Osho's grandparents, Nani and Nana
For most of my very early years I lived with my mother's parents. Those years are unforgettable. Even if I reach to Dante's paradise I will still remember those years. A small village, poor people, but my grandfather-I mean my mother's father-was a generous man. He was poor, but rich in his generosity. He gave to each and everyone whatsoever he had. I learned the art of giving from him; I have to accept it. I never saw him say no to any beggar or anybody.
I called my mother's father "Nana"; that's the way the mother's father is called in India. My mother's mother is called "Nani." I used to ask my grandfather, "Nana, where did you get such a beautiful wife?"
My grandmother looked more Greek than Indian….
Perhaps there was some Greek blood in her. No race can claim purity. The Indians particularly should not claim any purity of blood-the Hunas, the Moguls, the Greeks and many others have attacked, conquered and ruled India. They have mixed themselves in the Indian blood, and it was so apparent with my grandmother. Her features were not Indian, she looked Greek, and she was a strong woman, very strong. My Nana died when he was not more than fifty. My grandmother lived till eighty and she was fully healthy. Even then nobody thought she was going to die. I promised her one thing, that when she died I would come, and that would be my last visit to the family. She died in 1970. I had to fulfill my promise.
For my first years I knew my Nani as my mother; those are the years when one grows. This circle* is for my Nani. My own mother came after that; I was already grown up, already made in a certain style. And my grandmother helped me immensely. My grandfather loved me, but could not help me much. He was so loving, but to be of help more is needed-a certain kind of strength. He was always afraid of my grandmother. He was, in a sense, a henpecked husband. When it comes to the truth, I am always true.
He loved me, he helped me…what can I do if he was a henpecked husband? Ninety-nine point nine percent of husbands are, so it is okay.
*Note: circle: reminiscences of a series of events, which are now seen to be interconnected, forming a circle
This too is worth noting: that ninety years ago, in India, Nani had had the courage to fall in love. She remained unmarried up till the age of twenty-four. That was very rare. I asked her once why she had remained unmarried for so long. She was such a beautiful woman…I just jokingly told her that even the king of Chhatarpur, the state where Khajuraho is, might have fallen in love with her.
She said, "It is strange that you should mention it, because he did. I refused him, and not only him but many others too." In those days in India, girls were married when they were seven, or at the most nine years of age. Just the fear of love…if they are older they may fall in love. But my grandmother's father was a poet; his songs are still sung in Khajuraho and nearby villages. He insisted that unless she agreed, he was not going to marry her to anybody. As chance would have it, she fell in love with my grandfather.
I asked her, "That is even stranger: you refused the king of Chhatarpur, and yet you fell in love with this poor man. For what? He was certainly not a very handsome man, nor extraordinary in any other way; why did you fall in love with him?"
She said, "You are asking the wrong question. Falling has no 'why' to it. I just saw him, and that was it. I saw his eyes, and a trust arose in me that has never wavered."
I had also asked my grandfather, "Nani says she fell in love with you. That's okay on her part, but why did you allow the marriage to happen?"
He said, "I am not a poet or a thinker, but I can recognize beauty when I see it."
I never saw a more beautiful woman than my Nani. I myself was in love with her, and loved her throughout her whole life….
I am fortunate in many ways, but I was most fortunate in having my maternal grandparents…and those early golden years.
I was born in a family which belongs to a very small section of Jainism…it follows a madman who must have been just a little bit less mad than me. I cannot say more mad than me.
I am going to talk about his two books, which are not translated in English, not even into Hindi, because they are untranslatable. I don't think that he is ever going to have any international audience. Impossible. He believes in no language, no grammar, nothing whatsoever. He speaks exactly like a madman. His book is Shunya Svabhava-"The Nature of Emptiness."
It is just a few pages, but of tremendous significance. Each sentence contains scriptures, but very difficult to understand. You will naturally ask how could I understand him. In the first place just as Martin Buber was born into a Hassid family, I was born into this madman's tradition. His name is Taran Taran. It is not his real name, but nobody knows his real name. Taran Taran simply means "The Savior." That has become his name.
I have breathed him from my very childhood, listened to his songs, wondered what he meant. But a child never cares about the meaning…the song was beautiful, the rhythm was beautiful, the dance was beautiful, and it is enough.
One needs to understand such people only if one is grown up, otherwise, if from their very childhood they are surrounded by the milieu they will not need to understand and yet deep down in their guts they will understand.
