Shivapuri Baba: A Man of No-Mind

Osho on Shivapuri Baba

Shivapuri Baba (Sri Govindananda Bharati) was born in a Brahmin family in Kerala. His grandfather, a famous astrologer, announced that the boy would become a great sannyasin (renunciate or a wandering monk) and became his guru until about 1840.

At a very young age he left his house, giving his whole legacy to his sister. And he started living with his grand-father in woods. After his grand-father’s death, he got initiated in Sannyas and got the name Govindanand Bharti. He travelled a lot around the globe meeting many eminent personalities and politicians such as Queen of Britain, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He visited all the holy places of India including meeting Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Shri Aurobindo.

Shivapuri Baba died on January 28, 1963. His final message was: “Live Right Life, Worship God. That is all. Nothing more.” He took a drink of water then said “Gaya” (I’m gone), laid down on his right side and passed away. His teachings are of right living involved duty, morality, and worship. According to him, the sole purpose of human life is to find the Ultimate Truth, or God, and to this end a certain code of life is required—a spiritual, moral, and intellectual order.

Osho says, Shivapuri Baba was certainly one of the rarest flowerings, particularly in India where so many idiots are pretending to be mahatmas. To find a man like Shivapuri Baba in India is really either luck or else a tremendous work of research. There are five hundred thousand mahatmas in India; that is the actual number. To find a real man among this crowd is almost impossible.

First, Taoism believes that the memory is the problem. Because of the memory we are not really alive. The memory holds us back in the past, it never allows us to be in the present. It is a dead weight. And it goes on growing every-day. Every day the past becomes bigger and bigger and bigger. Every day more and more experiences, more and more memories, become accumulated. And they hold you back. The child is free. He has no past. The old man is not free. He has a long past. The child has nothing to look back to, he has everything to look forward to — he has the future just opening up for him, a great adventure. The old man has nothing in the future. Everything has happened. And all that has happened goes on cluttering his mind. It is a weight that pulls him down backwards, it does not allow him to move with the times. He lags behind.

Memory is what roots you in the past. Unless you become so free of memory that you need not look back — memory no longer disturbs you, memory no longer clouds you —  you will not be able to live in the present. And if you cannot live in the present the future is not yours — because the future is contacted only through living in the present, the future becomes a reality only through living in the present. The present is the door by which the future enters in and the past goes out.

If you are looking at the past you will miss the future, because during the time you are looking at the past, the future is entering into the present and you cannot look both ways simultaneously. You have eyes to look forward, you don’t have eyes at the back of your head. Nature never intended you to look back otherwise your eyes would have been at the back of your head. Nature has intended that you should be looking forwards, nature has not given you any instrument to look backwards.

So when you look back you have to turn back, and during the moment that you are looking back and your head is turned to the dead past, the future is turning into the present. You will miss that birth, you will always miss the future turning into the present — and that is the only reality there is. Now, what happens? If you are interested too much in the past, attached too much to your memories, you start creating an unreal future too — in the imagination. A man who is too attached to the past projects a future also. He lives in the memory and through the memory he creates an imagined future. Both are unreal. The past is no more, you cannot live it again, there is no possibility. That which is gone is gone forever, it is impossible to bring it back. Because it is impossible to bring it back you start imagining a similar type of future, something similar — a little more decorated, a little more sweet, a little better. You start imagining a future but that future is based on your past experience. On what else can it be based?…

Your imagination is nothing but a modified past. This is how people are living. The past is no more and the future is nothing but a desire to repeat the past — of course, in a better way, but it is the same past. You ate something yesterday, you would like to eat it again tomorrow. Yesterday you loved a man or a woman, tomorrow you would again like to love a man or a woman. You want to repeat.

The mind is a repetitive mechanism; the mind continuously hankers for the same. And every moment the reality is new; it is never the same. You cannot step in the same river twice. Life is constantly moving, changing. Only change is permanent, everything else is changing. Only change is not changing. That is reality.

But then you create a false, a pseudo-reality of your own invention — fabricated in the mind, manufactured by your desire — and you start living in it.

