The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, February 6, 2000


Rajnish ‘Osho’

Rash Behari Bose

Professor Amartya Sen


Rajnish ‘Osho’
(December 11, 1931 — January 19, 1990)

"I AM the beginning of a totally new religious consciousness. Please don't connect me to the past - it is not even worth remembering": This is Acharya Rajnish or Bhagwan Rajnish or Osho, master of rhetoric, making one of his characteristic statements. At the time when all the babas and gurus were preaching morality, and making us feel guilty for enjoying the good things of life, Rajnish, with his unconventional views, emerged on the scene like a hurricane.Not many could digest his teachings, and there were many among us who condemned him as a hedonist without having heard a word of his discourses. This is sad, because in spite of all his eccentricities, there is a lot that one can learn from Rajnish.

Rajnish ‘Osho’Rajnish Chandra Mohan, as he was known in his college days, got a gold medal for his M. A. in philosophy. Later he taught at the Jabalpur University for nine years, and attained fame as Acharya Rajnish. He resigned his post in 1966, and four years later began initiating disciples in Manali. At about this time he set up his famous commune in Koregaon, Pune, and began to call himself Bhagwan Rajnish.

Most religions have been telling us to control our mind, suppress all evil thought, and lead a life guided by a strict moral code. Rajnish, although not the first one to challenge this view, came out openly against against such drab stoic principles imposed upon society by self-styled religious and cultural overlords. He pointed out that suppressing of desires does not really help, for whatever you try to suppress "goes more deeply into your being, because what you are suppressing came from within . . . . And the mind functions in certain ways. For example, whatever you want to suppress or escape from becomes central to the mind. . . To forbid is to attract, to refuse is to invite, and to prevent is to tempt".

So instead of suppressing our straying thoughts, we should drop all conflict, try to come to terms with it and just watch. Understanding and watching will have two results, says Rajnish, first your "knowledge of your own energies will develop, and knowing them makes you the master; and second, the strength of the grip which these energies have on you will decrease. Slowly, slowly, you will find that at first anger comes, and then you watch; then after a while, gradually, you will find that when anger comes, watchfulness will come at the same time. And finally you will find that when anger is about to arise, watchfulness is already there . . . Then you will realise that you have discovered an amazing method: you will have discovered that only in unconsciousness do anger, sex and greed have power over you. Watching them, bringing your awareness to them, they all disappear".

As time went by, Rajnish moved to Oregon, US. Five years later he got himself involved in controversies,and had to return to India. In his later years he chose to call himself 'Osho'.

Laced with wisdom and humour, Rajnish's discourses are a treat to the ear. But one has to be careful, for while his teachings could lead you to a heightened state of consciousness, they could also drive you to the depths of decadence.

The epitaph on the tombstone of this singularly extraordinary and colourful of all guru reads: Osho, Never Born, Never Died, Only visited the Planet Earth between December 11, 1931 and January 19, 1990.Top


Rash Behari Bose
(May 25, 1886 — January 12, 1945)

DELHI, December 12, 1912: Five men join a huge procession organised to welcome Lord Hardinge. While thousands have gathered to greet their new ruler, these five have other ideas. As the entourage reaches Dhulya Katra, near Chandni Chowk, a powerful bomb explodes. Twenty people die, but the main target, Lord Hardinge, escapes unhurt.

Rash Behari BoseIn the manhunt that follows, Master Amir Chand, Avadh Behari, Bal Mukund, and Basanta Biswas are rounded up, and later hanged. But the most daring and the most charismatic of them all, Rash Behari Bose, manages to escape the police dragnet, thanks to his flawless disguise.

Warning the authorities about the revolutionaries, Lord Hardinge, in one of his dispatches said: "The most dangerous of them is Rash Behari Bose who has now escaped to Japan. His Majesty's Government should bring pressure on the Foreign Ministry of the Japanese Government for immediate extraction of this arch enemy of the Indian Empire who planned an armed revolt among the rank and file of the army." What better tribute a revolutionary can expect? Writing about the impact of this act in his book The Indian Unrest., Sir Valentine Chirol said: "The throwing of a bomb on a Viceroy during his state entry into the new capital of Delhi had tremendous effect on the subsequent revolutionary upheavals which shook India. The detonation started by Rash Behari Bose did never die away. It was he who planned the second sepoy mutiny, which if it succeeded, would have shattered the British Empire in India."