I understand Taran Taran-not intellectually, but existentially. Moreover I also know what he is talking about. Even if I had not been born into a family of his followers I would have understood him. I have understood so many different traditions and it is not that I have been born into all of them…I have understood so many madmen that anybody could go mad just by making an effort to understand them! But just look at me, they have not affected me at all…. They have remained somewhere below me. I have remained transcendental to them all.
Still, I would have understood Taran Taran. I may not have come into contact with him, that is possible, because his followers are very few, just a few thousand, and found only in the middle parts of India. And they are so afraid because of their being in such a minority, that they don't call themselves the followers of Taran Taran, they call themselves Jainas. Secretly they believe, not in Mahavira as the rest of the Jainas believe, but in Taran Taran, the founder of their sect.
Jainism itself is a very small religion; only three million
people believe in it. There are two main sects: the Digambaras, and the Svetambaras. The Digambaras believe that Mahavira lived naked, and was naked. The word digambara means "sky clad"; metaphorically it means "the naked." This is the oldest sect.
The word svetambara means the "white clad," and the followers of this sect believe that although Mahavira was naked he was covered by the gods in an invisible white cloth…this is a compromise just to satisfy the Hindus.
The followers of Taran Taran belong to the Digambara sect, and they are the most revolutionary of the Jainas. They don't even worship the statues of Mahavira; their temples are empty, signifying the inner emptiness.
It would have been almost impossible to have come to know Taran if not for the chance that I was born into a family who believed in him. But I thank God, it was worth the trouble to be born into that family. All the troubles can be forgiven just for this one thing, that they acquainted me with a tremendous mystic.
His book Shunya Svabhava says only one thing again and again, just like a madman. You know me, you can understand. I have been saying the same thing again and again for twenty-five years…I've said again and again "Awake!" That's what he does in Shunya Svabhava. books14
Nana used to go to the temple every morning, yet he never said, "Come with me." He never indoctrinated me. That is what is great…not to indoctrinate. It is so human to force a helpless child to follow your beliefs. But he remained untempted-yes, I call it the greatest temptation. The moment you see someone dependent on you in any way, you start indoctrinating. He never even said to me, "You are a
I remember perfectly-it was the time that the census was being taken. The officer had come to our house. He made many inquiries about many things. They asked about my grandfather's religion; he said, "Jainism." They then asked about my grandmother's religion. My Nana said, "You can ask her yourself. Religion is a private affair. I myself have never asked her." What a man!
My grandmother answered, "I do not believe in any religion whatsoever. All religions look childish to me." The officer was shocked. Even I was taken aback. She does not believe in any religion at all! In India to find a woman who does not believe in any religion at all is impossible. But she was born in Khajuraho, perhaps into a family of Tantrikas, who have never believed in any religion. They have practiced meditation but they have never believed in any religion.
It sounds very illogical to a Western mind: meditation without religion? Yes…in fact, if you believe in any religion you cannot meditate. Religion is an interference in your meditation. Meditation needs no God, no heaven, no hell, no fear of punishment, and no allurement of pleasure. Meditation has nothing to do with mind; meditation is beyond it, whereas religion is only mind, it is within mind.
I know Nani never went to the temple, but she taught me one mantra which I will reveal for the first time. It is a Jaina mantra, but it has nothing to do with Jainas as such. It is purely accidental that it is related to Jainism….
The mantra is so beautiful. It is going to be difficult to translate it, but I will do my best…or my worst. First listen to the mantra in its original beauty:
Namo arihantanam namo namo
Namo siddhanam namo namo
Namo uvajjhayanam namo namo
Namo loye savva sahunam namo namo
Aeso panch nammukaro
Mangalam cha savvesam padhamam havai mangalam
Arihante saranam pavajjhami
Siddhe saranam pavajjhami
Sahu saranam pavajjhami
Namo arihantanam namo namo
Namo siddhanam namo namo
Namo uvajjhayanam namo namo
Om, shantih, shantih, shantih….
Now my effort at translation: "I go to the feet of, I bow down to, the
arihantas…." Arihanta is the name in Jainism, as arhat is in Buddhism, for one who has achieved the ultimate but cares nothing about anybody else. He has come home and turned his back on the world. He does not create a religion, he does not even preach, he does not even declare. Of course he has to be remembered first. The first remembrance is for all those who have known and remained silent. The first respect is not for words, but for silence. Not for serving others, but for the sheer achievement of one's self. It does not matter whether one serves others or not; that is secondary, not primary. The primary is that one has achieved one's self, and it is so difficult in this world to know one's self….
