It is good that I cannot see, but I know what is going on. But what can you do? You have to follow your own technology, and with a man like me, naturally you are in a great difficulty. I am tied and can't help you.
Ashu, can you do something? Just a little laughter on your side will help him keep quiet. It is a very strange thing, when somebody else starts laughing the other person stops. The reason is clear, not to them, but to me. The person who was laughing immediately thinks that he is doing something wrong, and of course becomes serious.
So when you see Devageet is going a little off the road, laugh, defeat him; it is a question of female liberation. And if you give a good laugh he will immediately start taking his notes. You have not even started yet, and he has come to his senses.
I was telling you yesterday that I jumped from the tree that night, not to hurt the poor teacher but to let him know what kind of student he had. But it went too far. Even I was surprised when I saw him so terrified. He was just fear. The man disappeared. For a moment I even thought to put an end to it, thinking, "He is an old man; perhaps he may die or something, may go mad, or may never return to his house," because he could not reach his house without again passing that tree - there was no other way. But it was too late. He had run away leaving his pants behind.
I collected them and went to my grandmother and said, "These are the pants, and you thought he was going to teach me? This pair of pants?"
She said, "What happened?"
I said, "Everything has happened. The man has run away naked, and I don't know how he will manage to reach his home. And I am in a hurry; I will tell you the whole story later on. You keep the pants. If he comes here, give them to him."
But strange, he never came back to our house to collect his pants which remained there. I even nailed them to the neem tree so that if he wanted to take them, there would be no need to ask me.
But to take his pants from the neem tree meant releasing the ghost that he thought had jumped on him.
Thousands of people as they passed the neem tree must have seen those pants. People came there as a kind of psychoanalysis, an effective - what do you call it, Devaraj? Plassbo?
Okay, but I will continue to call it "plassbo." You can correct it in your book. "Plasseebo" is right, but my whole life I have called it "plassbo," and it is better to stick to your own whether it is right or wrong.
At least it is your own. Devaraj must be right, and I must be wrong about it, but I'm right in still calling it "plassbo" - not the name, but to give it the flavor of how I have behaved.
Right and wrong have never been my consideration. What I happen to like is right; and I don't say that it is right for everybody. I'm not a fanatic, I'm just a madman. At the most... I cannot claim more than that.
What was I saying?
"You were talking about people coming to the tree as a kind of placebo for psychoanalysis, Bhagwan."
Marriage is a placebo. It works, that's the weird thing. Whether it is true or not does not matter. I am always for the result; what brings it about is immaterial. I am a pragmatist.
I told my grandmother, "Don't be worried. I will hang these pants on the neem tree, and you can be certain of its effect."
She said, "I know you and your strange ideas. Now the whole town will know whose pants these are. Even if the man were to come for his pants he could never come here again."
Those pants were famous because he used them for special occasions. But what happened to the man? I even searched everywhere in the town, but naturally he was not to be found in the town because he was naked. So I thought, "Better wait; perhaps late at night he may come. He may have gone to the other side of the river." That was the closest place where one would not be seen by anybody.
But the man never returned. That's how my tutor disappeared. I still wonder what happened to him without his pants. I'm not very interested in him, but how did he manage without pants? And where did he go? Naturally certain ideas came to me. Perhaps he died of a heart attack - but still the body, without pants, would have been discovered. And even though he was dead, anybody who would
have seen him would have laughed, because his pants were so famous. He was even called "Mister Pants."
I don't even remember his name. And he had so many pairs of pants. The story in the town was that he had three hundred sixty-five pairs, one for every day. I don't think that is true, but gossip. But what happened to him?
I asked his family; they said, "We are waiting, but he has not been seen since that night."
I said, "Strange...." To my Nani I said, "Certainly his disappearance sometimes makes even me suspect that perhaps ghosts exist. Because I was simply introducing him to the ghosts. And it is good that his pants should hang on the tree."
My father became so angry that I could do such a nasty thing. I had never seen him so angry.
I said, "But I had not planned it that way. I had not even thought that the man would simply evaporate.
It is too much even for me. I just did a simple thing. I sat in the tree, with a drum, struck it loudly just so that he would take notice of what was happening and forget everything else in the world - and then I jumped to the ground." And it was my usual practice. I had made many people run. In fact my grandmother used to say, "Perhaps this street is the only street in the town where nobody walks at night, except you."
