I said "okay" a little early, just because I was becoming concerned about your worry. At least in the beginning don't be worried; in the beginning let me have my say. If you are worried, obviously I will say "okay" but that will not be okay at all.
After my grandfather died I was again away from my Nani, but I soon returned to my father's village.
Not that I wanted to - it was just like this "okay" that I said at the beginning... not that I wanted to say "okay" but even I cannot ignore the concern of others, and my parents would not allow me to go to my dead grandfather's home. My grandmother herself was not willing to go with me, and being just a seven-year-old child, I could not see any future in it.
Again and again I pictured myself going back to the old house, alone in the bullock cart... Bhoora talking to the bullocks. He at least would have had some kind of company. I would be alone inside the bullock cart, just thinking of the future. What would I do there? Yes, my horses would be there, but who would feed them? In fact, who would feed me? I have never learned even the art of making a single cup of tea.
One day Gudia went for a holiday and Chetana was doing her duty here, serving me. In the morning, when I wake up, I push the button for my tea. Chetana brought it, and put the cup by the side of my bed, then went to the bathroom to prepare my towel and toothbrush, and everything that I need.
Meanwhile, for the first time in ten years, do you know? - one has to learn small things - I tried to pick the cup up from the floor, and it fell down!
Chetana came running, naturally, afraid. I said, "Don't be worried - it was my responsibility. I should not have done such a thing. I have never needed to pick up my cup from the floor. Gudia has been spoiling me for ten years. Now you cannot unspoil me in just one day."
I had so many years of spoiling. Yes, I call it spoiling because they never allowed me to do anything for myself. My grandmother was even greater than Gudia could conceive: she would even brush my teeth! I would say to her, "Nani, I can brush my own teeth."
She would say, "Shut up, Raja! Keep quiet. Don't disturb me when I am doing something."
I would shake my head and say, "This is something. You are doing something to me; I can't even tell you that I can do it myself."
I cannot remember a single thing that I was required to do except just to be myself - and that meant the source of all mischief, because when you don't require a child to do anything at all he has so much energy, he has to invest it somewhere. Right or wrong does not matter, what matters is the investment; and mischief is the nicest investment possible. So I did all kinds of mischief to everybody around.
I used to carry a small suitcase, just like the doctors'. Once I had seen a doctor passing through the village, and I had said to my Nani, "Unless I get that suitcase I will not eat!" Where did I get the idea not to eat? I had seen my grandfather not eating for days, particularly in the rainy season when the Jainas have their festival. The very orthodox do not eat at all for ten days, that is why I had said, "I will not eat unless I get that suitcase."
You know what she did? That's why I still love her - told Bhoora, "Take your gun and run after that doctor and snatch his bag. Even if you have to shoot the man, get his bag. Don't worry, we will take care of you in court."
Bhoora ran with his gun; I ran behind to see what would actually happen. Seeing Bhoora with the gun - a European with a gun in India in those days was the last thing one wanted to see - the doctor started trembling like a leaf in a strong wind. Bhoora said to him, "There is no need to tremble; just hand over your case and go to hell, or wherever else you want to go." The doctor, still trembling, handed over his case. I don't know how you call this doctor's case, Devaraj. Is it a suitcase or something? A doctor's case? Devageet, what do you call it?
"A visiting bag perhaps?"
A visiting bag? It does not look like a bag. Devaraj, can you suggest a name? A visiting bag? Okay...
can you find a better word?
"The original bag was called a Gladstone bag. That was the original black bag."
What is it? A Gladstone's bag? Yes, that was what I was thinking of and could not remember... of course, a Gladstone's bag. Good, but I still don't like that name for the bag. I will continue to call it the doctor's suitcase, although I know it is not a suitcase. It does not matter; by now everybody has understood what I mean.
Seeing the doctor tremble, I saw, for the first time, that all education was useless. If it cannot make you fearless then what is it for? Just to earn bread and butter? You will tremble. You will be a bag full of bread and butter, trembling. This is wonderful. It suddenly reminds me of Doctor Eichling.
I have heard - just a gossip, and I love gossips more than gospels.... Anyway those gospels are nothing but gossips, just not said rightly, not told juicily. I have heard - that's the way Buddha gospels begin, I mean Buddha gossips begin. I have heard - what a beautiful phrase! - that Doctor Eichling's beloved, who by the way I would rather call "Inkling," but I heard that his name is not Inkling but Eichling....
I don't know this man. I thought he had died, because I gave him sannyas and called him Shunyo.
