Excerpt from the book, Sudhiyon ke Rajhans (King Swans Remembered), by the late renowned poet, Professor Jawaharlal ‘Tarun’ of Jabalpur.
We were students of B.A. Final at D.N. Jain Degree College, Jabalpur. Jai Narayan Awasthi was the Professor for Hindi poetry and Harikant Shrivastava was the Professor for Hindi prose.
One day, Professor Shrivastava was delivering a lecture on the genre of stories. He looked at his notebook time and again during his lecture. The students were listening attentively and some were taking notes as well. There was no questions from anyone. He was asserting that a story is born from some incident.
Rajneesh (Osho) used to sit on the last chair or bench near the open window, looking out at the green garden or the open sky. I was seated slightly ahead of him. Perhaps he was only attending the class to meet the required minimum attendance. He used to be quite uninterested to what was being taught in class. That day, he was in the same indifferent mood, staring out the window at the open sky. The professor was not pleased with the student’s indifference in the running class. He felt offended and couldn’t stand it any longer.
He called out, “You, backbencher! What exactly are you doing?”
“Are you talking to me?” said the backbencher.
The entire class became attentive to this question-and-answer dialogue.
“Yes, I am inquiring. What do you see through the window?”
“I’m seeing what is worth seeing.”
The entire class burst out laughing.
The professor’s rage grew stronger. “So you weren’t paying attention to the lecture?”
“I pay attention to what is worth listening to.”
The class began to enjoy the conversation.
The professor became enraged. “So, tell me what I said in the story?”
“It’s best if you don’t ask that.”
“Because what you’re saying is not correct.”
The student had now gone too far. He had questioned the professor’s knowledge. It did a lot of damage to his ego.
“How?” he exclaimed, frustrated.
Rajneesh (Osho) repeated himself, “What you’re saying is incorrect, sir. An ‘incident’ does not give birth to a story.”
The professor laughed at this incomprehensible response. He declared, “It’s that easy. An incident occurred, the writer witnessed it, and the story was written.”
All of the students agreed that the professor was correct. There was no way to argue with it.
However, the backbencher came again, “Sir, an incident occurred, the writer witnessed it, and he wrote a story about it. This is correct. However, this does not imply that the story is born from the incident.”
This self-contradiction had the entire class at a loss for words. And the professor was pleased that he had seized the opportunity. “Now kindly tell me where the story is born,” he said sarcastically, as he smiled at all the students.
Rajneesh (Osho) responded, “Sir, you are asking again and again, please listen. The story isn’t based on an incident. It is the result of sentiment.”
“Is it because of sentiment? If an incidence occurs, then only sentiment will be triggered.”
“Yes, sir, this is the sequence: incident, sentiment, and the production of the story.”
“It proves that the mother of the story is an incident.”
“No, sir, that just goes to show that feeling, sentiment, is the mother of all stories.”
“Doesn’t your argument strike you as odd?”
“It’s not unusual. It’s the correct strategy. Please remember that I am my mother’s son, not my mother’s mother’s son. As a result, the sentiment is the mother of the story, while the incident is the mother of the mother.”
The entire class roared with laughter as they agreed with this logic. The students who were thinking Rajneesh (Osho) was snappy, tight-lipped, and a wild boy, got very attracted to him. In the debate, he had defeated the professor; his reasoning was dismissed. He was in a humiliating situation when, to his good fortune, the bell rung, signalling the end of the period.
“Well, we’ll address the matter again,” he said, relieved, and walked out.
Translated by Swami Ageh Bharti