The Jainas call the person arihanta who has attained to himself and is so drowned, so drunk in the beautitude of his realization that he has forgotten the whole world. The word 'arihanta' literally means "one who has killed the enemy"-and the enemy is the ego. The first part of the mantra means, "I touch the feet of the one who has attained himself."
The second part is: Namo siddhanam namo namo. This mantra is in Prakrit, not Sanskrit. Prakrit is the language of the Jainas; it is more ancient than Sanskrit. The very word 'sanskrit' means refined. You can understand by the word 'refined' there must have been something before it, otherwise what are you going to refine? 'Prakrit' means unrefined, natural, raw, and the Jainas are correct when they say their language is the most ancient in the world. Their religion too is the most ancient.
The Hindu scripture Rigveda mentions the first master of the Jainas, Adinatha. That certainly means it is far more ancient than Rigveda. Rigveda is the oldest book in the world, and it talks about the Jaina tirthankara, Adinatha, with such respect that one thing is certain, that he could not have been a contemporary of the people writing
The mantra is in Prakrit, raw and unrefined. The second line is: Namo siddhanam namo namo-"I touch the feet of the one who has become his being." So, what is the difference between the first and the second?
The arihanta never looks back, never bothers about any kind of service, Christian or otherwise. The siddha, once in a while holds out his hand to drowning humanity, but only once in a while, not always. It is not a necessity, it is not compulsory, it is his choice; he may or he may not.
Hence the third: Namo uvajjhayanam namo namo…"I touch the feet of the masters, the uvajjhaya." They have achieved the same, but they face the world, they serve the world. They are in the world and not of it…but still in it.
The fourth: Namo loye savva sahunam namo namo…"I touch the feet of the teachers." You know the subtle difference between a master and a teacher. The master has known, and imparts what he has known. The teacher has received from one who has known, and delivers it intact to the world, but he himself has not known.
The composers of this mantra are really beautiful; they even touch the feet of those who have not known themselves, but at least are carrying the message of the masters to the masses.
Number five is one of the most significant sentences I have ever come across in my whole life. It is strange that it was given to me by my grandmother when I was a small child. When I explain it to you, you too will see the beauty of it. Only she was capable of giving it to me. I don't know anybody else who had the guts to really proclaim it, although all Jainas repeat it in their temples. But to repeat is one thing; to impart it to one you love is totally another.
"I touch the feet of all those who have known themselves"…without any distinction, whether they are Hindus, Jainas, Buddhists, Christians, Mohammedans. The mantra says, "I touch the feet of all those who have known themselves." This is the only mantra, as far as I know, which is absolutely nonsectarian.
The other four parts are not different from the fifth, they are all contained in it, but it has a vastness which those others do not have. The fifth line must be written on all the temples, all the churches, irrespective of to whom they belong, because it says, "I touch the feet of all those who have known it." It does not say "who have known God." Even the "it" can be dropped: I am only putting "it" in the translation. The original simply means "touching the feet of those who have known"-no "it." I am putting "it" in just to fulfill the demands of your language; otherwise someone is bound to ask, "Known? Known what? What is the object of knowledge?" There is no object of knowledge; there is nothing to know, only the knower.
This mantra was the only religious thing, if you can call it religious, given to me by my grandmother, and that too, not by my grandfather but by my grandmother…because one night I asked her. One night she said, "You look awake. Can't you sleep? Are you planning tomorrow's mischief?"
I said, "No, but somehow a question is arising in me. Everybody has a religion, and when people ask me, 'To what religion do you belong?' I shrug my shoulders. Now, certainly shrugging your shoulders is not a religion, so I want to ask you, what should I say?"
She said, "I myself don't belong to any religion, but I love this mantra, and this is all I can give you-not because it is traditionally Jaina, but only because I have known its beauty. I have repeated it millions of times and always I have found tremendous peace…just the feeling of touching the feet of all those who have known. I can give you this mantra; more than that is not possible for me."
Now I can say that woman was really great, because as far as religion is concerned, everybody is lying: Christians, Jews, Jainas, Mohammedans-everybody is lying. They all talk of God, heaven and hell, angels and all kinds of nonsense, without knowing anything at all. She was great, not because she knew but because she was unable to lie to a child. Nobody should lie-to a child at least it is unforgivable.
