The Drop-out and India

The Drop-out and India

Shri Gurudev Mahendranath

Shri Gurudev Mahendranath

One of the odd growths of the sub-culture was the Jesus Freaks. They were the drop-out types who had rejected much of religion, but tried to live and sometimes dress, a Gospel Jesus type of life. They did not belong to any established church, group or denomination. These Wee Jesus types soon found it more than difficult to live as Jesus Freaks even in a so-called Christian society. The greatest defect, which was to become evident, was that the Gospel story and the Gospel teachings; supposed to have been the authentic words of Jesus, were not a complete philosophy by which one could live. Organized Christianity found this out in the past. The Christian teachings are so incomplete that they had to borrow vast sections of history, teachings and thought from the Jews. In their ceremonies, festivals, feasts and ritual they had to borrow from the Pagans. Thus, the organized church became possible. When a simple and sincere individual wants to reject all the church crap and sectarianism, they still find it impossible to live simply and only on the only written teachings attributed to Jesus which are found in the four Gospels. The Jesus Freaks did not last long – thank God.

Halting for a moment while I wipe the tears from my eyes, I lament on a grave and pitiful feature of the Freak Scene. It is the thoughtless way in which many foreign visitors donned the garb and status of sadhus and sannyasins without guru or initiation.

A Sannyasin is one whose outward appearance is characterized by colored robes, generally geru (red ocher) or light red, but sometimes black or bright red in the case of Nathas and Shaktas. The word sadhu only denotes a holy man and not one who has completely renounced the world.

In India, no Indian would become a sadhu without having the guidance of a guru. The exception to this is in the vast horde of professional beggars who adopt the geru (red ocher) or orange garb and pose as sadhus to collect money. They may not collect more money in this way, but the robes would tend to protect them from violence. What is offensive to the Indian public is the spectacle of foreigners putting on the garb of holy men when they have no associations with a proper diksha guru and were completely ignorant of Hindu manners and customs. Some do not hesitate in the first five minutes to adopt fine titles and call themselves rishis and grand gurus. None of them would have the guts to don the vestments of a Christian priest and parade themselves thus in the High Street of their home town. Why is it easier for them to do something which is an affront to Hindus, than to do a similar thing at home?

In August 1969 a case occurred in Delhi which was given favorable and sympathetic treatment by the press, especially the Times of India. A young Jacob L. Maria took to walking about naked in Delhi. He was arrested and imprisoned twice. On the third occasion he was seen parading himself naked outside the headquarters of the Congress Party. He was arrested for a third time and told the police, “Clothes are unnatural.” That night they gave him a bed sheet to cover himself while he slept, but he tore it into three strips to make a rope. In the morning he was found dead, hanging from the bars which had been so conveniently placed in the window.

There are rights and wrongs of the story and perhaps a moral somewhere, but the real question is why he chose to do in Delhi what he was afraid or ashamed of doing in the West or in his home town. As an Austrian, the first example of nudity as a way of life should have been done in his own country. Unfortunately, we too often see how people are prepared to act and do in another land what they would hesitate to do in their own. If a thing is right to do, it should be right to do anywhere and everywhere that needs it.

The existence of an Establishment is not exclusive to Western lands. Collectively it is worldwide but individual countries, locations and races seem to have an Establishment which is exclusively their own. Broad basic issues are global, but there may well be differences in the local manners, morals and customs to make a difference. India has an Establishment which is unique to herself. Independence and partition may have brought many changes to the sub-continent, but the ghostly Establishment behind all Indian affairs – religious, moral and community relationship – has altered little. The Establishment like all other things, is not static and unchanging. It has grown, developed and changed from time to time. It is like the old bicycle which has had new tires, handlebars, wheels, bell and even frame with the passing years, yet is still thought of as the same bicycle.

The great post-war movement of the sub-culture had its basic intentions as being an alternative culture. That is, alternative to the normal Establishment and the society which the Establishment had produced. To stress the difference and to be more emphatic, the youth generation combined the bizarre, the fantastic and even the outrageous to show they did not belong and did not want to belong to the community life which the Establishment sanctioned. They dressed differently and even began to talk a language of their own; a combination of slang expressions and words given a different meaning or emphasis. The word “freak” did itself indicate something monstrous, erratic and different from the normal. They saw normal people as actually being subnormal and artificial. Without being involved in the Establishment, they thought of themselves as being free and more able to grasp the realities and their values in life. The goal was not the goal or ambition of the rat-race but a desire and a determination to reach out; far out and beyond to grasp the essence of the Cosmos. Although it was born in the minds of young people, it was as noble a concept as mankind had ever generated. If the drug scene had not dulled their brains or substituted only dream fantasies, something great and wonderful might have been achieved; and why not?

One of the favorite features of the Freak Culture has been the interest shown in the Occult Sciences, Pagan Cults and the vast world of spirituality and mysticism. The Yogas have taken a prominent place but have at the same time, encouraged the commercial swami and yogi as well as putting too much accent on physical development. The delusion that physical fitness is related to health and longevity is encouraged by the phony teachers. Unfortunately, the wrong approach and financial interest has tended to condition Western people to think of yoga only in terms of Hatha Yoga or physical postures and to greatly ignore the higher yogas leading to spiritual attainment.

