Friday, 8 April 2016

"Biographies are lies and autobiographies are double lies !"- UG

Sri Ramkrishna Paramahamsa & UG

In those days, Mahesh Bhatt was doing regular columns in a tabloid, the Mumbai Mirror. They were well written and carried a unique fragrance. Rich with personal insights, the columns provided a pleasant reading experience.

On this particular visit, 1999, UG was holed up in Mukesh Bhatt's flat in Bandra.

That lazy morning saw a few regulars hanging out with UG.

Mahesh was there too, propped up against a bean bag. He was completely immersed in a book. It was about the great sage from Dakshineshwar, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.  He was scribbling notes in preparation for his weekly column.

Mahesh says that the fiery saint, Swami Vivekananda, the world-renowned disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa has had a great impact on him, " Vivek' has always had a special place in my heart!"

In the main hall where we all sat, UG kept everyone engaged with his fascinating discussion on varied topics. Every now and then he would steal a glance at Mahesh who appeared oblivious to everything around him, lost in his own world.

At some point, finally UG decided to interrupt Mahesh, "Hey mister! What's it that you are reading?"

Mahesh, "Sir! Going through a book on Ramakrishna Paramahans".

UG, seizing the opportunity and turning on 'heat' in full blast launched a sudden tirade against the great sage.  He went hammer and tongs, spewing out venom. His words sometimes bordered on the slanderous and stung like a whip!

UG, "Oh, you are reading about that guy! Oh Boy! Have you read his gospel? You see, he always surrounded himself with young and handsome boys! That chappie made the boys even give up their families sir!"

UG's innuendos sounded outrageous and UG's bashing continued unabated, nothing could stop him, "He roped in so many young boys! He spared no one including Vivekananda and all those chaps!"

The vitriol made Mahesh wince and shift in his seat!

Visibly shaken and breathing fire, Mahesh suddenly leapt out towards UG's chair. And rocking the chair with both hands, violently from side to side, belligerently hollered,

"Hey! How can you say such things about Ramakrishna? How do you know these things are true? Were you there at the time? "

UG, in a split second, collected himself and poking his finger right into Mahesh's face shot him down,

"Hey, were you there at the time?  How do you know it is not true? "

Mahesh was shattered! Rattled and clueless, he slumped back into his bean bag!


The truth is UG held Sri Ramakrishna in highest esteem referring to him as a Real McCoy! “The world has seen only a handful of sages, you can count them on your fingers”, UG would say and include the sage's name without fail along with Sri Ramana Maharshi et al. His reverence for the sage was absolute!

His long-time associate Major Dakshinamurti observes, " UG always referred to him as SRI Ramakrishna with emphasis on SRI, a rare honour coming from UG" .

UG always acknowledged Sri Ramakrishna's guidance in his own life. It was Sri Ramakrishna Mutt in London that sheltered him during the difficult days when UG roamed the streets of London like a destitute. An inner voice guided him to the Mutt. He even had an intense spiritual experience right there in the London Ramakrishna Mutt.

Here is how UG described his experience:

'I was sitting there and in my mind there was nothingthere was only blankness—when I felt something very strange: there was some kind of movement inside of my body. Some energy was coming up from the penis and out through the head, as if there was a hole. It was moving in circles in a clockwise direction and then in a counterclockwise direction. ”


Like his famous tirades against (our blind, unquestioned faith or belief in) Jesus, Buddha and the lot, UG’s attack on Sri Ramakrishna was aimed more at dismantling and decimating our ‘myth making machinery’, a deeply entrenched habit in human psyche!

Unquestioning reverence only serves to discredit the inquiring spirit, smothering free expression and dampening the zest for life.

Unconditional and blind reverence in any realm of life promotes perverted ideologies. Ideologies divide people, division harbours hatred, factions and wars follow!

Taoism cautions that the wisdom of the sage could turn into 'dead ashes' when put into a book, in lifeless words!

" Books cannot really help you or anyone ! If they really could, then we should ideally have heaven on earth, given all those wonderful books in all those libraries, all over the world!", UG explained.

No biography could ever convey the real wisdom of a sage!

Is there any wisdom in studying the wisdom of the sages then?
UG resonated with the great Taoist sages who said, “Catch the fish and throw away the net!”
Wisdom lies in catching the essence and discarding the word. Word is mere husk, the verbal shell that has no real consequence whatsoever.
Sagely utterances or words are just pointers to truth. It is fallacious to think that the words are the truth!
Again Taoism comes to the rescue, " Holding on to wisdom is sheer foolishness."
UG asserted, Life (or Truth) is not something that can be captured, contained, or given expression to!” 
In a sagely instruction, the words form part of a ‘live transmission’ and carry a ‘life force’ (प्राण शक्ति) that is infused into the words. This does the real trick ! This ‘life force’ cannot be captured, contained or given expression to through any medium! 
The recorded words of a great master (biography), uttered in the distant past, in some unknown context, in response to an unknown question lacks the fragrance, intensity of the original fiery utterances.

When UG was handed a copy of his early book of recorded conversations, Mystique of Enlightenment, he seems to have sighed and said, "Alas, here comes the Mistake of Enlightenment"

He struggled very hard to discount his own verbal utterances, aware of the dangers of verbiage and its serious distortions, " My second statement negates my first statement, my third statement negates my second statement and my fourth statement negates the third as well as the fifth... even before it is made!"

The following parable from the brilliant Chuang Tzu makes this point abundantly clear!

Duke Hwan  seated above in his hall, was (once) reading a book, and the wheelwright Phien was making a wheel below it.
 Laying aside his hammer and chisel, Phien went up the steps, and said, 'I venture to ask your Grace what words you are reading?' 
The duke said, 'The words of the sages.'
'Are those sages alive?' Phien continued.
'They are dead,' was the reply.
 'Then,' said the other, 'what you, my Ruler, are reading are only the dregs and sediments of those old men.' 
The duke said, 'How should you, a wheelwright, have anything to say about the book which I am reading? If you can explain yourself, very well; if you cannot, you shall die!' 
The wheelwright said, 'Your servant will look at the thing from the point of view of his own art. In making a wheel, if I proceed gently, that is pleasant enough, but the workmanship is not strong; if I proceed violently, that is toilsome and the joinings do not fit. If the movements of my hand are neither (too) gentle nor (too) violent, the idea in my mind is realised.
But I cannot tell (how to do this) by word of mouth; there is a knack in it. I cannot teach the knack to my son, nor can my son learn it from me. Thus it is that I am in my seventieth year, and am (still) making wheels in my old age.
But these ancients, and what it was not possible for them to convey, are dead and gone:--so then what you, my Ruler, are reading is but their dregs and sediments!'

UG's smart quip says it all: " Biographies are lies and autobiographies are double lies !"

“ I am a White Brahmin, of purest ray serene! ” - UG

I just recall this one-off anecdote. UG and Mahesh Bhatt had just returned to Parekhji’s place after their lunch at the Oberoi...