Question – Beloved Osho, Why is India so Poor?
Osho – The so-called saints are responsible. Down the ages, India has lived with a wrong philosophy — a philosophy that teaches other-worldliness, a philosophy that teaches that the world is illusion and only the other world is true. You have not seen the other world, the true world; you have to believe. And the world that you have seen, and see every day and experience every day, is illusory, is maya.
This foolish philosophy is the root cause of India’s poverty. If the world is illusory then why care about science, why care about technology? What is the point? If the world is illusory, poverty is also an illusion, the beggar on the street is also an illusion, the starving person is also an illusion.
The West has lived with the idea that only this world is real. Hence it has become rich, at least outwardly rich. The West has denied the other world: God is dead. And the West started becoming rich only when it started dropping the idea of the other world; then its whole energy was focused on this world. It became rich materially, but it became poor spiritually.
The other world is also real, and real on a higher plane. The East became poor materially. The other world is real, but the other world can only be based on the reality of this world. This world functions as a foundation.
So maybe, once in a while, a person in India was able to become inwardly rich. But the millions, the masses, remain outwardly poor. And because there is no foundation, they have remained inwardly poor too.
These attitudes have been two halves of one whole. The new man I talk about, and the new humanity, will not be Eastern or Western. It will not believe in this world only or in that world only, it will believe in the totality of man. It will believe in the body of man, it will believe in the soul of man; it will believe in the material, it will believe in the spiritual. In fact the new humanity will think of spirituality and materiality as two aspects of one phenomenon. Then the world will be rich in both ways, within and without.
India has to get rid of its otherworldly obsession. It has to learn to love this world too, it has to learn that this world is also real. The very moment that happens will be a great change in India’s life. But the saints, the so-called saints, still go on teaching that this world is unreal. And the poor people are consoled by it, so they go on clinging to the philosophy. If the world is unreal, this consoles: there is nothing to be worried about, it is only a question of a few years, then you will enter into the real world. So why bother?
The Eastern mind remains unscientific because of this basically wrong philosophy; science can be created only if the world is accepted as real. And if science is there, then technology is there, and technology is the only way to create riches. The so-called saints are responsible, and the so-called leaders, the politicians, are responsible, because the politicians go on teaching anti-scientific attitudes to the country.
Gandhi’s philosophy is anti-scientific. You will be surprised to know that he was against railway trains, the post office, the telegraph, modern medicine. He was against the basic technologies which can help the country. And he still remains the father figure, he still dominates the Indian mind, particularly the Indian politician’s mind.
India has to get rid of Gandhi, otherwise it cannot become rich. But Gandhi also consoles, because he praises the poor man. He calls the poor man daridra narayan: he says that God is in the poor man, the poor man is divine. His teaching is that the rich man is something wrong and the poor man is something right. Poverty has some spirituality in it, according to him.
If you praise poverty as spirituality, naturally the poor person’s ego is gratified. Hence the poor people in India go on worshipping Gandhi; every town has his statue. The poor man has nothing else to feel gratified about. This idea gives him great contentment, that he has something spiritual in him, his poverty is spiritual.
There is nothing spiritual in poverty. Poverty is ugly, unspiritual, irreligious. The poor man is the cause of all that is wrong in the world, because out of poverty all kinds of sins and crimes arise. The poor man has not to be gratified, he has to be made aware, “Do something and get out of your poverty.” If you go on praising the poor man he will become more and more poor to become more and more spiritual. The poorer he is, the more divine.
A farm laborer got a wire from home; it announced that his wife had just given birth to quintuplets. He decided it was time to look for a better-paying job.
“Tell me,” said the employment agent at the firm where he applied, “Do you have any sales ability? Can you type, run a computer or drive a truck?”
Sadly he answered, “No.”
The interviewer asked, “Then what can you do?”
He reached into his pocket, brought out the telegram and said, “Here, read this.”
India’s whole creativity consists in bringing more and more children into the world. There is no reason to be surprised by India’s poverty. Every day thousands are born. Medicine has helped people to live long, medicine has helped people to die later and later. The deathrate has tremendously changed: just thirty years ago, out of ten children born in India nine were going to die before the age of one. Now nine live, only one dies. The deathrate has been changed but the birthrate remains the same.
