A tribute to Mahatma Gandhi

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Sadhguru speaks at 'Santati: A Tribute to Mahatma Gandhi' at the 'National Gallery of Modern Art in Mumbai'. Mahatma Gandhi was the primary leader of India’s independence movement and also the architect of a form of non-violent civil disobedience that would influence the world. Until Gandhi was assassinated in 1948, his life and teachings inspired activists including Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela.


Duration: 27 min


17 min read

A tribute to Mahatma Gandhi

The following is an unedited transcript of Sadhguru's video. For better readability, breaks and highlights have been added by the editors.

Well, Mahatma – a man who found peaceful solutions for very violent problems on this planet. And, not only in this country, became an inspiration for many such movements across the world, particularly the civil liberties movement in America – which changed the paradigm of what is North America. In many ways, what is North America today, is Mahatma’s making.

Well, when we utter the word peace – people think in terms of war and peace. Conflict – whether it is in a battlefield, or on the streets of a nation, or within the minds and hearts of people – it’s about the same. It’s just that, what happens in the battlefield, and the ugly things that happen on the street are a consequence of what happens in a human mind.

Today, we have gotten into this situation in the world, where we are always trying to fix the consequence, without fixing the cause. Well, consequences need to be managed, of course, but the important thing is to fix the cause, which is you and me. The world is very peaceful place, if you and me were not here! Hello! Yes or no? If you and me were not here on this planet, it is a very peaceful place. People think they have to create peace. No, you can only create conflict, you can create violence – you can not create peace. If you don’t mess with anything, it’s peaceful. If you don’t do anything, it’s peaceful.

So, peace is not an idea, peace is not a philosophy, peace is not a consequence of human action – if human beings know how to minimize their action, there is peace. Right now, human beings are in a compulsive state of action. They have to do something, not because it’s needed, simply because they have to do it. They just have to do it, because they can’t sit in one place. So, essentially, all the violence that you see, conflict that you see on the planet, is a consequence of human inability to just remain still by themselves. Man is ill, only because he does not know how to be still. If you knew how to sit still, where would violence be in the world!

SO, 20th century saw some horrid levels of violence. Well, there has been violence on this planet forever, but 20th century got more organized than ever before. In the form of WWI and WWII, the most horrific situations happened. In early 20th century they declared, blood moves the wheels of history. But by the time we came to mid-20th century, Mahatma created a movement, where it is not the blood, it is the spirit which moves the wheels of history. This is a significant change that instead of blood moving the wheels of history, spirit moves the wheels of history. These are of phenomenal significance.

In many ways, I would say, it is only after Mahatma’s movement, democracies on the planet have become true democracies, reasonably at least. Till then, every democracy, though people elected them, people themselves wanted to lynch some other nation. Always, democratically elected governments ruling nations, were the ones who lynched half the world, including us! It is out of that, that Mahatma was born.

What was supposed to be the source of democracy, what is being paraded as the source of democracy – maybe they were good to their people, I don’t know about that, but they were not good to anyone else on the planet. So, it’s very important, we understand that – because we normally identify Mahatma as a freedom struggle leader. Freedom struggle means, it is naturally a fight against somebody. But it was not a fight against somebody, that is the most significant thing. The most significant thing of this movement is, it is not a fight against somebody.

To create a movement without an enemy is very difficult. I have been talking to people around me, and when they ask me, how does this work – I said see, you need to understand, if you want to create a massive movement in this world, you need to point out, for all the problems ‘she’ is responsible. We need to fix her, then everything is ok. If you create an enemy, you can gather people.

Without creating an enemy, to gather a huge number of people – though not everybody in the country might have grasped this, this is what he was trying to do. This is what we are trying to do today also. Without creating an enemy, without blaming anyone for anything, how to create a movement. Because these movements will change the consciousness of humanity. This is not just about fixing a problem. The immediate problems are there, which need to be fixed, of course. But, the most fundamental thing that needs to happen is – to transform human consciousness, from being exclusive to inclusive.