On the opposite side of the coin we have the frustrations of young people delving into the Occult due to the lack of real or willing teachers. The real adept like the real yogi, is generally reluctant or even unwilling to take disciples or impart instructions. All too often in the Freak Scene we have the clever boy who reads two or three books and then sets himself up as a competent instructor. The Kabbala and the Tarot suffer most in this respect. The Tarot was introduced into Europe by the Romany or Gypsy people who originally came from Bengal. There is no justification for dropping the last letter and giving the word a pretend French pronunciation of TARO. The word Tarot like the cards themselves has probably been so much altered with the passing of time that we cannot now guess the form of the original.

One of the reasons why we must applaud the growing interest in the Occult by young people is the fact that each and every one of the sciences is still in need of greater and deeper investigation. However wonderful they may appear there is still a vast and almost unending field of investigation and research to revive and recover so much knowledge which has been lost or never yet discovered. What is now needed is not those who simply learn and remember what is found in the books, but those who will undertakes their own research to expand the present levels of knowledge.

Whether the children of the new age have the capacity to make a significant contribution to freak life still remains to be seen. The great explosive revolution of the youth which reached its peak in ’68 and ’69, has yet to reveal that it had some purpose other than drugs or loud music. Too many, it would appear, lost themselves in the drug and rock’n roll scene because both or either involvement prevented them from thinking. Yes, there were problems and the Establishment was the biggest of them all, but the young people did not want to think them out and all too often hoped they would solve themselves. So it happened that for all too many, the drug and rock scene is all they have left. As someone sardonically observed, “Perhaps it was only the Pepsi-Cola generation after all.”

The drift to the mystical still goes on but the crowd is smaller, more skeptical, but more determined. This never was and never will be a path for the masses but only for the sincere select few. This does not mean that the masses cannot have a religion or philosophy, but rather that the goals of spiritual life need that deep understanding and determination which only few possess. We can only hope that the tendency of young people (mostly young men) to read two or three books on a subject and then try to set themselves up as both guru and authority will vanish. Too many clever people tend to destroy the element of togetherness, which was so essential for the success of the Freak Scene. Once someone poses as a guru it becomes difficult for them to go to someone else for guidance. Thus rot begins to set in, instead of the vast open expansiveness of countless cosmic explosions.

The tendency which encourages failure on all levels is to dabble in too many subjects and perhaps, too many teachers. It is better to find one subject or science and ignore all others. Only in this way can one become proficient. In future years you can go on to other subjects, but the newcomers to Occult Science should concentrate only on one. If yoga is your subject it will involve long periods of meditation and for this it is better to avoid all drugs. If you are already involved it is better to leave the Higher Yogas alone. Drug-fuddled minds do not have the “awareness” to progress in meditation. When you have attained success in meditation you can get “high” without drugs. Drugs can help people to lose their puritan inhibitions but they do not give the mind expansion to enable one to grasp and retain their hold of the Cosmic Essence (Sunya).

The more you meditate the more you will like and enjoy it. Few other pleasures in life can equal it and it becomes not only the most delightful of habits but the most useful and profitable. Yet you will not become an incurable addict. When one has truly accomplished or attained siddha in meditation one will not have to really think of renouncing the world for most of the sordid world one knew and loathed will have completely disappeared. Mind expansion is the only real peace of mind, which human beings can obtain.

Indian disciples too often reveal their belief in a superstition that all Englishmen are great whiskey drinkers – generally in the form of whiskey and soda. Another widely held belief is that when in the U.K. you are offered whiskey and soda almost as soon as you visit any house. Perhaps I missed much of U.K. life because I cannot ever remember it happening to me. I suspect that because of these ideas among Indians, I am not always believed when I tell them that I have never at any time in my life tasted any spirit beverage. I cannot say the same for wine or beer. The drink scene never did interest or fascinate me although I hold that wines drunk in moderation can be nourishing, aid the digestion and even have some medicinal value. It is doubtful if one can say much in favor of the beer produced today for it seems to be mostly composed of chemicals and additives. The best rule about drinking, like smoking and drugs, is if you don’t use them, then don’t start. Spirits and hard drugs can, should you become an addict, completely destroy your life on all levels.

It has not been the intention in anything which has been said or presented, to preach an unwanted sermon, but rather as guiding points which might preserve the sub-culture and help it to fulfill its original purpose. The younger generations produced the big blast-off explosion but one has reason to fear that it is going to dribble itself away and everyone will be back where they started. It is much because I do not want to see the movement fall and end that I venture some rallying words to inflame it again. Society needs and must have an alternative society and culture. We have passed the age when everyone can be pressed into the same mold. For those who love the rat-race, let them race. But now that the Western world is seeing the end of its established religion, the drop-out pattern must also be fully accepted. India and most parts of Asia have had this alternative society as a variant from the main stream for several thousand years. It has improved and stabilized the culture and not destroyed it. Thus, it can be demonstrated that the way of life and religious patterns of recent times have existed in an unbroken line in India for about five thousand years or more. The society which has the most permanent record is the one which always recognized and respected its alternative society. It is little wonder that the Freaks have turned to India for their greatest inspiration and established meeting-places in Goa and the Himalayan regions.

