Back to Our Roots – Tarun Tahiliani with Sadhguru

Fashion designer, Tarun Tahiliani, explores India's rich cultural tapestry with Sadhguru, who elaborates on its fundamental spiritual ethos, and its profound significance in today's "global village."
 
 

Fashion designer, Tarun Tahiliani, explores India's rich cultural tapestry with Sadhguru, who elaborates on its fundamental spiritual ethos, and its profound significance in today's "global village."

Through the Mystic Eye is a series of episodes featuring Sadhguru in conversation with several eminent personalities. Tarun Tahiliani, KV Kamath, Shekhar Kapur, JP Narayan and many more of India's leading celebrities and public figures engage Sadhguru in discussions ranging from business and governance to sports, education and mysticism.

Full Transcript:

So, I have wondered firstly at a very basic level,
to find expression to that longing, it is not necessary you have to… if any major change when we talk about being this great society and granted we were colonized and all, what is this great society or culture when we are so willing and with such alacrity we embrace the West, we embrace what our colonizers left behind. We judge our own if they don’t match up to this. When they don’t feel comfortable enough, I mean when I speak to people and I say, “Aap Hindi me kyun nahe baat karte ho?” “Nahi Sir, agar hum English me baat nahi karenge to we have no meaning.” I have this constant argument in the factory. I have it when I am trying to interview people, I say “Speak in Hindi.” If they speak in Hindi, they want to sit on the floor. Only if they speak in English, do they think they are good enough to sit. Our whole notion of equality has become a language-based, you know. Perhaps it’s less so in the south. So, perhaps you can help me resolve this constant confusion I have in terms of, we as a culture why have we done this to ourselves? (Sadhguru Laughs) That’s a very long and verbose question but… (Laughter)

Sadhguru: The… We need to understand the difference between conquest and colonization. Conquest is to beat somebody down and sit on top of their heads. Colonization is to convert people into your way, so that they will serve you without thinking they are serving you. So, some of the things, which were the strengths of the nation were clear… clearly mocked out by the British. You must see the letters that McCauley wrote to the parliament. So, he said “There are three things which makes (make?) India to be a place which is impossible to be conquered. One thing is its education system, another thing is its spiritual process, another thing is its family and cultural strength. If we don’t weaken these three things, we will never conquer this land, never truly colonize this land.” Because wherever they went, they had absolute success, hundred percent success. You go to Australia (Laughs), it is another England, okay? The native cultures of those lands are only archival, only in the museums they live. In many parts of Africa, South America, North America, everywhere they have absolute success. The only place where they not… did not succeed though you and me are speaking English language today - they did not succeed entirely here, because one thing is the spiritual process was so strong, the ethos of spirituality, not as they knew it.

See, this happened during the Islamic invasions also. When they came, when Abu Syed Mohammed came, one of his own scholars whom he captured - Nazar Baijan and brought him, Al-bureni who is a great scholar mathematician, scientist, a wonderful human being, but a strong Muslim. When he came, he looked at the culture and he was amazed. He couldn’t believe the level of thought and culture and the evolved level of looking at things, and he said, “When this king walked through, the Hindus were all over the place like specks of dust.” And when the Nalanda University where the Buddhist learning was all concentrated in - Nalanda University probably in the ancient world and even in… even if you compare it to today’s modern universities, it’s still a phenomenal happening. So, they set fire to all the books. They say the books were burnt over three months - that is the pile of books that they had, but then they found there were over three thousand monks who could recite books by memory. So, they burnt the three thousand monks. So, once you’ve burnt the books and the monks, Buddhism just went poof (Snaps his fingers) from India, just vanished.

