Osho on Women and Slavery

Question – Osho, How can india be free when her women are not?

Osho – R. K. Karanjia, India is suffering from a very ugly and rotten past, and the problem is that Indians go on praising their past as golden. The whole world, except India, believes in evolution; India believes in Involution.

Now it is an absolutely accepted fact of science that man is evolving, becoming more and more mature, but India still lives under the illusion that the highest has already happened; now we are falling, deteriorating. The modern man, according to Indian ideology, is the worst. The farther back you go in the past the higher the quality of humanity you will find this is putting things absolutely upside-down, this is not so, and unless this whole idea is shattered, destroyed, burnt, India cannot be really free.

The very idea is depressing; one loses all zest for living. If it is only that we are going downhill every moment, then how can there be hope and how can there be joy? Then life can only be a boredom, a drag; it cannot be a dance and a celebration.

Hence India lives under a very great burden; that burden creates its spiritual slavery, and out of that burden many more things arise – one thing leads to another. The past of India is full of pseudo religion and the pseudo religion imprisonments for man. It gives you masks, it creates the hypocrite, it does not help you to discover your original face.

One can be politically free easily, but unless one is spiritually free one will not be able to use that political freedom at all for right purposes. It will only create chaos, anarchy; it will be destructive, not creative. So the political freedom has not proved a blessing to India for the simple reason that the inner soul is still living within walls, chained. But the problem is the Indian mind respects those chains, worships those chains. It does not think of the prison as a prison but as a temple. The moment you start thinking and believing that your chains are ornaments and very valuable, you start protecting them. Rather than throwing them away you cling to them.

India clings to its past, and that clinging is not allowing it to release the splendours of its soul. The women of India are living in utter slavery; their slavery is double. The men are slaves, but the women are the slaves of these slaves. And why are the women living in such slavery? If you go to the roots again you will find that the pseudo religion is its cause.

From Manu up to today the woman has been condemned for the simple reason that all these socalled saints and mahatmas were living with repressed sexuality, and when you live with repressed sexuality the woman becomes immensely important. Then your whole mind is full of fantasies about women, and naturally one starts feeling that the woman is the cause of all these fantasies. You cannot get them out of your mind because those fantasies are very alluring, fascinating, but the reason is not the woman at all. Repress your desire for food and your mind will be full of food. Repress any desire and the repressed desire will take revenge; it is bound to happen so. It will assert itself in a thousand and one ways. If you prevent it at the front door it will start coming in through the back door.

India has lived with a repressive morality; its morality is not authentic, not true, not sincere. It is not centred in a self-realized consciousness, it is just cultivated, painted on the outside. It is a painted face! And you know it – everybody who lives with the mask knows it – that the real face is the total opposite of it. The real face is repressed and the unreal one is praised, decorated, worshipped. This creates a deep split, this creates schizophrenia.

Indian culture is schizophrenic, it is insane, but beautifully rationalized, beautifully covered. And the greatest problem, the greatest taboo in India has been sex. Just as in the West today the taboo is death, in India it has been sex. These two things have to be understood because these are the two fundamental taboos. Either a society creates a taboo around sex or it moves to the other extreme and creates a taboo around death. Both are deeply related – two extremes of the same phenomenon.

Sex is birth, sex is the beginning, and death is the end. A few people are trying to hide the fact of birth and a few other people are trying to hide the fact of death. The culture which makes sex a taboo will accept death, and vice versa: the culture that creates a taboo about death will accept sex. Humanity needs freedom from all taboos, freedom from all extremist ideologies, because to be an extremist is to be insane. The sane person is balanced: he is exactly in the middle, he follows the golden mean. And to be in the middle is to transcend duality, is to transcend the extreme polarity.

Man needs a new kind of understanding which accepts both birth and death as part of life, with no fear. The moment you accept both, the moment you can celebrate both, you go beyond both. If you create a taboo around the energy called sex then the woman is condemned. The condemnation of the woman, the slavery of the woman, is simply a condemnation of sex.