I don't know what happened to Shunyo or how Doctor Eichling became resurrected, but if Jesus could manage it, why not Eichling? Anyway, he is still there - either he survived, or he resurrected, it is not very significant which. The gossip is that his beloved went off with another sannyasin and she fell in love with this new guy.
When they came back Doctor Eichling had a "love attack." I'm surprised he could manage it, because to have a love attack you first need to have a heart. A heart attack is not necessarily a love attack.
A heart attack is physiological, a love attack is psychological, from the deeper part of the heart. But first you have to have a heart.
Now, Doctor Eichling having a heart attack, or love attack, is impossible. They should have consulted me. Of course I am not a doctor, but I am certainly a physician in the same sense Buddha was.
Buddha used to call himself a physician, not a philosopher. Poor Doctor Eichling... there was nothing wrong. When there is nothing there, how can there be anything wrong? Physiologically he was found to be absolutely in order. Psychologically the problem still exists: his beloved is now somebody else's beloved. That hurts, but where?
Nobody knows where it hurts. In the lungs? In the chest? That's where Doctor Eichling was showing his pain, in the chest. Doctor Eichling, it is not in your chest, it is in your mind, in your jealousy. And the center of jealousy is certainly not in the chest; in fact everything has its center in the mind.
If you are a follower of B.F. Skinner, or Pavlov the grandfather or maybe the great grandfather of Skinner, and contemporary of Freud, his greatest opponent too - then "mind" is not the right word; you can read "brain" instead. But "brain" is only the body of the mind, the mechanism through which the mind functions. Whether you call it the mind or the brain does not matter; what matters is that everything has its center there.
Doctor Eichling - I cannot call him Shunyo because in front of his office in Arizona, on his sign he has written "Doctor Eichling's Office." If you phone him, his assistant says, "Doctor Eichling? He is not available. He is at a meeting." I will call him Shunyo again when he makes that board disappear, and his stupid assistant asks, "Who is this fellow Eichling? We have never heard of him. Yes, once he was here, then he went to India and died there; a fellow called Shunyo returned in his place." I will call him Shunyo only when he buries his board deep down and jumps on it and disappears.
But the story, or rather the gossip, was only to tell you that everything exists first in the mind, only then in the body. The body is an extension of the mind, in matter. Brain is the beginning of that extension, and the body its full manifestation, but the seed is in the mind. The mind carries not only this body's seed, but it also has the potentiality to become almost anything. Its potential is infinite.
Humanity's whole past is contained in it, and not only humanity but even the pre-human past.
During the nine months in the mother's womb the child passes through almost three million years of evolution... very quickly of course, as if you see a film run so fast that you can hardly see it - just glimpses. But in nine months the child certainly passes through the whole of life from its very beginning. In the beginning - and I am not quoting the Bible, I am simply stating the facts of every child's life - in the beginning every child is a fish, just as once the whole of life began in the ocean.
Man still carries the same quantity of salt in his body as ocean water. Man's mind plays the drama again and again; the whole drama of birth, from the fish to the old man gasping for his last breath.
I wanted to go back to the village, but it was next to impossible to regain that which had been lost.
That is where I learned that it is better never to go back to anything. Since then I have been to so many places but I have never gone back. Once I have left a place I have left it forever. That childhood episode forever determined a certain pattern, a structure, a system. Although I wanted to go, there was no support. My grandmother simply said, "No, I cannot go back to that village. If my husband is not there then why should I go back? I only went there for his sake, not for the village. If I have to go anywhere I would like to go to Khajuraho."
But that too was impossible because her parents were dead. Later on I visited her house, where she had been born. It was only a ruin. There was no possibility of going back there. And Bhoora, who was the only person who would have been ready to go back, died just after the death of his master, just twenty-four hours after.
Nobody was prepared to see two deaths happen so quickly, particularly me, to whom they both meant such a lot. Bhoora may have been just an obedient servant to my grandfather, but to me he was a friend. Most of the time we were together - in the fields, in the forest, on the lake, everywhere.
Bhoora followed me like a shadow, not interfering, always ready to help, and with such a great heart...
so poor and yet so rich, together.
He never invited me to his house. Once I asked him, "Bhoora, why do you never invite me to your house?"
He said, "I am so poor that although I want to invite you, my poverty prevents me. I don't want you to see that ugly house in all its dirtiness. In this life I cannot see a time when I will be able to invite you. I really have dropped the very idea."
He was very poor. In that village there were two parts: one for the higher castes, and the other for the poorer ones, on the other side of the lake. That's where Bhoora lived. Although I tried many times to reach his house I could not manage it because he was always following me like a shadow.
He would prevent me before I even stepped in that direction.