We cannot easily ignore that India gave birth to several great religions, popularly known in their present form as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The mind-blowing, far out Tantric cult of Shakta spread from India to other parts of the world. Some scholars are of the opinion that Taoism, which we usually regard as Chinese, actually had its roots in ideas which came from India. The vast array of Occult Sciences saw birth or inspiration in India. Astrology, Numerology, Palmistry, Sand Divining, Ayurveda (herbal medicine) and the first use of minerals as medicine, began in India. Sanskrit, the sacred language of the Hindus and the basis of many European languages is thought to be the most perfect language the world has ever known. India led the world in fashion, from complete nudity, G-strings, minifrocks and ornaments to the most fantastic freak out styles the world has seen. Yes, the Indian scene has been well worth a visit.

The greatest defect in the Freak Scene in India is that East and West always remained apart. Few have thought of togetherness as including Indians. Seldom did the Western really get into Indian life and rarely made lasting friendships with Indian people. It was not because it was difficult but because few serious attempts were made. Goa and the freak pads in the north have actually become some sort of Western ghettos and maintained the separateness of East and West. Kipling would have loved this. It would appear that most of the freaks who call themselves “sadhus” have still to learn ONE GOD, ONE WORLD, ONE PEOPLE. The real essence of “togetherness” is in the mind and the way we think. These are more important than outward show.

Perhaps the greatest capacity in the Freak Scene has been CAPACITY. They do have the capacity to throw away old, outworn or incorrect ideas and to substitute better ones in their place. Women’s Liberation, the movement for sexual equality and equal rights was born in the Freak Scene. For this reason it is supported by male Freaks as well as by Freakesses. Before the women began to get together, we frequently saw the spectacle of young couples with both having long hair and similarly dressed. It was often difficult, especially at first glance, to tell which was the boy and which was the girl. The freaks well know that in some capacities there are provinces which are masculine and provinces which are feminine. No new social structure will alter this. But on other levels we say that women are not inferior to men and are mostly capable of doing the things which a man can do. In human society, the softer nature of a woman makes her invaluable in any social structure or administration which desires to live at peace.

This brings us to another consideration much involved by the Freak Scene. Those who have made a detailed study of Tantrika will know the special signs or indications of the peak period of the Kali Yuga (Age of Darkness). One of them, appearing in Tantrika, compiled many centuries ago, mentions one of the signs as manifesting when women become difficult to handle (in relation to male domination) and will be demanding a status of equality. There are many such signs to indicate this period of the Kali Yuga. Strange to note, many of them have matured in Western lands and become part of the Freak Scene. Not so obvious has been their manifestation in India.

India is still dominated by male chauvinism (male superiority right or wrong) and an inefficient and an inferior position allocated to women by the Indian Establishment. This has remained so in spite of the desire of the Congress in power to see sexual equality. Indian women do cast envious eyes on the West and profess to be astounded to see so much freedom among Western women. They tell us how lucky they are to have so much freedom. Unfortunately, the average Indian women thinks that this freedom has been bestowed on women by the Western politico-economic system, Christianity or masculine benevolence. Some are surprised when they are told that this has not always been so and is a fairly recent feature of modern Western society. The women had to fight for this freedom and fought bloody hard to win it. It was not handed to them on a plate and did not come easily. Even now, Christian ideals, the politico-economic system and missions of stupid men are still geared to think in terms of women being the inferior sex.

Historians estimate that about three thousand years ago and earlier, the Pagan world was dominated by religions and cults worshiping the Absolute as the Mother Goddess. It was a simpler and more primitive age, but much more desirable to live in. It would appear that from historical observations the patriarchal society where the fathers became the head of the family did spread and flourish about three thousand years ago. It was typical of male domination as its main characteristic. The old matriarchal society where the mother led the family had many different aspects but the only one which need concern us here is that some matriarchal societies were based on complete equality. Matriarchal groups and obvious traces of such a society still exist in the world, and especially in parts of India. The Vedic Aryans who entered India about the middle of the second millennium B.C. (about three thousand five hundred years ago) were a patriarchal society and introduced it to India. It is this aspect which mostly survives in India today. Before the Vedic Aryans, India was mostly matriarchal and in the Tantric communities the sexes were given absolute equality. Even though absolute equality was observed, every woman was regarded and even worshiped as a manifestation of the Mother Goddess.

Of this particular aspect of Indian life; the Tantrics, the Kaulas and the Shaktas, to give three of the names by which they were known, will be discussed much fuller in subsequent articles. It is of particular interest to the Freak sub-culture and all who are trying to change or improve society. It must be most evident to all that the present chaos and confusion, the reign of terror, needs not repairing but drastically changing. Politics and revolution have been tried and failed. Now perhaps the world can try a spiritual, mystical transformation to let the Mother Goddess play nurse and heal the sick minds of modern mankind. The Shakti cult of the Tantrics might yet prove to be the best and most effective solution to human problems on all levels. Let us see.

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