An excerpt of Osho’s answer to the question, Why do you call yourself Bhagwan? Why do you call yourself god?
Calling myself Bhagwan is just a device. I can drop it any day. The moment I see it has started working, the chain has started. The moment I see that now it is no more needed… a few people have become a flame; then they will be enough proof. There will be no need to call myself Bhagwan. They will be enough proof. If a few of my sannyasins start blooming, I will drop calling myself Bhagwan. The device will have worked.
A few years back, one day I called Yoga Chinmaya and told him to find a new word for me because I was going to function in a new way. I was known all over the country as the acharya. The acharya means a master, a teacher, and I was a teacher, and I was teaching and travelling. That was just the introductory part of my work; that was to invite people.
Once the invitation reached, I stopped travelling. Now those who want, they should come to me. I have gone to their home, knocked on their doors. I have told them that I am here and any day the desire arises in them, they can come. I will wait. I have shown them the path towards me. And then one day I called Yoga Chinmaya and I told him, ‘Now find a new word for me because the word “teacher” will not be enough.’
He brought many names for the new function that I was going to take. He said, ‘Maharishi, great seer.’ I said, ‘That is comparative – seer and great seer, rishi and maharishi. No, that is not good. And everybody cannot be a seer. It is a talent. A few people can become seers, everybody cannot become a seer.’
Then he said, ‘Paramahansa, the great swan?’ Again it is comparative. And it is a symbol of hierarchy. In certain old sannyasin orders, Paramahansa is the last stage. Just as in buddhist terminology, Arhat is the peak, one has arrived. In hindu terminology, Paramahansa is the peak – but it shows graduation, step by step. It is mathematical, calculative.
He said, ‘Then what about Avadhuta?’ That too is another comparative term, belonging to another sect of sannyasins. It is again parallel to Arhat and Paramahansa, and belongs to the Tantrikas. Avadhuta is their last stage. But it shows achievement.
I said, ‘Find something which is universal. Find something which is not relative.’ And then he found ‘Bhagwan’.
It is a non-comparative term. You cannot be godlier than god; godder than god you cannot be. It is a non-comparative term. And it does not show any achievement; it simply shows your nature. Not that one has to become god; one is god, one has simply to recognize.
It does not show any talent. There is somebody who is a great poet, somebody who is a great seer, a great visionary; somebody a great painter, somebody a great musician, somebody a great dancer – these are all talents. All cannot be great dancers; you cannot all be Nijinskys. And all cannot be great painters; you cannot all be Van Goghs. And you all cannot be great poets; you cannot all be Tagores and Pablo Nerudas.
But Bhagwan you all are. It does not show an achievement; it simply shows your universality, your very nature. Already you are god.
I loved the term. I said, ‘That will do. At least for a few years it will do; then we can drop it.’
I have chosen it for a specific purpose and it has been serving well, because people who used to come to me to gather knowledge, they stopped. The day I called myself Bhagwan, they stopped. It was too much for them, it was too much for their egos. Somebody calling himself Bhagwan?… it hurts the ego.
They stopped. They were coming to me to gather knowledge. Now I’ve changed my function absolutely. I started working on a different level, in a different dimension. Now I give you being, not knowledge. I was an acharya and they were students; they were learning. Now I am no more a teacher and you are not here as students.
If you are here as students, sooner or later you will have to leave, because you will find yourself in a wrong place; you will not fit here. Only if you are a disciple, then you can fit with me. Because now I am to give something more. If you are here for knowledge, then sooner or later you will see – you have to go somewhere else.
I am here to impart being. I am here to make you awake. I am not going to give you knowledge, I am going to give you knowing – and that is a totally different dimension.
Calling myself Bhagwan was simply symbolic – that now I have taken a different dimension to work. And it has been tremendously useful. All wrong people automatically disappeared and a totally different quality of people started arriving.
It worked well. Chinmaya’s choice was good. It sorted out well. Only those who are ready to dissolve with me remained, all others escaped. They created space around me. Otherwise they were crowding too much, and it was very difficult for the real seekers to come closer to me. The crowds disappeared. The word ‘Bhagwan’ functioned like an atomic explosion. It did well. I am happy that I chose it.
Osho, The Discipline of Transcendence, Vol 2, Ch 4, Q 1 (excerpt)