Gibberish lessons: practicals first


Tarpan recalls events in his childhood and in his working years as an engineer, when he did the Gibberish meditation for the first time at the Osho Meditation Resort.

Kuttiyum Kolum

My first visit to the Osho International Meditation Resort in Pune was in January 2000. For the beginning of the new millenium many celebrations were happening all around. Small stickers, photos and other items were on display in front of the bookshop for free pick up and distribution. Buddha Hall was see-through, music and silence always spreading in the air from there, as part of the meditations. Wearing a loose robe, I was also part of the maroon flock. For a few moments I found myself being in an altogether different universe. But very soon, I felt that it’s an ancient space and so familiar to me.

Already on the next day I participated in a meditation called Gibberish. That word was not foreign to me at all, as I had read it many times in a few of Osho’s books, and had the impression that I knew Gibberish. But when I started doing it I understood the difference between experiencing something directly and thinking of experiencing it through words or imagination.

Even though Osho says that making these nonsensical sounds is quite common in everybody’s childhood, after that one-hour meditation I understood that gibberish is not just a childhood habit, but that it has been effectively adapted in our daily activities and living situations in many ways. The only difference is that we are not conscious of it. Because of our unconsciousness, although a certain relief is felt, we have missed a wonderful opening into a realm of silence and awareness.

A few situations of ‘practical gibberish’ went through my mind and automatically found their place in the ‘jigsaw puzzle’ of understanding. I would like to share two such lessons here.

Mani’s magic

When I started my job as a site supervisor for electrical engineering projects, I had a freaky ‘Jabbar’, a technician in our team of workers, who did magic with Gibberish. (I call him Jabbar now, by the name of the Sufi master who used this as a technique. It is said that the word Gibberish comes from his name.)

In those days, I hadn’t heard the word Gibberish (nor Jabbar’s name) before. Even the young man who was using this trick was not aware of anything like it. He used it habitually whenever difficulties arose while moving material, laying cables and installing panel boards, on occasion joined by some of his work mates to give him a boost.

One evening I came back to the office after finishing a day’s duty in a faraway factory site and was instructed to rush to another site and carry out the breakdown jobs which had already been started. It was in a coconut oil factory.

A fire had broken out previously in one of the cable alleys and one unit of the factory had been cut off from production. These cable alleys were choked up with oily coconut waste and after a short circuit a fire had broken out and burned all electrical cables. Our job was to replace the burned cables and reconnect them to the various main panels.

It was already 10 o’clock at night and everybody felt exhausted. All of them had been working hard since early morning and nobody was in the mood of continuing. Some people even said they were unwell. Somebody else had some other urgency why they had to go home. Somebody was sleepy, another was very hungry and many such reasons.

After listening to them carefully, I told them, “We will go home after laying three more cables only.” They understood that no excuse was going to work. Then two people from the group came up to me and whispered, “Call that boy. Without him nothing is going to work at this late hour. He will do the magic.” They came up with this advice, seeing that I was a new supervisor who didn’t have enough experience.

I accepted their suggestion and called that boy to lead the cable laying. His name was Mani. On the promise that once all three cables were in place we could retire for the day, they were in a hurry to finish the job as quickly as possible.

Mani came forward and appointed his work mates to different positions along the cable. It was a heavy cable, around two hundred and fifteen meters long. All twenty people stood in line from one end to the other with Mani in middle. Mani clapped his hands once and everybody became silent immediately. No laziness, no tiredness, no urgency to go home, no hopelessness about the difficulty of the task, no different ideas, nothing.

All of them (me included) became utterly receptive for something to happen. Then Mani started doing Gibberish like, ‘Shashtatatatutta Pashetuvititta Tihuriitarae Lukussittuaereere Sututu Tsututu Vikichuchu Tattata Tattata……..’ and its speed and tone went on increasing. Maybe after 40 or 50 seconds, he made a loud shout, “LIFT”. It was like a ‘silent explosion’.

Such a heavy and long cable was lifted immediately and was carried by twenty-one people, in total silence. It had to be taken through a very narrow chamber full of hurdles. But none of the men spoke or made any unnecessary noise. A clear-cut communication happened among them naturally. After some time a loud applause arose to celebrate: the cable had reached the other end!

I stood in awe like a small child watching a magic show. All cables were placed in their position without any hustle and bustle. And we all retired soon afterwards.

From that day on Mani became my special friend, and as a supervisor I used to give him many privileges as a gift for his Gibberish. Actually, it was a gift exchange for something unknown that felt magical to me.


That very evening after I had done Gibberish in Buddha Hall for the first time, some of the doubts I had about one of our childhood games became clear to me. It was as if a sheath of sunlight had glittered through a cluster of trees and fell on my face. I said to myself, “Games are not just games, but the game of encounters (of consciousness).”

I understand that ‘games’ are like milestones in the evolution and growth of human culture and civilization. They show how intelligent a civilization is, vibrant with imagination, interactive, creative, mature and receptive towards individuality.

One of the fascinating games of my childhood in Kerala was ‘Kuttiyum Kolum’- Boy and Cane. All over India this game was played under different names, like ‘Gilli-danda’ in north India. According to Wikipedia, the game originated around 2500 years ago, and it is said that a similar game, called Lippa, is being played in Italy too. The main structure of the game is similar to cricket (which has by now replaced it, except maybe in some remote areas). Instead of a ball, a small stick is used, and batting is done with a longer one.

As I was growing up I started noticing that there is something foolish about the game. Because, in the end, both teams had to undergo a punishment: one representative of the losing team has to run a distance, which is fixed by the winners, shouting ‘pachilapazhukila pachilapazhukila’ in a single breath and as fast as possible. Once the breath is interrupted, he has to run another distance from that point on.

The foolishness I felt was that, alongside with the loser, also a representative of the winners has to run the entire distance in order to check whether the runner breaks his breath or not. Sometimes two or three people would run together with the loser to check. In a way, both teams are punished!

But there was a wonderful thing that always happened in the end; all enmity, discord and conflict was immediately dissolved and both teams were ready to have a fresh beginning. We used to interchange participants too. In many other type of games the enmity used to remain till the next game was won, maybe till the next day.

Now I feel, or understand, that all antagonism was dissolved through that Gibberish. All friction and rivalry must have been emptied through Gibberish. Bypassing the language region in the brain, those emotions were not allowed to manifest. Everybody else also is almost holding their breath to find out whether the runner is breaking his breath. When the runner shouts ‘pachilapazhukila pachilapazhukila’ so fast, all participants are also going through the same Gibberish.

(Only after many years I understood that the mantra ‘pachilapazhukila’ was actually two words – pacha ila, pazhutha ila. It means, green leaf, yellow leaf. Apparently it doesn’t have any relevance, or meaning, to the situation. It’s just a gibberish exercise.)

That evening in Pune, it became clear to me that it is not the game that is foolish; rather, I was foolish not to be able to understand the inner games, the inner games of Gibberish.

Something else came to mind: perhaps this is not only true about Gibberish but about most meditations; they use an activity that has naturally evolved, techniques we must have had a natural tendency for, like dancing, shaking, whirling. If they were merely invented out of the blue, they would probably not work as well.

TarpanDhyan Tarpan was born in Kerala, India. He lived many years in Mumbai, working in construction/electrical engineering, and took sannyas in 2000 at the Osho International Meditation Resort in Pune. Along with writing articles and travelogues in the Malayalam language, he has translated from English seven of Osho’s books. Tarpan recently shifted back to Kerala where he is fully involved in writing, playing/making music and related activities.

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