So, in many ways, the freedom struggle is a kind of a downgrade of what Mahatma was trying to do. Because, he was not just struggling for India’s freedom, it was about liberating the human being – from our own struggles within ourselves, the violence that we carry within ourselves as human beings, the conflicts that people go through. So, if we look at it from that dimension – this is yoga.

Yoga means union. Union means, instead of being an individual human being, you opened up the boundaries of your individuality. You obliterated the boundaries of your individuality in such a way that if you sit here, you are not in conflict with anything. Well, this can be expounded in so many ways. But to put it in a certain perspective, which is absolutely unprejudiced perspective is – you must ask the plants and animals around you, they know who the hell you are! Yes! Children – but children are also prejudiced. Plants and animals, they just know, who you are.

In the sense – people ask me, “Sadhguru, how do I know, I have come to some level of, you know, balance within myself?” I say – we should put you through the Cobra test. Because, you can go in the forest, a live Cobra that is there, a wild one, you just pick it up, it will simply come in your hand. Because it is reading your chemistry. If you show little agitation, it will go for you. If you don’t show in any agitation, it will simply come in your hand. Even, full grown, even king Cobras, you can just pick them up. They will simply come, because they are feeling your chemistry. If you show little bit of agitation, they’ll go for you. Otherwise, they simply are ok with you, because they don’t see you as danger.

So, animals, plants, even insects – they know who you are. Things that you don’t know about yourself! People ask me, how I survived in the jungle, when I was by myself? I just survived on honey, all the time. And, normally the bees are smart enough, because they are predator is the bear, the sloth bear, which weighs about 65-70 Kg, or upto 90, very big ones, but largely for that much. And, they build it on a branch, where it is difficult for them to get – that kind of weight.

So, I was weighing about the same, like a sloth bear. So, I took out my motorcycle’s petrol tube, which is just 15-18 inches in length, and put it into the beehive, and drank. One cavity is over, I will put it into another one, and drink. They think, I am just one of them. Because, if you show mildest agitation, they will go for you. These bees in the Western ghats, if they bite you in the face – 8-10 of them, of they bite you in the face, you will die of suffocation. In case you open your mouth, and one of them bit inside your mouth, one will do, you will die of suffocation. But, they never ever bit me, because if you keep yourself [at ease]. If you make yourself absolutely peaceful within yourself, do you believe you will have to manage violence on the planet! Hello! Is it needed?

So, in a way, in his own way, he was talking this language – that, it is about you. Keeping yourself in a certain way, that from reaction, you become a conscious response. This doesn’t mean, you are placid. This doesn’t mean, you simply sit and don’t do anything. You are super active in the world, but you are a conscious response to everything. You are never a reaction to the external situations. This is all a human being has to do.

To bring humanity to this – that you are a conscious response in your life, not a compulsive reaction; if this one thing we do, in this world, we don’t have to manage wars, we don’t have to do this and that. Because today our idea of peace is, deterrent – I have a nuclear bomb, you have a nuclear bomb. If you bomb me, I’m going to bomb you. This is our idea of peace! Well, you can achieve peace in many different ways.

This happened – is it ok, can I tell you a joke! Hello! You’re becoming serious, that’s why. Serious people naturally become violent. Seriousness is violence against life.

This happened – at one time, Shankaran Pillai was a very abusive husband. Verbally abusing her, sometimes physically abusing her. But the wife was always absolutely peaceful – no reaction to anything. One day he was in a excessively abusive mood, and he abused her in every possible way, but she was just not reacting to anything.

Then he looked at her, and he asked “how do you manage this? I’m always abusing you, but you don’t say one thing back, you just peaceful – how do you do this?” She said, “I clean the toilet.” Said, “What, you clean the toilet. What does that do to you? I know, a month ago, I physically did things to you, which I should not have done, but even then you were peaceful.” “Yes, I cleaned the toilet.” “What do mean, clean the toilet? How does it bring peace to you?” She said, “I used your toothbrush!”

