Osho speaks on Sir Seth Hukumchand Jain

Osho on Notable People

“I have never seen a more frustrated person in my life.”

Sir Seth Hukumchand Jain

Sir Seth Hukumchand Jain was born in Indore in 1874 and died in 1959. For over 50 years, he was a prominent leader of the Jain community, a philanthropist and a commercial entrepreneur who was instrumental in establishing the cloth market and was involved in speculative and ready trade in opium, gold, silver, cotton, oil seeds, salt and grain on a very large scale. He was renowned as India’s Cotton Prince having founded cotton mills in Indore and being the first Indian industrialist to open a jute mill in Calcutta. He was a champion of the nationwide Khadi Movement initiated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1920 and a leader of the Swadeshi Movement of 1931 in Mumbai.

He had a long and illustrious history of religious and social service. He preserved Jain Tirthas and built and repaired various Jain temples, including the famed Kanch Mandir (Temple of Glass), which he built in exquisite white stone in 1921. Glass panels and mosaics cover the whole interior, including the floor, columns, walls, and ceilings. The ornamentation is based on ancient and medieval Jain styles, with the use of multi-colored glass and mirrors being the most notable innovation.

He also owned a much-discussed gold-plated 1919 Daimler limousine that has just recently been entirely restored.

In his later life, Hukumchand abandoned his lavish robes and rich gem-encrusted jewellery in favour of more modest attire. He spent most of his time engaged in religious pursuits.

Kaanch Mandir, Indore – Entrance
Kanch Mandir – MainHall
Exhibition of artifacts
Glass Ceiling
1919 Daimler limousine ²

In Indore, India, I used to be a guest of one of the richest men of the world – perhaps the richest man of the world – Sir Seth Hukumchand. He has beautiful palaces made all of Italian marble. His own private temple is a unique piece of art. It is made only of glass crystals – a huge temple made just of glass crystals. You stand in the temple and you see yourself reflected in millions of mirrors. You are surrounded by a crowd of your selves.

He was the only man in the whole world who had a Rolls Royce¹ made in solid gold – even the engine! Nothing else but solid gold was used. But I have never seen a more frustrated person in my life. He had everything, but whenever I used to stay with him he was always talking about his frustrations, anxieties, and that he was becoming old and his desires were not fulfilled.

Desires are millions, and your life is so small. He had perhaps become the richest man – but that was not certain, because the Nizam of Hyderabad had so many diamonds, emeralds and rubies that every year, when they were brought out of the treasury, seven terraces of his palaces were filled by them. They were not counted; they were weighed. Counting was impossible, because in his small kingdom of Hyderabad was the best diamond mine, from which all the great diamonds of the world have come. The Kohinoor, which is in the crown of the queen of England, has come from the Nizam’s collection. His collection is immense. Nobody has been able to evaluate it.

Sir Seth Hukumchand used to say to me, “Who knows, perhaps he is richer than me! Perhaps I am not the richest man, the Nizam of Hyderabad may be the richest man.”

I said, “Strange – why should you be worried? You have everything that you want, you can have everything that you want.” But this is how the ego functions.

Working his whole life, earning – he had thousands of businesses, industries, around the country – naturally, he had destroyed his health. Now that was a problem for the ego: even his servants were more healthy than he was. He had the healthiest horses in India – because he was a lover of horse races, and he had unique horses. I have never seen that kind of horse anywhere else. Those horses were living in marble palaces, the stable was a marble palace. And they were as healthy as any horse can be.

But his ego was suffering because even his servants, even his horses were healthier than him. And he was not a man you could call beautiful. He had beautiful palaces and beautiful collections of all kinds of things. He had his own private museum. From all over the world everything that he wanted was purchased for his museum. But he was just an ordinary, homely man – not beautiful, not handsome – and that was hurting his ego. He was not very tall – that was hurting his ego.

I said, “You are just unnecessarily creating problems for yourself. A six-foot man, or a five-foot man – it doesn’t matter, because the five-foot man also reaches the earth, his feet are on the earth. So you may be six feet, seven feet, it doesn’t matter; your feet are on the earth. And as far as the sky is concerned, nobody’s head touches the sky. So what is the problem? You are not hanging one foot above the earth because you are only five feet tall. That would have been a real problem. But I don’t see the problem – your feet reach the earth perfectly well!”

But the ego is impossible. And because you are trying to fulfill the ego, you forget your real task. Who is going to discover your real self, which is not the ego? Ego is something made-up, a facade. It is a palace made of playing cards: a small breeze, and the palace disappears. And that’s what happened.

Sir Seth Hukumchand was known as the silver king of India because he was the dominant figure as far as silver was concerned. It was in his hands to control the price of silver; to bring it down or to bring it up was within his hands. But before he died he was almost bankrupt. Somebody else had become the silver king.

Before his death I had gone to see him, and I told him, “Now you can relax. All that stupidity is gone; you are bankrupt. You could not enjoy all those riches, now enjoy bankruptcy.” And in his old age – he was almost eighty – he started crying. I said, “You have not lost anything, because when those things were there you were not happy, you were not rejoicing – so what is the loss?”

He said, “I am not crying for all that. I am crying that death is coming near and I have not looked even for a moment into myself. And you have been telling me again and again that the ego will not help, you will have to find the self; ego is a false substitute.”

Osho, From Bondage to Freedom, Ch 29, Q 2 (excerpt)


¹ Daimler, the earliest automobile company in the U.K., was appointed manufacturer of ‘Royal Cars’ by Edward VII, until Rolls-Royce took over this privileged position after WWII. Hence Osho’s mention the limousine was a Rolls Royce.

² The restored Daimler of Sir Humachand was displayed at the 5th Cartier Concours d’Elegance at Falaknuma, Hyderabad in February 2017. The image copyright is with the current owners of Sir Humachand’s family. Image credit to team-bhp.com

Image credit of Kanch Mandir to lucky-vagabond.com


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