But, the only way you could take away the Hindu way of life, which was not a religion per se, it was a certain a millionfold… a million doorway palace of spiritual process, not one kind of process, not one kind of belief. The only way you could kill this was to kill every human being that lived in this country, because there was no one papacy, one focused place where all the knowledge is centered. It’s just happening decentralized, completely decentralized. So, it’s because of this you still have some India left. That’s the only reason. Otherwise, in three hundred… two hundred and fifty to three hundred years’ time is a long enough time to subjugate people and change everything about them. It’s a matter of eight to nine… eight to ten generations of people. Everything can be wiped out in ten generations. The only and only place where they have not succeeded is India though you became a little bit of a sahib. You… You are falling back… see, you are falling back. (Laughs)

Tarun Tahiliani: Regretfully… not I am falling back. We have to bring on this round although I do think now and I complain to the magazines and all, which are again owned by companies in the UK that now there is a cultural imperialism coming. I said you all stretch women on computers. You make beautiful Indian woman feel inadequate and because your advertisers are these brands - if you notice yesterday’s brunch was a tacky shot of someone saying this is luxury and someone skipping with some Gucci bags, I’m like “What are you people doing? You are still stuck with that imperialism from the West.” I know it’s maybe _____ (Unclear) I also wonder how because if the elite did not, the people who are privileged did not withhold the values, it stands to reason then that other people want to follow though I totally agree with you in what you said.

Sadhguru: What the… what the sword and the gun could not do, MTV is doing it.

Tarun Tahiliani: Well, there you go.

Sadhguru: (Laughs) That’s fine. So, this is not a question of Indian culture versus some… some other culture. All I am saying is - now we choose to speak English language, that’s perfectly fine. I am saying culture is always an evolving and exchanging process. You cannot isolate a culture and say this is my culture and try to preserve it. Any culture that needs to be preserved means it’s already become archival. A culture is an evolving, pulsing, growing thing. So, we don’t have to be afraid of other influences, if only people consciously pick up what they want. Right now, they’re compulsively picking up things…

Tarun Tahiliani: Absolutely…

Sadhguru: …whatever is thrown at them because they think it’s superior. That has to go. I think that will only go when there is a large scale economic well-being in this country. You will see, right now large scale… economic well-being means first thing is they give up all Indian weave and Indian texture and everybody goes to America’s workmen’s clothes. That is the sign of prosperity. If… if everybody wears worn out clothes in America, everybody wears worn out clothes here. Somebody tears their pant there, everybody tears their pant here. Okay? (Laughs) Everybody… somebody drinks carbon dioxide there, everybody drinks carbon dioxide here, which is not good. (Laughs)

So, this is because of the economic superiority. Till we become economically capable and competent where we feel fine with the way we are, till then we will tend to imitate somebody else. So, if we want to save the culture, which most people think… would not think like this, but I am telling you if you want to save this culture, if you want to have Indian culture growing and throbbing, we must achieve a quick economic well-being for maximum number of people in this country. When that happens, you will see the need to imitate will go away. Then we will choose something from the West, something from the East, something from the South, something from the North, it’s okay.

Tarun Tahiliani: I agree with you. I think… I think we have seen that in the last decade or so. I think this was worse during socialism because actually standards went so low that everyone was kind of looking over the wall and dying to imitate the westerners. India became more prosperous and you know, people had more freedom, then I think they are doing what you are saying with is choosing what suits them from the East or the West, that’s for sure.

Sadhguru: The time… See, these cultures were separate from nation to nation, from area to area, from one region within the country to another because the level of contact and communication was so minimal in the past. But, today the level of communication and contact is so big and people, almost everybody is traveling around the world and, you know, at least even if you don’t travel, there is communication across the world. So, there will be… probably in another hundred years, there will be no such thing as your culture and my culture. There will be just one global mess which we have to accept as our culture.

Tarun Tahiliani: (Laughs) Well, at least we won’t be around to watch it. So, that’s good. (Sadhguru Laughs) Early so much so far…

Sadhguru: Why are you sending my… sending me away so soon?