Reduced to its scientific roots you can easily see it: unless sex is respected the woman will remain a means either to be exploited, manipulated, possessed like a thing, or renounced – again like a thing. Either you possess the woman – then she is your property – or you renounce the woman, but again it is the same thing: she is your property. And woman considered as property cannot have freedom. India considers the woman as property. The worldly use her and the other-worldly, the so-called mahatmas, renounce her, but both agree on one point: that she is your property. She has no soul, so where is the question of giving her freedom?

One of the most respected incarnations of God in India is Rama. His wife, Sita, was stolen by Ravana. After years of fight and struggle Rama defeated Ravana, brought his wife back, but first she had to pass through an utterly inhuman examination. The examination is called AGNI PARIKSHA, ’fire examination’; she had to pass through fire. If she was absolutely free of any sin while she was away from Rama, even in her dreams, then she would come out of the fire unharmed, if she had sinned, even in her mind, then she would be consumed by the fire.

Now, this is sheer stupidity. Fire does not believe in your morality! Fire has no respect for any culture, any religion, any values. Fire has its own laws; it cannot suspend those laws But one thing more has to be noted: only Sita had to pass through the fire, not Rama. And there is a greater possibility… He was also away from his wife – what had he been doing? But he was beyond question. He was a man, and this is a man-dominated society. And he was really a male chauvinist pig!

Sita passed through the fire and, the story goes, she survived. And back home, when they reached their capital just a single man objected, but not to Rama himself. That man’s wife had not come home one night and when she came back in the morning he simply said, ’I will not accept you. I am not Rama! Get lost! I am finished with you!’

This was reported to Rama and he simply threw the pregnant Sita into the forest. She was not even given a chance to say something – she was not even asked! She was not even told what was happening to her. Who asks one’s own property? If you want to dispose of your furniture you dispose of it. If you want to burn it, you burn it. If you want to sell it, you sell it. And still Rama is worshipped as God by Hindus, he is thought to be one of the greatest incarnations. People seem to be utterly blind! Even women go on worshipping Rama! At least they should start burning his effigies, they should start throwing his statues out of the temples, because no man has done so much harm to women as this man has done.

Another Hindu, Yudishthira – he is called Dharmaraj, ’the king of religion’… He was a gambler, and not only did he gamble away his whole kingdom, he gambled away his wife too. He staked his wife and lost her in the gamble. A woman is just a possession! You can gamble away your house, your king-dom, you can gamble away your wife! And still he is called the king of religion, one of the most respected persons – a great saint. Nobody raises the question of what he did with Draupadi, his wife. Was it human? Even a very barbaric person would think twice before doing it. Even a criminal would not dare to do it. And still he remains one of the most respected persons in the history of India.

Not only did he stake her and lose her in the gamble, but Draupadi was divided by five brothers. He had four brothers and they all wanted Draupadi – she was so beautiful. They were all interested in getting her, so the only solution was that they divide her; she would be the wife of all five. So the time during a week was divided – how many hours she would be a wife to one brother and how many hours a wife to another brother. A possession can be divided! And she was not even asked.

This is ugly! This is subhuman! This is animal! And this is India’s past. Indian saints have been telling the whole world that the woman is the door to hell. And of course, if woman is the door to hell she cannot have freedom, she cannot be allowed to have any say in life. Either possess her, dominate her, reduce her to a commodity, or renounce her; that is again the same. Possessing or renouncing, the woman remains a commodity.

This whole structure has to be shattered; only then can the woman, Indian woman, be free. The Indian mahatmas go on condemning the woman as nothing but blood, bones, pus, dirt. And it is very strange – they never think that they were born out of the woman, they had lived in the womb of the woman, and they are also made in the same way: bones, blood, pus. They are not made of gold or silver or diamonds! All Indian scriptures condemn woman as ugly, as rotten… and man? They don’t talk about man at all. Strange logic! A double bind, a double standard.