The other day someone was showing me a few car stickers. One was beautiful, it said, "Believe me, this road really belongs to me." While reading that sticker I remembered the road that passed near my house. At least during the night I owned it. During the day it was a government road, but at night absolutely my own. Even today I cannot see that any road could be as silent as that road used to be at night.
But my father was so angry that he said, "Whatsoever happens I'm going to cut down this neem tree, and I'm going to finish this whole business that you have been doing."
I said, "What business?" I was afraid about the nails because that was my only income. He was not aware of that, as he was saying, "This nasty business that you have been doing, making people afraid... and now that man's family continuously haunts me. Every day somebody or other comes and asks me to do something. What can I do?"
I said, "I can at least give you the pants; that's all that is left. And as far as the tree is concerned, I tell you nobody will be willing to cut it down."
He said, "You don't have to worry about that."
I said, "I am not worrying. I am just making you aware so that you don't waste your time."
And after three days he called me to say, "You are really something. You told me nobody would cut down the tree. It is strange: I have asked all the people who might be able to cut the tree down - there are not many in this town, only a few woodcutters - but nobody is ready to do it. They all said, 'No. What about the ghosts?'"
I said to him, "I told you before, I don't know anybody in this town who will even touch the tree unless I decide to cut it down myself. But if you want I can find someone, but you will have to depend on me."
He said, "I cannot depend on you because one never knows what you are planning. You may tell me you are going to cut down the tree but you could do something else. No, I cannot ask you to do it."
That tree remained without anybody being ready to cut it down. I used to harass my poor father saying, "Dadda, what about the tree? It is still standing - I saw it this morning. Have you not found a woodcutter yet?"
And he would look everywhere to see that nobody was listening, then say to me, "Can't you leave me alone?"
I said, "I rarely visit you. I come once in a while just to ask about that tree. You say that you cannot find a person to cut it down. I know you have been asking people, and I know that they have been refusing. I have also been asking them."
He said, "What for?"
I said, "No, not to cut the tree down, just to make them aware what the tree contains - the ghosts.
I don't think anybody will agree to cut it down unless you ask me to do it." And of course he was reluctant to do that. So I said, "Okay, the tree will remain."
And that tree remained while I was in the town. It was only when I left that my father managed to get a Mohammedan from another village to cut the tree down. But a strange thing happened: the tree was cut down - but because it may have grown again, and to remove it completely, he made a well in its place. But he suffered unnecessarily because the tree and its roots had gone so deep that they made the water as bitter as you can imagine. Nobody was ready to drink the water from that well.
When I finally came home I told my father, "You never listened to me. You destroyed a beautiful tree and created this ugly hole; and now what use is it? You wasted money in making the well and even you cannot drink the water."
He said, "Perhaps once in a while you are right. I realize it, but nothing can be done now."
He had to cover that well with stones. It is still there, covered. If you remove a few stones, just slabs, you will find the well. By this time the water will be really bitter. Why did I want to tell you this story? - because the tutor, on his first day, tried to impress me that he was a man of great courage, fearless, saying he did not believe in ghosts.
I said, "Really! You don't believe in ghosts?"
He said, "Of course I don't believe." I could see he was already afraid when he said it.
I had said, "Believe it or not, but tonight I will introduce you." I had never thought that the introduction would make the man simply disappear. What happened to him? Whenever I went to the town I always visited his house to inquire, "Has he come home yet?"
They said, "Why are you so interested in it? We have forgotten the whole idea of his coming."
I said, "I cannot forget, because what I saw had such great beauty, and I was only introducing him to somebody."
They said, "To whom?"
I said, "Just somebody, and I could not even finish the introduction. And," I told his son, "what your father did was not at all gentlemanly: he just ran out of his pants."
The wife, who was cooking something, laughed and she said, "I always used to tell him to hold his pants tight, but he would not listen. Now his pants are gone and so is he."
I said, "Why did you tell him to keep a tight hold of his pants?"
She said, "You don't understand. It is simple. He had all his pants made when he was young, and now they were all loose because he had lost weight. So I was always afraid someday or other he would create an embarrassing situation where his pants would suddenly fall down."
I then remembered that he always kept his hands in his pants pockets, but naturally, when you meet ghosts you cannot remember to keep your hands in your pockets and to hold on tightly to your pants. Who cares about pants when there are so many ghosts jumping out on you? He did one more thing before he left.... I don't know where he went. In this world there are many things which are unanswerable, and this can be counted among them. I don't know why, but before he left he put out his kerosene lamp. That is another question about that tutor which has remained unanswered.
