Saraha is the Founder of Tantra just as Bodhidharma is the Founder of Zen.

GAUTAM THE BUDDHA IS THE GREATEST MASTER who has ever walked on the earth. Christ is a great Master, so is Krishna, so is Mahavir, so is Mohammed, and many more – but Buddha still remains the greatest Master. Not that his achievement of Enlightenment is greater than anybody else’s – Enlightenment is neither less nor more – he has attained to the same quality of consciousness as Mahavir, as Christ, as Zarathustra, as Lao Tzu. There is no question of any Enlightened man being more Enlightened than anybody else. But as far as his being a Master is concerned, Buddha is incomparable – because, through him, thousands of people have attained to Enlightenment. It has never happened with any other Master. His line has been the most fruitful line. His family has been the most creative family up to now. He is like a big tree with so many branches – and EACH branch has been fruitful; each branch is loaded with many fruits.

Mahavir remained a local phenomenon. Krishna fell into the hands of scholars and was lost. Christ was completely destroyed by the priests. Much could have happened, but it didn’t happen. Buddha has been tremendously fortunate in this. Not that the priests have not tried, not that the scholars have not tried they have done all that they can do but somehow Buddha’s teaching was devised in such a way that it could not be destroyed. It is still alive. Even after twenty-five centuries, a few flowers come on his tree, it still blooms. Spring comes, and still it releases fragrance, it still bears fruit. Saraha is also a fruit of the same tree. Saraha was born about two centuries after Buddha. He was in the direct line of a different branch. One branch moves from Mahakashyap to Bodhidharma and Zen is born – and it is still full of flowers, that branch. Another branch moves from Buddha to his son, Rahul Bhadra, and from Rahul Bhadra to Sri Kirti, and from Sri Kirti to Saraha, and from Saraha to Nargarjuna – that is the Tantra branch. It is still bearing fruit in Tibet.

Tantra converted Tibet, and Saraha is the founder of Tantra just as Bodhidharma is the founder of Zen. Bodhidharma conquered China, Korea, Japan. Saraha conquered Tibet. These Songs of Saraha are of great beauty. They are the very foundation of Tantra. You will have to understand first the Tantra attitude towards life, the Tantra vision of life. The most basic thing about Tantra is this – and very radical, revolutionary, rebellious – the basic vision is that the world is not divided into the lower and the higher, but that the world is one piece. The higher and the lower are holding hands. The higher includes the lower, and the lower includes the higher. The higher is hidden in the lower – so the lower has not to be denied, has not to be condemned, has not to be destroyed or killed. The lower has to be transformed. The lower has to be allowed to move upwards… and the lower becomes the higher. There is no unbridgeable gap between the Devil and God – the Devil is carrying God deep down in his heart. Once that heart starts functioning, the Devil becomes God.

That is the reason why the very root of the word’devil’ means the same as’divine’. The word’devil’ comes from’divine’; it is the Divine not yet evolved, that’s all. Not that the Devil is against the Divine, not that the Devil is trying to destroy the Divine – in fact, the Devil is trying to find the Divine. The Devil is on the way towards the Divine; it is not the enemy, it is the seed. The Divine is the tree fully in bloom and the Devil is the seed – but the tree is hidden in the seed. And the seed is not against the tree; in fact, the tree cannot exist if the seed is not there. And the tree is not against the seed – they are in deep friendship, they are together. Poison and nectar are two phases of the same energy, so are life and death – and so is everything: day and night, love and hate, sex and superconsciousness.

Tantra says: Never condemn anything – the attitude of condemnation is the stupid attitude. By condemning something, you are denying yourself the possibility that would have become available to you if you had evolved the lower. Don’t condemn the mud, because the lotus is hidden in the mud; use the mud to produce the lotus. Of course, the mud is not the lotus yet, but it can be. And the creative person, the religious person, will help the mud to release its lotus so that the lotus can be freed from the mud. Saraha is the founder of the Tantra vision. It is of tremendous import, and particularly for the present moment in human history, because a new man is striving to be born, a new consciousness is knocking on the doors. And the future is going to be that of Tantra, because now no more dual attitudes can hold man’s mind.

