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Chapter 20: Response Ability

And then he wrote a book on Mahavira and Gautam Buddha, and he showed me the manuscript. I simply saw the title and I said to him, “Just look at your title. I don’t have to read your book - your title says everything.” In his title he writes, Bhagwan Mahavira and Mahatma Gautam Buddha. Bhagwan is used for Mahavira, and for Gautam Buddha, just Mahatma. There are so many mahatmas; Mahatma is not something very special or unique.

I said, “You are writing this book to show that Jainism and Buddhism are equal, and their message essentially is the same. And Gautam Buddha and Mahavira are equally enlightened.”

He said, “Yes.”

I said, “Then why this difference? Either put ‘Mahatma’ in front of both the persons or put ‘Bhagwan’.”

Now he was in a great dilemma. He could not write Mahatma Mahavira. The Jainas would kill him, they would expel him. He was a Jaina.Nobody, not a single Jaina in twenty-five centuries, has made such an insult - writing about Mahavira as just a mahatma. Mahatmas are available in this country for one rupee a dozen. They are so cheap, every village has its own mahatma.

And he was not willing to write Bhagwan before Gautam Buddha because no Jaina accepts Gautam Buddha as equal to Mahavira. He is enlightened, but not of the same height. Mahavira’s enlightenment is complete; Buddha’s enlightenment is incomplete - partial enlightenment, not total.

And the same is the situation of the Buddhists. They will not be ready to call.I have asked Buddhist monks. One Buddhist monk was born an Englishman, but got converted when he was young and became a Buddhist monk. I don’t know whether he is still alive or not, but he was a world famous man, Sangharakshita. He lives in the Himalayas, in Kalimpong.

He used to come to the university where I was teaching and he became interested in me, because he was always invited to the Philosophy Department. I used to raise questions and he was in difficulty trying to answer them. But he was a very nice person, he never became angry. On the contrary, if he could not answer me he used to ask if I had some idea of what the answer could be. I said, “I never ask anything unless I know the answer.”

We became friends. He even started staying with me while he was in the city. I asked him, “What do you think about Mahavira?” Mahavira and Buddha were contemporaries.

He said, “About Mahavira? He was enlightened, but not so completely as Gautam Buddha.”

The same nonsense goes on around the world. But the reason the disciples are concerned or the so-called masters are concerned is the same. It is the ego that needs a certain kind of gratification.

As far as J. Krishnamurti and George Gurdjieff are concerned, they are both enlightened. Both have disappeared in the same ocean in which all enlightened people have always disappeared. And beyond enlightenment there is no distinction. There is no question, because the person is no more.

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