Chapter 6: It Is up to You
They said, “The congregation of that church is no longer here, the nearest authority is in the capital, Nagpur. The bishop of Nagpur is the nearest authority who has the keys. But the real authority is with the archbishop of England.”
I said, “You are just fools. Break the lock - it is already falling apart for ten years - clean the church. This is your church, use it.”
They became excited - the idea was good. The church was a beautiful building with a very big garden around it, but it had become a jungle, nobody was taking any care. They broke the lock. They asked me to inaugurate the opening. I said, “I am perfectly ready” and so I inaugurated their church.
It took a few days for the bishop of Nagpur to understand what was happening there. Then he inquired of the archbishop of England what to do, because, “A few Christians have broken the lock, entered the property, and are worshipping every Sunday there.”
Of course the archbishop was angry and he told him, “Take legal action against them.” Legal action was taken against them. That’s why I was also found guilty: I inaugurated it, I inspired those people to enter into the church, so I was the most responsible person.
I said to the judge, “A church, a temple, a mosque, a synagogue belongs to those who worship there, it is no ordinary property. For ten years the church has remained without a single worshipper. The archbishop of England is guilty for that, the bishop of Nagpur is guilty for that. Who are they to lock a church and prevent worshippers?
“I am not a Christian, but I can see that a beautiful place which was meant for worshipping, for prayer, is lying empty. Jesus Christ is still hanging on the cross and nobody comes. He must be getting bored.”
I said, “Yes, I inspired these people to make that church alive again. It is dying, and to make any church alive is not a crime. To keep it locked - locked against whom? In fact, churches and temples should not have doors, so that they are available twenty-four hours for anybody to meditate there. It is a place of silence.”
My advocate was getting to the point of a nervous breakdown, when I said that the archbishop of England should be given an arrest warrant - and that these people were going to continue worshipping in the church.
The judge said, “Whatever you are saying is absolutely right, but it is not legal. The church is a property owned by the Church of England. Entering into somebody else’s property, taking possession of it, using it, is trespass.”
I said, “Then I am ready to be punished, to be jailed. But remember, you are doing something absolutely wrong. You are not making any difference between a place of worship and an ordinary house. A place of worship cannot be owned by anybody, cannot be possessed by anybody. It belongs to those who are ready to worship there.