Mrs Kohansky went to her butcher of many years and said, ’Bernie, today I need a beautiful chicken, maybe four pounds.’
Bernie pointed out three chickens in the display counter, but Mrs Kohansky turned up her nose at all of them. ’I asked for a beautiful chicken!’ she sniffed.

So Bernie went to the back of the store, and from his refrigerator room he extracted an especially plump fowl. He brought it forward with pride. The lady was cautious. She took the chicken and slowly began to examine each part with her fingers – lifting the wings, feeling the breast and groping inside the cavity. Finally the butcher’s patience waned. ’Tell me, Mrs Kohansky,’ he demanded, ’do you think you could pass such a test?’

But there are different criterions for men and women. These different criterions have to be absolutely destroyed, only then can the woman be free; otherwise she cannot be free. And without the woman being free, the country remains basically unfree. The woman constitutes fifty percent of the population, but she is more important than just fifty percent because all the children will be raised by the woman. If she is a slave she will create the slave mentality, unconsciously, in her children’s minds. The girls and the boys – everybody is raised by the woman; they will be conditioned as slaves. The woman can only give them what she has. So it is not that only fifty percent will remain in slavery, it will amount to almost ninety-nine per-cent. It will be a rare individual in India who is truly free!

The first thing is the ugly, pseudo religion, the phony morality. For thousands of years, even today, the phenome-non of sati has been happening. Sati means a woman throwing herself into the funeral pyre with her dead husband. There is every possibility that the idea came from Egypt to India. In fact, geologists say that in the remote past Africa and India were one continent. India fits the African continent exactly – if you cut out the maps of both and bring them close, you will be surprised. And South India still carries negroid blood. North India is Aryan, South India is African, it is negroid. It is possible that in the remote past both comments were one, that India was joined with Egypt. And now it is a well-established scientific fact that continents drift, they move. They are still drifting; they go on changing their Locations very slowly.

In India all the North Indian languages were born out of Sanskrit, but not the South Indian languages. They are not of Sanskrit origin; their origin is completely lost. In Egypt this was the idea: that when the king dies all his wives have to be buried with him, because till the Last Judgement Day he will have to live in the grave and he cannot live without servants and wives and all kinds of luxuries. So with him all the luxuries were buried, treasures were buried, slaves were buried and women were buried – they were not more than slaves.

The same idea has prevailed for at least five thousand years in India: the woman has to throw herself into the fire. And of course it is a difficult task. Just put your hand into fire and you will know. Just the flame of a candle touching your finger will show you what it means to jump into a funeral pyre alive! So it was not done willingly – the woman was really thrown into the funeral pyre.

And the arrangements were made in such a way that no-body would be able to see. Much purified butter was thrown in before; it created so much smoke. And the brahmins, the priests, were standing all around with burning torches, and then the woman was brought. And such a great noise was created with drums and the chanting of mantras and the shouting of slogans that the cry of the woman would not be heard. Sometimes she tried to escape from the funeral pyre and those burning torches were there to push her back into the funeral pyre. It was pure murder, ugly murder, very barbaric!

And then the woman was worshipped. This still goes on happening even now although it is illegal. But the worship is not illegal. This is a strange thing! If a woman jumps into the funeral pyre or is forced to jump, that is illegal – it still happens! – but once a woman is burnt, has become a sati, then a temple is raised and then she is worshipped. If burning oneself in fire is illegal then all these worshippers should be imprisoned immediately, thrown into gaols, punished, because they are encouraging something illegal! But no steps are taken against them.

Why has no man ever burnt himself with his wife? The Indian scriptures say that love is so great, it is because of the greatness of love that women have been throwing themselves in with their dead husbands. I can agree it may be because of great love, but then why has no man…? In thousands of years not a single man has thrown himself into the funeral pyre of his wife. Does it mean that no man has ever loved, that only women love? This is a strange thing! And the mahatmas and the saints are absolutely silent about that. There is a double standard about everything.

