indian situation, even if you are, you might have a very limited experience.

We would like to invite you to India and see for yourself what Buddhism really is.

Milinda's picture

Read above classic on Buddha or Karl Marx by Dr. Ambedkar

Milinda's picture

Buddha or Karl Marx







Editorial Note in the source publication: Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches, Vol. 3:

The Committee found three different typed copies of an essay on Buddha and Karl Marx in loose sheets, two of which have corrections in the author’s own handwriting. After scrutinising these, this essay is compiled incorporating the corrections. The essay is divided into sub-topics as shown below: Introduction

1. The Creed of the Buddha

2. The Original Creed of Karl Marx

3. What survives of the Marxian Creed?

4. Comparison between Buddha and Karl Marx

5. Means

6. Evaluation of Means

7. Whose Means are More Efficacious?

8. Withering away of the State

— Editors.


A comparison between Karl Marx and Buddha may be regarded as a joke. There need be no surprise in this. Marx and Buddha are divided by 2381 years. Buddha was born in 563 BC and Karl Marx in 1818 AD Karl Marx is supposed to be the architect of a new ideology-polity a new Economic system. The Buddha on the other hand is believed to be no more than the founder of a religion, which has no relation to politics or economics. The heading of this essay " Buddha or Karl Marx " which suggests either a comparison or a contrast between two such personalities divided by such a lengthy span of time and occupied with different fields of thought is sure to sound odd. The Marxists may easily laugh at it and may ridicule the very idea of treating Marx and Buddha on the same level. Marx so modern and Buddha so ancient! The Marxists may say that the Buddha as compared to their master must be just primitive. What comparison can there be between two such persons? What could a Marxist learn from the Buddha? What can Buddha teach a Marxist? None-the-less a comparison between the two is a attractive and instructive Having read both and being interested in the ideology of both a comparison between them just forces itself on me. If the Marxists keep back their prejudices and study the Buddha and understand what he stood for I feel sure that they will change their attitude. It is of course too much to expect that having been determined to scoff at the Buddha they will remain to pray. But this much can he said that they will realise that there is something in the Buddha's teachings which is worth their while to take note of.


The Buddha is generally associated with the doctrine of Ahimsa. That is taken to be the be-all and end-all of his teachings. Hardly any one knows that what the Buddha taught is something very vast: far beyond Ahimsa. It is therefore necessary to set out in detail his tenets. I enumerate them below as I have understood them from my reading of the Tripitaka :

1. Religion is necessary for a free Society.

2. Not every Religion is worth having. 3. Religion must relate to facts of life and not to theories and speculations about God, or Soul or Heaven or Earth.

4. It is wrong to make God the centre of Religion.

5. It is wrong to make salvation of the soul as the centre of Religion.

6. It is wrong to make animal sacrifices to be the centre of religion.

7. Real Religion lives in the heart of man and not in the Shastras.

8. Man and morality must be the centre of religion. If not, Religion is a cruel superstition.

9. It is not enough for Morality to be the ideal of life. Since there is no God it must become the Jaw of life. 10. The function of Religion is to reconstruct the world and to make it happy and not to explain its origin or its end.

11. That the unhappiness in the world is due to conflict of interest and the only way to solve it is to follow the Ashtanga Marga.

12. That private ownership of property brings power to one class and sorrow to another.

13. That it is necessary for the good of Society that this sorrow be removed by removing its cause.

14. All human beings are equal.

15. Worth and not birth is the measure of man.

16. What is important is high ideals and not noble birth.

17. Maitri or fellowship towards all must never be abandoned. One owes it even to one's enemy.

18. Every one has a right to learn. Learning is as necessary for man to live as food is.

19. Learning without character is dangerous.

20. Nothing is infallible. Nothing is binding forever. Every thing is subject to inquiry and examination. 21. Nothing is final.

22. Every thing is subject to the law of causation.

23. Nothing is permanent or sanatan. Every thing is subject to change. Being is always becoming.

24. War is wrong unless it is for truth and justice.

25. The victor has duties towards the vanquished. This is the creed of the Buddha in a summary form. How ancient hut how fresh! How wide and how deep are his teachings!


Let us now turn to the creed of Karl Marx as originally propounded by him. Karl Marx is no doubt the father of modern socialism or Communism but he was not interested merely in propounding the theory of Socialism. That had been done long before him by others. Marx was more interested in proving that his Socialism was scientific. His crusade was as much against the capitalists as it was against those whom he called the Utopian Socialists. He disliked them both. It is necessary to note this point because Marx attached the greatest importance to the scientific character of his Socialism. All the doctrines which Marx propounded had no other purpose than to establish his contention that his brand of Socialism was scientific and not Utopian.

By scientific socialism what Karl Marx meant was that his brand of socialism was inevitable and inescapable and that society was moving towards it and that nothing could prevent its march. It is to prove this contention of his that Marx principally laboured. Marx's contention rested on the following theses. They were:—

(i) That the purpose of philosophy is to reconstruct the world and not to explain the origin of the universe.

(ii) That the force which shapes the course of history are primarily economic.

(iii) That society is divided into two classes, owners and workers. (iv) That there is always a class conflict going on between the two classes.

(v) That the workers are exploited by the owners who misappropriate the surplus value, which is the result of the workers' labour.

(vi) That this exploitation can be put an end to by nationalisation of the instruments of production i.e. abolition of private property.

(vii) That this exploitation is leading to greater and greater impoverishment of the workers.

(viii) That this growing impoverishment of the workers is resulting in a revolutionary spirit among the workers and the conversion of the class conflict into a class struggle.

(ix) That as the workers outnumber the owners, the workers are bound to capture the State and establish their rule, which he called the dictatorship of the proletariat.

(x) These factors are irresistible and therefore socialism is inevitable.

I hope I have reported correctly the propositions, which formed the original basis of Marxian Socialism.


Before making a comparison between the ideologies of the Buddha and Karl Marx it is necessary to note how much of this original corpus of the Marxian creed has survived; how much has been disproved by history and how much has been demolished by his opponents.

The Marxian Creed was propounded sometime in the middle of the nineteenth century. Since then it has been subjected to much criticism. As a result of this criticism much of the ideological structure raised by Karl Marx has broken to pieces. There is hardly any doubt that Marxist claim that his socialism was inevitable has been completely disproved. The dictatorship of the Proletariat was first established in 1917 in one country after a period of something like seventy years after the publication of his Das Capital the gospel of socialism. Even when the Communism—which is another name for the dictatorship of the Proletariat—came to Russia, it did not come as something inevitable without any kind of human effort. There was a revolution and much deliberate planning had to be done with a lot of violence and blood shed, before it could step into Russia. The rest of the world is still waiting for coming of the Proletarian Dictatorship. Apart from this general falsification of the Marxian thesis that Socialism is inevitable, many of the other propositions stated in the lists have also been demolished both by logic as well as by experience. Nobody now I accepts the economic interpretation of history as the only explanation of history. Nobody accepts that the proletariat has been progressively pauperised. And the same is true about his other premises.

What remains of the Karl Marx is a residue of fire, small but still very important. The residue in my view consists of four items:

(i) The function of philosophy is to reconstruct the world and not to waste its time in explaining the origin of the world. (ii) That there is a conflict of interest between class and class. (iii) That private ownership of property brings power to one class and sorrow to another through exploitation.

(iv) That it is necessary for the good of society that the sorrow be removed by the abolition of private property.


Taking the points from the Marxian Creed which have survived one may now enter upon a comparison between the Buddha and Karl Marx.

On the first point there is complete agreement between the Buddha and Karl Marx. To show how close is the agreement I quote below a part of the dialogue between Buddha and the Brahmin Potthapada.

"Then, in the same terms, Potthapada asked (the Buddha) each of the following questions:

1. Is the world not eternal?

2. Is the world finite?

3. Is the world infinite?

4. Is the soul the same as the body?

5. Is the soul one thing, and the body another?

6. Does one who has gained the truth live again after death ?

7. Does he neither live again, nor not live again, after death ? And to each question the exalted one made the same reply: It was this.

"That too, Potthapada, is a matter on which I have expressed no opinion ".

