What is the difference between a rebel and a revolutionary?
There is not only a quantitative difference between a rebel and a revolutionary, there is also a qualitative difference. The revolutionary is part of the political world. His approach is through politics. His understanding is that changing the social structure is enough to change the man.
The rebel is a spiritual phenomenon. His approach is absolutely individual. His vision is that if we want to change the society, we have to change the individual. Society in itself does not exist; it is only a word, like crowd, but if you go to find it, you will not find it anywhere. Wherever you will encounter someone, you will encounter an individual. Society is only a collective name, just a name, not a reality – with no substance. The individual has a soul, has a possibility of evolution, of change, of transformation. Hence the difference is tremendous.
The rebel is the very essence of religion. He brings into the world a change of consciousness – and if the consciousness changes, then the structure of the society is bound to follow it. But vice versa is not right – and it has been proved by all the revolutions, because they have all failed.
No revolution has yet succeeded in changing man; but it seems man is not aware of the fact. He still goes on thinking in terms of revolution, of changing society, of changing the government, of changing the bureaucracy, of changing laws, political systems. Feudalism, capitalism, communism, socialism, fascism – they are all in their own way revolutionary. They all have failed, and failed utterly, because man has remained the same.
A Gautam Buddha, a Zarathustra, a Jesus – these people are rebels. Their trust is in the individual. They have not succeeded either, but their failure is totally different than the failure of the revolutionary. Revolutionaries have tried their methodology in many countries, in many ways, and have failed. But a Gautam Buddha has not succeeded because he has not been tried. A Jesus has not succeeded because Jews crucified him and Christians buried him. He has not been tried – he has not been given a chance. The rebel is still an unexperimented dimension.
My sannyasins have to be rebels not revolutionaries. The revolutionary belongs to a very mundane sphere. The rebel and his rebelliousness are sacred. The revolutionary cannot stand alone, he needs a crowd, a political party, a government. He needs power, and power corrupts – and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
All the revolutionaries who have succeeded in capturing power have been corrupted by the power. They could not change the power and its institutions; the power changed them and their minds and corrupted them. Only names became different, but the society continued to remain the same.