Osho speaks about Jawaharlal Nehru’s visit to Jabalpur, during which Osho approached him on Naudra Bridge.
It happened when I was a student, the first prime minister of India came to visit the city. In Jabalpur, just in the middle of the city flows all the dirt of the city. The city is very big – ten times bigger than Portland – and just in the middle of the city, the whole dirt flows like a river. There is a bridge over it, and to pass that bridge is to know something about hell. I have never seen any place so stinking.
The day Jawaharlal, the prime minister, came to visit the city the bridge was one of the greatest problems. He had to cross it, that was the only way to get to the other part of the city. So they covered the bridge with mogra flowers. It was summertime, and the mogra is so fragrant a flower…. The whole bridge on both sides had garlands of mogra hanging. You could pass across the bridge and you would not be at all aware that just behind those mogras, the wall of flowers, was the most dirty place possible.
I was just going to the university. Seeing people decorating the Naudra bridge – that was the name of the bridge; it was called Naudra because it had nine pillars, nine doors through which the dirt used to flow – seeing the people putting those flowers up, I stopped there. I started working with those people who were decorating, and nobody made any objection because many people were working, and it had to be done quickly – soon Jawaharlal was going to pass. So I got mixed in with the workers, the volunteers.
When Jawaharlal’s procession came and he was standing in an open Jeep, I stood in front of the jeep and stopped it. It would not have been possible in any other place because everywhere there were military police, guards, security. On Naudra bridge these volunteers were on both sides, and there was no crowd because nobody wanted to stand there. And the crowd was not aware of what had happened – that those mogra flowers had completely covered the smell. The place was smelling of paradise! The people were not aware of it because nobody was near there.
I told Jawaharlal, “Please get down. You have to look behind these flowers – that is the reality of this city. You are being befooled; these flowers are not decorations for your welcome, they are put here to deceive you.”
He said, “What do you mean?”
I said, “Get down, and just come close to the flowers and look beyond them.” He was a very sensitive and intelligent man. Others tried to prevent him – the local leaders.
I said, “Don’t listen to these fools. These are the people who have arranged these flowers here. Have you seen in the city, anywhere, thousands of flowers arranged for your decoration? And here you don’t see any crowd. The arithmetic is simple. Just come down.”
He got down and went with me to look beyond the flowers: he could not believe it. He told the people, the local leaders, the mayor, the members of the corporation and the president of the congress, “If this young man was not so stubborn, I would have missed seeing the reality of your city. Is this what you have been doing here?”
He said to me, “If you come to New Delhi sometime, come and visit me.”
I said, “Not sometime – I will come simply to visit you. But tell the idiots surrounding you that I am allowed in.”
He told his secretary, “You have to take care that nobody prevents him.”
That’s how that secretary became one of my followers. And whenever I needed, he was immediately ready to arrange it: the doors of Jawaharlal’s house were open for me.
I remembered this incident because that’s what has happened with the whole of humanity.
You see the misery, but you don’t see the cause. The cause is covered with flowers. You see the flowers, and because flowers cannot cause the misery you turn back.
The second thing to remember is that it is not only now that humanity is miserable; it has always been so.
Yes, one thing new has happened – it is a little difference, but a difference that really makes a difference – and that is: a certain percentage of humanity has now become more aware than it has ever been before.
Misery has always been there; but to be aware of the misery, that is a new factor. And that is the beginning of transformation.
Osho, From Ignorance to Innocence, Ch 1, Q 1 (excerpt)