28. " But why has the Exalted One expressed no opinion on that ? " (Because) 'This question is not calculated to profit, it is not concerned with (the Dhamma) it does not redound even to the elements of right conduct, nor to detachment nor to purification from lust, nor to quietude, nor to tranquillisation of heart, nor to real knowledge, nor to the insight (of the higher stages of the Path), nor to Nirvana. Therefore it is that I express no opinion upon it. " On the second point I give below a quotation from a dialogue between Buddha and Pasenadi King of Kosala:

" Moreover, there is always strife going on between kings, between ' nobles, between Brahmins, between house holders, between mother and son, between son and father, between brother and sister, , between sister and brother, between companion and companion. . ." ' Although these are the words of Pasenadi, the Buddha did not deny that they formed a true picture of society.

As to the Buddha's own attitude towards class conflict his doctrine ''. of Ashtanga Marga recognises that class conflict exists and that it is ; the class conflict which is the cause of misery.

On the third question I quote from the same dialogue of Buddha with Potthapada;

" Then what is it that the Exalted One has determined? " " I have expounded, Potthapada, that sorrow and misery exist! " I have expounded, what is the origin of misery. I have expounded what is the cessation of misery: I have expounded what is method by which one may reach the cessation of misery.

30. 'And why has the Exalted One put forth a statement as to that?'

' Because that questions Potthapada, is calculated to profit, is concerned with the Dhamma redounds to the beginnings of right conduct, to detachment, to purification from lusts, to quietude, to tranquillisation of heart, to real knowledge, to the insight of the higher stages of the Path and to Nirvana. Therefore is it, Potthapada that I have put forward a statement as to that. '

That language is different but the meaning is the same. If for misery one reads exploitation Buddha is not away from Marx.

On the question of private property the following extract from a dialogue between Buddha and Ananda is very illuminating. In reply to a question by Ananda the Buddha said:

"I have said that avarice is because of possession. Now in what way that is so, Ananda, is to be understood after this manner. Where there is no possession of any sort or kind whatever by any one or anything, then there being no possession whatever, would there, owing to this cessation of possession, be any appearance of avarice? " 'There would not. Lord".

'Wherefore, Ananda, just that is the ground, the basis, the genesis, the cause of avarice, to wit, possession.

31. 'I have said that tenacity is the cause possession. Now in what way that is so, Ananda, is to be understood after this manner. Were there no tenacity of any sort or kind whatever shown by any one with respect to any thing, then there being whatever, would there owing to this cessation of tenacity, be any appearance of possession? ' 'There would not. Lord.'

'Wherefore, Ananda, just that is the ground, the basis, the genesis, the cause of possession, to wit tenacity. ' On the fourth point no evidence is necessary. The rules of the Bhikshu Sangh will serve as the best testimony on the subject.

According to the rules a Bhikku can have private property only in the following eight articles and no more. These eight articles are: —

1 I

2. } Three robes or pieces of cloth for daily wear.

3. I

4. A girdle for the loins.

5. An alms-bowl.

6. A razor.

7. A needle.

8. A water strainer.

Further a Bhikku was completely forbidden to receive gold or silver for fear that with gold or silver he might buy some thing beside the eight things he is permitted to have.

These rules are far more rigorous than are to be found in communism in Russia.


We must now come to the means. The means of bringing about Communism, which the Buddha propounded, were quite definite. The means can he decided into three parts. Part I consisted in observing the Pancha Silas. The Enlightenment gave birth to a new gospel, which contains the key to the solution of the problem, which was haunting him.

The foundation of the New Gospel is the fact that the world was full of misery and unhappiness. It was fact not merely to be noted but to be regarded as being the first and foremost in any scheme of salvation. The recognition of this fact the Buddha made the starting point of his gospel.

To remove this misery and unhappiness was to him the aim and object of the gospel if it is to serve any useful purpose.

Asking what could be the causes of this misery the Buddha found that there could be only two.

A part of the misery and unhappiness of man was the result of his own misconduct. To remove this cause of misery he preached the practice of Panch Sila.

The Panch Sila comprised the following observations: (1) To abstain from destroying or causing destruction of any living things (2) To abstain from stealing i.e. acquiring or keeping by fraud or violence, the property of another: (3) To Abstain from telling untruth: (4) To abstain from lust: (5) To abstain from intoxicating drinks.

A part of the misery and unhappiness in the world was according to the Buddha the result of man's inequity towards man. How was this inequity to be removed ? For the removal of man's inequity towards man the Buddha prescribed the Noble Eight-Fold Path. The elements of the Noble Fight-Fold Path are:

(1) Right views i.e. freedom from superstition: (2) Right aims, high and worthy of the intelligent and earnest men; (3) Right speech i.e. kindly, open, truthful: (4) Right Conduct i.e. peaceful, honest and pure; (5) Right livelihood i.e. causing hurt or injury to no living being; (6) Right perseverance in all the other seven; (7) Right mindfulness i.e. with a watchful and active mind; and (8) Right contemplation i.e. earnest thought on the deep mysteries of life.

The aim of the Noble Eight-Fold Path is to establish on earth the kingdom of righteousness, and thereby to banish sorrow and unhappiness from the face of the world.

The third part of the Gospel is the doctrine of Nibbana. The doctrine of Nibbana is an integral part of the doctrine of the Noble Eight-Fold Path. Without Nibbana the realisation of the Eight-Fold Path cannot be accomplished.

The doctrine of Nibbana tells what are the difficulties in the way of the realisation of the Eight-Fold Path.

The chiefs of these difficulties are ten in number. The Buddha called them the Ten Asavas, Fetters or Hindrances.

The first hindrance is the delusion of self. So long as a man is wholly occupied with himself, chasing after every bauble that he vainly thinks will satisfy the cravings of his heart, there is no noble path for him. Only when his eyes have been opened to the fact that he is but a tiny part of a measureless, whole, only when he begins to realise how impermanent a thing is his temporary individuality can he even enter upon this narrow path.

The second is Doubt and Indecision. When a man's eyes are opened to the great mystery of existence, the impermanence of every individuality, he is likely to be assailed by doubt and indecision as to his action. To do or not to do, after all my individuality is impermanent, why do anything are questions, which make him indecisive or inactive. But that will not do in life. He must make up his mind to follow the teacher, to accept the truth and to enter on the struggle or he will get no further.

The third is dependence on the efficacy of Rites and Ceremonies. No good resolutions, however firm will lead to anything unless a man gets rid of ritualism: of the belief that any outward acts. any priestly powers, and holy ceremonies, can afford him an assistance of any kind. It is only when he has overcome this hindrance, that men can be said to have fairly entered upon the stream and has a chance sooner or later to win a victory.

'' The fourth consists of the bodily passions... The fifth is ill will towards other individuals. The sixth is the suppression of the desire for a future life with a material body and the seventh is the desire for a future life in an immaterial world.

The eighth hindrance is Pride and nineth is self-righteousness. These are failings which it is most difficult for men to overcome, and to which superior minds are peculiarly liable a Praisaical contempt for those who are less able and less holy than themselves.

The tenth hindrance is ignorance. When all other difficulties are conquered this will even remain, the thorn in the flesh of the wise a.nd good, the last enemy and the bitterest foe of man.

Nibbana consists in overcoming these hindrances to the pursuit of the Noble Eight-Fold Path.

The doctrine of the Noble Eight-Fold Path tells what disposition of the mind which a person should sedulously cultivate. The doctrine of Nibbana tells of the temptation or hindrance which a person should earnestly overcome if he wishes to trade along with the Noble Eight-Fold Path

The Fourth Part of the new Gospel is the doctrine of Paramitas. The doctrine of Paraimitas inculcates the practice of ten virtues in one's daily life.

These are those ten virtues—d) Panna (2) Sila (3) Nekkhama (4) Dana(5) Virya(6) Khanti(7) Succa(8) Aditthana(9) Mettaa-nd (10) Upekkha.

Panna or wisdom is the light that removes the darkenss of Avijja, Moha or Nescience. The Panna requires that one must get all his doubts removed by questioning those wiser than him self, associate with the wise and cultivate the different arts and sciences which help to develop the mind.

