Sadhguru at Express Adda: ‘In a nation where 400 million people are still living in slum-like conditions, you can’t talk to them about the environment. It is cruel’ | India News

To initiate environmental awareness is not that difficult but to initiate environmental policy and environmental action, you can get old doing that. So in 2022, I thought time is running out for me, if not for the world, and I said I’m going to ride a motorcycle from London to Cauvery. People around me thought I was losing it. Others thought it was a fun thing to do but in 100 days, across 30,000 km, I wanted to activate a massive number of people worldwide. In the initial days, everybody appreciated the ride. By the 13th or 14th day, they realised this was a suicide mission because whether it was raining or snowing, through icy roads of northern Europe, I kept riding. So through 27 nations, across 30,000 km, there were 691 events along the way. But we managed to at least touch 3.91 billion people.

On finding solutions

If we want a solution, we need the fundamental policies to change. Otherwise you do something good, I do something good, it’s fine for the day but it’s not going to last. Everything was fine some time ago. In 50 years, so much damage has happened that even if you do great things tomorrow, the same thing can happen unless it comes in policy. So to activate the policy in democratic societies, the only thing is the numbers.

Sadhguru at Express Adda Founder of Isha Foundation Sadhguru at Express Adda in Mumbai. (Express photo by Deepak Joshi)

On whether trolling affects his credibility

Festive offer

What somebody says about me, whether they call me god or they call me a rogue, makes no difference to me. I am who I am. That doesn’t change. So I am not somebody who is made by people’s opinions, good or bad. It doesn’t matter. In terms of who I am and my experience of life, nothing changes…but definitely in terms of effectiveness of work…it makes things unnecessarily difficult. It close doors, you have to knock them down. These kind of negative campaigns are around the world.

The incredible thing is I have massive support in Pakistan, about the same size of population in India is against me. It’s okay, it’s part of working in this world.

Sadhguru at Express Adda Sadhguru with guests at Express Adda

On climate change and why the West thinks India made fewer promises

In 2009, when I was at the World Economic Forum, they raised the issue of coal and oil, saying India and China are the big polluters in the world. I said we should look at the environment per capita. Our carbon footprint is a fraction of the West. We are consuming what the West was consuming a hundred years ago. There needs to be a fair approach. In a nation where 400 million people are still living in slum-like conditions with no drainage facility or electricity, you can’t talk to them about the environment. It is cruel. These concerns are where people are well-to-do and consuming at a certain level. This doesn’t mean that we should not involve them because without involving those masses, we can’t find solutions. But thinking that developing countries are consuming more, this is just to change the narrative. It has got nothing to do with the environment, but with politics and geopolitics.

On being ambassador for the Indian way of living

I don’t go about talking about the Indian way of living, I talk about living sensibly, which is natural to us but today we are trying to imitate the West in every possible way and we’ll pay the price for that.

I started with ‘Project Green Hands’, ‘Rally for Rivers’, then ‘Cauvery Calling’ and now ‘Safe Soil’. Next year we’re rolling out what’s called ‘Conscious Planet’. I’ve been in conversation with various top scientists, neuroscientists, psychiatrists and others. They are all confirming that in the next 15 to 25 years, one thing that will be most challenging for human beings will be to stay mentally healthy. There are many sociological and other aspects but one important thing is that there are not enough necessary micronutrients in the soil across the world.

Sadhguru at Express Adda Pradyumna Dalmia & Vasuprada Dalmia

On our identities and influences today

One important thing that’s changed is who is influencing you as a child today. Let’s say when you were growing up, 80 per cent influence came from your parents, 20 per cent from friends in school and maybe a couple of people in the neighbourhood and some family friends. Today, by the time a child is 12, parental influence is largely around 25 per cent and that is if they have a good connect with the children, otherwise it’s further down. Then school another 10-15 per cent, friends a little bit. Somebody else is influencing them whom you don’t know, Where are they? Who are they? What are their intentions? You have no clue who is influencing them online. Grandparents used to be a huge influence, now no more. Nobody is going to listen to a granny—Google granny is the only one who speaks. The people who once influenced you were people who cared for you, the people who are influencing children today have commercial interest. So this is something we need to look at. This is going to have a big impact on humanity itself.