So, you can bring peace in so many ways. But is that the way to do it? So, it’s important – in today’s world, people have tried to settle themselves in some peaceful condition, through belief systems, through philosophies, through ideologies, through various kinds of efforts. But, what we need to understand is – what we call as peace, or what we call as turbulence within us, are both having a certain kind of chemical background. There is a chemistry to it. That’s why I said, you can trust the Cobras and the bees – any venomous creature, if you can take it and it doesn’t bite you, it doesn’t attack you; this means, you are very peaceful. Because, it is only reading your chemistry. By your chemistry, it knows your intent.

So, if you create a chemistry of peacefulness within you, then you don’t have to think peace is the last thing that you do in your life. Because, right now people are talking like peace is the highest goal in their life. The ultimate goal in their life, is to be peaceful. Peace is not an ultimate goal. It is a most fundamental ‘must’ in our life. If you want to enjoy your dinner tonight, even if you are not ecstatic, at least you must be peaceful. Hello! Hmm! Is it the last thing that you do, or should it be the first thing that you do, in your life? If you want to enjoy a walk on the beach, you must be at least peaceful, even if you are not blissed out.

Now, people are handling peace in so many different ways. How to become peaceful – you must have a glass of wine. If it doesn’t work – of course you must smoke something. If it doesn’t work – you must pop something. Well, don’t laugh at it – they are going to be the majority, they will vote it as legal shortly. Yes! Yes, it will become legal when everybody wants it. Yes or no? Hello? You don’t think so!

Already – wherever universities I’m going, they are all asking – Sadhguru why don’t you… you are good at doing all these movements, why don’t you start a movement to make Marijuana legal! I said, in India it was always legal, but we were sensible enough to not pick it up in a big way and smoke. Somebody, a few people did, we didn’t care about it. Now that all of you want to do it – so, I asked, do you want to smoke? It’s called ‘smoke up’, not just smoke. You want to ‘smoke up’ and come to the university? They say, “Yeah, why not!”

Then I say, do one thing – I’ll book you up on a small airplane to fly, and you find the pilot comes ‘smoked up’. You want to fly with him? [doubtful] I say – you are not getting it. You have a major surgery to be done on you. The surgeon comes ‘smoked up’. Do you want a surgery? Said, “No!” So you understands that it lowers your faculties. Tell me, do you enhance your life, by lowering your faculties, or by heightening your faculties – which way is it? Can anybody enhance their lives by lowering their faculties? You can only enhance your life by heightening your faculties. But today, in the world it is spreading, that by lowering your faculties, you can be peaceful and wonderful, alright!

So, it is very important – peace is not the goal, how you get there also is equally important. Mahatma went on stressing, freedom is not the only thing, how you get there is also important, which riled a lot of people of that times. So, how you get there is equally important.

It’s very easy to be peaceful – if you get drunk and sleep through the weekend, you are peaceful. Because the world is free of you, world is also peaceful. To be actively engaged, and be peaceful is important. To be actively, intensely engaged with life and still be peaceful – for this, you need to become conscious enough that your life is a conscious response to everything, not a compulsive reaction. This needs to happen in the world.

This is the movement that is needed in the world right now – that we need to ensure that people know, how to be peaceful and joyful and blissful by their own nature, not because of something. If it’s because of something – whichever way, life deprives you of things that you want, at many points in your life. Hello! Does or no? You are all well-to-do, but does it happen to you also or not, through the day? Something will not happen the way you want. The more active you are, more things won’t happen to you, the way you want. If you are just living within the four walls of your home – comfortably, 90% happens your way, 10% doesn’t happen your way, which irritates you.

If you step out into the world, and start doing many things – if your activity is spread across the world, then you will see 90% will not happen your way, only 10% happens your way. When only 10% is happening your way, how to remain blissful, is something you must learn. Hello! Yes or no? If this doesn’t happen, inevitably you will become violent. You may not go and beat somebody, or kill somebody. But, if you have resentment, if you have anger, if you have hatred – this is violence. Whether you kill somebody, or commit suicide – it is violence, isn’t it? Hello! Whether I stab you, or stab myself – it is still violence.