Sila is moral temperament, the disposition not to do evil and the disposition to do good; to be ashamed of doing wrong. To avoid doing evil for fear of punishment is Sila. Sila means fear of doing wrong. Nekkhama is renunciation of the pleasures of the world. Dana means the giving of one's possessions, blood and limbs and even one's life for the good of the others without expecting anything in return.

Virya is right endeavour. It is doing with all your might with thought never turning back, whatever you have undertaken to do.

Khanti is forbearance. Not to meet hatred by harted is the essence of it. For hatred is not appeased by hatred. It is appeased only by forbearance.

Succa is truth. An aspirant for Buddha never speaks a lie. His speech is truth and nothing but truth.

Aditthana is resolute determination to reach the goal. Metta is fellow feeling extending to all beings, foe and friend, beast and man.

Upekka is detachment as distinguished from indifference. It is a state of mind where there is neither like nor dislike. Remaining unmoved by the result and yet engaged in the pursuit of it.

These virtues one must practice to his utmost capacity. That is why they are called Paramitas (States of Perfection).

Such is the gospel the Buddha enunciated as a result of his enlightenment to end the sorrow and misery in the world.

It is clear that the means adopted by the Buddha were to convert a man by changing his moral disposition to follow the path voluntarily.

The means adopted by the Communists are equally clear, short and swift. They are (1) Violence and (2) Dictatorship of the Proletariat.

The Communists say that there are the only two means of establishing communism. The first is violence. Nothing short of it will suffice to break up the existing system. The other is dictatorship of the proletariat. Nothing short of it will suffice to continue the new system.

It is now clear what are the similarities and differences between Buddha and Karl Marx. The differences are about the means. The end is common to both.


We must now turn to the evaluation of means. We must ask whose means are superior and lasting in the long run. There are, however some misunderstandings on both sides. It is necessary to clear them up. Take violence. As to violence there are many people who seem to shiver at the very thought of it. But this is only a sentiment. Violence cannot be altogether dispensed with. Even in non-communist countries a murderer is hanged. Does not hanging amount to violence? Non-communist countries go to war with non-communist countries. Millions of people are killed. Is this no violence? If a murderer can be killed, because he has killed a citizen, if a soldier can be killed in war because he belongs to a hostile nation why cannot a property owner be killed if his ownership leads to misery for the rest of humanity? There is no reason to make an exception in favour of the property owner, why one should regard private property as sacrosanct.

The Buddha was against violence. But he was also in favour of justice and where justice required he permitted the use of force. This is well illustrated in his dialogue with Sinha Senapati the Commander-in-Chief of Vaishali. Sinha having come to know that the Buddha preached Ahimsa went to him and asked:

"The Bhagvan preaches Ahimsa. Does the Bhagvan preach an offender to be given freedom from punishment? Does the Bhagvan preach that we should not go to war to save our wives, our children and our wealth? Should we suffer at the hands of criminals in the name of Ahimsa.?"

" Does the Tathagata prohibit all war even when it is in the interest of Truth and Justice?"

Buddha replied. You have wrongly understood what I have been preaching. An offender must be punished and an innocent man must be freed. It is not a fault of the Magistrate if he punishes an offender. The cause of punishment is the fault of the offender. The Magistrate who inflicts the punishment is only carrying out the law. He does not become stained with Ahimsa. A man who fights for justice and safety cannot be accused of Ahimsa. If all the means of maintaining peace have failed then the responsibility for Himsa falls on him who starts war. One must never surrender to evil powers. War there may be. But it must not be for selfish ends...."

There are of course other grounds against violence such as those urged by Prof. John Dewey. In dealing with those who contend that the end justifies the means is morally perverted doctrine, Dewey has rightly asked what can justify the means if not the end ? It is only the end that can justify the means.

Buddha would have probably admitted that it is only the end which would justify the means. What else could? And he would have said that if the end justified violence, violence was a legitimate means for the end in view. He certainly would not have exempted property owners from force if force were the only means for that end. As we shall see his means for the end were different. As Prof. Dewey has pointed out that violence is only another name for the use of force and although force must be used for creative purposes a distinction between use of force as energy and use of force as violence needs to be made. The achievement of an end involves the destruction of many other ends, which are integral with the one that is sought to be destroyed. Use of force must be so regulated that it should save as many ends as possible in destroying the evil one. Buddha's Ahimsa was not as absolute as the Ahimsa preached by Mahavira the founder of Jainism. He would have allowed force only as energy. The communists preach Ahimsa as an absolute principle. To this the Buddha was deadly opposed.

As to Dictatorship the Buddha would have none of it. He was born a democrat and he died a democrat. At the time he lived there were 14 monarchical states and 4 republics. He belonged to the Sakyas and the Sakya's kingdom was a republic. He was extremely in love with Vaishali which was his second home because it was a republic. Before his Mahaparinirbban he spent his Varshavasa in Vaishali. After the completion of his Varshavasa he decided to leave Vaishali and go elsewhere as was his wont. After going some distance he looked back on Vaishali and said to Ananda. "This is the last look of Vaishali which the Tathagata is having ". So fond was he of this republic.

He was a thorough equalitarian. Originally the Bhikkus, including the Buddha himself, wore robes made of rags. This rule was enunciated to prevent the aristocratic classes from joining the Sangh. Later Jeevaka the great physician prevailed upon the Buddha to accept a robe, which was made of a whole cloth. The Buddha at once altered the rule and extended it to all the monks.

Once the Buddha's mother Mahaprajapati Gotami who had joined the Bhikkuni Sangh heard that the Buddha had got a chill. She at once started preparing a scarf for him. After having completed it she took to the Buddha and asked him to wear it. But he refused to accept it saying that if it is a gift it must be a gift to the whole Sangh and not to an individual member of the Sangh. She pleaded and pleaded but he refused to yield.

The Bhikshu Sangh had the most democratic constitution. He was only one of the Bhikkus. At the most he was like a Prime Minister among members of the Cabinet. He was never a dictator. Twice before his death he was asked to appoint some one as the head of the Sangh to control it. But each time he refused saying that the Dhamma is the Supreme Commander of the Sangh. He refused to be a dictator and refused to appoint a dictator.

What about the value of the means? Whose means are superior and lasting in the long run?

Can the Communists say that in achieving their valuable end they have not destroyed other valuable ends? They have destroyed private property. Assuming that this is a valuable end can the Communists say that they have not destroyed other valuable end in the process of achieving it? How many people have they killed for achieving their end. Has human life no value ? Could they not have taken property without taking the life of the owner ?

Take dictatorship. The end of Dictatorship is to make the Revolution a permanent revolution. This is a valuable end. But can the Communists say that in achieving this end they have not destroyed other valuable ends ? Dictatorship is often defined as absence of liberty or absence of Parliamentary Government. Both interpretations are not quite clear. There is no liberty even when there is Parliamentary Government. For law means want of liberty. The difference between Dictatorship and Parliamentary Govt. lies in this. In Parliamentary Government every citizen has a right to criticise the restraint on liberty imposed by the Government. In Parliamentary Government you have a duty and a right; the duty to obey the law and right to criticise it. In Dictatorship you have only duty to obey but no right to criticise it.


We must now consider whose means are more lasting. One has to choose between Government by force and Government by moral disposition.

As Burke has said force cannot be a lasting means. In his speech on conciliation with America he uttered this memorable warning:

" First, Sir, permit me to observe, that the use of force alone is but temporary. It may subdue for a moment; but it does not remove the necessity of subduing again; and a nation is not governed which is perpetually to be conquered. "

" My next objection is its uncertainty. Terror is not always the effect of force, and an armament is not a victory. If you do not succeed, you are without resource, for, conciliation failing, force remains; but force failing, no further hope of reconciliation is left. Power and authority are sometimes bought by kindness; but they can never be begged as alms by an impoverished and defeated violence.