The woman in India has not been allowed to read the Vedas the Upanishads, for the simple reason that she is ’impure’. Why is a woman impure? And if she is impure, then how can a man be pure? He is born out of the woman! But the woman is not allowed to become a priestess because if she becomes a priestess then these double standards cannot be continued any-more. She has not to be educated, she has not to be allowed to read the scriptures – that is man’s domain, his privilege, his prerogative.

The woman has to be kept in ignorance because if she is ignorant she will remain obedient. If she becomes as know-ledgeable as the priests then it will be difficult to dominate her, it will be difficult to argue with her, it will be difficult to force her into slavery. And this is not only true about the so-called, the pseudo mahatmas, the phony ones, even great people like Mahavira, Buddha and others could not go against the tradition; they compromised. These are the few points I cannot agree on even with Buddha and Mahavira.

Mahavira said that no woman can attain to liberation unless she is first born as a man. All that she can attain through medi-tation, austerities, yoga, is a new birth in the body of a man, and then she can attain to the ultimate truth. But no woman can go directly from the body of a woman to the ultimate liberation. And these people have been saying that man is not the body. You can see the contradiction, the inconsistency, the utter nonsense of the whole thing, the ridiculousness! Man is not body, man is consciousness. And woman? Woman is a body,she is not consciousness!Or do you think consciousness is also male and female?It is such a simple thing!

If you are silently watching yourself, that watching, that witnessing cannot be male or female. Witnessing is simply wit-nessing; it has nothing to do with sex, it has nothing to do with gender. And freedom, the ultimate freedom, truth, liberation, nirvana, God, is attained through witnessing. If God is attained through witnessing, then why can a woman not attain? Just because she is in a female body? And what is wrong with being in a female body? And what is special about being a man? There seems to be nothing special: maybe a little difference in hormones, in a few glands.

But to say that the woman cannot attain to nirvana, to moksha, to ultimate liberation, means you are making your liberation dependent on hormones and glands. So your liberation has nothing to do with religion but with chemistry, biochemistry, biology, physiology! Mahavira says no woman can attain to liberation directly. He is simply compromising with the traditional view. He is not courageous enough, although his name is Mahavira. Mahavira means ’the great courageous man’, but he is only ninety-nine percent courageous; one percent of cowardliness is there, absolutely present – he is compromising.

Even Buddha for years denied initiation to women in his commune. The fear of the society condemning him! The fear of the repressed monks, because if women were there then the repressions might start surfacing. I may be the first person who has accepted women totally. equally. Even Buddha and Mahavira are very reluctant.

Buddha finally initiated women into sannyas – because his own stepmother insisted and he had owed much to the stepmother… His own mother died immediately after giving birth to him; he was brought up by the stepmother And she had loved him so much that he could not say no to her, he had to agree. But once one woman was initiated then the door was opened, then other women insisted that they had to be initiated too and he had to agree, he could not be partial. But he must have said it in deep sadness.

He said, ’My religion was going to exist on the earth in its purest form for five thousand years, but now it will only exist for five hundred years. The women will destroy it.’ This is a very condemnatory note from Buddha – I cannot accept it. This shows his fear. This shows that he was in some way or other agreeing with the rotten tradition that has been always condemnatory of women. He rebelled against many things, but he could not rebel against one of the most fundamental things that has to be destroyed.

Indians are so much against me for the simple reason that what Mahavira has not done, Buddha has not done, I am trying to do. Naturally they are offended, and they have found great arguments – rationalizations I will call them, not really arguments… They say a soul is born as a woman because of past sins. How do you decide it? And who is the judge? The males are de-ciding it – and of course they decide in their own favour. They are born as men because they have done great virtuous deeds in the past and the woman is born as a woman because she has sinned in past lives. This is a punishment and she has to suffer it. This is consoling the woman, giving her a rationalization. A very tricky political game!

