Chapter 33: Truth Is a Dance in the Heart
“Second, if you choose to remain in Athens - because I understand you, you may not like to leave Athens - then stop speaking. That too will be perfectly fulfilling to the people, because they say whatsoever you are teaching is corrupting the youth. So if you are not teaching, you are as dead as one can be; their purpose is fulfilled.”
But Socrates said, “You are putting me in a very difficult situation. I cannot choose not to speak, for the simple reason that truth has an intrinsic quality: it wants to be spoken. You cannot hold it in; it is not humanly possible.
“And I cannot go against truth just for a few years of life. I am already old - any moment death may come. So just for an uncertain, small period of life, I cannot go against truth, and I cannot do things just to save myself.
“I will continue to speak the truth to my last breath, while I am alive. You are kind enough to suggest to me that I can leave Athens. You know perfectly well I cannot do that either, because if Athens - which is the most cultured city in the whole world - has decided to kill me, where do you think I can survive? I will be killed anywhere, and in a far more primitive way.
“And I feel this time is perfectly suitable, because I have said everything that I wanted to say. This case against me has been of tremendous help to me: I have completed my work, I have used the court and given all the arguments that were incomplete. I have completed everything - now there is no need..
“And in a barbarous place they will not be able to tolerate me even for one day. I am grateful to Athens: it has allowed me a long life. It is simply unfortunate that, although it is the most cultured place, it is still not totally cultured. And that has been my whole effort. But I love this place, and I would like to die here.”
Socrates could not move out of Athens for the simple reason: who was going to understand him? A great discipline and training is needed to understand a man of the caliber of Socrates. He had a school where other teachers prepared people, and when they were ready, then finally they became students of Socrates. It was in the final stage, to give them the last touches, that Socrates was useful. He could not teach a person from scratch - that was simply impossible for that genius. So naturally he was confined.
Buddha was confined to Bihar. One thing was language. He used to speak a local language, Pali, which was not understood anywhere else. Sanskrit was understood by the scholars all over India. Buddha could have used Sanskrit - he was perfectly trained, disciplined in Sanskrit - but he was against using a dead language.
He was against the monopoly of the priests and the scholars who were insisting that all the scriptures should remain in Sanskrit so the people could not read them. You will be surprised: Sanskrit has never been a living language - it has never been spoken by people - and it is the mother language of almost all the cultured languages of the world, of the East and of the West. They are all sister languages, born out of a language which was never spoken by any people, except a few chosen scholars in the universities.