A further objection to force is that you impair the object by your very endeavours to preserve it. The thing you fought for is the thing, which you recover, but depreciated, sunk, wasted and consumed in the contest. "

In a sermon addressed to the Bhikkus the Buddha has shown the difference between the rule by Righteousness and Rule by law i.e. force. Addressing the Brethren he said:

(2) Long ago, brethren, there was Sovereign overlord named Strongtyre, a king ruling in righteousness, lord of the four quarters of the earth, conqueror, the protector of his people. He was the possessor of the celestial wheel. He lived in supremacy over this earth to its ocean bounds, having conquered it, not by the courage, by the sword, but by righteousness.

(3) Now, brethren, after many years, after many hundred years. after manu thousand years, king Strongtyre command a certain man, saying:

"Thou should est see, Sir, the Celestial Wheel has sunk a little, has slipped down from its place, bring me word. "

Now after many many hundred years had slipped down from its place On seeing this he went to King Strongtyre and said: "Know. sir, for a truth that the Celestial Wheel has sunk, has slipped down from its place. "

The king Strongtyre, brethren, let the prince his eldest son be sent for and speak thus:

' Behold, dear boy, my Celestial Wheel has sunk a little, has slipped down from its place. Now it has been told me; If the Celestial Wheel of a wheel turning King shall sink down, shall slip down from its place, that king has not much longer to live. I have had my fill of human pleasures; 'It's time to seek after divine joys, Come, dear boy, take thou charge over this earth bounded by the ocean. But I, shaving, hair and beard, and donning yellow robes, will go forth from home into the homeless state.

So brethren. King Strongtyre, having in due form established his eldest son on the throne, shaved hair and bearded, donned yellow robes and went forth from home into homeless state. But on the seventh day after the royal hermit had gone forth, the Celestial Wheel disappeared.

(4) Then a certain man went to the King, and told him, saying: Know, 0 King, for a truth, that the Celestial Wheel has disappeared!

Then that King, brethren, was grieved thereat and afflicted with sorrow. And he went to the royal hermit, and told him, saying, Know, sir, for a truth, that the Celestial Wheel has disappeared.

And the anointed king so saying, the royal hermit made reply. Grieve thou not, dear son, that the Celestial Wheel has disappeared, nor be afflicted that the Celestial Wheel has disappeared. For no paternal heritage of thin, dear son, is the Celestial Wheel. But verily, dear son, turn thou in the Ariyan turning of the Wheel-turners. (Act up to the noble ideal of duty set before themselves by the true sovereigns of the world). Then it may well be that if thou carry out the Ariyan duty of a Wheel-turning Monarch, and on the feast of the moon thou wilt for, with bathed head to keep the feast on the chief upper terrace, to the Celestial Wheel will manifest, itself with its thousand spokes its tyre, navel and all its part complete. (5) 'Put what, sire is this Ariya duty of a Wheel-turning Monarch?' This, dear son, that thou, leaning on the Norm (the law of truth and righteousness) honouring, respecting and revering it, doing homage to it, hallowing it, being thyself a Norm-banner, a Norm-signal, having the Norm as thy master, should provide the right watch, ward, and protection for thine own folk, for the army, for the nobles, for vassals, for brahmins and house holders, for town and country dwellers, for the religious world, and for beasts and birds. Throughout thy kingdom let no wrongdoing prevail. And whosoever in thy kingdom is poor, to him let wealth be given.

' And when dear son, in thy kingdom men of religious life, renouncing the carelessness arising from intoxication of the senses, and devoted to forbearance and sympathy, each mastering self, each claiming self, each protecting self, shall come to thee from time to time, and question the concerning what is good and what is bad. what is criminal and what is not, what is to be done and what is to be left undone, what line of action will in the long run work for weal or for woe, thou shouldest hear what they have to say and thou shouldest deter them from evil, and bid them take up what is good. This, dear son, is the Ariyan duty of a sovereign of the world.'

' Even so, ' sire, answered the anointed king, and obeying, and carried out the Ariyan duty of a sovereign lord. To him, thus behaving, when on the feast of the full moon he had gone in the observance with bathed head to the chief upper Terrance the Celestial Wheel revealed itself, with its thousand spokes, its tyre. its naval, and all its part complete. And seeing this is occurred to the king: ' It has been told me that a king to whom on such a occasion the Celestial Wheel reveals itself completely, becomes a Wheel-turning monarch. May I even I also become a sovereign of the world.'

(6) Then brethren, the king arose from his seat and uncovering his robe from one shoulder, took in his left hand a pitcher, and with his right hand sprinkled up over the Celestial Wheel, saying: ' Roll onward, O Lord Wheel! Go forth and overcome, O Lord Wheel ! ' Then, brethren, the Celestial Wheel rolled onwards towards the region of the East. and after it went the Wheel-turning king, and with him his army, horses and chariots and elephants and men. And in whatever place, brethren, the wheel stopped, there the king, the victorious war-lord, took up his abode, and with him his fourfold army. Then the all, the rival kings in the region of the East came to the sovereign king and said 'Come, O mighty king! Welcome, O mighty king! All is thine, O mighty King! Teach us, O mighty king! '

The king, the sovereign war-lord, speak thus: 'Ye shall slay no living thing. Ye shall not take that which has not been given. Ye shall not act wrongly touching bodily desires. Ye shall speak no lie. Ye shall drink no maddening drink. Enjoy your possessions as you have been wont to do.'

(7) Then, brethern, the Celestial Wheel, plunging down to the Eastern ocean, rose up out again, and rolled onwards to the region of the south.... (and there all happened as had happened in the East). And in like manner the Celestial Wheel, plunging into Southern ocean, rose up out again and rolled onward to the region of the West. . . and of the North: and there too happened as had happened in the Southern and West.

Then when the Celestial Wheel had gone forth conquering over the whole earth to its ocean boundary, it returned to the royal city, and stood, so that one might think it fixed, in front of the judgement hall at entrance to the inner apartments of the king, the Wheel-turner, lighting up with its glory the facade of the inner apartments of the king, the sovereign of the world.

(8) And a second king. brethern, also a Wheel-turning monarch,. . . and a third. . . and a fourth. . . and a fifth. . . and a sixth. . . and a seventh king, a victorious war-lord, after many years, after many hundred years, after many thousand years, command a certain man, saying:

'If thou should'est see, sirrah, that the Celestial Wheel has sunk down, has slid from its place, bring me word.' 'Even so, sire.' replied the man.

So after many years, after many hundred years, after many thousand years, that man saw that the Celestial Wheel had sunk down, had become dislodged from its place. And so seeing he went to the king, the warlord, and told him.

Then that king did (even as Strongtyre had done). And on the seventh day after the royal hermit had gone forth the Celestial Wheel disappeared.

Then a certain man went and told the King. Then the King was grieved at the disappearance of the wheel, and afflicted with grief. But he did not go to the hermit-king to ask concerning, the Ariyan Duty of sovereign war-lord. But his own ideas, forsooth, he governed his people; and they so governed differently from what they had been. did not prosper as they used to do under former kings who had carried out the Arivan duty of a sovereign king.

Then, brethren, the ministers and courtiers, the finance officials, the guards and door keepers and they who lived by sacred verses came to the King and speak thus:

'Thy people, O king. whilst thou governest them by thine own ideas differently from the way to which they were used when former kings were carrying out the Arivan Duty prosper not. Now there are in thy kingdom ministers and courtiers, finance officers, guards and custodians, and they who live by sacred verses—both all of us and others—who keep the knowledge of the Ariyan duty of the sovereign king. to ! O king. do thou ask us concerning it: to thee thus asking will we declare it.'

9. Then, brethren, the king, having made the ministers and all the rest sit down together, asked them about the Ariyan duty of Sovereign war-lord. And they declared it unto him. And when he had heard them, he did provide the due watch and ward protection, but on the destitute he bestowed no wealth and because this was not done, poverty became widespread.

When poverty was thus become rife, a certain man took that which others had not given him, what people call by theft. Him they caught, and brought before the king, saying: 'This man, O king has taken that which was not given to him and that is theft'.

Thereupon the king speak thus to the man. 'Is it true sirrah, that thou hast taken what no man gave thee, hast committed what men call theft.' It is true, O king.' 'But why?'

'O king, I have nothing to keep me alive.' Then the king bestowed wealth on that man, saying: 'With this wealth sir, do thou both keep thyself alive, maintain thy parents, maintain children and wife, carry on thy business.' 'Even so, O king,' replied the man.

