Good technology and riding capabilities is something that I look out in Motorcycles: Sadhguru
Sadhguru, the founder of Isha Foundation, is an avid motorcyclist, who loves to travel. Currently, he is meeting Native Americans and trying to explore America’s spiritual legacy and its vast, stunning terrain under ‘Exploring Spiritual America’. Zee Business Executive Editor Swati Khandelwal, interviewed Sadhguru about his love for bikes and the ongoing journey
Everyone knows a lot about India’s most revered spiritual leaders Yoga guru but many of you are not quite aware that Sadhguru, the founder of Isha Foundation, is an avid motorcyclist, who loves to travel. Currently, he is meeting Native Americans and trying to explore America’s spiritual legacy and its vast, stunning terrain under ‘Exploring Spiritual America’. Swati Khandelwal, Zee Business interviewed Sadhguru about his love for bikes and the ongoing journey. She also tried to find what led him to go for such a journey and what makes him passionate about biking. Edited Excerpts:
Q: You are an automobile enthusiast and you love riding. So, I would like to know how and when your love for automobile began or started.
A: My love is just not for the automobile. Anything that works well, I am interested and my basic interest is the human mechanism and automobile is an extension. I started riding when I was 11 years of age, the scooters. When I turned 18, then within a month I got my license and I crisscrossed India on my motorcycle. But those days, the fastest thing on the road at that time was our Yezdi Roadking 250 CC, single-cylinder, two-stroke engine. Later on, we kind of graduated to 350 CC RD, which the Escorts people did with Yamaha collaboration. But compared to that what we are riding today is another world in terms of technology and capability. So, I had not sat on a motorcycle not even thought about it for 28 years or so. So, only during the ‘Rally for Rivers’ somebody brought this Ducati Scrambler and said Sadhguru you should ride in Bangalore. I was wondering can I ride; it has been 28 years that I had not even thought of motorcycles. So, I sat on it and then I realized that I haven’t lost a day. Since then, I have trouble getting into cars and have been continuously on motorcycles because now people see my interest in motorcycles. Right now, there is a whole array of motorcycles parked over here. People have locked their motorcycles here for me, a whole range of choices and I am riding one after another. They will be here as long as I am here and hope that they will take it once I am gone.
See full Interview here.
Q: How many bikes do you own Sadhguru because we see that you have a great interest in biking the kind of motorcycles that you are riding?
A: I don’t own anything. Fortunately, there are people that I know who own good motorcycles. Right now, here, I have a choice of four or five, one is MV Agusta 800cc, I have a BMW XR 1000cc, which is a powerful motorcycle. In the last 4-5 years, someone brings GS, which is a 2013 model that is a 1200cc, now they have made is 1260, I think. Then there is GT 1600, which I rode on this trip. So, in India, there is a whole range of choices that people are bringing whenever they want me to ride their motorcycle. Well because I am never in a place for too long, I have been travelling so much, so wherever I go, somebody is bringing on a motorcycle, generally the good ones and I have my choice of riding and I don’t ride those big metal heaps, which are fashionable in America. I look for good technology and riding capabilities.
Q: Which amongst the ones which you have ridden so far is your favourite? Do you have your favourites or any specific bike that you are looking forward to riding?
A: I normally prefer adventure motorcycles, where the CC is higher-up, I like that kind of thing because I tend to go off-road very easily. But on this trip, I took the 1600 GT, which in-line sleek and very beautiful on the highway but absolutely terrible off-road once there is no paved surface, it is a torture to ride that. Plus, I have always been using riding motorcycles with telescopic suspensions. So, these are not telescopic suspensions, so there is no feedback, when you are riding, which was early disconcerting in the beginning. But like an engine, I think for an in-line engine absolutely no vibration, no nothing and beyond 6,500 rpm it is a bomb.
Q: Will Smith seemed very worried you touring a massive BMW K 1600 GT that you mentioned. What did you tell him about the massive bike that you rode?