Even my horse used to listen to him. When it came to going towards his house, Bhoora would say, "No! Don't go." Of course he had brought the horse up from its very childhood, they understood each other, and the horse would stop. There would be no way to get the horse to move either towards Bhoora's house, or even towards the poorer part of the village. I had only seen it from the other side, the richer, where the brahmins and the Jainas lived, and all those who are by birth, pure. Bhoora was a sudra. The word sudra means "impure by birth," and there is no way for a sudra to purify himself.
This is the work of Manu. That's why I condemn him and hate him. I denounce him, and want the world to know of this man, Manu, because unless we know of such people we will never be able to be free of them. They will continue to influence us in some form or another. Either it is race - even in America, if you are a negro, you are a sudra, a "nigger," "untouchable."
Whether you are a negro or a white man, both need to be acquainted with the insane philosophy of Manu. It is Manu who has influenced the two world wars in a very subtle way. And perhaps he will be the cause of the third, and last... a really influential man!
Even before Dale Carnegie wrote his book, HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE, Manu knew all the secrets. In fact, one wonders how many friends Dale Carnegie has got, and how many people he has influenced. He is certainly not like Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Mahatma Gandhi. And all these people were absolutely unacquainted with the science of influencing people.
They did not need to know, they had it in their very guts.
I don't think any man has influenced humanity more than Manu. Even today, whether you know his name or not, he influences you. If you think yourself superior just because you are white or black, or just because you are a man or a woman, somehow Manu is pulling your strings. Manu has to be absolutely discarded.
I wanted to say something else, but I started with a wrong step. My Nani was very insistent: "Always step out of bed with your right foot." And you will be surprised to know, today I did not follow her advice, and everything is going wrong. I started with a wrong "okay"; now, when in the very beginning you are not okay, naturally, everything that follows on goes berserk.
Is there still time for me to say something right? Good. Let's begin again.
I wanted to go to the village but nobody was ready to support me. I could not conceive how I could exist there alone, without my grandfather, my grandmother, or Bhoora. No, it was not possible, so I reluctantly said, "Okay, I will stay in my father's village." But my mother naturally wanted me to stay with her and not with my grandmother, who from the very beginning had made it clear that she would stay in the same village, but separately. A little house was found for her in a very beautiful place near the river.
My mother insisted that I stay with her - for over seven years I had not been living with my family.
But my family was not a small affair, it was a whole jumbo-set - so many people, all kinds of people:
my uncles, my aunts, their children and my uncle's relatives, and so on and so forth.
In India the family is not the same as in the West. In the West it is just singular: the husband, the wife, one, two or three children. At the most there may be five people in the family. In India people would laugh - five? Only five? In India the family is uncountable. There are hundreds of people.
Guests come and visit and never leave, and nobody says to them, "Please, it is time for you to go,"
because in fact, nobody knows whose guests they are.
The father thinks, "Perhaps they are my wife's relatives so it is better to keep quiet." The mother thinks, "Perhaps they are my husband's relatives...."
In India it is possible to enter a home where you are not related at all; and if you keep your mouth shut, you can live there forever. Nobody will tell you to get out; everybody will think somebody else invited you. You have only to keep quiet and keep smiling.
It was a big family. My grandfather - I mean my father's father - was a man I never liked very much, to say the least. He was so different from my other grandfather, just the opposite; very restless, ready to jump on anyone at any time; ready to take up any excuse to fight. He was a real fighter, cause or no cause. The fight itself was his exercise, and he was continually fighting. It was rare to see him when he was not fighting somebody, and, strange to relate, there were people who loved him too.
My father had a small clothes shop. Once in a while I used to sit there just to watch people, and to see what was going on, and sometimes it was really interesting. The most interesting thing was that a few people would ask my father, "Where is Baba?" - that was my grandfather. "We want to do business with him, and not with anybody else."
I was puzzled, because my father was so simple, so true, and honest. He would simply tell people the price of an item like this: "This is my cost price. Now it is up to you how much profit you want to give us. I leave it to you. I cannot reduce the cost price of course, but you can decide how much you want to pay." He would tell his customers, "Twenty rupees is the cost price, you can give me one or two rupees more. Two rupees means ten percent profit, and that's enough for me."
But people would ask, "Where is Baba? - because unless he is here there is no joy in doing business." I could not believe it at first, but later on I did see their point. The joy of bargaining, shopping, or - what do you call it - higgling?
Haggling? Good. It must have been a great joy to the customers, because if the item was twenty rupees, my Baba would first start at fifty rupees, and after a long session of haggling, which they both would enjoy, they would settle somewhere near thirty rupees.