Sadhguru at Express Adda Dr Rashmi Saluja, Executive Chairperson, Religare, presenting Sadhguru

On nationalism

We did not enshrine the idea of Bharat, of nationhood, in every human being’s heart and mind immediately after Independence. My own grandparents or great grandparents were all part of the Vijaynagar Empire, so after 1947 they didn’t understand that they had to disband their armies. Then only somewhere in 1952 or 1953, the Government of India established its rule by really beating them down. I’m saying there were many pockets like this all over. You should have put the idea of Bharat into everybody’s minds and hearts, we should have done that work but we got busy with doing something else. That’s fine but without investing in the idea, it will never become a true success, will it? We must be invested in the idea, we must be invested in that identity. If we had done that at that time, we wouldn’t have to talk so much about nationalism because we’ve left out large segments of the population from that. Now, unfortunately we have to talk about nationalism.

Sadhguru at Express Adda Anu Malik

On forging unions

As long as human beings are in a compulsive instinctive reaction state, war is inevitable. But just because we are identified as a nation, do we have to necessarily fight? Now let’s look at Europe. In World War II, nobody who lived in Europe was left untouched. Almost everybody lost somebody, everything was demolished and had to be rebuilt. But they came to their senses and formed the European Union. Today people are trying to look at it only as an economic union but no, it is a certain consciousness that you’re willing to open up and be like one nation with the people you once fought so bitterly. That’s a fantastic thing. So I’m saying human beings are capable of doing that. They still retain their national identities, their language, their culture but they made it a union. I think for this we need some kind of economic parity, otherwise it won’t happen. Without economic parity, if you open the gates, it’ll all go crazy.

So, a Nation Union could happen in the next 25 or 50 years which we should definitely aim for. So now the danger is—Asia becomes one Union, Europe becomes one Union, America becomes one Union. Now the possibility of a global war is much more.

Sadhguru at Express Adda Kunal Vijayakar, actor and writer

On one nation, one election

Almost 17 to 18 years ago, I was the first one who pushed the idea of ‘one nation, one election’. Particularly because of television and the audiovisual medium, elections seem to be going on just about all the time.

Earlier, we wouldn’t know there was an election in Nagaland but now it’s not like that. There are much louder journalists, who will scream it into our bedrooms and unfortunately, there’s television in every room, so wherever you go, they’re screaming at us. It becomes so important that the Prime Minister himself is going there, chief ministers are going there, and all leaders are going there. Now it seems like a big affair even though it isn’t. It is important for Nagaland people, not for people who are living in Maharashtra, Karnataka or Tamil Nadu.

Sadhguru at Express Adda Bharati Morarka, Promoter, Gannon Dunkerley & Co. Ltd

On the ongoing Israel-Palestine and Russia-Ukraine conflicts

War can be lost only if you’re fully invested in this. If you’re just putting your pocket money in it, nobody will win, and nobody will lose. It’s an enduring war. You must also understand that a whole lot of nations are deeply invested in the manufacture of arms and armaments. If there is no war happening anywhere what are we supposed to do?

War is part of the economic situation in the world, too much has been invested in it. There is no way you can do without a war right now. If wars don’t happen, certain economies will just sink. Wars need to happen, somebody has to buy their stuff and somebody has to use it. If nobody uses it, it’ll be no use. So before we shed crocodile tears, we must understand that there are things that they are unwilling to change. We’re not changing the roots of it, we want to change the consequences of it. Life doesn’t work like that. What is the nature of the roots we plant? That is the kind of consequence we bear.

Sadhguru at Express Adda Founder of Isha Foundation Sadhguru at Express Adda in Mumbai. (Express photo by Deepak Joshi)

Quick Takes

What is your advice to:

The son of a farmer who wants to sell the farmland and move to the city?

Do it. It’s a bad thing for the country but individual life is also important. You can’t talk about the country and sacrifice people. A country is not a geography; a country is people. So you cannot say, ‘You die in your village’. Every day, 28 farmers commit suicide in this country. It’s bad for the country but if it’s good for the individual human being, he must do it.

