Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Gandhi and Ambedkar (Medha Patkar and Narendra Modi?)

I had written about the indefinte fast by Medha Patkar, quoting a speech by Osho about Gandhi and Ambedkar. Here is a more detailed version of Gandhi's fast, Ambedkar's response and Osho's talk with Ambedkar, in Osho's own words. Just imagine Medha Patkar in Gandhi's place and Narendra Modi in Ambedkar's:

Mahatma Gandhi was the uncrowned king of India. For the simple reason that he was able to torture himself more than anybody else could. For any small reason he would go on a fast "unto death." Every fast was "unto death," but within three, four days, it would be broken -- there were methods to break it -- and soon there would be a breakfast; everything was arranged.

But people can be deceived very easily.... He goes on a fast, and the whole country prays to God that he should not die. All the great leaders rush towards his ashram and pray to him to stop but he won't listen unless his conditions are accepted -- any conditions, undemocratic, dictatorial, idiotic -- any conditions.
For example he fasted against Doctor Ambedkar who was the head of the untouchables.

Ambedkar wanted the untouchables to have their own constituencies and their own candidates, otherwise they would never be represented in any parliament anywhere. Who would give votes to a shoemaker? In India a shoemaker is untouchable -- who is going to give him the vote?

Ambedkar was absolutely right. One fourth of the country is untouchable. They are not allowed in schools because no other student is prepared to sit with them, no teacher is ready to teach them. The government says the schools are open, but in reality no student is willing.... If one untouchable enters, all thirty students leave the class, the teacher leaves the class. Then how are these poor people -- one fourth of the country -- going to be represented? They should be given separate constituencies where only they can stand and only they can vote.
Ambedkar was perfectly logical and perfectly human.

But Gandhi went on a fast, saying, "He is trying to create a division within the Hindu society." The division has existed for ten thousand years. That poor Ambedkar was not creating the division, he was simply saying that one fourth of the people of the country had been tortured for thousands of years. Now at least give them a chance to advance themselves. At least let them voice their problems in the parliament, in the assemblies. But Gandhi said, "I will not allow it while I am alive. They are part of Hindu society, hence they cannot have a separate voting system" -- and he went on fasting.

For twenty-one days Ambedkar remained reluctant, but every day... the pressure of the whole country. And he started feeling that if this old man dies then there is going to be great bloodshed. It was clear -- he would be killed immediately, and millions of the untouchables would be killed everywhere, all over the country: "It is because of you that Gandhi died." When the whole arithmetic of how it would work out was explained to him -- "You figure it out soon, because there is not much time, he cannot survive more than three days" -- Ambedkar hesitated.
He was perfectly right; Gandhi was perfectly wrong.

But what to do? Should he take the risk? He was not worried about his life -- if he was killed it was okay -- but he was worried about those millions of poor people who didn't know anything about what was going on. Their houses would be burned, their women would be raped, their children would be butchered. And it would be something that had never happened before.

Finally he had to accept the conditions. He went with the breakfast in his hand to Mahatma Gandhi, "I accept your conditions. We will not ask for a separate vote or separate candidates. Please accept this orange juice." And Gandhi accepted the orange juice.

But this orange juice, this one glass of orange juice, contains millions of people's blood.

I have met Doctor Ambedkar. He was one of the most intelligent men I have ever met. But I said, "You proved weak."

He said, "You don't understand: the situation was such that I knew I was right and he was wrong, but what to do with that stubborn old man? He was going to die, and if he died then I would have been responsible for his death, and the untouchables would have suffered."

I said, "That is not the point. Even an idiot could have suggested a simple thing to you. You should have gone on a fast unto death. And you are so overweight." He was a fat man, four or five times heavier than Gandhi. "If you had asked me.... A simple solution: just put another cot by the side of Mahatma Gandhi, lie down, and fast unto death. Then let them see! I promise you that Gandhi would have accepted all your conditions within three days."

Ambedkar said, "But this idea never occurred to me."

I said, "You are a fool if this idea never occurred to you! That was the idea with which that man was controlling the whole country -- and it never occurred to you. The only difficulty would have been to go on a fast -- particularly for a man like you: fat, eating four times a day. Naturally you would not have been able to manage it. Gandhi has practiced his whole life, he is an experienced faster; and you may not have ever missed a single breakfast."

He said, "That is true."

I said, "Otherwise if it had been my problem and he was being so illogical, I would have just lain down, even if I was going to die, and let him be responsible. He would not have allowed that, because my death would have taken away all his mahatmahood, all his aura, all his leadership of the people. He would not have allowed me to die; he would have accepted my conditions.
"But unfortunately I am not an untouchable, and anyway why should I be bothered with you two idiots? To me both of you are idiots. You have one fourth of the country in your hands and you can't do anything; that man has nothing in his hands -- but just by fasting.... He has learned a womanly trick. Yes, I call his whole philosophy a feminine psychology."

That's what women do every day. Gandhi must have learned it from his wife. In India women do it every day. The wife will fast, she won't eat, she will lie down. And then the husband starts shaking. He may be right, that is not the point.
Now there is no point of right or wrong; now the point is how to persuade her to eat? Because she is not eating, the children are not eating -- and who is going to do the cooking in the first place? Is he also going to fast? And the children are weeping, and they want food, and the wife is on a fast -- so you agree. She needs a new sari, you bring it. First you bring the sari, then she goes into the kitchen. This is an old Indian strategy of all women in India.

Gandhi must have learned it from his wife, and he used it really very cleverly.But there is some strange side of the human mind which is impressed by anybody who is capable of torturing himself.