The great Hindi poet, Sumitranandan Pant, once asked me: who in the vast sky of Indian religion are the twelve people, who in my opinion are the brightest shining stars? I gave him this list: Krishna, Patanjali, Buddha, Mahavira, Nagarjuna, Shankara, Gorakh, Kabir, Nanak, Meera, Ramakrishna and Krishnamurti. Sumitranandan Pant closed his eyes and slipped into thought…..
Making a list is not easy , because the Indian sky is filled with so many stars! Who to cut, who to include?… Sumitranandan was a lovely man — extremely soft, extremely sweet — feminine. Even in old age a freshness remained on his face — just as it should remain — he had become more and more beautiful.
I began to read the expressions appearing and disappearing on his face: it was difficult for him too. Some names, which should naturally be included, were not there. Rama’s name was missing! He opened his eyes and said to me: “You have excluded Rama!”
I said: “If I am allowed to choose only twelve; many names will have to be cut. So I have chosen those twelve people who have made some original contribution. Rama has made no original contribution, Krishna has. This is why Hindus call Krishna a complete incarnation, but not Rama.”
He asked me further, “Next, could you give me seven names?” Now the question had become more difficult!
I gave him seven names: Krishna, Patanjali, Buddha, Mahavira, Shankara, Gorakh and Kabir.
He said: “The five you have deleted, on what basis did you drop them?”
I said: “Nagarjuna is contained in Buddha. That which was a seed in Buddha, manifested itself in Nagarjuna. Nagarjuna can be dropped when it is a question of saving, trees can be dropped, but not seeds, because seeds will again become trees. They will become new trees. When Buddha is born, hundreds of Nagarjunas will soon be born, but no Nagarjuna can give birth to Buddha. Buddha is the headwater of the Ganges. Nagarjuna is just a place of pilgrimage that appears along the course of the Ganges. Lovely, but if cutting is needed, then the place of pilgrimage can be dropped, not the source of the Ganges.
“Similarly Krishnamurti is included in Buddha. Krishnamurti is Buddha’s newest edition — the freshest; in today’s language. But the difference is only of language. Krishnamurti is just an elaboration of Buddha’s final sutra ‘appa dipo bhau’ — be a light unto yourself.’ A commentary on one sutra — deep, profound, tremendously vast, immensely significant! But he’s just a commentary on ‘Be a light unto yourself: appa dipo bhau’. These were Buddha’s last words on this earth. Before leaving his body, he had given this essential sutra… As if the treasure of his whole life, his whole life’s experience was concentrated into this small sutra.
“Ramakrishna can easily be included in Krishna.
“Meera and Nanak can be dissolved into Kabir. They are like branches of Kabir. As if half of what came together in Kabir has manifested in Nanak and half has manifested in Meera. In Nanak the male aspect of Kabir has manifested, so it is not surprising that Sikhism became a warrior’s religion, a religion of the soldier. In Meera, Kabir’s feminine aspect is manifested — hence his entire sweetness, his entire fragrance, his entire music resound from the bells on Meera’s ankles. The woman in Kabir has sung on the one string of Meera’s ektara. In Nanak the man in Kabir has spoken. Both are contained in Kabir.
“This is how” I said, “I made the list seven.”
Now his curiosity had become tremendously aroused. He said, “And if you had to make a list of five?”
I said, “Then it will be even more difficult for me.”
I gave him this list: Krishna, Patanjali, Buddha, Mahavira, Gorakh. … because Kabir is merged into Gorakh. Gorakh is the root. Gorakh cannot be left out. And Shankara easily merges into Krishna. He is the exposition of one part of Krishna, the philosophic interpretation of just one aspect of Krishna.
Then he said: “One more time… if only four are to be kept?”
Then I listed for him: Krishna, Patanjali, Buddha, Gorakh… because Mahavira is not very different from Buddha. Just a tiny difference and that too only a difference in expression. Mahavira’s greatness can be encompassed in the greatness of Buddha.