I used to laugh; and when the customer had gone, my Baba used to say to me, "You are not supposed to laugh at such moments. You should be serious, as if we were losing money. Of course, we cannot lose," he used to tell me. "Whether the watermelon falls on the knife, or the knife falls on the watermelon, in any case it is the watermelon which gets cut, and not the knife. So don't laugh when you see that I am charging a person thirty rupees for a thing which he could have bought for only twenty rupees from your father. Your father is a fool."
And of course it looked like my father was a fool, the same kind of fool as Devageet. Now it is up to him to attain to the same ultimate foolishness that my father attained. For the fools everything is possible, even enlightenment. Yes, my father was a fool, and my Baba was a very cunning man, a cunning old man. The moment I remember him, it is as a fox. He must have once been born as a fox, he was a fox.
Everything Baba did was very calculated. He would have been a good chess player because he could have conceived at least five steps ahead. He was really the most cunning man I have ever
come across. I have seen many cunning men, but nobody to compare with my Baba. I always used to wonder where my father got his simplicity from. Perhaps it is nature that does not allow things to become out of balance, so it gives a very simple child to a very complex man.
Baba was a genius in cunningness. The whole village would tremble. Nobody was able to conceive what his plans were. In fact, he was such a man - and I have observed it myself - that we would be going to the river, my Baba and me, and somebody would ask, "Where are you going, Baba?" The whole town used to call him Baba; it just means grandfather. We were going to the river, and it was clear to everybody where we were going, but this man, with his quality would say, "To the station." I would look at him, and he would look at me and wink.
I was puzzled. What was the point? No business was being done, and you are not supposed to lie just for no reason at all. When the man had passed by, I asked him, "Why did you wink, Baba?
And why did you lie to that man without any reason? Why could you not say 'to the river,' when we are going to the river? He knows, everybody knows, that this road leads to the river and not to the station. You know it and still you said, 'to the station.'"
He said, "You don't understand, one has to practice continuously."
"Practice what?" I asked him.
He said, "One has to continuously practice one's business. I cannot just tell the simple truth because then, one day, doing business, I may simply say the right price. And it is none of your business at all; that's why I winked at you, so you would keep quiet. As far as I am concerned, we are going to the station; whether this road leads there or not is nobody else's business. Even if that man had said that this road does not lead to the station, I would have just said I am going to the station via the river. It is up to me. One can go anywhere from anywhere. It may take a little longer, that's all."
Baba was that kind of man. He lived there with all his children, my father and his brothers and sisters, and their husbands... and one could not know all the people who had gathered there. I saw people coming and never leaving. We were not rich, yet there was enough to eat for everybody.
I did not want to enter this family, and I told my mother, "Either I will go back to the village alone - the bullock cart is ready, and I know the way; I will get there somehow. And I know the villagers, they will help support a child. And it is only a question of a few years, then I will repay them as much as I can. But I cannot live in this family. This is not a family, it's a bazaar."
And it was a bazaar, continuously buzzing with so many people, no space at all, no silence. Even if an elephant had jumped into that ancient pond, nobody would have heard the plop; there was too much going on. I simply refused, saying, "If I have to stay then the only alternative is for me to live with my Nani."
My mother was, of course, hurt. I am sorry, because since then I have been hurting her again and again. I could not help it. In fact I was not responsible; the situation was such that I could not live in that family after so many years of absolute freedom, silence, space. In fact, in my Nana's house I was the only one who was ever heard. My Nana was mostly silently chanting his mantra, and of course my grandmother had no one else to talk to.
I was the only one who was ever heard, otherwise there was silence. After years of such beautitude, then to live in that so-called family, full of unfamiliar faces, uncles, and their fathers-in-law, cousins - what a lot! One could not even figure out who was who! Later I used to think somebody ought to publish a small booklet about my family, a WHO'S WHO.
When I was a professor people used to come up to me and say something like, "Don't you know me?-I am your mother's brother."
I would look into the man's face, then say, "Please be somebody else, because my mother has no brothers - that much I know about my family."
This particular man then said, "Yes, you are right. I mean I am really a cousin."
I said, "Then it is okay. So what do you want? I mean how much do you want? You must have come to borrow money."
He said, "Great! But it is strange, how could you read my mind?"
I said, "It is very easy. Just tell me how much you want."
He took twenty rupees, and I said, "Thank God. At least I have lost one relative. Now he will never show his face again."
And that's what actually happened: I never saw his face again, anywhere. Hundreds of people borrowed money from me and nobody ever returned it. I was happy that they didn't, because if they had they would only have asked for more.