Tarun Tahiliani: No, I am sending myself. You could be around. You are doing better work than I am. So… (Few Laugh) Well, so anyway, so to continue I also always wondered about this divide with this English-speaking culture in this country and the vernacular. The vernacular kept its culture more, which as you say now is also subject to the same influences as the West. Unfortunately, what’s happened in India because the elite were more English speaking, everybody else wanted to follow their path. I think when you see people who come from the villages as we all have seen, they come in a certain way, but today when you see their children who are grown up, say in Bombay and Delhi, even if they are in the slums, when you see people… kids coming out the slums, you can’t tell, because they are all dressing in western culture. They wear the torn jeans, they wear this, they wear something… so there is also a homogeneity coming into our society…

Sadhguru: Parents also wore torn clothes, but out of compulsion, now by choice. (Laughs)

Tarun Tahiliani: That’s true. (Laughter) That is true. I never thought of it that way, but there has also been… the parents had a certain fatalism in the torn clothes and there is a different attitude. Would you not agree today? How would you see this change, I mean where is our society heading?

Sadhguru: See as a society, there is no one society in India. The society that you are talking of, your society in Delhi…

Tarun Tahiliani: I agree.

Sadhguru: …is one thing. There are many layers of India, not one or two. There are multiple layers of India. So, you cannot say where the society is heading because every society is - some are heading to Phuket, some are thinking of coming to Delhi, some are thinking of coming to Mumbai, some just want to get out of the slum. There are many societies out here. The question is about where are we taking the nation, because always we have been a diverse culture and this diversity, we have managed very well mainly because of the fundamental spiritual ethos where we always saw that whoever and whatever you may be is your making. It’s your karma means it’s your making. Because of this, you are driving a Mercedes, I am walking on the street, there is no resentment. Okay, that’s his karma, this is my karma.

Tarun Tahiliani: Do you subscribe to that? Do you subscribe to that?

Sadhguru: What?

Tarun Tahiliani: I mean this is the prevalent thought so far that it’s your karma. I mean I don’t think that that’s my karma. I have been brought up that way, do you subscribe to that?

Sadhguru: No, no. When I say karma, I want you to understand - it’s my making. Whatever I am in my life is my making. It’s a most dynamic way to exist. Slowly this most dynamic way to exist has been kind of corrupted to become a fatalistic existence…

Tarun Tahiliani: Yes, exactly…

Sadhguru: …but if I told you this is God’s will that you are doing well, then you have no choice. If I tell somebody who is not doing well “This is God’s will”, he has simply no choice, isn’t it? That’s the way he has to be. When I say “It’s your making”, that means he can make it something else if he wishes. It is just that it has been wrongly put as if it’s the end of the world. When we said it’s your karma, we are saying it is one hundred percent your making, everything that you are and that means you have to create your own life. So, because of this, it is not that it’s fully misunderstood. It’s partially conveniently misunderstood to a point, but still this has kept people free of resentment and anger and hatred. That’s why India is incapable of a revolution, you know.

Tarun Tahiliani: So far at least, yes. I would agree.

Sadhguru: Yes. Once you lose this spiritual ethos, if all this, even the terminology disappears from day-to-day culture which is happening. I don’t think today’s generation is even using the word karma anymore. My grandmother, every time she sat down and she sat up, for every little thing she said, “Ayyo! It’s his karma, my karma, your karma.” But, my mother said much less of it. I am different. I am speaking to people in a different way, but the next generation is barely talking about it. So, once this disip…disappears, then resentment will grow in people. Resentment and anger can lead to a revolution. A revolution can sometimes lead to well-being, but it usually… it only replaces one tyrant with another set of tyrants. Usually that’s what it’s done in the past.

We’ve always believed and still beginning to believe and many people today in the political sphere are talking in terms of anger being the only propelling force for change. We have never seen it that way in this nation. For thousands of years, we have been here. We always saw anger is not the way to propel change. You can do it out of shear human longing to be better. Every human being is constantly longing to be little better than what he is right now. Just that longing is enough to transform a society and individual and the whole situation. If… if only you create the situation where everybody has the opportunity has to happen, it has to happen with anger, brutality, and blood, you know, people have gone to the extent of saying only blood moves the wheels of history. No, it need not be. It need not be blood and tears which move the wheels of history. It can be just human love, human compassion, human ingenuity, human intelligence can truly move the wheels of history and that is the modern times. Now, the information technology and other things is a clear manifestation that human ingenuity can change the world. It need not necessarily happen with blood and gore.

