During a conversation with Ruskin Bond at the Dehradun Lit Fest, Sadhguru and the beloved author reminisce about their youth, and their connections to the mountains that played a formative role in each of their lives…
Sadhguru: Right from my infancy, I had an image of a mountain peak in my mind. Eyes open or eyes closed, it was always there. Till I was sixteen years of age, I thought there were mountain peaks in everyone’s eyes. It was only when I was sixteen that I spoke to some of my friends, and they thought I was crazy. That is when my search for that particular peak that I was seeing started.
I trekked for months on end in the Karnataka and Kerala part of the Western Ghats. Later on, I motorcycled from Karwar to Kanyakumari eleven times looking at every peak possible. When I did not find it, I started coming to the Himalayas when I was nineteen. But the moment I saw these mountains, I knew this is not where it is because the nature of what I was seeing was different.
It was only many years later that I saw the mountain in southern India for the first time, and that is where the Isha Yoga Center is today. So, I am not a fan of mountains, I am a slave of mountains. There is no way I can exist without them.
Ruskin Bond: Well, we are both slaves to mountains. Whenever I go away, even if it is for just a week, I feel the pull. I am always wanting to come back because once the mountains get into your blood, they do not get out again.
My great-grandsons at home, they knew about Sadhguru long before I did. I thought, these two boys are not very spiritual, so what is it about him that attracts them? And they said, “Well, he rides a motorcycle.” So, perhaps you can tell us about your motorcycle days.
Sadhguru: Some time ago, someone told me that the Czech motorcycle, Jawa, will once again be coming to India. I used the Jawa motorcycle like nobody at one time. Every year, I did something like 55 to 60,000 kilometers. I literally lived on a motorcycle for almost seven years.
I crisscrossed India, not going anywhere in particular. I just loved to see the terrain. For me, everything runs in pictures – I never learnt to think in words. I am that rudimentary! So I just loved to see the terrain, every bit of the landscape.
A few years ago, I came to this part of the Himalayas again, and I was driving. Someone gave me a very fast car, and I was hitting 150, 160 kilometers an hour on the mountains. People said, “Sadhguru, you will kill yourself.” I told them, “Every bend on these roads is there in my mind.” I can literally drive with my eyes closed.
These travels were probably the richest part of my life because I travelled without purpose. Whatever I read, I also read without purpose. When I was growing up, I sold my textbooks to buy my favorite novels, and I never had my textbooks before the exams came! This is the wrong thing to say when there are so many children here!
Ruskin Bond: Well, when I grew up in Dehradun, it was the bicycle age. Every young man and boy had a bicycle. You saw very few cars then, and not many motorcycles either, but all of us got around on bicycles. I was frequently falling off, which turned me into a walker. I used to walk all over the town, and I knew every road and lane. Because of this, they used to call me “road inspector”. Those were the bicycle days.
You do not see any bicycles around now. Children today are growing up in a technological age with many distractions. People say they do not read, but I still meet a lot of young people who do read, and a lot of young people who write too.
Sadhguru: Technology is not a bad thing. Unfortunately, people are going about talking as if technology is damaging our lives. Irresponsible usage of anything will damage our lives, not just technology. During your days and mine, as children we were physically far more active. We could eat as much as we wanted and we were still scrawny, always. There was no chance of a growing boy or girl putting on weight because there was so much activity.
I think one major missing link in the child’s growth today is there is not much connection with all the other life around us – plant life, animal life, insect life, reptile life, every other kind of life. There is no connection. Simply growing up thinking everything is about you is not a good thing for a human being.
Unfortunately, such ideas have been put into people’s minds through religious doctrines saying that human beings were made in God’s own image, and every other life is here only to serve us. This is the most disastrous idea that has gotten across to the human mind.
I have spent so much time in the jungles, sometimes weeks on end by myself, surviving without any outside support. Every creature – ants, insects, animals, birds – has a complete life of its own. I do not know what they think about us though.
Ruskin Bond: Well, I think perhaps young people today do not get enough of the open spaces that are around us.
Sadhguru: There is no exposure to other life, no contact with nature. What is there is very superficial contact. The schools must take care and make sure children have a connection with nature. This is not about environmental consciousness. For your humanity to evolve, it is very important that you see every other life as a life that has a right to live on this planet. They have been here longer than us!