He started, saying: “Just one more time… please choose three persons.”
I said: “Now it is impossible. I can not drop any of these four.” Then I told him: “These four individualities are like the four directions. These four dimensions are like the four dimensions of time and space. These four arms are like the four armed conception of god. In fact there is only one, but that one has four arms. To leave out any one would be like cutting off an arm. I cannot do that. Until now I’ve been going along with you. I was continuing to decrease the number, because until now the one’s that had to be put aside were clothes. Now limbs would have to be broken, I cannot fracture limbs. Please don’t insist on such violence.”
He said: “Some questions have arisen, one is: you can drop Mahavira, but not Gorakh?”
Gorakh cannot be dropped, because Gorakh became a new beginning for this country. No new beginning came from Mahavira. He was a rare man; but for centuries the first twenty three Jaina tirthankaras had already said what he was saying. He was just their repetition. He is not the beginning of a new journey. He is not the first link in a new chain, rather the last link.
Gorakh is the first link of a chain. Through him a new type of religion was born. Without Gorakh, there could be no Kabir, no Nanak, no Dadu, no Vajid, no Farid, no Meera — without Gorakh none of these are possible. The basic root of all of them is in Gorakh. Since then the temple has been built high. On this temple many golden spires have been raised… but the foundation stone is the foundation stone. Though the golden spires may be seen from afar, they cannot be more important than the foundation stone. And the foundation is not visible to anyone, but on this very stone stands the whole structure, all the walls, all the high peaks… The peaks are worshipped. People simply forget about the foundation. Gorakh has been similarly forgotten.
But India’s whole ‘sant’ tradition — those innumerable devotees of love — is indebted to Gorakh. Just as without Patanjali there would be no possibility of yoga in India; as without Buddha the foundation stone of meditation would be uprooted; just as without Krishna the path of love would not find expression — similarly, without Gorakh the search that began for methods and techniques of sadhana, of spiritual practice to attain the ultimate truth would not have been possible. Gorakh made many discoveries within man for the inner search, more perhaps than anyone else has made. He has given so many methods, that in terms of methods Gorakh is the greatest inventor. He pushed open so many doors for going into man’s inner being, he created so many doors that people got caught in them. Hence we have one word that remains with us — people have forgotten Gorakh — but not the word Gorakh-dhandha, this word for maze remains. He gave so many methods, that people were confused, which method is right, which is wrong, which to do, which to drop? He gave so many methods that people became absolutely dumbfounded, hence the word Gorakh-dhandha, maze. Now if somebody is entangled in something, we say, “What Gorakhdhandha have you gotten into?”
Gorakh had a rare individuality, similar to Einstein. Einstein gave such penetrating methods for investigating the truth of the universe, as no one before him had given. Yes, now they can be further developed, now a finer edge can be put on them. But Einstein has done the primary work. Those who follow will be secondary. Now they cannot be first. The road was first broken by Einstein. Many will come who improve this road: ones who build it up, ones who place the milestones, ones who beautify it and make it comfortable. Many people will come, but no one can take Einstein’s place. In the inner world the same situation exists with Gorakh.
But why have people forgotten Gorakh? The milestones are remembered, the path breaker is forgotten. The ones who have decorated the path are remembered, the one who has first broken the path is forgotten. Forgotten because, those who come after have the leisure to dress it up. One who comes first, will be unpolished, unfinished. Gorakh is like a diamond just out of the mine. If Gorakh and Kabir are sitting together, you will be impressed by Kabir, not by Gorakh. Because Gorakh is a freshly mined diamond, but on Kabir the jewellers have worked hard, on him the chisel has worked hard, much polishing has been done.
