In chapter 21 of Glimpses of a Golden Childhood, Osho says that Shambhu Dube, Shambhu Babu, “was a poet, but never published his poetry while he was still alive. He was a great story-writer too, and by chance a famous film director became acquainted with him and his stories. Now Shambhu Babu is dead but a great film has been made using one of his stories, Mugle Azam – ‘The Great Mogul’. It won many awards, both national and international. Alas he is no more. He was my only friend in that place.” [Here Osho means Gadarwara, the village he grew up in.]
And the following day, in chapter 22, Osho says:
[…] I was talking to you about my strange friendship with Shambhu Babu. It was strange on many counts. First, he was older than my father, or perhaps the same age; but as far as I remember, he looked older, and I was only nine years old. Now what kind of friendship is possible? He was a successful legal expert, not only in that small place, but he practiced in the high court and in the supreme court. He was one of the topmost legal authorities. And he was a friend of a wild, unruly, undisciplined, illiterate child. When he said, on that first meeting, “Please be seated,” I was amazed.
I had not hoped that the vice-president would stand to receive me and would say, “Please be seated.”
I said to him, “First, you be seated. I feel a little embarrassed to sit before you do. You are old, perhaps even older than my father.”
He said, “Don’t be worried. I am a friend of your father. But relax and tell me what you have come for.”
I said, “I will tell you later on why I have come here. First….” He looked at me, I looked at him; and what transpired in that small fragment of a moment became my first question. I asked him, “First tell me what happened just now, between your eyes and mine.”
He closed his eyes. I think perhaps ten minutes must have passed before he opened them again. He said, “Forgive me. I cannot figure it out, but something happened.”
We became friends; that was sometime in 1940. Only later on, years afterwards, just one year before he died – he died in 1960, after twenty years of friendship, strange friendship – only then was I able to tell him that the word he had been searching for had been invented by Carl Gustav Jung.
That word is “synchronicity”;
that is what is happening between us.
He knew it; I knew it;
but the word was missing.”
Synchronicity can mean many things all together, it is multidimensional. It can mean a certain rhythmic feeling; it can mean what people have always called love; it can mean friendship; it can simply mean two hearts beating together without rhyme or reason… it is a mystery. Only once in a while one finds someone with whom things fit. Just the jigsaw disappears. All the pieces that were not fitting are suddenly fitting of their own accord.
When I told my grandmother, “I have become friends with the vice-president of this town,” she said, “You mean Pandit Shambhuratan Dube?”
I said, “You look a little shocked by it. What’s the matter with you, Nani?”
Tears rolled down from her eyes. She said, “Then you will not find many friends in the world, that’s why I am worried. If Shambhu Babu has become your friend then you will not find many friends in the world. Not only that; perhaps you may find friends, because you are young, but Shambhu Babu will certainly not find another friend in the world, because he is too old.”
Again and again my grandmother will come into my story with her tremendous insight. Yes, I can see it now. Recapitulating, I can see what she had seen and wept over. I know now that Shambhu Babu never had any other friend. Except for me he was friendless.
I used to visit my village once in a while, perhaps once a year, or twice, not more than that. And as I became more and more involved in my own activity – or you can call it inactivity… as I became more and more involved with the sannyasins, and the movement of meditation, my visits to the village became even rarer. In fact, the last few years before he died my only visits were when I passed through the village on the train.
The station master was my sannyasin, so of course the train would stay as long as I wanted it to. They – and by “they” I mean my father, my mother, Shambhu Babu, and many others who loved me – would come to the station. That would be my only visit; ten, twenty, at the most thirty minutes. The train could not be delayed any longer because other trains had to come. They would be waiting outside the station.
But I can understand his loneliness. He had no other friends. Almost every day he wrote a letter to me – that is very rare – and there was nothing to write. Sometimes he would just send the empty paper inside an envelope. I would understand even that. He was feeling very lonely, and would like to have my company. I tried my best to be there as much as it was practical, because to me it was really a drag to be in that village. It was just for him that I suffered that village.
After he died I rarely, very rarely went there. I now had an excuse, that I could not come because it reminded me of Shambhu Babu. But really there was no point in going there. When he was there, there was a point. He was just a small oasis in a desert.
He was absolutely unafraid about all kinds of condemnation that came to him because of me. To be associated with me, even in those days, was not a good thing. It was dangerous. They told him, “You will lose all the respect of the community, and it is the community that made you from vice-president into the president.”
I said to him, “You can choose, Shambhu Babu: be the president of this stupid village or be my friend.”
He resigned his mayorship, and his presidency. He didn’t say a single word to me; he simply wrote his letter of resignation there, in front of me. He said, “I love something in you which is indefinable. The presidency of this stupid town means nothing to me. I am ready to lose everything, if it comes to that. Yes, I am ready to lose everything.”
They tried to persuade him not to resign, but he would not take it back.
I told him, “Shambhu Babu, you know perfectly well I hate all these presidencies, vice-presidencies, whether they are municipal or national. I cannot say to you, ‘Take back your resignation,’ because I could not commit that crime. If you want to take it back you are free to do so.”
He said, “The seal is closed. There is no point in going back, and I am happy that you did not try to persuade me.”
He remained a lonely man. He had enough money to live like a rich man, so when he resigned his presidency he also resigned from the bar. He said, “I have enough money, why bother? And why law? – with all the legalities and continuous lying in the name of truth.”
He stopped his profession. These were the qualities I loved in him. Without thinking for a single moment, he resigned, and the next day he dropped out of the bar association. For him, I had to visit the village once in a while, or call him to my place, just to be with me for a few days. Once in a while he used to come.
He was a real man, not afraid of any consequences. He once asked me, “What are you going to do? – because I don’t think that you can remain in the university as a professor for long.”