The partition of Bengal was responsible for creating many a revolutionary. In the uprisings that followed, Khudiram Bose was arrested for his part in the Alipore Conspiracy, and hanged on August 11, 1908. Rash Behari Bose was deeply moved by the sacrifice made by him and other revolutionaries. He took it upon himself the task of breaking the fetters of bondage. For this he set up a centre at Banares, where he made his plans for the 'Second War of Independence'. As per plan, the revolutionaries were to meet in Lahore, and on February 21, 1915, a revolution would be triggered off in army barracks all over India. Every thing was organised, but one Kirpal Singh informed the police, and the revolution fizzled out. Rash Behari Bose was on the run again.

It is amusing to learn that this dare-devil was initiated into the path of revolution when in school he became a friend of one Shirish Chandra Ghosh. While others thought of taking to arms or non-violence, these two, in all their naivete, believed that they could liberate India by black magic!

When he came of age, Rash Behari Bose tried to get into the army, but he was turned down as the British did not admit Bengalis into the army. He worked for a while for the Government press, Shimla, then at

the Pasteur Institute, Kasauli, and later at Dehradun, but he never really enjoyed it, as he had other goals in mind.

At the outset of World War I, Indian revolutionaries were expecting German help. Rash Behari Bose came in contact with Dr. Hardayal and the Ghaddar Party. As the police closed in, he was forced to flea to Japan. When Rabindranath Tagore was about to go to Japan, Bose claiming to be a distant relation of the great poet, left Calcutta on May 12, 1915 under the assumed name of Raja P. N. T. Tagore. He pretended to be the tour organiser. Some scholars hold the view that Rabindranath Tagore was aware of Bose's impersonation, but he kept quiet. Once in Japan, he began to make plans for the final assault on the Empire. But as Japan was an ally of Britain in World War I, Rash Behari was forced to marry a Japanese girl, and become a Japanese citizen in order to avoid deportation.

When World War II started, Rash Behari with the help of Captain Mohan Singh, and Sardar Pritam Singh, formed the Indian National Army. On September 1, 1942, the INA was formally established with Rash Behari as President. By then he was in his sixties, and his health was in a bad shape. A selfless patriot, he passed on the torch of freedom to the young and charismatic Subhas Chandra Bose, when the latter arrived in Singapore on July 2, 1943 and assumed charge as Supreme Commander of the INA.

After that Rash Behari Bose slowly faded away from public memory, and today he is a forgotten man.Top


Professor Amartya Sen
(November 3, 1933)

HE was just a little boy when he saw hundreds of people die on the streets of Calcutta. The devastating famine of 1943 took five million lives. Entire villages and towns were wiped out. The experience would torment him all his life: "The streets were full of emaciated looking faces, and people were dying in very large numbers. It made me think about what causes famine, and when I took on the famine work in a formal way 30 years later, I was quite haunted by the memories of that period."

Professor Amartya SenThe sensitive little boy was christened 'Amartya' by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore himself. The poet wouldn't have known at the time that, six decades on, Amartya would go on to fetch a Nobel Prize for his country, just as he himself had done.

Starting as Professor of Economics at Jadavpur University, Professor Sen later joined the Delhi School of Economics, where he taught for eight years. As his career advanced, he found himself working for the London School of Economics, thence he moved to the Harvard University in the US. After a decade he came back to Cambridge as Master of Trinity College. He was also Drummond Professor of Political Economy, thus becoming one of the rare individuals to have worked for Harvard, Cambridge, and Oxford!

Having authoured 21 books and nearly 200 research papers on welfare economics, development, decision theory, philosophy, and ethics, and having been hounoured with 28 honourary degrees, Professor Sen is one of the most distinguished economists of the world today.

In his book On Economic Inequality (1973), he proposed that while the poverty line is a common measure of the share of population below a tolerable standard of living, it ignores the levels of deprivation among the poor. He devised, what is now called, the Sen Index, a new formula for poverty index based on income inequality of people below the poverty line.

Even after having lived for decades away from India, Professor Sen has so far declined to give up his Indian citizenship. In fact he still follows political and economic developments with objective detachment. "Local democracy has been undermined by acute inequalities," he rues. "The low involvement of women in local representative institutions such as village panchayats is a clear illustration of this problem. In large parts of the country, local governance is in the hands of upper-caste men from privileged classes, who are only weakly accountable to the community and often end up using local public services as instruments of patronage. In some cases, the rural elite has been known not only to be indifferent to the general promotion of local public, but even to obstruct their expansion, to prevent the empowerment of disadvantaged groups."

(To be concluded)
Text and illustrations by Kuldip Dhiman