Sadhguru at Express Adda Jay Mehta, Director, FRR Immigrations (left) with Aditya Mehta, Director, FRR Shares & Securities Ltd

The successful Indian businessman who’s been invited to meet the King of England. Should he bow?

He shouldn’t go to the meeting. If their policy says that anybody who comes to meet the king must bow down and you don’t want to bow down, just don’t go there. Why would you want to go there and break their tradition?

The talented young engineer who’s got a job at double the salary abroad. Should he leave his parents and move or should he stay at home with his family?

There is no rule for going or staying. It depends. If you think you’re going to go to some other country and create something fantastic or learn something wonderful, it’s different. If you’re just going there because the salary is double, I’d say, stay back. Don’t sacrifice life for a living.

Sadhguru at Express Adda (Left) Sadhguru, Founder, Isha Foundation in conversation with Anant Goenka, Executive Director, The Indian Express Group

The Chief Minister who’s going to lose his office on Sunday.

I wish people were voting by genuinely looking at development. If it was so, my advice for the CM would be very different. Right now, it’s like a potluck.

The kid graduating college, who says no to a full-time job because she wants to be a fashion influencer on social media.

If she’s so stylish, why not?

A woman who’s married in a house where the mother-in-law and sister-in-law fast for Karwa Chauth but she doesn’t want to.

She has to read (a study by) the Harvard Medical School on intermittent fasting and she will do it. She won’t do it for Karwa Chauth. It has to come from the right source.

Sadhguru at Express Adda Ekta Mulchandani Kapur

A DINK (Dual Income No Kids) couple who says children are a selfish act and the act of having a baby can never be selfless.

If you are a couple of tigers, I would say please reproduce because they’re endangered. The human species is not endangered. It’s your choice whether you want to do it or not.

The pandit whose 13-year-old son says he’s an atheist.

I started at the age of eight or nine as an absolute atheist and graduated into becoming active in the Naxalite movement. It’s very important that you don’t simply believe something because somebody told you something. When you’re young, you tend to disbelieve but if you mature, the important thing is you should neither believe nor disbelieve. The atheist and theist, both are in the same boat pretending to be in two separate boats. Both of them believe something that they don’t know. One believes there is God, another believes there is no God. Both of you don’t know. Why don’t you say, ‘I don’t know’? ‘I don’t know’ is a tremendous possibility. The moment you say I don’t know, your intelligence will become active, day and night.

A man who has recently discovered that his wife used to be a man

At one time, your wife was a baby, what to do? And at one time in the mother’s womb, her gender was not determined. What to do? Now she’s a full-fledged woman, what’s your problem?

A woman who discovers that her husband is gay after many years of marriage.

What makes you think I dare to advise a woman?

The Sadhguru on stage right now to Sadhguru 25 years ago.

It’s the same guy. It’s just that people are seeing me differently. But I am the same guy. The world changes its opinions but who I am doesn’t change because of their opinions.

Sadhguru at Express Adda

The rescued Uttarakhand miners.

A whole lot of people are talking about these boys: when they come out they’ll have mental trauma and post-traumatic stress. Nothing. These boys came out and they are fine. This is the resilience of Bharat.

Vladimir Putin.

I think he’s done great for his country. People make mistakes because there are historical emotions. Whoever controls the media, controls the narrative. We have a large following in Russia and in all those Central Asian countries. Many Russians come and stay in our yoga centre and are travelling with me. Their experience of the war and their experience of the whole situation is very different. I’m not trying to say they are right and somebody else is wrong. I don’t take sides in war because war is wrong. The question is not about who is wrong. We’re using technological empowerment to decimate each other, which is wrong.

Volodymyr Zelensky.

He should go back to his old profession. In his personal staff, the number of people getting killed… the whole male population of Ukraine will be gone. Russia has the endurance to fight this for another 10 years or 20 years. If you continue for another five-six years, hardly any male population in Ukraine will be left. What are we just burning up young people for? What are you going to get?

So they should put down their weapons and let Russia take over?

No. You should sit and talk. We must talk when there is a conflict to resolve it.

Benjamin Netanyahu.

Are you trying to get me into trouble?

Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei.

