Magga Baba – Osho

On this pilgrimage I have met many more remarkable men than Gurdjieff recounts in his book Meeting With Remarable Men. By and by, as and when it happens, I will talk about them.

Magga Baba

Today I can talk about one of those remarkable men.

His real name is not known, nor his real age but he was called “Magga Baba.” Magga simply means “big cup.” He always used to keep his magga, his cup, in his hand. He used it for everything – for his tea, his milk, his food, for the money people gave him, or whatsoever the moment demanded. All he possessed was his magga and that is why he was known as Magga Baba. Baba is a respectful word. It simply means “grandfather,” your father’s father. In Hindi your mother’s father is Nana, your father’s father is Baba.

Magga Baba was certainly one of the most remarkable men that may ever have lived on this planet. He was really one of the chosen ones. You can count him with Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu. I know nothing about his childhood or his parents. Nobody knows from where he came – one day suddenly he appeared in the town.

He did not speak. People persisted in asking questions of all kinds. He either remained silent, or if they nagged too much he started shouting gibberish, rubbish, just meaningless sounds. Those poor people thought he was speaking in a language that perhaps they didn’t understand. He was not using language at all. He was just making sounds. For example, “Higgalal hoo hoo hoo guloo higga hee hee.” Then he would wait and again ask, “Hee hee hee?” It seemed as if he was asking, “Have you understood?”

And the poor people would say, “Yes, Baba, yes.”

Then he would show his magga and make the sign. This sign in India means money. It comes from the old days when there were real gold and silver coins. People used to check whether it was real gold or not, by throwing the coin to the ground and listening to its sound. Real gold has its own sound, and nobody can fake it. So Magga Baba would show his magga with one hand and with the other give the sign for money, meaning, “If you have understood then give something to me.” And people would give.

I would laugh myself to tears because he had not said anything. But he was not greedy for money. He would take from one person and give it to another. His magga was always empty. Once in a while there would be something in it, but rarely. It was a passage: money would come into it and go; food would come into it and go; and it always remained empty. He was always cleaning it. I have seen him morning, evening and afternoon, always cleaning it.

I want to confess to you – “you” means the world – that I was the only person to whom he used to speak, but only in privacy, when nobody else was present. I would go to him deep in the night, perhaps two o’clock in the morning, because that was the most likely time to find him alone. He would be hugged up in his old blanket, on a winter’s night, by the side of a fire. I would sit at his side for a while. I never disturbed him; that was the one reason why he loved me. Once in a while it would happen that he would turn on his side, open his eyes and see me sitting there and start talking of his own accord.

He was not a Hindi-speaking person so people thought it was difficult to communicate with him, but that is not true. He was certainly not a Hindi-oriented person, but he knew not only Hindi but many other languages too. Of course he knew the language of silence the most; he remained silent almost all his life. In the day he would not speak to anybody, but in the night he would speak to me, only when I was alone. It was such a blessing to hear his few words.

Magga Baba never said anything about his own life, but he said many things about life. He was the first man who told me, “Life is more than what it appears to be. Don’t judge by its appearances but go deep down into the valleys where the roots of life are.” He would suddenly speak, and suddenly he would be silent. That was his way. There was no way to persuade him to speak: either he spoke or not. He would not answer any questions, and the conversations between us two were an absolute secret. Nobody knew about it. This is for the first time that I am saying it.

I have heard many great speakers, and he was just a poor man, but his words were pure honey, so sweet and nourishing, and so pregnant with meaning. ”But,” he told me, “you are not to tell anybody that I have been speaking to you, until I die, because many people think I am deaf. It is good for me that they think so. Many think that I am mad – that is even better as far as I am concerned. Many who are very intellectual try to figure out what I say, and it is just gibberish.

I wonder when I hear the meaning that they have derived from it. I say to myself, ‘My God! If these people are the intellectuals, the professors, the pundits, the scholars, then what about the poor crowd? I had not said anything, yet they have made up so many things out of nothing, just like soap bubbles.’ For some reason or maybe for no reason at all, he loved me.

I have had the fortune to be loved by many strange people. Magga Baba is the first on my list.

The whole day he was surrounded by people. He was really a free man, yet not even free to move a single inch because people were holding on to him. They would put him into a rickshaw and take him away wherever they wanted. Of course he would not say no, because he was pretending to be either deaf or dumb or mad. And he never uttered any word that could be found in any dictionary. Obviously he could not say yes or no; he would simply go.

Once or twice he was stolen. He disappeared for months because people from another town had stolen him. When the police found him and asked him whether he wanted to return, of course he did his thing again. He said some nonsense, “Yuddle fuddle shuddle….”