A: Well, I don’t carry it. I ride it so they shouldn’t be worried about that as I don’t carry the motorcycle. Because of the kind of distances that we did like in a day many times we rode more than 700 miles, sometimes we rode 12-14 hours a day through the night. So, for that kind of riding, the normal motorcycle would not do especially in the United States, which I discovered only this time, I have ridden but have never such a long distance in the US. I discovered the wind force is a major challenge, which we never face in India, this kind of wind where the wind is gusting around 55-65 miles per hour. Even this 350-kilogram motorcycle with me, which is 425 kilograms, but you can’t just hold it on the road it just going away, especially when you pass the trucks and things like that. It is just lifting off, literally. So, without a heavy machine, you can’t stay on these roads and as a back-up, we have taken a lighter motorcycle just in case if something goes wrong because three motorcycles were riding. For this, we took a spare motorcycle so that in case if something happens but those were light motorcycles and I am glad that we didn’t have to ride them because in that wind it was simply impossible to hold them on the road.
Q: Tell us about this ‘Exploring Spiritual America’ what was the idea behind this, how this occurred to you and what is the purpose of this?
A: This is almost 18 years ago I was very profoundly touched by a certain situation that I saw, which is a little hard for an automobile enthusiast viewer to digest it. It is one of a dimension of life, kind of a frozen being from Native American culture. In such pain, in such suffering, resentment, anger, extreme pain, probably that was one of the most painful moments in my life when I touched this being. So, ever since I have been trying to explore and try to understand what is this culture. It’s only then in the last few years I discovered that there have been over 500 Native American nations in the United States alone. Most people think, Native American means, what they have seen in the worldwide movies, not like that 500 separate nations, evolved culture, their cities, own spiritual process and everything. Since then, I have been looking at it but you really know that my schedules never allowed me to really take off. I have also set our center here near Tennessee. The head of what is called a Trail of Tears, where the Cherokee people moved from here to Oklahoma. It’s a tragic story called ‘Trail of Tears’. So, what Droom me to this place is naturally this is a very beautiful place but it is also the pain of these people, which is dormie here. We set up the center and it is 12-13 years old now. This has been on my mind; it is only now because of the pandemic because other schedules have been all put-on hold or cancelled, so we undertook this journey touching various Native American nations. It has been fantastic meeting these people and it is also relevant for today’s world. So, these are the people who did not hand logical concerns like some kind of textbook science, ecology leaves in their hearts. I think that’s what needs to happen to our generation and the next generations to come if we want to turn something around because textbook science is not going to make the difference. It has to live in our hearts than only it will happen.
Q: So far, the destinations you have covered on a two-wheeler. How were they in terms of the challenges you saw and what you enjoyed the most while you ride?
A: For me even during my early riding what I did for about four to four and a half years, literally I lived on the motorcycle. I crisscrossed India many times. Even then I was not going anywhere in particular. For me, it is always the terrain, i.e. paying attention to the terrain was the most important part of riding. And, also the nature of the motorcycle itself is such that without attention you won’t live unless your attention is clean, inconsistent, you won’t leave to be an old motorcyclist. My life is like this. My spiritual process means this. Yoga means this that it is incessant, relentless attention to life. So, in that sense, Motorcycling naturally demands that and without that it will not work. So especially if are driving long and you are at a certain speed than naturally, you have to be super attentive otherwise it won’t work. What someone on four-wheelers notice from their driving and what a motorcyclist notice is 10 times more because every small little end relation in the road, every crack and everything you have to notice It is not like you are trying to notice it is just that you have developed that sense of noticing everything. I think, for me, the biggest thing is attention because my life is about that.
Q: As you said, ‘Spiritual connection between Riding and Oneself’, how do you define that connection?
A: I told you that spirituality means deeper attention to life. Spirituality does not mean a philosophy or an ideology or a belief system or residing a scripture. Spiritual process means your attention to life is such that you have experienced or realized deeper dimensions of your life that will happen only with immediate attention without that it would not happen. In that sense, for me doing anything – not just for me for anybody – well needs attention, it doesn’t matter what you are doing. Whatever you are doing, if you want to raise the bar to a certain pace then you need to pay attention and I think motorcycling also demands that. People keep thinking that I love motorcycles, but no, I love everything it is just that to travel you can either travel on four-wheels or two-wheels, it is a choice.
Q: Your love for motorcycles or two-wheelers is evident. What about cars, do you like them or no?
A: I have driven all over the world in almost every country that I have been to, I have driven. Generally, because I always tend that if I see something beautiful, I tend to go off-road. So, I don’t drive those low-slung racing type of cars except few times on the tracks. I always choose something which has more clearance that means a four-wheel drive, something which takes rough-terrain because I am not someone who is restricted to roads that’s why I like adventure motorcycles and four-wheel drives because I tend to go-off, not going off means slipping away from the road but intentionally going off.