Nobody is soliciting my advice. For them, everything is written down and they know everything. For those who know everything, there is no advice.

A Palestinian living in Gaza today.

Get out right now because you may get bombed.

A Jew living in Jerusalem.

In a short span of time you made a great nation, which everybody appreciates and everybody wants to go to. Everybody seeks advice and technology and other things from that country. But, if you don’t manage a few things well, all this can go. Conflict is wrong, whichever way it happens. But once it starts, stopping is very difficult because both are fighting.

Narendra Modi.

He’s not someone who needs advice.

Rahul Gandhi.

Nobody’s asked me, so…

So, I’m going to ask you the toughest school interview questions that I’ve been asked during my kid’s admission:

Should schools have male, female and other bathrooms?
If you bring sufficient responsibility into our children, even male female bathrooms are not needed.

Would you rather a school preserve the child’s naivety or toughen the child up with exposing her to the harsh realities of the world?

Children will learn as time comes. The important thing is to bring a very profound sense of responsibility to everything. What we expose a child to, should be age-appropriate. If we don’t understand this, then in the name of freedom, we’ll destroy them.

***

Questions from the audience

Sadhguru at Express Adda

Rakesh Asthana
Former Police Commissioner of Delhi

You spoke about the European union. Do you foresee a unification of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh in the near future?

I’m not an astrologer. But we must have a plan. I don’t believe in predictions. I have plans and it may not happen in our lifetime but we must plan that someday. If not one country, at least a kind of a loose union must happen. We refer to this land as a subcontinent. By cutting off what we today call Bangladesh, which was also Pakistan at one time, we have turned this into an island. Where can you go from this country? Can you drive anywhere? The only places you can go to are Bhutan and Nepal. If you want to go anywhere else, if you want to send anything, can you do that? No. It has to go by ship. Can you get anything? Do you have a pipeline? Do you have a railway line? Do you get oil/gas in the pipelines? No. Everything comes by ship. No island nation has ever gone on to become a great power. It cannot. We need land connections. If we want land connections, we have to come together once again as a subcontinent, if not as one nation. We need to come together as some kind of a union, otherwise we will suffocate ourselves.

Sadhguru at Express Adda

Vasuprada Dalmia
Director, Landsdowne Investments Pvt Ltd

My two daughters fall sick very often. I often reach out for the antibiotics on the prescription of their doctors. How do I treat my children with alternate remedies?

Antibiotics are murder. But can you live without them? No. This level of concentration of populations in the cities right now has never happened in the history of humanity. This is the first time that millions of people are living together, not out of love but because the stock market is here and something else is here which brings everybody here. If your children are susceptible, if you’re really committed to their health, the first thing is you must move out of an urban centre, set up a small farm, move there. I think you can afford that, so please do that. Let them play in the soil, let them do some gardening, put them out there. If necessary, take them out of the school for a year. You send them to me for one year. I’ll make them very healthy and send them back to you.

Sadhguru at Express Adda

Anil Somani
Chairman, FOSTIIMA Business School

You had once said that modern education is crippling humanity. then what is the way forward? You had also said that insight, inclusiveness and integrity are significant for a leader. How does one cultivate these?

Right now, the whole education process is about gathering data. From your kindergarten, you just gather data. Then you process this data and find permutations, combination and expressions for the data that you have. Once you have substantial data, this reverberates in your head and is the bane of all educated people. Some nonsense is going on in their head all the time because they gathered data and if substantial data is gathered then it just goes on cycling inside. This means that there is no new possibility in your life. Data means the past. Past is circulating in your mind continuously. It may be useful for your survival but you will not do something significant because the past is circulating and you cannot switch it off.

People are feeling very insecure right now because of artificial intelligence and especially if the general artificial intelligence becomes prolific, which I feel will grow faster than most technology experts are predicting and will create itself.

People won’t understand that if the machine does the hard work you can do something else. Right now, the same thing is with professors, academics, doctors, lawyers, even the priests and pandits… because what you were doing with a lot of fuss, the machine will do with no fuss.

Once AI comes, it will do the data collection process better than a human being. That means, if this load is taken off human beings, they can do something more human. Right now they’re trying to fulfill the machine’s job.

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