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Chapter 18: A Gathering of Friends

He said, “Never! I will never change my idea. I have come to a definite conclusion. I have seen all Jaina scriptures - you go miles and you find such small nourishment. Your small book is enough for a man who really wants to find the truth. It is enough, more than that is non-essential.”

It was evening time and the sun was setting. And the woman of the house came and said to me, “It is time for your supper. The sun is setting.” In a Jaina family, you have to eat before the sun sets; otherwise you have to remain hungry.

But I said to the woman, “Don’t be worried. Your father-in-law has come from miles away to see me. It doesn’t matter to me, I will eat a little later. Let me first converse with him because he has been waiting for me for years.”

The moment the old man heard that I was going to eat in the night, he was so shocked. He said, “What am I hearing? I called you the twenty-fifth tirthankara and you are going to eat in the night! I have been thinking that your book is the essential for all those who are seekers of the path - and the reality is, you don’t know even the abc of religion.” This is the abc of religion, that eating in the night is preparing your path towards hell!

I said, “I told you just to wait, not to make decisions, but you didn’t listen, you said you were determined. In fact just to show you how determined you were, I told the woman that I would eat after one hour.”

He said, “Really? Then forgive me. I touch your feet, just forgive me.”

I said, “Wait, you are making decisions too quickly.”

He said, “No, I am absolutely determined. This time I am not going to change.” And he touched my feet, asked for my forgiveness.

I said, “There is no difficulty in forgiving because you have not committed any crime, but one thing you should understand: the twenty-fifth tirthankara eats in the night.”

He said, “You eat in the night?”

I said, “I am saying it myself, and if you want, you can wait. Let the sun set and things will be clear.”

He said, “My God! Then how could you manage to write such a book?”

I said, “Eating in the night or not has nothing to do with religion.”

But he was very much frustrated. He left and he told me when he was going, “I am going to burn your book.”

I said, “That’s the right thing. But think before you burn it. You seem to be a very quick, decisive man. And each decision is absolute. I may not eat.and I was just joking when I said that I eat in the night.”

He said, “Really?”

Now, what can you do with such people?

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