Saraha was the founder of tantra in Tibet. He was born in a Brahmin family of east India. His name Saraha means “pierce-arrow,” and he is usually shown in Tibetan art holding an arrow, suggesting the penetrating clarity of one fully awake person.
After studying ancestral traditions, he went on to become a Buddhist monk and scholar. It is said that he resided for a time at the great Nalanda and Vikramasila monastic universities. Influenced by Tantrism, he left monastic life to roam as a yogi in simple white cotton garb.
Saraha then takes up with a very young woman of a lower-caste arrow smith family and joins her as a maker of arrows. In most accounts, her counsel is what helps him realize the intrinsically pure nature of Awareness, the Mahamudra “Great Gesture/Seal” of Enlightenment.
A commentary on the Buddhakapala Tantra and over 110 Doha/couplets are credited to Saraha. He is also first in a list of Buddhist poet-sages to teach what some have called a fourth Buddhist way of enlightenment, namely the Sahajiyā or Sahajayāna “Inborn/natural Way.”
Osho has spoken on Saraha in his discourse series the tantra vision vol.1 and the tantra vision vol.2. Osho says Tantra has only appealed to a very few people, but those were the salt of the earth; Saraha is one of them.
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.
Mahavira 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…NOW WE ENTER into this great pilgrimage: The Royal Song of Saraha. It is also called ‘The Song on Human Action’ — very paradoxical, because it has nothing to do with action. That’s why it is also called ‘The Song on Human Action’. It has something to do with the being, but when the being is transformed, action is transformed. When YOU are transformed, your behavior is transformed — not vice versa. Not that first you change your action and then your being changes — no.
Tantra says: First change your being and then your action changes automatically, of its own accord. First attain to a different kind of consciousness, and that will be followed by a different kind of action, character, behavior.
Tantra believes in being, not in action and character. That’s why it is also called ‘The Song on Human Action’ — because once being is transformed, your actions are transformed. That is the only way to change your actions. Who has ever been able to change his actions directly? You can only pretend. If you have anger in you and you want to change your action, what will you do? You will suppress the anger and you will show a false face; you will have to wear a mask. If you have sexuality in you, what will you do to change it? You can take the vow of celibacy — of brahmacharya — and you can pretend, but deep down the volcano continues. You are sitting on a volcano which can erupt any moment. You will be constantly trembling, constantly afraid, in fear.
Have you not watched the so-called religious people? They are always afraid — afraid of hell — and always trying somehow to get into heaven. But they don’t know what heaven is; they have not tasted it at all.
If you change your consciousness, heaven comes in you, not that you go to heaven. Nobody has ever gone to heaven, and nobody has ever gone to hell. Let it be decided once and for all: heaven comes to you, hell comes to you — it depends on you. Whatsoever you call, it comes. If your BEING changes, you suddenly become available to heaven — heaven descends on you. If your being does not change. you are in a conflict;
you are forcing something which is not there. You become false and false and more false, and you become two persons, you become schizophrenic, split…. You show something, you are something else. You say something — you never do it, you do something else. And then you are continuously playing hide-and-seek with yourself. Anxiety, anguish, are natural in such a state — that’s what hell is.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
The Tantra Vision, Vol 1
Chapter title: One whose arrow is shot
21 April 1977 am in Buddha Hall
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:
- Sermons in Stones
- Come Come Yet Again Come
- The Hidden Splendor
- Beyond Enlightenment
- The New Dawn
- The Sword and The Lotus
- The Fish in the Sea is Not Thirsty
- Socrates Poisoned Again After 25 Centuries
- Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega
- The Path of Love
- The Book of Wisdom
- Beyond Psychology
- My Way: The Way of the White Clouds