Paramhansa: The Madness Beyond Mind

Today’s day as per Hindu calender is celebrated as Ramakrishna Jayanti in honour of a well-known and revered saint by the name of Ramakrishna during the period between 1836 to 1886. Later he was called Paramhansa by his followers, disciples and spiritual seekers. Ramakrishna got married to Sarada Devi who also turned towards spiritualism. Among his various disciples, one name that stays in mind is Swami Vivekananda who worked in total dedication for his guru Ramakrishna.

Ramkrishna did many religious practices: Rama bhakti, vaishanav bhakti, vedant practices, Islam and Christianity. Osho said many times that Ramkrishna Paramhansa tried to achieve the same spiritual state with different routes and he succeeded, hence proved that different religious paths leads to one destiny.

In the beginning of 1885 Ramakrishna suffered from clergyman’s throat, which gradually developed into throat cancer. Ramakrishna was advised by the doctors to keep the strictest silence, but ignoring their advice, he incessantly conversed with visitors. Ramakrishna asked Vivekananda to look after the welfare of the disciples, saying, “keep my boys together” and asked him to “teach them”. Ramakrishna’s condition gradually worsened, and he left his body in the early morning hours of 16 August 1886 at the Cossipore garden house.

Osho explains that Paramhansa means “the greatest swan” who has become capable of discriminating between darkness and light, between right and wrong. He further says that Ramakrishna accepted every way. He was a rare man; he accepted every technique, every method, and he said everybody has to find his own way, there is no superway.  Ramakrishna functioned more freely, there was no confinement anywhere; all the directions were open to him. He could fly just like a bird in the sky, no limitations existed.



There are two possibilities: Madness literally means going out of the mind; hence the two possibilities. You can go out of the mind either below the mind or above the mind. Ordinarily, people go below the mind because it needs no effort, you don’t have to do anything. Any shock can shatter the stability of your mind: somebody you loved died, your business has gone bankrupt — the shock is so much that you cannot keep your normality. You fall below the mind, your behavior becomes irrational. But you go beyond the misery — if you had remained in the normal mind the shock would have created immense misery. It is a natural way to avoid the shock. It simply pulls you down; now you don’t know what has happened. Your business has gone bankrupt, your wife has died or your child has died — it doesn’t matter, in fact you don’t even remember. You have entered into a new phase, you have become a new person. But it is going to be irrational, abnormal, unpredictable. This is ordinarily called madness, insanity, all over the world.

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Only in the East have we found that there is another kind of madness, too, that comes from deep meditation: going beyond the mind. Both are outside the mind; hence there is some similarity. So sometimes you will find that the madman once in a while behaves almost as a wise man. He has insights — he has no control over them, they are just flashes, but sometimes he can see things which you cannot see. In the East, where mind has been the sole center of all research down the centuries, we have discovered that you can go above the mind. Sufism accepts that state and calls it the state of a masta — a divine madman. He is mad, but he is superhumanly mad. His behavior is irrational as far as our logic is concerned. But perhaps there is a higher logic, according to which his behavior is not irrational.

In India such a man is called paramhansa.

Ramakrishna, in the last century, was one of the men who was called paramhansa. The behavior of a paramhansa is utterly mad, but intensely beautiful, and has a depth which even the greatest genius of the mind does not have…

Paramhansa means “the greatest swan” who has become capable of discriminating between darkness and light, between right and wrong. It is not an effort on his part; it has become simply his nature. But his behavior may look mad.

This is my feeling, that there are many madmen in India who are really mad, who have not gone beyond mind — I have seen a few — but they are worshipped as paramhansas. Their irrational acts are interpreted by great scholars in such a way that they start having meaning. I have watched these people and they are really mad, they are not paramhansas. Perhaps the case may be similar in the West; there may be a few paramhansas who are living in mad asylums, because you don’t have any other category. Once a man starts behaving in a bizarre, berserk manner, he is mad. So on both sides there is confusion. But I think, still, the Eastern confusion is better. There is no harm in worshipping a madman; you are not doing any harm. But to put a paramhansa into a madhouse and force him through medicines and injections and treatment to come back into the mind is real harm. Western psychology has still no category for the second one, which it needs.

