Fathers and sons

A programmed conflict?

Indian Express
June 28, 2001

by Chaitanya Keerti

Once I visited a sanyasin friend of mine — Swami Kapil. We were busy chatting when Kapil’s father came in. I had never met his father earlier, so Kapil introduced me to him, saying: Meet my ‘‘biological father’’. I felt embarrassed to hear a statement like that but I saw that Kapil was totally comfortable in introducing his father this way. Visibly, his father also did not feel anything wrong with this statement; maybe he felt but he chose not to exhibit it.

This incident is 20 years old but is still fresh in my memory, because it sounded very odd. Though it is a fact but I felt that it showed a complete absence of respect for the father.

It is so difficult to show respect towards the father who has always dominated the son in his childhood — is that the idea of celebrating one day in an year as Father’s Day? Does this day have its origin in the guilt dwelling deep in sons?

Osho talks about a great Russian novelist, Turgenev, who has written a book — perhaps his best, his masterpiece — Fathers and Sons. The book is about the struggle between the generations, because fathers would like the sons to be their replicas. Naturally, they will not allow the sons any freedom. Obedience they expect; and that their sons should be their carbon copies.
He says in this book that the relationship between a father and son is always one of conflict. The son is the rightful successor of the father and, therefore, is always engaged in removing him. He waits eagerly for him to vacate his position. The son hates the dominance of the father in most of the family affairs. When this becomes intolerable or unbearable for the son, he can even go to the extent of killing his father in anger. This conflict is an eternal one and a chapter was recently added to this hate-saga in the shape of royal killings in Nepal.

If we look at this situation in psychological terms, we come across some startling revelations. Freud says that people worship God as father because some time in the beginning they must have killed some dominant father, somebody who was too dictatorial.

All the cultural respect for God, parents and the elderly has arisen out of a guilt that is deep-set in the human heart. Man started inventing a God as father, raising temples in his memory, built statues, set priests praying, worshipers worshipping. Behind this whole scene and drama of religion, Sigmund Freud finds only one single fact and that is: somewhere in the past man has behaved so badly with his father — perhaps murdered — that he cannot forgive him. So the only way is to pray, make God your father, the creator of the world.

Lao Tzu says: ‘‘The more you try to make sons listen to their fathers, the more they will go against them’’. And Lao Tzu has been proved correct. In the last 5,000 years, man has tried to make the son obedient to the father and the result is an increasing abyss between the two. A son touches his father’s feet and calculates what he will inherit from him. It is said that the sons of rich fathers never lament the father’s death. They cannot. Perhaps they are happy, like the sons of kings.

There is no inner necessity that the son should agree with the father. In fact, it seems far better that he should not agree. That’s how evolution happens. If every child agrees with the father then there will be no evolution, because the father will agree with his own father, so everybody will be where God left Adam and Eve — naked, outside the gate of the Garden of Eden. Everybody will be there. Because sons have disagreed with their fathers, forefathers, with their whole tradition, man has evolved.

This whole evolution is a tremendous disagreement with the past.

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