10. Now another man, brethren, took by theft what was not given him. Him they caught and brought before the king and told him., saying: 'this man, O king, hath taken by theft what was not given him'.

And the king (spoke and did even as he had spoken and done to the former man.)

II. Now men heard brethren, that to them who had taken by theft what was not given them, the King was giving wealth. And hearing they thought, let us then take by theft what has not been given us.

Now a certain man did so. And him they caught and charged before the king who (as before) asked him why he had stolen. 'Because, O king I cannot maintain myself. Then the king thought: If I bestow wealth on anyone so ever who has taken by theft what was not given him, there will be hereby and increase of this stealing. Let me now put final stop to this and inflict condign punishment on him, have his head cut off!

So he bade his man saying ' now look ye! bind this man's arms behind him with a strong rope and tight knot, shave his head bald, lead him around with a harsh sounding drum, from road to road, from cross ways to cross ways, take him out by the southern gate and to the south of the town, put a final stop to this, inflict on him uttermost penalty, cut of his head.'

' Even so, O king ' answered the men, and carried out his commands.

12. Now men heard, brethren, that they who took by theft what was not given them were thus put to death. And hearing they thought, let us also now have sharp swords made ready for themselves, and them from whom we take what is not given us—what they call them— let us put a final stop to them, inflict on them uttermost penalty., and their heads off.

And they got themselves sharp swords, and came forth to sack village and town and city, and to work highway robbery. And then whom they robbed they made an end of, cutting off their heads.

13. Thus, brethren, from goods not being bestowed on the destitute poverty grieve rife; from poverty growing rife stealing increased, from the spread of stealing violence grew space, from the growth of violence the destruction of life common, from the frequency of murder both the span of life in those beings and their comeliness also (diminished).

Now among humans of latter span of life, brethren, a certain took by theft what was not given him and even as those others was accused before the king and questioned if it was true that he had stolen. 'Nay, O king,' he replied, 'they are deliberately telling lies.' 14. Thus from goods not being bestowed on the destitute, poverty grew rife... stealing... violence... murder... until lying grew common.

Again a certain man reported to the king, saying ' such and such a man, O king! has taken by theft what was not given him '— thus speaking evil of him.

15. And so, brethren, from goods not being bestowed on the destitute poverty grew rife... stealing... violence... murder... lying... evil speaking grew abundant.

16. From lying there grew adultery.

17. Thus from goods not being bestowed on the destitute, poverty... stealing... violence... murder... lying... evil speaking. . . immorality grew rife.

18. Among (them) brethren, three things grew space incest, wanton greed and perverted lust.

Then these things grew apace lack of filial piety to mother and father, lack of religious piety to holy men, lack of regard for the head of the clan.

19. There will come a time, brethren, when the descendants of those humans will have a life-span of ten years. Among humans of this life span, maidens of five years will be of a marriageable age. Among such humans these kinds of tastes (savours) will disappear; ghee, butter, oil of tila, sugar, salt. Among such humans kudrusa grain will be the highest kind of food. Even as to-day rice and curry is the highest kind of food, so will kudrusa grain will be then. Among such humans the ten moral courses of conduct will altogether disappear, the tenimmoral courses of action will flourish excessively; there will be no word for moral among such humans, the ten moral courses of conduct will altogether disappear, the ten immoral courses of action will flourish excessively, there will be no word for moral among such humans—far less any moral agent. Among such humans, brethren, they who lack filian and religious piety, and show no respect for the Head of the clan—'tis they to whom homage and praise will be given, just as to-day homage and praise are given to the filial minded, to the pious and to them who respect the heads of their clans.

20. Among such humans, brethren, there will be no (such thoughts of reverence as are a bar to intermarriage with) mother, or mother's sister, or mother's sister-in-law, or teacher's wife, or father's sister-in-law. The world will fall into promiscuity, like goats and sheep, fowls and swine, dogs and jackals.

Among such humans, brethren keen mutual enmity will become the rule, keen ill-will, keen animosity, passionate thoughts even of killing, in a mother towards her child, in a child towards its father, in brother to brother, in brother to sister, in sister to brother. Just a sportsman feels towards the game that he sees, so will they feel.

This is probably the finest picture of what happens when moral force fails and brutal force takes its place. What the Buddha wanted was that each man should be morally so trained that he may himself become a sentinel for the kingdom of righteousness.


The Communists themselves admit that their theory of the State as a permanent dictatorship is a weakness in their political philosophy. They take shelter under the plea that the State will ultimately wither away. There are two questions, which they have to answer. When will it wither away? What will take the place of the State when it withers away? To the first question they can give no definite time. Dictatorship for a short period may be good and a welcome thing even for making Democracy safe. Why should not Dictatorship liquidate itself after it has done its work, after it has removed all the obstacles and boulders in the way of democracy and has made the path of Democracy safe. Did not Asoka set an example? He practised violence against the Kalingas. But thereafter he renounced violence completely. If our victor’s to-day not only disarm their victims but also disarm themselves there would be peace all over the world.

The Communists have given no answer. At any rate no satisfactory answer to the question what would take the place of the State when it withers away, though this question is more important than the question when the State will wither away. Will it. be succeeded by Anarchy? If so the building up of the Communist State is an useless effort. If it cannot be sustained except by force and if it results in anarchy when the force holding it together is withdraws what good is the Communist State. The only thing, which could sustain it after force is withdrawn, is Religion. But to the Communists Religion is anathema. Their hatred to Religion is so deep seated that they will not even discriminate between religions which are helpful to Communism and religions which are not; The Communists have carried their hatred of

Christianity to Buddhism without waiting to examine the difference between the two. The charge against Christianity levelled by the Communists was two fold. Their first charge against Christianity was that they made people other worldliness and made them suffer poverty in this world. As can be seen from quotations from Buddhism in the earlier part of this tract such a charge cannot be levelled against Buddhism.

The second charge levelled by the Communists against Christianity cannot be levelled against Buddhism. This charge is summed up in the statement that Religion is the opium of the people. This charge is based upon the Sermon on the Mount which is to be found in the Bible. The Sermon on the Mount sublimates poverty and weakness. It promises heaven to the poor and the weak. There is no Sermon on the Mount to be found in the Buddha's teachings. His teaching is to acquire wealth. I give below his Sermon on the subject to Anathapindika one of his disciples.

Once Anathapindika came to where the Exalted One was staying. Having come he made obeisance to the Exalted One and took a seat at one side and asked 'Will the Enlightened One tell what things are welcome, pleasant, agreeable, to the householder but which are hard to gain.'

The Enlightened One having heard the question put to him said ' Of such things the first is to acquire wealth lawfully.'

'The second is to see that your relations also get their wealth lawfully.'

'The third is to live long and reach great age.' 'Of a truth, householder, for the attainment of these four things, which in the world are welcomed, pleasant agreeable but hard to gain, there are also four conditions precedent. They are the blessing of faith, the blessing of virtuous conduct, the blessing of liberality and the blessing of wisdom.

The Blessing of virtuous conduct which abstains From taking life, thieving, unchastely, lying and partaking of fermented liquor.

The blessing of liberality consists in the householder living with mind freed from the taint of avarice, generous, open-handed, delighting in gifts, a good one to be asked and devoted to the distribution of gifts.

Wherein consists the blessing of Wisdom? He know that an householder who dwells with mind overcome by greed, avarice, ill-will, sloth, drowsiness, distraction and flurry, and also about, commits wrongful deeds and neglects that which ought to be done, and by so doing deprived of happiness and honour.

Greed, avarice, ill will, sloth and drowsiness, distraction and flurry and doubt are stains of the mind. A householder who gets rid of such stains of the mind acquires great wisdom, abundant wisdom, clear vision and perfect wisdom.

Thus to acquire wealth legitimately and justly, earn by great industry, amassed by strength of the arm and gained by sweat of the brow is a great blessing. The householder makes himself happy and cheerful and preserves himself full of happiness; also makes his parents, wife, and children, servants, and labourers, friends and companions happy and cheerful, and preserves them full of happiness. The Russians do not seem to be paying any attention to Buddhism as an ultimate aid to sustain Communism when force is withdrawn.