The police said, “This man is mad. What are we going to write in our reports: ‘Yuddle fuddle shuddle’? What does it mean? Can anyone make any sense out of it?” So he remained there until he was stolen back again by a crowd from the original town. That was my town where I was living soon after the death of my grandfather.

I visited him almost every night without fail, under his neem tree, where he used to sleep and live. Even when I was sick and my grandmother would not allow me to go out, even then, during the night when she was asleep, I would escape. But I had to go; Magga Baba had to be visited at least once each day. He was a kind of spiritual nourishment.

He helped me tremendously although he never gave any directions except by his very being. Just by his very presence he triggered unknown forces in me, unknown to me. I am most grateful to this man Magga Baba, and the greatest blessing of all was that I, a small child, was the only one to whom he used to speak. Those moments of privacy, knowing that he spoke to no one else in the whole world, were tremendously strengthening, vitalizing.

If sometimes I would go to him and somebody else was present, he would do something so terrible that the other person would escape. For example he would throw things, or jump, or dance like a madman, in the middle of the night. Anybody was bound to become afraid – after all, you have a wife, children, and a job, and this man seems to be just mad; he could do anything. Then, when the person had gone we would both laugh together.

I have never laughed like that with anybody else, and I don’t think it is going to happen again in this lifetime… and I don’t have any other life. The wheel has stopped. Yes, it is running a little bit, but that is only past momentum; no new energy is being fed into it.

Magga Baba was so beautiful that I have not seen any other man who can be put by his side. He was just like a Roman sculpture, just perfect. Even more perfect than any sculpture can be, because he was alive – so full of life, I mean. I don’t know whether it is possible to meet a man like Magga Baba again, and I don’t want to either because one Magga Baba is enough, more than enough.

He was so satisfying and who cares for repetition? And I know perfectly, one cannot be higher than that. I myself have come to the point where you cannot go any higher. Howsoever high you go; you are still on the same height. In other words, there comes a moment in spiritual growth which is untranscendable. That moment is called, paradoxically, the transcendental.

The day he left for the Himalayas was the first time he called me. During the night somebody came to my house and knocked on the door. My father opened it and the man said that Magga Baba wanted me.

My father said, “Magga Baba? What has he to do with my son? Moreover he never speaks, so how could he call for him?”

The man said, “I am not concerned about anything else. This was all I had to convey. Please tell the person concerned. If it happens to be your son that is not my business.” And the man disappeared.

My father woke me in the middle of the night and said, ”Listen, this is something: Magga Baba wants you. In the first place he does not speak….”

I laughed because I knew he spoke to me, but I did not tell my father.

He went on, “He wants you right now, in the middle of the night. What do you want to do? Do you want to go to this madman?”

I said, “I have to go.”

He said, “Sometimes I think that you are a little mad too. Okay, go, and lock the door from the outside so that you don’t disturb me again when you come in.”

I rushed, I ran. This was the first time he had called me. When I got to him I said, “What’s the matter?”

He said, “This is my last night here. I am leaving perhaps for ever. You are the only one I have spoken to. Forgive me, I had to speak to that man I sent to you, but he knows nothing. He does not know me as a spiritual man. He was a stranger and I bribed him simply by giving him one rupee, and told him to deliver the message to your house.”

In those days, one gold rupee was too much. Forty years ago in India one gold rupee was almost enough to live on, in perfect comfort, for one month. Do you know the English word “rupee” comes from the Hindi word rupaiya which means “the golden.” In fact the paper note should not be called a rupee; it is not golden. At least the fools could have painted it in golden colors, but they didn’t even do that. One rupee, of those days, is almost seven hundred rupees of today. So much has changed in just forty years. Things have become seven hundred times costlier.

He said, “I just gave him one rupee and told him to deliver the message. He was so bewildered by the rupee that he did not even look at me. He was a stranger – I have never seen him before.”

I said, “I can also say the same. I have never seen the man either in this town; perhaps he is a passer-by. But there is no need to be worried about it. Why did you have to call me?” Magga Baba said, “I am leaving and there is nobody whom I could call to say goodbye to. You are the only one.” He hugged me, kissed my forehead, said goodbye and went away, just like that.

Magga Baba had disappeared many times in his life – people had taken him and brought him back again – so when he disappeared last, nobody bothered much. Only after a few months did people become aware that he had really disappeared, that he had not come back for many months. They started looking around the places he had been before but nobody knew about him.

That night, before he disappeared he told me, ”I may not be able to see you blossom to a flower but my blessings will be with you. It may not be possible for me to return. I am going to the Himalayas. Don’t say anything to anybody about my whereabouts.” He was so happy when he was saying this to me, so blissful that he was going to the Himalayas. The Himalayas have always been the home of all those who have searched and found.

