Letter from Delhi
The sensational news about a very popular guru, Asaram Bapu, dominated the media with saturation coverage a few weeks ago in India.
He is alleged to have sexually assaulted a minor girl in the privacy of his special living quarters. The aggrieved girl filed a complaint against him at a Delhi police station and he was arrested in Jodhpur, Rajasthan.
Born Asumal Thaumal Harpalani or Asumal Sirumalani on 17 April 1941, he is a controversial Hindu preacher. Starting off as a horse carriage driver, he moved up the income ladder with various jobs and enterprises until he emerged as a guru. He preaches the existence of One Supreme Conscious and claims Bhakti yoga, Gnana yoga and Karma yoga as influences.
In early 1970, Asaram built his first ashram in Gujarat and began using the name Asaram Bapu. Presently, there are over 400 major and minor ashrams in India and abroad, and numerous followers. Asaram has been involved in several controversies including criminal cases filed against him, encroachment by his ashrams, his remarks on the 2012 Delhi gang rape when he said that the woman who was raped should have pleaded to her rapists with folded hands and termed them as her brothers. Now this charge of sexual assault of a minor has placed him in glaring limelight with his past controversies and entire empire having been probed by the media.
Osho’s name has been mentioned in different media commentaries and articles after the arrest and investigation of this well-known God-man for alleged sexual assault on a young woman. This arrest and investigation lead to ‘saturation coverage’ and later to comments on other spiritual guides in the Indian media.
Without understanding an iota of Osho’s insight on spirituality and sex, these commentators in the leading print media alluded to him. Only Osho has had the courage and the authority to talk extensively on sex – the most powerful energy of all human beings. His advocacy of transforming it into spirituality instead of merely releasing it for reproduction or repressing it has not even surfaced on their mental horizon. Instead, they mention or include his name in these opinionated articles on the Dr Jekyll-and-Mr Hyde spiritual leaders who have indulged in sex behind closed doors – away from the gaze of their followers and the public.
Osho’s acceptance of sex has been open and frank. And truly spiritual. He has the daring to speak publicly on these matters which all religious leaders shun or sweep under the carpet, pretending that they do not exist and do not affect them. Osho is not for repression of sex energy. Suppressing sex results in all kind of unnatural behaviour and crime, including rape. Releasing this energy with consenting partners is the natural way. Ultimately, one had had enough and so it is better to transform it into spirituality as detailed in ancient scriptures such as the Vigyan Bhairav Tantra.
In the first discourse of his famous series ‘From Sex to Superconsciousness’ on 28 August 1968, Osho explains that love and meditation are the transformation of sexual energy, and that if sex is suppressed it cannot be transformed; he emphasises transcendence of sexual energy through meditation.
“The more you go into meditation through sex, the less effect sex will have. Meditation will grow from it, and out of the growing meditation a new door will open and sex will wither away. It will not be sublimation. It will be just like dry leaves falling from a tree. The tree never even knows the leaves are falling. In the same way, you will never even know that the mechanical urge for sex is going. Create meditation out of sex; make sex an object of meditation. Treat it as a temple and you will transcend it and be transformed. Then sex will not be there, but there will not be any suppression, any sublimation. Sex will just become irrelevant, meaningless. You have grown beyond it. It makes no sense to you now.”
If we do not harness our most powerful energy to move up to divinity, then we will have wasted our most precious opportunity.
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Gravity: Spirituality Rescues Science
The latest Hollywood blockbuster, Gravity, is all about a nail-biting outer space adventure, right? No, it’s actually all about a spiritual journey into inner space. A veteran spaceman played by George Clooney on his last trip mentors a medical engineer played by Sandra Bullock on her maiden voyage 80 kilometres above the earth. It’s all smooth going as the two share experiences and joke until all hell breaks loose when the debris from a Russian satellite comes hurtling in 3D.
Now it’s a battle for survival. Like a guru, Clooney guides her with wisdom and humour even sacrifices his life so she can live. Now she is all alone in pin drop silence of space, like the experience in meditation by those who know. Sandra now uses all her energies — physical, mental, emotional and spiritual — to stay alive against all odds. She calls out to her daughter, asking her to pray for her soul. It is a desperate appeal. Actually, she is beseeching God without naming God.
When she is about to die, like a good guru Clooney re-appears urging her not to give up. From now on the movie is about re-birth. The most evocative scene is inside another broken down spacecraft when she sheds her heavy helmet, wriggles out of her spacesuit and strips down to her T-shirt and shorts. Now she circles in a foetal position with an umbilical cord floating behind her. This is such a graceful ballet. Seems she is going through the ‘Born Again’ group experience. Now she re-connects to her inner nutritional side. It is a re-discovery of her inner self. Now she is on her Odyssey of alone to the alone.
Movies has vast vistas of space that show the earth as a speck at times to bring home the unlimited universe beyond all of us and inside all of us. These spectacular scenes fill the viewer with awe at the magnificence and the grandeur of existence that you can glimpse only in deep meditation.
The ending drives home the re-birth message when she lands in murky, deep sea, swims with huge marine creatures and bobs up on the surface to breathe air that is life. As she nears the beach, she crawls on all fours and then stands up erect unsteadily to walk shakily. These few seconds bring out the entire meaning of evolution of human life and are topped by her first words.
The movie’s Mexican director, Alfonso Cuarón, said, “Adversities and the possibility of rebirth. And rebirth also metaphorical in the sense of gaining a new knowledge of ourselves. We have a character that is drifting metaphorical and literally, drifting towards the void. A victim of their own inertia. Getting farther and farther away from Earth where life and human connections are. And probably she was like that when she was on planet Earth, before leaving for the mission. It’s a character who lives in her own bubble. And she has to shred that skin to start learning at the end. This is a character who we stick in the ground, again, and learns how to walk.”
Gravity is a tale of transformation and transcendence. A logical scientific mind is blended and reborn with spirituality — just like Osho’s vision of Zorba the Buddha.
* Published in print edition on 25 October 2013