The Russians are proud of their Communism. But they forget that the wonder of all wonders is that the Buddha established Communism so far as the Sangh was concerned without dictatorship. It may be that it was a communism on a very small scale but it was communism I without dictatorship a miracle which Lenin failed to do.

The Buddha's method was different. His method was to change the mind of man: to alter his disposition: so that whatever man does, he does it voluntarily without the use of force or compulsion. His main means to alter the disposition of men was his Dhamma and the constant preaching of his Dhamma. The Buddhas way was not to force people to do what they did not like to do although it was good for them. His way was to alter the disposition of men so that they would do voluntarily what they would not otherwise to do.

It has been claimed that the Communist Dictatorship in Russia has wonderful achievements to its credit. There can be no denial of it. That is why I say that a Russian Dictatorship would be good for all backward countries. But this is no argument for permanent Dictatorship. Humanity does not only want economic values, it also wants spiritual values to be retained. Permanent Dictatorship has paid no attention to spiritual values and does not seem to intend to. Carlyle called Political Economy a Pig Philosophy. Carlyle was of course wrong. For man needs material comforts" But the Communist Philosophy seems to be equally wrong for the aim of their philosophy seems to be fatten pigs as though men are no better than pigs. Man must grow materially as well as spiritually. Society has been aiming to lay a new foundation was summarised by the French Revolution in three words, Fraternity, Liberty and Equality. The French Revolution was welcomed because of this slogan. It failed to produce equality. We welcome the Russian Revolution because it aims to produce equality. But it cannot be too much emphasised that in producing equality society cannot afford to sacrifice fraternity or liberty. Equality will be of no value without fraternity or liberty. It seems that the three can coexist only if one follows the way of the Buddha. Communism can give one but not all.

Gowtham Kamath's picture

45% I am amazed at this precision. Why not 50 or 55. If it is more than 50 % then probably Bhagawd Gita will become a full blown Buddhist scripture so it just stops at 45%. Also 'Sermon on the Mount' is many % found in Upanishads and Dhammapada. How many I leave it to thesegreat scholars to figure out. And what abt the the Koran and torah.

Gowtham Kamath's picture


"While Philip Glass extols Bhagwat Gita, is there no one to tell him that 45 per cent of it came from Dhammapada"

Again an instance of psuedo history concocted by subaltern missionaries. Bhagwad Gita has no elements of Buddhism or Jainism in it. It is a synthesis of the Sankhya cosmology and classification , a new interpretation of Yoga and the Vedanta of Upanishads. There is no mention of the Anatma / non-self theory of Buddhism or the anekantavada of Jainism in the Baghwad Gita. Why would the Gita have shied away from mentioning Buddha or Mahavira if it had to make a strong point, it does mention the sankhya philosophy and yoga but why not the Buddhist tenets. Because it was know during those times. Mr Laksman this is just one of the many instances of pure lies and malicious propoganda. Anyway Gita has many similariteis between the Dhammapada because they talk of universal truths like non violence (set in a battlefeild though), brahmacharya, control of senses and many others. Gita is more upanishadic which talks of an immutable and eternal Self - this is something the Buddha refuted.

Gowtham Kamath's picture

It is extremely funny that the neo-buddhists in India claim that Buddhism was the origninal religion of the Dalits and the Brahmins destroyed Buddhism. I for one never bothered about caste, ethnicity or any such claim to lineages which go to the antiquated past. This was until the violent dalit buddhists started attacking and propogating their hatred against hindus in general and brahmins in particular in our university campus. These attacks are moddeled on the similar lines of the anti semetic Nazi propoganda against the Jews.

As a result of this, I did some study into our past and we belong to a Saraswath Brahmin sect which came from the community of such sages like Gaudapada and Chandrakirti. Chandrakirti was a mahayana Buddhist. Gaudapada was considered a disquised buddhist and also the forerunner of adi shankara the founder of Advaitha vedanta school. Scholars still debate whether Gaudapada's Karika is buddhist or vedantic. All these of course does not hold any value for me as a person living in this age. Of course in a way I am quite happy to know that our ancestors were such illustrious scholars. And contrary to the claim of these so called Dalit scholars, If at all anyone can claim the mantle of Buddhism in India it is our community. Because our ancestors were Buddhists and some of them great Buddhist masters. A cursory glance at the Buddhist sutras show how many Brahmins were the disciples of Buddha. Buddhism was the monkhood which depended on state patronage and was in a way elitist. We have evidence in India where Jains, Brahmins and Buddhists lived together and there was lot of intermingling between them. If at all anyone should be troubled by the disappearance of Buddhism it should be the Brahmins and Jains. As it is part of their ancestral culture. The brahmins like Shankara, madva and ramanuja critiqued on Buddhists, Jains, Ajivakas, Sankhya and many other philosophies. There was healthy debates and lot of brainstorming of ideas. We have a text from the 12th - 14h CE century 'Sarva Darshana Samagraha' where the Vedantin madhvacharya expounds 14 different philosophies in India which includes jaina, baudha, sankya, yoga, charvaka atheists etc and provides a rebuttal on these philosophies. We can also see the great respect in which Madhva addresses his opponents in their theological debates. Many Buddhists in the 7th century who found the views of Shankara persuasive and joined his fold. The shankara digvijayam a recorded text has a mention of these. In none of these any violence was involved except if you consider ontological debates as violence.

The Dalits claim that they were Buddhists long ago until Brahmins took away their religion is one of the most idiotic and unsubstantiated claims. Most accounts of ancestral lineages of Dalits point to the worship of Zoomorphic and animist deities. There are several instances of Brahmins, Buddhists and Jains providing a philosophical structure of either Buddhism, Vedism or some such thing to incude these beliefs in their body of Knowledge.The dalits claim that they were Buddhists can probably give them a sense of self esteem. I have nothing against anyone claiming anything but again they use this claim as a means to attack some communities and certain sections of the people which is wrong. And I am not sure whether Buddha or Buddhism ever worried about such things as religious ancestry. What mattered to the Buddha was what you are NOW. I am not sure why we should worry about our ancestry and we should be free to choose, believe, disbelieve or practise what makes sense to us as long as it does not impinge on the fundamental rights and privacy of others.

P.P.Lakshamn's picture


Dear Ms Helen Tworkov,

In my audacity, I venture to say that it is time that the reviewers at 92 Vandam Street re-view their business of reviewing Buddhism as they claim to do for their subscribers with a magazine called Tricycle.

Their imaging of Gandhi just recently has raised protests from some of its readers. Obviously, the reviewers see Gandhi as is put forth by the heavily funded Gandhi industry, beginning with the Gandhi film a few decades ago. Even a cursory glance of Larry Collins’s "Freedom at Midnight" on which the Gandhi movie is based will give the reader a lot more about Gandhi that are not presentable to the world at large.

Dr B.R. Ambedkar, the great Buddhist revivalist, who had been a severe critic of Gandhi is perhaps even now an untouchable pariah to the Tricycle columnists. How beneficial it would be for the editor and staff of your magazine to review the recently released movie on Dr Ambedkar producd by Jabbar Patel. Would they care to review a biography of Dr Ambedkar by Dhanajay Keer, an Indian author, unlike the Gandhi story which had to be told by Western authors Collins and Lapierre?

Again, would the Tricycle readers be averse to know more about the great Emperor Asoka who became a passionate Buddhist missionary after a bloody war? Or to the great scholars like Ashwa Gosh and their commentaries on Buddhist canons ? Is there no one at Vandam Street familiar with Dhammapada? While Philip Glass extols Bhagwat Gita, is there no one to tell him that 45 per cent of it came from Dhammapada?

You are aware that there are many, many current topics to write on, to review on, like the Hindu ideologues considering Buddhism as part of Hinduism, the Hindu hold on the holiest of holy Buddhist temples at Bodh Gaya, the Buddhist sites being excavated all over North India and even South India. They seem to matter little to the reviewers at Vandam Street.

