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  • Sandeep Chatterjee
    Jul 31, 2002
      When we review the vast procession of naked, ragged and unkempt dropouts who illuminated the dreary passages of history to leave wisdom on which lesser minds could ponder, have we not cause for great wonder? What is it that made these men so different from the men of the mass.

      The answer is that the former had Sahaja.

      Man is born with an instinct for naturalness. He has never forgotten the days of his primordial perfection except inasmuch as the memory becomes buried under the artificial superstructures of civilization and its artificial concepts. Sahaja means natural. It not only implies natural on physical and spiritual levels, but on the mystic level of the miraculous. It means that easy or natural state of living without planning, design, contriving, seeking, wanting, striving or intention.

      What is to come must come of itself. It is the seed which falls to the ground, becomes seedling, sapling and then a vast shady tree of which the Pipal or Ashvattha is a classical example and used in wisdom teaching. The tree grows according to Sahaja, natural and spontaneous in complete conformity with the Natural Law of the Universe. Nobody tells it what to do and how to grow. It has no svadharma or rules, duties and obligations incurred by birth. It has only svabhava, its own inborn self or essence to guide it.

      Sahaja is that nature which, when once established, brings the state of absolute freedom and peace. It is when you are in your natural state, in the harmony of the Cosmos. It is the balanced reality between the pairs of opposites. Thus sahaja expresses one who has reverted to his natural state, free from conditioning. It typifies the outlook which belongs to the natural, spontaneous and uninhibited man, free from innate or inherited defects.

      In all the Golden Dharmas sahaja flourishes. In Taoism it was the highest virtue (re). In the earlier Zen records it is the main plank of training along which the disciples had to walk. The masters demanded answers which were sahaja and not the product of intellectual thinking or reason. The truth only came spontaneously.

      Sahaja in Chinese became tzu-jan or Self-so ness. Taoism openly lamented the loss of the peculiar naturalness and unselfconsciousness of the child. Lao Tzu saw that Confucian ethics (which have their counterpart in the modern world) crushed the original natural loveliness of the child into the rigid patterns of its conventions.

      Retirement from such a society became the outer symbol of freedom from the bonds and bounds of conventional society. Taoism, as Brahma-Vidya and Zen, saw retirement or renunciation as the only possible way for men to recover sahaja. Thus the greatest quality of children again became recaptured by saints and sages.

      Artificial clowns throng the world:

      Only children and saints know sahaja.

      Dattatreya tried to each men that if they had sahaja there was no need to do anything to prove it. It manifested only by the way one lived.

      Sukhadev, the great naked Mahatma who expounded the Bhagavad Purana, stood, when a young man, naked in the presence of his father, the sage Vyasa, to be initiated into the Brahmin caste with mantra and sacred thread. This was a moment such as we have just mentioned, when the natural unspoiled boy was to be ushered into a world of concepts, ideas and obligations, and all naturalness would be lost.

      Sukhadev decided to keep his sahaja. Taking to his heels, he ran from the house and took to the path which wound itself along the side of a river and into the jungle.

      As he came to the river some young women were bathing naked in the water. They took no notice of Sukhadev and he only glanced and ran on. But Vyasa the father was hot on his tracks, and following the young man to induce him to return. But as Vyasa approached the river, the young women screamed, rushed for their garments and covered themselves as he drew near. Having observed their complete indifference when his naked son ran past, and this modest but demonstrative display at his own approach, Vyasa could not help wondering at the contrast.

      He stopped by the now covered women, and asked for some explanation of such widely different behaviour towards his naked son and his decorously dressed self. One of the women explained: "When your son looks at us he sees only people and is not conscious of male and female. He is just as unconscious of our nakedness as he is of his own, but with you, Maharaj Vyasa it is different." Sukhadev had sahaja, and the women knew it. He knew it, and never lost it. His father never caught up with him and he never returned home. He became one of India's many great saints, not living in any fixed place, but only in the fullness of the immediate present.

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