It was the first year that the family had been living in Germany, and the father wanted his little boy to shine at his studies. Mr Stein asked for Max’s report card.

Reluctantly, Max showed it. Mr Stein was angry and scolded the boy for his poor grades.
’Well, Papa,’ said Max, ’the other boys in my class are Nazis. They know I’m Jewish and they bother me so that I can’t study. That’s why I got such a bad report card.’

Mr Stein relented. ’All right, my son,’ he said. ’Anything for your future. I’m converting you into a Nazi, then you won’t have any more trouble.’
So Max had no more trouble in his class, but at the end of the next term he came home with another terrible report. Mr Stein was furious.
’What’s your excuse now?’ he yelled.
Well,’ Max said, ’you know, Papa, we Nazis don’t learn as fast as those Jewish boys!’

One can always find excuses, rationalizations, but they are all inventions – the inventions of cunning people.

An old Chinese man is walking down the road when he comes across a small Chinese boy who is cutting his nails. ’Little boy,’ says the old man, ’stop cutting your nails!’
The small boy looks up at him and then carries on cutting his nails.
’Little boy,’ repeats the old man, ’I say, you stop cutting your nails!’
Again the boy looks up at him and then continues cutting his nails.
’Little boy,’ exclaims the old man, ’why when I have told you to stop cutting your nails do you carry on?’
’Because my neighbours beat their child,’ replies the boy.
’But what has that got to do with you cutting your nails?’ asked the old man.
’What has cutting my nails got to do with you?’

No real reason is there, but if you repeat a certain thing for thousands of years people become conditioned to it, they start thinking that it really is a reason. A rationalization can appear as a reason if repeated too often, and India is very repetitive: it has been repeating the same nonsense for thousands of years.

So every Indian mind is full of bullshit… or you can call it ’holy cowdung’! That will look far more Indian and far more religious too! Holy cowdung is sacred and if your head is full of it you are bound to go to heaven because holy cowdung is the only thing in the world that defies gravity. It will take you up and up and up until you reach heaven!

This male-chauvinistic country has lived in many kinds of slaveries, slaveries within slaveries. For twenty-two centuries India has been in slavery, political slavery. A country can live in slavery for twenty-two centuries only if somewhere deep down it is spiritually ready to accept slavery. Unless somewhere deep down there is a desire to remain a slave, nobody can keep anyone for two thousand years and more in slavery, that is impossible. But if spiritually you are a slave then politically, economically, socially, you will also be a slave.

The Indian woman has to be freed from her chains. Her freedom will help India to be really free. If the woman remains unfree, India’s freedom will remain just superficial – some-thing borrowed, something imported, not grown within it’s own soul. R. K. Karanjia, it is true that India cannot be free when her women are not, but the women can be free. It needs guts to issue the challenge. It needs courage to create a revolution in the minds of women and men.

That’s exactly what I am doing through sannyas: making an effort to destroy the spiritual slavery of the Indian soul. The whole past is heavy, a Himalayan weight, but it can be drop-ped. Once you become conscious of it there is no problem in dropping it. It is our own creation; we can immediately get out of it. But then you will have to be aware that unless you die totally to the past you cannot be reborn.

One has to die to the past to be born anew, and India has forgotten how to die, hence it has forgotten how to renew itself, rejuvenate itself. Instead of dying to the past it goes on making it glorious, it goes on praising it. It enjoys the nostalgia that ’We had a great golden past.’ And that is all sheer nonsense! That past has never existed; it is just imagination, nothing more – pure imagination. We have invented the past. Seeing the ugliness of the present, which is our doing, we go on escaping into the past – to avoid the present. There are only two ways: either escape into the past or escape into the future. Both are anti-rebellion.

To live in the present is the only rebellion I know of, the only real revolution. Get rid of the past, get rid of the future and live in the present, totally herenow, with intensity and with Passion. And that intensity brings freedom.

Source – Osho Book “Zen: Zest, Zip, Zap and Zing”

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