Children have been exploited for centuries just because they are willing to trust. You can lie to them very easily and they will trust you. If you are a father, a mother, they will think you are bound to be true. That's how the whole of humanity lives in corruption, in a thick mud, very slippery, a thick mud of lies told to children for centuries.
If we can do just one thing, a simple thing: not lie to children, and to confess to them our ignorance, then we will be religious, and we will put them on the path of religion. Children are only innocence; leave them not your so-called knowledge. But you yourself must first be innocent, unlying, true, even if it shatters your ego-and it will shatter. It is bound to shatter.
My grandfather never told me to go to the temple, to follow him. I used to follow him many times, but he would say, "Go away. If you want to go to the temple, go alone. Don't follow me."
He was not a hard man, but on this point he was absolutely hard. I asked him again and again, "Can you give me something of your experience?" And he would always avoid it….
"Namo arihantanam namo namo
Namo siddhanam namo namo
Namo uvajjhayanam namo namo
Namo loye savva sahunam namo namo
Om, shantih, shantih, shantih…."
What does it mean? It means "Om"-the ultimate sound of soundlessness. And he disappeared like a dewdrop in the first rays of the sun.
There is only peace, peace, peace…. I am entering into it now….
Namo arihantanam namo namo….
I go to the feet of those who have known.
I go to the feet of those who have achieved.
I go to the feet of all who are masters.
I go to the feet of all the teachers.
I go to the feet of all who have ever known,
Om, shantih, shantih, shantih. glimps05
My grandfather wanted the greatest astrologers in India to make my birth chart. Although he was not very rich-in fact not even rich, what to say of very rich, but in that village he was the richest person-he was ready to pay any price for the birth chart. He made the long journey to Varanasi and saw the famous men. Looking at the notes and dates my grandfather had brought, the greatest astrologer of them all said, "I am sorry, I can only make this birth chart after seven years. If the child survives then I will make his chart without any charge, but I don't think he will survive. If he does it will be a miracle, because then there is a possibility for him to become a
My grandfather came home weeping. I had never seen tears in his eyes. I asked, "What is the matter?"
He said, "I have to wait until you are seven. Who knows whether I will survive those years or not? Who knows whether the astrologer himself will survive, because he is so old. And I am a little concerned about you."
I said, "What's the concern?"
He said, "The concern is not that you may die, my concern is that you may become a
I laughed, and amongst his tears he also started laughing. Then he himself said, "It is strange that I was worried. Yes, what is wrong in being a
When I was seven an astrologer came to my grandfather's village searching for me. When a beautiful horse stopped in front of our house, we all rushed out. The horse looked so royal, and the rider was none other than one of the famous astrologers…. He said to me, "So you are still alive? I have made your birth chart. I was worried, because people like you don't survive long."
My grandfather sold all the ornaments in the house just to give a feast for all the neighboring villages, to celebrate that I was going to become a buddha, and yet I don't think he even understood the meaning of the word
He was a Jaina and may not have even heard it before. But he was happy, immensely happy…dancing, because I was to become a buddha. At that moment I could not believe that he could be so happy just because of this word 'buddha'. When everyone had departed I asked him, "What is the meaning of
He said, "I don't know, it just sounds good. Moreover I am a Jaina. We will find out from some Buddhist."
In that small village there were no Buddhists, but he said, "Someday, when a passing Buddhist bhikkhu comes by, we will know the meaning."
But he was so happy just because the astrologer had said that I was to become a buddha. He then said to me, "I guess 'buddha' must mean someone who is very intelligent." In Hindi buddhi means intelligence, so he thought 'buddha' meant the intelligent one.
He came very close, he almost guessed right. Alas that he is not alive, otherwise he would have seen what being a buddha means-not the dictionary meaning, but an encounter with a living, awakened one. And I can see him dancing, seeing that his grandson has become a buddha. That would have been enough to make him enlightened! But he died. His death was one of my most significant experiences. Of that, later on.
And to me he was not just a maternal grandfather.
It is very difficult for me to define what he was to me. He used to call me Rajah-rajah means the king-and for those seven years he managed to have me live like a king. On my birthday he used to bring an elephant from a nearby town…. Elephants in India, in those days, were kept either by kings-because it is very costly, the maintenance, the food and the service that the elephant requires-or by saints.