Do you know that when the Kohinoor diamond was first discovered, the man who found it didn’t know it was a Kohinoor? He had given it to his children to play with, thinking it was a pretty colored stone. He was a poor man. He had found the Kohinoor in the waters of a small river flowing through his fields. For months it remained in his house, the children kept on playing with it, they kept throwing it from one corner to another, it remained in the courtyard… You wouldn’t have been able to recognize the Kohinoor. The Kohinoor’s original weight was three times as much as it is today. The edges were set, it was polished, cut, its facets were brought out. Today only one third of the weight remains, but the value has become millions of times greater. The weight became less, the value increased, because it kept being refined — more and more polished.
If Kabir and Gorakh are sitting together, perhaps you won’t even recognize Gorakh; because Gorakh is a diamond just removed from the Golconda mines. On Kabir much cutting has been done, the jewellers have worked hard… you will be able to recognize Kabir. Hence Gorakh has been forgotten. The foundation stones are forgotten.
You will be very surprised when you hear Gorakh’s words. A little finishing is needed; they are uncut. This sharpening of the edges is what I am doing here. You will be amazed as you begin to know him a little. Gorakh has said the most essential. He has said the most valuable.
So I told Sumitranandan Pant, “I cannot drop Gorakh — therefore the number cannot go below four.” Naturally he must have thought that I will leave out Gorakh and keep Mahavira. Mahavira is a Kohinoor, he’s no rough diamond just out of the mines. There is the whole tradition of twenty three tirthankaras, thousands of years, in which the finishing has been done, has been sharpened — has become shiny. Do you see? Mahavira is the twenty fourth tirthankara. People have forgotten the names of the remaining twenty three! Those who are not Jainas do not even know those twenty three names. And those who are Jainas cannot count out the twenty three in correct order, they will forget or omit someone. Mahavira is the last, the pinnacle of the temple. The spire of the temple is remembered. We still discuss him. Who discusses the foundation stone?
Today we begin the discussion of one such foundation stone. The whole palace of India’s sant literature stands on him. All is based on this one individual. He has said all that slowly slowly becomes very beautiful, a many colored splendor. Upon this base people will do sadhana and meditate for centuries. Who knows how many enlightened beings shall be born through him!
DIE, O YOGI, DIE!
What a wonderful statement! He says die, disappear, be completely obliterated.
DIE, O YOGI, DIE! DIE, SWEET IS DYING.
Because in this universe there is nothing sweeter than death. DIE THAT DEATH and die such a death GORAKH DIED AND SAW, die that way in which Gorakh attained enlightenment. In the same way you die and see.
One death we are already familiar with: in which the body dies, but our ego and mind go on living. This same ego finds a new womb. This same ego, troubled by new desires, again starts off on the journey. Even before leaving behind one body, it is already eager for another. This death is not the real death.
I have heard, one man told Gorakh he was thinking of committing suicide. Gorakh said: “Go and commit it, but I tell you, afterwards you will be very surprised.”
That man said: “What do you mean? I came to you so that you would tell me ‘Don’t do it!’ I went to other sadhus. They all cautioned me: ‘Brother, don’t do it, suicide is a great sin.'”
Gorakh said: “Are you mad? No one can commit suicide. No one can even die. Dying is not possible. I warn you, do it and you will be very surprised. After committing suicide you will discover, ‘What! The body is left behind, but I am exactly as I was!’… And if you want to commit real suicide, then stay with me. If you want to play nonsense games, then it’s up to you — jump from some mountain, put your neck in a noose. But if you want the real death, then stay by my side. I will give you the art which brings on the great death, then there will be no possibility of returning again.” But that great death seems to us to be nothing but great death, this is why he is calling it sweet.
DIE, O YOGI, DIE! DIE, SWEET IS DYING.
DIE THAT DEATH GORAKH DIED AND SAW.
Gorakh says I teach death, the death I passed through and became awakened. It was the death of sleep, not of me. The ego died, not me. Duality died, not me. Duality died, and non-duality was born. Time died, and I met the eternal. The small constricted life broke, and the drop became the ocean. Yes, certainly when the drop falls into the ocean in one sense it is dying. As a drop it is dying. And in another sense for the first time it attains to the great life — it lives on as the ocean.
Book: “Death is Divine”