He was a great man in a way. I often wondered why he put out the lamp; then one day I came across a small story, and it was solved. I don't mean that the man returned, but the second question was answered.
His little boy would not go to the bathroom without his mother standing at the door, and if it was night-time, then naturally she had to keep a lamp there. I was visiting the house and heard the mother say to the boy, "Can't you take the lamp yourself?"
He said, "Okay, I will take the lamp because I have to go. I can't wait any longer."
I said, "Why use the lamp in the daytime? I have heard the story of Diogenes; is he another Diogenes? Why the lamp?"
The mother laughed and said, "Ask him."
I said, "Why do you want the lamp during the day, Raju?"
He said, "Day or night, it does not matter; ghosts are everywhere. When you have a lamp you can avoid clashing with them."
That day I understood why the tutor had put out the lamp before running away. Perhaps he thought if he kept the lamp on, the ghost would find him. But if he put it out - and it is only my logic - if he
put it out, at least they could not see him and he could dodge and escape. But he really did a great job. To tell you the truth it seems he always wanted to escape from his wife, and this opportunity was his last. He used it to the fullest. This man would not have come to such an end if he had not started with his fearlessness, and by saying, "I'm not even afraid of ghosts."
"But," I said, "I am not asking you." And his pants were trembling when he said the word "ghosts."
I said, "Sir, you have very strange pants. I have never seen anything tremble like that. They look so alive."
He looked down at his pants - I can still see him - and the legs were going completely berserk.
In fact my primary school days had ended. Of course thousands of things happened that cannot be talked about; not that they are worthless - nothing in life is worthless - but just because there is no time. So just a few examples will do.
The primary school was just the beginning of middle school. I entered middle school, and the first thing that I remember - you know me, I see strange things....
My secretary collects all kinds of crazy car stickers. One was "Warning, I brake for hallucinations." I liked it. Really great!
The first thing that I remember is this man who - fortunately or unfortunately, because it's difficult to know which - was not at all sane. He was not even insane like me. He was genuinely insane. In the village he was known as Khakki Master. The meaning of khakki is something very close to what you mean by "cuckoo," crazy. He was my first teacher in the middle school. Perhaps because he was genuinely insane we immediately became friends.
I have rarely been friendly towards teachers. There are a few tribes like politicians, journalists, and teachers whom I simply cannot like, although I would like to like them too. Jesus says: "Love your enemies." Okay, but he never went to any school so he does not know about teachers. That much is certain, otherwise he would have said, "Love your enemies, except for teachers."
Of course there were no journalists or politicians, no people whose whole work it was to somehow suck your blood. Jesus was talking about enemies, but what about friends? - he said nothing about love your friends. Because I don't think an enemy can do you much harm, the real harm is done by the friend.
I simply hate journalists, and when I hate I don't mean anything else; no interpretations, simply hate! I hate teachers! I don't want teachers in the world... not teachers in the old sense; perhaps a different kind of elderly friend will have to be found. But this man who was known as a madman immediately became my friend. His full name was Rajaram, but he was known as Raju-Khakki, "Raju, the mad." I had expected that he would be what he was known to be.
When I saw the man - you will not believe it, but that day for the first time I realized it is not good to be really sane in an insane world. Looking at him, just for a moment it was as if time had stopped.
How long it lasted is difficult to say, but he had to finish writing my name and address, and registering things, so he asked these questions.
I said, "Can't we remain silent?"
He said, "I would love to be silent with you, but let us finish this dirty job first, then we can sit silently."
The way he said, "Let us finish this dirty job first..." was enough to show me that here is a man who at least knows what is dirty: the bureaucracy, and the endless red-tape-ism. He quickly finished, closed the register and said, "Okay, now we can sit silently. Can I hold your hand?"
I was not expecting that from a teacher, so I said, "Either what people say is right, that you are mad, or perhaps what I am feeling is right: that you are the only sane teacher in the whole town."
He said, "It is better to be mad; it saves you from many troubles."
We laughed and became friends. For thirty years continuously, until he died, I used to visit him, just to sit. His wife used to say, "I thought my husband was the only madman in the town. That's not right; you are mad too. I wonder," she said, "why you come to see this madman." And he was a madman in every way.