There are equally fascinating stories from other Buddhist countries in the East like China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, and now from countries in the West like U.S.A, U.K. etc., some of which you do cover. The selective approach you follow at Vandam Street is your choice and your choice alone. I am only voicing the agony of some of your readers like myself who look upon Tricycle you founded as a leading Budhist review magazine of the world. I must confess here that I am not a subscriber, but I was once and a keen reader, but no more. I know I would be guilty of the crime of not being a regular reader, but only a reader at random from secondary sources, missing out the totality of your coverage.

I shall be happy to know that this letter of mine has received your attention.

Best wishes,

Yours sincerely,

Bodhiratna P.P. Lakshman
March 1, 2008

E-mail : lakshmanpp@hotmail. com, pplakshman@aol. com
Tel: 04936-276 966; 04936-329 905 (India)
Tel: 1-917-664-6566 (USA)

Sambodhi's picture

Arun Shourie on Ambedkar

Arun Shourie on Ambedkar

On 26 February 1996, Ambedkarites roughed up Arun Shourie, literally tarring his face during a speech of his in Pune.37 In his weekly syndicated column, published in the Observer of Business and Politics and in thirty provincial newspapers (and now available in book form), he had scrutinized Ambedkars record and questioned a number of now-common notions about him. He had refuted the popular description of Dr. Ambedkar as the father of the Constitution or modern Manu (in a reference to the ancient patriarch Manu, to whom the lawbook Manava-Dharma-Shastra is attributed) by showing that Dr. Ambedkars contribution to the writing of the Constitution was in fact very limited, and that Ambedkar himself had never claimed otherwise.

Shourie had also highlighted the fact that Dr. Ambedkar never won an election, not even when he stood for a seat reserved for Scheduled Caste members. On top of his individual defeat, his Scheduled Castes Federation in 1945-46, and his Republican Party in 1952, were utterly routed at the polls. In the 1937 elections, Ambedkars British sponsors were gravely disappointed to see the landslide victory of Congress in the reserved constituencies. Ambedkars electoral record certainly belies the routine description of him as the leader of the Untouchables: during his lifetime, most untouchables looked to Mahatma Gandhi as their benefactor in spite of Ambedkars scathing criticism of the Mahatmas paternalistic approach. In respect of religion, Scheduled Caste people often venerated their own Hindu Sants rather than awaiting Ambedkars (or in the South, Periyars) directives on conversion..

What seems to have hurt the Ambedkarites most is Shouries highlighting Dr. Ambedkars consistent collaboration with the colonial authorities, his opposing the National movement throughout his public career right up to and including 1946, the fact that throughout those vital years 1942 to 1946-while the nationalist leaders languished in prison, Ambedkar was such a loyal and enthusiastic minister in the Viceroys Council, and that as late as April 1946 Ambedkar was telling the Viceroy, Lord Wavell, that if India became independent, it would be one of the greatest disasters that could happen. Eventhough Shouries position is well-documented, he stands practically alone with his demystification of Ambedkar.

One thing in Ambedkars career which Shourie has not criticized, is his conversion to Buddhism, except to say that Ambedkar had developed a rather personal version of Buddhism. Shourie himself is a practitioner of Buddhist Vipassana meditation, and as a crusader for political morality, he has no inclination to criticize a tradition which teaches a practical path to self-improvement, and which stresses the need to take responsibility for ones own life rather than blaming society or the other community for ones own sufferings.

Sambodhi's picture

Ambedkarites of the Dalit Panther movement have allegedly made two failed attempts on the life of the late Jeevan Kulkarni, an amateur-historian belonging to the Hindu Mahasabha. His crime was that he had developed a critique of Dr. Ambedkar's understanding of Buddhism, along the same lines as that quoted above from Buddhist sources.

Sambodhi's picture

Ambedkar was extremely critical of Hindu philosophy. First of all, he thought that it had nothing to offer, on the contrary. He approvingly quotes Thomas Huxley describing Upanishadic asceticism as reducing the human mind to that condition of impassive quasi-somnambulism, which, but for its acknowledged holiness, might run the risk of being confounded with idiocy. Unfortunately, whoever equates the concentrated mental alertness developed in meditation with somnambulism and idiocy, can hardly extol Buddhist meditation which develops a very similar state of mind. But the point is precisely that Ambedkar did not see Buddhism as a system of meditation.

Ambedkars most direct attack on Hindu sensibilities was his merciless pamphlet Riddles in Hinduism. Its central thesis is the absolute reduction of Hindu culture to a mere cover for caste and untouchability. That part was largely ignored by the public, because it was the type of thing which so many westernized writers and Christian missionaries had been saying for some time. The part which really caused offence was the chapter Riddles of Rama and Krishna, which contains a lot of ordinary scandal-mongering. We learn that Ramas associates, the Vanaras, are conceived in general debauchery by the gods with all kinds of nymphs and goddesses and mortal women, and that Rama himself seems to have been conceived illegitimately by the sage Shrung on Kaushalya, wife of Dasharatha. Similar things are explicitly said about the Pandavas in the Mahabharata, and about many worthies in the Vedic, Epic and Puranic lore. Krishna was the greatest lecher of his age, doing it with whole villages of girls and married women.

All this was taken from Scripture and hard to refute. However, the exercise can also be tried on the Buddha. Indeed, one V.N. Utpat wrote a booklet Riddles of Buddha and Ambedkar in reply. It points out that the Buddhas conception was even more illegitimate than that of Rama and Krishna: his mother was visited at night by a white elephant. Heartless as the Buddha was, he left his wife and child behind without asking their opinion, to set out on his selfish quest for personal liberation. By giving up his throne, he also robbed his own son of the inheritance of the throne, and when later his son came to ask him for his rightful inheritance, the Buddha cynically offered him initiation into his miserable monk order. And so on: people (including the human being Siddhartha Gautama the Shakyamuni) have to make choices in life, and in their decisions there will always be a dark side available for foul mouths to pick on.

Sambodhi's picture

Koenard Elst in Bharat Vani

On 2 October 1956, two months before his death, the former Law Minister Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar led several hundreds of thousands of followers, mostly belonging to his own ex-untouchable Mahar caste, into conversion to Buddhism. He extracted twenty-two promises from his followers. We will list them here with their original numbers but regrouped in two categories. The first category consists of positive expressions of commitment to the Buddhist way:

7) I will never act against the tenets of Buddhism;

11) I will follow the Eight-fold Path of Lord Buddha;

12) I will follow the ten Paramitas of the Dhamma;

13) I will have compassion on all living beings and will try to look after them;

14) I will not lie;

15) I will not commit theft;

16) I will not indulge in lust or sexual transgression;

17) I will never take any liquor or drink that causes intoxication;

18) I will try to mould my life in accordance with the Buddhist preachings based on Enlightenment, precept and compassion;

20) I firmly believe that the Bauddha Dhamma is the best religion;

21) I believe that today I am taking a new birth;

22) I solemnly take the oath that from today onwards I will act according to the Bauddha Dhamma.

It is debatable whether the firm belief that the Bauddha Dhamma is the best religion was ever part of the formal resolutions taken by the Buddhas disciples, but let us not pick on this; we may accept that these promises by Ambedkars followers are just an emphatic expression of their entry into Buddhism. It is a different story with those promises which articulate Ambedkars own social and anti-Hindu agenda:

1) I will not regard Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh as gods nor will I worship them;

2) I will not regard Rama and Krishna as gods nor will I worship them;

3) I will not accept Hindu deities like Gauri, Ganapati etc., nor will I worship them;

4) I do not believe that God has taken birth or incarnation in any form;

5) I do not believe that Lord Buddha was the incarnation of Vishnu, I believe this propaganda is mischievous and false;

6) I will never perform any Shraddha nor will I offer any Pinda [i.e. Brahminical funeral and post-funeral rites];

8) I will not have any Samskara [ritual] performed by Brahmins;

9) I believe in the principle that all are equal;

10) I will try to establish equality;

11) I embrace today the Bauddha Dhamma, discarding the Hindu religion which is detrimental to the emancipation of human beings and which believes in inequality and regards human beings other than Brahmins as low-born.