They have tried for centuries and they have crippled man and they have made man guilty. And they have not made man free they have made man a prisoner. And they have not made man happy either; they have made man very miserable. They have condemned everything from food to sex they have condemned everything; from relationship to friendship they have condemned all. Love is condemned, body is condemned, mind is condemned. They have not left a single inch for you to stand on; they have taken away all and man is hanging, just hanging. This state of man cannot be tolerated any more. Tantra can give you a new perspective hence I have chosen Saraha. Saraha is one of my most loved persons. It is my old love affair. You may not even have heard the name of Saraha, but Saraha is one of the great benefactors of humanity. If I were to count on my fingers ten benefactors of humanity, Saraha would be one of those ten. If I were to count five, then too I would not be able to drop Saraha.

BEFORE WE ENTER into these Songs of Saraha, a few things about Saraha’s life: Saraha was born in Vidarbha; Vidarbha is part of Maharashtra, very close to Poona. He was born when King Mahapala was the ruler. He was the son of a very learned Brahmin who was in the court of King Mahapala. The father was in the court so the young man was also in the court. He had four other brothers; they were all great scholars, and he was the youngest and the most intelligent of them all. His fame was spreading all over the country, by and by, and the king was almost enchanted by his superb intelligence. The four brothers were also very great scholars, but nothing to be compared with Saraha. As they became mature, the four got married. The king was willing to give his own daughter to Saraha, but Saraha wanted to renounce all – Saraha wanted to become a sannyasin. The king was hurt; he tried to persuade Saraha – he was so beautiful and he was so intelligent and he was such a handsome young man. His fame was spreading all over the country, and because of him Mahapala’s court was becoming famous. The king was very much worried, and he didn’t want this young man to become a sannyasin. He wanted to protect him, he wanted to give him all comfort possible – he was ready to do anything for him. But Saraha persisted and the permission had to be given – he became a sannyasin, he became a disciple of Sri Kirti.

Sri Kirti is in the direct line of Buddha – Gautam Buddha, then his son Rahul Bhadra, and then comes Sri Kirti. There are just two Masters between Saraha and Buddha; he is not very far away from Buddha. The tree must have been still very, very green; the vibe must have been still very, very alive. Buddha had just left. The climate must have been full of his fragrance. The king was shocked, because Saraha was a Brahmin. If he wanted to become a sannyasin he should have become a Hindu sannyasin, but he chose a Buddhist Master. Saraha’s family was also very much worried. In fact, they all became enemies… this was not right. And then things became even worse – we will come to know about it. Saraha’s original name was’Rahul’, the name given by his father. We will come to know how he became Saraha – that is a beautiful story. When he went to Sri Kirti, the first thing Sri Kirti told him was: ”Forget all your Vedas and all your learning and all that nonsense.” It was difficult for Saraha, but he was ready to stake anything. Something in the presence of Sri Kirti had attracted him. Sri Kirti was a great magnet. He dropped all his learning, he became unlearned again.

This is one of the greatest renunciations: it is easy to renounce wealth, it is easy to renounce a great kingdom, but to renounce knowledge is the most difficult thing in the world. In the first place, how to renounce it? It is there inside you. You can escape from your kingdom, you can go to the Himalayas, you can distribute your wealth – how can you renounce your knowledge? And then it is too painful to become ignorant again. It is the greatest austerity there is, to become ignorant again, to become again innocent like a child… but he was ready. Years passed and, by and by, he erased all that he had known. He became a great meditator. Just the same as he had started to become very famous as a great scholar, now his fame started spreading as a great meditator. People started coming from far and away just to have a glimpse of this young man who had become so innocent, like a fresh leaf, or like dew-drops on the grass in the morning.

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