In fact, if I try to stab you, you have some defence, at least. If I stab myself, absolutely defenceless life, isn’t it? This [self] life, when I attack it, it is an absolutely defenceless life. Even a child has some defences. This [self] one has no defence against you. So, stabbing need not be necessarily with a knife.

The nature of a human being is such, that if I ask you – do you want your intellect to be sharp, or blunt? Sharp or blunt? Please choose, I’m going to bless you right now. You want it sharp. So, it is a cutting instrument. If you have a sharp instrument in your hands, you must know how to hold it. Otherwise, you will hurt yourself everyday. That is all violence is about.

If we remove half your brain, you will be quite peaceful. Yes or no? Hello? Because, if you remove the possibilities, problems will also go away. To keep all the possibilities, and to be ‘not a problem’ – that is the important thing. If you take away all the possibilities, problems are also gone. If we take away half your brain, you are very peaceful, no trouble to anybody.

So, what is a greatest gift that we have, these millions of years of evolution rendered yourself to this place, where you are capable of this level of cerebral activity – this has become the problem. When you say, “I am stressed”; when you say, “I am angry”; when you say, “I am irritated” – what you are complaining is, “I want to be an earthworm. Why did I become a human being!” You are complaining about the size of your brain, and the activity possible. Yes! That’s all you are complaining about.

So, when you complain about this – slowly, you know – when you aspire for something, it may come true. We have studies with the universities in America, where they are showing – generally for most human beings, after they are 35 years of age their brain is depleting – but, we have recorded now with sizeable samples, that those who are doing a simple practice in their life, just a simple practice in their life, their brain, the neuronal regeneration is multiplying about 240 times higher than normal. So, instead of brain depleting, brain is getting better as you age – that’s what should happen, isn’t it? Hello?

Smart young people, and old fools, is not a good world. Yes! Because, by the time you have grasped what is what… by the time you have figured out a few things, just to rise above your childishness, your hormonal issues, and a little bit of whatever, financial stuff – but that time, you maybe 45-50. Hello! So, when your wisdom begins to blossom, your brain begins to diminish – not a good way to live! Not at all a good way to live, isn’t it? But that is happening to the entire world. Unless we bring some dimension of life. For which this culture, and it’s roots are very very invested in that.

In many ways, Mahatma’s whole movement had foundations in the spiritual principles of this nation, and this culture. Otherwise, if it is not India, such an idea of non-violent movement to get freedom for a nation, would not have happened. This is very clear. Without being born in India, that wouldn’t have happened. Because this is everywhere in so many different ways – he picked it up, and made it into a national movement, which is one and only movement till then. But since then, many other people have imitated similar things, and have managed to do it.

In countries where gun is the law, even in those places, they managed to do it – which is fantastic. So, this 150th year, a good way to remind ourselves. Because 150 years have gone by – not talking about Gandhi alone… But, are you on your way, in some way to become a Mahatma? Atma you have. Are you somewhere moving towards becoming a Mahatma? At least few steps! This is the question that all of us should answer, within ourselves.

So being just another ‘being’, and being a ‘mahatma’ – what it means is, are you inclusive or exclusive? Inclusiveness, exclusiveness does not mean – I have lots of friends, and no friends. That’s not what it means. If you sit here, you have no reaction towards anything. You are here, you will respond to everything in the universe, but you have no reaction to anything – this means you are naturally inclusive. Otherwise, you are reacting to everything.

It is not just about human beings – as I said, there are creatures in this world who are much smarter than you. They’d figure you out before you know, what they are. Still human beings are busy asking, “who am I?” But a Cobra, Bee – figures you out in no time, who you are!

Even trees – now, they are saying, there is a whole chemistry of the trees being studied – trees figure you out, before you know, who you are! You go sit under a tree, and ask, “who am I, who am I?” They know, who you are, how’s this! This is the intelligence of creation. To be a part of it, is peace. To not be a part of it, thinking “I’m a creation by myself” – is a huge violent problem.

Thank you very much.

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