Two types of people used to have them. The saints could have elephants because they had so many followers. Just as the followers looked after the saint, they looked after the elephant. Nearby there was a saint who had an elephant, so for my birthday my maternal grandfather used to bring the elephant. He would put me on the elephant with two bags, one on either side, full of silver coins….
In my childhood, in India, notes had not appeared; pure silver was still used for the rupee. My grandfather would fill two bags, big bags, hanging on either side, with silver coins, and I would go around the village throwing the silver coins. That's how he used to celebrate my birthday. Once I started, he would come in his bullock cart behind me with more rupees, and he would go on telling me, "Don't be miserly-I am keeping enough. You cannot throw more than I have. Go on throwing!"
Naturally, the whole village followed the elephant. It was not a big village either, not more than two or three hundred people in the whole village, so I would go around the village, the only street in the village. He managed in every possible way to give me the idea that I belonged to some royal family.
In my Nani's village I was continuously either in the lake or in the river. The river was a little too far away, perhaps two miles, so I had to choose the lake more often. But once in a while I used to go to the river, because the quality of a river and a lake are totally different. A lake, in a certain way, is dead, closed, not flowing, not going anywhere at all, static. That's the meaning of death: it is not dynamic.
The river is always on the go, rushing to some unknown goal, perhaps not knowing at all what that goal is, but it reaches, knowing or unknowing-it reaches the goal. The lake never moves. It remains where it is, dormant, simply dying, every day dying; there is no resurrection. But the river, howsoever small, is as big as the ocean, because sooner or later it is going to become the ocean.
I have always loved the feel of the flow: just going, that flux, that continuous movement…aliveness. So, even though the river was two miles away, I used once in a while to go just to have the taste.
I used to swim in the lake. Naturally my grandfather was afraid. He put a strange man to guard over me, in a boat. In that primitive village you cannot conceive what a "boat" meant. It is called a dongi. It is nothing but the hollowed-out trunk of a tree. It is not an ordinary boat. It is round, and that is the danger: unless you are an expert you cannot row it. It can roll at any moment. Just a little imbalance and you are gone forever. It is very dangerous.
I learned balance through rowing a dongi. Nothing could be more helpful. I learned the "middle way" because you have to be exactly in the middle: this way, and you are gone; that way, and you are gone. You cannot even breathe, and you have to remain absolutely silent; only then can you row the dongi.
During those first years when I lived with my grandfather, I was absolutely protected from punishment. He never said "Do this," or "Don't do that." On the contrary he put his most obedient servant, Bhoora, at my service, to protect me. Bhoora used to carry a very primitive gun with him. He used to follow me at a distance, but that was enough to frighten the villagers. That was enough to allow me to do whatsoever I wanted.
Anything one could imagine…like riding on a buffalo backwards with Bhoora following….
In my village particularly, and all over India, nobody rides on a buffalo. The Chinese are strange people, and this person Lao Tzu was the strangest of all. But God knows, and only God knows, how I discovered the idea-even I don't know-to sit on a buffalo in the marketplace, backwards. I assume it was because I always liked anything absurd….
Those early years-if they could be given to me again, I would be ready to be born again. But you know, and I know, nothing can be repeated. That's why I am saying that I would be ready to be born again; otherwise who wants to, even though those days were full of beauty….
I was so mischievous. I cannot live without it; it is my nourishment. I can understand the old man, my grandfather, and the trouble my mischief caused him. The whole day he would sit on his gaddi-as the seat of a rich man is called in India-listening less to his customers, and more to the complainers. But he used to say to them, "I am ready to pay for any damage he has done, but remember, I am not going to punish him."
Perhaps his very patience with me, a mischievous child…even I could not tolerate it. If a child like that was given to me and for years…my God! Even for minutes and I would throw the child out of the door forever. Perhaps those years worked a miracle for my grandfather; that immense patience paid. He became more and more silent. I saw it growing every day. Once in a while I would say, "Nana, you can punish me. You need not be so tolerant." And, can you believe it, he would cry! Tears would come to his eyes, and he would say, "Punish you? I cannot do that. I can punish myself but not you."
Never, for a single moment, have I ever seen the shadow of anger towards me in his eyes-and believe me, I did everything that one thousand children could do. In the morning, even before breakfast I was into my mischief, until late at night. Sometimes I would come home so late-three o'clock in the morning. But what a man he was! He never said, "You are too late. This is not the time for a child to come home." No, not even once. In fact, in front of me he would avoid looking at the clock on the wall.