For example, you would see him going to school on a horse; that was not a bad thing in those parts, but sitting backwards...! I love that about him. To sit on a horse, not as everybody else sits but looking backwards, is a strange experience.
It was only later on I told him the story about Mulla Nasruddin, how he used to ride on his donkey also sitting backwards. When his students used to go out of town, naturally they felt embarrassed, to say the least. Finally one of the students asked, "Mulla, everybody sits on a donkey, there is nothing wrong in that. You can sit on a donkey, but backwards...! The donkey is going in one direction, and you are looking in the opposite direction, so people laugh and say, 'Look at that crazy Mulla!' - and we feel embarrassed because we are your students."
Mulla said, "I will explain it to you: I cannot sit keeping you at my back, that would be insulting to you.
I cannot insult my own students, so that is out of the question. Other ways can be found; perhaps you could all walk backwards in front of the donkey, but it would be very difficult, and you would feel even more embarrassed. Of course you would then be facing me, and there would be no question of disrespect, but it would be very difficult for you to walk backwards, and we are going a long way.
So the only natural, and also the easiest solution is that I should sit facing backwards on the donkey.
The donkey has no objection to not seeing you. He can see where we are going and reach the destination. I don't want to be disrespectful to you, so the best way is for me to sit backwards on the donkey."
It is strange, but Lao Tzu also used to sit backwards on his buffalo, perhaps for the same reason.
But nothing is known about his answer. The Chinese don't answer such questions, and they don't ask them either. They are very polite people, always bowing down to each other.
I was determined to do everything that was not allowed. For example when I was in college I wore a robe without buttons, and pyjama pants. One of my professors, Indrabahadur Khare... I remember his name although he died long ago, but because of this story I am about to tell you I cannot forget it.
He was in charge of all celebrations in the college. Of course because of all the awards I was bringing to the college, he decided that my picture should be taken with all the medals, shields and cups, so we went to the studio. But a great problem arose there when he said, "Do up your buttons."
I said, "That is not possible."
He said, "What? You cannot close your buttons?"
I said, "Look, you can see, the buttons are false; I don't have any button holes. They cannot be closed. I don't like to do up buttons, so I instructed my tailor to not make any button holes in my clothes. The buttons are there, you can see them, so the picture will show the buttons."
He was so angry because he was very much - what do you say, concerned? - concerned about clothes and things like that, so he said, "Then the picture cannot be taken."
I said, "Okay, then I will go."
He said, "I don't mean that" - because he was afraid I would cause trouble and perhaps go to the principal. He knew perfectly well that there was no law saying that your buttons should be closed when you are being photographed.
I reminded him by saying, "Know well that tomorrow you will be in trouble. There is no law against it.
Read all night, find out, do homework, and tomorrow face me in the principal's office. Prove to me that a photograph may not be taken without closed buttons."
He said, "You are certainly a strange student. I know that I will not be able to prove it, so please just get the photo finished. I will leave, but your photograph has to be taken."
That photograph still exists. One of my brothers, my fourth brother, Niklanka, has been collecting everything concerning me from his very childhood. Everybody laughed at him. Even I asked him, "Niklanka, why do you bother to collect everything about me?"
He said, "I don't know, but somehow there is a deep feeling in me that someday these things will be needed."
I said, "Then go ahead. If you feel like that, go ahead, do it." And it is because of Niklanka that a few pictures of my childhood have been saved. He has collected things which now have significance.
He was always collecting things. Even if I threw something away in the wastepaper basket, he would search to see if I had thrown away something I had written. Whatsoever it was, he would collect it because of my handwriting. The whole town thought he was mad. People even said to me, "You are mad, and he seems to be even more mad!"
But he loved me as nobody in my whole family did - although they all loved me, but nobody like him.
He may well have the photograph because he was always collecting. I remember having seen it in his collection - with the buttons open. And I can still see the irritation on Indrabahadur's face. He was a man very particular about everything, but I too was a man of my own type.
I said to him, "Forget about the photograph. Is it going to be my photo or yours? You can have your photo taken with your buttons closed, but I never close my buttons as you know. If I closed them for this photo, it would be false. Either take my photo or else forget all about it!"
It was good, beautiful... but be vertical. With me, horizontal is not applicable. Good. When things are going so good it is better to stop. And Devageet, it is beautiful, but enough. Devaraj, help him. Ashu, do your best. I would love to continue but the time has gone. One has to withdraw somewhere.