Q: What is your next target Sadhguru, i.e. what are you aiming as a motorcycle enthusiast any stretch anywhere in the world that you would like to do?
A: Right now, the next thing is today I am planning to ride to the Gold Course. I have invites from Central Asia to ride in their countries and many of them are inviting me and I don’t know that if I will do it. But we were thinking of doing Tibet because every year I have been trekking there for last 14-15 years but this year, we have not done that because you know the situation, the geopolitical situation doesn’t allow it right now. So, we were thinking of riding in Tibet but what I saw when I was riding Wyoming, Ruta, Montana, the terrain is just like Tibet, it is almost identical. So, we have done that and I don’t know people have been inviting me. Way back many-many years ago I had seen these things about Motor Cycle Dairies by Che and that time, we were thinking of riding South America, which I never did. It is an attraction but you may get killed for the motorcycle there. The South American volunteers ensured that we are safe out there, we may ride that would be an interesting terrain to ride and central Asia in an interesting terrain to ride. I don’t know before I am not good enough to ride, I would like to rise some parts of certain continents.
Q: Since you are touring all over the world so I would like to get a message from you for the young motorcycle enthusiast as there is a lot of that breed is coming up. But there are certain things that they have to keep in mind. We all talk about safety but what is it that you would want to tell them?
A: When I was riding for ‘Cauvery Calling’ – I don’t know that have you heard about this – we rode from Tala Kaveri, which is the starting point to the Delta and then to Chennai and back to Coimbatore, which was just over maybe 3,600 to 3,700 kilometres but it took 17 days because we had a lot of meetings and campaigns on the way we were going on. So about 18 motorcyclists rode with me at that time and some of them were asking me Sadhguru when you are riding what are you thinking. And I said, who said that I am thinking anything, I don’t think anything, I just ride because for me the greatest joy is attention, as I said. And, this is something that humanity has lost. They think their thought is bigger than their attention and this is a very unfortunate reality. Your thought is just being made up or recycling what you already know. It is the attention with which we imbibe and perceive life in a much deeper way. So, all I would say is attention, if you have enough attention naturally there is balance in you. When you are riding above all balance that goes for every aspect of life, whatever capabilities you may have, however good you may be with something if you don’t have a balance that all will go waste. I think a whole lot of human intelligence, human genius, and human competence is right now being squandered simply because we have not brought up our children in a balanced manner, they don’t have balance. Once there is no balance whatever you have, everything will go waste. They were asking me Sadhguru is there one rule that we should follow when we are riding. Then I said only one rule I followed is to never collide with anything. If you have to fall, you have to slide, do whatever but never collide with anything because that is the end of the motorcyclist.
Q: These are the tough times for everyone across the world. The health concerns, the pandemic is creating a lot of stress for everybody. How could one become more disciplined about health? Could you give some piece of advice for all of us, all over the world should start taking care of our health and handle the stress better?
A: When you say to handle this stress better you are assuming stress is a part of your life and then you have to deal with it. There is no such thing. Stress is not because of the situations in which we are in. Stress is because you do not know how to manage your mind, thoughts, emotions, energies. You do not know how to manage yourself that is stress not because of the situation. Before the pandemic, people were stressed about their work and now they are stressed that there is no work and this is going on at all levels. If they are poor, they are stressed about their poverty, if they are rich, they are stressed about taxes. If they are not married, they are stressed about that, if they get married – you know all the stress that they go through. This is an endless cycle. We need to understand it is not about the situation, yes there is a challenging situation. I was just talking to one of the top CEOs in India and I said that I wanted to know how the industrial situation is going out there, recovering, what is happening? It is a major industry. So, I said what is happening and he said, Sadhguru as the saying goes never waste a crisis, so we are not wasting it and he told me hundred different things that they are doing that is what you should do. This is a time when you had little time, you must have enhanced your body, that means physical fitness should become better. Let everybody focus on this in the next month, all these motorcyclists who listen to you – 10% fitter physically, 10% mentally sharper, 10% emotionally more balanced and10% more competent at least in riding.
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There are ways to do this. In a month you can do this. Believe me, if you are 10% better in everything, we have a fantastic world. Let’s make it happen.
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