Alexander and a Sannyasin

Am continuing to listen to Osho’s discourses on the 42 sutras of Buddha. There are three volumes and the talks are titled “The Discipline of Transcendence”. This particular excerpt is from Volume 2, Discourse No. 5. Link to the complete transcript – “A Light Unto Yourself“.

Its a fascinating interaction between Alexander and a Sannyasin. Am not sure if many people know about this story. Please don’t worry about the historical veracity of the story, while it would be certainly interesting if its a historical fact. Its more important to understand what Osho is pointing at – explaining how Meekness is Most Powerful. A very strange concept in today’s world.


“……. When Buddha says, MEEKNESS IS MOST POWERFUL, he is saying you cannot defeat a meek person because he has no desire to conquer. You cannot force a meek person to be a failure because he never wanted to succeed. You cannot enforce a meek person to be poor, because he has no desire for riches. Poverty is his richness. Not to be anybody in particular is his way of life. To be a nobody is his very style.

What can you take away from him? He has nothing. He cannot be cheated, he cannot be robbed. In fact, he cannot be destroyed because he has already surrendered that which can be destroyed. He has no self, no ego of his own.

It happened when Alexander was going back from India, he wanted to take a sannyasin with him. When he was coming to conquer India, his teacher, the great philosopher Aristotle, had told him, ‘When you are coming back, bring a gift to me. I would like to see a sannyasin from India.’ That is something very original to the East. That contribution belongs to the East. The West has given great warriors, the East has given great sannyasins. Aristotle was intrigued with the very idea of sannyas, what it is.

Alexander, going back, remembered. He enquired. The people of that village where he was staying told him, ‘Yes, there is a sannyasin, but we don’t think you will be able to take him back.’ He laughed at the foolishness of the villagers, because who can prevent Alexander? He said, ‘If I want to take the Himalayas, even they will follow me. So you don’t be worried, just tell me where he is.’ They told him.

He was a naked fakir, a naked man standing just by the side of the river outside the village… a beautiful person. Dandamis was his name – that’s how Alexander’s historians have remembered him. Two soldiers were sent. They told the sannyasin, ‘Alexander the Great wants you to follow him. You will be a royal guest. Whatsoever you need will be provided, every comfort will be made possible. Accept the invitation.’

The naked man started laughing. He said, ‘I have dropped all wandering. I don’t go anywhere any more. I have come home.’

They said, ‘Don’t be stupid. The great Alexander can force you to go. If you don’t go as a guest, you will go as a prisoner. The choice is yours. Anyway you will have to go.’

He started laughing again. He said, ‘I have dropped the very thing that can be imprisoned. Nobody can make me a prisoner. I am freedom.’

Alexander himself came. He took his sword out and he told the sannyasin, ‘If you don’t come with me, this sword is here and I will cut your head.’

The sannyasin said, ‘You can do it. In fact I have done it already. I have cut my head myself. And if you cut my head, you will see it falling down on the ground and I will also see it falling on the ground, because I have become a witness.’

It is said that Alexander could not gather courage to kill this man. He was so happy, he was so fearless, he was so blissful.

When Buddha says, MEEKNESS IS MOST POWERFUL, he means one who does not exist as an ego is meek. One who does not exist as an ego cannot be conquered, cannot be defeated, cannot be destroyed. He has gone beyond.

By going beyond the ego, you go beyond death. By going beyond the ego, you go beyond defeat. By going beyond the ego, you go beyond powerlessness. This is a totally different concept of power – the power of a sannyasin.


In the later part of this discourse, Osho speaks of Aikido to explain this concept further.

Actually we see this in real life too ….when we keep our ego aside, usually we win. Because winning is not always about defeating the other person. Ofcourse its difficult to remember this when we are angry or feel insulted. Also in general, today’s society equates meekness with weakness and that adds to the pressure ! One wants to “appear” powerful to be seen as successful.

Well, trust the Master of Masters to say the unexpected and explain a concept in a totally unique way.

Thank You Master 🙏🏿

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