Taoism says that to be in reality a man has to get out of his mind, a man has to become a no-mind. To be in reality a man has to uproot himself from the past, he has to forget the past. To remember that which is, the eyes have to be completely unclouded from the past — only then can you see in the reality. Eyes that are clouded with the past are eyes that are blind. You are not really blind, you are just clouded by the past. You cannot see directly because of so many screens covering your eyes. Those screens have been created by the past. A man insulted you yesterday and today you come across him on the road. The past arises. A screen falls over your eyes. This is the same man who insulted you. You have to take revenge. You have to pay him back in the same coin — tit-for-tat. You start getting angry, you get into a rage. Now you are missing this man. It is possible that this man is no longer the same man; in fact, he cannot be the same man. He may have repented, he may have brooded the whole night, he may have decided to come to you and apologise, he may be coming to apologise now. But you cannot see. Your eyes are clouded with anger and your anger colours the reality. Even if he tries to apologise you will think that he must be trying to deceive you, or he has become afraid of your vengeance, or he is a cunning man — beware, he is trying to cheat you, to deceive you. Right now he is trying to be-friend you but some day he will again bring trouble to you.

All these thoughts will be there and you will not be able to see what he is, you will miss the reality. And seeing all these clouds on your face, there is every possibility that, though he had come to apologise, he may now not apologise. Seeing that you are in a rage and you will not understand, he may change his own ideas. We affect each other. And then, if he changes his mind, your ideas are confirmed, they become even stronger. This is how things are happening.

A man who has clarity never carries the past. He simply looks into reality with no interference from the past. That is the meaning of this story.

Dropping the memory means dropping the mind. Dropping the mind means dropping the whole world. Dropping the mind means dropping the ego — then you are no longer self-centred, then you don’t have any mind whatsoever. Then you live a life with no mind of your own — that is the meaning of Tao. Then God’s mind functions through you, you don’t have your own mind. You function but now you don’t function from your own centre. Now the centre of the whole becomes your centre. You act but you are not the doer any more, God acts. Your surrender is total…


That is a way of saying that he became a meditator. That is a Taoist expression — lost his memory. It means: became a non-individual. It means: became a non-ego. It means: became loose from the grip of the mind, dropped the weight of the past. It is not something condemning, remember, it is a great appreciation. In Taoist circles, when somebody says ‘He has lost his memory’ he is praising the man, remember. Taoists have their own way of saying things, very peculiar ways of saying things. But the meaning of their gestures is profound.


He became a no-mind, he forgot all about his past, he forgot all that had happened — it was as if all the dust from the mirror dropped away. He came to exist in the present —  that’s what it means. He was no longer in the past, he did not exist through the past, he did not function through the past, he had started functioning in the immediate present. Moment to moment he now lived — not gathering, not accumulating, not hoarding any knowledge or any information. Whatsoever the totality brought in the moment was all. If he felt hungry he looked for food, but he had no idea about any food that he had eaten before. And the moment his appetite was fulfilled he forgot all about it. He did not carry the idea in the mind, he had no fantasy about food, either before or after. The moment was all, the now and the here was all, there was no then and there was no there.

This is the first satori — when a man becomes loosened from the grip of the past, the hold of the past, as if a snake has slipped from the old skin. He has become absolutely new, like a tree which, after dropping all her old leaves during the fall, has sprouted new leaves. The moment something becomes old, one moment old, it is dropped immediately. One goes on slipping again and again into the present. It is a totally new style of life — the way of Tao, the way of Zen, the way of Sannyas. Watch it in your own life. How do you live? Do you bring the past in again and again? So you always live through the past? Is your life too coloured by memory ? Then you are living the worldly life.

To live in memory is to live in the world, SANSARA; to live without memory, is to live in God, to live without memory is to live in nirvana, enlightenment.

Remember, by saying that Hua Tzu lost his memory, you should not translate it to mean that he became absent-minded, no. That is not the meaning of it. To become absent-minded is a totally a different thing. It is a disease, Absent-mindedness means that memory persists but becomes distorted. You know but you don’t know dearly. An absent-minded person is not a man of Tao. An absent-minded person is simply absent-minded. The man of Tao is very much present, he is not absent-minded. In fact, he is SO much present that the memory cannot interfere. His presence is tremendous; his presence is so intense, the light of presence is so intense, that the memory cannot interfere. He functions out of the present, you function out of memory.

