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Chapter 34: Truth Cannot Be Humiliated

Now his crime was that he loved, and what is being done to him will be done to the girl too by the other tribe. And in those mountains and forests, you cannot live alone. Life is so interwoven that everybody is dependent on everybody else for everything.

In aboriginal tribes there is nothing like freedom, no concept of freedom of speech. The elders decide everything. No younger person can even raise a question - that is disrespectful, and he will be punished for it. And you know their punishments.

Just the other day Anando brought me the news. The chief minister of Punjab, under the pressure from the central government, took over the Sikh holy temple - the Golden Temple of Amritsar - just a few weeks ago. This was the second time that the army has taken it over. Immediately the high priest of the temple expelled the chief minister - because he is also a Sikh.

Then he was in a dilemma. If he does not follow the central government’s orders he will be thrown out of power. If he follows their orders, he is going against his own religion and they will punish him.

So he had to choose between the two. He thought perhaps the religious people would be more humane. But what happened was that the whole Punjab was in uproar against the chief minister, that he should resign immediately, or he should go to the Golden Temple, touch the feet of the high priest, confess his crime and accept whatsoever punishment is given.

Resignation was difficult because if he resigns from the chief ministership, he will be killed immediately - the Sikhs will kill him; his own people will kill him because he has trespassed their holy place. And he was one of them.

So he went to touch the feet of the priest and the priest said, “I forgive you, but you will have to do a penance. For seven days in Delhi” - they have a big Sikh temple in Delhi - “you sit outside the gate where people leave their shoes.” And he has been doing that for seven days, cleaning the people’s shoes outside the temple in New Delhi. And everybody is looking and a crowd is watching and people are laughing and people are joking and making a fool of him.

This kind of punishment reminds one of very old traditions. Otherwise it was enough that he was asking to be forgiven. He should have been forgiven. But no, he has to be humiliated. And what kind of humiliation? The ancient methods of humiliating people, the inner workings of the tribal mind, were really ugly. And on top of it all, they were poor.

So it was very easy for Western civilization - particularly Christianity - to open hospitals, schools, to give these people clothes, food. And naturally, when these people were helped in such a way they started imitating those who were helping them. So in the wake of that came transistor radios, army caps - they started dressing like army people. They looked foolish. Naked they were more beautiful, their bodies were more proportionate.

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