Politics and Bureaucracy: Are The Winds of Change Here?
Q: As a spiritual guru, how do you view politics? Do you see it as a struggle for a more equal society, especially economic equality or just as a medium to tackle administration or governance issues?
Sadhguru: I know politics has become a dirty word, but now the discourse in the teashop has changed. There is a new respect and regard for politicians, which they never had till now. This is not just because of one person. I recently did a program with Chandrababu Naidu and he is a livewire. We did an Inner Engineering program for the bureaucracy and ministers. He makes decisions faster than corporate leaders. I have been with corporate leaders. Naidu is on the ball. I am looking at the political system with great respect suddenly. Then I happened to meet Shivraj Singh Chouhan. I saw how he works. I have new respect for him.
Not everybody is like that but public life has various compulsions. There are all kinds of expectations. People who have voted for you think it's their time for payback. It is difficult to close that. Very few leaders have the resoluteness. Others weaken thinking they have to do certain things otherwise they will have to pay a price later. Because somewhere in this country, though we have taken the democratic way, a large mindset of India is still feudalistic. If I can tell each one in my family whom he or she should vote for, that is feudalism, If I can tell my followers to vote for a certain party, I think it is a larger feudalism. If a religious or community leader asks you to vote for a certain leader, there is no democracy. Wherever there is this en masse meeting, it is feudalism. Democracy is only when husband and wife in the same house vote for whomever he or she wants.
A leader in any field is a position of responsibility. The largest privilege of human life is that it can touch other lives. Why do some people think family is important? Because they think they can touch, transform and mold at least a few lives. Leaders have to be unbiased. That will come only when you are not associated with anything in particular and look only at the wellbeing of the people. Once you have such an eye you will do this to the best of your abilities. This is a tremendous opportunity I am impressing on every leader I meet. You are here for maybe 10 or 15 years. This is a privilege. You must transform as many lives as possible. It is an opportunity that cannot be missed. All political leaders and leaders in every field must ensure that if the work they are doing is important, they must work on who they are. This has to be done by every leader because he has the privilege.
Q: Did you tell this to the PM after he assumed charge?
Sadhguru: I have told him all this before he became the PM and I don't think he has forgotten all that. That is the good thing about him: Good things or bad things, he will not forget.
Q: This government seems to have gained a pro-corporate image. Do you think it's a good thing?
Sadhguru: You have chosen a market economy but you want to be against the market forces. You left feudalism and came to democracy but you don't want to leave it fully. You are neither here nor there. Similarly, you left socialism and decided to go for market economy. Once you have chosen a path, go all the way. Don't keep turning back. Nothing will work then. You have chosen market economy. Put the gas pedal on.
Now if you want the market to succeed, the forces that control the market must be in good health and shape. Without the corporates and businesses doing well, tell me how will you bring wellbeing to people. People who are talking about farmers have never been to farm in their lives. If you walk through the villages of our country and look at the condition of farmers, I don't want him to be a farmer. 70% of the population in farming means for ten people to eat, seven have to cook. It is an extremely inefficient way. This is because we were subsistence farmers. Only 15-20% of the country should be farmers. The rest should be doing something else. Moving the city to the villages has to happen. Can the government alone do it? No.
And are corporates going to sit on land as zamindars and do nothing? No. They are going to produce employment. People have been living in slums all their lives. Are they even human habitations? Even cattle should not live there. People are attached to poverty because they have an investment in it. Corporate is not a bad word. Corporation means a business that is properly organised and accountable. It is not an evil force. Some people may have misused it but that is a different issue. The laws should take care of that and there are enough laws.
Q: What is your take on the Nirbhaya documentary? Does banning documentaries or films on social issues help when even lawmakers seem to air misogynistic views in Parliament?
Sadhguru: The home ministry gave the permission for the documentary to be shot. Banning was the most stupid thing to do. But it was a knee-jerk reaction from the government, fearing where the media will take it. Everything is so sensitive. They tried to cancel it but they had given permission to them after following all processes. But when an avalanche was built up in the media, they banned it. And now they are regretting it but it is too late. The image of the country is gone.