I said, “Shambhu Babu, I never plan. If I drop out of this work I hope some other work will be there waiting for me. If God…” and remember the “if'” because he was not a theist, that was another quality I loved in him; he used to say, “Unless I know, how can I believe?”
I said to him, “If God can find work for all kinds of people, animals, trees, I think He will be able to find some kind of work for me too. And if he cannot find any it is his problem, not mine.”
He laughed and said, “Yes, that is perfectly right. Yes, it is His problem if He is there, but the point is: if He is not there, then what?”
I said, “I don’t see any problem for me then either. If there is no work I can take a deep breath and say goodbye to existence. It is enough proof that I am not needed. And if I am not needed then I am not going to impose myself on this poor existence.”
Our talks, could they all be recapitulated; our arguments, could they all be again reproduced, would make even better dialogues than Plato. He was a very logical man, just as logical as I am illogical. And that is the most baffling thing: that we were the only friends for each other in the town.
Everybody asked, “He is a logician, you are utterly illogical. What is the bridge between you both?”
I said, “It will be difficult for you to understand because you are neither. His very logic brings him to its very brink. I am illogical, not because I was born illogical – nobody is born illogical; I am illogical because I have seen the futility of logic. So I can go with him according to his logic and yet, at a certain point, go ahead of him and then he becomes afraid and stops. And that is keeping our friendship, because he knows he has to go beyond that point, and he knows nobody else who can be of any help to him. You all” – I meant the people of the town – “think that he is a help to me. You are wrong. You can ask him. I am a help to him.”
You will be surprised but one day a few people went to his house to inquire, “Is it true that this small boy is some sort of guide or help to you?”
He said, “Certainly. There is no doubt about it. Why have you come to ask me? Why don’t you ask him? – he lives next door to your house.”
The quality is very rare, and my grandmother was right when she said, “I am afraid that Shambhu Babu is going to be without a friend. And,” she said, “as far as you are concerned, my fears are there, but you are still young, perhaps you may find a few friends.”
Her insight was really so clear. You will be surprised to know that in my whole life I have not had any friend except for Shambhu Babu. If he had not been there I would never have known what it means to have a friend. Yes, I have had many acquaintances – in school, in college, at university; there were hundreds. You might have thought they were all friends, they may even have thought the same; but except for this man, I have not known a single person whom I could call a friend.
To be acquainted is very easy. Acquaintance is very ordinary, but friendship is not part of the ordinary world. You will be surprised to know that whenever I became ill – and I was eighty miles away from the town – I would immediately receive a phone call from Shambhu Babu, very much concerned.
He would ask, “Are you okay?”
I would say, “What’s the matter? Why are you so worried? You sound sick.”
He said, “I am not sick but I felt that you were, and now I know that you are. You cannot hide it from me.”
It happened many times. You will not believe it, but it was just for him that I had to take a private number. Of course there was a phone for my secretary to take care of all my arrangements around the country. But I had a secret, private phone just for Shambhu Babu, so that he could inquire if he felt concerned, even in the middle of the night. I even made it a point that if I was not in the house, perhaps traveling somewhere in India, and I was sick, I would phone him myself just to say, “Please don’t be worried because I am sick.” This is synchronicity.
Somehow a deep, deep connection existed. The day he died I went to him without hesitation. I did not even inquire. I simply drove to the town. I never liked that road, and I liked driving, but that road from Jabalpur to Gadarwara was really a sonofabitch! You will not find a worse road anywhere. Our road, connecting Lao Tzu House to Buddha Hall, is a superhighway by comparison. What do they call them in Germany? Autobahn?
Okay, if Devageet says it is right, then it must be right. Our road is an autobahn compared to the road from the university to Shambhu Babu’s house. I just rushed… a feeling in the guts.
I was a speedy driver. I love speed, but on that road you cannot go more than twenty miles an hour; that’s the maximum possible. So you can conceive what kind of a road it must be. By the time you arrive, if you are not dead then you are something close to it! There is just one good thing: before you enter the town you come across the river. That is its saving grace; you can take a good bath, you can swim for half an hour to refresh yourself, and give your car a good bath too. Then, when you reach the town nobody thinks you are a holy ghost.
I rushed. Never in my life have I been in such a hurry. Not even now, although now I should be in a hurry because time is slipping out of my hands and the day is not far off when I will have to say goodbye to you all, although I may have liked to linger a little longer. Nothing is in my hands except the arms of this chair, and you can see how I am clinging on to them, feeling them to see whether I am still in the body. There is no need to worry… there is still a little time.
That day I had to hurry, and it proved true because if I had been just a few minutes later I would never have seen Shambhu Babu’s eyes again. Alive, I mean – I mean looking at me just the way he had looked that first time. I wanted to see that first look for the last time… that synchronicity. And in that half an hour before he died there was nothing but pure communion. I told him he could say whatever he wanted to say.
He sent everybody else away. Of course they were offended. His wife and sons and his brothers did not like it. But he clearly said, “Whether you like it or not, I want you all to leave immediately because I don’t have much time to waste.”
Naturally afraid, they all left. We both laughed. I said, “Anything you want to say to me, you can say.”
He said, “I have nothing to say to you. Just hold my hands. Let me feel you. Fill me with your presence, I beg you.” He went on, “I cannot go on my knees and touch your feet. It is not that I would not like to do it, just that my body is not in a position to get out of bed. I cannot even move. I have just a few minutes longer.”
I could see that death was almost on his doorstep. I took his hands, and said a few things to him, to which he listened very attentively.
Osho, Glimpses of a Golden Childhood, Ch 22 (excerpt)
Photo of Shambhu Babu – with thanks to Osho World’s archives