I wanted to return to the village but could not. I had to come to a compromise just not to hurt my mother. But I know I have been hurting her, really wounding her. Whatsoever she wanted I have never done; in fact, just the opposite. Naturally, slowly slowly, she accepted me as one who was lost to her.
It used to happen that I would be sitting just in front of her, and she would ask, "Have you seen anybody about? - because I want to send somebody to fetch vegetables from the market." The market was not far away; the village was small, it was just two minutes away. And she was asking, "Have you seen anybody?"
I would say, "No, I have not seen anybody at all - the house seems to be completely empty. Strange, where have all the relatives gone? They always disappear when there is some work to be done." But she would not ask me to go and fetch vegetables for her. She tried once or twice, and then dropped the idea forever.
Once she asked me to purchase bananas, and I brought tomatoes because on the way I forgot. I tried hard; that was the trouble. I repeated to myself, "Banana... banana... banana... banana..."
and then a dog barked, or somebody asked where I was going, and I went on saying, "Banana...
They said, "Hey! Have you gone mad?"
I said, "Shut up! I have not gone mad. You must be mad. What nonsense is this, interrupting people who are silently doing their work?" But by that time I had forgotten what it was I was going to purchase, so I brought anything that I could manage to get. But tomatoes were the last thing to bring, because they are not allowed in a Jaina household. My mother beat her head saying, "Are these bananas? When will you understand?"
I said, "My God! Did you ask for bananas? I forgot - I'm sorry."
She said, "Even if you had forgotten, could you not have bought anything else other than tomatoes?
You know that tomatoes are not allowed in our house because they look so red, like meat!" And in a Jaina household, even a similarity to meat... just the color red could remind you of blood or meat; even a tomato is enough to make a Jaina feel sick.
Poor tomatoes! They are such simple fellows, and so meditative too. If you see them sitting - they sit exactly like Buddhist monks with their shaven heads, and they look so centered too, as if they have been doing centering for their whole life, so grounded... but Jainas don't like them.
So I had to take those tomatoes back and distribute them to the beggars. They were always glad to see me. The beggars were the only ones who used to be happy to see me, because it was always an occasion when I had been sent to throw something out of the house. I never threw it, I would give it to the beggars.
I could not manage to live in the family, according to them. Everybody was giving birth; every woman was almost always pregnant. Whenever I remember my family I suddenly think of freaking out - although I cannot freak out; I just enjoy the idea of freaking out. All the women were always with big bellies. One pregnancy over, another starts; and so many children....
"No," I said to my mother, "I know it hurts you, and I am sorry, but I will live with my grandmother.
She is the only one who can understand me and allow me not only love but freedom too."
Once I had asked my Nani, "Why did you only give birth to my mother?"
She said, "What a question!"
I said, "Because in this family every woman is always carrying a load in her belly. Why did you only give birth to my mother and not have another child, at least a brother for her?"
She then said something I cannot forget: "That too was because of your Nana. He wanted a child, so we compromised. I told him, 'Only one child, then it is your fate whether it is a boy or a girl' - because he wanted a boy." She laughed, "And it was good that a girl was born, otherwise where would I have got you from? Yes, it is good," she said, "that I did not give birth to any other children, otherwise you would not have liked this place either, it would have been too crowded."
I remained in my father's village for eleven years, and I was forced almost violently to go to school.
And it was not a one-day affair, it was an everyday routine. Every morning I had to be forced to go to school. One of my uncles, or whosoever, would take me there, would wait outside until the master had taken possession of me - as if I was a piece of property to be passed from one hand to
another, or a prisoner passed from one hand to another. But that's what education is, still: a forced and violent phenomenon.
Each generation tries to corrupt the new generation. It is certainly a kind of rape, a spiritual rape - and naturally the more powerful, stronger, and bigger father and mother can force the small child. I was a rebel from the very first day that I was taken to school. The moment I saw the gates I asked my father, "Is it a jail or a school?"
My father said, "What a question! It is a school. Don't be afraid."
I said, "I am not afraid, I am simply inquiring about what attitude I should take. What is the need for this big gate?"
The gate was closed when all the children, the prisoners, were inside. It was only opened again in the evening when the children were released for the night. I can still see that gate. I can still see myself standing with my father ready to register at that ugly school.
The school was ugly, but the gate was even uglier. It was big, and it was called "The Elephant Gate,"
Hathi Dwar. An elephant could have passed through it, it was so large. Perhaps it would have been good for elephants from a circus - and it was a circus - but for small children it was too big.
I will have to tell you many things about these nine years....