What I have learnt:
Sometime in 1980 when I had just joined my engineering college I paid a visit to him over a weekend. I was studying at Varanasi which is just a few hours away from my nanihal. Those days Baba was very seriously into Bhagwan Rajneesh’ books. (Rajneesh was yet to call himself Osho then.) I made a flippant remark, typical of a teenager I then was, on Baba’s declining reading tastes. “You are reading Rajneesh,” I said in an mocking tone! Baba was initially angry, and then he controlled himself and told me that if only the world was wise enough to delink Rajneesh the man and Rajneesh the philosopher, we could all benefit from his writings. He said, “The world thinks that they know what Rajneesh stands for going merely by the scandalous newspapers reports on him. Why do not people read a book or two and see for themselves what Rajneesh actually writes about?” Quite a daring statement to come from someone who was so steeped in Sanskrit scriptures. He read some parts of the book he was reading to prove to me how sensible Rajneesh was.
I then asked him if it was possible to know the future. He was contemptuous of claims of people who claimed to tell the future. He said that while it may be possible to talk about the past, it is impossible to tell the future. Past leaves some vibrations behind and there are some who are sensitive enough to read the vibrations to figure out what happened earlier. But future, he said, no way! And this from a pandit who spent a lifetime casting horoscopes!
In the same visit, I discussed with him some of my basic doubts on Hindu religion. I still remember his answer to my question on what is a Hindu. I was mentally prepared for a lengthy chat on the religion and its intricacies. But his quick and simple answer took me aback. His pithy answer was, “Jo hinsa ko dooshit samajhta hai, woh Hindu hai.” He who considers violence impure (or wrong) is a Hindu. The brevity and the startling simplicity of this definition of a Hindu has stayed with me nearly three decades now. Baba’s distillation of years of reading, introspection and meditation.
I have stayed away from temples and pujas and have been an avid non-vegeterian as well. While me being a non-vegetarian was not an issue with my my mother, it would trouble her no end that I would refuse to accompany her to temples. Baba had come to Jamshedpur to participate in my sister’s wedding, his only trip to Jamshedpur. She complained to him regarding this and asked him to counsel me. I was hovering around and was bracing myself for a harangue from this venerable pandit regarding the virtues of visiting a temple.
Baba turned towards me and asked me, “Do you love and respect your mother?”
“Of course I love and respect my mother.” I murmured. There it comes, the long speech, I wearily thought to myself.
Baba turned towards mai. “See, Santosh says he loves you and respects you. Do you agree?”
“Yes”, said mai, anticipating Baba’s wise words to now get me to the right path.
What Baba said next surprised both of us. “Ai Kamala (mai‘s name). If your son loves you and respects you, he need not necessarily visit the temple. Is it not enough that your son reveres you? Love and respect is a form of worship and all Gods are served if the mother is worshipped.
That was my last meeting with Baba.