I didn’t know where he had gone because the Himalayas is the biggest range of mountains in the world, but once while traveling in the Himalayas I came to a place which seemed to be his grave. Strange to say it was by the side of Moses and Jesus. Those two persons are also buried deep in the Himalayas. I had gone there to see the grave of Jesus; it was just a coincidence that I found Moses and Magga Baba too. It was a surprise of course.

I could never have imagined that Magga Baba had anything to do with Moses or Jesus, but seeing his grave there I understood immediately why his face was so beautiful; why he looked more like Moses than any other Hindu. Perhaps he belonged to the lost tribe. Moses had lost a tribe while he was on the way to Israel. That tribe settled in Kashmir in the Himalayas. And I say it authoritatively, that that tribe was more correct in finding Israel than Moses himself. What Moses found in Israel was just a desert, utterly useless. What they had found in Kashmir was really the garden of God.

Moses went there in search for his lost tribe. Jesus also went there after his so-called crucifixion. I’m calling it so-called because it did not really happen, he remained alive. After six hours on the cross Jesus was not dead.

The way Jews used to crucify people was such a crude method that it took almost thirty-six hours for a person to die. It was arranged by a very rich disciple of Jesus that the crucifixion should happen on a Friday. It was an arrangement, because on Saturday Jews don’t allow any work to be continued; it is their holy day. Jesus had to be put down off the cross into a cave temporarily, until the coming Monday. Meanwhile he was stolen from the cave.

That’s the story Christians tell. The real fact is that on the night he was in the cave, after having been taken down from the cross, he was taken away from Israel. He was alive although he had lost much blood. It took a few days to heal him, but he was healed and he lived up to the age of one hundred and twelve in a small village called Pahalgam in the Kashmiri Himalayas.

He chose the place, Pahalgam, because he found the grave of Moses there. Moses had gone before him to search for his lost tribe. He found it but also found that Israel is nothing compared to Kashmir. There is no other place to be compared to Kashmir. He lived and died there – I mean Moses. And when Jesus went to Kashmir with Thomas, his beloved disciple, he sent Thomas to show India his way. He himself lived in Kashmir, near the grave of Moses, for his remaining life.

Magga Baba is buried in the same small village of Pahalgam. When I was in Pahalgam I discovered a strange relationship running from Moses to Jesus to Magga Baba and to me.

Before Magga Baba left my village he gave me his blanket saying, “This is my only possession and you are the only one I would like to give it to.”

I said, “That’s okay, but my father will not allow me to bring this blanket inside the house.”

He laughed, I laughed… we both enjoyed. He knew perfectly well that my father would not allow such a dirty blanket in his house. But I was sad and sorry not to have preserved that blanket. It was nothing much – a dirty old rag – but it belonged to a man of the category of Buddha and Jesus. I could not take it to my house because my father was a clothes merchant and very careful about clothes. I knew perfectly well that he would not allow it. I could not take it to my grandmother’s house either. She would not allow it because she was very fussy about cleanliness.

I have got my fussiness about cleanliness from her. It is her fault, not my responsibility at all. I cannot tolerate anything used or dirty – impossible.

I used to say to her, laughingly of course, “You are spoiling me.” But it is a truth. She has spoiled me forever, but I am grateful to her. She spoiled me in favor of purity, cleanliness and beauty.

To me Magga Baba was important, but if I had to choose between my Nani and him I would still choose my Nani. Although she was not enlightened then and Magga Baba was, sometimes an unenlightened person is so beautiful that one would choose them, even though the enlightened one is available as an alternative.

Of course if I could choose both I would. Or, if I had a choice of two among the whole world of millions of people, then I would have them both. Magga Baba on the outside… he won’t enter my grandmother’s house; he would remain outside under his neem tree. And of course my Nani could not sit at the side of Magga Baba. ”That fellow!” she used to call him. “That fellow! Forget about him and never go close to him; even when you just pass by him, always take a shower.” She was always afraid he had lice, because nobody had ever seen him take a bath.

Perhaps she was right: he had never taken a bath as long as I had known him. They could not coexist together, that too is true. Coexistence could not be possible in this case, but we could always make arrangements. Magga Baba could always be under the neem tree outside in the courtyard, and Nani could be the queen in the house. And I could have the love of them both, without having to choose this or that. I hate “either/or.”

-Osho

From Glimpses of a Golden Childhood, Chapter #15

An interesting footnote is that in 1949 Meher Baba visited Magga Baba. See TrustMeher.com.

