In my early years with UG, I was confounded and often felt chastised when I heard UG repeating, " I only get JK's widows and Rajneesh's divorcees, and disciples of some guru or other, but I never get a virgin", I once decided to counter him openly with, " Sir honestly tell me if there are any virgins out there?", wondering if it is possible to stay away completely from any spiritual influence whatsoever! UG didn't disappoint me, " No! There are no virgins sir!"
People tend to get hooked on to books, temples, doctrines, ideologies, gurus and what have you! Everyone goes through this patch when societal life suddenly turns pale and loses its significance making one restless to seek meaning outside and beyond the mundane existence.
This is the time when many begin to knock at the doors of gurus, god men who claim to know the 'other side of existence', whatever that means! One ends up getting 'married' to some role model or guru or ideology, rarely retaining virginity!
Even UG's early life is rich with encounters of the spiritual kind. He had a brush with the renowned Swami Shivananda and spent several years practicing severe penance and austerities in the Himalayas, not to discount his well accounted, engaging meetings with JK and that momentous visit to Sri Ramana.
Much before my meeting with UG in 1992, my first flesh and blood guru happened in 1987.
My guru, in many ways was a remarkable man!
He was not a literate, he even had plenty of problems graduating his high school! He spoke eloquently in Kannada but hardly managed a word or two in English.
But this guru of mine did play a role in grounding me into the realities of life and letting me see the shallowness and futility of intellect and its serious limitations in comprehending matters of life.
I particularly recollect an exchange between us , when in his own characteristic way, my guru shed light on the vicious grip of thought, of reasoning and logic that plays such havoc in our lives. This episode again highlights how our intellect is stuck in a rut with no way out!
I vividly recollect the incident.
I was in my kitchen fixing a meal for both of us that morning. The guru relaxed on his bed seemingly buried in a newspaper in the living room. Mine was a compact bachelor pad in Bangalore. Those were the days much before he would become 'famous ' and gather a large number of devotees, the days before his spiritual empire would engulf him completely and irrevocably. He would stay with me for days on end.
At the time, I was practically 'one on one' with the man and as usual remained foolhardy investing my entire time, money, energy on the novel idea of plunging headlong on a spiritual journey with a living guru!
Just imagine the convenience of having a living guru in your quarters, readily available to plumb the depths of life and its mysteries. But there is no free lunch. I did end up paying a heavy price for this expensive luxury!
As I got busy in kitchen that day, I was mulling over a philosophical (intellectual) problem that had bothered me for quite some time.
I didn't let go the opportunity of being next to my mentor. I shouted my question across to my guru in the living room, so he wouldn't miss it!
Pat came his reply! His answer was spot on, my chattering suddenly ceased! I was thrown into silence.
The silence lasted only for a short while.
The chattering picked up momentum slowly as my thoughts began ‘framing’ his reply - slicing and dicing the extraordinary answer, doing a 'Google search ' in my stockpile of crammed knowledge and experience.
My mind was working hard trying to get a handle on this new piece of information , trying to plug it into a pigeonhole among myriad other voices and echoes in my head!
As my thoughts soaked up the new answer, successfully archiving it, my mind once again became unsettled and began to clamour for more insight! Every answer only whetted my appetite.
I wanted more of the missing pieces of my (intellectual) jigsaw puzzle. The heat and intensity of this mental gymnastics auto generated my next question.
I wasted no time and lobbed my second question straight back at my guru, this one demanding more clarity from him. He once again obliged me with a remarkable answer in no time at all, flooring me completely! Thoroughly satisfied, I smiled and thought to myself, "Oh boy! This guy is a genius, if only he knew English, he would be as famous as Jiddu Krishnamurti!"
And once again silence reigned supreme!
The thoughts did not stir for quite a while …..But slowly, ever so gently, they made their comeback!
As the second answer began to get assimilated, dissected and pounded in a myriad ways just like the previous one, a brand new question, the third one, began to raise its hood.
Questions were getting progressively tougher and more stubborn with every answer.
I felt feverish now and was doggedly determined to probe the matter till I got to the bottom of my problem!
I now lobbed my latest question without batting an eyelid.
This time, my guru's reply shocked the wits out of me, taking the wind out of my sails!
I was not prepared for what struck me!
"THIS IS THE PROBLEM with you bastards! You, the so called educated ones are incorrigible! Well, if your first question was (like) a police constable, it graduated into an Inspector by the time you came up with your second question! Your third question got promoted itself to the level of a Superintendent of Police! At this rate, if I let you carry on with your ways, your questions will raise in rank to that of the Inspector General of Police and so on, there is no end to this dalliance!
I say STOP! Stop kidding yourself! Enough of this nonsense! Enough of this mind game! This bullshit doesn't serve you good …with thinking, you will reach nowhere! Talk of 'tyranny of the intellect'….you guys have been reduced to slavery by your so called education , there is no way this logic-bound, well patterned, conditioned ways of thinking can help you see LIFE, all this ( intellectual intercourse) is nothing but sickness !!”
His words were scorching but healing!
They clearly resonated with UG's remarks that I heard so often in my later years, "All your questions are born of answers." UG nailed it, “Thinking is not the instrument and there is no other instrument."
True, life has no place for thought, reason or logic. There is no way one can get a handle on life or its ever changing dynamics. Life is 'out of bounds' for thought, its poor shadow!
My guru was quite unique in many ways, he essayed a key role in my life but ……he was not against building an ashram or carving out a following of his own.
Personally I always rebelled at any kind of build-up, staying away from all kinds of spiritual organisations, clubs etc. I expressed my feelings quite openly and this was not welcome to him or those who had now started gathering around him. We had to part ways. Another chapter in my life soon came to an end!
I am reminded of UG’s words about genuine individuals who end up in golden chains, "If anyone thinks he can help you, he will inevitably mislead you. And the less phony he is, the more enlightened he is, the more misery and mischief he will create for you!”
Many years later, as I sat in front of UG, in Chandrasekhar Babu’s place, UG started describing how the guru-shishya relationship could become tenacious, exploitative and burdensome. I slipped into reverie reminiscing about my first guru! UG suddenly turned to me and with fierce intensity thundered, “There is no looking back in life sir, we just move on!”
Only UG showed real courage and defiance, never allowing anything to grow around him. Not just that , he would never let any relationship to take root! With UG, no one could ever feel important or close. Pure life was in operation, in a constant flow with no build-up of any kind whatsoever!