For the world, we are rapists and we hide our rapists, we support them and make them ministers. A friend of mine from Greece wants to come to India and spend time in the ashram. But her husband cancelled the tickets. When I asked him, he said, "I don't want my wife to get raped in India." This is what we are doing to ourselves. If women are being treated badly, we need to fix it – by effective implementation of laws, and by educating people. We don't need to raise a stink in the world.
Q: Why does such an avowedly spiritual movement like yours need such marketing slickness? You seem to have a well-oiled marketing machinery.
Sadhguru: For the first 20 years, we never printed a brochure as a matter of rule. People came to us through word of mouth. Even now, people who come to programs are introduced to them by friends and family members who underwent the programs. It is only when we started large ecological, education and health social projects that need enormous resources that we started talking. At present, we have over 4000 volunteers working fulltime, most more than 16 hours a day.
Only in the last nine years have we started making some noise. Is the thing well oiled? It's not, in my opinion. My people are still in the mode of working without publicity. I tell them we need publicity to keep these projects going. To keep lakhs of children in school, to plant lakhs of trees every month without any government help, to treat lakhs of people every month, you don't know what it takes. People freak out to maintain one family. They don't know what it takes to keep these projects going. It takes enormous effort and there is no government support. We never sought it and they never offered. We are the largest ecological movement in Asia. The work we have done is immense. Hopefully in a year's time, I have a plan to make sure our marketing is well-oiled.
Q: You have also talked against consumerism, luxury, the American Dream and the general idea of equating development with consumption. In this context, where do you place the Gujarat model of development, say, as against a Kerala model of development that, at least statistics-wise, seems to be more focused on people than assets?
Sadhguru: No development is of any meaning if it doesn't bring wellbeing to its people. How to get there is the question. We have taken to a market economy where we can do a boom and that will shower down benefits to people. The other way is the socialist way, which needs dispassionate, absolutely committed people with a certain degree of sacrifice.
We have tried the socialist model. Communism is a way of thinking. Socialism is wimpy communism. When you don't have the courage to become a communist, you become a socialist. Communism means not by greed but by need. This will only work when all of us are willing to share. If you have a lot and I have nothing and if you think you must share, it is a wonderful thing. But if I think you must share, that is ugly.
60% of the population in this country has skeletal systems that have not developed properly because what they eat every day is not good enough for their body. They may have eaten full stomachs some days but it is not the food they need to have. So when this is the situation, I don't think I have the fanciful privilege to say this is right or that is right. Whatever is working best has to be done. When everybody has eaten, we can look at the nuances.
Gas ON is the only way now. This generation needs to live well. Consumerism is not a good thing. It is a disastrous thing but disasters have produced wellbeing for 25% of the planet. According to statistics, if we have to provide every human being the life an average American enjoys right now materially, we need 4.5 planets. We have just half a planet now, as half has been taken. So a dream for 4.5 planets of wellbeing is a stupid dream but can you turn back? No. You can only refine it. If you are doing well, you will at least have room to refine it. If you don't, they will rip the planet apart.
You can't tell a hungry man to save the world. You can at least tell the rich to feel guilty and turn back a part. Bringing people to a sense of wellbeing, at least physical wellbeing, is important to turn the planet around. Because even now, the idea that we must save the planet is big only in countries and societies that are affluent. If you go and talk to the man in the hutment about the planet, he doesn't care. He wants to have everything he can. We can't control human aspirations. Instead, we must see how we can control human population.
We are projecting we will be 9.7 billion by 2050. Instead, why don't we plan that the population becomes half. The body is just a piece of the planet. If you want to save the planet, the number of people using it needs to come down. Why don't we plan for 3 or 4 billion people. Sakshi Maharaj and mullahs won't like it. We need a common law for everyone in this country, not personal laws for each. It is wrong to create a law inside law. Make one law for everyone.
Editor’s Note: Sadhguru looks at the past, present and future of this nation, and explores why this culture matters to every human being on the planet. With images, graphics and Sadhguru’s inspiring words, here’s Bharat as you have never known it!