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

You can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

Many of Osho’s books are available in the U.S. online from Amazon.com and Viha Osho Book Distributors. In India they are available from Amazon.in and Oshoworld.com.

My First Enlightened Sannyasin – Osho

The moment my grandfather died, my Nani was still laughing the last flicker of her laughter, then she controlled herself. She was certainly a woman who could control herself. But I was not impressed by her control, I was impressed by her laughter in the very face of death.

Again and again I asked her, “Nani, can you tell me why you laughed so loudly when death was so imminent? If even a child like me was aware of it, it is not possible that you were not aware.”

She said, “I was aware, that is why I laughed. I laughed at the poor man trying to stop the wheel unnecessarily, because neither birth nor death means anything in the ultimate sense.”

I had to wait for the time when I could ask and argue with her. When I myself become enlightened, I thought, then I will ask her – and that’s what I did.

The first thing I did after my enlightenment, at the age of twenty-one, was to rush to the village where my grandmother was, my father’s village. She never left that place where her husband had been burned. That very place became her home. She forgot all the luxuries that she had been accustomed to. She forgot all the gardens, the fields, and the lake that she had possessed. She simply never went back, even to settle things.

She said, “What is the point? All is settled. My husband is dead, and the child I love is not there; all is settled.”

Immediately after my enlightenment I rushed to the village to meet two people… first Magga Baba, the man I was talking about before. You will certainly wonder why. Because I wanted somebody to say to me, “You are enlightened”… I knew it, but I wanted to hear it from the outside too. Magga Baba was the only man I could ask at that time. I had heard that he had recently returned to the village.

I rushed to him. The village was two miles from the station. You cannot believe how I rushed to see him. I reached the neem tree….

The word neem cannot be translated because I don’t think anything like the neem tree exists in the West at all. The neem tree is something strange: if you taste the leaves they are very bitter.

You cannot believe that poison could taste more poisonous. In fact it is just the opposite, it is not poisonous. If you eat a few leaves from the neem tree every day… which is a difficult thing. I have done it for years; fifty leaves in the morning and fifty again in the evening. Now, to eat fifty leaves of the neem tree really needs someone who is determined to kill himself!

It is so bitter, but it purifies the blood and keeps you absolutely free from any infection, even in India, which is a miracle! Even the wind passing through the leaves of a neem tree is thought to be purer than any other. People plant neem trees around their houses just to keep the air pure and unpolluted. It is a scientifically proven fact that the neem tree keeps away all kinds of infection by creating a wall of protection.

I rushed to the neem tree where Magga Baba sat, and the moment he saw me do you know what he did? I could not believe it myself – he touched my feet and wept. I felt very embarrassed because a crowd had gathered and they all thought Magga Baba had now really gone mad. Up till then he had been a little mad but now he was totally gone, gone forever… gate, gate – gone, and gone forever. But Magga Baba laughed, and for the first time before the people he said to me, “My boy, you have done it! But I knew that one day you would do it.”

I touched his feet. For the first time he tried to prevent me from doing it, saying, “No, no, don’t touch my feet anymore.”

But I still touched them, even though he insisted. I didn’t care and said, “Shut up! You look after your business and let me do mine. If I am enlightened as you say, please don’t prevent an enlightened man from touching your feet.”

He started laughing again and said, “You rascal! You are enlightened, but still a rascal.”

I then rushed to my home – that is, my Nani’s home, not my father’s – because she was the woman I wanted to tell what had happened. But strange are the ways of existence: she was standing at the door, looking at me, a little amazed. She said, “What has happened to you? You are no longer the same.” She was not enlightened, but intelligent enough to see the difference in me.

I said, “Yes, I am no longer the same, and I have come to share the experience that has happened to me.”

She said, “Please, as far as I am concerned, always remain my Raja, my little child.”

So I didn’t say anything to her. One day passed, then in the middle of the night she woke me up.

With tears in her eyes she said, “Forgive me. You are no longer the same. You may pretend but I can see through your pretense. There is no need to pretend. You can tell me what has happened to you. The child I used to know is dead, but someone far better and luminous has taken his place. I cannot call you my own any more, but that does not matter. Now you will be able to be called by millions as theirs, and everybody will be able to feel you as his or hers. I withdraw my claim, but also teach me the way.”

This is the first time I have told anybody; my Nani was my first disciple. I taught her the way. My way is simple: to be silent, to experience in one’s self that which is always the observer, and never the observed; to know the knower, and forget the known.