Our lives have changed so dramatically in our own lifespan. How we were experiencing life twenty five years ago and how we are experiencing life today, it’s… it’s an unbelievable change
Tarun Tahiliani: I can see that. So to go back to what I was asking you about what is… what defines the spiritual space that made this Hindustan that people recognize and that has held us, if you could elaborate on that?

Sadhguru: This is a godless country, because… Tell me, who is the god in this country?

Tarun Tahiliani: It’s… there are millions of different people, you said thirty six million or something.

Sadhguru: Yeah. So, those millions of gods happened when our population was that much. Since…

Tarun Tahiliani: Each one had their own.

Sadhguru: Yeah. Because…

Tarun Tahiliani: So, it is up to 1.3 billion gods now.

Sadhguru: No, we lost our imagination somewhere on the way. We became shy of creating gods because other people laughed at us “Oh, you have so many gods.” This is again inferiority complex.

Because this idea that there is one god sitting up there, one big human being, of course a man not the… not a woman (Laughs), sitting up there and controlling the whole universe and whatever, and this has all come because they think the existence is human centric. We have never seen it that way. We know we are just a small speck in the universe, and tomorrow morning, if we disappear, everything will be fine. Nothing is going to go wrong.

Tarun Tahiliani: Absolutely. (Laughs)

Sadhguru: So, this is something that we have always understood. The only reason why we are talking about a God is because we have no explanation for the creation. There is such a phenomenal creation and we don’t know how. So, simple childish explanation is there is one man sitting up there and doing all this stuff.

The idea of God has entered our mind only because we are unwilling to admit that we do not know how all this happened. Because it’s too phenomenal, too magical - the creation the way it is, who did it means there must be somebody up there. If there was no creation, you would have definitely not thought of a creator, isn’t it? Only because there is a creation, the need for a creator in your mind has come, because the nature of your mind is logical - for everything if there is a A, there has to be a B. This is how the logical mind thinks. So, there is a creation, so there must be a creator. This is rudimentary logic, this is childish logic which has led to all this. So, we created gods and whatever else.

In India, we never believed in a god. We… See, you must understand this - here in this country we are referring to the gods or the deities or yantras. Yantra means a machine - a machine that we created for our well-being. We clearly know we created it. Everywhere else God created man. In this country, man created God and we are very conscious about it. Everywhere else also it’s the same truth. They have lost the awareness about it. Now, in competition with ignorance, we are also losing it.
Sadhguru: So, this is something that we have always understood. Al-bureni when he writes about India, he says” Hindus are crazy, they think the planet is some billion years old.” Well, today scientists are proving it to you, it is a billion years old because they all thought it’s three thousand years old. He says, “They are crazy, they are talking in numbers of time, you know the kind of time that they are talking about cannot be. These people are crazy.” Well, they were not crazy. They were far seeing, because this is not a land which was created by morality. We are a completely amoral country. Please see this, and it is the most beautiful way to live because morality means persecution, morality means right and wrong. I am right and you are wrong of course. Once we come to right and wrong, tell me who is right, who is wrong? Always it’s me who is right and you who is wrong. See, you are also in black. (Laughter)

Tarun Tahiliani: That’s why. (Laughter) I just do the shoe polish afterwards. Just for this interview I have kept my face clean. They told me they will smear me as soon as I get out, so… (Laughs)

Sadhguru: So, once right and wrong comes, you will create a very prejudiced world. So, we never looked at it right and wrong. We always saw it in terms of every life has to find full expression. So, for that it needs nurture. How well you nurture it, that’s how well it becomes. Like every plant, like every animal, a human being also needs nurture and he needs external nurture and also self-nurture. Both are needed. Other creatures need external nurture and of course they also have self-nurture. It’s not right to say they don’t have self-nurture, they are taking care of themselves too.

