On 1st April 2019, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev delivered a talk at an event titled ‘Youth and Truth: Unplug with Sadhguru’ in the London School of Economics. The event, which was introduced by the Pakistani student Bilal Bin Saqib who later became the subject of left-liberal propaganda as they claimed that Sadhguru was an Islamophobe as he had called the student ‘Taliban”.
Leftist propaganda website The Wire and several others ran stories after stories of how Sadhguru was an Islamophobe because he had called Saqib ‘Taliban’ and ‘Talibani’ during a private conversation with him after the event. The London School of Economics Students’ Union too issued a statement condemning Sadhguru’s comments and calling it blatant Islamophobia. Their contention was simple: Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, a Hindu guru, called a Muslim student ‘Talibani’ because of his religion.
The London School of Economics Students’ Union’s statement read, “The LSESU confirms that such comments do not have a place on campus and are to be condemned. If the comments were made in jest, this does not lessen their impact – the words still offend. Such incidents, if not duly denounced, aggregate to create a culture where casual Islamophobia becomes acceptable and, as such, we implore Sadhguru to release a formal apology to the student body with regards to the statements made”.
LSESU demanded an apology and asserted that even if it was said in jest, it would aggregate casual Islamophobia. The Student Body demanded that the apology is made to the student body. Not Saqib.
This begged an important question: What was the context of the conversation and was Saqib as offended as the entire Students Body was?
Soon, Jaggi Vasudev released a statement explaining himself and his followers released a video rebutting the claims of publications like The Wire that were bent on calling him an Islamophobe.
The short clip where Jaggi Vasudev was heard calling the Pakistani student a ‘Talibani’, starts with the student seemingly discussing something spiritual with Sadhguru. He says “the night you are meant to be spending in the grave, you won’t be spending it outside anyway”. After that, Sadhguru is heard saying “this guy is a proper Taliban here”.
When Sadhguru says that, one can hear the sound of laughter coming from others present in the room and Saqib too doesn’t seem offended. He retorts not with outrage or wonders why Sadhguru is referring to him as a terrorist, as claimed by left-liberals, but he simply mentions his name. He says, “Oh Taliban, ya my name is Bilal Bin Saqib”.
The video that has been released by Sadhguru’s team to rebut these charges, says that the meaning of the word ‘Talibani’ literally means ‘student or seeker’. In his statement, Sadhguru too says that when he called Saqib a Talibani, that is what he meant. He meant to call him an ‘ardent student or a seeker’.
The video goes on to talk about how even the student was not offended by what Sadhguru said and in fact, proceeded to tell him that his name is Bilal Bin Saqib. In the video, the voice over claims that Saqib been “keen” and hence the meaning of his name is similar to ‘Taliban’ which means ‘ardent student or seeker’.
The video claims that this hitjob against Sadhguru has happened because, during the event at London School of Economics, Sadhguru was categoric while speaking to Pakistani students too that Pakistan is a bad neighbour to India and there is no point lying about it, however, even so, he would want the best for them. He says, “I dont have to lie and say you are a fantastic neighbour, you are not, but I want you well”. The video claims that his openness and truthfulness of Sadhguru has offended the sensibilities of certain elements and hence, they want to maliciously paint Sadhguru as someone who is ‘anti-Muslim’. The news was first picked up by Pakistan media and then, was followed by portals like The Wire.
Despite these comments, the London School of Economics Students’ Body has not budged and maintained that this statement by Sadhguru is Islamophobic.
LSESU has said, “LSESU stands firmly on our above stance and deem the comments to be Islamophobic. We do not believe the video was “mischievously edited” and have heard no reports supporting the common use of ‘Taliban’ in India as meaning over-enthusiastic”.
It is true that neither Saqib nor the other students in the private interaction appeared offended. It is also true that since the entire video is not available, we will never know what the context of the conversation was. It is also true that during the event, Sadhguru did make the remarks about Pakistan to a panel of three students in which Saqib was included and a vast audience. However, the truth, at this point, is a matter of who one thinks is more credible – The Wire and Pakistan Media or Sadhguru?