My way is simple, as simple as Lao Tzu’s, Chuang Tzu’s, Krishna’s, Christ’s, Moses’, Zarathustra’s… because only the names differ, the way is the same. Only pilgrims are different; the pilgrimage is the same. And the truth, the process, is very simple.

I was fortunate to have had my own grandmother as my first disciple, because I have never found anybody else to be so simple. I have found many very simple people, very close to her simplicity, but the profoundness of her simplicity was such that nobody has ever been able to transcend it, not even my father. He was simple, utterly simple, and very profound, but not in comparison to her. I am sorry to say, he was far away, and my mother is very, very far away; she is not even close to my father’s simplicity. You will be surprised to know – and I am declaring it for the first time – my Nani was not only my first disciple, she was my first enlightened disciple too, and she became enlightened long before I started initiating people into sannyas. She was never a sannyasin.

She died in 1970, the year when I started initiating people into sannyas. She was on her deathbed when she heard about my movement. Although I did not hear it myself, one of my brothers reported to me that these were her last words…. “It was as if she were talking to you,” my brother told me. “She said, ‘Raja, now you have started a movement of sannyas, but it is too late. I cannot be your sannyasin because by the time you reach here I will not be in this body, but let it be reported to you that I wanted to be your sannyasin.’”

She died before I reached her, exactly twelve hours before. It was a long journey from Bombay to that small village, but she had insisted that nobody should touch her body until I arrived, then whatever I decided should be done. If I wanted her body to be buried, then it would be okay. If I wanted her body to be burned, that too would be okay. If I wanted something else to happen, then that too would be okay.

When I reached home I could not believe my eyes: she was eighty years of age and yet looked so young. She had died twelve hours before, but still there was no sign of deterioration. I said to her, “Nani, I have come. I know you will not be able to answer me this time. I’m just telling you so that you can hear. There is no need to answer.” Suddenly, almost a miracle! Not only was I present, but my father too, and the whole family, were there. In fact the whole neighborhood had gathered. They all saw one thing: a tear rolled down from her left eye – after twelve hours!

Doctors – please note it, Devaraj – had declared her dead. Now, dead men don’t weep; even real men rarely do, what to say about dead men? But there was a tear rolling from her eye. I took it as an answer, and what more could be expected? I gave fire to her funeral, as was her wish. I did not do that even to my father’s body.

In India it is almost an absolute law that the eldest son should begin the fire for his father’s funeral pyre. I did not do it. As far as my father’s body was concerned, I did not even go to his funeral. The last funeral I attended was my Nani’s.

That day I told my father, “Listen, Dadda, I will not be able to come to your funeral.”

He said, “What nonsense are you saying? I am still alive.”

I said, “I know you are still alive, but for how long? Just the other day Nani was alive; tomorrow you may not be. I don’t want to take any chances. I want to say right now that I have decided I will not attend any other funeral after my Nani’s, so please forgive me, I will not be coming to your funeral. Of course you will not be there so I am asking your forgiveness today.”

He understood and was a little shocked of course, but he said, “Okay, if this is your decision, but who then is going to give fire at my funeral?”

This is a very significant question in India. In that context it would normally be the eldest son. I said to him, “You already know I am a hobo. I don’t possess anything.”

Magga Baba, although utterly poor, had two possessions: his blanket and his magga – the cup. I don’t have any possessions, although I live like a king. But I don’t possess anything. Nothing is mine. If one day someone comes and says to me, “Leave this place at once,” I will leave immediately. I will not even have to pack anything. Nothing is mine. That’s how one day I left Bombay. Nobody could believe that I would leave so easily without looking back, even once.

I could not go to my father’s funeral, but I had asked his permission beforehand, a long time before, at my Nani’s funeral. My Nani was not a sannyasin, but she was a sannyasin in other ways, in every other way except that I had not given her a name. She died in orange. Although I had not asked her to wear orange, but on the day she became enlightened she stopped wearing her white dress.

In India a widow has to wear white. And why only a widow? – So that she does not look beautiful, a natural logic. And she has to shave her head! Look… what to call these bastards! Just to make a woman ugly they cut off her hair and don’t allow her to use any other color than white. They take all the colorfulness from her life. She cannot attend any celebration, not even the marriage of her own son or daughter! Celebration as such is prohibited for her. The day my Nani became enlightened, I remember – I have noted it down, it will be somewhere – it was the sixteenth of January, 1967.

I say without hesitation that she was my first sannyasin; and not only that, she was my first enlightened sannyasin.

-Osho

Taken from Glimpses of a Golden Childhood, Discourse #16

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

You can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

Many of Osho’s books are available in the U.S. online from Amazon.com and Viha Osho Book Distributors. In India they are available from Amazon.in and Oshoworld.com.

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