So, every life on this planet, how great it becomes or how puny it becomes is not dependent upon whether it’s good or bad. It is dependent upon how much nurture it finds from outside and from within. So because we recognize this, no good and bad was fixed. No right and wrong was fixed. No high and low was fixed. Everything was left open. So, people who travelled from outside and came here found this to be such a strange land that here people don’t think this is right or wrong, no morality, no ethic, but still people you know like… travelers like twelve hundred-fourteen hundred years ago writing or some people who came in the BC time over two thousand years ago, they’re writing “There is no… nobody to rob anything from you, no murderers, no killers, no thieves.” We can’t say much about that today (Laughs), but still our level of crime is way below anything else on the planet. People don’t understand this, people think there is too much crime happening in this country - no.
Sadhguru: So, this is something that we have always understood. Al-bureni when he writes about India, he says” Hindus are crazy, they think the planet is some billion years old.” Well, today scientists are proving it to you, it is a billion years old because they all thought it’s three thousand years old. He says, “They are crazy, they are talking in numbers of time, you know the kind of time that they are talking about cannot be. These people are crazy.” Well, they were not crazy. They were far seeing, because this is not a land which was created by morality. We are a completely amoral country. Please see this, and it is the most beautiful way to live because morality means persecution, morality means right and wrong. I am right and you are wrong of course. Once we come to right and wrong, tell me who is right, who is wrong? Always it’s me who is right and you who is wrong. See, you are also in black. (Laughter)

Tarun Tahiliani: That’s why. (Laughter) I just do the shoe polish afterwards. Just for this interview I have kept my face clean. They told me they will smear me as soon as I get out, so… (Laughs)

Sadhguru: So, once right and wrong comes, you will create a very prejudiced world. So, we never looked at it right and wrong. We always saw it in terms of every life has to find full expression. So, for that it needs nurture. How well you nurture it, that’s how well it becomes. Like every plant, like every animal, a human being also needs nurture and he needs external nurture and also self-nurture. Both are needed. Other creatures need external nurture and of course they also have self-nurture. It’s not right to say they don’t have self-nurture, they are taking care of themselves too.

So, every life on this planet, how great it becomes or how puny it becomes is not dependent upon whether it’s good or bad. It is dependent upon how much nurture it finds from outside and from within. So because we recognize this, no good and bad was fixed. No right and wrong was fixed. No high and low was fixed. Everything was left open. So, people who travelled from outside and came here found this to be such a strange land that here people don’t think this is right or wrong, no morality, no ethic, but still people you know like… travelers like twelve hundred-fourteen hundred years ago writing or some people who came in the BC time over two thousand years ago, they’re writing “There is no… nobody to rob anything from you, no murderers, no killers, no thieves.” We can’t say much about that today (Laughs), but still our level of crime is way below anything else on the planet. People don’t understand this, people think there is too much crime happening in this country - no.

For example, you know, where we are - the ashram, you’ve been there - twelve kilometers away from the ashram, there is a police station which has eleven policemen allotted to it. One… in that, one is a sub-inspector. Ten policemen - out of that three will always be on leave. So, seven - out of those seven, two will be on night duty. Only five left. There is no vehicle. They only have a bicycle - some of them have their own private TVS moped for which the government doesn’t give gas. So, if you call them and say there has been a murder, he will say, “Should I really come? Anyway the man is dead. (Laughter) Call the ambulance. What will I do?” Because I am saying that is the level of law or there is literally no law, okay? But still there is no great amount of crime. People are in such desperate conditions economically. Some people are living up here, some people living here, nobody slits anybody’s throat. This is spirituality.

Tarun Tahiliani: I have always wondered and I agree with you.

So, I am saying it is not controlled by law. It is controlled by people’s way of being. Ugly incidents, aberrations happen - yes, we have to enforce law in those places. That is a necessity. But we need to appreciate, without any law how we are, with the levels of disparity that is there in the society, how we still are, this wouldn’t be possible anywhere else. If you’re (you?) take away law in New York City for three days, you had it. (Laughs)

 
 
 
 
  0 Comments
 
 
Login / to join the conversation1