But that category will arise only when it accepts supermind. Before Sigmund Freud it had not even accepted the unconscious mind — only the conscious mind. For thousands of years in the West there was no idea of the unconscious mind. With Sigmund Freud, the unconscious mind became established. With Jung, the collective unconscious mind became established. Now somebody is needed to establish the cosmic unconscious mind. A tremendous field is available for any genius to establish it. Because in the Eastern psychology all these three are accepted, have been accepted for thousands of years. And this is below the conscious mind. Above the conscious mind are also three: the superconscious, the collective superconscious, and the cosmic superconscious. On those, no work has been even started. The second category of madmen that I am talking about is somewhere in these three categories; certainly in the superconscious but perhaps if it grows deeper, it may become collective superconscious. And in a man like Ramakrishna it is cosmic superconscious.

When he was dying he had a cancer of the throat, and it became impossible for him to eat anything or drink anything. And his followers were telling him again and again, “You just close your eyes and tell the existence — it will listen to you.” He would close his eyes, but would forget all about it. After a while, when he would open his eyes… the disciples were waiting; they would say, “What happened?”

He said, “Nothing, because when I close my eyes everything becomes silent. What are you expecting to happen?”

They said, “We had asked you to ask existence….” Finally they forced his wife, Sharda: “Perhaps only you can persuade him.”

Unwillingly, reluctantly, she asked him. With tears in her eyes she said, “I don’t want to tell you to do anything because that is interfering, and my whole life I have never said a single word to interfere. You are far above; my hands cannot reach. But because these people are so deeply in anguish, I have agreed to say to you, just once: Close your eyes and ask existence, `What are you doing to me? Remove this cancer from my throat.'”

He said, “Because you have never asked anything — every wife is asking everything, any day, every day; for your whole life you have never asked anything — and this is maybe my last day, or last days, I will fulfill it.”

He closed his eyes, opened his eyes and said, “Sharda, I asked. And I heard a voice saying to me, `Ramakrishna, can’t you drink with other people’s throats? Can’t you eat with other people’s throats? Do you necessarily need your own? Are you still attached to your own body?’

“And I said, `No’ — I had to say the truth. So the voice said, `From now onwards, you eat with everybody’s throat, drink with everybody’s throat.'”

This is the stage of cosmic consciousness. This man may look mad, may behave in some ways which do not fit with our mind… and psychology has to find a place for this man, separate from the madman we know. So there is a possibility of becoming mad below the mind, and with that too you can be on three levels. You can be mad, just unconscious; you can be mad collectively unconscious. And each step down you will become more and more mad. You can be mad at the level of the cosmic unconscious mind; that is the worst that can happen to a man. He will live just like a stone, a rock. He has lost all touch… he is so far away, miles away from consciousness…

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You ask me, “What is madness?”

Madness can be defined as either falling below the mind or falling above the mind. Falling below the mind is sickness; falling above the mind is health, wholeness.


This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune. 

Discourse name:

Beyond Psychology

Chapter title: Falling above the mind
Chapter #35
29 April 1986 pm in


Osho has spoken on Mystics like Dadu, Daya, Farid, Gurdjieff, J. Krishnamurti, Kabir, Lalla, Magdalen, Mallibai, Meera, Nanak, Patanjali, Rabiya, Raman Maharishi, Rumi, Sahajo, Sai Baba, Saraha, Socrates, Teresa, Tilopa, Valmiki, Zarathustra and many more in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. Sermons in Stones
  2. Come Come Yet Again Come
  3. The Hidden Splendor
  4. Beyond Enlightenment
  5. The New Dawn
  6. The Sword and The Lotus
  7. The Fish in the Sea is Not Thirsty
  8. Socrates Poisoned Again After 25 Centuries
  9. Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega
  10. The Path of Love
  11. The Book of Wisdom
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