So when somebody becomes absent-minded he looks as if he is ill — naturally — because he goes on forgetting. But it is not that he has really forgotten, he remembers that he has forgotten — the difference has to be understood. He remembers that he has forgotten; he knows that he knows and yet he cannot remember it. That is the man who is absent-minded. I have heard many stories about Thomas Alva Edison. He was a man who could be called perfectly absent-minded.

One day he went into a restaurant, ate his lunch, came out and met a friend at the door, just on the street. They talked for a few minutes and then the friend said, ‘Why don’t you come with me and have your lunch?’ So he said, ‘Right. You made me remember. I came for my lunch.’

Then they went inside the same restaurant again. The food was served. The friend said to Edison, ‘You look a little puzzled.’ And Edison said, ‘Yes. What is the matter? I don’t feel any appetite at all.’ And the waiter laughed and he said, ‘Sir, you ate your lunch here just five minutes ago.’ This is absent-mindedness. Edison is not a man of satori; he still lives in the memory but his memory is a chaos. He cannot figure out what is what. He is not a Buddha, he is not a Hua Tzu. He does not live in the moment, he still lives in the past. Of course, his past is very clumsy. Absent-mindedness is a clumsy past, a clumsy memory, a lousy memory. But a man who has lost his memory in the sense that Taoists use this term is a man who functions out of the presence of his mind — presence of mind.

Just a few days ago I was reading the memoirs of a very rare man. He was a saint who died a few years ago. He lived for a really long time — almost one hundred and forty years. His name was Shivapuri Baba, Shivapuri Baba of Nepal. In his memoirs he tells a story. When he went to Jaipur a very rich man gave him a box full of notes, hundred-rupee notes. While in the train he looked into the box; it was full of notes and he wanted to know how many notes he had. So he started counting. In the compartment there were only two persons, Shivapuri Baba, a very old ancient man, at the time he must have been about one hundred and twenty years’ old — and an English lady, a young woman. She became interested. This old beggar was in the first class and was carrying a whole box of one-hundred-rupee notes?

An idea came in her mind. She jumped up and said, ‘You give me half the money otherwise I will pull the chain and I will tell them that you tried to rape me.’ Shivapuri Baba laughed and put his hands to his ears as if he were deaf. And he gave her some paper and said, ‘Write it down. I cannot hear.’ So she wrote it down. He took it and put it in his pocket and said, ‘Now pull the chain.’ This is presence of mind! It is not functioning out of the past because this has never happened before and it may not happen again. But, in a flash, like lightning, a man who is really present will act out of his presence. You would have been in trouble because you would have looked into your memory — what to do now? You would have started groping in your memory — is there something in the past from which you can have some idea of what to do now?

But in real life nothing is ever repeated. Everything is new. That’s why your responses always fall short. You act out of the past and the thing is absolutely new, it has never happened before, you don’t have any experience of it. Your experience may be of something similar but it cannot be about exactly the same thing. It is not a repetition, the situation never repeats. Maybe it was something similar — you were cheated by somebody, something similar. You were deceived by somebody, something similar. You were threatened by somebody, something similar. But it was not exactly the same. So when you start looking into your memory you are showing that you don’t have presence of mind.

This is a paradox:

a man of no-mind is a man with presence of mind; and a man of mind, a man with memory, is a man who is absent.

He looks into the past. The situation is herenow, confronting you; it is an encounter. Respond right now, like a mirror. A mirror reflects whosoever comes in front of it. It does not look into the memory: this man has been here before, in front of me, so how to reflect him? It simply reflects. When there is no memory it is not absent-mindedness, the mirror is simply clear, the dust is not there, the dust is not a distraction. The reflection will be clear and out of that reflection will come the act. When you act out of the present moment your act is always total. You will never feel frustrated.


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

Discourse Series: Tao: The Pathless Path, Vol 2
Chapter #3
Chapter title: The Secret Taste of Honey on the Tongue
27 February 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, Shivapuri Baba, 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 Splendour
  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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1 Comment

  • Aadhav.A
    Posted April 29, 2023 10:09 am 0Likes

    it is life changing.

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