Now there are only two possibilities: either drop the birthrate or raise the deathrate. There are only two possibilities: either kill people in some way or other…. And that’s what happens again and again — natural calamities kill people, great diseases spread and kill people, wars come and kill people. But they are all lagging behind; they are not able to cope with modern medicine. Unless the birthrate declines there is no possibility for India to see good days. But the Indians are accustomed to having many children. It is very manly, it is thought to be a great blessing from God: the more children you have, the more blessed you are.
These foolish ideas have to be changed, but it is very difficult to change them. Because I am against all these ideas, the Indian masses are against me. They want to be supported… their saints go on saying to them that a child is a gift of God, their saints go on blessing them. Now each child brings a new curse; it is no longer a blessing. The politicians are afraid that if they force birth control on the country then the people won’t vote for them, so they cannot enforce birth control. So they deliver sermons on brahmacharya, celibacy; they themselves are not celibate, and they go on teaching people celibacy. And people love these ideas, these are the ideas they have loved for centuries so they feel very good: this is their culture, their culture is being praised. This is the right way to control population — celibacy.
And how many people are going to do it? That is not the point at all. A cultural idea, praised for centuries, feels very ego-satisfying. Celibacy is not going to work. Birth control will have to be brought in. If people willingly accept it, good. If they don’t accept it willingly, then it has to be forced on them. People cannot be left to destroy the whole country. But if you talk about enforcing birth control they say then you are not a democrat.
You stop people by force in many things: thieves are not allowed to steal — is it non-democratic? Thieves should be allowed, given freedom — democracy means freedom! Murders are not allowed. Now giving birth to so many children is far more of a crime than stealing; in fact it is a far bigger crime than murder.
Things have changed, situations have changed. Now to bring an unnecessary child into the world is far more a crime than killing a person. It is not a question of democracy, it is a question of survival. Democracy is good, but democracy can exist only if the country can survive. The country is dying, starving. Unless birth control is enforced totally, this country cannot be rich.
My attitude is very clear, my approach is absolutely clear, but the country’s old mind is not ready to listen. People come to me and they say, “What you are doing for India’s poverty? Why don’t you run hospitals, and why don’t you distribute free food from the ashram?”
This has been done for at least ten thousand years. Ashrams have been distributing free food for ten thousand years: it has not helped. How it is going to help if one more ashram goes on distributing free food? There are so many hospitals — it has not helped; how it is going to help if we run a few more hospitals?
That is not my approach. I want to cut the very root of the problem, I am not interested in pruning the leaves. But people are duped and dulled by the saints, by the leaders, by the moralists.
Karl Marx seems to be right, at least in a certain sense, that religion has been used as an opium to dupe people and dull their intelligence. Real religion is not opium, but real religion is rare. It exists only when there is a living master — otherwise priests go on pretending that they have the keys of religion. They don’t have any keys; all that they do is serve the politicians.
There is a conspiracy between organized religion and the state — between church and state. Together they dominate people, together they reduce people into slavery. If the people are poor it is easier to force them into slavery; if people are poor it is easier to give them beliefs, superstitions. If people are poor they are always afraid of hell and always greedy for heaven. The priest can dominate them and the politician can also dominate them because they are so poor.
In poverty, people lose intelligence. Intelligence needs a certain nourishment. It is a well known scientific fact that if certain vitamins are missing in your food you will not be intelligent. And I am really worried, because those are the vitamins which are missing in Indian food. Indian food is very deficient — hence you see the intelligence is on a very low level. Even the so-called intelligentsia of India doesn’t seem to be very intelligent. Intelligence is needed to transform this country, its poverty.
And that’s what my work is here: to create more intelligence through meditation; to create more intelligent people by destroying their superstitions, beliefs; to create more alert people, so they can be more responsive to the real situation that exists in the country and in the world. Only in this way can we cut the very root of the problem.
Source – Osho Book “The Book of Wisdom”