This list of promises is unique in the history of Buddhism, in that it not only professes to follow the Buddhist way, but also attacks a non-Buddhist tradition and rejects the devotion to a number of Gods whose worship was propagated outside India by Buddhism itself. The Japanese-Buddhist Goddess Benzai-ten is none other than Saraswati, the Chinese-Buddhist God Shui-tian is Vedic Varuna, etc., all imported by Buddhism without the help of a single (non-Buddhist) Hindu. As D.D. Kosambi notes: Pali records started by making Indra and Brahma respectful hearers of the original Buddhist discourses. The Mahayana admitted a whole new pantheon of gods including Ganesha, Shiva and Vishnu, all subordinated to the Buddha.

An additional reason for his choice of Buddhism was his highly unsubstantiated belief that Buddhism, an elite religion thriving on patronage, had been the original religion of the Dalits. in Ambedkar?s view, the Dalits should not seek a new religion but return to their original religion. Instead of conversion, it is advertised as a homecoming.

Today, there are about 6 million neo-Buddhists, most of them from Ambedkar's own Mahar caste and related Scheduled Castes. Occasionally, local mass conversions to Buddhism still occur in these communities. Unlike the Dalai Lama, who emphasizes the closeness of Hinduism and Buddhism before his Indian hosts, the Ambedkarite tendency in Buddhism is overtly anti-Hindu and tries to maximize the separateness of Buddhism.

Nevertheless, renowned author M.V. Kamath quotes a testimony by social scientist Neera Burra, who found many people who claimed they were Buddhists but had not taken the vows because they would not be allowed to eat meat and would have to give up all their gods and goddesses.

Dr. Ambedkar candidly admits that his own Buddhism has little to do with the Buddhist doctrine as laid down in the Pali Canon. When we turn to the indicated passage in Ambedkar's book The Buddha and his Dhamma, we do come across statements which are rather surprising under the pen of a convert to Buddhism. He writes that the Nikayas (the core literary testimony about the Buddha) are unreliable, and that the story of Siddhartha Gautama leaving the world at 29 after seeing a dead, a sick and an old person for the first time, is absurd. He rejects the four Aryan Truths, because they deny hope to man. The four Aryan Truths make the Gospel of the Buddha a gospel of pessimism. Do they form part of the original gospel or are they a later accretion by monks.

Questioning the historicity of the founding narrative of a religion is certainly a permissible and even a commendable exercise, but it is hard to reconcile with being a propagator of that same religion. Unless, of course, one chooses to redefine that religion completely, without reference to its founders original intentions. While the Buddha (at least the only Buddha we know, the one attested in Buddhist Scripture) was quite unambiguous about the futility of worldly pursuits, Dr. Ambedkar would want Buddhism to focus on the pursuit of social reform:

"What was the object of the Buddha in creating the Bhikkhu. Was the object to create a perfect man. if the Bhikkhu is only a perfect man he is of no use to the propagation of Buddhism because though a perfect man he is a selfish man. If, on the other hand, he is a social servant he may prove to be the hope of Buddhism. This question must be decided not so much in the interest of doctrinal consistency but in the interest of the future of Buddhism."

Ambedkars attempt to turn Buddhism into a philosophy of worldly social action necessarily implied a departure from the Buddha's programme of non-worldly liberation.

Ambedkar was seriously criticized by authentic Buddhists for mixing Buddhism with what Ambedkars book describes as social reform, but what these Buddhists considered a message of hatred and separatism.

The Mahabodhi, a famous Buddhist journal in India, opined that The Buddha and his Dhamma is a dangerous book. Ambedkars interpretation of the theory of karma, the theory of ahimsa and his theory that Buddhism was merely a social system, constituted not the correct interpretation of Buddhism but a new orientation. Indeed the whole of the book, observed the reviewer, explained the hatred and aggressiveness the neo-Buddhists nourished and displayed. Ambedkar's Buddhism, added the reviewer, is based on hatred, the Buddha's on compassion The title, pleaded the reviewer, should be changed from The Buddha and his Dhamma to that of Ambedkar and his Dhamma; for Ambedkar preached non-Dhamma as Dhamma for motives of political and social reform.

Another paper, The Light of Dhamma (Rangoon), observed that although this was a book by a great man, unfortunately it was not a great book. Dhananjay Keer explains: The reviewer pointed out that the great Doctor tampered with the texts and whenever he found views in Buddhism inconvenient to his own, denounced them as later accretions made by monks. The author was nevertheless a great and good man; the tragedy was that it was neither a great book nor a good book, concluded the reviewer.

Buddhist monk Jivaka wrote: In India the movement started by Ambedkar was not Buddhism but a campaign for social reform under the name Buddhism, and he has promulgated the idea that bhikkhus are for the purpose of social service. But his book. The Buddha and His Dharma is misnamed for he preaches non-Dharma as Dharma, even sweeping away the four Aryan Truths as a later addition by scholar-monks, maintaining that the Buddha distinguished between killing for a good reason and purely want only, and saying that He did not ban the former; and to cap it all he writes that the Dharma is a social system and that a man quite alone would not need it. Hence the so-called New Buddhists or better named, Ambedkarists, surround bhikkhus aggressively and tell them what they should do and abuse them if they are not actively engaged in social work or preaching reform. The result is seen in the acts of violence they have committed, the rioting that has taken place in Nagpur and Jabbulpur and other places. For Ambedkar entered on his new religion with hate in his heart and his followers are still nourishing and fanning the flames of hate in the uneducated masses they lead.

In a report to his Government in 1992, the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India, Mr. Neville Kanakaratne, noted the regrettable fact that a great majority of Indian Buddhists were members of the Scheduled Castes who converted under Dr. Ambedkar's leadership in order to assert their political rights rather than through honest self-persuasion and conviction?. By contrast, the effort by the Mahabodhi Society to spread Buddhism through proper information and teaching had achieved very little, according to the Sri Lankan High Commissioner.

If we accept the High Commissioners assessment of such purely political conversion, implying that there is little genuine enthusiasm for the Buddhas spiritual message in these Ambedkarite conversions, we must notice at the same time that in the margin of the politically Buddhist community, centres of genuine spiritual Buddhism are evolving, to the dismay of purely political converts. Thus, the Leftist commentator Gopal Guru complains that Ambedkarite Buddhists are starting to take an active interest in Theravada Buddhist meditation: Some of the Buddhist organizations are busy spiritualising Ambedkars Buddhism with a view to supplanting the need to look at Ambedkars Buddhist conversion movement as an emancipatory, critical concern.

A Scheduled Caste convert explains: The Dalit movement lacks the positive approach of Buddhism. I no longer call myself a Dalit. I consider myself a Buddhist. By contrast, another one complains: Sangharakshita came to turn us into good Buddhists. But the problem is not becoming a good Buddhist, but a combative Buddhist. How can one obtain mental peace if there is no peace in society To which the Buddha, who lived in an equally turbulent age, might have said that if you want to wait for peace in the outside world before starting to make peace inside, you will wait forever.

A less controversial but essentially similar Buddhist presence is the Vipassana association of the Burmese master Sayagyi U Ba Khin as represented by S.N. Goenka. As I have been able to see for myself, this tradition of Buddhist meditation has struck firm roots in Ambedkars own Maharashtra, mainly through its Vipassana International Academy in Dhammagiri near Jalgaon where 10-day courses for laymen are offered. This way, a process of rapprochement between traditional Buddhists and Ambedkarite neo-Buddhists is already visible, so that we are probably witnessing the genesis of a genuine new Indian Buddhism.

Vimal's picture

Gandhi's erratic policies were criticized by his contemporaries like Annie Besant, Sri Aurobindo, Bhimrao Ambedkar, and many others. And none of them went out to kill Gandhi, so there is nothing violent about these arguments per se. They correctly predicted that under his irrational leadership, the strategy of mass mobilization and “non-violence” would yield very bitter fruits, as it did during the Khilafat riots in 1922 and again during the Partition. Indologists like Alain Daniélou and historians like Paul Johnson have also demythologized the Mahatma. One of the perverse effects of the assasination of Gandhi was precisely that in India this criticism of Gandhi suddenly became taboo, and that the myth of his centrality in the achievement of independence became unassailable. But however in Modern India Critizing Gandhi has become the favourite pastime of all from the extreme right to the left except perhaps the congress party.